Weekly Wrap: "They're Not Done." NPR reporter Camila Domonoske (@camilareads) and Lauren Ober (@OberandOut), host of WAMU's The Big Listen, join Sam to talk about the week that was. With the holiday weekend upon us, the GOP got their tax bill but the future of CHIP and DACA is unclear — plus a call to a politically divided couple in Connecticut and a very special edition of the best things that happened to our listeners all week. Email the show at samsanders@npr.org or tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with your feedback. Follow Sam on Twitter @samsanders and producers Brent Baughman @brentbaughman and Anjuli Sastry @AnjuliSastry.
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Weekly Wrap: "They're Not Done."

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Weekly Wrap: "They're Not Done."

Weekly Wrap: "They're Not Done."

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(SOUNDBITE OF TCHAIKOVSKY'S "THE NUTCRACKER SUITE")

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey, y'all. It's Tamara Keith.

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all. It's Sam Sanders. And together, we are Samara (ph).

KEITH: Samara.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Fun fact - when Tam and I worked together on the politics team during the campaign last year, we tried very, very hard to get a nickname for our co-hosting duo. And I do think Samara was the most successful although there were others.

KEITH: Yeah, I liked Samara. It's easier than Sam and Tam or Tam and Sam.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KEITH: Anyway, the whole point of that name was to show that we were - are...

SANDERS: ...Still are (laughter).

KEITH: ...Still are a team.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KEITH: And right now, every NPR podcast you listen to, we are all working together as a team to try to get you to give to your local public radio station.

SANDERS: And I know that I was teasing a bit earlier this month that we were locked in mortal battle with other podcasts, like NPR Politics, to get the most donations. But actually, it's all about giving however you want. And you can give lots of different ways. If you still love NPR Politics, as I still do, you can give through their link, which is donate.npr.org/politics.

KEITH: Or if you love Sam's show, and you want to give that way, do donate.npr.org/sam. Or you could do both.

SANDERS: You could do both. You could give...

KEITH: You could totally do both.

SANDERS: You could support Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me by doing /wait. Pop Culture Happy Hour is /happy.

KEITH: ...Happy. They get happy. We get politics.

SANDERS: (Laughter) There's /codeswitch. There's so many ways.

KEITH: So no matter how you listen, you can support your local station and the work that all of us are doing.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KEITH: Happy holidays, everybody.

SANDERS: Happy holidays.

It's like old times. Oh, my God.

KEITH: I hope that's going to work. I think it'll work.

SANDERS: Oh, it'll work.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

BETTY: Hey y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week on the show, NPR reporter Camila Domonoske and the host of The Big Listen, from member station WAMU, Lauren Ober. Happy Holidays. Let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TLC SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

SANDERS: I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. Each week, we start with a different song. We'll talk about this one in just a bit. But first, as Aunt Betty said, two bright and shining lights of journalism here in the booth with me today...

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Aww.

SANDERS: Camila Domonoske, a reporter for NPR's news desk - and you cover literally all the news that's fit to online print.

DOMONOSKE: All the things, including some things that maybe weren't fit.

(LAUGHTER)

DOMONOSKE: We cover anyway.

SANDERS: And our good friends from just up the road - from NPR member station WAMU, Lauren Ober, who took a break from her own show The Big Listen to talk with us today. We're grateful for it.

LAUREN OBER, BYLINE: I'm grateful for you.

DOMONOSKE: So much gratitude in this studio.

SANDERS: Look at this.

OBER: So much.

SANDERS: I'm loving the vibes in here right now.

OBER: Yeah.

SANDERS: I'm loving the vibes.

OBER: Yeah. I'm feeling holiday-ish, you know?

SANDERS: Speaking of holiday-ish, this song...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

TLC: (Singing) Let's have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

SANDERS: It's one of the best...

OBER: Do I hear Left Eye?

SANDERS: You hear Left Eye.

OBER: Ooh, tell me, girl.

SANDERS: So this is a TLC song, "Sleigh Ride," which is one of the best and most underrated holiday songs of all time. And part of why I love it so much is because Left Eye's rap is just the pinnacle. She starts the rap by saying giddyup.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

LISA LOPES: (Rapping) Giddyup, giddyup, giddyup and away we go.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: And away we go. It's just beautiful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

LOPES: (Rapping) With the Left, everything is grand. Sleigh ride if you like me baby. Don't be scared. Take my hand. T to the Left Eye. See if you can take a glide...

SANDERS: And I hope all of our listeners are in the holiday spirit as well. I am. Lauren is moving. I love it.

OBER: I just need to get my body going. I need to get in the spirit. My parents are coming today.

SANDERS: You can do it.

OBER: I have to get myself in a mood.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

TLC: (Singing) It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.

SANDERS: We're here to discuss what happened this week. A big tax overhaul cleared Congress. We are also going to look back on some big or small stories that you may have missed this year. So I'm looking forward to that as well. All right. With that, let's begin the show as we always do. We're going to each describe how this week of news felt in only three words. Lauren, I know you got this. It's kind of tied to the tax bill's passage. You're up first.

OBER: (Laughter) What if I told you that I Googled three-word phrases to figure this out?

SANDERS: Really?

DOMONOSKE: That means you did your homework.

OBER: I'm not saying I did. I'm saying, what if I told you that?

SANDERS: What shows up when you Google three-word phrases?

OBER: Not anything good. Mine this week though was haste makes waste because I don't understand how you could pass legislation - or you could write legislation, rather, in like three minutes, right?

