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Debt Ceiling, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Renaming Military Bases to Remove Confederate Names

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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May 28, 2023 3:30 pm

Debt Ceiling, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Renaming Military Bases to Remove Confederate Names

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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May 28, 2023 3:30 pm

Hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, David Pogue explains what our nation's debt ceiling is, and why the fight over raising it threatens global recession. Also: Tracy Smith sits down with actor and climate activist Arnold Schwarzenegger; David Martin reports on the removal of the names of Confederate generals from U.S. Army bases; Rita Braver interviews novelist Isabel Allende; Mo Rocca profiles Broadway star Lillias White; Bill Flanagan offers an appreciation of rock legend Tina Turner; Ted Koppel joins New Orleans jazz clarinetist Doreen Ketchens at a particularly auspicious gig.

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That's Cerebral.com slash Wondery for 50% off your first month. Hi, I'm Lindsey Graham, the host of Wondery's podcast, American Scandal. Our newest series looks at the Kids for Cash scandal, a story about two judges who stood accused of making millions of dollars in a brazen scheme that shattered the lives of countless children.

Listen to American Scandal on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning. It's Memorial Day weekend, a time for us to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. For any member of the military, it's a safe guess there may be no greater honor than to have a base named in their memory. But the stories behind some of the names may surprise you.

David Martin this morning on What's in a Name. What was galling is that we would still have names of bases that represented traitors who fought against their country for the purpose of slavery. Some people are going to say you are erasing history. What we are doing is commemorating the right leaders.

Retired Lieutenant General Tom Bostic on stripping the names of Confederate generals from U.S. Army bases coming up on Sunday morning. He's a Hollywood legend with a political pedigree and a name known around the world. Tracy Smith catches up with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At 75, it seems Arnold Schwarzenegger has nothing left to prove. I don't have to hide any of my feminine sides. I don't hide that I love washing dishes. You love washing dishes? Yes, because that's the only talent I have in the kitchen. But once an action hero, always an action hero.

Arnold and what really pumps him up ahead on Sunday morning. Okay, give me ten like this. Ted Koppel has the story of a musician who hits the high notes in more ways than one. It's the kind of talent that stops the tourists in their tracks down in the French Quarter of New Orleans. And brings jazz lovers out of their seats at the Kennedy Center.

How do you get from one place to the other? Let's go for it. It all depends on who's watching Sunday morning.

Well, I about fell off my couch. Later on this Sunday morning. And more. With the deadline drawing near, and word last night of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, David Pogue adds it all up.

Mo Rocca is on Broadway with a real showstopper, actor and singer, Lilius White. Rita Braver is talking with bestselling author Isabel Allende. Plus, Bill Flanagan with an appreciation of the remarkable life and career of Tina Turner. A story from Steve Hartman. And more this Sunday morning, May 28th, 2023.

And we'll be right back. A story about corruption inside America's system of juvenile justice in northeastern Pennsylvania. Residents had begun noticing an alarming trend. Children were being sent away to jail in high numbers and often for committing only minor offenses. The FBI began looking at two local judges, and when the full picture emerged, it made national headlines. The judges were earning a fortune carrying out a brazen criminal scheme, one that would shatter the lives of countless children and force a heated debate about punishment and America's criminal justice system. Follow American scandal wherever you get your podcasts.

You can listen ad free on the Amazon Music or Wondery app. We've been hearing about it for weeks now, for months now. The impasse over raising the nation's debt ceiling. But what's really at stake here? Deal or no deal, why has it become such an old familiar tune?

David Pogue is our man with the answers. We're now one day closer to the deadline. We can get a deal tonight, we get a deal tomorrow.

The default is not an option. Last night, the Republicans and Democrats reached a tentative agreement. I just got off the phone with the president. To raise the debt ceiling. We have come to an agreement in principle.

We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe this is an agreement in principle that's worthy of the American people. For a topic that's been front page news for weeks, the debt ceiling sure seems to mystify a lot of people. Do you know what the debt ceiling is? No.

No clue. Not at all. If someone were to offer you $100, would you be able to explain the debt ceiling? Per se, no, I would not be able to. Well good, because I don't have $100. The debt limit crisis is complicated and wonky, and I don't want your brain to glaze over.

So allow me to introduce it this way. When Congress and the President agree on what to spend, our taxes rarely cover it, but that's not quite the end. The Treasury can borrow from investors, that's okay.

They know they'll get their money back, because we're the USA. But almost every year these days we spend more than we got. But when we ask to borrow more, we learn that we cannot.

