03/08/2023 - Dominion, DeSantis, Demented

Mark Blyth, political economist at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and Carrie Nordlund, political scientist and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Brown University, share their take on the news.

On this episode:

  • Dominion Voting Machine’s lawsuit against Fox shows off the network’s underside, which we all knew was there anyway. 
  • Ron DeSantis continues to fight “woke” values like freedom of speech
  • Mark and Carrie come up with a terrible political science dissertation topic. 
  • Brexit is solved! Or maybe it was repealed?
  • The future of the war in Ukraine. 
  • Pharma giant Eli Lilly generously ‘caps’ the price of insulin; Mark and Carrie are not impressed. 
  • Carrie actually read Spare, and Mark is upset. 

Learn more about the Watson Institute's other podcasts.


[MUSIC PLAYING] MARK: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. And this is the Mark and Carrie show and for once, I'm doing the intro because Carrie kept stumbling over it. Carrie, over to you.

CARRIE: Couldn't remember my own name. Never, never a good start. How are things with you? How is spring semester?

MARK: It's spring, is it?


MARK: It's just, it's the whole experiencing climate change and trying not to think about it. So half the winter has been no winter.


MARK: We got one dump of snow that came from a storm in California. That never happens. And today is colder than it was three weeks ago. So I don't know what you can do with that. So what else has been going on? Tell me about Rupert Murdoch. You've been watching old Rupert, haven't you?

CARRIE: Your favorite nonagenarian, I think he's 90, and everybody else's. There's a big lawsuit against the Dominion Voting Systems, which are the box, the electronic boxes that kept, that got all the ballots and $1 billion or something like that. And they're being sued. And so Fox News, and of course by extension Rupert, because he owns it, is also part of the lawsuit.

And what's come out of the lawsuit is probably not surprising to anyone who is particularly cynical and jaded like you and me, but to others might be surprising, is that every, is that so many of the things that Fox News publicly was saying in terms of Trump and January 6 and he was cheated and everything was lies, and that Fox News, though publicly was saying, was giving this all air, privately, were saying this is a farce, these are lies.

We know that Trump is not for real and everything is about peddling his lies. And so I guess, it's pulling the curtain a little bit to see what happens on the inner machinations of Fox News, which again, the jaded and cynical among us would say, OK, they know that they're reporting a bunch of BS but publicly saying one thing. And this just really shows that they know, if there is such a thing as truth, what the truth is versus what it is that they're saying on their various newscasts.

MARK: But if I remember correctly, following this through, basically Dominion, the company that made the machines, sued Fox, essentially, for getting them all death threats because they were all in a plot that involved something about Chinese ballot papers and Venezuela, and just absolute nonsense. And so they basically sue, and then they sue for discovery and they find out this stuff, whereby these major anchors are saying, "we all know this is BS but, let's think about the ratings. Let's think about our very cushy jobs. Let's think about the fact that we're each pocketing seven figures. We don't want this to go down, right. So how are we going to message this? How are we going to manage this?"

Apart from the upcoming lawsuit, which could be interesting because it could cost them billions, the other side, I thought was interesting of this, was Kevin McCarthy handing over all the footage of the January, the 6th. And apparently, I haven't watched it, but apparently Fox, with Tucker, has done a montage that shows that it was just a family day out.


MARK: Did you see it?

CARRIE: I didn't. I heard about it. And this is, I'll say something a little bit more about that in a second, but it was all part of the negotiations that McCarthy had to do to become speaker, right. He had to, this was one of the promises he made to the MAGA crowd that he would release this exclusively to Tucker.

MARK: Oh, interesting. Wow. So normal democratic process, procedures, rules, all that sort of stuff, just out the window as far as the MAGA crowd are concerned.

CARRIE: Yeah. Yeah, totally. And they knew that they had him. They could really demand a pretty big pony and a birthday cake everyday and that he would have to give into it. And this was their version of that. I know I've said this before, but I challenge myself to listen every, to Tucker for 5 minutes or to Laura Ingraham or what have you. And so I challenged myself to watch the cut that they did of that and I couldn't do it. And--

MARK: --but if you think about it in the context of the lawsuit, right. What it is is we might lose the lawsuit but we don't really want to lose our audience.