SANDERS: You know what's so interesting though? It's funny. I was talking to a member of the House this week. And he said everyone was looking at the Senate moving quickly. But the House under Paul Ryan's leadership has been trying to work on taxes for years. And I think a lot of that was overshadowed in the chicanery you saw in the Senate...

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: ...And in Donald Trump's tweets.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: You know? And so there was this weird dichotomy this week, you know?

OBER: Right. But for the average citizen - right? - it feels like, whoa, whoa, what?

DOMONOSKE: All of a sudden, there's a tax bill.

SANDERS: Where did this come from?

OBER: Right. You know, we say that Senate is the greatest deliberative body, right?

SANDERS: LOL.

OBER: LOLZ (ph). And I just - I would have loved to see a little more deliberation, maybe.

SANDERS: Well, and it's funny. Like, I keep hearing stuff about the tax bill since it's passed. And people keep finding out new things.

DOMONOSKE: And there's so much wrapped into then this one bill. These two words, tax bill - like, it contains actually so many different...

SANDERS: It's a lot.

DOMONOSKE: ...Policy changes.

SANDERS: It opens up drilling in Alaska. It does a lot of stuff.

DOMONOSKE: Exactly. And that's true of so many...

OBER: It deals with health care. Right.

SANDERS: What I think is going to be really interesting to watch is how the public feels this does or does not hit their pocketbook. A lot of the savings that you'll get once you file your taxes - that's not going to come when you file in April, 2018. It's going to come when you file in April, 2019.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: This is a bill that still has a lot of questions. And a lot of the impact might not be felt until after the midterm elections.

OBER: Right. So yeah, I don't know. I mean, I got an email from my accountant that was indecipherable - that was...

SANDERS: Really? About the tax bill?

OBER: Yeah, that was like, here are the things that you need to keep in mind when you're filing your taxes in 2018 - blah, blah, blah. You might want to shift these things around. And I was like, I don't even have any assets to shift. Like, how can I help myself? But I mean, this was - these were tax professionals that were sending out a note.

SANDERS: We-don't-know emails.

OBER: Right, that was like...

SANDERS: We don't know.

OBER: We don't know.

SANDERS: We don't know. I'm going to go next. My three words are they're not done because, even in spite of that big moment for Republicans this week when they pass this bill, there's a lot of unfinished business. As we all know, the government is - seems to be always a few weeks from a shutdown. They have approved a temporary stopgap measure to fund the government through some time in January. But there were two big items of unfinished business after the tax bill - CHIP, The Children's Health Insurance Program, and also DACA, which is The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program. Donald Trump announced a few months ago that he would be rolling that program down. And he put the onus on Congress to pass a bill to basically continue these protections for children that are now adults in some cases who have come into the country legally but want to stay. And so those things weren't done.

We did see a temporary funding of CHIP for a few months in this stopgap measure. But DACA is still in limbo. And there are some 1.2 million people living here right now who do not know what their status will be next year. And just to underscore how tenuous things have gotten with CHIP, a few states have sent out letters to their residents saying, we're going to close this program down by the end of December or the end of January unless Congress acts. That's how down to the wire they were.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah, I was reading that in Virginia. One of the reasons they sent out the letter was because if they hadn't sent out earlier in the month - if they waited to see if Congress would actually act then, if it was expiring, those letters would go out basically at Christmas.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness.

DOMONOSKE: And the state administrators were just like, we cannot bring ourselves to do that to people.

OBER: No.

DOMONOSKE: We would rather have people get alarmed unnecessarily and then relieved that it got extended earlier then tell people that their their children are losing their health insurance on Christmas Day. Like, we we can't do that.

SANDERS: And we cannot stress enough how bipartisan something like spending money on health insurance for poor children used to be - so a lot of questions about what's going to happen there. Camila, you're last - three words?

DOMONOSKE: All right. So I cheated.

SANDERS: That's OK.

DOMONOSKE: Those aren't my three words.

SANDERS: So I cheated - OK.

OBER: So I cheated could mean so many things.

DOMONOSKE: How I acquired my three words - first, I stole them. I stole them from Alex Neason, who writes for The Columbia Journalism Review. So she writes about media. And secondly, they're actually about last week. So I cheated on two fronts.

SANDERS: It's OK.

DOMONOSKE: But my three words are, what in tarnation?

SANDERS: You can't just say that straight. You got to...

DOMONOSKE: What in tarnation?

SANDERS: That sounds about right.

DOMONOSKE: What is tarnation? So Alex tweeted at me. She said I was on the what-in-tarnation beat, which I'm not officially on. But I will say last week I had a string...

SANDERS: You cover wacky news.

DOMONOSKE: I had a string of stories that just really had me questioning a lot of things...

SANDERS: Run through them.

DOMONOSKE: ...About like my life and the world. So first, there were the human feet. So I don't know if you know this is a thing in the Pacific Northwest. Like, human feet wash ashore...

SANDERS: What?

DOMONOSKE: ...Just because people die in accidents. Some, you know - and then they get in the water, and the water's cold. So if you were wearing athletic shoes, like tennis shoes, when you died and became a corpse in these frosty waters, your feet float...

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

DOMONOSKE: So the feet come up to the surface. And then eventually, they wash ashore.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

DOMONOSKE: And if you find one on Vancouver Island - pro tip - don't pick it up, which is what this guy did with the most recently discovered foot. You don't have to take it home. The police will take care of it for you.

OBER: You don't have to take it home.

SANDERS: So that was the first wacky headline.