The Treasury says, sorry, there's no money on the shelf. You folks have hit the limit, one that you all set yourself. Now they can vote to raise the ceiling, wouldn't that be nice? But here's where things get awkward, because the votes come with a price. One party seeks concessions saying, this is where it stands, I'll risk a global meltdown if you don't meet my demands.

If you don't meet my demands. One side is saying, give me what I want, and if you don't, I won't allow Treasury to issue more IOUs, and it's going to explode the global economy. Laura Veldkamp is a professor of economics and finance at Columbia Business School. This is a disaster.

It's an entirely avoidable disaster. This was a ridiculous way to try to save money. In the olden days, Congress had to ask the Treasury to borrow money every single time it passed a spending bill. But when World War I required a whole flurry of spending bills, Congress passed the Second Liberty Bond Act, which lets the government borrow money whenever it wants, up to a certain limit.

And until this weekend's negotiations, that debt ceiling was $31.4 trillion. Now, if you miss a payment on one of your loans, you're in trouble. But if the United States misses a payment, the entire world is in trouble. These IOUs function sort of like the money of the global economy.

Everybody treats it as safe. Safe means you're going to pay it back. And so as soon as that comes into question, people are going to want some extra interest to compensate them for the fact that, well, I'll probably get paid back, but maybe not. And higher interest rates could lead to all kinds of chaos. That's going to make doing business much more expensive. This could show up as a decrease in the value of the dollar. If you like fruit in the wintertime, it will be more expensive. All kinds of electronics, most of the apparel we wear is not made in this country. All of those things will instantly be more expensive.

We cannot default. It would be beyond stupid. We could create a recession here. We could create a recession around the world.

Maya McGinnis is the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a think tank whose directors once ran agencies like the Federal Reserve System, the Treasury Department, and the Congressional Budget Office. What do other countries do when this happens? The debt ceiling is not something that other countries use around the world.

This is not common practice because it doesn't make sense. For instance, more of them have spending caps than we do. So you guys are nonpartisan. We are as nonpartisan as it gets, and I'm a political independent. Okay, so as the debt limit has become a more and more toxic political football, is one party worse about it than the other? To generalize, of course, Republicans are more allergic to tax increases. Democrats are more allergic to spending cuts.

But the truth is, neither of them really want to do anything that's hard. In this country's history, Congress has raised the debt ceiling over a hundred times, under both Republican presidents and Democratic ones. But only Republicans have ever threatened to let the country default as a form of leverage. This, in my mind, has been the most dangerous debt ceiling standoff we've had.

They are willing to really hold it hostage in a way that is more dangerous than I think we've ever seen before. In the latest negotiations, the Republicans sought a package of savings in exchange for their vote to raise the debt ceiling, like tighter restrictions to qualify for Medicaid or food stamps, and less money to the IRS for enforcement. Remember, these negotiations aren't about what to spend money on in the future. As Laura Veldkamp points out, they're about paying for bills that Congress has already passed. When you've already decided what taxes will be, what spending will be, and we simply need to pay the bills that are coming due, this is not the time to have that discussion. When you've already decided what taxes will be, what spending will be, and we simply need to pay the bills that are coming due, that's not the time to renegotiate. Washington teems with ideas to avoid these periodic debt showdowns. Maybe the debt ceiling rises automatically every time Congress passes a funding bill. Maybe we appoint an expert commission to fix the problem once and for all. Or maybe we eliminate the debt ceiling completely. As it turns out, we dodged the bullet, razor's edge, they got a deal.

But is there a takeaway here? Even having done it, it was incredibly costly because you called into question whether the U.S. government would actually pay back the debt. And the very thought that they wouldn't will make it more expensive for us to borrow in the future because we're going to have to compensate people for the risk that this whole drama will play out again in a few years. Maya McGinnis of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says that we need a new playbook, but it won't be easy. The solutions are really hard.

Fixing the budget deficit and debt mean we have to raise taxes and cut spending. Nobody likes that. Some of the things that you say, Maya, are probably unpopular. Yes, yes indeed.

Do you get dirty looks at events and conferences? I do. Nobody likes to be reminded that somebody has to pay the bills, but somebody has to pay the bills and we should really be paying our own bills instead of pushing them on to our children. What's in a name when it comes to our nation's military installations more than you might be aware of, as our David Martin will explain. What was galling is that we would still in this day and age have names of bases that represented traitors who fought against their country for the purpose of slavery. Retired Lieutenant General Tom Bostic is a member of the commission charged with renaming Army bases named in honor of Confederate generals. The way you say it, the next question is, what took so long?

