Transcript: America This Week, Episode 73, January 26, 2024
Walter and Matt discuss the Texas border standoff and the growing elite reaction against populist complaints. Also, "The Kugelmass Episode," by Woody Allen
Matt Taibbi: All right. Welcome to America This Week. I’m Matt Taibbi.
Walter Kirn: And I’m Walter Kirn.
Matt Taibbi: Walter, how are you doing?
Walter Kirn: Very well. It’s springtime in Montana, which means it’s over 20 degrees and kind of rolling into the air. All the New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Back to reality.
Matt Taibbi: What were your resolutions? Were you exercising? Were you foregoing some bad habit?
Walter Kirn: I was foregoing everything basically. I decided to just quit everything that I did habitually and start over. And at this point in life, I’m down to very few bad habits.
Matt Taibbi: Really?
Walter Kirn: Yeah, I am, man. I’ve seen the wages of sin in every respect at this point in life.
Matt Taibbi: That’s really interesting. Because I’m basically nothing but bad habits at this point. Have my family and then there’s just bad habits.
Walter Kirn: Right. Right. Right.
Matt Taibbi: Yeah.
Walter Kirn: Yeah. It’s like Mark Twain’s thought on dieting was that you should eat whatever you want and let it fight it out in your stomach. That’s been my dietary rule for most of life. But I basically bought this cleanse kit from some online influencer. It was a bunch of supplements and protein powder packets and so on, that would substitute for an actual human diet. And I haven’t actually completely bailed on it. I’m still doing it, but I feel like hell.
Matt Taibbi: Really?
Walter Kirn: Yeah. Yeah. As my body loses its toxins, it’s also losing its structure. My bones ache, everything feels terrible. I can’t sleep. And my wife tells me that’s the toxins leaving my body, but I said, “If the toxins leave my body entirely, I might become ghostly.” And so maybe next week I’ll have turned the corner. How about you, Matt? How are you doing?
Matt Taibbi: I’m good. I’ve been struggling to finish something for, I don’t know, four weeks now, so it’s dominated my life. I’m hoping it actually comes out today. It’s a long story. I don’t want to get into it.
Walter Kirn: Okay.
Matt Taibbi: But I get very unhappy when I’m not finished with something, and so my mood progressively decreases as that process continues. But I am enjoying this sort of being back in the campaign flow, and even though I didn’t go out to New Hampshire this time, which is kind of a disappointment. I’m going to be going back out to South Carolina soon. Looking forward to that. It was fun the other night watching the returns come in.
Walter Kirn: Yes, it was.
Matt Taibbi: It was interesting. Looking at the reactions, I thought basically there would be stories saying that everybody won, but there were really no big winner stories in response. There was a lot of other stuff. So this is one of a bunch of stories that are currently in the news, and maybe by tomorrow this won’t be a thing. But at the moment, let’s just read the story. “Supreme Court allows border control agents to remove razor wire Texas installed at Mexico border.” Let’s read the lead from Lawrence Hurley. By the way, did you see that Ben Collins left NBC?
Walter Kirn: Oh, voluntarily?
Matt Taibbi: Yeah. I haven’t heard the full story. That’s an interesting... We have to do a proper obit at some point on that one.
Walter Kirn: Okay.
Matt Taibbi: Lawrence Hurley writes, “A closely divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed border control agents to cut through or move razor wire Texas installed on the U.S-Mexico border as part of the state’s effort to prevent illegal border crossings. The court on a five 5 to 4 vote granted an emergency request filed by the Biden administration, which had argued that Texas was preventing agents from carrying out their duties.” You can see there’s a quote down here about safety. Let’s see. “It’s impossible to say what might’ve happened if border control had had its former access to the area, including through its surveillance trucks that assisted in monitoring monitoring the area.” Blah, blah, blah.
“Rather than helping to reduce irregular migration, the State of Texas only made it harder for frontline personnel to do their jobs and to apply consequences under the law.” Then just quickly. This is interesting. The actual Supreme Court order is just this. “The application to vacate injunction presented to the Justice Alito and by him referred to the court as granted. The December order is vacated.” And then lists who did it. Now, we’re going to get in a second to this, which is Governor Abbott’s response. But first of all, Walter, why does this story matter?
Walter Kirn: Well, the issue over the razor wire can be, I guess, confined to the issue of the razor wire. It doesn’t speak generally to Texas’s efforts to secure the border itself using the National Guard. It only speaks to this particular technique of putting up razor wire. And it was only argued that this technique is in some ways an obstacle to Border Patrol agents. So that’s kind of a detail that was settled.