S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership, enjoy this episode of The Gabfest contains explicit language and headphones on.
S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for September 17. Twenty twenty, the giant fires everywhere.
S3: Addition, I am David Plotz in Washington, D.C. I am joined from New Haven, Connecticut, from her home by Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School. Hello, Emily.
S1: Hey, David. Hey, Jamal. Hey, John.
S4: That was to sue. You couldn’t tell. They haven’t been introduced yet. People don’t even know they’re there.
S5: We don’t exist until we’re introduced.
S1: I know, but I’m looking at their smiling faces continue.
S3: Also joining us, of course, is John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes from New York. Hello, John.
S5: Hello, David. Hello, Jamal. Hello, Emily.
S3: And joining us for the whole show today, thank goodness, is The New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie from Charlottesville. Hello, Jamelle.
S6: Hello there. I’m not going to go through this round of hellos.
S3: Yes, this is ridiculous. We are live we’re live today. We’re live on YouTube and Facebook here on Wednesday evening as part of the Texas Tribune’s virtual festival. We always love being with the Texas Tribune. We were in Austin last year, I think for this certainly we’ve been in Austin for the show maybe two years ago. No, we were there and I cannot I think it was last year. Yeah, yeah. Everything time kind of dilation and compression of time craziness. I for one, cannot wait to get back to Austin Post Pandemic before we get started. We want your questions.
S4: Listeners, please drop them in the comments section. Wherever you are. We will answer the questions that we can to put them in the comment section, either on YouTube or Facebook or wherever you’re watching us. And we will answer anything we can on today’s gabfest, the forest fires that are scorching the west, polluting the air. The climate crisis is here. Are we remotely capable of tackling it? Then a top Trump official accuses government scientists of sedition and warns of an armed insurrection by the left to steal the election from Trump. Can the American system survive when a significant minority of Americans no longer believe in the legitimacy of politics and elections or the legitimacy of their political opponents? And how is that going to play out during this campaign? And then the pandemic has a renewed interest in different kinds of work arrangements and work schedules. So should we work less or more specifically? Should we work a four day week? Those of us who work five day weeks plus we will, of course, have cocktail chatter. Fires have now burned more than five million acres of the West this fire season, an area the size of Emily’s deer state of Connecticut. And while there may be some relief coming in, Oregon and Washington, California in particular remains dry and scorching. And we are only in the middle of fire season. Smoke has made the air throughout the West, some of the most dangerous air in the world to breathe. And it’s even made the sky eerie here on the East Coast. I don’t know if you guys saw this in D.C. where I was this the sunrise yesterday was spooky. It was absolutely spooky. And meanwhile, we have a hurricane, Hurricane Sandy, which is dropping essentially infinite amounts of water on the Gulf Coast, an irony that is not lost on anyone. There is historic and catastrophic flooding, according to the National Weather Service. So, Emily, this when we think about the fires in particular, this is a series of manmade tragedies. It’s an agglomeration of manmade tragedies. There’s not one single thing. Right, right.
S1: There is climate change, the heating of the earth. It’s not a coincidence that these fires are happening right after a record heat wave on the West Coast. But then you also have these decisions to build in the wild land urban interface, a phrase I had not heard until last week, the WUI, but to extend housing out into these areas that have all of these combustible timber where it’s more dangerous fire wise for people to live. But it’s also affordable in a way that cities like San Francisco are not. So you have these combination of human choices and I think a just real failure of our political system to grapple with this and do anything to change the incentives. And then these just monumental, scorchingly of the earth. I mean, I’m sure that people listening and watching have seen the pictures and the images. But I just I was struck by this statistic that the bear fire is ravaging more or as much as all of the fires of twenty nineteen. And that’s just one of the many huge fires that are happening right now. So we’re just seeing this colossal scale that the feels like it’s portends more to come in future years.
S5: Six Just to add one quick fact to add to at least six of California’s ten largest wildfires have happened since twenty. Eighteen and five of them have happened this year.
S4: Jammal, Biden. Called Trump a climate arsonist, while Trump and the conservative media have focused on this line, they blamed it solely on these fire suppression policies is now retrospectively, apparently super misguided fire suppression policies, which have allowed huge amounts of of kindling effectively to build up throughout California rather than allowing a lot of stuff to burn regularly, as it used to before before we before we stopped it. Do you think this is a I mean, is this a fundamentally political issue or is this is this something that we can get out of politics at all?
S7: I mean, I think from the fundamental political issue in that it is an issue that deals, as you kind of alluded to very intimately, with habitation patterns, the kinds of communities we’re building, the kind of the kind of state California has built for itself or organ or wherever the wildfires are reaching. So I don’t I’m not sure you could take it out of politics. I think I do think that kind of a key mitigation strategy is California could take aren’t necessarily the issues don’t necessarily fall along kind of left, right, Republican, Democratic traditional partisan lines.
S8: So part of the problem here is that human habitation has moved into these areas close to wilderness where, for example, gender reveal party gone wrong can spark a massive fire. And the reason we’re building homes out there is because it’s too expensive. And the cost and the reason is too expensive, it’s on the coasts is because it’s illegal to build additional housing on the coast effectively. You can’t really densify by law a large swaths of San Francisco or San Diego or any other coastal coastal town. Now, the political coalition of people who want to densify coastal California comprises mostly liberals, the political coalition, the people who are opposed to densifying coastal California also comprises mostly liberals. Right. It’s a very contentious political issue, but it isn’t necessarily a left right issue. You know, President Trump since last month, roughly maybe two months ago, has been kind of running against dense housing in the suburbs, you know, associating it with crime and all sorts of things. And this is sort of like the first time this has come up to the level of national politics.
S9: And to the extent that, you know, there are ways to pursue solutions, Trump coming out against dense housing might be the best thing that could happen for people who want to densify coastal California because it suddenly makes opposition like densifying coastal California, kind of a pro Trump issue. It’s a weird way. It’s interacting on like political on the on local politics. But my main point is that this isn’t outside of big climate policy, which has an effect down the line, but doesn’t have an immediate effect. The stuff you could do now isn’t simply partisan, but that doesn’t mean it’s not political.
S1: But that’s a great point. I mean, because the fight is like a NIMBY fight right now in my backyard. Yes, in my backyard being fought presumably among Democrats who make up the majority in California. But maybe Trump has succeeded in polarizing it in a way that could affect some of the NIMBY folks to move away from.
S10: Although my suspicion is that the people who are living large on the suspicion that the people who are living on the on the Wylder. What what’s your term, Emily? The movie the about the WUI land living in the face actually are not they’re not liberals who would otherwise be living in condos in San Francisco. I suspect it’s it’s probably like the people who live in rural America and and exurban America are conservative people. So it is true that the liberals are fighting over a building in San Francisco, but that’s not the same as saying that it is liberals who are being driven out to the WUI. It is probably conservative in a way. That would be my opposite, John.
S5: I was just going to say that, I mean, the other political angle is the is the I mean, the National Climate Assessment in 2000 predicted that this would happen, that there would that the risk of fires as a result of global warming would it would increase. And as I understand it, so that’s back in 2000. Then the president’s National Climate Assessment in twenty seventeen and twenty eighteen predicted the same thing. And as I understand it, it’s not just climate doesn’t just mean there’s going to be more fires, but they are going to be of a different kind that are harder to fight where you get these towers, these towers of fire, and you get the winds that create intense blazes that that what are they called pyro cumulus clouds.
S11: Which in turn create these lightning storms that we’ve had, which means and fire tornadoes, I mean, that’s that’s the result of climate change, which obviously is a highly political issue.
S10: But, John, one of the things that I think is so weird about this is that because these fires are happening in states that are not at issue in the presidential election, this president does not give a damn about them. There is there’s no interest in if you know that if these fires were happening in Wisconsin right now, there would be five hundred billion dollars worth of fire relief that was going in. The president would be flying Air Force One and dropping retardant from Air Force One. So, I mean, I just that’s just an observation. It seems like a that’s a tragedy of the American political system right now.
