The “Almost” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership, this episode of The Gabfest contains explicit language.

S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for October twenty nine, twenty twenty almost edition, I am David Plotz of City Cast City FM. Check it out please.

S3: And I’m in Washington, D.C. I’m joined from New York by John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes. Hello, John.

S4: Hello, David. Is City Cast FM going to have a theme song or set of sounds? Because I don’t want to, you know, make a sound every time you mention it for fear of stepping on its early branding efforts.

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S3: We just took your sounds. And we’ve we’ve we’ve copyrighted we’ve already used it. We’re using it. We’ve remixed it. Oh, excellent. Your sounds. So it’ll be your your your your will be the same theme. And then from New Haven, Connecticut, the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School, it’s Emily Bazelon. Hi, Emily. Hello.

S5: On today’s gabfest, the campaign, mostly the presidential campaign, the most watched, most unusual, most contentious, most tense, maybe the most tense, I think maybe not the most contentious, but certainly the most tense presidential election in my lifetime is coming to an end. We will discuss first the practical issues around the vote that are causing such anxiety for so many of you around election accessibility, around voting lines, around Supreme Court decisions, around other legal issues in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, North Carolina.

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S3: And then John watches elections more closely than anyone I know. So we’re going to ask him we’re going to talk to John about what we should watch for and when both in the last few days before the vote finishes and on November 3rd and in the days after, what should we pay attention to and what should we not pay attention to?

S5: And then for a third topic, there’s so much anxiety and stress and fear floating around these days because of the pandemic, because of the economic crisis, because of the anxiety about the election. We just wanted to spend a brief time with joy and goodhart. And so we’re going to do a just a sort of a surprise. It’s not that much of a surprise. We’re going to a topic that is a heart warming, we hope, topic that it’s not really about politics and we hope it’s going to be cheerful and joyful. Plus, we’ll have cocktail chatter. So there are so many issues that are bubbling up around voting, around accessibility, around mail, in balloting, around counting around how you count. There’s an absolutely enormous early vote. The data I saw yesterday said that 75 million people as of yesterday had voted, which is a significant fraction of the people who voted entirely in 2016. In state like Texas, 91 percent of the total Texas twenty sixteen vote has already come in from early voting.

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S3: Emily, there just manifold issues. What are you watching most carefully?

S1: I am watching to see what kind of access people have to the polls on Tuesday. So do we see anyone trying to come in and intimidate voters? What kind of lines do we see? How does Election Day itself unfold? And then secondly, I’m watching how much control state courts and state officials have over counting their ballots. So we’ve had this really interesting, remarkable set of Supreme Court opinions in the last week or two, which have, for some of the justices, teed up the idea that state courts interpreting their state constitution have no or very little role to play in deciding how elections actually are administered.

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S6: This is a case out of Wisconsin and then an argument about a case in Pennsylvania. So the Supreme Court took away what was actually a federal court’s ruling extending the deadline for returning ballots in Wisconsin. So that contradicts what I just said about state courts. More in line with what I was just talking about is a really sharp division on the four to four Supreme Court. Right. The court without any Connie Barrett over whether the Pennsylvania Supreme Court interpreting the Pennsylvania constitution could extend its deadline. And similar contention about North Carolina, where there was an agreement between the state election board and some people trying to extend North Carolina’s deadline. So I don’t know whether these decisions about the actual deadlines are really going to matter. That will only come up. It’s an extremely close election, but this larger fight over who gets to decide how much enfranchisement there should be and what role state courts play versus federal courts versus state legislatures, that is the fight we had in Bush versus Gore. And it looks like it is kind of being resurrected, particularly by Justice Cabinet, but not only by Justice Cavnar in a way that could potentially affect the outcome of the election if we have a lot of litigation.

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S5: John, you had like a super quizzical look.

S4: I was confused. I’m speaking another language. No, I just said I got confused about what you were saying in terms of whether the Supreme Court thinks it has a role or whether federal courts have a role. And they’re probably the answer is probably the same to both. But the general principle or the general read you’re getting out of the Supreme Court is their view is the states know how to handle this. So let them figure it out. And there’s no there’s no federal role for coming in, even if we’re in a pandemic age.

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S6: I was saying something a little different from that, which is that the Supreme Court could play the role it played in terms of saying state courts have no role. Federal courts also have no role. But more importantly, state courts have no role in interpreting state constitutions and state law. And it’s only state legislatures that have the power to do anything here.

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S5: And upon what they could say, that is what that is what Kavanaugh says. Cabinet says that it is the state legislature as opposed to the Supreme Court of the state, which is traditionally seen as the highest authority on what the state law means.

S4: OK, so that’s what is confusing me. So what is based what does that mean based on Emily?

S6: Yeah, well, good question. Well, one thing it’s based on is the election clause of the Constitution, I should mention, says the legislature as well as Congress, meaning the state legislature has the power to make rules about elections. Now, we also have precedents from the Supreme Court, including a five to four decision in twenty fifteen, which said that that use of the word legislature really refers to the lawmaking process in a state. And we have a long, just sort of assumed tradition of state courts interpreting their state constitutions to broaden or otherwise affect the administering of elections. Right. So in a lot of states, there is a right to vote in the state constitution, which does not in that form exist in the federal constitution. In Pennsylvania, there’s language about free and fair election. And so the Pennsylvania Supreme Court looks at its constitution, this new statute that passed in Pennsylvania, I think, last year, which expanded the franchise in various ways. And they said, you know what, we’re worried that ballots that are postmarked on November 3rd and put in the mail that day need a few days to come back. We’re going to extend the deadline for returning a ballot to November 6th. That was based on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Pennsylvania Constitution and Pennsylvania law and the Supreme Court split four four over whether it was OK essentially for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to do that. And that was without any Connie Barrett.

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S3: Emily, is it your sense and maybe you can’t tell yet, but there does feel like there’s such a cascade of voting that it’s almost like the water level has risen. So there are no more no more rapids to go through.

S1: Oh, my God. That is totally my metaphor. And I haven’t talked to you about it. I keep thinking that we’re on like a really, like, roller coaster of a whitewater rafting ride. And if there is a tide of ballots, it’s going to just flood out all the rocks along the way, which is what you were just saying. And it could be a tide of ballots for Trump or for Biden. It just needs to be a tide of ballots so that the election is not super, super close. And then what you just said will happen like that will wash away all these like scary eddies and trolls and rocks of litigation and weird things that would take away the right to determine the election from the voters.

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S4: Hasn’t that been our answer to the question of whether Trump will have an ability to challenge the election results if they don’t go his way, that it’s the it’s the size of the signal one way or the other that solves many of these problems, whether they’re legal or in the court of public opinion?