DOMONOSKE: That was the first wacky headline. Don't panic about the human feet. So then there was monkeys and deer in Japan...

OBER: Oh, no. I saw this. Uh-uh, nope.

DOMONOSKE: ...Engaging in sexual interactions in a way that was pretty remarkable.

SANDERS: Who was doing - actually, I don't want to know.

DOMONOSKE: Adolescent female macaques were mounting these sika deer in Japan. And it was kind of funny. It was mostly male sika deer. The female deer would run away. And the male deer would kind of just keep eating and let this happen on their backs. Anyway, the researchers did extensive analysis of like the noises that the female monkeys were making. What's the age range of your audience, Sam? I don't know how graphic I can get...

SANDERS: Today it should be older.

(LAUGHTER)

DOMONOSKE: ...In my descriptions of this.

OBER: This is 9 to 90.

DOMONOSKE: But, yeah, they determined that this was an example of an hetero-specific - if you want to know the word for a relationship between two different species, that's a hetero-specific sexual interaction. So yeah, that's a thing. And they're still trying to figure out why these monkeys are doing it. But they definitely are repeatedly.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: And last year, everyone was saying 2016 was the craziest year ever. Now, they're saying 2017 is the craziest year ever. Do those kind of things happen every year? Or was this year particularly crazy?

DOMONOSKE: I don't know. I have no answers.

SANDERS: Nor do I.

OBER: But there are photos.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Time for a quick break - coming up, Long Distance and my favorite game, Who Said That? You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll be right back.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

SANDERS: We are back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. I'm Sam Sanders talking this week with Camila Domonoske of NPR's "The Two-Way" blog and Newsdesk and Lauren Ober who came down from WAMU, our lovely Washington, D.C., member station where she hosts the show The Big Listen.

Quick yes-or-no question - NBC says it might bring back "The Office" next year. Just rumors now, but we do know that Steve Carell probably won't be in the reboot. So yes or no? Would you watch it?

DOMONOSKE: No.

OBER: No.

SANDERS: I agree. Like, don't screw up a good thing. That show was very good already.

OBER: Why do we need a million remakes and a million sequels?

DOMONOSKE: Let it be what it was.

SANDERS: Also the best three minutes of TV comedy ever is that scene where they're trying to train the office in CPR. Remember that?

DOMONOSKE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Listeners, go Google it right now. It's amazing, seriously. All right. Now, it's time for a segment that we call Long Distance.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAKE SONG, "HOTLINE BLING")

SANDERS: We call up a listener somewhere in the world and talk to them about what's going on in their neck of the woods. Today, we have two callers on the line from Connecticut, Marty and Jessica Halprin. You guys there?

JESSICA HALPRIN: Yes.

SANDERS: Hey, there. How are you?

J. HALPRIN: Hi - good. How are you?

SANDERS: Good. I only hear one voice right now.

MARTY HALPRIN: Yeah. If I have to be here, I'm here. I'm good.

DOMONOSKE: Ooh. Are not you excited about being on Sam's show?

OBER: Twist my arm.

M. HALPRIN: I don't know if I'm as excited.

SANDERS: Well, we'll make it fun. I promise. You're on the phone right now with me and two of my friends, Camila and Lauren. Say hi, guys.

OBER: Hey.

DOMONOSKE: Hey.

M. HALPRIN: Hi.

SANDERS: So what do you guys do there in Connecticut?

J. HALPRIN: So I'm a lawyer.

SANDERS: Cool, cool.

M. HALPRIN: I'm a firefighter.

SANDERS: Awesome, very cool. So we wanted to call you both because in this season of togetherness, it has also still been a year full of pretty stark divisions over things like politics. You guys are married. But one of you voted for Hillary Clinton last year. The other voted for Donald Trump last year. Who voted for who?

J. HALPRIN: I voted...

M. HALPRIN: Who do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I'm asking.

OBER: We don't make assumptions, Mark.

J. HALPRIN: I voted for Clinton.

M. HALPRIN: And I voted for the one who's in office now.

SANDERS: OK, all right. How has this year since the election been for you both?

M. HALPRIN: Jessica, go ahead.

J. HALPRIN: (Laughter).

DOMONOSKE: I feel like we can hear you guys looking at each other. Is that...

J. HALPRIN: No, I swear we are not in the same room.

(LAUGHTER)

OBER: That's probably good at this point.

SANDERS: So how's your year been?

J. HALPRIN: Well, it was - so I think the first - since the inauguration, it was obviously more intense - not necessarily between the two of us, but certainly among our friends and our colleagues and neighbors that - there was a lot of conversation. And it sort of died down. And eventually, I just had to readjust my paradigm.

SANDERS: So you were saying the neighbors were talking. What were they saying to you guys?

M. HALPRIN: They - believe it or not - well, you should believe it actually because it's true. A lot of them actually support Trump.

SANDERS: All right.

M. HALPRIN: Not all of them may admit it.

J. HALPRIN: Don't throw our neighbors under the bus.

(LAUGHTER)

M. HALPRIN: Neighbors - well, let's not just say neighbors - friends, colleagues. There's a large percentage. And there's a large percentage that won't openly admit it either.

SANDERS: Marty, how has your year been as a Trump supporter since...

M. HALPRIN: As good as it gets.

SANDERS: Really?

J. HALPRIN: Seriously?

SANDERS: Describe. Elaborate.

M. HALPRIN: No, I don't really feel much different from when he won.

SANDERS: OK.