MARK: So if we have to, basically, put this fantasy story together so that this maintains our market, then we'll do it. That's basically the price of continuing the show pony and the birthday cakes.

CARRIE: Yeah. No, that's such a good point of we don't want to lose our audience. That's the number one thing, that is the number one priority for us, is to maintain our audience and our numbers, yeah.

MARK: So that raises an interesting issue, which is, if that's the case, and you're supposedly a news channel, and you can indulge in any amount of fantasy you want, then presumably, you can say anything you want about anyone, which is called defamation. And yet we have our friend, I believe that Donald has christened him Meatball Ron, which might actually stick a bit better than the prior attempts at this. But our Ron DeSantis is trying to, basically, make it easier to get people for defamation. Is this because he's sensitive and he just doesn't like being contradicted? What's going on?

CARRIE: I don't know. You might think that. I agree with you about Meatball. I feel like that's better than whatever it was--

MARK: --whatever that was before--


MARK: --I would have went with demented, demented would have done it. But I'm surprised Donald didn't go for that one. Demented, but there you go.

CARRIE: Oh, you do you feel like DeSantis is setting something up for himself, right, that just making it easier. You read the text of the bill and you're like, oh, I wonder-- this person feels like, it feels like the person writing this has pretty thin skin, in terms of what it is that they're trying--

MARK: --so what does it say?

CARRIE: Well, it goes on. But let me cut to some good stuff here. "Slander, libel, false light, invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon any single publication, exhibition or utterance in a newspaper, book, magazine. Any one presentation to an audience, broadcast over or a radio or television, exhibition or motion picture. An utterance."

MARK: So basically, if I say, I think Mr. DeSantis is not a nice person, and I say that in a lecture at Brown, I'm liable?

CARRIE: I could sue you. Or I say, I think he really does look like a meatball, uttered. An utterance.

MARK: An utterance? Wow.

CARRIE: And Yeah. It's open, it's open season.

MARK: Doesn't the United States have this thing about the First Amendment? How does that work with this?

CARRIE: --one would think-- I don't-- this is, and this is not in the same vein, because this does feel very, very convenient for somebody with very thin skin. But it reminds me in a vein-- there's a case in Texas, right now, about abortion pills and it's against the FDA. And the FDA has approved a set of pills for, that allow for a woman, in the early period, to abort the fetus, and there's one judge, in Texas, in Northern Texas, in the Northern Texas district, that is set to rule on this. And this has been, he's been set to rule on this for a couple of weeks actually, has yet to come down.

And the only reason why I mentioned this in the same way, is because it's just these narrow, very narrow sets of policies and bills that are being presented to pretty receptive judges, state legislatures, et cetera. And they're just this very thin slice of policy written in very, very vague ways and to the point that you said, that I am now trying to get to, is that these are all things that are going to have to rise to the Supreme Court, for the court to actually have to make a decision under which we all would live.

Because there's no-- what about free speech and that? What about the FDA and the federal ruling for the abortion case? These are pretty big constitutional questions that I don't know-- and these bills, proposed bills, proposed judicial action, don't get to that bigger constitutional question.

MARK: So is this, is it then fair to say that what's going on then is a move to, essentially, just legislate everything you can? Kick it up to the Supreme Court and then hope that they act as the legislative wing of the Republican Party?

CARRIE: Yeah. I think that's exactly right. Especially with the abortion case, only because it was judicial action. The organization called the Alliance for Defending Freedom, is based out of Scottsdale, Arizona. So why are they in Texas? They shop, they venue shop for Judge Trump, Trump appointed judge. One that sees this big jurisdiction in Texas. Similarly, Florida is very open to this type of bill. We have the Tennessee anti-drag bill, another state legislature, that's very open to the quote unquote "culture wars" and so exactly as you said, Blyth. They're shopping around for the venues that are most favorable to them and they feel like the Supreme Court is pretty favorable to them as well.

Now whether the court would actually take a course like the slander, libel or the drag queen bill, probably not, but certainly the abortion case. That seems like something they're really open to taking and really putting very precise points on where they see abortion can and cannot be, what the constraints of abortion are.

MARK: So is this an attempt basically, to stop anyone mailing abortion pills through the mail. Is that basically it?

CARRIE: Yeah. I think so. Yes.

MARK: Right. And then there would be criminal penalties, if you are found to have done so.