S1: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I will say that if we have that kind of tidal wave of ballots and all of these fears of litigation and disruption and Trump refusing to accept the results don’t come to pass. We will have dodged a set of bullets like it doesn’t mean that the system is in great shape. And we will still have this potentially alarming discussion of, you know, this sole power of state legislatures to make election law hovering above us to, you know, potentially screw up the next election. So it’s not like we will have a better system than we thought or have solved the problems, but we could just sort of sweep past them on our tidal wave of bad.

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S5: Well, I don’t actually think that’s the big thing that’s looming above us. So that’s a that’s a small thing that’s looming above us that is symptomatic of the big thing. The big thing is that that we appear to be entering a phase in which because of demography, because of some of the set of issues that at least at the moment, it feels like one party really wants people to vote and one party really does not want people to vote. And that is an extremely asymmetrical, unstable dynamic. And it’s a terrible dynamic if it persists over time. And it’s a really terrible dynamic if the party that doesn’t want people to vote. The Republican Party also expects to be able to maintain power because like you can’t in a system which is based on people voting, you cannot maintain power in the minority forever.

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S3: It just it doesn’t work. And you either have to reject democracy, which is what some folks within the Republican Party are hinting at, or you have to warp it, which they are actively working towards with the sort of voter voter restrictions. And that’s a both of those things are bad for the long term, regardless of what happened in this election.

S6: Yes, that’s a much better big picture way of talking about what I was talking about. I could connect to my state legislature obsession to what you just said, because Republicans often control state legislatures. But yes, you are absolutely right.

S4: That is what our set of issues, although there there’s the chance in an election that, you know, that has a big turnout for Democrats in a state like Arizona, that the state legislature becomes goes to the Democrats. And so those forces that you’re talking about, David, and the changing America, which are most acute in states like Arizona, that the changing America actually changes the legislature and then the legislature changes the law. So it makes it easier to vote.

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S3: So but but you but we’ve seen, John, like in states such as North Carolina or Wisconsin, where the gerrymandering is so profound that it doesn’t you can get a massive turnout in favor of the both of those cases, Democrats and not be able to. Undo a legislature that has been engineered to be controlled by the other party. Well, not undo that. So it’s the signaling. It’s like it’s a that is a delayed signal. And, B, it doesn’t always work because of of how state legislative districts are drawn.

S4: Right. I mean, certainly it’s not the same in every state, that’s for sure. But I mean, one of the interesting questions we’ll see on Tuesday night is whether those demographic changes you talked about end up swamping the Republican Party.

S3: I mean, I think, Emily, going back to one of your original points is like the worries about long lines are about voter intimidation. It does appear that that the. Intensity about voting and the kind of sense of a public duty around voting that has emerged in this election is going to it’s not going to get rid of long lines or make the long lines longer, but people seem willing to wait in them. And I’m not sure that anyone is going to be able to get away with a campaign of voter intimidation in this election. It feels like there is going to be a significant backlash against any effort to intimidate voters. And it’s not clear that anyone is going to be able to organize, to bring their militia, to drive hundreds of people away from voting and somewhere.

S1: And in Colorado or Arizona or Michigan, where the secretary of state tried to ban the open carry of guns at polling places. And that order was overturned by a judge who said that open carry goes at polling places except for schools and churches where church leaders have said no to it. So I hope you’re right. I don’t think we’re going to know that until Election Day. There is a lot of concern still about intimidation of voters at the polls and the various tactics people can use, including just slowing down the line even further by challenging people who are trying to vote. So I don’t think that were worth through that yet, though. I hope you turn out to be right.

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S4: One of the things that the secretaries of state that I’ve talked to and federal officials who are trying to manage Election Day are worried about, perhaps in some cases more than anything, is the overreaction to rumors and, you know, verifiably weird behavior. But not going back to your point about the number of ballots, you know, some militia guys showing up at one polling place is unsettling and it’s intimidating. And and, you know, the authorities of Michigan have to deal with it. But what they’re worried about is that that takes on a life of its own and people overreact and then disinformation gets thrown in and that you basically get a brushfire of rumor that creates a much larger panic about the validity of the results in a state in a key state like Michigan, where even more broadly in the entire election itself.

S1: Can I say one thing, though, that I feel so strongly right now, which is that like, this is amazing. So many people have voted these states that needed so much more funding to pull off this parallel vote by mail, early vote, day of election vote from Congress. They never got their funding. They’re somehow doing it anyway. I spent my week interviewing election officials in various counties in Florida. I mean, look, it could all be a mess. And Florida has messed up before, but they’re so earnest. They’re working really hard and voters are doing their thing. They’re getting their ballots. They are taking selfies at drop boxes. They’re making plans like the turnout is amazing, that level of democratic participation we’re seeing and against a lot like serious odds anyway. Right now. I just feel joyful about that.

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S4: Emily, I was talking to somebody in the in the Biden campaign. And do you share this assessment of the process so far in the early vote? It sounds like you do. They basically said, as concerned as we all were and, you know, everybody all everybody was and is still worried about Election Day. But that so far and maybe it’s because everybody’s watching and because everybody is so concerned that so far the process of early voting has been obviously not perfect. Lines are long. There are lots of existing challenges in the American electoral system. But relative to the way US elections go, which is kind of rickety anyway that they haven’t seen so far, anything that makes them nervous, in fact, the opposite not nervous, but doesn’t make them as nervous as they thought they would be. In fact, the opposite, right?

S1: I agree. I mean, there are a couple of misprinted ballots that have gotten to some counties. I think in Pennsylvania, it’s not like there haven’t been snafus, but so far it does not feel extensional. It feels normal. And it also feels like you said that all of this preparation and attention is really making a difference. We’ll see.

S3: I want to close, actually, by asking you, Emily, one thing which is at the beginning of this process or, you know, throughout the time we’ve been doing the show, we’ve talked about some of the issues that have limited voter participation. And we’re not talking about some of those right now. And in two of the big ones are felony disenfranchisement and striking voters in the role. I remember I asked you maybe six months ago what would have the biggest impact on the election? And you mentioned voter fraud or voter purges. And that is something which happened. We don’t know what the impact of that is like, there are probably still millions of Americans who are not going to vote this election, who really have the right to vote, who ought to be allowed to vote, who won’t be able to vote because of things that states have done, either in terms of disenfranchising them or in terms of purging the rolls wrongly. And and that’s a that’s a thing we shouldn’t forget.

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S1: Yes. I’m glad you raised that. I mean, whenever you think about purging people from the rolls, you ask whether that state has same day registration, because if you can just show up and register and vote, then the damage of an illegitimate purge is less. But some states don’t have same day registration. And so that makes makes the purchase more damaging for enfranchisement. And, you know, because I spent a lot of time writing about amendment for the ballot initiative in Florida in twenty eighteen, it was an effort to enfranchise former felons. You know, let’s just have a moment of silence for the hundreds of thousands of people who are not going to be able to vote because the state legislature came in on the heels of that ballot initiative and said if you owed any fees and fines, actually you couldn’t register. And I mean, the worst thing to me about how that is all played out is that the state is assuming and has the courts have given it no responsibility to actually help people figure out how much money they owe. So it’s just like literally this Kafkaesque situation that they’re in.

