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Biden is not hiding his opinion of Putin

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U.S. President Joe Biden is featured center right, with three countries flags behind him and slightly out of focus.

TOPSHOT - US President Joe Biden addresses media representatives as he arrives for a European Union (EU) summit at EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

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The White House is trying to soften President Joe Biden’s comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin “shouldn’t remain in power.” Ukrainian peace negotiators and a Russian oligarch suffered suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv, and Lockdowns in Shanghai may make supply chain disruptions even worse. Also, a federal judge ruled that Trump “likely” tried to obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, and Disney says it’ll fight Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. And tweets from Black disabled women provide a crucial perspective of the Chris Rock-Will Smith slapping incident at the Oscars. It wasn’t all drama at the awards; we found moments that made us smile.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Make Me Smart March 28, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal: All right. Are you ready? Kimberly, you’re ready, right?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I’m ready as I’m ever gonna be for this one.

Kai Ryssdal: Let’s go, let’s go. There we go. My goodness.

Kimberly Adams: Hello. I am Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart. Happy Monday. It’s where we try to make today make sense.

Kai Ryssdal: We try. We try. We try. We try. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Thanks for coming back and listening to us. We’re going to end this episode with a couple of Make Me Smiles as we always do. Although I will tell you full disclosure. I don’t have one, but I’ll explain why later. But we’ll do some news first. How about that? How about that?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I want you to go first, Kai.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, you want me to go first, okay. So I’ve got a couple no particular order. In fact, I got a couple three. And I will take them in order of here. Well, no. A few. Yes, several. No particular order number one, this report. It’s my choice of articles in The Wall Street Journal. But it is kind of everywhere that Ukrainian negotiators and the oligarch Roman Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning at the site of peace talks with the Russians, which – about which two things number one, not at all surprising because Russia and number two. Oh my god. They’re like really serious. It’s not good. I mean, Abramovich apparently lost his sight for a couple of hours, his skin is said to be peeling. And let’s remember that the Russians have a history of using chemical and radiation weapons in potential assassinations. So this is kind of a big deal. It’s kind of a big deal. So I think everybody just ought to be up to speed on that one. Kind of a big deal. Kind of a big deal. Number two. This one is, as of last night, Shanghai time, a lockdown in the financial center of the second biggest economy in the world. Everything east of the Huangpu River is going to be closed for five days people are locked in their homes, they have to get tested because of a COVID outbreak. And then, I think on Friday, they swapped to the west side of the Huangpu River, which is where our correspondent Jennifer Pak lives, by the way, and they’re going to be shut down for five days as they try to control an outbreak. The reason this is interesting is twofold. Number one, Shanghai has largely been immune from these big lock downs, right? Because government has realized what a big deal China is economically to that country and to the world. So that’s problem number one. And it leads us directly to problem number two, which is that China is economically important to that country in the world. And there are ports there, and there are financial centers there. And if you thought supply chain problems were bad. This is not going to help at all, and that plays into inflation in this country and not getting your couch and everything. So there’s that.

Kimberly Adams: It’s also factoring in on oil prices and, you know, reduced demand coming out of China. It’s in a terrible, terrible way helping out when it comes to oil prices.

Kai Ryssdal: Yes, it’s a good point. Very good point. And then finally, and here, I will opine just a tad, about the speech that the president gave this past weekend. Yes, I will opine. Here’s, here’s what I think about that speech. And specifically, the nine words knew the end of it, where he said, for “God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” Speaking of Putin. Biden made set remarks today, the President made a set of remarks today in which he said “I was not announcing a change in policy. I was merely expressing my outrage.” I’m sorry, but that that’s not the way that works. When you’re the president of the United States, every word you say matters. And I understand that Joe Biden is given to off the cuff remarks. I understand that he’s an emotional and an emotive guy, I understand that he is deeply offended by what’s going on in Ukraine in a very moral sense. But you don’t get to say something like that literally on the world stage, and then say, “Oh, no, wait, that’s not what I meant.” And and I think it’s kind of unfortunate that while I might agree with the message, right, it’s kind of unfortunate that the White House now has to tie itself in knots, trying to walk back with the president said, in front of everybody in the planet. And that’s my two cents.

