Ep. 2 Can't Nobody Stop Us
History pools that dictatorships do not grow out of strong and successful governments, but out of weak and helpless one. From critical frequency. I'm be beaming in this is peace of mind. I'm a singer, songwriter and producer. I'm a dad, and I'm an American peace of mind is an experiment. It's my new album, but I'm releasing it as a podcast. Today's episode is can't nobody stop us in the theme of this episode is democracy in what happens when the pillars of democracy. Start to fall our guest today. Our voice of America reporters, celebs Solomon, retired superior court. Judge the doors for Dell an investigative journalist for frontline on PBS. Neil dougherty. Let's talk about the four pillars of modern democracy here in America. There's a legislative branch who makes laws the executive branch that carries out the laws. The judicial branch who interprets and enforces the laws for Bruce and a free press holds all of these two accounts. But let's start with the judicial branch, which I thought I knew something about, but really I didn't know a whole hell of a lot. So I sat down with judge the doors Cordell. She taught me why an independent judiciary is essential in the healthy democracy. I'm trying to do my best to educate people about the judiciary. It is the third branch of government. And it is the least dangerous. Until a nice big now under Trump. The judiciary has become very dangerous sometime about the federal federal judges were pointed for life, and it's stunning because without that sturdy independent branch of our government democracy is doomed. Absolutely. Do you know that there's nothing in the constitution? That says there any qualifications. You have to have to be appointed to the supreme court by the president. So Trump could nominate his daughter. And there's nothing in the constitution. It says how many supreme court justices. There have to be free. We have nine once there were six months, there were ten and confirmation hearings. There were none in the beginning. The first chief Justice was John J appointed seventeen Eighty-nine his confirmation hearing lasted two days that was it. It was done ready to go. So it's time we become more informed about who are these people in black robes who have so much control over our lives. The judge. I have all the power you coming into my colon. That's my house. I am the producer director. I tell you when to speak when to sit down when to stand up, and I make decisions about your life that could be whether or not you get to keep your kids. And then, of course, on the criminal side. Right. I can take your liberty away from you. I can sentence you to death. Now, interestingly, you know, they're law schools all around the country, right? There's no schools that teach dredging could be a lawyer who's been sitting at a desk, and contracts and transactional work side. I want be a judge so ply run for judge your jet. You'd leave your office announced you gotta row go to work now. Go ahead and decide who gets custody of the kids have no training. You have no background or decide on a criminal case set bail here. You have no training. And it's it's shocking is isn't a stunning. No. Because you wouldn't go get brain surgery from a foot doctor. If you can't tell the Doris is a bit of a force to be reckoned with she's broken barriers across race and gender. She's a fierce advocate for police oversight, and she's not afraid to voice her opinion. Even when his unpopular in two thousand sixteen the doors came under fire when she spoke out against the recall of the judge in the Brock Turner case. Her reasoning was lost on a lot of people liberals, especially here's a clip of her discussing her position on MPR. I am against the recall for a number of reasons. The first of which the said, I believe it is a dangerous threat to the independence of the two dish airy I believe this recall is terrible for racial Justice. It sends a message to every judge on every court in California and really beyond. And so lot of the defendants are young people and mostly males of color Latino and African American they are the ones who are going to receive the sentencings of these judge. Who are going to be hesitant? If not fearful to impose a leniency in a sentence. And I'm very concerned about what's happening in this country starting with the administration in Washington is head a trickle down effect where the judiciary is now targeted by those who just think well judges are not doing what we want to. Let's just toss them all out the whole Egitim ac- of our judiciary is at stake here. Now back to my conversation with the doors. And you went on. And you got pushback. So I mean that just proves how unfair full you are in your kind of a disruptor. I've never been called a disrupted. I do that. I mean, I- judiciary. I like it all I like it. The doors is one of the most impressive people I've ever talked to and on top of everything else. She's also an accomplished musician artist, and she's a fixture with the Commonwealth club checkout. More judge Cordell dot com. Something I fully taken advantage of as a songwriter and the son of immigrants in America is the right to free speech. Those first amendment rights really set America part in my opinion, is what makes us really great freedom of religion freedom of peaceful, assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of press. You can look all over the world see that authoritarian regimes target the press. I I talked about this with journalists slim Solomon, she's a reporter with voice of America's Africa division and has a unique perspective. Having also worked for the state owned media in her native air tria when I was in air. I wasn't aware of the impact journalism had because I was working a state owned media. So we didn't have say as much but after leaving the country. I started seeing the value of actual journalism and telling the stories of the most vulnerable, those people who don't have that form to connect with the world and bringing attention to issues that need to be in, you know, pause. He makers minds when they're making these decisions, and how it affects the daily lives of average people who are powerless if someone is in public office. They shouldn't have anything to hide