S5: Well, you saw on Tuesday evening in a ABC town hall that the president talked about sort of Democratic Democrat states, as he called them, and George Stephanopoulos said, well, don’t you represent the entire country? And he ultimately said, well, yes, I’m the president of the entire country. But it was clear in that instance and it’s been clear since the since the first tax cut was talked about internally in the Trump White House as one that would punish blue states and reward red states that that his men that his mind set and we certainly saw this with in terms of hurricanes when they hit Texas and Florida, his reaction was noticeably different than when it hits Puerto Rico, that the asymmetry of concern from the president has been a thorough line. And this obviously is is another I mean, the parallels to the response to covid when he was in that briefing and said basically the fires will go away, it’s going to get or it’s going to get cooler. It was I thought somebody was joking when they quoted that because it was so similar to the response he had given at least thirty two times during the rise of covid that it’s that it’s just going to go away.
S3: Well, he also said today, did you guys see that? He said basically speaking. I mean, just the comparison. He he said, well, if you discount the death and blue states, we’re doing pretty well. When you’re talking about covid. I mean, he really thinks about every issue in this way in a way that’s so poisonous for the country.
S1: I mean, the other thing about the the Trump moment at the press conference in California was again saying, dismissing the idea that science points to climate change as this important cause. And I mean, obviously, we’ve seen Trump be very denying of scientific consensus in the coronavirus story all spring. But and we’ve heard him say it again about climate change. But it just shows it throws into sharp relief this contrast between the Republican stance, at least of the president and the Democrats. And I was interested to read some Republican pollster saying, you know what, like we’ve moved beyond this as reality at the moment. I mean, what we’re seeing is so clearly informed by climate change, the way that insurance companies are going to respond to this planning for the future by cities and states, by the military is so informed by the reality of warming that to have Trump continuing to claim that the scientists don’t really know, it just really stands out.
S3: But is it in any sense politically bad for him? I mean, you look right now, there’s a hurricane that is flooding Alabama like it’s an enormous hurricane at Florida, Alabama, Georgia. I mean, Georgia and Florida. Those are those are states that that matter. I mean, it’s a huge hurricane and yet climate. And yet this climate is not top of mind for anybody.
S8: Now, I find it I find it strange. I was just about to mention the hurricane in relation to the Gulf Coast states because part of Alabama is on the coast, Georgia, Florida.
S9: These are red states or states with Republican governments that rely greatly on tourist dollars, that rely on their coastal regions as economic engines. And so you think that’s strictly from a we want to keep the state in the best fiscal shape as possible. You would think that there would be this concern with climate change, with its implications for coastal Alabama, which could be destroyed by climate disaster. Psychologize. I can’t get into the mindset of some of these political leaders. But just as an observer, setting aside ideology, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to the extent that it does make sense. It’s only if denial of climate change has become part of the package of beliefs that signify Republican identity if it now to be Republican means. I also do not believe in climate change, then you just have to. The challenge is to find some way to uncouple those beliefs. PARTOVI to go to the the Trump dismissing.
S12: Fires in California because it’s a blue state or whatever part of you wonders if all of this, all of it, but if some of it is kind of an effect of just the Electoral College that like if you don’t have a political incentive to try to win over climate change, concerned Republicans in California or in New York, for that matter, then you’re not going to. And although I’m sort of a long time crusader against the Electoral College, also, just on a practical level, it seems like it would be healthier for the country’s politics if national politicians had to assemble coalitions based off of shared interests rather than just what state people happen to be in. And that might mean Republican candidates campaigning for, again, the large number of voters, Republican voters in states that are sort of dramatically affected by climate change.
S1: Yeah, that’s such a good point, because if you think of all of those sort of wasted Republican votes, some of those people might be less devoted to the climate change is a hoax kind of Fox News viewing part wing of the party. Right. Because, I mean, we saw Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity back Trump up on the skepticism that climate change is causing the fires. You could imagine that Republicans who live in these affected areas are less prone to be in that camp.
S3: Emily, there’s a question from Hondo, one of our listeners. It’s a really good question. With regard to the fires, could you discuss the intersection between climate justice and social justice? So I think one of the points is that like that, that the people disproportionately affected by climate are also people who are poorer and tend to be people of color.
S1: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s true. First of all, globally, when we look at where parts of the earth are warming, who is going to have to move? There’s an amazing feature in my home, The New York Times magazine this week about the the amount of the percentage of the globe that is uninhabitable because of temperatures rising is currently one percent, is going to grow to almost 20 percent. And so when you look at that force, it’s true. And then, you know, there also are these maps showing that people who live in cities, in areas that used to be redlined, there are fewer trees, there are more affected. And then obviously, if you have to move and your housing is unsettled because of the fires, if you have fewer resources, that’s a heavier burden to bear. I wonder if we’re seeing enough activism around this in a way to try to entice young people to the polls. I mean, this is climate. Young young voters rank climate as a higher concern than older voters. They kind of get it. It’s their world they’re going to inherit. And I wonder if we’re just seeing enough, like, urgency about that, because, you know, historically, people in their 20s and late teens don’t vote as at high rates. And so you would think that this could be galvanizing. But we’ll have to see if that actually translates, because people always say that there’s going to be some reason that young people come to the polls in greater numbers and then that tends to be disappointing.
S3: John, do you think that that report at the time is amazing? I mean, I think to put some flesh on it, Emily, it’s one billion people are living in places that are about to become in the next in our lifetimes, basically ingamells lifetime anyway, because he’s so young, literally uninhabitable that literally people will not be able to live there. Human beings cannot live there and be outside. I mean, I suppose we could build, you know, turtle cities, their underground cities there. That’s a billion people who have to go somewhere. So is there is there is there anything that you see, John, in in our policies and our debates and anything that’s happening, the world that makes you think, oh, we are going to be able to accommodate this? Because it’s just a fact. It is a fact that it’s going to happen. Things are going to burn. People are going to die or move.
S5: Well, you have to. Yes. And and also just if you want to pull the shades all the way down and make it just completely dark, you know, scientists say that the carbon dioxide that’s already trapped in the earth’s atmosphere has now passed the point where we can avert the most the worst effects of global warming. So so even if there was a full throated effect to address the issue, we still have further pounding to take. And you talk about those one billion people. This is why increasingly, certainly during the Obama years. But even now, when you talk to national security experts, remember, Bernie Sanders was mocked when he said this in twenty sixteen, but that climate change is a national security threat because those one billion destabilize other countries, those one billion, and end up causing problems for the United States. And so it’s not just what may happen. Domestically, but it’s the knock on effects of that kind of destabilization all across the globe. Do I think there’s a solution? Well, I mean, we are in we are in the high age of short term thinking, and something has to break us out of that. And I don’t it can be a president, but it used to be that the presidents didn’t. You know, you would hope that this would reside in a functioning Congress because the members of Congress are around longer. The members of Congress have a different set, at least in the way it was supposed to be designed, should have different sets of incentives that make them longer term thinkers than a president. So I don’t see. But, of course, that Congress doesn’t work that way anymore. So I don’t see a collective action process for handling this when we have failed on so many other things that require something more than short term thinking.
S4: Slate plus members get bonus segments on the Gabfest and other Slate podcasts, and you can go to Slate dotcom slash gaffes plus to become a member today. It’s just thirty five dollars for your first year. Today’s Slate plus segment is going to be questions. We’re gonna do a Q&A with the audience here on this live stream. So please go to Slate. Accomplished gabfests plus. And if you are so inclined, become a member today, the potential for violence and for a catastrophic, disastrous outcome of the presidential election is very, very, very, very high. Both the left and the right are viewing this election in what Tom had told today in the Times called apocalyptic terms, the Republican Party has been conditioning its voters to mistrust elections. Democratic voters are just very angry at the preposterous Electoral College system, which which causes the the votes of millions and millions of people to effectively not matter. An increasing number of Americans mostly concentrated on the right, simply just don’t believe in the legitimacy of electoral politics or of their opposition party. And each side is accusing the other of plotting a violent coup. This week, a leading Trump official, Michael Caputo, said that out loud. He said, you know, quote, And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting shooting will begin. The drills you’ve seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get. Caputo just took a medical leave because his remarks were so controversial. But but, Jamelle, as you wrote this week, Caputo may have been sidelined, but he reflects a very powerful stream of thought on the right and to a lesser extent on the left.