Kimberly Adams: I wonder if this is going to be one of the legacies of the Trump presidency, that there’s no longer this expectation that the words coming out of a president’s mouth effectively are policy, and that those words matter. Because we had four years of someone who pretty much said whatever he want wanted, regardless of how it related to policy, and his team would clean it up later or not. And that was just the status quo. And can we recover from that?

Kai Ryssdal: Right, right and everybody went, “Oh, that’s just Trump being Trump, don’t pay attention to what he says, here’s the real policy.” And it can’t it can’t be like that. That’s that ain’t no way to run a government and a national policy and anything. And now I think it’s it’s coming back to bite Joe Biden in the butt. That’s what I think.

Kimberly Adams: Well, since I just brought up Trump, I will get to this astonishing court ruling today. And I will shout out my former colleague at the Statehouse News Service in Boston, Kyle Cheney, who’s now at Politico who has been covering this story. He’s been covering all the January 6 fallouts and legal cases and everything. Here’s the story. And I’m just gonna read the opening graf. “A federal judge ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump, more than – more likely than not attempted to illegally obstruct Congress as part of a criminal conspiracy when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on January 6 2021.” This is, as best we can tell, probably the first time in history. And going back to this article here, “maybe the first time in history in which a federal judge determined a president while in office appeared to commit a crime.” Now, this decision has no direct role in whether Trump will be charged criminally, but could increase pressure on the Justice Department to conduct an investigation that could lead to such charges. This is a big deal. Like the – this case, this ruling came in as part of an attempt to get emails from one of Trumps allies, this guy named John Eastman, who had been trying to shield emails, under attorney client privilege, the judges is like, “that’s not going to work.” And you know, there’s an expectation that there may be something in this batch of emails, that indicates that Eastman knew what he was doing was illegal, that this plan that he’d come up with to help Trump try to overturn the election was illegal, and that Trump potentially knew it was illegal to and so that this is a big deal. And I really encourage people to read the story and to get caught up on that. And these legal troubles are not going away. Okay. Other things that are not going away. The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, actually was signed into law in Florida. And today, and it’s what is the actual name of that law? It’s…

Kai Ryssdal: I think it’s “parental rights and responsibilities” or parental? Yeah.

Kimberly Adams: Something but it’s it is of great concern to everyone in the LGBTQ community and their allies and has Human Rights Watch, and all sorts of other groups are saying this can be incredibly damaging to families. And so the story that I have for this is a CNBC piece, which is about Walt Disney. Disney was famously very late to speak out against this legislation. Apparently too late. And now Disney is saying that it will. This is the statement from Disney. “This bill should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed and repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts. And we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.” So –

Kai Ryssdal: It’s a little too late from Disney. Right. I mean, they had their chance when they kind of blew in corporate wise.

Kimberly Adams: Well, I mean, I’m guessing they’re going to be funneling you know. Yeah. I mean, it was a big error. And I think they’re gonna be funneling money to these groups doing the legal challenges. But are they going to continue to not fund politicians in Florida that supported this? That’s that’s the real question. So be I’ll be it’ll be interesting campaign finance story to keep an eye on. Okay. My sister woke me up this morning to tell me about what happened at the Oscars. And

Kai Ryssdal: Wait! Wait, wait, wait, wait. Did you not watch?

Kimberly Adams: I wasn’t watching. No. I am not entertainment savvy.

Kai Ryssdal: You’re not an Oscar fan?