CARRIE: Yeah, totally. Access, yeah, yeah.

MARK: Interesting.


MARK: So it really is becoming quite a repressive place, isn't it? Is there a danger here that in igniting all these culture wars, and basically, becoming the people that say, no, you can't invest in this and no, you can't wear that and no, you can't be who you want to be because you're fixed from birth and so on and so forth, as well as the party of no but in a really repressive way. Is there a danger that blows back on the Republicans, of all people, because in a way, a large part of the Republican Party is the libertarian wing. And they are really not going to be into this stuff.

CARRIE: No. The libertarians, and just this bigger point, which I know we've talked a lot about before, but you are pushing these types of things, clearly, for the Republican primary voter. How are you ever then pivoting to that, right to the middle voter? If there are moderate Republican voters for the Republican, for the general election in Twenty Twenty-Four, or how are you moving from making it, if you make an utterance, that I can be sued or on these other medical and health issues. And then moving from these very extreme right to the middle, that's the big critique of Ron DeSantis, is that how is he ever going to move from suing Disney World, Disneyland, to being, oh, I'm now your guy for those suburban voters that the Republicans need--

MARK: --but isn't that where gerrymandering fits in? All we need to do is move so few voters. The-- if we can just lock up the bases. Just angry all the time and motivated and we'll vote and we've gerrymandered enough seats, then we're really just-- You don't need to nudge the middle. You just need to figure out a few more people in the tails and make them angry enough as well.

CARRIE: Well, and right into the presidential election, those enough on the tails in two states to then move, to then elect President DeSantis. But my one other critique of DeSantis, which others have brought up, is that he's only 5' 9", Blyth, so 5 foot 9 inches. So it's really hard to think that he'll become president. Only we Americans, like a president who's about 6 foot or taller, so--

MARK: --oh or taller. I think they've all been, right. So let's do a back count on this one, right. So Biden's over 6--

CARRIE: Trump 6' 3".

MARK: Right. Clinton was about 6' 2".

CARRIE: I think so. Obama 6' 2".

MARK: Obama 6' 2".

CARRIE: Yeah. Lincoln, Lincoln was tall--

MARK: --Ford-- what about Carter? Was Carter tall?

CARRIE: No. Carter, you're right, Carter was a shorter man, yeah.

MARK: --I see that's--

CARRIE: But here's my big hypothesis. And I would like to do a dissertation on this, is president versus prime minister because for example, Rishi Sunak is a petite man. He's 5' 7".

MARK: He can actually fit on a charm bracelet.

CARRIE: You see. He's so tiny. And Ron DeSantis, 5' 9". And then you have two of the female prime ministers, who are actually similar in height to Rishi, Jacinda Arden, 5' 5" and Nicola Sturgeon, 5' 4". So I just wonder whether prime ministers, the height, maybe, is slightly lower than it is for presidents.

MARK: So let's not listen to a truly terrible political science dissertation project, which would be then, so what's the effect of dictatorships when you throw it in the mix?

CARRIE: --oh, that's really good--

MARK: --and if all dictators are tall. Does that suggest that there is a penalty to be paid for presidential systems, that they're more likely to follow their dictatorships? Or if is it the case that all dictators are short, does it mean that prime ministerial systems are prone to dictatorship? That would be a totally bullshit dissertation.

CARRIE: But really, isn't Erdogan tall or short? Because Putin is short.

MARK: Right.

CARRIE: Putin is short, and I'm not sure about the Brazilian--

MARK: --see the whole thing falls apart. There's too much heterogeneity in the [INAUDIBLE] of the dictatorships.

CARRIE: That's totally-- that's totally true. Anyway, we'll--

MARK: --let's get back on track because that was just truly awful advice for anyone doing a dissertation.


MARK: Hey, we solved Brexit.

CARRIE: I know. Good job.

MARK: It's over. But it's really weird because nobody's actually saying that, but in a sense, they have. So let me get everybody up to speed on this one. There was a thing called the Northern Ireland Protocol, and when you call something a protocol, that makes it sound like you know what you're doing. But nobody knew what they were doing and the evidence of this was the protocol, was that, so we don't have a hard land border in Ireland, between Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, which given the history and all of that, it would be a really bad idea. We're going to have to figure out how to do this because it means that Northern Ireland is in the United Kingdom and Southern Ireland is in the EU. So how do you do that? You put the border in the sea.