I wonder myself what took so long. Here in rural southern Virginia, change comes very slowly and we don't always embrace change. Billy Colburn is the former mayor of Blackstone, Virginia, the town nearest Fort Pickett, named after General George Pickett who led the famous last charge of the Confederates at the Battle of Gettysburg.

There are many people I talk to and many of them are dear friends of mine that are strongly opposed to being renamed. Is that because they think the name of Pickett should be honored? Are there people here that still believe that the South had a right to succeed? I don't know anyone that says slavery was okay.

There's none of that still around. Colburn is also editor of the local paper, which covered the opening of the fort during World War II. Pickett was dedicated on the anniversary of Pickett's charge back on July 3, 1942, and they even picked the time of the charge. It was dedicated at 3.15 in the afternoon. The governor of Virginia was quoted as saying Pickett stands with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson among the immortals.

History tells a different story. 12,500 Confederate soldiers from three divisions attack to this position. It ends up being called Pickett's charge, and it is an absolute and utter catastrophe. Retired Brigadier General Ty Sidulay taught history at West Point and would take his students on walks over the battlefield.

A little less than a mile coming up here. With no cover. And so they came into this kill zone and just were slaughtered. What became of Pickett? Pickett survives, and in 1864 he summarily executes 23 U.S. Army soldiers. And after the war, he skedaddles to Canada because he thinks he's going to be hanged as a war criminal. The man who ordered Pickett to charge was, of course, Robert E. Lee, who quit the U.S. Army to command the Confederate forces. He's remembered at Gettysburg by this giant statue. The idea was that Lee was a hero.

How ironic that a person trying to destroy the United States of America becomes the great American. Makes you wonder who won the battle. Yes, the United States Army won the battle, no doubt about it. But who won the memory of that battle? I'd say the majority of folks around here would tell you in a heartbeat, keep it Pickett. Danny Clary is chief of the fort's fire station where you couldn't turn around without seeing the name Pickett. How do you feel about it coming down? Sad.

I understand why they're doing it, but it's been here a long time, and it's going to take a lot of people a while to adjust. But it is now Fort Barfoot. After Colonel Van Barfoot, who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in World War II. The first Army base in the United States to be named after a Native American.

Congress can pass laws and commissions can issue reports, but somebody's got to do the work. Kyle G. runs the sheet metal shop, which has been turning out the new signs. You never realize how many there are until you start changing them. Fort Barfoot is one of nine Army bases which will no longer be named in honor of Confederates. Commemoration is about our values.

It's about to inspire people. Who would stand up in processing a lot of new soldiers coming to Fort Bragg and say, let me tell you about the history of this name. Braxton Bragg was one of the worst generals in the Confederate Army. This week, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will become Fort Liberty. Fort Polk in Louisiana is also due for a name change. Polk was the most incompetent general of the war. Fort Benning, named after a charter member of the Ku Klux Klan, has already changed to Fort Moore, after Hal and Julia Moore. He was the commander of American troops in the first head-to-head battle against the North Vietnamese. He and she forever changed the impersonal system, which sent regret-to-inform-you telegrams to families of the fallen. Julia Moore saw this happening, and she said, not on my watch.

I will personally deliver that telegram, and I will put my arms around that family member. It's not just base names. It's all the Confederate memorials and artifacts strewn across U.S. military installations. Were you surprised at the degree to which Confederate memorabilia is embedded in the Army culture?

I was surprised. There were hundreds of things that needed to change. There's Lee Gate and Lee Housing Area and Lee Barracks at West Point. With all these names about to disappear, some people are going to say you are erasing history. The battles that Lee fought in will still be studied, so we're not erasing history. What we are doing is commemorating the right leaders.

We're not going to end racism in one fell swoop, but this isn't a bad place to start. Now and again over the summer, we're going to follow up on some Sunday morning stories we think worthy of an update. And to start us off, Ted Koppel shares a most harmonious ending for a story that has its beginnings on a street corner in New Orleans. The intersection of Royal Street and St. Peter in New Orleans is known as Doreen's Corner.

As we reported back in January of 2022, Doreen Ketchins is a local institution. On the street, Doreen dresses for the weather, and most of the time it's hot and sticky in the Big Easy. But there we were, Doreen and I, in Louis Armstrong Park, and Doreen got all dressed up for our interview. And maybe that's what prompted me to ask her where she dreams of playing Sunday. Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Albert Hall. Albert Hall?