Kimberly Adams: I’m not. And so, I I was woken up by my sister with this news and was very careful not to have a take because I was so conflicted about it all day, and really had to organize my thoughts and feelings and I spent a lot of time reading disabled Black women talking about this on Twitter today. And I think that they have some of the best takes on this. And I just, it was really painful to see for so many reasons. Because this Oscars was supposed to be so great for Black people. You had Will Packer and his all-Black production team Beyoncé with the opening act, we were heading into it with King Richard and “Summer of Soul” looking good to win. And instead, what we are left with is this lasting image of one Black man hitting another on national television. because one of those Black men made an ableist joke at the expense of a Black woman humiliating her in front of a roomful of her peers. After we just spent a week watching another accomplished Black woman be berated and talked down to and verbally abused. on national television in Congress. I’m talking about the Senate hearings for Judge Kentanji Brown Sackson. And on top of that, stealing the thunder from Questlove who this whole scene happened when they were about to announce the Questlove, one in the documentary category for “Summer of Soul” documentary about an underappreciated moment in Black history. And also, God bless ’em, stealing the thunder from the Williams sisters again! This is the second award ceremony in which their family was supposed to be honored. And instead you have these two Black women again, having their moment taken by somebody else doing something. And, yeah, I’m still really conflicted about this, because on the one hand, it’s like, nobody ever, it feels often like nobody ever stands up for Black women. But then you don’t want this either. And there are just so many layers to this. And I feel like of all the takes that I’m seeing, I feel like disabled Black women talking about how common it is to have their disabilities joked about and then being minimized and people thinking it’s funny, to mock things like that. Those are the perspectives I’ve really been reading and appreciating today. So.

Kai Ryssdal: So yeah, so look, so let me ask you two things, right. Because, obviously, you’ve been thinking about this, as I think a lot of us have. I mean, you know, I saw it last night and I – it’s still it’s incredible anyway. So what do you do with Chris Rock?

Kimberly Adams: I, I mean, I don’t know. I mean, it’s, it’s not for me to know. I mean …

Kai Ryssdal: No, no, that’s a totally acceptable answer.

Kimberly Adams: I was actually thinking I was thinking about how hard people came down on Donald Trump when he was mocking the disabled reporter. And under what circumstances we feel like it’s appropriate to mock a disability. And why he felt that joke was okay. Everyone laughed, including Will Smith at first until he saw his wife’s reaction. And just all the sort of, you know, would we have noticed? I just wonder if we would have noticed and cared as much if it was a joke about disabled people, but it wasn’t directly mocking a famous person, you know?

Kai Ryssdal: Got it. A follow up, if I may. What do we do with Will Smith?

Kimberly Adams: Again, I don’t know. I mean, apparently the Academy is investigating.  And…

Kai Ryssdal: While condemning the violence and condemning … and all that.

Kimberly Adams: Well, at the same time, it’s like the Academy has like no moral high ground here, given the long history of like, sexual abusers and people with known violent records being celebrated and lauded by the Academy. So I’m less concerned about that and more about, you know, what this, this, the discussion says about us? And what people are saying about themselves with how they respond to it. There are people jumping to stereotypes, there are people you know, making just some real false comparisons. And this morning when I woke up, I was like, “I’m not gonna say anything about this because everybody does not need to have an opinion on everything.” But then I was like, no. I do need to have an opinion.

Kai Ryssdal: I think you kind of do. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s right.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t I don’t think everybody has to have an opinion. But but you know, given the circumstances, I think it opinion here from you is warranted for sure. For sure.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. I’m still thinking through it. To be perfectly honest. I’m still thinking through it. But with that, I think it’s a great time for some Make Me Smiles.

Kai Ryssdal: Let us. Let us do that. So here’s my mea culpa. Let me let me just mea culpa myself. And then we’re gonna go into two years, which are better than mine. I was off the show today, the radio show. And so I was not online a lot. So I didn’t see anything that made me smile, because it was all news. That’s what I got. That’s my that’s my mea culpa. But I’m happy to dive in on yours.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I think mine are super fun. They’re all Oscars-related because they’re about some of the good things that happened at the Oscars. So there was a L.A. Times reporter, who had a really nice newsletter today that said, “The 2022 Oscars might be remembered for hostility. My experience was completely different.” And he was talking about how as a Black man, sort of moving in this space with all of these celebrities, all of the other Black entertainers who were there who went out of their way to make him feel welcome to help him out of including Tiffany Haddish, like giving him career advice, Jill Scott, like making time for him, even though she was talking to somebody else. And just a really nice bit of camaraderie amongst sort of the entertainment press, and all of these stars. Also, yes, CODA winning Best Picture in Oscars, that was huge, you know, and if you haven’t watched that acceptance speech, you should, it’s a beautiful moment. And hearing people speak so powerfully about being deaf in the entertainment industry, and what it means for them individually and what they feel like it means for their community. Beautiful moment. Also, Beyoncé as usual, amazing performance. Yeah, I watched that today. And it was just visually stunning music. Great. And just, yes.