S6: Yeah, it’s certainly know what to say about all of this. It’s bad. It’s it’s it’s it’s not it’s not actually funny.
S1: And yet, what choice do we have other than to laugh a little bit?
S12: I mean, cry the principal problem. Right. I mean, the marquee problem is that the president himself has sort of made this delegitimization of the election process kind of central to his message, he’s constantly, constantly saying, if I don’t win, it rigged, that you can’t trust me on voting. And the attorney general, Bob Barr, I believe I got this today or yesterday, you know, they’re going to have warehouses full of ballots that they’re just going to ship in and it’s all going to be a fraud. And so that’s sort of the steady drumbeat. And there’s not really any resistance to it among mainstream conservative outlets. You don’t hear resistance to this on Fox News. You don’t hear resistance to this on conservative talk radio. It’s it’s either ignored or affirmed. And so you have the president with this message. You have it being ignored or affirmed. And naturally, Republican voters are extremely mistrustful of the process. On the other side, the very fact that the president appears very interested in dismissing or invalidating as many ballots as he can has fueled a lot of fear and distrust on the left. And this is added to the fact that right now, you know, if the margin in the election shrinks to Biden is up three or four points, that’s effectively a coin toss for the Electoral College. And so you have this situation where liberals and Democrats and just Trump opponents recognize that their margin of error is actually pretty narrow here, that they could win more votes and a considerable number of more votes. A three and a half point margin, for example, would be millions of votes. And it doesn’t necessarily guarantee an Electoral College win. And they see this and they also see the president, the attorney general, attack me on voting. They see Republican legislatures in states like Wisconsin take steps to make it more difficult for voters to receive ballots in the midst of a pandemic. They see Republican judges and justices on the federal courts do the same. And there I think they’re rightfully paranoid of what may happen. And then you’re assuming the election goes off and happens smoothly or even semi smoothly. There sort of a belief, and I don’t think of unjustified belief that the president is going to, you know, if on election night there are still a lot of ballots be counted. But he appears to be ahead because of his voters are more likely to vote in person. There’s a real fear he’ll just declare victory and attempt to stop counting, however, where he can. That’s the situation. And unfortunately, the only way you could resolve it is if the president stops talking the way he’s talking. Right. If President Trump just stop doing this and could embrace boilerplate about having free and fair elections and everybody, everybody’s voice and vote, being able to count, then this would turn down the temperature considerably. But because he’s not going to go into November completely on edge and with the with the real fear of violence and rest.
S3: Emily. This Etzel column surveyed political scientists and essentially every single political scientist surveyed cited a massive risk of electoral violence, both in the buildup and mostly in the aftermath of the election. I mean, this is sort of making Bush v. Gore look like a Cabbage Patch picnic. What is to be done?
S1: I keep thinking back to 2000. We did not have a buildup before the 2000 election. That was a polarizing fight over methods of voting, which is what we’re having now. Right. So Trump is delegitimizing voting by mail because more Democrats than Republicans say that’s how they’re planning to vote. And that’s creating these images of warehouses and uncounted ballots and these vastly exaggerated false claims of fraud. Democrats are are saying or pointing at the president and saying that he’s creating this atmosphere of fear and sowing distrust. And that could be a reason to doubt the results for Democrats. What do you do about that? How what what has to happen in the voting process? How well does it have to go? What’s the standard for how people get to vote that crosses our threshold for a fair and legitimate election? There are always mistakes and elections are always people whose votes get thrown out. Things do not go perfectly. And we have put up with some play in the joints because we’ve had basic buy in from both parties about the whole system. One of the things that you see in the joint, I love that I was just like a great metaphor.
S3: Did you coin that?
S1: No play in the joints that that’s not like a normal thing that people say, I don’t know, just like it was good to have it.
S5: I’m glad I thought you could. I thought you said Joy. No joints you can have play in the joint or play in the joints either way. All right. So, all right. Now that we’ve totally interrupted you, carry on pliability.
S1: Yeah. And so then the other thing about Bush versus Gore is that Gore conceded, right. He the all the votes weren’t counted, but the Supreme Court ordered the Florida counting process to stop. Gore said, OK, and a lot of Democrats criticized him at the time, but it meant the country didn’t go through this seizure over who had been legitimately elected president. I mean, there was still a lot of naysaying and doubting about George W. Bush, but it was not shared. Like if there’s a big question this time, there’s going to be pressure on Biden not to concede depending on what happens. And that’s scary, too. And there’s a way in which one more thing you know, one of the best ways to spread misinformation and propaganda is to accuse the other side of lying and false claims. And we see that all the time. Right. I mean, that’s what the fate of the phrase fake news is about. It’s all about turning the tables and like, no, it’s you, not me.
S5: And I just feel like that’s another part of this that makes it really hard to sort out that both sides are going to claim that the other side is lying, the one trying to find hope in this scenario, because I think obviously we’ve sketched out the darkest and and highly realistic case because of what the president has done. It was extraordinary to listen to Frank Leros on five thirty eight, his interview. He’s the secretary of state of Ohio who is controversial because he limited the number of drop off spots for ballots. But in his conversation, talking about basically how anybody who sows doubt about the American electoral system and particularly the 20 20 campaign is doing Russia’s work for it. Now, he didn’t say the president’s name, but I mean, it was it was basically saying that the exact argument that the president has given and Bill Barr has given are is essentially showing exactly the kind of mistrust and doubt about the American system that the Russians and America’s enemies want. And so you do have some secretaries of state and we’ll see how they behave when the when it comes down to it. But some Republican secretaries of state who have local local pressures to perhaps do the right thing. And the other thing that might be of place of hope is Florida starts counting their ballots twenty two days before election night. I mean, if you’re talking about Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, they’re going to be a mess. And they’re like and they’re a mess up to Election Day. They’re not going to be able to handle the the increase in mail in ballots. And they’re and they’re they seem to be thwarting all the efforts to try to get up to speed before hand or it seems that any sort of overstating it. But Arizona and Florida seem to have a much better system. And so you could you could imagine if you were trying to imagine an optimistic scenario, is that on election night, if if this is the optimistic no violence scenario, that basically that Florida comes in early. Obviously, Florida has been a consistently problematic state, to use the word I don’t like. And Arizona had a problem with its twenty eighteen results as well. So, again, this is just trying to be optimistic here, but that Florida, because of the early counting, can actually have a solid result early, that it might that you could have a situation where the number of votes and the electoral votes is too big for the president to complain over. Now, obviously, there are lots of other ways it can go, but if Florida ends up the polls are super tight in Florida, right?
S1: I mean, that puts a lot of weight. We always sure. Sure. About Florida, but that means we care extra about Florida because they count their votes fast as opposed to like they’re a swing state like all the other. Right.
S11: I mean, look, Florida could be there, all the kinds of things that could go wrong.
S5: I’m just saying if if in fact, by its close in Florida, if if if Florida if if we’re taking a look at the scenarios of whether the president would not give up power, Florida could tell us early in the night where things are going because Florida system at least has some possibility that that it can weather the size of the new mail in ballots and sort of the the the there aren’t very many avenues in which the president loses Florida and then goes on to win the Electoral College.
S8: It kind of it’s that the linchpin of his re-election victory. So if at 9:00 p.m. on election night, Biden wins Florida, it’s you can’t necessarily say that’s the ballgame, but it kinda is the ballgame. But it would be in two thousand eight. I think the first state that was called was Indiana. For Obama, and it’s sort of like, oh, yeah, if Obama is winning Indiana, the election is over and we know who won. And now it’s just waiting to see how this plays out in Florida, to a lesser extent, plays kind of the same role for the president’s re-election campaign.