in. And it really goes hand in hand. End with a country enjoying less cases of corruption. When there is a fourth estate or oppress that really checks what's going on in the interest of the people. And so you have really strong civil liberties for that reason it when you're serving the public including journalists, by the way, you need to be held to account for what you've put out as well. I think it goes both ways to hide exactly. So criminal. Then that's exactly the value that reporters and press freedom upholds when you're chasing a soya about on corruption of people were breaching laws or bending them. So that they can suppress without any accountability. And I think it really applies in all these pillars that we're talking about. When we're looking at civil liberties one of the affects of living in this post truth, click bait Twitter world, we live in is that the integrity of journalism has been dragged through the mud by called the fake news. The enemy of the people, and they are amount of work that goes into writing a story fact checking it making sure you're legally covered to print. It is something journalists deal with every day. Neil dougherty. Is a veteran. Investigative news journalist who has written for newspapers and created several documentaries for PBS's frontline, including on our watch about the genocide in. Are four and Putin's way which details the Russian president's meteoric rise. I spoke to Neil from his home in Toronto. I actually think the price in particular president America is actually doing a pretty good job. Given what facing with the Trump administration? I think that is doing a great job of trying to find out story in so-so by get to the bottom of the story. May I think would need of a great civic Fleiss in that moment in North America where you know, if something goes on CNN or the New York Times or the Washington pools, whatever newspaper editors and then often schools Julio's before he can get published. I think there's a great need for understanding what it takes to put an item on or in them proper newspaper and people I think losing sight of that. I mean, I've worked with newspapers in Britain have what with the New York Times here. I I mean, I know for hand how difficult it is to to get things on prove them. And through the editors and the questions that we get has. And then the legal screenings that go on you don't hear about that. From my end, the consumer India, it's an obvious process in a lot of things don't get said. No because I'm not true. But because perhaps we can second source some so I mean, I've been in hundreds of discussions link pen and also as for material to be withdrawn because over it, occasionally, what's both ways where someone in the team wants it on and you have to adult discussions where you decide that actually sustain this improve it. So I'd like to see people. Take more cognizant so haunted is to these things on line and print. So have you ever gotten yourself into a bit of a vulnerable, potentially scary situation? Maybe you're careful, but you seem to have no fear in certain regards. Well, yeah. Well, yeah, we've been in a few scrapes. I must say I've never looked at any of this. And there are many journalists who've been many more dangerous situations than I have. But the worst was heating and that was the nineties when RSD was being returned to power coach ac- of American influence and military, actually, and we will just before he was due to come back. And they had these very nasty gangs told the tone, the Tashin is. Two incidents were the attaches worried. What terrible one was I was trying to get interview with the leader of the attaches. You know, when you go broad in these places you've rely on very brave journalists, we we hope fixers and the fix in KOTA France in heating was young woman. And she said, well, they attaches all hang out on the street in Port-au-Prince. So we can go there if you want, but it's pretty dangerous. So I said, well, let's go check it out and one with a crew cameraman I signed by the driver and the fixer and the an I got the car, and there was a throng of guys with guns and talking in the hundreds and was weaving through them trying to find the leader. Who refined? I'm known discussions with the leader trying to reach an interview and the guy behind me screaming and leading off it rifle into the air. Pruned to noise slide noise. I don't play noises. I remember, Tony George exasperate. And what is that guy? Seeing. He said he's saying let should this shit now which barred from the alliteration with pretty Kimmy. So I took it. We just kept talking to buddy the chief. And he agreed to be interviewed. We probably might guy show for for the interview. And that's pretty well. What happened he agreed to be interviewed? And and we would've we've our way out of there into the cruise treaded they could see those problem, and they came out of the van to want to try and help us so make space to get back to the van. So that was pretty scathing. The trouble was these days is the completely Trump down. They were paid but strokes. And the next day. I remember we were doing a stunned up whether reporter front of the American embassy in Port-au-Prince announcing what was happening. And I think the next day the military Judeo Ryan. And with this group of attaches, turn the corner in g porous Louis harms, and they jump the Jeep and the could've gone on all of us in a Mike gone with right on my nose number as a terrifying experience to book on the bottle of a gallon. That's terrifying springs in and all that sounds, but to do it and see the guys is like saucers and understand. He's completely drugged. And if he believes you away, he probably won't remember it. Well. Well. And I do think back to that. And think I was very very lucky to get out of there because the whim of somebody's. Yes. And and that is a that is a really Saudi tweaks given she don't want it too much of that. Neil Tomio lot of crazy stories during our conversation. And he kept saying the worst was this in the worst was that. It just goes to show how many crazy situations. Journalists put themselves in all around the world. Doc was trying to do a film Monday genocide Dopp fort we were accused of spying by who by the government. And so