Kai Ryssdal: Can we back up for a second at the Troy Kotzur Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, right. So the movie wins and that’s awesome in the whole crowd gets up. But Troy Kotzur plays the dad in that movie. He’s a deaf actor. Playing obviously  adeaf man. He was he was incredible. So his name gets read. It takes him a second, right? Because he’s reading I guess, super titles on a screen that he’s watching. And he goes up and gets his award. And the Best Supporting Actress winner from last year, Yoon Yoo-jung, she’s Korean, she’s lovely, has fractured English, but in the most charming possible way. So he gets up there and takes the award. And she knows he’s going to sign his speech. So she reaches over and takes from him the statue. So that he can use both hands.

Kimberly Adams: So that he can use his hands. Yeah, right. Although I don’t see him and I love that he was also able to sign one handed later on, that was cool.

Kai Ryssdal: With just one, for sure. For sure. At the end of it. Yeah, but but I thought was great. The best. The best part was that she didn’t get out of the way. She stood right next to him. So all the pictures are of the two of them. Anyway, I just I thought was cute. I thought that was cute.

Kimberly Adams: I also really appreciate –

Kai Ryssdal: You know what’s funny, you know a lot about the you know a lot about the Academy Awards for a woman who slept through it. That’s all I’m saying. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams: This is true. But because I’ve been thinking about this all day, I was I was looking at, you know, once I started looking at sort of all of the things that didn’t get attention because of this moment, I was like this is a great time to celebrate those things including Questlove’s very moving acceptance speech, where he talks about his dad and you can see his mom in the audience and it’s it’s just a lovely, lovely moment. And I’ve also got a link which I’m guessing we’re going to put in the show notes about Will Packer and and the efforts he was making to bring diversity to the Oscars after Oscars So White and how he was feeling about the show. And I think he tweeted after this whole incident. Well, something like you know, “I told you it wasn’t going to be boring,” and people really came after him for being to flip and he was like, “You can’t even really imagine how painful this is for me.” And so like what else are we going to do? But try to, you know, have some levity so.

Kai Ryssdal: Like, laughing so you don’t cry right? Totally.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, exactly. But so many good performances, so many good things to watch. If you haven’t watched these acceptance speeches and you have haven’t watched the Beyoncé performance go back and look at them and you know, celebrate the people who worked really hard to get to these places and don’t deserve to have have their moments, their moments taken from them either. So that’s what I got.

Kai Ryssdal: For sure. That’s what you got. And that’s what we got. We’re done for today. Come back tomorrow we are doing our Tuesday show about long COVID what we do and don’t know about it, I heard a thing about medium COVID the other day and I’m like, Oh my God, how many ways is this disease just just having its way with us anyway? Come back and listen to us tomorrow, because that’s what we’re talking about.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and if you want to share your experience, if you’ve been dealing with long COVID or you have some other thoughts that you want to share with us, we always want to hear from you. You can send us a voice memo and an email to Or you can call and leave us a voice message at 508-UB-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal: There we go. There we go. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Marque Greene helps out. Our intern is Tiffany Bui. Today’s program engineered by one Jayk Cherry.

Kimberly Adams: And our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar who sent lovely flowers for the cherry blossom party last week, which I love. And our director of On Demand is Donna Tam. That was so much fun.

Kai Ryssdal: It was good. Yes, it was that was a good pod. It was gaood pod. Big problems, big issues. Lots of stuff.

Kimberly Adams: Yes.


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