S3: Slate plus members, you have been great supporters during this last month of pandemic, your support has been essential in keeping Slate doing the great journalism that’s doing and keeping podcasts going here. And we really appreciate that. And we, of course, do bonus segments on the gabfest every week for Slate plus members. And this week, because it’s Halloween, we’re going to talk about the scariest moment of our lives. John Dickerson is bathing, is marinating, is drenched in anticipation for this election and how to watch this election, how to pay attention to this election, how to report on this election, how to explain this election to the American public through his his pulpit at CBS News and of course, here on the gabfest. So, John, I want to spend a lot of the segment with some practical you giving us some practical thoughts, you and Emily, giving us some practical thoughts about how to watch the next few days and then how to watch election night and how to watch the days after election night. So John is stretching and stretching, lifting weights, shaking out the shoulders. Yeah, he’s he’s got his traps and his glutes going. Let me start with one sort of a preview question, John, which is that we are we’re four or five days out from the election. What, if anything, for those people who pay attention to polls? What should they be watching in these final set of polls or should they just not should you just not pay attention to that? Is that it’s not a fruitful use of one’s time?

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S4: Well, I think, you know, it’s fine to look at the polls and I think it’s fine to look at the polls and to look at the early vote for the following reasons. A two to practice your patience, resilience, restraint and humility, which is to say, you know, you take in little bits of information. That’s interesting. It’s a let’s imagine here’s what it is. Let’s try this out. You guys help me out here. We’re all collectively doing a massive jigsaw puzzle and it’s a jigsaw puzzle, either of a crocodile or an alligator.

S7: And we’re all looking at the table and everybody’s putting their pieces. And sometimes you get an edge piece and sometimes you get a corner piece. And that is really interesting and it’s really interesting because it helps give you the shape of the whole puzzle. But it doesn’t tell you the whole thing and it definitely doesn’t tell you whether it’s a crocodile or an alligator. This also may work if we’re doing a puzzle of tangerine or an orange anyway. So it’s cool to check out the puzzle pieces and sometimes puzzle pieces like, let’s say the early vote in Florida is like maybe a corner piece because Florida is an important state. There are counties in Florida that are particularly interesting.

S4: And I’ll steal now from Dave Wasserman, who is obsessed with Sumter County, which is where the villages are. You may know the villages as Florida’s friendliest, active adult retirement community and Lake County around there in that part of Florida to the reason Wasserman is interested in that particular county.

S7: And again, counties are interesting, too. You’re going to hear a lot of people talk about counties. What the number crunchers say is don’t get too obsessed about counties. It’s, again, like these puzzle pieces. If you overread an individual puzzle piece, you might get the whole picture wrong. So I’m about to slightly overread it, but maybe you’ll understand why. What they suggest is you look at groups of counties and areas of of states. Anyway, Sumter County is there is a lot of early voting in Sumter County for one reason or another. Older voters in Sumter County have voted early, like almost 90 percent or 86 percent of them voted early in twenty sixteen. Why does that matter? Florida polling closes at 7:00 on the east coast of the state, eight o’clock on the west coast of the state. You might get numbers out of Florida at seven thirty on election night from Sumter County, which will represent the early vote. So that tabulation will have taken place. So you’ll get a glug from Sumter County and there will be other counties like this up and down the East Coast. And then when Arizona kicks in because they, like Florida, started their tabulation early, you’ll get a glug of voters. And if you look at that county, you’re going to get a lot of them at seven, 30, because there’s not as much in person. In a day of voting, you’ll be able to say, OK, this county is behaving this way or that way relative to twenty sixteen. Trump carried it two to one in twenty sixteen. If he’s not carrying it, two to one in twenty twenty. That gives you a tiny little puzzle piece to suggest OK with older voters. He’s having some trouble in a state where older voters are a fifth of the electorate. So you can say, all right, that’s possibly one interesting story about this election, I guess. Back to your original question, David, about polls. You can look at them for a little tiny puzzle pieces, but don’t think it’s going to tell you whether it’s a crocodile or a or an alligator.

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S3: So. All right, John, you took my poll question and already took it to election night. But talk start talking a little bit about. Come election night, polls start to close, how is it that media outlets like yours should be reporting on this? And again, as viewers, I think we’re very accustomed to and you know, and we’ve. NBC calls the state of Ohio for Donald Trump, blah, blah, blah, and that, you know, and that then the board goes up and there’s this electoral vote count. Are we going to see that same thing Tuesday night? If we don’t, what are we listening for on Tuesday night as the results start to come in?

S7: Sure. You’re going to see that stuff. I think you’re going to hopefully see us be.

S4: And that’s why I’m testing out the alligator and crocodile metaphor, because you want to give people some sense of what’s the pace of things to come? Why does that matter? Because you want to give them some sense of control of the information flow. So that confusing and complex information that, you know, is coming in, if you tell them about it ahead of time, people will be able to process that a little bit better rather than feeling like there’s just calamity and confusion coming from every direction, because there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for calamity and confusion, because you’ve got countries like Iran and Russia trying to destabilize things.

S7: You’ve got the president of the United States calling the voting process into question, including this week in which he said there must be a final vote on November 3rd, as if to suggest that if there weren’t, there would be something wrong with the election. There is never a final vote on Election Day. That’s an attempt to deceive voters. So when you have one of the participants in the election and the most popular voice in politics in America or the least the most well-known voice in politics in America, not the most popular saying things to undermine the election, that means there’s going to be a lot of destabilization on election night. So you want to try to limit that. So you say, look, the night is going to be winding. There is not going to be clarity and there is going to be potentially potentially shifting storylines. So you want to set that table first. And then I think basically there will be the same kind of calling. Hopefully there will be less pretending that there’s a sense if you go back and watch some of the election night coverage, like in two thousand and a couple of years after that, anchors would would announce the results in Massachusetts as if it were leading towards the great illumination of the night’s result. You know which way Massachusetts is going to go and it comes into early in the night for it to matter relative to whether a candidate’s going to get to 270. But people were always speaking breathlessly about early night results because they’re trying to get everybody all hopped up. We need no hopping up. Everything is plenty hopped up on its own. So hopefully there won’t be a lot of that. And then hopefully you’ll lay out a map for viewers and say, here’s what to look at for for the president. You should look at rural voters. You should look at noncollege white voters and see if he can increase his share of the vote in those two crucial areas. For Joe Biden. You want to look at black and Hispanic voters, in particular states. Has he been able to increase his share of the vote in those states? Really interesting. Or Georgia, Texas and in Arizona, which represent if there’s a large turnout among those minority groups in those states, it could represent a connection between Biden and what has been a bit of a mirage for Democrats in the past, which is a turnout of the emerging American majority, which is to say, the more diverse electorate that we know is in our future that you were talking about earlier, do they actually come out to vote? And then you want to look at seniors and suburban voters, particularly suburban women. How do those groups play out in those East Coast states and develop start developing a story for how they’re voting? Because we know that voters in one place tend to vote like voters in other places. So your suburban voters in the East Coast states are going to vote kind of like suburban voters in the Midwest and in the end in the Sunbelt.

