John Dennis Interview Transcription
Liz Covart Interview Transcription

Harry Duran:
Podcast Junkies episodes 42. Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back, yes, we're on a weekly schedule. So, hopefully you enjoyed my conversation last week with John Dennis of Smart Time Online. I really think it was insightful and I'm always happy when I learn more about my friends and guests as a result of having them on the show and just get to know them in a bit more detail, because I think they feel more comfortable and things in their past that shaped where they are now and I'm just happy that they feel comfortable enough to do so.

This week, we have a bit of a long discussion. This one is definitely an hour plus, so heads up if you're expecting to get this done on your 30 minute jog or you're in a car, commuting or whatever you're at, so just there's listening all the way to the end, it's Jennifer Briney from Congressional Dish. I ran into Jennifer at New Media Expo. You'll probably notice a trend with my recent guests, because as I mentioned I like to have a bit of an engagement with folks before I like to invite them on and I met Jennifer and then I subsequently listened to her show, her podcast.

She reviews the bills coming out of the House of Representative, I believe. Not all the bills coming out of Congress, but just the House of Representatives and if I got that wrong then you'll hear the correct source in the interview itself, but I thought it was fantastic because I couldn't believe there was no one else doing this and you'll hear why she had the desire to do this and what pushed her and really why her blood started boiling when she realized how much pork is in these bills and how much our representatives really get away with and really how little folks, not even just regular folks but actually our representatives don't even read these bills.

One of the bills I think she talked about, they were joking about how they read it the night before or that morning or hadn't even been able to read the whole thing, so it's just a fantastic topic, really fascinating and the way that she digs into it and literally like reads everything in there. I think she doing – not to make this too bold of a statement, but I think she's doing a great service for our country to be honest and the fans that she has on the show are super loyal and they've really, really helped her by contributing and that's the main source of revenue for the podcast.

It's been contributions, she doesn't have any sponsors at this time and it's really just a testament to how much she's providing value and we talked about that a little bit later in the interview, but why it's important to add value and just give a ton of support and, trying not to say value again, but value to your listeners because that's when you really don't feel bad about asking for something because you're providing a service in return and she's doing it by leaps and bounds.

So, I definitely want to do anything I can to help her out, so spread the word. So, if you guys have ideas on how I can help her spread the word or people that can put her in contact with, I really think she needs a lot of exposure and a lot of our support. We had a fun conversation, like I said it's an hour plus and it's always a sign that we can just keep on talking for a while.

So, I'm really glad I got to know her a little bit more and I'm looking forward to hanging out with her at Podcast Movement in July that's coming up. Stay tuned after the interview for some details on how you can Continent to support Podcast Junkies. As always, you can find these show notes at PodcastJunkies.com. So, enjoy my conversation with Jennifer Briney.

So, Jen Briney!

Jennifer Briney:
Yeah!

Harry:
Thanks for joining us on Podcast Junkies.

Jennifer:
Thank you for having me.

Harry:
I like how I say us like there's a bunch of Podcast Junkies here, but it's really just me and I get Tweets about hey, you guys are doing a great job and I guess because of the name people think it's like, it's a whole gang of Podcast Junkies.

Jennifer:
Well, it's you and your community.

Harry:
Yes.

Jennifer:
There is an us. I do that too. We're like introducing ourselves on a podcast, because you want to do that thing as if it's not just you. So, I say we a lot on my podcast and I don't know why because it's usually just me, in a room, by myself. I don't even have guests most of the time. It just happens.

Harry:
So, what possessed you to start a podcast?

Jennifer:
Well, I wanted to get some information out there, so really the podcast was just my favorite way of doing it, because my podcast is all about Congress, so I'm a little irritated, actually more than a little irritated that when it comes to elections in this country, we only pay attention to the Presidential election in which we have very little say, but Congress is the branch we're suppose to control and we pay almost no attention.

So, I wanted to get that information out there. I tried writing about it. I don't really enjoy writing, but even more importantly, which is ironic considering I read bills for a living, but I don't really enjoy reading and none of my friends read. So, well, not none of them, but a good chunk of them don't like to read.

So, I decided that a podcast would be more appropriate not only because I enjoy speaking, but that's also how I like to learn information and it also gave me the ability to grab sound clips from the house and Senate floor and put them into the podcast, so that you're not just trusting what I say, that I can actually take these people that are running our country and you hear them for yourself, because it's one thing for me to say, oh, Lindsey Graham said something crazy, but if you hear Lindsey Graham say the crazy thing, you're more likely to believe that he said it, you know?

So, it was just a really good way for me to get my information out and then my dad had a pretty devastating heart attack, he survived it, but in the process of bringing him back, they blew out both of his shoulders with the electricity. It was insane and so, I moved home for pretty much most of the summer of 2012 and in that time we had the tearful heart to heart where it's like follow your dreams and like, he knew about the podcast thing and he's like, I don't get it, but go for it.

So, while I was there taking care of him, I listened to Daniel J. Lewis's Audacity to Podcast and I downloaded probably 30 episodes, took notes, and a couple of months later I was able to launch it. So, I actually didn't know much about podcasting or even listened to very many podcasts before I jumped in. It was more of a way to get Congress to be paid attention to.

Harry:
Yeah, I heard on a earlier, one of your earlier episodes that it was Tom Cole that you saw, right?

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Harry:
Actually talk about the fact that he had some stuff, some pork filled in a bill and he was laughing about it.

Jennifer:
He was proud of it! He was bragging about it, because what he did is he slipped an amendment that would protect secret campaign contributions into an energy and water appropriations bill and obviously that's completely inappropriate, but he got out there and defended it as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I mean, I was, at the time, I wasn't reading anything. I didn't, I had only seen the Congressional record one at that point. I saw this on C-SPAN and didn't believe that I actually seen that happen, because it was like, can this possibly be this blatant?

So, I looked up the Congressional record the next day to make sure that I saw what I thought I saw and sure enough I did and that was one of the catalysts for, oh my God, how often does this happen? Is there anybody reading this stuff? Because, that's the next thing I did. I saw that it happened, I checked that it did happen in the Congressional record and then I hit the internet to see who's talking about it and it was no one!

Harry:
Nobody.

Jennifer:
Nobody! Not a journalist, no blogs, nobody. So, I was wondering how often do they get away with it and after two and a half years of Congressional Dish, they get away with it a lot.

Harry:
It's kind of depressing, right?

Jennifer:
It is. It can be, but I think what – I'm actually pretty positive about it. I find it all kind of funny, which I guess is how I survived doing this, but what gives me so much hope is that we're at the point now with communications that someone like me who is just curious about this has the ability to have her own show. Ten years ago I would have had to get a job with some radio station and they would probably never hire me because I'm messing with the government. So, there's a barrier.

There's no barrier anymore and so I'm hoping to inspire other copycats, because I know that people want to get into podcasting so if I can make this show successful and encourage other people to do very similar things, we can actually get this information out there and what I have been amazed by is how much I can't cover.

That's probably the hardest thing for me. It's so much I want to talk about that I'm very ADD. It's like, okay, maybe I'll cover this for this episode. Oh, but this is important too! Oh, but this is important too! There's so much content just waiting for people to talk about it, so as depressing as the situation is in Congress and it really is pretty dreadful, the fact that I feel empowered that we can do something about it now feels fantastic.

Harry:
So, you said you can't cover everything. What's your vetting process to figure out what is going to be episode worthy?

Jennifer:
Well, for the first two years, for the first Congress. I didn't know what I was doing or what I would fine, so I would just read everything that would pass the House of Representatives. Even the really, really long bills that I didn't realize that would never become law. I remember in June and July of my first year, that's when they do all the funding bills, which they never actually complete, but there are thousand page bills. So, I would just ball, because I would be like, I can't believe that I signed up for this. It was horrible.

Harry:
You're holding yourself to high standards. I mean, you said, hey, I committed to doing this and because you are a person of principle you say well, I told people I was going to do this, I committed to this, so now I'm going to do it.