M. HALPRIN: You know, I'm not a big fan of the tweets.

SANDERS: OK.

M. HALPRIN: I'm not a big fan of some of the things he says.

SANDERS: OK.

M. HALPRIN: You know, I'm a fan of him recognizing Jerusalem...

SANDERS: OK.

M. HALPRIN: ...Where other presidents have failed to do that. You know, the new tax code coming out - I haven't really seen it all, so it's hard for me to comment. But I'm not a fan of giving corporations such a big tax cut.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Do the two of you, as a couple, talk about politics differently or more or less since the election has happened?

J. HALPRIN: So I was raised in a family that very often talked politics. So the mere fact that my husband may continue to be misguided in a lot of ways doesn't mean that I'm going to stop talking about it. However, people have approached us and said, you know, that in their own personal relationships there have been disagreement and dissension. And how do we move on from that? Because if we can't - if like a married couple can't deal with their political differences, then there is no way that as a nation we're going to be able to deal with them.

SANDERS: Yeah. So on that note then, what advice or pro tips can you give to folks out in the real world trying to overcome those divisions in their everyday lives as well?

J. HALPRIN: Marty?

M. HALPRIN: I'd put it simply. I'd say suck it up, buttercup.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Marty - you're on fire today, Marty. I feel like Marty would be fun to have at drinks. Marty sounds like a cool guy.

J. HALPRIN: (Laughter) He would be. So I do have to say that when it came down for the Women's March last January, my husband was like, I'll look after the kids. You go down. You go to D.C., New York, wherever you want to go. I'll handle it. So he is very supportive. So that's number one. And number two is he and I have found other ways to work on what we feel is important. Like, for example, we have spent the morning organizing toys to give away to, you know, local homeless shelters. And that sort of is in alignment. It transcends political differences. And I think that's really important to focus on because, at the end of the day, we still want to live in a very caring world. He just has a different view of how that's achieved sometimes.

M. HALPRIN: Listen. You got three more years. If it doesn't work, then you need to get out and change it. But it might work very well. We'll see.

J. HALPRIN: Oh, honey - so misguided.

SANDERS: Hey, now, you've used the word misguided several times over the course of this conversation.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Marty, Jessica, you guys are just cracking me up. I really enjoyed our chat. I think our listeners can learn a lot from you both. Thank you and have a great weekend.

M. HALPRIN: Thank you.

J. HALPRIN: Thank you.

SANDERS: All right, you guys...

J. HALPRIN: Enjoy the holiday.

SANDERS: Take care. Bye.

J. HALPRIN: OK. Bye.

M. HALPRIN: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

TLC: (Singing) Jingle bells. Batman smells.

SANDERS: Listeners, we want to talk to you for this segment. If you want us to give you a call and hear about anything going on where you live, drop us a note, tell me what's going on - samsanders@npr.org - samsanders@npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

TLC: (singing) But when it gets to deciding, he's a slipping and a sliding in his own sleigh ride.

SANDERS: So usually at this point in the show, we take some time to talk about one story in depth. But I wanted us to do things a bit differently today and go around the horn and share one story that we think was kind of overlooked this year. So let's do that. Camila, you're up first.

DOMONOSKE: All right. So the story that I picked - I mean, it's overlooked not because it necessarily should have been a bigger deal than it was. It was a little moment.

SANDERS: OK.

DOMONOSKE: But there's a couple things about it that have kind of stuck with me. So this was in February, and President Trump was meeting with a group of sheriffs from around the country. And this one sheriff from Texas said that there was a state senator in Texas who was trying to introduce legislation to require a conviction for civil asset forfeiture.

SANDERS: Which is what?

DOMONOSKE: So civil asset forfeiture is where the police can take property, including cash, jewelry, cars, from people who they suspect of having committed a crime and keep that property.

SANDERS: So, like, if you had a $20 bill in your wallet when you got arrested, they could just keep it.

DOMONOSKE: Exactly. Although, this normally happens with much larger quantities...

SANDERS: OK.

DOMONOSKE: ...Of money - hundreds, thousands of dollars.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DOMONOSKE: And they'll keep it. And that money will then go in many cases into the budget of the local police department. And it's perfectly legal for police to do this without convicting you of a crime and even without charging you of a crime.

SANDERS: So if they pick me up because they think I'm some other guy and I got $500 on me.

DOMONOSKE: And they take it and...

SANDERS: They could just keep it. And not even just keep it but, like, put it in their budget.

DOMONOSKE: Yes. And you can challenge that, right? But the process for challenging it...

SANDERS: But you're not going to get it back.

DOMONOSKE: ...To get your money back is expensive and time consuming. So it hits people who don't have access to resources the hardest.

SANDERS: How widespread is this?

DOMONOSKE: This is a practice across the country. It varies - state laws vary on how it's implemented and jurisdictions vary on how it's implemented, which is actually one of the big sort of themes of this story. This is the local sheriff talking about a Texas state legislator who's trying to introduce a law to require a conviction. Basically, to say you have to be convicted of a crime before the police can seize your money as being, quote, unquote, like, "ill-gotten gains."

SANDERS: Yeah.

DOMONOSKE: Your money, your car.

SANDERS: So what happened with that?

DOMONOSKE: So this sheriff made this comment about the state legislator who was getting in his way and Trump responded with, what's his name? We could end his career.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HAROLD EAVENSON: A state senator in Texas was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Can you believe that?

EAVENSON: And I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.

TRUMP: Who's the state senator? Do you want to give his name? We'll destroy his career.