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S3: Emily. If Pennsylvania is the deciding state in this election, God help us. All right, there is it the scenario that that I think is the worst case scenario that we’ve seen laid out Tom Edsel later in The New York Times this week, but other people have talked about it. I think maybe Bart Gellman in The Atlantic, is that the way that other states followed a close election? It becomes what happens in Pennsylvania that that ultimately will decide who has the majority of the electoral votes and why is that likely to be so unsettling for all of America?

S1: Yeah, well, so I mean, Pennsylvania, because it could be the key state is important just on its own. But then there’s this issue with Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, which is that the election officials there are not allowed to do any processing of all the mail in ballots. So literally on Election Day, they’re going to wake up and it’s the first time they get to start sorting them. Michigan, they negotiated the Democratic governor and Republican legislature won 10 hour day on November 2nd. Compare that to Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, where county election officials have had weeks. So I was telling you, I was talking to a lot of Florida election officials this week. The absentee ballots come in either by the mail or the Dropbox.

S6: They do all the pre processing in Florida. You sign your ballot on the back of the envelope. So they sort them, they check the signatures. They have a law where you have to notify the voter and give them a chance to cure the problem. If the signature is missing or it doesn’t match the one in your registration file, then they take the ballots out of the envelope. They flatten them, they put the back in the scanner, they tabulate them, they’re counting. They’re doing everything. So and that is also Arizona has had two weeks and North Carolina has also had plenty of time to do this. And what that means about election night is that the original returns from Florida, as I understand it, are going to include all of those mail in ballots. And they’re also going to include the early vote, which in Florida has skewed Republican while the in vote has skewed Democratic in terms of party registration of the people who are voting. But what you may see on Florida in those initial returns is actually a blue, quote, mirage, where Biden appears to have a really big lead because of all those mail and votes. And then as the Election Day results get added to that, it may start to tighten. Now, it may be that the counties actually are also able to include their Election Day results in those initial returns that come out at like eight or eight thirty on East Coast time on election night. But all of this means that we’re going to have, I think, much more complete results from those three swing states, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, than we will have from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and perhaps Michigan. And so that is going to play into election night. It just depends who wins. Like if Biden wins those states, it’s going to look really good for him. And if Trump wins, it’s going to look like the election is going to come down to the Rust Belt, Pennsylvania swing states. And then that could turn into a much longer process where you open up many more possibilities for the kinds of litigated separation of power, doomsday meltdown scenarios that we were you mentioned earlier.

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S3: John, you’ve talked about things to look out for. I think there’s a converse to that, which is the things that we’re be tempted to pay attention to, that we should just avert our eyes. So what do you think? We should work really hard in the next few days and on on election night and to not look at to not be distracted by over between now and the Election Day, there’s going to be so much spinning and sort of craziness about the early vote numbers and who’s voted more in the number and the registered voters who did in that this.

S4: And the other thing, I think you can ignore all that that we’re going to know when we know, because once you go down that the reading, the entrails of the early vote, you can get you can drive yourself crazy. And the campaigns have a huge incentive to misread and act in bad faith about the early vote because they’re trying to gin up there in person day of voting. So I would stay away from a lot of that as the numbers come in.

S7: Well, I’m less interested in being I mean, normally the problem with when the numbers come in is you hear, you know, I hate this on election night, some of the networks will say, you know, in Florida, Joe Biden is up fifty two to forty eight.

S4: But there’s like two percent of the results in.

S7: It’s just a meaningless number. Why are you giving people meaningless numbers and it’s just so irritating. So ignore that. But also, I think you need to develop a plan, just as people are saying a voting plan. I think people need to develop a sort of election hygiene plan about stories of abuse and and fraud, if there is any, although we know that’s quite rare or just bad things happening. There will be existing recording in America. We don’t have very you know, our elections could be a lot better than they are. But study the delta between what you would expect and what’s new, because, again, what election officials are worried about is, is it like a global freakout, which means everybody will be freaking out, which means it’s hard to pay attention to the things that are that should warrant our concern because there’s a lot of wolf crying and mischief making. So I would say find trusted sources in your election plan about the election integrity and the vote and all of that. And listen to them be patient and don’t spread rumors the minute you get them on social media.

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S3: One more logistics question, John, which is what time should people tune in? What is the time on election night that you should start paying attention if you’re just a civilian average, everyday GPS listener?

S7: I think it’s going to be a long night. So, you know, polls close it in Georgette’s, I think seven, because all day long you’re going to be hearing turnout stories about day of voting. And and it’s true in many of these states. And it’s certainly the way the campaigns talk about it.

S4: The Democrats will have a lead in the early and the absentee and early in-person vote, and then Republicans will have to try and make that up on Election Day. That’s kind of general rule, although some states are different because you have a tradition of Republican voting early. So there isn’t that same thing. And then there are some groups within the constituencies or within the coalitions that voted in person on the day. A lot of African-Americans voted in person on the day rather than early in some states.

S7: So I think you can ignore all of that. So I would start at around 7:00 when when it starts coming in from Georgia for this reason, even if you’re not getting results that are going to help you put the puzzle pieces together, it begins the process of thinking through what some of the what some of the parameters are for the conversation that evening. And so you get kind of warmed up before you start hearing those votes come in. And just your early states, you’re going to get our Jorges at 7:00, Virginia at seven, South Carolina, is it seven. North Carolina, six, seven thirty in Ohio at seven thirty. And then you get Florida, which is between seven and eight. So you get some some good early.

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S4: You know, those are, as Emily was saying, of the three states, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, which might have good early vote counting. Two of those three are coming in before eight o’clock.

S3: All right. Last point on this. Obviously, I think the presidential election is the election that has everyone gripped. There are a whole bunch of Senate elections that people should keep an eye out on main North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, the Georgia ones. And then the one I guess, the one election. I think people should keep an eye out on which which all my Texan friends say to pay attention to is just the control of the Texas state legislature is up for grabs. If the Democrats win enough seats, they would have control that state legislature, and that could make a huge difference for that. Obviously, what happens in that state and also for for the redistricting in that state.

S7: But earlier, you were just saying that those changes in local statehouses weren’t so important.

S3: That was not what I said. I said it was hard to change them because the that I said it was hard to change them and that they were sometimes lagging because not every state legislature has an election in a presidential year.

S4: Well, you were saying that gerrymandering, right? Yeah, well, gerrymandering matters in particular because I said the same thing about Arizona that you just said about Texas.