Jennifer:
Yeah, I also wanted to finish something I started, you know? I made a goal, I said I'm going to do this podcast if I can afford it and that was the tough part for the first two years, but I committed to this two year thing just to see if I wanted to do it, to see if there was an audience for it, just to see, but that was my whole gig and that was all the House of Representative, because the Senate is very strange.

So, I did that and now that it's the new Congress. The new Congress started in January, what I do is I read through all the bills that passed, but also based on the fact that I've already done this with the Congress, I already know that those really long funding bills generally don't become law, they do it all at once right before the end of the year. They've done it every single year that way and so I feel like it's more important with the funding bills to read what actually becomes law as oppose to trying to track all of the funding for the government throughout the year. It's almost impossible.

So, I'm reading all of the bills that pass at least one part of Congress and then I'll do special episodes on the big stuff that becomes law, but then I'm also doing special episodes as I'm fascinated. So, the episode that I'll be recording on Monday is about the USA Freedom Act. Now, that did pass the House of Representative, but it's going to be its own episode, because it has to do with the Patriot Act and all this stuff that I've learned that I didn't know was happening and I have a ton of sound clips so when I get inspired to go down a rabbit hole, I make that its own episode too.

It's just kind of, I don't know, it just depends on what inspires me and then there's always at least one episode for each month that's it's just, okay, this is all the stuff that passed and some of it is not that exciting, so I'll cover it in one sentence, but everything that passes, for the most part, is in there. I mean, there's bills about renaming post offices and recognizing the team that won the Superbowl. I skip a lot of the fluff, but for the most part if it passes I'll tell you about it.

Harry:
There's a – I don't know if you're familiar with a service online called IFTTT. It's sort of like this automation of things that you want to happen, like emails you want sent to you. So, there's one, they're called recipes, there's one recipes that said, any time the President signs a new bill into law send me an email. So, it goes to the services where it finds this stuff and for a while I started getting all of these emails. The President signed this, the President signed this, and I thought it would be interesting to like read all these bills. I wonder what the President signed today, but at some point it's like, the President declared like June Sixth National Tree Day. It's like the most weirdest stuff and mundane stuff and you start to realize, well, it's not as sexy as you might thing, like, signing all these exotic and secretive bills and it's like really a lot of, this street was named after Jacques Cousteau or something.

Jennifer:
Yeah, the little bills that get signed throughout the year, if they can make it through both houses of Congress, they're generally pretty uncontroversial. The ones that get signed into law that has really good stuff in it are the really, really long ones that do things like raise the debt ceiling or keep the government open.

So, this legislation that I call ‘must sign' legislation, because it's so long, because the President has to sign it, that's how congress can get things signed into a law that they wouldn't actually sign if it was its own bill, so those are the ones that are the most interesting and they're also quite rare. It only happens a couple of times a year, but that's also why my show is interesting, because it's what I learned is a lot of these little bills that aren't going to be signed in the current political climate, a lot of these little bills got attached to the budget.

So, I had been reading them for the entire year and then at the end of the year, they stuck them on to the budget and they actually became law and I was already familiar with them. So, just because the bill itself dies doesn't mean it's actually dead and having had all of this experience with my listeners just being like okay, you remember this one got me all mad, well, this one is law and so, yeah, it's good to kind of keep track of what they're doing as they go, especially knowing that dead bill can absolutely come back to life.

Harry:
What's great is you are becoming better at this, so right, you said you had the first year and you learned a lot about probably read more than you needed to and now a plan of attack, if you will, for how you're going to go after reading these bills and I imagine year over year you're just going to get better and better at this.

Jennifer:
I certainty hope so. I mean, from where I started, 2013 was my first year, so here I am in 2015 and I can tell you that the work load, it's been increasing for different reasons. I am having a lot more interactions with people, a lot more emails, so that's been what's stressing me out, but the actually reading of the bills, that's the part that I'm actually kind of relaxed about now. So, it's actually very different where the stress is coming from. I'm actually stressing more about the production and marketing side than I am about the reading. The reading is what I do when I want to relax, which is so strange, but yeah, it's kind of like a puzzle to me, because it's almost written in code, because you'll see this bill, whatever, and then there's a little code there. It'll be like 18 USC and a number.

Well, that's where it is in the law, so you have to look up the old law to see how it changed in the new and it takes a little bit of work, but when I figure out what they're actually doing, it's very satisfying. It feels like I worked out a puzzle. It's like the same exact feeling as when I finish a Sudoku puzzle, you know? It's just like, oh yes, I got it and I've gotten to the point where I'm actually really enjoying reading the bills, which means I'm a giant nerd.

Harry:
I'll get back to that, but on the bill numbering, so is there rhythm and reason around it? So, is there, like you said, when they write a certain bill and they number it in a certain way, does that give you a clue that this refers to something that was pushed through previously?

Jennifer:
Not really. In the House of Representative, the bills that have single digits are generally pretty important ones, because those are, it's done in order. So, in a new Congress, you're going to start with bill number one. So, if anything, it tells me the priority, so if it's a single digit, it's one of the first things that the leadership wanted to be introduced in the house and it also tells me how far along in the Congress it was introduced.

So, something that's, you know, bill number 46 is probably something that was introduced early as a opposed bill number 4075, but all of that becomes a little fuzzy, because there are thousands and thousands and thousands of bills that are introduced. Any Congressman can introduce a bill, you just put it out there and say I want this to go to committee, I want this to get a vote and the vast majority of them don't get any action and so, yeah, the bill numbers, and they get recycled!

Harry:
That must drive you crazy then.

Jennifer:
Well, now that I know what to look for, it really doesn't, because you just have to know which Congress it is, but I do get people that'll be like, oh my God, this bill is so scary and you look and it's like the 112th Congress and it's like that one died four years ago, don't worry, you're good, but it does get confusing for people, that's why it's tough to go by bill number. It's also tough to go by name, though, because the names don't tell you what's in these things either. You can't judge a bill by..

Harry:
Do they make it cryptic on purpose?

Jennifer:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah! So, this is one of my favorite ones in like an evil way. The Safe American Workers Act changes the healthcare law so that you wouldn't get health insurance as a full time employee until you are working 40 or more hours per week. So, you'd have to work over time every week to get your health insurance as oppose to what the law is now, which is 30 hours per week. That's the Safe American Workers Act, which forces you to work over time. It's so bizarre, but because it has this nice fluffy name and they know that we mostly don't read them, they get away with this stuff! At least they think they do.

Harry:
Yeah, now that Jen is on the case, they don't.

Jennifer:
Well, I'm hoping to start raising a fuss. I know a couple of Congressman listen and I know their staffers do. I have no doubt.

Harry:
Really?

Jennifer:
Yeah. So, that's been kind of fun to find out.

Harry:
Have they reached out to you?

Jennifer:
On Twitter I've been told a few things. Yeah..

Harry:
The way you say that means like either they said something that was not so nice or something that you'd rather not share.

Jennifer:
No, I just don't want to get anyone in trouble for telling me anything, I guess, I don't know. I don't know! When people tell me things, I generally keep them to myself unless I have permission to be like, yeah, this Congressman staffer told me that he's – you know what I mean?

Harry:
What's funny in that arena of Congressman and staffers, you get into the whole world of, is this comment on the record, off the record? And I think everyone now is so acclimated to that's how things work after watching three seasons of House of Cards.

Jennifer:
Yeah. A lot of people ask me if Washington is like House of Cards and I'm like, I don't know, I live in Oakland. I assume it is, but I don't know.

Harry:
The thing is they probably mix in enough of like, fake stuff and enough reality for you to get confused about like, wow, okay, so it can't really be that bad, but I think the truth lies somewhere in between.

Jennifer:
I guess I don't really understand the question?

Harry:
No, I mean just the statement that in shows like that they over dramatize some of the scenes and they're like, wow, they can't really be that evil right? And then they show some of the other stuff that's really, really happening in Congress and you have to figure out that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Jennifer:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's a work of fiction, but when you – I think the thing I enjoyed about House of Cards, at least in the first two season, that last season was a disaster, but in the first two seasons they had a lot of stories about the lobbyists and that's something I feel like in a lot of political shows has been completely ignored and House of Cards is one of the first to actually acknowledge that it's a big part of the system and what I have found is – fossil fuels is just, I never expected the fossil fuel industry to have the kind of hold on our Congress that they do have and you'll see these bills that are just blatantly for fossil fuel companies and then you check out the guy who wrote it and where he's getting his money from and I swear! 99% of the time in his top one to three industries, it's a fossil fuel industry. So, it happens all the time.