S1: Yeah, that’s a very that is a totally fair point. I just have to say, though, that, like, there’s something disturbing about this notion that now we’re putting so much weight on the state’s process for counting ballots and the fact that Florida does it faster because the votes in the rest of the country mattered just as much. I mean, we’re essentially penalizing other swing states because they don’t have their acts together to count the ballots faster. And in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, there’s been no legislative movement that I know of to open the envelopes earlier and get going in Michigan. The Senate in Michigan actually just passed a bill that would allow election officials to open the ballots and kind of get ready to go. I think it’s like 20 hours before Election Day or something. And the Michigan House is expected to pass that bill. So there’s like a little window there. But I just want to again, it’s like the process of counting, the pace of counting is taken is taking on this huge weight and becomes and that’s because we’re all we’re setting the premise that it’s got to be it would be much better if it was resolved sooner. And I totally see it and I share it. But we also have to prepare for the fact that we may not know, and that may be because the ballots are being legitimately counted and processed.
S3: So what is it that the media can do, Jamelle? The media being a broad swath of people to try to try to tamp down the risk of danger? I mean, I think that this if there is ambiguity, it’s going to be terribly dangerous for everyone. But should the media promote ambiguity, if not promote ambiguity?
S12: I think the media should be clear and loud and consistent that elections are never actually decided on election night. Not really. Ballots always take time to count that what you see on election night are always projections. Normally, the projections are on target, but it will take time to count ballots.
S9: This is not evidence of malintent or shenanigans. It is simply how the process always plays out. And it’s being played out that way, sort of for understandable reasons, over maybe a longer time horizon this time and that people should not expect results on election night.
S12: That really we’re looking at an election week. We’re looking at an election fortnight, you know, but you’re not you’re not going to get an election that were real.
S5: Exactly. It wasn’t clear who each other. One person survived a fortnight.
S13: But also on that on that same point, you know, at The New York Times, you know, on our election results pages and a lot of places for longest for the longest time, they had precincts remaining, which is sort of misleading and.
S9: Right. Because Precint, doesn’t that tell you how many votes are likely to be out there doing something as simple as changing? And this is what the Times has done. I know this is generally made its way through changing it to votes that have been received. Right. Helps get readers in the mindset of understanding. Oh, there’s still a lot more votes out there. And we just have to wait to be we have to wait for them to be counted and collected.
S5: I think it I mean, it’s like if we’re covering the World Series, I think and this is true of television, which hopefully will not. And now I hope not. Never. You know, if you’re covering the World Series, every ball or strike, you don’t announce with breathless excitement as if it’s going to lead to the final determination of of the series.
S1: And yeah. And you don’t say that whoever is ahead in the third inning is going to win.
S11: Well, that’s right. Or or let’s just talk this analogy even further. Whoever gets the first hit in the first inning is going to win. I mean, when you call Massachusetts for the Democrat, you should basically do it. You know, like in a passing tone. It is not leading to some ultimate, you know, great revelation. At the end of the night, we got like seven games to play. And, you know, it is a game that is often decided or series or sometimes decided in the last play of the last game, if that’s the mindset.
S3: But has network have the networks, CNN, Fox and the networks, have they learned and are they going to be able to exercise restraint? Because it’s awfully hard when that bowl of candy that is calling Ohio, that is calling Florida is out there to not take that piece of candy.
S11: Hey, man, no, I am I am stacking up the wet blankets and I am going to be throwing them everywhere. I now I think people, you know, throwing them around your own network. I know now. I know. I mean, I know the people, you know. I mean, particularly Anthony Salvato, who is the.
S5: Visa and elections director at CBS is very is a serious guy and, you know, knows this in his bones and and everybody trusts him and puts a lot of faith in him. So hopefully we won’t those of us who are in front of the camera and hopefully I won’t succumb to the moment we’ll treat it like a World Series and not like a death match.
S6: Just looking back at the primaries, I thought networks did a pretty good job of communicating to to viewers that things are going to be take time to count and that you’re not going to know the results immediately.
S3: Although I do that Iowa caucus and we’ve all forgotten them. That was such a rat. Fuck was such an unbelievable fuck. That was humility. I mean, it did make you think, oh, why should I trust this whole process? Look at this ridiculous thing in high school gyms. Who the hell knows what’s going on here? And they didn’t even report results. But that was an issue. Yes.
S1: Yeah. I mean, the Democratic Party was a primary. It was privately run. It wasn’t even the state. Right.
S4: All right, Emily, last last question on this, which comes from a listener, from Adam Bassi. What is the greatest risk to a fair election that is not being talked about enough?
S5: Well, it’s a good question. Lasers and lasers, meteor strike.
S1: And I feel hotsy I mean, I hate entertaining these really well. I guess one thing is I think we’re starting to understand that when we talk about disinformation, the threat is just as much a domestic one as it is one that comes from abroad in twenty twenty. There was just an amazing story in The Washington Post about a troll farm run out of Phoenix, Arizona, which is definitely part of the United States by turning point action conservative outfit that recruits young people. And they were, you know, creating fake Twitter profiles, doing the whole thing to pass around tweets and Instagram posts, doubting coronavirus death count, doubting the legitimacy of mail in balloting. You know, it’s like Trump talking points spread by this outfit and that kind of shift where disinformation comes from within. That’s a formidable challenge. We don’t really have laws or rules that adequately address it. I’m not sure it quite reaches the level of Adam’s idea of calling for something that nobody’s thought of yet. But it’s definitely on my mind.
S3: All right, let’s let’s go to something like mildly more cheerful, which is the pandemic to the pandemic has changed how basically almost everyone works so remotely for many people, shielded more outdoors with fewer people at home, less not working because unemployed working in a bubble or working more dangerously. And I think what it’s done is that it’s also made people start to think are the ways that we work in this world normal, too? They make sense. I think sometimes it takes a huge upheaval to to to change it a moment, something that has existed because no one’s asked the question about it for generations. And we are certainly at that that case, the pandemic is going to do that to all kinds of things. And so one of the things that it’s doing, too, is how much we work. John, I would start with this, which is that the seven day week is artificial. It does not correspond. I mean, it’s it’s been part of most human societies for several thousand years, but it doesn’t there’s no reason that was a seven day week. And the concept of the weekend is incredibly new. Like there was a there used to be a one day most most people had to sort of one day off for work, for religious reasons, starting in the last couple of thousand years. But the idea of a weekend that the two day weekend is very, very, very new and the word weekend itself doesn’t even appear in English till 1879. Should we start with the premise that that there is no calendar time, has no meaning, and we should just do what we want?
S5: Well, obviously, time. I mean. Right, but we’re never going to get there. I wonder if any of you have felt a loosening in the joints, as some like to put it in your own life without the signifiers of I mean, also I’m a get get dressed and go to work kind of person or like I have a very regimented life. And so since that’s gone, I’ve noticed some ability to kind of float more easily between work and and not work. But I guess at first during the pandemic, I was working more. It was just always right in front of me. So I I guess I don’t go all the way to the four day week, but I’m trying to put my finger on what is the there is some shift and what is it and can we keep it once this, you know, in the middle of next year, once the vaccine is widely available and people are actually going back to their offices, what’s been revealed is that that so much of what was in the inherent structure of the nine to five work, I mean, like let’s posit that lots of people have jobs where you have to be if you were a security guard who was guarding something, you can’t be like, you know what?
S3: Not going to guard it for this hour. I’m going to surf the Internet like there are lots of people who have jobs where you the physical presence and the kind of attention are absolute requirements of the job. And we happen to have jobs that are not that way. We have to have jobs where you can float in and out and not pay too much attention. But like for like the significant percent of Americans who work in the information economy and were physically present in work sites like you realize how much bullshit time there was. I mean, Jim and Emily, you probably don’t even recognize this because you both fled the offices. But as somebody who was often in an office, it’s like you all the time. You just spend bullshitting, which is really important. But maybe maybe we can just now get rid of it. Maybe it can now go to taking care of Jamila’s incredibly cute child.