S1: I think you’re having a non fight, I don’t think.

S3: I don’t think there’s no sense in which I’ve contradicted myself. I don’t even know what you’re saying.

S1: I really thought I had a point to make earlier.

S4: OK, make your point. I did get us out of here by making a point.

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S8: Really, it’s going to be so obscure at this point. I guess I’ll heat it up. All right. Earlier we were talking about gerrymandering and I was making this point about the Supreme Court and its emphasis on the power of the legislature. So one of the cures for gerrymandering are nonpartisan redistricting commissions that take the drawing of the lines away from the legislature to people who are appointed and have less at stake immediately in the political process. There are a bunch of states that have them. They have mostly passed through ballot initiatives. The 2015 Supreme Court decision I referenced earlier that said that legislature in the Constitution means more broadly the lawmaking process upheld a nonpartisan redistricting commission in Arizona. It was five to four. It was the liberals on the court, plus Justice Kennedy. The very vehement dissent came from Chief Justice Roberts. And so that is part of what I mean about what I think is in play in this question of what the word legislature means in the election clause, in the Constitution. Because if we can have ballot initiatives that pass these kinds of redistricting commissions, we are stuck with much more gerrymandering. It’s harder to get a legislature to give up its power for political gerrymandering than it is to have the voters choose redistricting commission removed from the political process. OK, that was really didn’t belong there whatsoever.

S3: All right. It fed the the the addiction that some of our listeners have to get some deep cuts of Basilone Legal about his listeners. As we wrap up this topic, I just want to give you a heads up that we are going to do a special episode on the morning after the election. So we’ll tape something on Wednesday, November 4th, and have that to you as early as we can on November 4th. Let’s go to our third topic. So I asked on Twitter yesterday for a topic that we could discuss that would kind of bring joy and cheer and and hopefully dissipate anxiety among our listeners because it’s been a pretty dark year. And as the Election Day approaches, there’s so you can palpably feel the anxiety in the country, particularly among people, I think, who are who really want President Trump to lose. And so we thought we’d do a topic today that was just not really political at all, just personal and share some thoughts that we would be more cheerful than than they might be otherwise if we were going to focus on the pandemic or the economic crisis or or the tech monopoly or whatever it is that we would pick as a third topic. So Parker Happe tweeted at me with a suggestion that we talk about this. We aren’t the people we are today without those from yesterday. Who’s someone nonfamily ill? You can’t think today that made an impact on your life. And what was it so I’m going to pick it up actually, by talking about somebody who I’ve talked about on the show before. A woman named Rosemary Quigley and Rosemary was a college girlfriend of mine. She’s an Irish Catholic girl from Acton, Massachusetts. I met her. I made my freshman sophomore. We dated my junior year. Most of my junior year of college. Rosemary had cystic fibrosis, which is the appalling genetic disease we were in. This is in the late 80s, early 90s. There was not much treatment, no treatment that was worth a fig anyway. So she was constantly coughing and hacking, which is one of the things you do when you have CF just to get rid of all the phlegm in your lungs. She also had this this terrible side effect, these stomach adhesions, where her digestive system, which is block up periodically and it’s unbelievably painful, unbelievably painful, and she’d end up in the hospital. She’s like, go middle of the year. She’d have like a week in the hospital. And you just you’d see her and you’d be like, man, this person is suffering like you cannot believe. But she was so fucking determined and she’d come back and like nothing had happened and she ate life up like no one I’ve ever met. She just chewed it up. She became a lawyer. Emily knew her. They Emily, Emily. And she had a clerkship together, coincidentally, long before I knew Emily. She was a medical ethicist. She was a poet. She was a fiction writer. She was like a passionate sports fan. She was just passionate about every every single thing that she did. And it was you to meet Rosemary would just be to be like infected by this huge amount of joy and energy and enthusiasm. And so as a kind of an adult and as a like and Rosemary and I’ll get to this in a second, but Rosemary died in 2004. She died at the age of thirty three. She died shortly after she got married to a wonderful man named Jeffrey Harris. And she had had a double lung transplant that winter that maybe that early spring. She’d gotten married in late spring and had died of complications from this lung transplant and in the end of summer. So I’ve spent a lot of my life lazing around and I expect to spend a lot of my three score and ten lazing around, like watching soccer and drinking bubble tea and, you know, just fucking around. And I it’s not that I haven’t led a productive life and I have in some ways, but I always think about Rosemary and Rosemary is kind of just had a this a just try ethos. Just do something. Just do something you care about. Just get out and do it. Doesn’t like your you’re feeling bad, you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Just get out and do it. Just try it just like get out there. And and it’s just it’s a constant goad for me and a constant reminder. And I, I, you know, I knew her first. We went out for about a year and very like a formative period of life. But I think about her an enormous amount because she was she she lived her life with more energy and joy and and presence than anyone I’ve ever met. And it’s just a it’s just terrible not to have her around. And I just want to I’ll just end this by rereading something. I know, because I looked at I was like, I know I’ve read this on the way before. So sorry for reading again. She in 2004, just after she got her lung transplant, I asked her to write a diary for Slate. And so she spent five days writing about recuperating from her lung transplant. And this is the last two paragraphs of her diary that week as a member of the Ethics Committee at Methodist Hospital in Houston, where I’m getting my treatment.

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S5: I helped write part of the surgical consent form this morning as I waited to complete the consent form for the bronchoscopy, I overheard a nurse explaining to the patient next to me the content of that consent page, which had to do with a donation of excess body tissue for research purposes. This moment exemplifies the identity crisis I’ve been experiencing since I became very ill. I’m not a physician, but I play one at the medical school. People tend to call me doctor quickly, though I prefer professor even more since I’m an attorney by training sometimes these students of mine around second and third years in residence. When admitted to the hospital, the residents often say I look familiar, only to recall minutes later that they attended one of my required lectures and then apologised for leaving in the middle because they got beeped. They’ve also been known to ask, so how long have you had cystic fibrosis? To which the true and flippant responses my whole life. It’s a genetic disease, stupid. So combine the information I picked up hanging around a top flight medical school with the fact of being seasoned by years of treatment for cystic fibrosis. I am a handful. During moments of clinical jousting. I’ve been trying to conjure some philosophical reflections about this experience, given my self-proclaimed professional title of ethicists. But it feels amazingly presumptuous to say anything about what has happened in terms of where fortune has fallen. I know very little about the person whose lungs I now inflate. This is the single most difficult thing for me to contemplate about this experience. Even harder than considering my own death, given that I have mulled that over so extensively, my donor was a 19 year old killed in a car accident. Her parents agreed to donate several organs, no doubt restoring and saving a handful of lives. Sometimes I think about all the experiences I will be so sorry to miss out on in the event of my premature death. A prolonged career, rich marriage, generations of family unfolding. And last week, just walking through a grocery store, I thought of the donor and how she absolutely misses out on all of these. It’s a harrowing feeling, but not one that holds me back. I’m not saying I owe it to the donor to make the most of her gift. This would imply that I have control over whether something goes awry with her lungs. If anything, I have learned that such command is fleeting. Faith, on the other hand, goes pretty far, except faith means taking a good outcome, the same as a bad one as something that was meant to be have much less confidence nowadays. And the idea that if you fight hard enough, you’ll beat the odds. If only it worked that way. Still, you may as well fight. Rosemary is somebody who I think about a lot.