Someone does something that benefits the drug companies and they get money from the pharmaceuticals. It's one of their top two and you can, it's gotten so predictable that it's not even that exciting when I found it anymore, because it's just that consistent, the money has an absolute affect on the bills these people are writing.

Harry:
And these companies actually, correct me if I'm wrong, don't they actually write the bill themselves and then hand them over to the Congressman to present them?

Jennifer:
So, that happens more in the states because of something called the American Legislative Exchange Counsel. It's known as ALEC and they actually have corporate lobbyists that sit with state representatives and write bills together. So, that does happen and I've seen a few of them trickle into the federal government. It's more of a state issue, but yes, that absolutely happens, but then what you find is these ALEC people they go from their state government to the federal government and they bring their crappy corporate bills with them.

So, that's kind of how it sneaks in to the federal government, but you know, there was a bill that was actually signed into law attached to the budget which brings back bank bailouts, short story, and that was written almost entirely by CITI Group Lobbyists and it was proven, The New York Times reported it, we know it, and that was actually able to be signed into law. So, it absolutely happens, but the scale is much bigger on a state level. I wish it was something people paid more attention to.

Harry:
Yeah, there's a lot of this stuff that people don't pay attention to, which is why I'm so fascinated by your podcast, because it deals with topics that you wouldn't think anyone would have as a topic for starting a podcast, so we'll dig a bit deeper into that in a minute, but I'm wondering where this interest comes from your perspective, like were you political science major, were you – you mentioned you were watching C-SPAN. So, not a lot of people say they do that for leisure.

Jennifer:
Well, okay, I'm going to go in the way back machine here, but when I was a kid, I couldn't have cared any less about politics, anything, like I was an Orange Country California girl. I cared about my social group and my volleyball team and that was it, but my parents were conservative republicans and everyday driving me to school for half an hour each way, my mom would have conservative radio on and it just made me crazy, couldn't handle it.

So, I was one of those people that kind of turned all of it off, then I turned 18 in the 2000, voted for George W. Bush because my parents did. I was raised republican, it's what we do, and then 9/11 obviously happened, which actually wasn't a turning point for me, but I did go, oh, that's interesting, why are people attacking us? I thought the whole world loved us, that's what I've been told my whole life and then I studied abroad from January to May of 2003 and while living in Germany, our country started a war.

Like I said, I'm very, I like people to like me, so when I was going into bars and stuff in Germany, the people would hear my American accent and come and sit with me and say, so, why exactly is your country starting a war, tell us everything? And I had no answers. I had no idea. I felt so ignorant and I was really ashamed of that and the weekend we actually started the war, this was like the turning point where I became a different person. I was in Rome with a couple of friends just screwing around and we couldn't get back to our hotel because there was a protest of literally a million people protesting our country and protesting a war.

So, I found a street that was elevated above this protest and I watched for hours and hours and hours, just watched a million people mad at my country, which being from the United States I was told, everyone loves us! So, that's when I started asking questions and every time I got an answer it just lead to more and more questions and I took a lot of that shock, really, because everything I thought I knew was wrong, especially as a ‘I was raised republican' person who voted for this President.

I was very angry at the Bush administration for a few years, but as the years went on and I started learning about how the government works, I realized that nothing that they did they could have done without Congress. They fund everything. All the warships, everything is done by Congress and that's where we were suppose to have our power and I knew nothing! Nothing! I didn't know how it worked.

So, I just started paying attention and now here we are years later. I was one of those people that had some hope in Obama and I'm very disappointed and it's just kind of exposed the whole two party system as very corporate and very corrupt. I never intended for Congressional Dish to be an expose of corporate influence in bills, it just became that because that's what I found in both parties! Yeah, that's where it all came from. I was kind of shocked into it as a kid.

Harry:
Yeah, it's interesting because I've been abroad not for an extended period of time, but enough to see other people's opinion of America and I think that's something people should do at least once or twice in their lifetime to sort of get out of – it's hard to have an opinion on something when you're literally like in the bubble, so you have to see something from a distance and from another perspective, because if you only see it from yours then that's the only opinion you have. There's people that have never grown up and been raised in some of these cities in America and they live their whole life and so obviously that colors their perspective on how they see the world and quite honestly it's a very limiting perspective and a small town perspective, if you will.

So, I think the fact that you had that opportunity to do that I think is awesome, because, like you said, it affected you in a profound way to the point where you felt you couldn't just – you could do one of two things by that point, say okay, well, I don't need to know anything and just continue to keep your head buried in the sand or do what you did and start to ask more questions even if you're not comfortable with the answers you're getting.

Jennifer:
I did try the running away thing, I did.

Harry:
For the record, yeah.

Jennifer:
I can't say that the road to Congressional Dish wasn't a bumpy one, because in April of 2008 my now husband, we're just dating at the time, but we sold everything we owned and bought one way tickets to go back to Europe because I was like, America is crazy! I want to get out and if I can find a way to never come back, like, that sounds great to me, so I wanted to bury my in the sand and seek somewhere else that wasn't, you know, so controlled by crazy people and it turns out that Europe is having the same problem we are, South America is having the same problem we are, like this control by corporates, by Wall Street, really, it's a worldwide issue.

Yeah, so it's not something I could escape and then I – my visa ran out, so we went to Hawaii so that we could earn some money, so for two and a half years I was living on the beach, I had a fun easy jobs, I was living the life, we were supporting ourselves, it was fine, but the questions didn't go away, you know? I found myself, like, when I was laying on the beach reading a book, I was still reading about the Bush administration.

Harry:
yeah, you couldn't get away, even in Hawaii.

Jennifer:
I couldn't turn it off. I tried, I tried leaving the country, I tried to just going to an island and just trying to forget it all, and it just didn't work, so I came back and decided I was going to do something about it and this is what I ended up doing.

Harry:
I think it just speaks to something inside of you, this natural curiosity to getting at the heart of like the matter and there's an investigative streak that I think runs deep inside you from what I can hear from the way you tackle your subject matter.

Jennifer:
It is. It comes from being the daughter of two very stubborn people and we're always right, so it's like, okay, and they're like super republican. I love my parents dearly, but they are the type of – I shouldn't say this, one of my parents is the type of person that like republican is their team, so whatever the republicans do, it just makes perfect sense and it is what it is.

So, then when I would have conversations, it's like, but I have facts! I looked this up, here's a fact. This is an actual fact. It's funny now, because now our relationship is, we'll talk about politics and we're both on our phones just fact checking everything we say and our conversations have actually gotten really, really good, because I am putting in the research. I'm not just making it up, but it definitely comes from the dynamic in my home is where that came from. It's just this innate thing I don't want to be wrong even if it means I have to research to make sure that I'm not.

Harry:
I can relate to that because my parents are republican as well and one of my brothers is, so obviously when it comes time for the holidays, family gatherings, there's always the taboo subject you're not suppose touch politics, religion, and sex, and I think you need to be able to have conversations with people that you disagree with. I mentioned this on an early interview that I had with Jason Stapleton, because he's a libertarian and I think the point is that you can disagree without being disagreeable.

I don't know if that makes sense, but just without being combative and just respecting each other's view points, even if you don't agree with them and trying to understand where that person is coming from, but I do get your frustrations sometimes when some of the stuff is literally black and white like, these are the facts, do you not see how this is something that's not good for the country?

Jennifer:
Yeah and that can get a little bit frustrating. I mean, one of the things, being raised by people that I disagree with so often is I think I've kind of learned the skill that you can love the person and not really see the same way they do, but what I've also learned is that it's probably best to come from, we know that we agree on this, so let's go from here.

So, I always try to find the common ground first and what I find amazing is that people politically label themselves constantly. It makes me nuts, but then when you start talking about an actual issue and you say, okay, we agree on this, this, and this. Let's try to figure this out and not worry if it's conservative or liberal, all of a sudden you can come to all kinds of agreements on the way things should be or something that should be or something that would work. You can tweak out the differences.