S12: I don’t think that that’s going to go away. I, in fact, think that it’s going to come back. And that’s what’s going to happen, is that people are going to find ways to try to recreate something like that, even if they’re not going into offices all the time, because that sort of physical proximity in that sense is actually kind of important to me.
S3: Yeah, I just want to note, I I love being in offices. I love physical proximity. Anyway, you guys have all worked in office, me, and I’m just like constantly irritating and bothered. I love it. So I agree. I hope you’re right.
S6: And I mean, the other thing is that it’s like downtown D.C. sort of is dependent on office workers like this. That’s that’s what drives the economy of downtown D.C. If there are no office workers in downtown D.C., there’s not really any reason to be in downtown D.C. And I sort of wonder if you as people try to get space by moving to suburbs, by moving to smaller cities and so on, if they’re going to try to recreate basically those patterns of habitation and the kinds of businesses in the larger cities on a smaller scale, because they do offer something that is actually important to people’s working lives, I don’t actually think it’s sustainable for large, large numbers of people to work exclusively from home, in part because it sort of is this insidious, you know, colonization of people’s home life by the market that I think a lot of people just resist. They’re not going to like. And we’re already seeing this. Right. Like some employers are going to be monitoring your every movement in your home to make sure you’re not treating them like we don’t have that. But there are certainly people who work. Office jobs that aren’t particularly well paid and do come with a high level of labor control that employers are going to try to replicate in their homes. And I just think people are going to find that intolerable.
S4: Do Emily, do you think that’s sinister?
S3: Do you think the four day week is realistic? Emily.
S1: I mean, I I really want it to be I’m not sure I mean, certainly not in every sector. And I think for a lot of white collar workers, I’m thinking of lawyers. Part of the value they offer is that they’re constantly available on the four day workweek really goes in the opposite direction. But I was going to say something in response to Jamal’s point. I mean, I totally get you on the sinister like Big Brother corporate overlord front. On the other hand, I have been surprised by the number of surveys I’ve seen of particularly white collar workers saying that they are happier in their work from home pandemic conditions, despite like the hell of Zun school that so many parents are going through. And I think part of it is ending the commute. Right. Like, one thing about the four day workweek is you could work longer hours, but do less traveling. I guess in my ideal hybrid imagination, I mean, hybrid school maybe ought to be such a good idea. But I mean, what if you could recreate some of the office culture that David, you love and I loved at various times because you have like staggered times where everyone’s in the office, so like the people you work with directly or they are twice a week. And all the meetings that need to happen among you happened then, but then everybody stays home on Thursday and Friday, even if you didn’t have a full third day a week off, if people were home and there was like a reduced set of expectations about the number of hours, how late they were available, that could make a huge difference. I mean, just like having a work that basically ended at three o’clock on a Friday would be a big deal for a lot of people.
S5: Do you need a structure of a government structure that takes care of a lot of the basic needs of working families in order for this to work? Because if you don’t, then everybody will compete and work the fifth day and six day and seven day in order to pay for all of the things you need to have in order to go to work. In other words, to pay for the child care or to and mostly to pay for child care. So is it a precondition of the four day workweek that you have some kind of basic level of services and then what would those be?
S3: Yeah, and the places that are experimenting with it are like Europeans. Yeah. It’s like Germany and Denmark and France and places that are humane are doing that. Yeah.
S6: When you when you look you mentioned, David at the beginning that the weekend, the, the five day work day, these things are relatively recent inventions. And if you can actually look at the labor campaigns for the weekend in the late 19th century, and they’re all I mean, the case for it is basically look how prosperous we are.
S9: Why can’t people just have a couple of days to rest? And that’s kind of been lost over the last century. We’ve gotten more productive. We’ve gotten richer collectively, but we’re still working five days a week, six days a week, seven days a week. And it shouldn’t really be that much of a challenge to say collectively, we’re a rich country. Why do we got to work so much?
S3: And like, well, it’s like it’s Mark’s right. It’s like you’d work in the morning and then you’d hunt and fish in the afternoon says, but do you think we psychologically could handle four days a week?
S11: Or most people like, oh yeah, sure, I can handle or do people need the order of work? And one extra day would leave them spinning in the street totally at loose ends.
S1: I mean, I think people suddenly find everyone doing shrooms on Friday. Big fear.
S6: I mean, you know, I might do shrooms on a Friday, but no, I mean, I think it’s worth making a distinction between work in the market for money to pay for things and then, like work that people do that could be anything. Right. My dad fixes cars. You know, I do photography and photography work like people would. Yeah. People have stuff they want to do. They would spend time with their kids. They would take care of parent. I mean, they would do stuff. They would work, but it wouldn’t be working in the market. Right.
S9: If I didn’t have to if I had a four day work week, I would just devote a data house work and then I’d have a weekend. They kind of do nothing to, you know, E- Tromsø.
S1: So glad I introduced that idea. You ran with it.
S5: Where do we see Jamil’s next column?
S3: I basically believe that that for me, I think six hours of work, sort of four and a half days a week is right. Like that’s about the right amount of work.
S1: Well, yeah. I mean, now we’re orienting around our own professions, right. Because like, if you’re a doctor and you see a lot of patients or if you’re a nurse or, you know, if you’re a sanitation worker, like, it’s just different. You’re knocking off tasks with you’re going through a day’s work and you would change the amount you were doing. Presumably you wouldn’t just like pick up the pace. Right. You don’t want a world in which working fewer hours means you work super frenetically during those hours.
S5: Can I ask whether. So you have those jobs where they’re location specific and those really aren’t part of the conversation, and our jobs, we all agree, are idiosyncratic and but but for knowledge workers who make up the swath of office parks all across the land is there. And I’ve talked to some CEOs who have talked about rethinking basically their real estate costs through some of what they’ve discovered through life and zoom and thinking more about hybrid workplaces.
S11: Is there a way to build it better when when people go back to work? In other words, can you take it like, for example, in the television realm, people are doing live shots from their living rooms and the technology is there and it’s basically like three percent worse than if you went to a studio in downtown, wherever you were. And maybe it’s five percent better because because backgrounds are interesting. They’re more relaxed. It’s not like the hecticness of some weird studio. So it may actually be better and it’s a whole lot easier and you can get much better gas and so forth. So there’s there is something that’s definitely better out of this for at least as far as television is concerned.
S5: So I’m wondering what the analog to that is in the knowledge work world, if there is a good question.
S1: Yeah, teaching’s definitely better in person. I have done everything I can to teach in person this semester and I regret it. Not one ounce. And anyway, I will just throw that in. But there definitely are some things that you could do more over a I mean, small meetings like like talking to you guys like anything with like three or four people up to like six people. In some ways I feel like we finally are at the age of the promised video conference. It could get a little better, but it’s pretty good.
S6: Emily, I think you mentioned commuting the fact that people don’t like to commute. You know, if if people get used to not commuting to work, that might have a real impact on the kinds of choices they make about the places in which they live. Right. It may suddenly lead to I don’t want to commute to work. Maybe I don’t want to have to drive to go to a grocery store, stuff like that. And so I think there’s when I’m feeling optimistic, but all of this I think that changing patterns of habitation that may end up being the lasting impact from all of this, that people might seek to replicate aspects of urban living in smaller places, which may end up being a good thing across the board.
S9: I’m thinking about land use all the time like a crazy person.
S3: So this is just, you know, over my head what is going on with you in Iglesias and all the everyone all the smart people are like, oh, it’s all land use. Everything’s land use. Used to be all capital.
S6: I live in the small. I live in Charlottesville. That’s like town of fifty thousand people. And which means like, you know, there’s something ironically Jeffersonian. But the fact that like my delegate in the House of Delegate lives down the street from me and I see her like every other day just on the street or that, like I know all the city council people. I just know all the people on the planning commission. And so it’s like I just develop opinions about it and.