CARRIE: Smart.

MARK: Right. OK, that sounds good but it's a bit like saying, and then you travel faster than light. It doesn't actually make any sense. So they were trying to do all this smart border stuff for customs checks and all that and it was just going nowhere. The unionists in Northern Ireland are, we want to be part of the United Kingdom and anything less than that is totally unacceptable, despite the fact that they were quite happy being part of the United Kingdom for the 30 odd years it was in the EU. But again let's move on. So anyway, to cut a long story short, they finally came up with something.

There is going to be a border and we're not quite sure what it is but we know that it's connected by two lanes, a red lane and a green lane. Now if your goods are coming from Britain and going to Northern Ireland, they're in the green lane. That means no checks. And if they're not, if they're coming from Britain or Northern Ireland and going into Southern Ireland, they're in the red lane and have to be checked. Now that we've solved that, you might ask the following questions, are you honestly telling me that if there is a paperwork or regulatory barrier with the red lane, people won't tell you that it's going in the green lane and just drive over the border. Shh. Say it ain't so, right.

And the second one is, whilst this is an elegant solution to the problems that Brexit has given to Northern Ireland and to the United Kingdom as a whole, it's weird because if you think about it, having a border with the EU and having a border with Northern Ireland and having the advantage of trade with the EU, whilst having a border that isn't really real, that's what Britain had before Brexit. So they've just went back to where they were without really telling anyone that's what we're doing.

CARRIE: OK. That's right. So you've come, potentially, come back around.

MARK: Right. But you can never admit it. You can never admit it, right. Years ago when all this kicked off I said, this is going to be like an old couple that gets divorced.


MARK: For years it's been going wrong, right. The sex dried up years ago. They're with each other just because they can't be bothered moving on and then finally one of them goes out and does something, the other one freaks out and they invest in divorce proceedings. And it costs a fortune and it's horrible. And then what happens is eventually they go, oh God, path of least resistance. We're just going to get back together again. We'll just never speak of this again.

CARRIE: Right.

MARK: And that's pretty much where we are.

CARRIE: I just have a couple of questions. Is it a literal red lane and green lane?

MARK: Or to be seen. I don't know if you actually-- there's two little roads and one's red and one's green but somehow, that's it's more of a metaphor, I think, but I'm not quite entirely sure how they're going to do it. They also have this wonderful thing now called the wind, it's called the Windsor process. That's another, the Windsor protocol, right.


MARK: That basically means that, I guess that Frank Windsor, who's a comic actor, gets to decide all things. No that's not right. Or the House of Windsor get to decide, although I think it's because they made it up when they were having tea at Windsor, but essentially, it gives the Northern Ireland parliament a veto on some stuff which makes them feel important, except for the fact that they haven't actually managed to convene that parliament in three years. So I'm not sure how that's going to work.

CARRIE: Well, this is a question from somebody who doesn't know a whole lot and that is, so there's now the red and green lane but the UK is still not part of the larger EU trading?

MARK: That's right. That's right. That's right--

CARRIE: --but Northern Ireland--

MARK: --so Northern Ireland, basically, is back in the EU, only you're not allowed to say so because it's actually not. It's part of the United Kingdom.

CARRIE: Gotcha.

MARK: Remember that whole thing about you can't be half pregnant?


MARK: Apparently you can be twice pregnant.

CARRIE: OK. And the UK is OK with that?

MARK: Yes. So long as no one talks about it.

CARRIE: And no one says what you just said?

MARK: What you just said, exactly. So everyone just forget everything I've said and it will be fine. We still have Brexit. Brexit means Brexit unless you realize it's a really bad idea and you want to do something about it. I just don't talk about it anymore.

CARRIE: OK. All right. Well, that's a really nice and neat way--

MARK: --that means we can stop talking about it. It means literally, we can stop talking about it. So I hope you've enjoyed the past four years. But you know--

CARRIE: --what a nice, tidy bow.

MARK: Exactly, exactly. I hope it was all worth it. There we go, that's it. What other horrible and depressing things are out there?