Yeah, and then I can wear something shiny. So I'm sitting at home with my wife watching Sunday morning, and you interview Doreen and you ask her, so where would you like to play? And she looked right at you and said, the Kennedy Center.

Kevin Struthers is the director of jazz programming at the Kennedy Center. Well, I about fell off my couch. The next morning when I got to work, people were calling, and within a few hours I had Doreen's cell phone.

The first thing she said to me after she let out a little scream was, I should have asked for a million dollars! Oh my goodness. There she is!

You can figure out where it went from there. We're so glad you're here. I'm so glad to be here. Thank you. We caught up with Doreen just a couple of weeks ago, when she was about to make her Kennedy Center debut. I'll make you proud.

Everything about the Kennedy Center is designed to impress, from its location on the banks of the Potomac River, with views of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, to the scale of its grand foyer. Now that we are here, I mean, just soak it in, Doreen. A headline performer. Yes.

Today. It's awesome. So what does that do? That shoots through me like lightning. It lets me know that it's not all for nothing. You can dream, and you can shoot for the stars, and you can get there. It's really cool. Soak it in. Yes, indeed.

I'm soaking it in. In the afternoon, the band got some time on stage for a sound check. These are all top flight musicians in their own right. That's Stephen Walker on trombone. Dave Hammer on guitar. He's been with the band seven years. Doren LeBeau Jr. on drums. He and Doreen go back more than 20 years. And the gentleman with the big brass sousaphone, that's Doreen's husband, Lawrence. Doreen, by my watch, we're about ten minutes to showtime. Ten minutes. You've been doing this for so many years now. Does it make a difference where it is, whether the gig is on the street in New Orleans, or here at the Kennedy Center in Washington?

Big difference? I'm so looking forward to, you know, just being better than even they expect us to be. I'm really looking forward to trying to hold that audience in my hands. You've got a full house. Really? Sweet. This is the places for playing places, please. It's showtime. That's jazz icon Dee Dee Bridgewater passing on some positive vibes. January 30th, 2022. Kevin Struthers is on stage now, telling that story again.

Where would you like to play? And she looked right at him and said, the Kennedy Center. I called her. She picked up the phone. I told her who I was.

She screamed and said, I should have asked for a million dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the Kennedy Center stage, Doreen Ketchins. For the longest time, jazz in New Orleans was mostly a guys' club. Female singers?

Oh, yes. But among jazz musicians, Doreen is something of a pioneer for women. And her long notes, a legendary watch.

It's all over in what seems like no time. Doreen had said she wanted to hold the audience in her hands. Well, she and the band got a standing ode.

And Doreen got called back for an encore. It's like home now. They ain't got no problem participating in that. We've done good. I'm trying to tell you anything. There's something about it. Looking forward to the next sound, of course.

Oh, man. This Memorial Day weekend, we paused to remember one of our own. CBS News correspondent George Polk, who died 75 years ago this month. Steven Portnoy of CBS News Radio has a profile in courage. This is George Polk reporting from Athens.

Now back to CBS New York. You may have heard his name before, probably from the George Polk Awards, given out each year for courageous journalism. George Polk was likely killed because of what he was bravely reporting.

Here in Athens, the long-discussed Greek problem finally is being recognized for what it is, a Greek crisis. During a civil war in Greece in the late 1940s, George Polk depicted the right-wing Greek government as corrupt. At the time, the U.S. had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up that government as it battled communist guerrillas.

Our reporter had reason to suspect the Greek authorities were hoarding that U.S. aid. The legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow called the World War II Navy vet a 34-year-old tall, lean, blonde American, full of courage and an insatiable appetite for truth. George Polk wanted to bring Americans the full story.

As he put it in a final letter to Murrow, I'd like to get in touch with the persons who count. he aimed to interview the leader of the Greek communists. A week later, Polk's body was pulled out of Salonika Bay, shot in the back of the head. The Greek authorities tortured a suspected communist until he falsely confessed a role. He was sentenced to life in prison. But compounding that injustice, documents show U.S. officials conspired to suppress doubts about the man's innocence, a Cold War cover-up. Those of us who knew George and worked with him can never cease to be concerned about his murder. Today, around the world, journalist killings and detentions are sharply on the rise. The Committee to Protect Journalists says 67 media workers were killed last year alone.