S11: Well, and also does in Charlottesville have an issue with I mean, it’s got a unit’s problem. I mean, it’s got a housing problem.
S7: We have we have we have an affordable housing crisis is a misnomer because it implies that there’s not a housing crisis for people who could pay a little more money. But there is, in fact, the housing crisis for everyone up and down the scale, unless you are quite affluent and can, you know, drop a half million dollars for home.
S1: So, I mean, Jamal, are you imagining a world in which people truly spread out all over the country and they’re not tethered to an office like they could fly in twice a year? Or are you imagining a world which is like the world that I live in, where my commute to door to door is like two and a half hours at best? So I would I really don’t want to do that more than once a week, but I can go on once a week. I can go in twice a week if I have to like. That’s a really different length of how long your tether is to your office, right?
S7: I see more the latter. But then I think the thing I say specifically is that people are going to replicate aspects of being in downtown areas where they already live. So they may not be going into New York or DC or downtown Philly or downtown Richmond, but they do like the fact that it’s a short walk from where they’re working to getting a cup of coffee.
S1: And then you zone differently so you can actually get a cup of coffee and go to the corner store. Right, right.
S9: And that kind of thing. Over time, a bit there, a bit there can actually transform a built landscape. So it’s just I wonder if that’s in some places, if that kind of thing is going to happen.
S3: Well, I think would be a tragedy if a bunch of small cities just stole the thunder of large cities.
S1: But we’ll be able to wait. Seriously?
S3: Why? Why?
S1: Because I think historically.
S3: Historically. Large cities are centers of gravity that gather talent and culture and creation and innovation and have an outsized impact on the world around them, and if you disperse that too much, I believe in dispersing at some. I think it would be good if there are ever 10 cities in the US that were centers of innovation rather than three. But if you disperse it too much, I think you you lose the benefits. I think it will be terrible for the country if people stop gathering in New York City, people stop gathering in Los Angeles and San Francisco and and Chicago because they are now living in in the Hudson Valley or they’re living in New Haven.
S12: So I don’t want to move on. But just it’s worth saying that they’ve always been the big New York, L.A., Chicago. But there were many more mid-sized cities that played a similar function. Right. Like St. Louis at one point played that function in addition to Chicago. And it was more Cleveland, right? It was much more it was much more regional in scope. And so you had, you know, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, a whole host of of cities in that regard.
S3: Let’s go to cocktail chatter, listeners. Will viewers want to know what we’re drinking during chatter? Let’s start with Emily Bazelon. What do you chatter first? Are you drinking anything?
S1: I was drinking this weird combination of one of those BlackBerry ice seltzer drinks and just some regular water. So it’s like a funny color. So my chatter is about a kind of amazing to me at least essay in the New York Review of Books this week by Janet Malcolm. It’s called Second Chances, and it’s sort of a coda to the afterword of the journalist and the Murderer, a book that I read every year because I teach it to my students and the writing class I teach. And the afterword of the journals of the murderer is about Malcolm’s experience at that point. The story she wants to tell about being sued for libel and defamation by Jeffrey Mason. It’s this extremely important lawsuit in highfaluting journalism, because when he first sued her, he claimed that she had he had and said various things that made him look, in his view, extremely foolish. And at first she couldn’t find her notes. Then she finally unearthed them. And so in the journalist and the murderer, she’s saying basically like he lost, I won. I found my notes. I was vindicated. In this follow up essay, it turns out that she has all this regret over how this the first of two trials in this case went. She felt that she was made a fool of by Mason’s lawyer and then she got a do over at the second trial, which she writes about. But along the way, she drops this to me crazy revelation, which was that she took she says she took a whole bunch of things that Mason said at various junctures of her reporting over time, like months, and set them all in one scene in a restaurant as if he had said, God, yes. And she calls it like the long scene or something. It has like the long talk, the long quote it has like and she claims this is like part of New Yorker culture, that this was a common practice, that the magazine that you would take all these things someone had said and then effectively stage them in one setting, literally might like my mouth was open so wide I couldn’t believe this completely. Not allowed in journalism completely not OK. Like no magazine I’ve ever worked at. Certainly not The New Yorker’s fact checkers, whatever, whatever by this and let it go in today’s culture. Well, not in today’s culture.
S3: Joseph Mitchell read Joseph Mitchell. Everything Joseph Mitchell made is a complete confabulation or concoction of random things that happen at different times and made up dialogue. So it’s not like they never did it.
S1: Yes, well, it’s not like they never did it. So she cites him and basically he actually made up composite characters. He was this revered New Yorker writer for many years, had all these incredibly endearing characters in New York who he ran into. That’s what his books about. So she cites him is like, oh, that’s a bridge too far. I’m not putting myself in the Joseph Mitchell camp, but basically is claiming that this idea of the long quote, the constructed quote in one place when in fact that that was a normal thing. And so I was talking to you may think happened. I used to write at The New Yorker and teaches this class with me. And I was like, is this true? And he was like, no, this is not at all how he worked at The New Yorker, how he understood it. Anyway, it’s just this this weirdly for me, I’m kind of obsessed with this whole discussion of journalistic ethics that Malcolm launches. And she’s such a deft writer that she kind of carries you along. Even in this new essay, even though I thought this was nuts, what she was describing, I really also recommend it just because it’s a beautiful piece of writing. So anyway, second chances, New York. You so Janet. Malcolm.
S5: So I’m a little nervous that my son’s skateboarding with Jesus and Johnny Cash is not going to make it into The New Yorker.
S3: Now, I have to say, I’m not I’m not I’m definitely not all the way over with Malcolm. But I do think there’s a kind of I found this actually having been interviewed for a few times in recent years and for Q&A, and they didn’t at all clean up my quotes. And so you have all these run on sentences. And I just feel like there is a you you want to convey to readers like something that that will be pleasure, pleasurable for them to read and make sense to them. And often human speech doesn’t work that way. And so there is I think there’s some degree of fixing stitching that it should be permitted. But isn’t that isn’t considered a vast breach of ethics. But I defer to you, Emily, because this is your day to day job. John Dickerson, what are you drinking with your chatter?
S11: Well, I have four different things that I’m drinking.
S1: Are you drinking them? Some of those represent the different phases.
S11: Some of them are relics from earlier parts of the day. And based on one of the bottoms of this coffee cup, it might be earlier in my this century. Now, the most recent thing I’ve been drinking is wine. And so my cocktail chatter is is about the man who killed the man who killed President Lincoln. It’s based on a rabbit hole. I went down. Amelia, I hope I’m pronouncing your last name right. Fratelli tweeted about this and then I went looking and his name was Thomas Corbett, but came to be known as Boston Corbitt, which we’ll get to an ATM in a minute. He was a hattar, which meant that he smoked rabbit and beaver pelts in mercury. And as everybody here knows from their history and their Lewis Carroll that this caused hallucinations, say psychosis, and also something called Hater’s Shaikh’s, which was a twitching. It also encouraged people to follow the Grateful Dead. Anyway, in the early part of his life, things were not good for Corbitt. His wife and child died in childbirth. He became a drunk. He then was found on the street by a preacher and convinced to to embrace religion, which he did so, so strongly that he became known as the glory to God man, because he would he would burst out into songs and psalms and Bible passages.
S5: So he’s in Boston. He continues making hats. And this is the problem. Historians think that this led to it all throughout his life. It’s punctuated by moments of going back into the hat, making trade, which historians think basically made him go crazy, although Ambrose Bierce would say that perhaps dedication to religion did.
S11: But it was under this influence that in July of 1858, he was propositioned by two what were called at the time, prostitutes while walking home from a church meeting. He was really shaken up by this, went home, turned to his Bible and unfortunately read chapters 18 and 19 of the gospel of Matthew. And if I write, I offend the pluck it out and cast it from the. And there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of heaven sake. I’m not sure I like this.
S3: And I hope he just did the I hope he did.