(LAUGHTER)

DOMONOSKE: And so there are a couple of things about this. One is that in July, the Trump administration moved to bring back a federal policy that President Obama had eliminated, which was to partner with local jurisdictions in states that have restrictions on civil asset forfeiture to sort of use the power of the federal government, say they were seizing it for federal purposes, and then the federal government would give, like, 80 percent back to local law enforcement.

SANDERS: Whoa.

DOMONOSKE: Basically, this indication that all the way back in February, Trump gave that he was with the local...

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMONOSKE: ...Sheriffs against state laws was then carried out in federal policy. And there's currently a bill in the House to sort of stop the Trump administration from doing this that passed the House. It hasn't gotten through the Senate. And it's not a big story. The details of it are a little bit wonky, but it does it affect people.

SANDERS: Totally.

DOMONOSKE: And the other thing about that story that just sort of sticks in the back of my head is Trump's comment about ending the state senator's career. And the question that comes up again and again when we're covering the president of how do you characterize his statements.

SANDERS: Do you take it seriously or not?

DOMONOSKE: Right. In this case do you say he was joking?

SANDERS: Because he didn't know that guy.

DOMONOSKE: He didn't know that guy.

SANDERS: And he had heard of it before, it seems.

DOMONOSKE: Right. And...

SANDERS: He was just riffing.

DOMONOSKE: He was just riffing and everyone in the room laughed. If everyone laughs, is it a joke? If the president is saying it without having thought of it before, is it not a policy? Well, in some cases where he's saying things that are riffing off the cuff, they actually become...

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

DOMONOSKE: ...Federal policy. When he was in Puerto Rico talking about how it was really hurting the federal budget and everyone was like do we describe that as the president joking about...

SANDERS: Yeah.

DOMONOSKE: ...Puerto Rico hurting the federal budget or is he, like, grinning and saying something that he means because sometimes he does that too? It's just a persistent challenge of covering the president.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DOMONOSKE: So both of those, like, intersections of stories that don't get very much attention where the administration is making changes that have broad-reaching implications and, like, rhetoric and action and how you interpret the relationship between the president's statements and his intentions. It's just...

SANDERS: What happened to the state senator?

DOMONOSKE: I think he's fine.

(LAUGHTER)

DOMONOSKE: To my knowledge, his career has not been ended.

SANDERS: OK. All right. Lauren, you're up.

OBER: OK. So this isn't quite as obscure. But the thing that keeps sticking in my mind is the fact that 2017 was the deadliest year for mass shootings in the history of America.

DOMONOSKE: Recent history.

OBER: In recent...

DOMONOSKE: In recent U.S. history.

OBER: Right. Exactly. I'm speaking in recent history and not in the course of war or aggression or...

SANDERS: Westward expansion.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: It's crazy.

OBER: So the number is 112 deaths of mass shootings. And there are different criteria. I think the established criteria is that, you know, the shootings didn't happen in the course of crime or gang violence or whatever and they happened in a public space. You remember in 2016, 49 people were shot at the Pulse Nightclub...

SANDERS: Yeah.

OBER: ...In Orlando, which was the deadliest mass shooting...

SANDERS: And then Vegas happened this year.

OBER: ...In history. And then Vegas happened. So we keep one-upping...

SANDERS: Yeah.

OBER: ...I guess. You know, not to be crass about it. But the thing that I'm interested in is that not that this isn't covered. I think it's covered at the time we talk about, you know, we cover the people who have been shot, we cover for maybe a week the ways in which people may or may not be responding in the political realm, right? But then, it goes away and we, as citizens, are left with, you know, what office now doesn't have active shooter drills, right?

SANDERS: Yeah. So there had been discussion for a bit after the Las Vegas shooting about the possibility of some new gun control measures, particularly, the ban of what are called bump stocks, which basically allow a semiautomatic weapon to become an automatic weapon. And that ended up going nowhere.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: I wonder if any of our lawmakers - if other big parts of the country will look back on this like you have Lauren and say, whoa, this was the biggest year in a while. We've got to do something. But it seems like we get quicker and quicker and more easily ready to just move on from these things after about a week or so.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah. The short half-life of these stories in...

OBER: Right.

DOMONOSKE: ...The public sort of consciousness...

OBER: Right.

DOMONOSKE: ...It is astounding. Sam, what's yours?

SANDERS: I have been really obsessed this year with the changing fortunes of Silicon Valley. I think that the titans of tech and Internet have been taken down a peg this year.

OBER: How?

SANDERS: And we'll run through a few for you.

OBER: Yeah.

SANDERS: Snapchat, which was supposed to be the future of social media, they had an IPO, an initial public offering. Since that offering, their stock has been down about 35 percent. Uber has been in big trouble all year. They were the darlings of Silicon Valley. Their CEO had to step down. And they're still being challenged by countries across the globe. This week, they took a big hit in Europe. An international court there declared the company a transport company, which basically means they have to be treated just like taxis all across the EU. What else? Facebook and Twitter are still grappling with Russia. They are facing really, really big questions. Should they censor content? Are they media organizations? Should they be regulated by Congress and the president? Like, that is a big shift from a few years ago when they were going to be, like, the future. And no one wanted to touch them. Just let them do what they wanted to do. I think that Silicon Valley will have to grapple with two questions next year. One, do they need someone to regulating them? And two, are they really making the world a better place?

OBER: Right. Right. But then, they also are facing personnel existential crisis.

SANDERS: Yeah.