From Jamal Khashoggi to Austin Tice to Evan Gershkovich, reporters are increasingly being targeted because of the work they do for readers, viewers, and listeners, just as George Polk was targeted 75 years ago this month. It's important that we not forget. Steve Hartman tells us about the power of a dream. No one has ever attended Harvard Law School for its sparkling glass doors or smudge-free countertops. In fact, support staff here say most students never even notice their efforts, with one remarkable exception. He says, I just want to give you a hug and say hi to you. They say one day, this one student started thanking all of them. Thank you for what you do. And this is something very different. I'm like, what is this kid's angle? Food service worker Breon Merchant was skeptical. But once I heard his background, that's when it just all made sense. I'm like, oh, you see us because you're one of us.

For sure. That student is Rehan Staton. Before coming to Harvard Law, he worked in sanitation. My job was to refurbish the dumpsters.

I've heard people literally point to me and point to my coworker and say, like, don't be like them. I think it just reminded me to stay humble and just remember I wasn't always standing here. Today, Rehan has not only maintained his humility, he has multiplied it. Earlier this year, Rehan started a nonprofit called the Reciprocity Effect.

Its mission? To guarantee that from now on and forever, the support staff here at Harvard Law would not only be seen, they would be celebrated. This was the first support staff awards banquet honoring, in Oscar-like fashion, the custodians and cafeteria workers and everyone else who makes this place possible. The feeling of knowing that you are appreciated will always go a long way, especially for those who don't know that. I think that's what makes what Rehan did so special is because you didn't even realize how unseen you were until you were seen. And then all of a sudden you're like, oh, this is kind of nice.

Rehan Staton! In the coming days, a lot of graduates will stand high on a stage, a great vantage point, to finally see all the people who lifted them there. You did it! Appreciate you, man. It came over here. Whatever the reason to do it for me Oh, what's love got to do, got to do with it It can be a cliché, a tired and slightly too familiar tribute, but the one and only Tina Turner, there's nothing off-key about that.

Our appreciation comes from our longtime friend and contributor, Bill Flanagan. It's hard to call the death of an 83-year-old performer startling, but the passing of Tina Turner was a shock. We grew up with Tina always being there, and I guess we figured she was immortal. Tina Turner has been called the queen of rock and roll, and I cannot think of anyone who would challenge her for that title. She came up at a time when rock and roll was defined as a mix of black and white American music, the cross-pollination that gave us Little Richard and Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Motown.

In the early 70s, that union began to split. Radio divided rock from R&B. Tina Turner defied that resegregation.

So you got to be good-looking, cause he's so hard to see having hits with songs written by The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue toured with the Rolling Stones. In The Who's Tommy, Tina was the asset queen. She went to London to stage her comeback, with contributions from Dire Straits and other British stars of the 1980s. She duetted with David Bowie. She stole the show at Live Aid.

You too wrote a James Bond theme for her. So yes, Tina Turner was the queen of rock and roll, but that's not all she was. She defied stereotypes. She was a proud African-American woman whose audience after the 70s was mostly white. She was a symbol of the USA who lived for decades in Europe.

She was a feminist icon who wore the shortest miniskirts we ever saw. She never did anything nice and easy. Every attempt to categorize Tina Turner fails. She could not be put in a box. She did not fit any mold.

She was the one and only Tina Turner, simply the best. Look, it may take a while. You want to wait, there's a bench over there. I'll be back. Yes, he's back, again. On screen and off, Arnold Schwarzenegger is very much back in action.

Tracy Smith has our Sunday profile. Venice Beach, California has a kind of timelessness from the sandy shoreline to Gold's Gym, where you can see heroes past and very much present. On any given day, the gym's most famous patron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be here, humping up.

Why come here? I'm sure you have a nice home gym. I have a nice home gym. How did you know? I like working out with people.

Around here, he's quick to give pointers to anyone who looks like they need help, anyone. You take the lower bar. Yes, perfect. Okay, now let it all the way up, all the way up, and now put it all the way down. Good.

Okay, give me 10 like this. As an athlete and a coach, Arnold, as he's often addressed, is pretty impressive. So we just saw you working out. You don't look 75. Do you feel 75?

I would not know what that feels like. I feel very good, and I feel full of energy. But I think the most important thing is to keep active and to keep the mind active.

So I just, to me, life is about living, not existing. And his life has become something of a legend. He's the poor Austrian kid who conquered the sport of bodybuilding, the movie star who, with his 1986 marriage to Maria Shriver, became part of the Kennedy clan, the real estate mogul who was elected governor of California. Congratulations, Governor Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger's films were often box office gold and a reliable font of one-liners. I'll be back.