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S4: Totally indomitable spirit, truly beautiful, the person outside of my family, I mean. Right, so you can’t do your spouses either. This is the line I wrote about your spouse is alive, but. Oh, but yeah, I didn’t I, I don’t know, just take this job. I thought they had to be somebody from yesterday, not somebody was dead. But the I mean I wrote about the English teacher that I had Neil Tonken, who, who arrived in my academic life at a very important time, and also who introduced me to the joy of curiosity and to the rigor of being interested and curious, which then ended up being, you know, the driving thing that gives my life meaning. I guess so. So he’s obviously plays this important role. But it got me to start thinking also, though, about us, but a kind of adjacent category, which I have found really interesting, which is the people from yesterday in your life who you know, I have very warm feelings about Neil. There are other people I do not have equally warm feelings about. In fact, I have to the extent I try to set the register at its lowest level at lukewarm, I have lukewarm feelings about people who were actively and sometimes aggressively thwarting my hopes and dreams in life. And two of them, and I won’t go into any more detail, are responsible for some of the great things that have happened in my life. And so the negative energy that directs you towards good things in your life is really is really interesting to me. And how basically at the time it was miserable and awful and the source of so much stress and struggle. And yet had it not been for I guess I can think of at least two experiences, there might be more I wouldn’t be as happy as I to the extent I’m happy and I am today. And so I guess the categories are not just people you admire from your past, but people who you don’t admire but who were incredibly meaningful and necessarily meaningful for your life. Do you want to give any more specifics about at least one of those examples or no one was in a workplace context and was part of the reason I ended up wanting to when Jacob called and asked if I wanted to leave time and go to Slate, made that leap easier. And that made all the difference in both my writing life, my thinking life, the experiences and opportunities I had coming out of that. And I don’t think I would have been as willing to jump off the ledge had not been so shortened by the one relationship.

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S9: When I think about joyfulness and yesterday I think about children’s literature, which I just was totally in love with and immersed in as a kid. And so we used to go, I think, at pretty much every week to the East Falls branch of the Philadelphia Free Library. And there was a children’s librarian there named Mr Moody. His first name is Winston. But I always think of him as Mr Moody. He thought about us during the week. We would take out often many books. I think I was allowed five as a child, but my mom got to take out twelve and I had a lot of sisters and so we would show up and leave with these tote bags of books. And I remember him setting aside particular titles for me. And when I think back on the children’s literature that just like is so deeply lodged in my heart, some of which I’ve read to my kids, though, some of it I sort of failed to get through the ends of these series. So the Betsy Tacy Teb books that moderate Lovelace wrote, she is this author from Minnesota. Those books, I think started coming out in the late 1930s. They hike back to her pre depression era childhood. I think they hold up really well. And they have these beautiful illustrations from Lois Leonski that I actually used to trace, like with tracing paper as a child, since I have zero artistic talent, those books were just I can’t remember how many times I read them.

S1: And then there’s a writer named Bill Taylor, who’s best known for a Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which is a book that was written in the seventies, but is really about the Jim Crow South and just like profoundly influenced how I thought about race and justice growing up. And she actually wrote a bunch of other books. She is still alive, I just discovered, which makes me think that’s a great book I really like. Well, I mean, that one I totally read to my kids, to each of them separately. And so I know that it holds up and remains just like this profound commentary on what it’s like to grow up in a childhood with this virulent. Overt inequality all around you and then the third series I was going to mention, and I can’t remember whether Mr. Moody recommended this or my mom did, because my mom is also a big reader of this kind of literature. And I owe this to her, too. But the end of Green Gables series from Nova Scotia, written by L.M. Montgomery’s Prince Edward Island. Yes. And the Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island, Rhode Island over again. I’m going to so much trouble for all the crew and fans for having gotten that wrong. I mean, those are the most famous books of the three, their movies, their TV series like and is a huge figure on Prince Edward Island. And there’s like a whole tourism around. And and I did read Anne of Green Gables to my kids. It has this very florid, kind of hilarious language in it which they, like could barely put up with. But I don’t know, somehow the heroines or the sort of central characters in all three of those books or series, they were all girls. They were like refracting these complicated relationships in worlds.

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S9: And I just think they gave me some idea that, like, girls could tell stories, they could be at the center of narratives. They could be from really different places and have nothing to do with you and yet, like, have so much that you could feel in common and has this word to use as kindred spirit, which I think of all the time. So anyway, that’s my yesterday thought.

S1: Mr. Moody is very much alive, I should say. So I don’t mean to be suggesting otherwise, but he was like a very dear influence in my childhood because these books were so important.

S5: Yeah, librarians are the best.

S3: Let’s go to cocktail chatter when you’re having a last pre-election cocktail this weekend, John, what are you going to be chattering about?

S4: Well, I my my chatter was slightly stolen from me by reality, which is there is a really cool visualization that I came across Thursday morning, which is in Elbaz, which is about how covid-19 spreads in a room, a bar and a classroom.

S9: Oh, my God, it’s so good. I’m so glad you pulled this out.

S4: Really, really good visualization about how the spread occurs and what the contributing factors are. Mask wearing, time spent together, ventilation. And it’s a great visualization. But there is apparently some considerable debate about whether it ad or accurately or adequately conveys the the nature of the spread or overemphasizes bars, restaurants and classrooms as venues for spread. Whereas the thing we should be more concerned about, some people say, is just basically in our own homes, small gatherings at home being the more complicating problem with covid-19 transmission. So I guess go look at it, but then also go seek out the alternative view about it. So that’s slightly been hijacked from me. But I would one other thing I would recommend is, well, two things. One, I didn’t mention this in our election section, but there is a 20 point difference between people’s favorability view of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Just for comparison, the number between Trump and Clinton was four point five percent. We talk about derisively, of course, the candidate you would rather have a beer with when you have a 20 point differential on favorability.

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S7: I mean, it’s which candidate would you not like to have, throw a beer in your face and then smash a glass over your head? I mean, twenty points in favorability is so big. I don’t you know, it doesn’t one of the things about we learned about 2016, we may learn again, is things like favorability and truth and honesty and all that stuff. People may think that that the person they vote for is dishonest, unfavorable, and they wouldn’t want them in their house, but they’re voting for him anyway. So it’s not a proxy for how the election will go, but it is extraordinary.