CARRIE: Where, and I ask this in a serious way, where are we with the war in Ukraine? It's been, I think the year anniversary has passed, Biden traveled there, did a big speech, actually, then Putin did a speech as well. So it was a very--

MARK: Dueling speech.

CARRIE: Dueling speeches, yeah exactly. Zelenskyy looked very strong. Once, we've talked a little bit about this, but where do you, how do you think this ends? Are we getting-- what stage are we in and what's your perspective on how you think this ends?

MARK: I think that the predictable but scary bit of this is, this is what always happens to the United States when it gets involved in one of these things. It starts off with the declaration of principle that Ukraine shouldn't have been invaded, totally true. And that we're going to back it up so it doesn't fall. Now fall, not fall is not the same as when or conquer. And if you want to have those goals, you can have those goals. But if you have an open debate about those goals then it gets a little bit harder to do it. So it's not clear that you really want to tell people what your goals are.

Now from one point of view, if you can get the Ukrainians to withstand tolerable casualties and you can kill 30 000 Russian soldiers in a month, degrade their ability to field tanks and armored personnel carriers, get them to bring T-62s out of storage, which are 60-year-old tanks and all the stuff that supposedly they're doing, while keeping their Air Force out of reach. Because you've got really good air defenses now. Then basically what you're doing is grinding down a strategic competitor and using somebody as a proxy force. Suddenly if you look at it that way, it's less about Ukrainian freedom and human rights.


MARK: But that's not to say that it's not. And it's not to say that the Ukrainians, given everything that they've been through, have absolutely zero intention of handing anything to the Russians. And if they tried to, do you think you could trust them?


MARK: After this? Not a chance. So I think it's incredibly difficult for anyone to actually think about the ends of this. Then you just get in the process, then it just becomes a thing you do and you try and manage and that's when America gets into trouble. This is what happens in Vietnam, this is what happens in Afghanistan. And then it just becomes a grinding process that we do this thing because we do this thing, not because we have any, we have actually bringing it to an end that really benefits anyone, even on our own side.

So I do worry about the inability to define the ends. Interestingly, there was the whole thing about China going to give ammunition to the Russians and then they were sternly told off by the Americans. And then China came out with a peace plan which was admittedly biased towards their side of the fence, which was Russia, but that was dismissed out of hand for better or worse. And now, China has just said, oh no, we're not putting up with this crap. You don't get to tell us everything you do. You don't get to police us.

So most recently, the new Chinese foreign minister, who was, used to be the ambassador of the United States, came out and said, really, who do you guys think you are? You tell us that you want cooperation, but you want, with limits and you willing to do competition, but you get to define all the rules. You get to tell us we don't have chips, we don't get to do AI, we don't get to do all these things. And as far as this one goes, no, you can be on that side but you can't do this, you can't do that. And who do you think you are? Imagine if any other country turned around and said to the United States all those things, right. The United States can't do this, right. Yeah, that would go down really well. But that's exactly what we're doing.

So what's the long term worry on this, I think, is that if you add together the countries that are, let's say, if not on Russia's side, then basically, not aligned with Western policy. You're talking about close to half the world's GDP.

CARRIE: Yeah, yeah.

MARK: Right. China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, right, and a whole bunch of, loads of other smaller countries. And if you keep basically, doing what you're doing, what you're saying is there's one way of being in this world, and it's our way and we will enforce that. Well, it turns out people who have been through the wringer with Western powers before, they don't really like that.


MARK: There's a way in which that might backfire on you.


MARK: So that's what I think are the longer term worries on this.

CARRIE: Yeah, right. If we're going to, we'll support you with our military, we'll give you aid but you're going to have to put up with whatever constraints we put on that money. You're going to have to go through all the hoops that we make you jump through. Time and-- historically, as you just laid out, countries aren't-- they're into it and then they're like just a gigantic pain, and then try to throw off that mantle, yeah.

MARK: Well, I'm thinking about it from India's point of view, right. India's neuralgia has always been energy imports because they're a very large country, tons of people. They need lots of oil and they don't have any. , Well because of Western sanctions, the Russians have basically put together a ghost fleet of around 200 ships and then they dump their oil onto that and sail it around and they sell it to countries like India at a discount. So rather than paying $90 they're getting it for $60 and as far as they're concerned, they don't really have an opinion on this war and why should they.

CARRIE: Right.