It's not a tumor. Hasta la vista, baby. In 1994's Blue Laws, Schwarzenegger plays an undercover CIA agent with Jamie Lee Curtis as his unsuspecting wife. Come on, baby.

It's the inspiration for his newly premiered Netflix series, FUBAR, where he's again a CIA agent with family issues. The CIA destroys relationships. I've been waiting for a decade and a half to win my wife back. Now since I'm retired, what's going to stop us? Fifteen-year-old divorce papers?

She doesn't love you anymore? At an age when most people retire, Arnold Schwarzenegger is still an action hero. You're doing your first TV role ever in FUBAR. Why now? This is the first TV series that I've done. It was a lot, a lot of work. I've never really worked that hard in my life. What? Television is just so much faster. You do like, you know, 10, 12 pages sometimes a day. But I loved it.

I've never had more fun than doing this. But he says he's had to work through a chapter in his personal life that was less than heroic. In 2011, Schwarzenegger admitted to an affair with his former housekeeper, Mildred Byena, with whom he had a son.

The revelation shook his family and his public image. You had some things going on that especially women weren't too pleased with. Did you feel like you had to come back from that?

I was not that concerned about coming back from anything. I was more concerned about just making sure that everyone is okay in my family because my kids were still young. So Maria and I, we really had to work on raising them together. And my wife did a fantastic job with that. We worked really well together.

And so we can be very proud of the job that we did under those circumstances. And you work really well together now, it seems. What's your relationship like with Maria? Well, she is my best friend and we talk pretty much every day.

And I respect her and I think she's a wonderful lady. He says his youngest son, Joseph Byena, is like him in more ways than one. Joseph is following in your bodybuilding steps too, right? Well, every step.

Joseph is in the real estate, he's into acting and he's in the bodybuilding and all those things. It's kind of like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Do it. Do it now.

There's a docuseries coming out soon that promises to be the most candid look yet at his past. But Arnold Schwarzenegger is also working on his legacy. I call for change. Change is never easy. But this is an emergency and this emergency demands action.

Earlier this month, the ancient walls of Vienna's Hofburg Palace echoed with a familiar voice. Build better. Build cleaner. Build now.

Build, build, build. We can do it. As our motto here says, we have the power. For the past eight years, he's been holding the Austrian World Summit, a gathering with a goal to reduce the impact of climate change. Except he hates the phrase climate change. As long as they keep talking about global climate change, they're not going to go anywhere. Because no one gives a s*** about that.

So my thing is, let's go and rephrase this and communicate differently about it and really tell people. We're talking about pollution. Pollution creates climate change. And pollution kills. Are you on a mission to save the world? I'm on a mission to go introduce greenhouse gases worldwide because I'm into having a healthy body and a healthy earth. That's what I'm fighting for. That's my crusade.

But Vienna wasn't all about work. The men at this table are his hometown friends. He's known some of them since he was six years old. So I bought them an iPhone so we could talk every week.

Your elementary school classmates. That's right, yeah. And we have the greatest time laughing about it, talking about the good old days and what we're doing now. And the funny thing is also it's kind of like the health problems. Because when you get older, you talk more about that than when you were young. And so this is the kind of stuff that we end up talking a lot of times when we talk about health issues. It's funny. I mean, you get to be 75.

So this is all like hundreds of years old, all this stuff. So beautiful. You can take the kid out of Austria, but you could sense that this Austrian native was happy to be back on his home turf. And the people on the street seem to be just as glad to see him. Arnold! Hey, how are you?

Thomas! Good to see you. You're looking good.

Looking all pumped up. This is Arnie. Yes, this is Arnie. Hi!

Hi, how are you? He's been back to this part of the world many times. Last fall, Schwarzenegger, whose father was a soldier under the Nazi regime, toured Auschwitz. When you walk through a place like Auschwitz, you feel a tremendous weight. And in a series of online videos, he's repeatedly denounced both the Nazis and hate in general.

How do we stop this from ever happening again? This is the old way of doing roads, carver stone. On our ride, the former governor pointed out some of the charms of old Vienna. Right here.

Just follow me. He also showed us a new piece of art, a mural of himself that was, appropriately enough, larger than life. So there's got to be something special about having this here in your home country. In Austria, I developed my dreams and the dreams of being a movie star. So in my days, I saw huge advertisements of Clint Eastwood's movies and John Wayne movies. And I always say, oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to be like that, to be one of those guys? And now, you roll the clock forward a few decades, and then you look back and you say, ah, there I am.