I got in an argument with a guy today, you know, he started out by calling Bernie Sanders a socialist and all of this stuff and we got to the point where he supports raising the minimum wage. He supports what Bernie Sanders said, but just to $12.50, not to $15 and it's like, but you were just trashing the guy, calling him names, even though, you actually kind of agree with the man.

So, once we can dump these labels and dump these parties, these parties mean nothing, once we can do that and just see ourselves as one group of American, I actually have a lot of hope and I think our generation, I think the people 40 and under, I think they're kind of ready to do that. I don't know too many people my age that are devoted to party. It's all baby boomers.

Harry:
Yeah, it's true.

Jennifer:
The olds.

Harry:
It's like you said, even with Obama in office, you quickly realized how little power he has to affect the type of broad change that's needed to reserve some of the damage that's been done with the two party system.

Jennifer:
See, that's where I have a little bit of a problem, because unfortunately he has enormous power. He just was full of it when he said he was going to use it to do certain things. That's the sad truth of it is that when you look at how it actually works, like, NSA spying is the perfect example. A lot of that is being done by an executive order that was written in the Reagan administration. He could have stopped a lot of that anytime, he just didn't and we also have drone bombing. He announced that we were going to bomb Syria and we said no, or like the British said no, but the public made it very clear we didn't want to bomb Syria. A year later, we're bombing Syria!

So, he's done a lot of the things he said he wasn't going to do and back in 2008 during the primary, especially with Hilary Clinton, there were signs that this was who the guy was. He's definitely friendly to corporations. He was definitely down with the military industrial complex. The signs were there, but now we have the proof and one of the issues I am seeing in a lot of these bills is that Congress is suppose to make the law, but what they do is they okay, the Attorney General needs to make procedures for yadda, yadda or the EPA needs to do yadda, yadda. They are not actually making the policy, they're giving it to the executive branch.

So, actually one of the problems that I've been witnessing is that we've been giving enormous power to the Presidency, an enormous responsibility to the executive branch. Too much! Too much for them to handle, because they are now doing the legislating and the enforcement and that's how you get lawlessness, because we don't have our branch of government actually making the laws, they're abdicating almost all of their responsibility.

Harry:
Yeah, that's for clarifying that point, because I think it's an important one. Did you see Citizenfour?

Jennifer:
No, what is it?

Harry:
That's the Edward Snowden documentary.

Jennifer:
Oh, I haven't seen the documentary, but I've been researching this like, yeah, I will probably be up on whatever Edward Snowden stuff.

Harry:
It's one of those documentaries that's fascinating at the same time as it scares you. You're like, wow, this is an awesome documentary and wow, this scares the crap out of me that this stuff is actually happening and it's a sign of a good documentary, because it gets you so engaged and these folks were literally in the hotel with him as these – right before he's about to release the information. So, it's really, really well down and you're just kind of following it the whole way through.

Jennifer:
Oh, is that the one that's produced by Laura Poitras?

Harry:
Yes, yes.

Jennifer:
Okay, yeah, I haven't seen it, but I know their story and that's another thing that's, Edward Snowden, I love that he gave us the actual documents. We needed them and we understand what's going on much more. I mean, the Patriot Act, right now we're talking on the 29th of May. There are three important sections of the Patriot Act that expire on June 1st, just a couple of days from now. So, the discussion and the votes as to whether or not they're going to re-authorize this stuff is happening Sunday at 1pm our time, pacific time.

So, this is happening in real time. They're actually doing something about it where it wouldn't be happen had Edward Snowden not made such a fuss and got people, regular people, aware of what was happening. They would just extend the Patriot Act like they did the last two times, but the thing is if you wanted to know what was going on, we had this information in 2006. We had everything we wanted to know, because there was an AT&T technician who had gotten the documents that they were installing things called splitters on the AT&T wires and what he was saying it's a dumb device. Like, it literally just takes everything goes into their wires and sends it to the NSA.

So, the whole time they were telling the country, oh, we're just collecting your meta data, we don't have the content, but it's like, we know the equipment that you used, like, of course you have the content because it didn't have the ability to split it up. It was just, ‘we take everything'. So, that was fascinating to me too to be able to witness the lies for all these years and then we get these documents in 2013 and the word catches fire and they're now doing something about it, but it's amazing when you actually watch what's actually going on in the halls of Congress and you watch the testimony how much you can find out is going on in this country. It's all there. The problem is we're not looking.

Harry:
Yeah, we're not interested or there's so many distractions that we don't find the time to pay attention to it. It's mind boggling sometimes.

Jennifer:
Well, I don't necessarily blame us, because I know so many people that watch the news everyday. They turn on the TV, they're doing what they think they're suppose to do to be informed and honestly, why shouldn’t they be able to turn on the news and actually get legitimate news, but instead what they're getting is campaign poling for an election that doesn't take place for another year and half and they're going to follow a missing plane for two months.

Our media is doing such a terrible job of keeping us informed because it's all about keeping eyes on the screen and pleasing their advertisers that we're not actually getting the information that is tough to hear and so as much as people say like, you know, we should be so much more informed about this stuff and we're so lazy. I actually don't think the American is lazy or that they don't care. They just don't know where to find this information. I mean, that's kind of why I did Congressional Dish, because I wanted to know what was in the actual bills and had no idea where to find it.

There are publications, The Hill being one of them, that is about Congress, but they don't even have reporters that are reading the actual bills. They are talking about the political fights about passing the bill, but they're not actually looking what's in it and seeing if what these Congressman are telling them is actually truth and so often it's not.

The USA Freedom act is such a perfect example of that because they're calling it something that ends mass data collection in the United States. It doesn't do that at all, it just privatizes it. So, instead of the government keeping all of it in this government built data center in Utah, the telecoms would keep it and they would just get secret warrants to get our information, nothing changes except that we would now be paying Comcast and Verizon to do the storage and yes, they get paid.

So, this bill that everyone is saying like, it's by bipartisan, it's pass the house, it's the solution to all the spying. No, no, no, no, no! You have to read it to know that stuff and so that's why I don't really, it's not that I don't hold the American's responsible for not knowing what's going on, but how are they suppose to know what's going on when we have a media that's this dreadful.

Harry:
Yeah, I think for so long we've had limited tools at our disposal for getting access to this type of information in a way that allows it to consume it easily and that's why I'm so fascinated by what you're doing because I think more of this is going to happen and I think more people are going to take your lead, more people are, you know, they may be people – you may team up and say, okay, I'm going to handle the House of Representatives and I'm going to handle Congress or I'm going to focus on energy bills and, you know, you never know where this can go and how thing can branch off and I'm really excited by that, because you are sort of paving the way, well, I still can't believe no one had tried this yet and I think just the sheer effort in trying to read these bills probably put a lot of people off, but you on to it, so that's awesome.

Jennifer:
Well, the fact that I was able to do it. If I can do it, it's not that hard, really.

Harry:
To read a bill, no it's not.

Jennifer:
No, it's not. Some of them are just a couple of pages.

Harry:
You just have to have an genuine interest and a passion for getting the answers out there, because what you're doing, you're not uncovering secrets and you're not writing this complex code to decipher these code words that their using. Like you said, they're using just regular language, but they're burying it so deep. It's funny, they're burying it deep but in plain site, because they'll tell you, oh, anyone can go read a bill knowing full well that most people are not going to.

Jennifer:
Yeah and that whole read the bill thing, they kept saying that with the Affordable Care Act and when they shut down the government in 2013 over the Affordable Care Act. I said, alright, screw it, I'm going to read it. It took me an entire week and what I found out is that you can read the first nine section, which was like 700-800 pages and then section ten, amended the first nine. I had a full blown mental breakdown. I left the house. I went for like a five hour walk. I was so angry and so upset because I would have had to go back and re-read the whole thing and then I found out that there was this other bill that amended all of that.