MARK: And we are saying no, we should all be together and lined up and it's all about the Ukrainians. Most countries don't care and they deeply resent, yet again, the West defining what the rules are, who gets to be the good guy, who gets to be the bad guy et cetera, et cetera.

CARRIE: Yeah. There's a lot of pressure. There's a news report that South Korea and Japan have, after the whole colonization thing, and when Japan colonized South Korea and all the fallout after that, glossing over slightly several decades and--

MARK: --you've made a good point on World War 2 comfort women-- the whole thing. It's not been an easy history, really.

CARRIE: But to the point that you're making Blyth, that the US has really pushed South Korea to basically say, OK, fine. We forgive you to Japan's as the alliance against China. And just based on what you were just saying, you think, I would just-- thinking back in my head, man, South Korean citizens are like, no way, we don't want to just say, OK. We accept your apology. Let's move on. And that we're still actually pretty upset by it and we would like a little bit more than just a nice apology. And so you wonder when that feels a little bit, that's why it feels a little bit too tight to either country or especially in South Korea, yeah.

MARK: No, absolutely. It is just one of those. Think about, again, there's a debate over whether the sanctioning of Russian central bank reserves, 300 billion of them, at the start of the war, really was a sanctioning. There's a lot of legal jeopardy about this. Martin Sandbu, in the FT's written some really interesting stuff on this. But nonetheless, just the very attempt to do that, right. Basically to say, hey, come on we've got this thing called the US dollar. It's fabulous. Everybody banks and everybody uses it. Doesn't matter what country you come from. You want a safe asset that you can bank into, just buy another treasury bill, helps us, help you. It's great, right. And then if you ever do anything we really don't like. We'll just take them from you.


MARK: Or you can't use them ever again, right. That doesn't really work, once people are wise to that, there's consequences for that type of stuff.

CARRIE: Yeah. Did you-- this is pivoting a little bit, there was one thing that I saw recently, and I wanted to say, this is about Eli Lilly capping insulin at $35. And I think we had talked about this earlier in the year, or I had it and then maybe we didn't talk about very much, but when Elon had taken over Twitter and there were all the people that had fake accounts but they looked like the authentic accounts. And one of them came from the Lilly account and said that insulin would now be free and then their price, or their stock plummeted by 4%, though it's unclear if it was associated with the tweet and blah, blah but anyway, now the cost has come down to $35 and I just thought that was an interesting symmetry between that public shaming that they had. Eli Lilly had charged, I think $300 or something like that, for insulin and that was bowing to public shaming but also competition.

MARK: I think there's another-- I totally agree with all that, but I think there's a really interesting aspect in this that we don't comment on, which is the language of this, right, is that they've agreed to cap the price.


MARK: Now let's think about the language, right. You cap a well, why would you cap a well? Because there's so much pressure that if you don't cap the well, it's going to blow out the ground, right. You put the cap on something to keep the pressure off. There's this idea that this thing's exploding and whether it's with energy or price or whatever, it's always on the up, and we have stepped forward and bravely put a cap on it. It's an absolutely generic product. You could practically make it for $0.50 and you've agreed to only sell it for 70 times what it's probable cost is. Aren't you awesome? This idea that you've capped the price on something that you control the price of.

It's just like what a brilliant linguistic trick. It's like when people talk about financial systems that they don't like around the world because government's involved and whatever. They talk about them as financially repressed systems, as if there's a natural state for finance to be which is always inevitable all at once, and if it's not, it's not because people have made democratic choices about the way that they want the financial system to work, it's cause it's repressed.

And there's this really interesting language that you get, particularly in the US, about markets and freedom that somehow things are being capped or it's repressed or whatever. And these are just simply political choices that every society makes, but we put this loaded language on it, either to say we don't like it when it's repressed or capped because we're bravely stepping forward. We are taking the hit on this like, no, you're not.

CARRIE: It's such a great phrase, is the framing of it. It's like Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, with a golden halo around it doing it's public service--

MARK: --it's bravely put a price cap on it. It's like, what do you mean, you control the price. It's a bit like, think about it like a local bakery, right, who sells a fancy baguette for $7, that comes in one day and says, hey, we've capped the price at $6.


MARK: What are you talking about you've copped the price? You make the stuff.

CARRIE: Right.