OBER: Right. I mean, obviously, women are finding it really hard to make inroads in these tech companies. Like, that is also a big issue. But I'm wondering - well, so are they not providing value? Like, you're a huge Twitter user. You find value in that. Connecting with people.

SANDERS: Oh, I totally do. I couldn't have my job without it.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: But here's the thing - my question and I think the question that they have to ask themselves when they're making these products - does the benefit outweigh the burden? As good as Twitter is for my career, it'll make you crazy if you let it.

DOMONOSKE: Yes. That's true.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: And it'll give you emotional, emotional stress.

DOMONOSKE: There's also, like, a limitation, I think, that they might be bumping up against where a lot of these dudes have the mindset that technology can fix, like, almost anything if applied properly. Like, if you frame the problem in the right terms and come up with the right sort of solution - machine-learning. And, you know, like, there's a belief in the transformative abilities of technology...

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMONOSKE: ...To save...

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMONOSKE: ...Humans from problems...

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMONOSKE: Right.

DOMONOSKE: ...That we've created, right? And they are able to make transformative changes to human behavior through technology. But at some point you do reach a point where you can't fix something...

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMONOSKE: ...With a tweak in the code.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DOMONOSKE: And I think a lot of these various...

SANDERS: (Unintelligible).

DOMONOSKE: ...Silicon Valley - yeah - giants have reached that point.

SANDERS: OK. Three stories that you missed. I will follow up with you guys in 2018 to see what the status is of all of them. All right. Time for a quick break we'll be right back with my favorite game, Who Said That.

OBER: Oh, my God. There's a game?

SANDERS: You know there's a game.

DOMONOSKE: There's a game.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: We are back. All right now it's time for game that we call...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA")

KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

SANDERS: Who Said That? This game is so simple. I share a quote from the week. You guys have to guess who said that. We'll do three today. No need to get, like, the exact name of who said it. If you get the story or something close - if you get close...

OBER: If I could describe...

DOMONOSKE: You'll round up.

OBER: ...What the face looks like or, like, what they were wearing...

SANDERS: There's that.

OBER: ...When they said it.

SANDERS: If you could just even share, like, how the story made you feel.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: That might be a good idea.

DOMONOSKE: Let's do it.

SANDERS: Also side note - the winner gets absolutely nothing.

OBER: That's what you think.

DOMONOSKE: Glory.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Glory. Yes. Ready? So first quote...

OBER: Hit it.

SANDERS: ..."Basically both names get put into a jar and one gets pulled out. And that's who wins."

DOMONOSKE: Oh, oh, oh.

OBER: Yes, yes.

SANDERS: Go. Somebody just - wait, I love how you both said oh, oh, oh, yes, yes and not just the answer.

DOMONOSKE: Well, yeah. We don't have a buzzers.

OBER: Should we do it in unison?

DOMONOSKE: Yeah. OK. Here we go.

SANDERS: On three - one, two, three.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE AND LAUREN OBER: The Virginia election...

OBER: The Virginia election in the House - in the House.

DOMONOSKE: ...Where there was a tie.

SANDERS: That was the first tandem answer we've ever had. Is that correct, Bret? So you both are right. That was a quote from Quentin Kidd. He's a public policy professor at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. And he's talking about an election in Virginia for state rep that has come down to a literal tie.

DOMONOSKE: It's unbelievable.

SANDERS: And that means per Virginia state law, the winner will be determined by the drawing of lots.

OBER: Right. But they put the names in film canisters.

SANDERS: I didn't know that.

OBER: And then they put the film canisters in a jar.

SANDERS: And then you just pick one out.

OBER: Right. Like, who has a film canister just lying around?

SANDERS: Virginians do.

OBER: Apparently. And then, if your name doesn't get picked...

DOMONOSKE: You can call in the recount.

OBER: ...You can call a recount.

SANDERS: Wait, you can recount...

OBER: You can recount again.

DOMONOSKE: You can recount again.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.

OBER: It's a never-ending - it's like infinity recount.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. So this is actually really high stakes because - so if the Democrat wins, if Shelly Simonds wins this drawing of lots, the House of Delegates in Virginia would be tied 50/50, which means they would have to, like, come up with all kinds of power-sharing rules. This is a big deal for the state.

OBER: Huge.

SANDERS: Next quote - "our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices." Who said that?

DOMONOSKE: Apple. Because they're...

SANDERS: Look at you.

DOMONOSKE: ...Slowing down our iPhones.

SANDERS: Yeah.

OBER: I hate that.

SANDERS: Did you guys hear the story this week?

OBER: Yes, about the batteries and, like, we all have thought that our phones are dying on cue.

DOMONOSKE: On purpose.

SANDERS: So here's the backstory...

DOMONOSKE: It's not paranoia.

SANDERS: ...Here's the backstory. For years, iPhone users, tech analysts, the entire universe thought that Apple was slowing down older iPhones once they got older. Apple basically cops to it this week and said, yeah, we do that. But they said it's not to make you get a new phone. They say it's because the batteries of those iPhones are lithium-ion batteries. They degrade over time. So they slow the phone down to prevent your phone from crashing.

DOMONOSKE: Maybe they should've given them replaceable batteries.

OBER: Right.

SANDERS: Look it here. That's true.

OBER: Right. Like, I should be able to go into my local CVS, buy an iPhone battery rather than replace the whole thing.

DOMONOSKE: Swap them out.

SANDERS: As I always - well, I don't always say it, but I'm saying it about this. They aren't on your side.