So, what I ended up doing is I kind of had to cheat, because there was a packet of information. It was probably a 100 pages thick, but that was prepared for the Senate to help the Senate understand what this bill was. So, to say, oh, just read the bill. Sometimes, like something with the Affordable Care Act. That's not possible, because right now if you were to read the Affordable Care Act, the information that's in there isn't accurate. You have to know where to find the actual terms and that was a slap in the face.

That's what's really difficult about reading current law is that they don't actually take the time or at least, Cornell University does take the time and God bless them for it to put it into actual language so when something is changed, you can go read the actual law, but when a bill is passed and it becomes law, they don't turn it in to one nice and neat bill with all of the information just there. They have all these edits and you have to follow this concluded path to get to the information. It's bizarre and I think that's part of the story, like if you listen to the Obama Care episode, you'll hear my frustration in the whole thing and just like be like, you know, I think the difficulty I had in reading this bill is apart of this story, you know?

Harry:
Yeah, that must be frustrating, but I think the technology is advance in a way, you know, podcast itself, right, the fact that you have a medium that can reach thousands and thousands – I'm not sure where your listenership is now, but the fact that there's so many people that are aware of this topic by virtue of you being able to record a podcast in your home using a mic that costs a couple of hundred dollars, putting it on iTunes and just like that, like you're increasing awareness of this really, really important topic and think people are going to realize that's what you did and how easy, how did you do this? How did you get started? I don't know if people started already asking you like, how can I do this or how can I help.

Jennifer:
I've gotten a lot of people asking how they can help. I haven't had anybody yet say that they want to copycat, so that's the day I'm really looking forward to, but yeah, podcasts, and it's gotten so much easier even since I started a couple of years ago. I mean, the technology is just beautiful and it's become very user friendly. I mean, just look at all the podcasting apps. When I started getting podcasts on an Android was quite an experience, now it's not so hard. You just download Stitcher and you're done!

So, that's becoming better and also for the researching of what's going on in the government, it's never been better. I mean, it could absolutely be improved, but had I wanted to do this 20 years ago, I would have to physically be in Washington, DC and I would have to go and read the actual peoples, if they'd even let me in, and now it's all on the internet within a day!

So, that makes my job possible. There's now, you know, editing software so I can highlight what's going on in the Daily Digest and send it to someone else so that they can grab the clips for me and send it back. That wouldn't have been possible a few years ago and getting all the videos of the hearings. This is actually new since I started. There were a lot of hearings that I physically could not watch because they were not posting the video. They are still not making the MP3 available for download, but I have Screencast! So, I just, you know, record it as I watch it and I get the clips.

So, this technology is making being a journalist or something like a journalist, whatever I am, I don't know what I am, but it's making the sharing of information possible in a way that it was never possible before, so I just feel like we're on the door step of something beautiful when it comes to holding our representatives accountable and knowing what they're actually doing, because this, you know, Americans I think take a lot of flack for how out of control we let our government get, but we didn't have the access to this information, you know? My parents didn't have access to this information. They believe the TV. To this day, my parents still believe the TV. Our generation does not believe the TV.

So, things are about to change, I just hope it changes quickly enough that the laws aren't stacked so much in the democrats and republicans favor that the establishment really does get control of this country forever. I don't think we're there yet, but they're changing the laws quickly.

Harry:
It's funny, what happens is change happens sometimes not in a way people expect, because people sort of look back and say, well, I looked back yesterday or a week ago and I really don't see anything different than then, but sometimes you have to look over a long period of time, like, look back six months, how different are things six months ago than they were and then look back a year and then sometimes things happen with sort of a hockey stick like change, really it's like one day it's this way and then over the course of like two weeks, some crazy event happens or some ridiculous thing triggers you know some sort of trending event on Twitter or a hashtag or something and all of a sudden people are like, like a slap in the face, like wow, what happened in this span of two weeks?

Like, the guy who set himself on fire and was it Tunisia? That kicked off the riots and what was happening in the Middle East, like the awaking, whatever they called it. It was just one guy, I think, wasn't able to sell his fruit in the market or something like this, so I mean, I can't predict what it's going to be. I don't know that anyone can, but there's always these trigger events that cause this, like, almost like exponential change in the awaking and I think with the combination of technology and awareness, I think there's more moments that can happen like that now, which is really, really exciting.

Jennifer:
It is and it's going to be a lot harder for ‘powers that be' to pull off another Patriot Act, because in 2001, the towers fell in September 11th, the Patriot Act was signed on October 29th. It was 45 days later, That's lighting speed for a bill of that much consequence and I just found out that no one even read it! I didn't know that but it was a substitute bill at the last minute and like so many bills that I've seen, apparently these shenanigans have been going on for a long time and no one read that bill, but at the time, the internet wasn't was what it is now, you couldn't watch that happen on your computer by watching the three different C-SPAN channels and I couldn't have shared those clips.

I think it's going to become a lot harder to be the bad stuff, but then you see something like Occupy Wall Street that happened after the crash and that's one of those great changes and it happened very quickly. It was just like an entire conversation changed in a way that, you say the phrase 1% and everybody knows what you're talking about and that was a huge thing that happened. It changed the conversation, it changed what people were aware of and it happened very quickly just like you said and I think we're going to have more of those positive moments going forward, because so many people that became adults around the 9/11 age and saw this Bill of Rights that – you know, I was a child of the 80s, school house rock. I like the Bill of Rights, you know? I get these ten things guaranteed and so when they went and screwed with them, I got mad, because this is the basics of what being an American is suppose to be and I think our generation had that very naive, like, oh, our government is great and I think because we still have those ideals, we're angry enough to where we're actually going to do something about it.

We just need to be given the idea that will spread more effectively than Occupy Wall Street did. I love the fact that people did something, but it was so unorganized and didn't use the system to change the system, that it didn't actually have any real power affects. So, when it comes to actually making a difference, the one thing that I ask people to do is vote, because we're not voting. I found out a stat about California that made me crazy. In the 2014 election, people under the age of 22, so like college-aged people, 8% voter turn out.

Harry:
Wow.

Jennifer:
Eight!

Harry:
It's not something that's interesting to them and I think until it becomes something that you can show them has an affect on like, their future, they're not going to stand up and take notice.

Jennifer:
Well, that's what I'm trying to do is convince them that it does, because it's the only thing that does change things. I mean, the people that showed up to vote in 2014 changed the Senate. That's a big deal, you know. So, it irritates me that young people don't vote, but it also gives me more hope than anything, because that's a giant untapped voting block.

Harry:
Yeah, it's an opportunity.

Jennifer:
It's a huge opportunity and when you talk to people, it's funny, because the non-voters in a lot of ways are the ones that are most passionate about the fact that this country is backwards and they say, well, we're waiting for the revolution and our vote doesn't count and like all these crazy excuses and it's like, okay, you can wait for the revolution, but just vote in the meantime. It's the one bit of power that you have, so that's one of my personal mission is to convince more people to vote that are not baby boomers.

That aren't sucked into the TV, because when I go and vote, no matter which state I voted, because I've lived in a lot, no matter which state, I am one of the youngest, you know? The people voting there, I was the youngest about 20 years in 2008, because I worked at the polls. I was the youngest one, hands down, and you just watch people come and it's like, where are the college kids? Because there's so many of them that could be registered right here and changing this district, they didn't walk in that door.

So, that's the thing! Once people understand that they can, especially in an off-election. Presidential elections are hard because there's so much noise about the Presidency. It is going to be hard to really change something, but if took a mid-term election, which they assume no one really votes in and all of us young people showed up, we could change everything in a day! It sounds crazy, but it really is true! You could put so many better people in there. The other half of that equation though is putting better names on the valet, which is a legitimate thing that I've heard.

Well, we have no one to vote for and it's like, okay, put your name on the valet, make yourself an option, so that's another thing. I'm going to do an entire episode, because state by state they kind of rigged some of them to make it very difficult to get on, so I'll do an episode saying this is the easiest state going all the way down to the hardest and tell people how to do that, but honestly, if we can use this system, which really is a brilliant system. If we can use it to take over our branch of government or even just the house of representatives, because they control all the money, there you go, we can change the laws. That's how it's done.