S11: The guy he took he took this passage literally. He then ate a meal, went to a prayer meeting and then checked himself into the hospital in 1861. He joins the union army and is constantly shouting out, get the get this behind me. Satan man does not live by bread alone Bible passages and quotations in the middle of combat but doesn’t get killed. Then calls out his colonel for swearing against God gets thrown in the in the whatever the clink I guess you call it and was to be shot because the colonel was so offended. He breaks out of that or gets basically let off the hook. He then goes back and joins the cavalry and ends up at Andersonville, the famous Confederate prison for five months. They don’t kill him because he is so moved by God that he basically just keeps firing on the Confederate soldiers. They put him in jail. He gets out, rejoins the army. John Wilkes Booth in April 1865, shoots Lincoln. They surround him twelve days later in Port Royal, Virginia. He won’t come out of the barn, so they burn it. They are explicit. Orders are do not shoot Booth. Take him alive. But Corbett, Boston, Corbett is is full of God’s fury and says that God told him to shoot both. And so he shoots him through the cracks in the Barnes wooden side.
S1: If you just happen to be there, like what’s he doing there? Why is it there?
S11: He he rejoined. He rejoined the army and he was part of the posse that went after went after John John Wilkes Booth. This is after basically being kicked out once rejoining, then being in Andersonville, he then is heralded as one of the great newspaper, called him one of the world’s great Avengers, and he was photographed in Jammal. You you probably know Matthew Brady, the famous photographer of the era. There is a photograph and maybe it is it is the photograph up there he is. OK, who shot John Wilkes Booth? There he is. This was turned into postcards that were sent around. He went back into hat making. He grew increasingly paranoid. And what happened after the war is half the people in the north thought you deprived us of being able to have a trial of John Wilkes Booth. And in the south, they were angry that he shot him. So he grew increasingly paranoid. And he to sort of take care of in the Kansas House of Representatives, allowed him to be the doorkeeper. But because of his paranoia, he found himself waving his pistol at anybody who offended him, which was a bad idea when you’re trying to make laws. So they put him in an asylum. He broke out of the asylum and went to live the rest of his days in Minnesota, except in Minnesota. He was a part of a hunting party that died in the great Hinckley fire, which was one of the greatest disasters at the time at the late nineteenth century. And so that is the end of the tale of woe of Boston Corbett, who had a very weird life.
S6: There needs to be a movie about this guy. I’m sorry. This this is like this is a screenplay waiting for Coen Brothers movie.
S3: It’s a comedy of a dark comedy.
S11: The Revenant, yeah, and I left so much stuff out, oh, my gosh, he was he was quite a guy.
S3: Jamal, what are you drinking and what’s your chatter?
S13: I drank a glass of mint citrus punch. It’s you brew some mint tea and a cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice, a half a cup of honey and some water. And then you fill half a glass and you add a half glass of citrus seltzer. It’s very good. It’s from a cookbook called Jubilee, which is a cookbook of African-American cooking and sort of take an anthropological approach to African-American cooking. Me author Toni Tipton. Martin, I think, is her name.
S3: The author basically just became the editor has studied this week. Yeah. Cook’s century. Yeah.
S13: Yes. That has collected and studied hundreds of recipes and basically narrowed things down that these are representative dishes of black American cooking. And each recipe in the book is sort of a composite of a lot of different recipes. And they’re also historic recipes included in the book as well. I spent like six months last year cooking through it. It’s a wonderful book. People should check it out. But that’s not my chatter.
S11: Oh, my God, that’s really good.
S7: Yeah, my my chatter is so many people, especially nerds, will know that the second season of Disney is the Mandalorian, which is a Star Wars series, starts next month and October.
S13: And while I was watching the preview for it and I was there’s also a feature about the production of the second season. And after the first season that I watched and I found it really interesting. So I thought it would share. Most people, I think, know what rear projection is, which is in film. Sometimes you cannot actually capture everything you want in camera at the time.
S7: And so you film something, you film a chase is driving or you film in Eyes Wide. Shut this. There’s a scene of Tom Cruise walking down a city street. You film someone walking on City Street and then you you project that behind the actor on the on set and then you film the projection and the actor creating the illusion that the actor is there taking that idea. Producers and creators of the Mandalorian constructed an airport hangar sized that is lined with I’m probably getting the strong. I should have led screens that they can then create computer generated backgrounds on the fly and then the actors are filmed with the computer, but the with the computer generated backgrounds in the back. So the camera is capturing these backgrounds, trying to add it in and post-processing. So it gives you a lot more flexibility for for setting up shots and such. It’s very cool.
S1: So question is this pandemic inspired? I mean, it seems like it would be helpful in the pandemic because you could control sets more and have like less moving around or is it just happened to be right now?
S7: I think so. The first season the Mandalorian aired last year. And I think it’s more inspired by just trying to find a way to cut costs. And you also are because it’s a sci fi series, you do you could be jumping from location to location in the show. And so, you know, you’re going to be doing a lot of the computer animation, too. So why not try to find some way to combine all those things? And also for the sake of the actors and the director in the the lighting people and everything. But Gaffer’s have a have something that makes things a little more tactile, which does actually transform how the actors perform. It’s very different to perform with a physical thing versus something inserted in after the fact by chatter.
S3: Well, I’m drinking a some IPA that I bought today. I don’t know what it is, but here’s some free product placement. My Chatur is something that my youngest child Gideon pointed me to a wonderful YouTube page, a YouTube channel which has the name the oddly satisfying. Oh, it’s so it’s like Asmar like but it’s things being extruded, things being lined up perfectly, things being wrapped speedily, things being folded, being peeled off. It is extremely it’s very orderly. Everything like happens and gets finished in the most satisfying way. And it’s incredibly relaxing. It’s like picking a scab that’s just ready to be picked off. And it just it’s just picked off perfectly. I love watching it.
S11: I was with you until that and that and Alexandra.
S1: All right. But the rest of it is it’s a good thing you have your visual.
S3: It’s extremely, extremely relaxing. Check it out. Oddly satisfying listeners, you have also sent us Great Chatter’s this week. You tweeted them to us at at Slate Gabfests and this one comes from at Janet Setara, Janet Green. And she begins it very charmingly. I feel a little too Canadian submitting this potential chatter. But this CBC Interactive story recounting a family’s epic canoe trips great. And it is an amazing story about a father and his two sons, ultimately one son, because one gave up to the trip who paddled from the northern reaches of Canada all the way down to Brazil in a canoe like some river or some ocean going minimal, portages it. And they did this 40 years ago and they were held at gunpoint a bunch of times. They nearly were murdered in Honduras. And it’s great to check it out called Paddle of the Century on the CBC.
S2: That is our show for today. The gabfests is produced by Jocelyn Frank, who is off screen and our researcher also screen is Bridget Dunlap. And also off screen is Beth Smith, who arranged this nice live show with our partners at Texas Tribune. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Adam Smith over in Texas. Gabriel Roth is the editorial director of Slate podcast. John Thomas is managing producer. Alicia Montgomery, executive producer for Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson and Jamelle Bouie. I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We will talk to you next week.
S14: Hello. Plus, how are you are sleepless today is going to answer some of the questions that you have sent us in this live stream.
S3: All right, Emily, let me throw to you the first one. Can you speak about the Pennsylvania federal court decision re the government’s covid restrictions? Are there similar lawsuits in other states?
S1: Well, yeah. So Governor Tom Wolf issued the kind of restrictions we’ve seen in a lot of states. And this is a pretty surprising decision, I would say, given what we normally think of as the breadth of a governor’s emergency powers base. This decision has to do particularly with the Pennsylvania statute. I don’t think it’s going to translate necessarily to other states. I also think the ruling will be appealed and it’s coming at a time when we’re at least in a kind of lull of how much shutdown we need to be mandating statewide in some states at least. But of course, this is very much alive issue going forward because we don’t know what the future is going to bring and whether governors are going to feel compelled to issue more of these orders over the winter, though. Boy, do I hope not.