My dream became a reality. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that most limits are illusions. Still, even with his boundless optimism and iron will, there are things even he can't do. Do you wish you could run for president? No, no, I'm finished with that. I would have run if I would have been an American born in 2016, because it's the only thing that I can't do in America. I would never complain about that.

America made everything that I have achieved possible. So I'm not going to take this one thing and say, oh, isn't it bad? Isn't it sad that I can't do that?

Forget about it. She's a gifted actor with a voice to match. Lilius White is on Broadway with Arnold Rocka.

The night Broadway star Lilius White opened in the hit show Hadestown, her descent into hell as the character Hermes sent the audience into a rapture. Everybody hungry, everybody tired, everybody plays by the sweat of his brow. The way he drinks is nothing like the work he's taught. What does that feel like when people go nuts like that? Wow, it makes me fall. It makes me very emotional.

It demands of me that I get out there and give them my entire heart. She's been giving audiences her heart for over four decades in shows like Dreamgirls, Chicago, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She wasn't the original actress in those roles.

Or in Hadestown, where she's following in the formidable footsteps of Tony winner Andre De Shields. But White is the exemplar of the showbiz exhortation to make it your own. Behold Lilius White in concert taking ownership of the stray sand classic Don't Rain on My Parade.

It was a song that I mean from my heart when I sing it. That you don't have a right to make me feel bad or unhappy. Don't get in my way of my joy. Don't rain on my parade. Look, there's Barbara's stray sand.

And then there's me. Performances like that have earned Lilius White a place on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's celebrity path. George Gershwin.

Which you must have sung plenty of George Gershwin. Which also honors legendary Brooklynites like Mae West and Larry King. Judge Judy. Judge Judy Shilin. Carole King.

Carole King. That's great. Man, I'm in hot cotton over here. Look at this. Look at this. This is where I grew up.

This is where I was born and raised and it's a thrill. As for her own path, White's mother early on set her on the straight and narrow. Your mother worked for Billie Holiday.

Yes. My mother, when she was very young and first came to New York, worked as a domestic. And what did she tell you about her? She just told me not to do what Billie Holiday did.

To stay away from drinking and drugs and, you know, to be careful if I was going to be in this business. As for what to do, she had a role model close by. My aunt Lilius was a dancer with the June Taylor Dance Company that was on the Jackie Gleason show. That was a very, very big deal in the 60s.

Yes. My aunt Lilius was very fair. She wasn't dark and beautiful like me. The older Lilius encouraged her young niece to perform for the family. So they would put me up on my grandmother's dining room table and I would sing and dance for my family. I wanted to be a ballerina specifically. Were you dancing on this table? Yeah, I would dance.

I would tap. I did Shirley Temple. Can I ask about your parents, their marriage? What was that like? It was tough. My mother and father didn't get along well. And I saw some things in my childhood that should have made me crazy or nasty or mean. But somehow, as the gods will it, the arts caught me. And they said, not you. You're going to do this.

You're going to be happy. After high school, choreographer Alvin Ailey hired her. She was 30 when she made her Broadway debut as the so-called world's oldest woman in Barnum. We'll take it from here, darling.

And she's barely stopped working since, performing in movies. We are the Muses. In clubs and on recordings. A little imagination goes a long, long way. It helps a fella trudge through a dreary day. But her portrayal as a prostitute in the musical The Life, a role she did originate, has a special place in White's heart.

I'm getting too tired and too slow. It was written for me and it was written with me in mind. And when you won the Tony, you had family in the audience.

Yes. My mother was there. My two kids were there. My mother used to take us regularly to Radio City Music Hall when we were kids. She'd bring a big thermos of hot chocolate and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So we'd wait on line.

We'd be the first in. So the night that I got the Tony, it was at Radio City Music Hall. You're going to make me cry again. It was such a full circle moment.

It was such a moment of, oh my God, look where I am. It's an old song. As much as this 71-year-old grandmother loves Broadway, she wants to see Black lives portrayed differently. From way back when. I want to see a love story about a Black man and a Black woman.

As opposed to? As opposed to a hard luck, down and out story. There are too many stories about the crime in our neighborhoods. But I'd like to see a story about just plain old Black folks who love each other. It's really pretty. And who knows, such a show might one day star Lilius White.