Harry:
I think people under estimate just how much power we have to affect change when we sort of get our shit together and come together for a common cause and have a plan of attack, not some just random all do some of this, some of this, and, you know, I'll write my Congressman or I'll choose not to vote, like all those despaired pieces together really don't do much, but I think to your point, having a concerted effort and hopefully with some of the guidance we'll get from your podcast, we'll do a better job of that going forward.

Jennifer:
Yeah. I think it's going to be an easier argument to make not that crowd funding is a thing, because people understand you can make a movie or produce a podcast, because that's how my podcast is financed, it's all crowd funded. I don't have advertisers. We can do things now together where your dollar a month, it doesn't really affect me, but you are making this thing happen, because there's so many other people doing it to and voting is the same idea.

Yeah, that's the hope I have, because when I look at the system, the way that it's setup, it's really quite genius and I'm not ready to give up on it yet and revolution doesn't fun to me! Cutting off people's heads and like shooting each other, that's what revolution is. We don't need to do that. Let's try voting first and then if that doesn't work, let's move on, but 8% voter turn out. I mean, c'mon, we haven't tried it yet.

Harry:
Yeah, all you need to do is watch a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones and you realize overthrowing thrones and monarchies and executions is pretty bloody.

Jennifer:
It's not pretty. Yeah. I want no part of it. That's when I get back on a plane and I'm like, bye!

Harry:
Back to the beach.

Jennifer:
You guys have your revolution.

Harry:
Yeah, because you mentioned Occupy Wall Street and I think that was, call it maybe awareness mechanism, awareness meme 1.0, and it was the first time everyone, like you said, had common language to use to sort of figure out this situation that we're in, so I think more of those types of things are going to happen and people are – oh, this is like Occupy Wall Street and it's bringing awareness to this issue that we need to be focused on, so I think that's fantastic.

Talk about the funding, because you mentioned it and I think it's a great testament, because it's funny, a lot of podcasters, they wonder like, how am I going to support my podcast, what am I going to do so that I can keep podcasting and something you talked about when you were on ProfitCast is – that episode, I listened to it a couple of days ago and you made a very interesting point, you said, if I'm going to actually ask for funding or for donations for this episodes, then I really have to feel like I'm providing something of value to the audience so that they feel that their donate, it's like, a worthy donation, because I am providing – she's giving me something of value, so by all means, I feel like I can't help but give back to Jennifer, because the extent to which she's providing to value and putting the work is so obviously that it's very easy for me to make a donation.

Jennifer:
Yeah, the way that I kind of approached the whole thing is that, this, I don't want to insult people that have the Paypal button up, but do opinion podcasts, because they definitely have a place, you know, and they're entertaining and that's great, but if you're going to go with a donation model, it's effective, at least, to give someone of value. In my case, I'm giving them information they can't find anywhere else and all I'm asking that they return that value that they get from that information or production of the show, entertainment, all of it, return it to me in some kind of financial form, voluntarily, because one of the things about my show is I don't want to put up a pay wall, because there are people that need this information, there's a lot of people – pretty much every American of voting age that needs to go what's going on in Congress, so I don't want to have to make people pay for that information.

So, that forces me to do it for free and then when I am exposing corporate influence in all the bills, I can't then go, but shop at Walmart, you know? It's just, no. Plus it takes a lot of time away trying to court sponsors and dealing with sponsors and all of that crap, like, I just don't hae time for it. So, if my audience is willing to support my show because I'm doing all this work, it's beneficially to them to keep Congressional Dish going, to keep my time freed up to actually keep reading and finding this information for them so that once every two weeks for an hour they get all this information and they can go on with their day.

They don't have to pick up a bill, they don't have to read a book, they don't have to watch a hearing, they don't have to do any of this stuff because I've already done it for them and I'm giving them the highlights. So, that's one of the things that's been working for me and my model is the fact that I am providing something that can't be found elsewhere and if someone has an idea where they're providing something that doesn't currently exist, this model is working our really well for me and I think it can work out really well for other people, because people will pay for something they think enriches their lives. It's harder though when you're doing the type of show that's really fun..

Harry:
Entertaining.

Jennifer:
But, it's fun, you know? You're having a good time. You're talking about your favorite…

Harry:
More hobby.

Jennifer:
Yeah, there's hobby podcasts. Those are going to be really tough to monetize in this fashion. If you do a great job, advertising is a great model, but for donations, like, I think a little work has to go into it to really make it work – not like a hobby podcast isn't work, I know it's work, but you know what I mean.

Harry:
I think, yeah, I think everyone listen knows what you mean as well. So, how long was it before you started to see that the donate model was working and actually supporting the show?

Jennifer:
Well, that's an interesting question because for the first year, I didn't even try to make money. I just decided I was going to learn how to do it, see if I wanted to do it, see if there was anything worth talking about in Congress, which is silly now that I know how much, but I didn't know if there was going to be a show here. So, the first year I didn't even try. So, when I finally did start asking for donates, the first donate came in that day, which was amazing and it actually wasn't a donation, it was subscriber.

So, that was awesome and it was only, I had hope within the first six months that I will make a legit career and living out of this and that hope has only increase with time, because I'm actually doing – I'm doing pretty well for a podcaster, you know, compared to what I was making waiting tables, I'm still making like nothing, but it's getting there and I think as the audience increases I've noticed that the subscriptions increase and there's just more people. Like I said, it's a crowd funded thing, so the more listeners you have, the more people who are willing to pay for something voluntarily. So, yeah, I think at some point I will be successful with this model, I just need to start caring about marketing, because I've done nothing.

Harry:
Yeah, I think we will have to chat about that and get you some ideas.

Jennifer:
Well, that's the thing, I've got ideas for days, but I don't have the time.

Harry:
We'll figure out a way to help with that and we'll have to crowd fund some help for you.

Jennifer:
I kind of like, I guess, I listen to the preacher Rob Walch of Libsyn.

Harry:
Of Libsyn, yeah.

Jennifer:
Yes and I think I just really like his advice, which is that your time should be spent on producing a great podcast and if it is that good, it'll spread and my growth has been slow, but consistently steady with those nice little bumps and I'm already in the top 10%, so it's getting there, it's definitely getting there, but I'm looking for Dan Carlin numbers.

Harry:
Are we all, right?

Jennifer:
Yeah, I'm not aiming small here.

Harry:
No, you shouldn't because I think the impact of what you're doing is so great that I think with each new listener that you get, I just think there's more of an impact per listener. There's some sort of metric I'm trying to get to, but that – it's just so much value packed into each one of your episodes, that awareness that you're bringing on this topic is just so much more valuable with each new listeners you gain.

Jennifer:
I hope so and I get so many wonderful emails, so many from people that say things along that line, just you know, I kind of need that reinforcement, you know, because I get it, I don't know if you feel like this, but every time I release an episode for about a day, I just have constant anxiety. I'm questioning everything that I said, wondering if people are going to get mad at me, did I sound stupid, just a wave of anxiety, so those emails, I need them and when I'm feeling like that, the emails always help, because it's people saying you've helped me understand how the government works and you know, I checked out your show notes, because my show notes, I linked everything that I find in these bills, because I don't know if I'm right, so I want people to check and people appreciate that.

Harry:
More importantly, you don't want – I mean, I hate, the opposite aspect of it, but you don't want people saying, hey, where do you get your fact from? Like, how come you're not checking this, how can you back up what you're saying? Because there will always be the naysayers, right and people, the detractors, in saying, oh, she doesn't know what she's talking about, she's really full of it. I think you almost have to have the fact based info on the show notes just to shut those people up.

Jennifer:
Absolutely and it feels amazing. It doesn't happen very often, but there was this one jerk on Twitter recently who basically said that, like, why should we trust anything you say? And I was like here's the link to the show notes with a link to every single thing I said, if you have any questions let me know. I could be pretty nice about it and I never heard from the jerk again. It's like, all the work that goes into it for like those few people makes every minute worth it.

I've had people – actually, those show notes have helped because I've had people check something that sounded crazy and in a couple of instances I got it wrong and so a lot of my episodes, too many of them, starts with me going, alright, gotta fix one of those mistakes and that's the thing, like having the ability to have other people check my work, you know, and that's what makes me more confident that my information is accurate because people will tell me if it's not. I've given them every resource I've possibly can and it's been proven that they're willing to check on it, so yeah, I just love people. I love my listeners, I love all of it. It's been such an amazing experience.