we're under house arrest for about ten days and below maneuvering to get his tend to get Sydney's fixing them. So after escaping John. I did have the conversation with ceremony wife about going back because the pretend days they're on it. They looked pretty bad. And I didn't go back. We did make a film so took two trips to complete it to trips. Yeah. You know? It was the Janice. I don't we wanted to tell the story. So I think you also if the way how important is a story as to how much danger you're prepared to pick yourself in one of these stories of the decade, in my opinion, and almost all but forgotten in many circles today thinking is very important. I remember raging Elaine about a blind man, a particular, you know, it was faced out of Sudan, the flying wife had been killed his two children, and he was waiting in a refugee camp, very near the border. And they were very fearful that the Jan Joe eat where combating terror all over southern Sudan the job we were about to come. And remember rating the line of hell has a waiting room in my shoe. They look like this. I remember that one. Yeah. Very troubling, very sad half of that stories about Darfur and Sudanese government and the refugees, but the other half is the impotence of the UN. Yeah. And that was just as heartbreaking because the writing on the wall about things going on now Myanmar and the Rohingya or Yemen and just how effective are they? And what are they? Right. And how never again has become as a promise semi as a whole ring to it in a way. Having traveled the world as an investigative journalist. Neil knows what democracy looks like. And he also knows what it doesn't look like I think one of my worries is being traveling the world and looking at various countries and many of them have been in the sorry state Stanley, many of those no ping democratic is actually the paucity of democracy that there is in this world and the lack of dude governance wherever you go. If you think about it, you have western Europe, North America and one or two of the countries, there's not much China is obvious and tame state Russia's a clipped Tokar Z, India's a democracy for sure but corruption is rife and is always on the knife edge as to whether that's going to be sold or not. So that's a lot of humanity. Just in that. And then you now in countries like Chad or elsewhere, there's no semblance of democracy at all. And all of them are marked by no free press violence against journalists. Jailing and killing of journalists. No real opposition. No, real elections and terrible, poverty and great inequality. These are qualities you find wherever you travel in the world at doesn't have democracy. I mean people suffer as a result. And I have to say there's too much of that around. I mean is overwhelming sometimes ho little decent governance arrays. How little even a semblance of these governance in this world? And it's really a worry. We tend to think democracy is big to into the system and can be undone and I'm not so sure that's true. I think it can't be undone could be undone. Up next. I'll breakdown the song you've been hearing throughout the episode can't nobody stop us. But first recommendation of another podcast. I think you'll enjoy. Hey, this is Chris Jacobs host of the shift list and new podcast where chefs talk about the music that fills their kitchens restaurants in recipes from LA to Copenhagen music inspire. Some of the world's greatest chefs to push further into their creativity and deliver exciting new dishes. Discover new music every week from the people who use it in their kitchens every day before during and after a shift on the shiftless podcast available now from BGS wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. You might be thinking that I wrote this song in response to Trump. But you'd be wrong. I wrote this song in two thousand nine and it was in response to the Sri Lankan president and war crimes and atrocities that took place under his watch. But this song is is really a military March. It's like a dictators inaugurations. I had these two chords chords. We're just chunk it along and the baseline was kind of this intertwined locomotive engine. And I always look for that sort of synergy. You know what I'm saying? Like each thing is playing off each other. And then recording the song. I did something. I don't do often. Which is lupus section in jam over it on the Qatar until I come up with. You know, the parts. It was actually really fun really spur of the moment. Really fast. Took like ten minutes of me looping. And a long time ago. I had heard this song called hubby by Ali Hassan coupon. I don't know if I'm saying, right? Hey, you be. And then I popped back up and this movie that baron Cohen did called the dictator. Played in somehow because beat is the drumbeat is pretty similar. One of the bands that meant a lot to me growing up was rage against the machine. I had never seen anything like them before. And this really reminds me of rage for whatever reason, maybe you here too. It's the first person because sometimes I feel like I can say a lot more interesting things by taking the role of the bad guy. And so in this song, I'm the dictator. You know, I say lines like. Journalists in prison. Talking has they warned us. The typing has prescribed in hands prescribe. Kind of like a nod to the news media and print media and the docking heads. Now, here's the full song. Be sure to come back next week. We're talking about voter suppression and the multi pronged attack on voting in America. Our guests are Dale ho director of the ACLU voting rights project and Taza met of eighteen million rising the good Muslim bad Muslim podcast. If you're enjoying the show, so far please rate us on I tunes. It helps us find listeners. Cain. Nobody's. Flying. Peace of mind is produced and distributed by critical frequency, our producers, Katie Ross, Jen rice and Amy westervelt all music for the show is written in performed by me, DB Mun sound design and mixed by John Jamea, additional editing by Finn Matthews for bonus material and to support the show please had to peace of mind, pot dot com. You can also support us by leaving us a five star rating in review on your favorite podcast app. And join us next week for some peace of mind.