My knees might ache a little bit, but I can still kick it. She's a best-selling author with a fascinating family history. Rita Braver is in conversation with Isabel Allende. I have the book in my head, the characters in my soul all the time. If anyone knows what it takes to capture a reader's attention, it is Isabel Allende.

You need crazy people. And you need people capable of doing extraordinary things out of impulse or passion or courage. 80-year-old Allende has filled more than two dozen books with passionate and courageous characters.

More than 74 million copies sold, translated into some 40 languages. Your women are particularly strong. They take over your books. Do you know any weak women, Rita?

Not ones I really like. Women and girls play key roles in The Wind Knows My Name, Allende's latest novel. There come from Germany boatloads of Jewish youngsters. Which draws parallels between Jewish children sent to safety by their families during World War II and Latin American children separated from parents while trying to cross into the U.S. The Jewish families had to make the horrible choice of sending their kids alone to save them from the Nazis, not knowing who would receive them on the other side. When we had this horrible policy of separating the families at the border in 2018, I immediately thought of what those families had gone through then and how history repeats itself.

Allende's own history is tumultuous. Her father abandoned the family when she was three, and her mother had to return to her parents' home in Santiago, Chile. She had not been trained to work because she belonged to a social class and a generation in which women didn't work.

She was stuck. You didn't want to be like the women you saw around you. You knew that in your heart at a very young age. I wanted to be like my grandfather who had a car, who had the keys of the house, who had money, who made all the decisions. I wanted to be him. How did the family react to you? I was expelled from the nuns at age six, so it wasn't an easy childhood, as you may imagine.

She married, had two children, but always worked as a TV personality, journalist, and school administrator. Did you ever think, what I really want to do is be a writer? I was afraid to say that.

I never thought that I could. There were no role models. The great writers of Latin America were all male. Then in 1973, her world was upended. Some thought there was a peaceful way to reconcile the nation's problems. The military did not. As the Chilean military seized power from the elected government of her cousin, Salvador Allende. My country changed in 24 hours. Try to imagine what it would be if in the United States the armed forces attacked the democratic institutions. The president would die in the coup, and then I learned that I was in a blacklist.

I got out. She and her family would flee to Venezuela. I felt very unhappy, very frustrated. I was going to turn 40 very soon, and my grandfather was dying in Chile.

And I started a letter for my grandfather to say goodbye. The letter would turn into Allende's first book, called The House of the Spirits, published in 1982. A fictionalized account of her own family, Chile's oppressive class system, and the terror of the military coup d'état.

The novel became an international sensation, often called one of the most important books of the 20th century. How did the success of House of the Spirits change your life? It gave me a voice. When I had no voice, I realized that this is what I want to do.

Her life would change in other ways, too, as she left her first marriage and Latin America. You've lived in California for how many years now? Since 1987. And why? You know, you could live anywhere.

Why? Because I fell in lust with a guy, came here. He was living here. We married, stayed married for 28 years. But in 2015, Allende's second marriage ended in divorce. Did you ever think you'd fall in love and marry again? No. Yet in 2019, she married attorney Roger Cucras, and is comfortable talking about her own sexuality.

You say, in candlelight, I might be able to fool a distracted guy who's had three glasses of wine and is not intimidated by a woman who takes the initiative. Yes. Is that true? It is true, and also helps some marijuana. Marijuana blueberries.

One blueberry, and you can have wonderful sex. I shouldn't be saying this on camera, actually, because I know that Roger's children will listen to this. And though she can be lighthearted, Allende is still mourning the death of her daughter, Paola Frias, in 1992, at 29, after an attack of porphyria, a hereditary blood disease. She got the wrong medication. She got severe brain damage and died a year later. The proceeds from Allende's bestselling book about Paola helped launch a foundation, now run by Allende's son Nico and his wife, that supports groups trying to help young girls at risk around the world.

And if you can save a few of those little girls, well, I feel rewarded. She also continues to feel rewarded by her writing. With no plans to retire, she comes to her office every weekday, where she lights a candle and sits down at the computer, usually thinking and writing in Spanish. Is writing still hard for you, or does it just flow? The process is always hard, but I know now, which I didn't know before, that if I spend enough time, I will be able to do it. And as for the impact of Isabel Allende's books on her readers, work that so often deals with injustice and suffering. In a way, do you think, when people read your work, that it might bring about change?

It can happen, but I cannot plant those ideas in anybody's head. I don't change people. I just make people realize who they are. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at Wunderly.com slash survey.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-28 22:23:07 / 2023-05-28 22:43:14 / 20

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