Harry:
I think what's awesome is from a podcasting perspective it's always great when you realize the person on the other end of the microphone, the host in this case is not this perfect robot, automaton who never makes any mistakes. People need to relate to other people who make mistakes, because we all do. No one is perfect, no one is going to get it right the first time and I think the fact that you're upfront with that and you admit you had to correct something that you published three weeks ago. I quite honestly, from a podcasting perspective think people resonate with that and they connect with you more.

Jennifer:
Oh, thank you, that's actually very comforting to hear, because every time I correct a mistake I'm just like, oh God, I'm exposing myself as just the nobody, like, clueless person that I am.

Harry:
No, I think it has the opposite effect, especially for your core audience, because your true fans, your true followers, is just gives them more of a reason to listen to you, because it's like, oh man, she's a real person, she's not perfect. I make mistakes, I can relate to Jen because she makes mistakes and I just love her that much more now and I think it's endearing, not to say you have carte blanche to just write whatever you want on the show notes, but I think it's a good thing.

Jennifer:
Well, I hope people know that if I make a mistake, I'll correct. Like, when has Bill O'Reilly ever said that he's made a mistake? Has it ever happened?

Harry:
Never. Yeah, he doesn't do that.

Jennifer:
Yeah, I don't trust anyone who says they don't make any mistakes.

Harry:
Exactly, exactly, I think it's a testament to the success of the show that you were nominated for an award at the recent New Media Expo.

Jennifer:
Yeah and the one before that, too. So, two years running. I'm quite proud of that.

Harry:
What category was it in?

Jennifer:
Politics and news.

Harry:
Politics and news, okay.

Jennifer:
Same Seder keeps taking it home.

Harry:
But..

Jennifer:
But I got to meet him, so that was fun.

Harry:
And speaking of meeting people you got to meet Adam Curry.

Jennifer:
I did! Yeah. Our shows are very similar and, well, no they're not, actually. They're not similar at all, but we're interested in similar things. We're interested in how the world works and their show is all about current events as is mine and Adam, on his show in particular is one that reads all the documents. So, it's like, on a Saturday night, Adam Curry and I are probably both sitting at home, like, geeking out on some government stuff that no one else would ever look at, so we have that bound through our shows because we do the same type of nerdy crap and I think that's why, like, we were so excited to meet each other. I was so excited to meet him in person and I didn't even realize he was such a big deal.

Harry:
Yeah, he took time out from, again, from the ProfitCast episode. I'll put a link to it so people can hear the full story, I don't want to repeat it here, but in a nutshell. Adam Curry interrupted his conversation when he realized you were nearby to come over and say hi to you, which much must have been really comforting to you.

Jennifer:
It was so nice of him. It was very, very nice. I figured when I was standing there that he probably would know who I was. I wasn't expecting him to be excited, you know, it's a new experience for me to have people that I've never met before be excited to meet me. That's a very strange experience and New Media Expo is the first time that's ever happened, because I had two people who listen to my show Tweet me and want to hang out and it was wonderful and then the Adam Curry thing. It's that first taste of the fact that I'm speaking to actual humans that are getting to know me, but it's a one way thing. It's really strange, you know. I could tell the people who met me were a little nervous in the first few minutes and just like, why?

Harry:
Because it's an interesting phenomenon, because they know so much about you than you do about them. You know nothing about them, but they've listened to you episode over episode and over a period of time they start to get to know you and your idiosyncrasies and the way you talk and the things you like and then so when they finally meet you in person, they sort of get this feeling that they know you a bit.

Jennifer:
Well, they kind of do.

Harry:
Yeah, they do.

Jennifer:
You know? Like anyone who listened to my last episode, I cried about my pet rat. Like, that's something that most strangers don't know and it was interesting meeting them because they weren't strangers to me right off the bat, they did know my husband's name is Joe and they were just things that they knew and yet I knew nothing so as nervous as they were, I was extremely nervous about that dynamic. You know, it's very new to me. It's very new.

Harry:
The other thing we have in common is our appreciation for the Joe Rogan podcast.

Jennifer:
Oh my God, I love him. I want to meet him – I mean, I met him, it didn't go well – I shouldn't say that, he was perfectly nice, but…

Harry:
How did you meet him?

Jennifer:
So, in 2013, one of my listeners had Tweeted Joe and said, this girl reads all the bills, you should have her on the podcast. Joe Tweeted back and said, let's do it! So, I scream and I get all excited and I'm like, oh my god, I can't wait to meet Joe and so he sends me a direct message and says meet me after my show in Boston because I told him I already had tickets and so I went to the show in Boston. I went to the first show, so in order to meet him, I waited until after the second and I waited until I was the last person, so I wouldn't like hold up the line. He had no idea who I was.

Harry:
Oh wow.

Jennifer:
Which, he knows like millions of people, like quite literally, so yeah, he didn't remember this random chick from Twitter. I don't take it personally, but yeah. It wasn't the day that I was hoping to be like, hey, so fly out to LA this day. Like, that didn't happen.

Harry:
So, what was the follow up to that?

Jennifer:
I just kind of left it alone. Like, I know his talent booker and Matt told me not to worry about anything that Joe is notoriously hard to get a hold of so randomly like two years later he might just be like, oh, hey, booked Jen Briney. He follows me on Twitter, I follow him. Redband, we follow each other. So, it's like we're in the same universe.

Harry:
Speaking of the same universe. I went to get my hair cut recently and I told my barber I listen to the podcasts. He's like, oh really? Have you ever heard of Ducan Trussell. I was like, yeah, and he's like, well, he comes in here and gets his haircut.

Jennifer:
Really? Oh, Ducan is another one I'd like to meet. He would probably do your podcast.

Harry:
Yeah, so I think he's made the intro and I think, has a bigger chance of happening than it did last year I can say that much and so, I'll put the good energy out for the podcast Gods to make that happen, but that would be a fantastic guest, because I can interview any podcaster, right, so I love him. He's one of my favorites. He's absolutely freaking hilarious.

Jennifer:
Well, he's all about podcasting and from the people that I know that know him, he's apparently just the nicest guy in the world.

Harry:
Yeah, I've heard that as well and Chris Ryan is another one as well I want to get on.

Jennifer:
I think I met him, but I don't know.

Harry:
I think you two might have an interesting conversation as well.

Jennifer:
I can talk to anybody.

Harry;
So, if I land either one of those two, I'll put in the good word for you.

Jennifer:
Nice! That'll be fun. I come to LA all the time. In fact, I'm going to go and meet Cara Santa Maria who is also in Los Angeles.

Harry:
Yeah, that's right.

Jennifer:
Yeah, I'll be doing her show in June. Yeah, you're in the best place for podcasting, my God.

Harry:
Yeah, a little bit of a podcast universe here. I think there's like an Entrepreneurial podcast universe in San Diego, but here's like the comedy podcasts. So, LA Podfest is coming up soon. So, you should probably try to go up for that.

Jennifer:
I went last yeah, actually, and it was more of a fan event. Like, really the best, well, I was also there for my college reunion so I didn't spend a ton of time there. I shouldn't really dismiss the whole thing, but yeah, it's more of a fan base thing and there was no political aspect to it, which as been really interesting to me, because some of the really popular podcasts, No Agenda, Common Sense with Dan Carlin and Hardcore History. Like, those types of podcasts are very popular yet were never invited to go these type of podcasting sessions. Like, it's just, it's either comedy or business and that's it.

Harry:
I think it might be good for a networking perspective and just trying to engage with some of the folks there.

Jennifer:
That was the thing. It was very fan-based. So, I got to hang out with Rick Calvert who's like the head of NMX. So, that was a good networking thing, but yeah, I don't know if I want to go this year. We'll see. I'm not sure. Podcast Movement though I'm going to. Are you going?

Harry:
Yeah, I'm good.

Jennifer:
Good, I'm excited for that one.

Harry:
I went last year and it's really the chance for us podcasters to geek out.