OBER: No.

SANDERS: They just aren't.

OBER: Who is though? I'm on your side, though.

SANDERS: Thanks, buddy. I'm on y'all side.

OBER: Thank you.

DOMONOSKE: OK.

SANDERS: All the sides. All right. The next one, I'm going to give you a hint. It's about food. And it's about a certain food from our neighbors to the north. "In Vancouver, they will get it all wrong. They will use mozzarella."

DOMONOSKE: Poutine.

OBER: Pizza. Pizza. What?

DOMONOSKE: You said pizza.

SANDERS: You said pizza.

OBER: I said pizza (laughter). I said pizza. That's not right.- poutine, OK, fine.

DOMONOSKE: The famous Canadian poutine.

OBER: What is wrong with me?

DOMONOSKE: Culture.

SANDERS: It's OK.

OBER: Well, first I was like, maple syrup, but then maple syrup and mozzarella don't go together.

SANDERS: You know what though? I...

DOMONOSKE: I think they could.

SANDERS: ...I'm not above maple syrup mozzarella.

OBER: No, I'm sure that somebody has done it. They use...

SANDERS: Yeah.

OBER: ...Maple syrup with everything.

SANDERS: Yeah. So that was Lesley Chesterman. She's a food critic at the Montreal Gazette. And she was quoted with many others in an article in The New York Times this week that basically was talking about this raging battle in Canada over whether poutine is Canadian or Quebecois. Poutine, for those of you who are missing out, is french fries, gravy and cheese curds - quite good. And Quebec is the French province of Canada, majority French speaking. It's just Francophone like whoa.

OBER: Like whoa.

SANDERS: Yeah. And so...

OBER: Like, quoi (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: (Laughter) So they've been saying that every other part of Canada that takes poutine, they're appropriating poutine, to which I say none of us Americans can tell the difference.

OBER: My favorite is how you say it. It's like (imitating country accent) poutine.

SANDERS: (Imitating country accent) Poutine.

OBER: Poutine. Like - it's like a Texas thing now.

SANDERS: I - God I wish we had it in Texas.

DOMONOSKE: I bet - oh. Like - with some beans on there.

OBER: Right, or, like, barbecue sauce on there

DOMONOSKE: Yeah.

SANDERS: Canadian listeners, get at me. I want to understand this because I don't yet - seriously.

OBER: Have you had poutine?

SANDERS: Oh, I have. I was in Portland for a few months and I ate it all the time there.

OBER: Not even in Canada or Quebec.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: No. Portland, Ore. All right. With that it is over. I don't even know who won.

OBER: I mean, I know who won and it wasn't me.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: You know who won?

OBER: Camila won.

DOMONOSKE: I won.

SANDERS: You know who won? Quebec.

OBER: Yeah it did.

DOMONOSKE: Oh, yeah.

OBER: Poutine won.

DOMONOSKE: The real winner here.

SANDERS: The real winners.

OBER: It wasn't pizza, though.

(LAUGHTER)

OBER: Pizza didn't win that round.

DOMONOSKE: Now I want some pizza.

SANDERS: Congratulations, Camila. Here is your nothing.

DOMONOSKE: Yay.

OBER: Yay.

SANDERS: All right. You guys are almost out of here. But first, I want to plug our episode from this past Tuesday. I talked to Rachel Brosnahan. She's an actor who just, the day before we spoke, found out that she's up for a Golden Globe. She - this is for her work on a new Amazon series called "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Have you guys watched it?

OBER: No.

DOMONOSKE: No. It's binge worthy or not binge worthy?

SANDERS: It's definitely binge worthy.

DOMONOSKE: All right.

SANDERS: I want to play a cut from my interview with Rachel because we talked about more than just the show. We talked about women and women friendships and what this show means for the #MeToo movement. We got kind of deep, and she went really deep on what it means to have a show about women made by women.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

RACHEL BROSNAHAN: We have women in front of, behind the camera, and we're always looking for more.

SANDERS: Yes.

BROSNAHAN: We're complicated beings and it's a beautiful thing and I - and that nuance, I think, is something that only female creators, at least at this point in time, can really grasp...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BROSNAHAN: ...In all of it's...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BROSNAHAN: All of it's all of it (laughter).

SANDERS: So for your listeners out there who are going to be home for the holidays and need a reason to not be all up in your parents' grill, go to your old childhood bedroom and watch this show after you hear the podcast episode.

DOMONOSKE: That is such a specific recommendation and I love it.

SANDERS: Oh, there was one Thanksgiving I watched the entirety of "Breaking Bad" season 5 at my mother's house on my iPhone.

(LAUGHTER)

OBER: Were you in a twin bed? That's my favorite when you go home for the holidays...

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah.

OBER: They're like - twin bed.

SANDERS: Now it's time to end the Weekly Wrap as we always do. Every week, we ask our listeners to send us a recording of their own voices sharing the best thing to happen to them all week. We encourage them to always brag and they always do. So we're going to get to it. But first, I have a note here - I actually don't know what it's about. My producers are telling me that the first voice we're going to hear requires a bit of context. Apparently, it is about something a listener of ours heard on the show a couple of weeks back. In that episode - I'm just reading here, I don't know what's going on. In that episode during Who Said That, we used a quote from the actress Allison Williams - you know her from HBO's "Girls," also from "Get Out" - and we used a clip of her for Who Said That where she was talking about that movie, "Get Out." That's the backstory. Anyways, we played that cut, I guess someone wrote in about it and we have audio here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALLISON WILLIAMS: Hi, my name is Allison Williams...