S4: And the final point is I’m reading the Intuitionist, which is another Colson Whitehead book, and I’m and I’m really liking it. I’m only halfway through, but I would recommend it if anybody wants more Colson Whitehead in their life, which is a good thing for Colson Whitehead in your life.

S5: Yeah. Emily, what’s your chatter?

S9: I have been benefiting for months now from the work of Casey Newton, who has been the Silicon Valley editor of The Verge for a long time and has a newsletter every day or almost every day about the world of tech. And now he has a sub stack called platformer. So you go to this website called Sub Stack. You subscribe to it, you get it in your inbox. That’s how sub stack works. And I’m kind of generally intrigued by the move that certain writers with the following in a voice are making and moving to substate because it’s a way of like cutting out the middleman. Publication Casey is so good at what he does. I mean, I, I it’s like the perfect thing for me. I’m interested in Silicon Valley and tech. I’m suspicious of it. But also I want to understand it. And he has for me the perfect level of information and analysis and opinion. And just like Smart Vavi writing, I really recommend a sub stack of cases called The Platformer. I have just been benefiting from his newsletter for so long. When I was working on my free speech piece, it was the thing that when I set aside a piece that I would set aside the reporting for that piece for months because I started working on it so long ago. And he was the thing that made me feel like I was keeping up with what was happening. And it’s just such an important issue because it’s not just like the tech companies. It’s also about how information is traveling and how we’re all absorbing it.

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S3: So anyway, check it out. Are you getting an affiliate relationship with that?

S1: No, I have nothing to do with it. I’m really just a fan.

S3: My chatter is is a it’s about a psychological phenomenon that I need. You get listeners to explain to me that that I am enduring in my own life, which is that I watch the Borat movie like probably many of you did this past weekend, the new Borat sequel. And it’s I have really mixed feelings about other parts of it that are extremely funny, that parts of it that feel cruel and. Not just cruel, but most of the what was interesting to me about it is that I couldn’t watch it, is that I averted my eyes for probably half the movie. I was so embarrassed for the people who were in the room with with Sacha Baron Cohen and so uncomfortable about how they were being made to feel that I just couldn’t. Watch it, I just I couldn’t I couldn’t endure even people who were manifestly like racist or anti-Semitic or like, you know, had held to crazy views when they were being embarrassed. It was too much for me to watch. I don’t I don’t really like to watch horror movies either. But I. I would not I would have had an easier time watching a horror movie than watching some of this movie. I’ve never averted my eyes as much as I have watching this Borat movie. And so I just don’t understand why. Like, why am I what is it what is the phenomenon that makes one so discomforted by watching other people or watching other people be embarrassed or feel that other people must feel embarrassed or must feel must feel uncomfortable not wanting to see that. Why is that so disconcerting for me that I can’t even look at it in this semi fictionalized mockumentary portrayal of it?

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S4: Isn’t it just the the human the human desire not to see other people suffer?

S3: But they weren’t suffering like I would I I mean, I think it almost would find it easier for watching someone get punched in the face.

S9: I don’t like that either, but I don’t like that. I don’t like that.

S1: But I am just saying very infrequently, this is the first movie. I have it all the time. This are just it hit you really strongly.

S3: Well, I really watched only about half of it. Yeah, well, because I was just like, oh my God. No really.

S1: Yeah. I actually haven’t watched it because I just know that I’m going to feel that way the whole time and it’s just going to make me really like unsettled. I feel this way about Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Larry David Show. I can only watch it and like small bits with like my hand over my face for parts of it. I think it’s because, well, I don’t know about you. I identify so strongly with whoever is being embarrassed. And I find embarrassment, such an uncomfortable emotion that even the second hand experience of it is just too much. And in the Borat scenario, those are real people like and a lot of times you feel like they’ve been duped and maybe you shouldn’t have any sympathy for them. But on the other hand, they are people. And like you can never really tell how he is messing with the situation and what it actually says. And so for me, that’s been deeply uncomfortable. I mean, I can’t watch the Ali G clips, the old Sacha Baron Cohen stuff for that reason.

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S4: I wonder if it if everybody has a baseline view about two things. One, just what human suffering, what your sense of empathy is for another, human being distinct from what you may know about that person. And then there’s another measurement, which is the delight you find in the embarrassment of those people that you don’t like. So there are plenty of people and I’m among them who I mean, there are people I dislike and who have it coming and all the rest. And so I don’t spend much time feeling sorry for them if they’ve lived a life of where they’ve trodden on other people. But I don’t sit down and enjoy a nice long lollipop watching those people get taken down. And but I do think there are a lot of people who do and who really enjoy that. So I wonder if it’s if you have one has a baseline setting for the delight you get in the in the comeuppance of people who deserve it.

S3: I mean, I found I found no pleasure watching the comeuppance of Rudy Giuliani. And so far I didn’t watch the I watched maybe half of this notorious scene in the movie of Rudy Giuliani. For the same, I found it as uncomfortable watching Rudy Giuliani, who I know to be a a villainous, horrid creature, as I did to watch people who I didn’t know anything about.

S1: I mean, I think also when you’re watching something like that and you do feel that delight, that’s also uncomfortable. Like, that’s bad. That’s for that. I mean, look, if someone’s really powerful and they’ve done terrible harm, fine. I don’t mean to say that. Like, I this takes me everywhere. But on the other hand, much of the time that you’re enjoying someone else’s suffering and embarrassment, it’s an uncomfortable to feel that enjoyment in oneself.

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S4: Right. You’re drawing the line between whether they deserve it, which they may one hundred percent. And you’re finding sustenance and uplift from the misery of others, which is I can’t remember who it was with, said Schopenhauer. It’s somebody who basically says that’s the basis of all human emotions.

S3: And nobody, you know, even in the moments where you do feel this this glee at the suffering or the disgrace of some person, you even if that person fully deserves whatever is coming to them and you and you surrender to that sense of joy about it, later, you will feel sick at yourself like, yes, no matter who you are. I mean, you’re a sociopath. You will feel sick about having felt that way, even if that person so deserved it.

S7: Right.

S4: And in a way, you become closer to that person that you revile. If presumably that you revile them for for. Some of the characteristics that one exhibits by finding delight in their comeuppance, so that seems to me to be as a piece of art that’s interesting. However, I don’t want to engage with that. But but it is interesting at a kind of complexity adds a complexity to what would seem like sheer buffoonery or sheer mocking of people is that you’re actually doing something to your audience when they’re laughing and that you’re actually turning them into the person you’re lampooning, which is which is very interesting, deeper level of thinking about those kinds of movies.