Jennifer:
Yeah, definitely.

Harry:
That's cool, so we'll get to chat again there.

Jennifer:
Yeah, definitely. We'll hang out.

Harry:
Yeah, it's cool. It's such a small universe that podcasters that I think we'd, I was talking about this with someone on an earlier interview. We all tend to want to help each other and we want to see each other do really well.

Jennifer:
Yeah, definitely, but you are right there are too groups right now and what I like about this year's Podcast Movement is they seem to be consciously trying to merge the two, because there is like the business group that I saw at New Media Expo and Podcast Movement, but the comedian is completely left out of it, but now we have Aisha Tyler and the chick from Serial will be there.

So, they are trying to merge the two, because my target audience, honestly, is more in the comedian realm, because I'm trying to reach these young people who aren't voting, you know, so it's like to get on the podcast that they're listening to that aren't necessarily political, that'll be amazing for me, because I'm trying to get these young people that aren't involved in politics. Right now I'm getting a lot of people that are already interested. I'm trying to get the people that aren't, you know.

Harry:
I think historically, comics, like when you think about cutting edge comics and really being provocative , you know when you think of folks like George Calin and Richard Pryor and back in the day Lenny Bruce, like, they'd be these comics who had something to say and had statements to make about the state of the world that we live in and the thin veil of comedy to help get the message out, you know, that was like almost the effective venue for communicating some of these issues that you just had to laugh at because they were so ridiculous.

Jennifer:
Yeah, it's a beautiful way of exposing absurdity. Joe Rogan is the master at it. One of his most recent episodes was with Natasha Leggero, which I laughed like the whole time. I love her, but they were kind of talking about that too. She called Joe a political comedian and he dismissed that, but he absolutely is because he makes you think about really big picture things. I don't think he's trying to do it on purpose. His mind just goes there.

Harry:
He just has a natural curiosity for that stuff.

Jennifer:
Absolutely, but he's so effective at making you see things from his point of view, because he'll have you just laughing at how stupid your own ideas are, you know? I love that about his comedy.

Harry:
I love when he has some of those, like, expanding your consciousness guests on there. Folks like Graham Hancock and Alex Grey. They get into some crazy rapid holes and those are some of my favorites because they just touch on topics that are really near and dear with me and they just comes at it with a genuine sense of curiosity and he really, he's just, almost like a renaissance guy, because he's in some mix material arts and pool and float tanks.

Jennifer:
Yeah, he's into what he's into.

Harry:
Just everything. So it's really, really fun.

Jennifer:
Yeah, he was actually very influential for me to actually get the courage to start the podcast, because he encourages everyone to start a podcast, you know?

Harry:
He does.

Jennifer:
Like anytime someone has an idea, you should have a podcast about that and so he kind of talked me into it that anyone can do it and what do you have to lose and I'll be thankful for that. I just really hope at some point I get the chance to have a conversation with him, because it'll be so fun. I mean, everyone else in the world, but..

Harry:
Well, I'm a huge believer in, listeners have heard this before, but I'm a huge believer in intention and putting out to the universe. You almost act like it's already happened and it's like thank you universe for that fantastic interview that I had with Joe Rogan, because it was really like a dream come true for me, so I think if you do that, I think there's no way it can't happen.

Jennifer:
I think it will.

Harry:
I know it will.

Jennifer:
He's already interested, I think it will, and the thing is, I'm actually really lucky because when we had that Twitter conversation, it was two years ago before I knew I wanted to do this, before I was making any money in it, before my husband lost his job and we had to move across the country. Had I had the type of audience bump that Joe Rogan appearance would bring, I don't know if I'd still be doing it, because that's an enormous amount of pressure and just from getting a bump of a few thousand after doing a Reddit AMA that made it to the front of the front page, that influx of people, which is like nothing compared to what a Joe Rogan thing would do, but that influx of people was very tough for me to manage, so I actually think it's better that's kind of slowly increasing. It's a good pace for me. I can kin of gather myself as I go.

It's a very strange thing to do to talk to thousands of people while you're physically sitting by yourself and to have people come back and have opinions about what you say and what you do and some of them are very angry. I'm still figuring out how to manage that whole situation.

Harry:
I'm sure you'll figure it out at the time you were suppose to and like you said, everything for a reason and it wasn't meant to be earlier, so when it does happen, not an if, but when it does happen, I think you're going to have these two additional years under your belt and handle it pretty professionally.

Jennifer:
Well, on the show it's so much better, you know, two years ago it was not, it – I listen to those and I just cringe, I think everybody does, but now I'm genuine very happy with the vast majority of the episodes. Some of them I get a little emotionally, a little crazy, but I'm working on controlling that, but when you cover politics sometimes they just make things snap in your brain.

Harry;
I think, I mentioned earlier, that's one of the things that drew me to your show, because you know, when you think about a political podcast, you're like wow, that's going to be pretty dry, but right away you can tell you had a passion about your topic and that's why I was just so happy and I knew right away and we met briefly and I listened and I was like, yeah, I gotta have her on, we gotta talk and I think the fact that we're pushing an hour plus, you know, almost an hour 20, which I have done recently. I have done this a couple of times, I think it's a testament to the fact that we could probably gone on for another two hours, but that's okay.

Jennifer:
Probably.

Harry:
We should probably wrap it up and I want to thank you for taking the time to come on.

Jennifer:
Oh, it was my pleasure. It was very fun.

Harry:
So where's the best place for folks to track you down online?

Jennifer:
So, the show is called Congressional Dish and you can find it at CongressionalDish.com and then, of course, the podcast is available in iTunes, Stitcher, all those places, but then there's also a free Congressional Dish app, so for all you Android users, I highly recommend you go to your Google Play store or whatever they call it and download the app and then you can also access the show notes from the app itself and you can Tweet out the episodes and you can contact me. The app is great and that's for Apple and Android.

Harry:
Thanks again and I think the combination of technology is going to make things so easy that at some point it would be nice to have some sort of form that could be pre-populated from your content that folks can send to their Congress person. For example, so like, hey, Jen Briney just talked about this on an episode, what are you doing about it? I think that'll be pretty cool.

Jennifer:
You know, it's funny, I have a very good friend who is working on an app that would do something very similar to that.

Harry:
There you go. Great minds thing alike.

Jennifer:
Totally.

Harry:
Alright, Jen, thanks. Have a fantastic weekend.

Jennifer:
You too!

Harry:
Fantastic conversation, like I told you at the top of the show, anything we can do to help her out, she gave her contact info. I'm going to be reaching out to her later on to share everything that I'm doing around social media around Podcast Junkies, because I think what she's doing is super fantastic. I really look forward to the day where she's just doing this full time and the support is coming in and the donations are coming in and it's really – she really doesn't have to worry about her having another job to get the bills paid. This is really everything she does and I can't imagine her putting more of herself into it than she does now, but I'll imagine she'll definitely find away to double down on that effort if it comes to that. As far as this show, PodcastJunkies.com/iTunes. It'll take you to the iTunes application directly.

First thing you want to do is subscribe and the next thing is to leave a five star rating and review. If it's less than that, that's cool too, because I'm all about constructive criticism. I'm really just trying to increase awareness of the show, so it can be found easier on iTunes and I think as a community as a whole, we should always try to be increase awareness of podcasts. I, myself, always am talking to Uber and Lyft drivers and asking them, do you know about podcasts? And inevitable it ends up with me giving them my card and having them subscribe to my show, because, why not? So, maybe this week you guys can try that out, just find one person who doesn't know anything about podcasts and get them subscribed to your show, your favorite show, my show, but something that just builds the family, because I think those that are in the podcasting community know that we are a pretty tight group and we just all try to help each other out whenever we can.

So, to sign up for my email list, stay up today with the episodes when they come out an a couple of other random musings every now and again, I've made it a bit easier to sign up, just send a text message straight from the phone that you're listening to the show on 33444 and one word PodcastJunkies. So, PodcastJunkies together, no spaces, one word, text that to 33444 and you’re going to immediately be signed up, so I think that's it for today, hope you enjoyed the show. I definitely enjoyed having you listen and really, really appreciate your support. Have a fantastic week.

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