MARK: And it was ridiculous at $4.

CARRIE: Yeah. But you're so right. It allows them to just look like they're the saviors.

MARK: Yeah. It's nonsense. Anyway, all right, so what do we have that's light to end with? I believe there was some connection between Meghan and Harry and South Park, which I can only say, I think is long overdue. I would definitely watch that actually. So what was it about?

CARRIE: Well, the last time we talked, Harry was on this big press junket for his book, which I finished, so I think also--

MARK: --oh you didn't, did you?

CARRIE: I could give you a review of it as well.

MARK: What were you doing? I mean are you--

CARRIE: --I was curious,you know--

MARK: --that bored? Oh, come on.

CARRIE: --yeah--

MARK: --I get curious about things as well, like whether I can dismantle the underside of a sink, and then I decide no, I'll call a plumber. It must have taken you hours. What would you go through that for?

CARRIE: Here's the thing I will admit to this. I will send you an audio book and because I'm an American and he has a British accent it was so like--

MARK: Nah, you were just seduced by the whole thing.

CARRIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But mostly, I think my review of it, I mostly just feel bad for him because he has a cold, his family is cold and he wanted, he wants a more affectionate family. And so--

MARK: --right--

CARRIE: --well, most of us just like--

MARK: --well, that's never going to happen.

CARRIE: Yeah. Exactly. Suffer in silence, he writes a book but anyway, so because of that press junket then South Park had actually, I think it was the Princess of Canada, so it wasn't--

MARK: --oh my gosh. So she's the Princess of Canada? That's even better.

CARRIE: They were saying, "we want private", they're outside saying, "we want privacy. We want privacy. Don't look at us. Don't look at us." But they're out in public saying, "don't look at us" so I'm admitting that I only saw the clip of it. But it was just one of those searing tongue in cheek but totally right on depictions. And then there were rumors of course, like in People magazine, that they wanted to sue but they didn't want to sue and so it was a very scary movie.

MARK: The only way they could sue is if Ron DeSantis bill passed and the Supreme Court actually said, "yeah. This is right". That would be the only way that could work.

CARRIE: Thank you for bringing it home, yes.

MARK: But wouldn't that be a wonderful irony that the spare heir, who's running away with the Princess of Canada used the most repressive law in American history, sponsored by Meatball Ron, to basically shut up a guy, a bunch of guys from Colorado who make funny cartoons. That would be its own episode of South Park.

CARRIE: Oh that's a really good-- wow bringing all sorts of different threads together for us.

MARK: A tapestry of nonsense.

CARRIE: Yes. Are you an Academy Award watcher? Have you seen any of the nominated movies? Do you have any interest in it at all?

MARK: For one bizarre moment there, I honestly thought you were going to say, "Mark, are you an Academy Award winner?" Where is this coming from? No, I could never get into it. I have a friend who used to be here, at Brown, who moved on to pastors other and has a big Oscar party every year. And every year, I was asked and I was just honestly, I can think of other, I can go back under the sink and try and unscrew those valves again before that happens. There's this ritualistic, self celebration of stunning mediocrity and cash.


MARK: That's basically it.

CARRIE: OK. So you have-- did you see Everything, Everywhere, All At Once?

MARK: I did actually. I thought it was good. Was it as absolutely incredible as everyone thought it was? No. I think it's just because everything else was crap.

CARRIE: Yeah. OK. I think I saw Top Gun. That was the movie that I saw. It was entertaining.

MARK: Yeah. Well, what Top Gun does is it transports you back to the last decade when anyone thought everything wasn't completely falling apart, which is probably the nineteen-eighties.

CARRIE: Yeah, no, I was like the world's order is right. This is good. Bad guys lose, good guys win--

MARK: --that's exactly, exactly, yes.

CARRIE: Yes. I think that's it for us.

MARK: I think it is. I think we're done for now. We'll be back for our full spring and blossom special, Mark and Carrie, the cherry blossom special.

CARRIE: I like that. Thank you. Great to see you. Thank you for listening.

MARK: Bye.


About the Podcast

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Mark and Carrie
Mark Blyth, political economist at The Watson Ins…

About your hosts

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Mark Blyth

Host, Rhodes Center Podcast
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Carrie Nordlund

Co-Host, Mark and Carrie