S3: Listeners, I say this every week. Every week. It’s true. Or an extraordinary group of chatters from you today. That’s like Outfest. Wow. Was it a great group? You could just you could just just read the Gabfest listener chatters and that would be a joyous, rich diet that you wouldn’t have to read anything else. I want to point to one and I’m going to have us listen to something that Alanah@@ snark out girl sent to us. Alana writes, I’ve been chattering a lot about the at Wiki Tung’s YouTube channel, which I like to think of as the answer to the question, what does that language sound like in particular? I love this video of a woman reciting Tuvan poetry. So Tuvan is a Siberian language. And the video that Alana pointed to is this marvelous three minute video of a young woman walking in a village speaking in Tuvan. And for all I know, she is reciting in poetry. But it certainly sounds poetic, whatever it is.

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S10: How much time is that very much on them, though? Was it to get them to get a look at them with a stick? It has them going in the middle and the bottom up means it didn’t look like it didn’t put in the the last one put in yet. The last thing it came.

S3: It’s so good, the wiki tongues that that Alanna points us to also. I spent a bunch of time on that yesterday. It’s a wonderful, wonderful YouTube channel where just people speaking different languages, dialects. You’ve never heard of Lombards or Venetian or I mean, maybe you’ve heard of it, but the obscure dialects and it’s glorious.

S2: That is our show for today. Our producer is Jocelin Franka researchers Brigitte Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director of Slate podcast. June Thomas is managing producer and Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer. Please follow us on Twitter at at Slate Gabfests. Tweet Chatur to us. Remember, we’ll be with you early next week. We’ll do a show on Wednesday right after the election. And I hope that you all have a safe and good election and that you get to vote if you are a registered voter.

S11: For Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson, I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you on Wednesday.

S3: Hello, Sleepless, how are you, happy Halloween, Halloween, not a holiday that I talk to very much, but other people do. And why not? Why not talk about it? Why not at least not in the direction of Halloween? We’ve had a really scary, horrible year, so why not talk about things that scare us? So our Slate plus segment today is what is the scariest thing that you have ever experienced? Emily Bazelon, what’s the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced?

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S1: OK, this is slightly pathetic, but when I was in college, I went to see Silence of the Lambs at a movie theater with a friend, and I was so terrified by that movie I couldn’t get out of the car when I got home. I had to make my mom come and get me and lock me inside. And then. That summer, I was supposed to take a job on the Appalachian Trail as a caretaker where I would just be hiking around by myself like no Appalachian Trail in New England. And I didn’t do it because I had to make a decision like that week. And the idea of being alone by myself in the woods after watching that movie about Hannibal Lecter, I just could. And it was such a bad decision. I totally should have taken that job. And that movie haunts me like every time I you know, it just is on television sometimes and like, it’s a really good movie. The thing about that movie that I cannot handle, spoiler alert, big spoiler alert. There is a scene in that movie where one of the bad guys asks this girl, I think she’s like a college student or around that age for help putting something into the back of his truck. And she like picks up an end of the sofa, gets in the truck, and then he slams the door on her and that is how she gets kidnapped, which does not go well. And that is me. I would be that person. I like to be helpful. I’m pretty gullible. And she was around the age I was when I watched that movie and I totally identified with her and it just like scared the hell out of me.

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S3: That’s all every bit you describe there sounds totally rational, and you should you you made the right life choice.

S1: No, I should have cut and walked on the Appalachian Trail. It was a mistake.

S4: John, what’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? You know, it’s funny because I had a bad car accident, totaled a car when I was in my senior year of high school and everybody was fine. But could it could have been really not fine. I mean, basically tried to pull a U-turn in the middle of the highway. It was t bone by a van and there were a lot of us in the car, so. But that wasn’t actually scary in the sense that it was just that there was so much action and crashing and loud noises that that I wasn’t scared, but I should have been the scariest was I think I’ve been on a lot of bad flights and I can think of three of them, probably the worst one. I was too young. I mean, I remember it kind of vaguely, but it’s been it’s been described to me so much. I feel like I’m scared more by the description than than I was in reality. But once flying to New Hampshire during the 2000 primaries, we got caught in a snowstorm flying into Manchester. You couldn’t see nothing. And and we were bouncing around like crazy anyway. So it’s really scary. And the plane ultimately couldn’t land in Manchester. We had to fly back to BWI. So that was probably it.

S3: I I’m going too quickly for me. One is early on when I was dating. Hannah, she lived in a building on T Street and we were walking home one night and this was maybe three days after a high school classmate of mine had been murdered on the streets of Washington being mugged. And we walked into her lobby and someone followed us into the lobby and. Acting as though he had a gun under his coat, he probably did, and he probably was pretending had a gun under his coat. He demanded all our money. And so I quickly got out and handed him, you know, handed my wallet. And Hannah just fumbled around, like, not finding her money. And truly, like a classmate of mine, had been shot dead on the streets of Washington within weeks before, I can’t remember exactly, but within within weeks before for not giving handing over money while being mugged. And eventually this guy kind of freaked out and left. And Hannah said, you know, well, I you know, I didn’t I don’t want to I didn’t want to give my money. And so I figured I figured he was a junkie and, you know, he would just freak out and which he’d done. But I was so mad at her because it was like this moment if he could do anything and all we have to do is comply. All we have to do is just give over this and and that. So that was a that was a terrible moment. I don’t think I’ve ever I was never angry or in my life at at at Hanah as I was when that happened. That was one. But truly, the scariest thing that ever happened to me is much funnier than that, which is that when I was maybe 14, we had gone on vacation at a house in Massachusetts, my my parents and I. And we came home one night into a dark house and I went into my room, dark room turned on the light. And one of the walls was a mass of ants. There were like 10000 ants on the wall and I freaked the fuck out. I have never and I grabbed a vacuum cleaner. Like, and vacuumed up the vans, I mean, it’s probably a monstrous thing, but like I was maniacal and so scared. So that was that was probably the actual moment. I was scared, most scared of my life was turning on the light and seeing those ants.

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S4: I remember being so scared at Poltergeist that I pulled Charlie horses in both my legs.

S3: Yeah. Whoa.

S4: I can see that happening. Which when you go back and watch it now, you know, it looks so amateurish because it was, you know, wave production values have increased, but we were young and innocent and we didn’t know how good special effects could be.

S9: But a lot of suspense in it to that movie. And I think we were like right at the age where it was scary.

S3: Yeah, I don’t I watch no horror movies, so I have no horror movie experiences.

S1: Your story about the ants. David, did you guys see that meme or whatever it was over the summer that was like had various animals? And then if you were being attacked by, like, who would you pick to have was it was like ten elephants and a million rats and anyway or like ten thousand rats, the volume of the ants is what’s upsetting. Right? It’s like this war that there are so many of them anyway.

S3: Yeah. I would not like to be attacked by any of those. I mean I would be like to be attacked by ten elephants. I would like to fight ten elephants. That would be better.

S1: There were eagles in that in that example, which I thought was like I sort of channeled my inner Harry Potter or I guess many adventure movies in which you get picked up by the shape of the neck and rescued by a bird that just flies you away from all the danger one hopes.

S3: All right. Sleepless talk to you later. Bye bye.