S3: All right, John or Jim, either of you can take this questions about Mike Bloomberg. So he says he’s going to put one hundred million dollars to help in Florida. That’s good for democracy, bad for democracy. And also, there’s a sort of second question, which is, shouldn’t he use that some of that money to enfranchise a bunch of felons by paying off their fines?
S5: Do you have a strong opinion, Jamal? I don’t have I can take this.
S3: OK, you can take this thing apart. That’s good. That’s a good one. But the first part of it is it is one hundred million dollars spent by Biden. Is that going to help Biden?
S5: John, I don’t know. I feel like it’s going to make the rubble bounce a little bit. I mean, on the other hand, the average of polls in Florida has it about the spread at about one or two points in Florida. So it’s quite close. So, you know, even if you make a tiny little bit of a change, then maybe that matters. If all goes to to Biden. I guess what I would think, but I guess what I would say is, OK, let’s say it doesn’t change a lot of minds. It does pin the president down in a state that is Jamal mentioned earlier, he really, really needs to win. I mean, Joe Biden can win, can get to 270 without winning Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. But he does have to win in that case, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, where he’s actually doing well in all those states. And Arizona, he doesn’t need Florida, but the president needs Florida. So if this bugs the president down, if Mike Bloomberg wants Joe Biden to be elected and he bugs the president down in Florida and makes him spend a lot of time and energy and money down there, then that’s time, energy and money that can’t be spent in all those other states. So I suppose in that sense it might. I mean, you know, a hundred million dollars is one hundred million.
S1: So so I don’t think it can hurt that the most ringing endorsement I’ve ever heard in my life.
S11: I know. I really I really I really built a tiny little pile out of that argument, but that’s all I could do.
S9: Jamal, I mean, I do think that’s right. The first part of the question was whether it’s bad for democracy. I mean, I generally think that, yeah, like billionaires dropping nine figure sums in elections is just not good or. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
S1: Agreed. I agree with that about whether to pay off the fines and fees of the many, many formerly convicted people who were supposed to gain the right to vote through a Florida ballot initiative that passed. So the argument for doing this is that there are like around seven hundred and seventy five thousand people who will not be able to register to vote because of a law passed by the Florida legislature and signed by the governor, but most recently because of a court decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. So there’s sort of two questions. One is like the justice of all these people not being able to vote, especially going against the will of the voters, passed the ballot initiative. And I think that’s a serious, deep moral travesty. Then there’s the strategic question of how many of these people would register to vote in time, would vote. Is it a good use of resources right now? How much money do they owe? And one of the really confounding parts of this court decision is that nobody knows the answer to how much money they owe because the state doesn’t even have to make that clear. I mean, sometimes we’re talking about deaths that people have no idea how much money they owe because they have were issued fines years ago. Maybe they paid part of it off. Like there don’t seem to be any kind of good estimates about that. And so if you’re just purely thinking about political strategy for November and not these deeper moral questions, I’m not sure how good a short term investment it is. But I do think this problem of disenfranchising people who are meant to regain the vote is like a serious one is so depressing.
S3: What I thought that was going to be a thing, Emily, where certain counties in Florida were just going to clear those deaths, are they not allowed to do that?
S1: They can’t clear the debts. But there were some deals worked out with the court system and the prosecutors offices, for example, in Miami, that they weren’t going to prosecute these cases. And I think that has helped to some degree. The number that I just gave three quarters of a million is smaller than the number of people who were enfranchised by Amendment four. But it’s not all worked out like there are a lot of people who are disenfranchised by this decision.
S3: Bob Flynn has a question that I think is a natural dickason question. So is anyone tracking the norms and rules broken by this administration, this president, so that in the next administration, this Bob Flynn says legislation can be introduced to close some of these loopholes or just that these norms can somehow be restored?
S5: It’s a good question. I mean, I think people are tracking them individually, you know, sort of tracking them in the newspapers on the front page every day.
S11: I think what will be interesting so but I and I’m trying to think what would be. It also depends who controls which, which, you know, the House and the Senate, and then when they’re in the excitement of gaining presidential power again, there might be a few of those norms that once you’re back in power, you wouldn’t mind not kicking in again.
S5: I mean, it’s certainly been the case that that presidents who take on new power are reluctant to give it back, even though they campaigned perhaps against, you know, I mean, nobody wants to limit themselves. So it’d be really interesting. I haven’t done that exercise. I mean, a lot of it is is just in the temperament of if Joe Biden wins, the norms will be restored simply by his behavior. Lots and lots of norms will be restored and expectations. And I think what would be interesting is to think through which ones shouldn’t be restored. I mean, which which traditions and norms are vestiges. And I mean, I’ve been trying to get rid of the one hundred day measurement mark for my whole career, including when I interviewed the president on his 100th day. Um, so you can see how successful if I can’t even convince myself. But some of the norms I mean, I think a lot of the norms will basically come back.
S11: Like the norm of I was thinking about this week, there used to be a norm that you at least had to pretend to strive for bipartisan deals, even if you didn’t mean it, even if you especially if you didn’t mean it, you had to at least pretend you had at least lip service get caught trying. And President Trump hasn’t bothered at all. And and that has given him much glory for many of his supporters. But I mean, that will certainly return if Joe Biden as president, in part because Mitch McConnell kind of likes him. So which I’m sure Joe Biden doesn’t want to say out loud a lot. But Reid, Reid, Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden in Mitch McConnell’s book not it’s very supportive.
S3: I mean, right from Christine Trivago. Jamelle, any opinions on which way North Carolina will go? I presume not like in football or basketball, I presume they mean in the election.
S9: I think the polls right now show North Carolina to be quite close with kind of Biden and Trump trading leads. The Senate candidate Cunningham is ahead and usually is ahead of Biden. I think a poll came down to the should Biden ahead of him. So that’s a little unusual. But that’s I would say that right now Biden probably has the edge.
S13: I’m going to turn the question to make a comment about something else. The interesting thing about North Carolina is that its partisan trajectory is basically, you know, let’s say five to eight years, two cycles behind Virginians in terms of its kind of shift blue in part because they share, you know, a bunch of similar demographic qualities. Right. There are large metropolitan areas of the track, lots of college educated and knowledge workers. There is a substantial African-American population. There’s a growing Hispanic and Asian American population. So it’s happening slower. And the two states have different political histories. And North Carolina, by virtue of not really being having having the same coastal economy as Virginia does, Hampton Roads major anchor Virginia for its entire history, doesn’t really have an equivalent.
S9: There are a bunch of reasons why North Carolina is moving slower along that path, but they’re on the same path. The interesting thing is that South Carolina is on that path to that. There are differences. South Carolina does not have a lot of the same kind of large metro area, although the Charleston and Columbia metro areas are growing. But it’s also seeing steady integration of college educated whites. It has a larger African-American population than either Virginia, North Carolina and growing populations of other nonwhites that all of whom are going to vote for Democrats but who have a stronger Democratic lean than sort of native born whites.
S13: And so South Carolina happening. If North Carolina is maybe Virginia in 08, South Carolina might be Virginia in 2000. But it’s all on the same kind of trajectory. And I think it’s interesting. It’s not hard to imagine a partisan landscape 15 years from now where the coastal south is reliably, reliably Democratic for these demographic reasons and the Rust Belt for these in the other direction in the Rust Belt.
S7: Right. I mean, I think I think that’s that that’s where it’s happening in slow motion, where you can kind of see clearly that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, these places become reliably more Republican voting. And the trade is the Sunbelt in the coastal south. The Deep South is its own thing. That had its own strange dynamics.
S5: By which you mean Mississippi, Alabama.
S6: Arkansas, right, in part because it is historically it’s been historically unusual for the South to have serious partisan competition, there’s always been a solid South one way or another, and the extent to which the solid south is dying, not necessarily becoming uniformly democratic or whatever, but because there is genuine partisan competition, is a novel thing to happen in American political history. And I’m not sure people have really kind of absorbed what the implications might be for national politics.
S1: That’s so interesting.
S14: I didn’t know that at all, that that’s a great way to finish. All right, Byfleet plus you next week.