DOMONOSKE: What?

SANDERS: Girl, stop.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: ...And the best thing that happened to me last week...

SANDERS: What?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: ...Is that I was in a hotel room in London and I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, and lo and behold in the game of Who Said That, my own voice and name came up. And I was totally surprised and started freaking out, and my husband then encouraged me just to say thank you for the best thing.

SANDERS: Oh, my god.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIM: Hey Sam, this is Tim from Newington, Conn. The best thing that happened to me this week was that I went down to Alabama with my girlfriend and I met her whole family for the very first time.

SANDERS: Oh, nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIM: And they didn't hate me, or at least I think so.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah.

OBER: Oh.

SANDERS: That is a good thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JULIE: Hi Sam, this is Julie from New York City and the best thing that happened to me all week was I got into law school.

SANDERS: Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMELIA: My almost 1-year-old daughter started giving me hugs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GBENGA: I am now at the airport, about to get on a plane to Casablanca, Abidjan and Lagos.

SANDERS: Oh, nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMANDA: Hi, Sam. This is Amanda in Greensboro, N.C. And the best thing that happened to me all week was working my [expletive] off for the last wedding of 2017 at the bed and breakfast that my husband and I opened this year in a beautiful old historic home.

OBER: Cute.

SANDERS: Very cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREA: Hi, Sam. This is Andrea from Miami, and the best thing that happened to me this week is I am with my dear friend in the Grand Canyon for the first time. And I'm looking at all of it now, and it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.

SANDERS: Oh, I love that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREA: And I'm feeling very small in the best possible way.

OBER: Oh, nature.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ARIEL: Hi, Sam. This is Ariel, and I'm a Texas expat who just moved to North Carolina. The best thing to happen to me this week was that at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning after several flight delays, my husband and his Army unit returned from overseas.

SANDERS: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ARIEL: We just celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary last month, but because of deployments and trainings, we have only been together about four months since getting married. So now we are together and are finally starting married life for real.

SANDERS: Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VALERIE WESTON: Hi, Sam. This is Valerie Weston from Mill Valley, Calif. And the best thing that happened to me this week is that I became a pilot at age 70.

SANDERS: Whoa, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WESTON: I've wanted to fly since I was a little girl and I didn't get around to it until I retired.

SANDERS: Wow.

DOMONOSKE: That's so great.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WESTON: It was the hardest thing I've ever done.

SANDERS: Wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WESTON: But now that it's done, it was so worth it. Happy holidays to you and to everyone listening.

OBER: She's my shero(ph).

DOMONOSKE: Oh, my God, that's so inspiring.

SANDERS: Life goals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JESSICA: Hey, Sam. This is Jessica in San Antonio, Texas. And the best thing that has happened to me this week was driving in traffic but being able to listen to my 8-year-old daughter Vivien's (ph) voice. She was practicing her songs on her ukulele for her winter social performance.

SANDERS: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JESSICA: Thanks and have a Merry Christmas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIM: Great job with the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GBENGA: Thanks and have a great week.

JESSICA: Bye.

WILLIAMS: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVIEN: (Singing) I know you belong to someone new but tonight you belong to me.

SANDERS: Is that her?

OBER: Oh, my God.

SANDERS: That sounds good.

OBER: That would be my best part of my week.

SANDERS: Yeah, oh my goodness thanks to...

DOMONOSKE: This might be the best part of my week.

OBER: Right.

DOMONOSKE: Second hand.

SANDERS: Thanks to Tim (ph), Julie (ph), Amelia (ph), Gbenga (ph), Amanda (ph), Andrea (ph), Ariel (ph), Valerie (ph), - congrats on flying, that's amazing - Jessica (ph) and Vivien (ph) and also Allison Williams - like, wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVIEN: (Singing) You're a part of my heart and tonight you belong to me.

OBER: It's a nice Christmas present.

SANDERS: It is, and that was a great final edition of best things for the year. I really appreciate that, all of those, yeah.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah.

SANDERS: No best things next week because next week's show is already recorded and it's one big omnibus show looking back at the year that was - culture, music, politics, everything.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVIEN: (Singing) But tonight you belong to me, just a little old me.

SANDERS: That will be in your feeds next Friday morning, December 29. OK. Mama, we made it. TLC take us home.

DOMONOSKE: I love this song.

SANDERS: This is a really good song.

DOMONOSKE: So good.

SANDERS: Lauren is dabbing. Lauren is dabbing to TLC. I love it. This week, the show was produced by Brent Baughman and Anjuli Sastry with Steve Nelson, our director of programming, and editing help from Jeff Rogers and Steve Drummond. Our big boss is Anya Grundmann, VP of programming here at NPR. Camila, Lauren, TLC, thank you all. Have a merry, merry Christmas and a happy New Year, a happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa, a joyous doing nothing but watching TV. Whatever you're going to do, enjoy it.

OBER: Thank you.

DOMONOSKE: Thank you for having me.

OBER: Me too.

SANDERS: Refresh your feed Tuesday morning, the day after Christmas, for a conversation with a band that is pretty good. It's been around for a while - Belle and Sebastian. They have a new trio of EPs coming out this year. Until then, thank you for listening. I'm Sam Sanders, talk soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SLEIGH RIDE")

TLC: Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling yoohoo. It's lonely weather for a sleigh ride together with you. Let's have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. A happy new year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIVIEN: (Singing in Spanish) OK, goodbye, thank you.

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