The News Normal

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S1: The following program may offend those who say fudge instead of another F word, it may also offend those who say fudge when asked to rank their top three desserts, the.

S2: It’s Monday, November 9th, 20 20 from Slate, it’s the gist.

S3: I’m Mike Pesca. Joe Biden shall be the next president of the United States. Donald Trump shall be a private citizen, subject to the laws of the states and the federal government, not just the judiciary and the laws of food. We let bother us who we pay attention to, though offensive, his proclamations and statements become toothless.

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S1: He no longer denigrates our reputation, just his. It turns out the conspiracy fueled unintelligent bloviation of a dyspeptic Fox viewer who isn’t President Reinke a lot lower than the same rantings of a person who is. In fact, they’re not even in the same film, Don, from Queens, grousing about the media isn’t orders of magnitude less important than the president of the United States doing the same. It’s something of a Linnean hierarchy of taxonomy to determine just how much less important it is. And Donald Trump suing over the election. And so, you know, he never really wins lawsuits. He just uses lawsuits to delay and deny and to get some victories out of the process. OK, he doesn’t have a perfect record of defeat in civil courts, but his victories are of the kind in which he uses the courts as a tactic to hold onto what he already has within his grasp. Now he’s trying to use legal maneuvering to gain something and something that’s rightfully not his. And he’s fighting against the country’s best lawyers who also happen to have the law on their side. I don’t even need to point out that when these excellent lawyers serving Joe Biden, the Democrats democracy call, say, a press conference at the Ritz, it will not be held outside the offices of Fred Ritz, steam cleaning and rodent taxidermy. I have to say, I did think the Four Seasons press conference, it was funny, but it’s like the coffee of the post-election world. Everyone knows it’s funny. It’s obviously hilarious. You can’t really riff on it. The humor is so self-contained, although a key use of humor is to signal in group fealty. So it works on that level. Anyway, as Donald Trump’s sell by date is now known, no amount of appeal to the state’s dairy commission is going to change that. And what happens is all the horrors that he perpetuates become not stabs at us or our democracy, but just more and more self-inflicted wounds. And the attendant outbursts aren’t 90 percent pathetic, but 10 percent troubling each day. It’s like ninety five, five ninety seven three as our beliefs and our systems and ourselves separate more and more from the person of Donald Trump as he becomes less and less of a president, take his appointment of the unqualified. So Mark Esper is out and now a guy named Christopher C. Miller is in time was we would have to know and care about Christopher C. Miller. We’d examine his background, find out articles he wrote, perhaps some embarrassing speeches he gave no cares. Now his descendants will have to live with the fact that Christopher C. Miller is accepting the position during the sunsetting of the Trump presidency. The shame is theirs, not ours. Michael Moore is concerned that Trump won’t leave. He just won’t leave. Bill Maher says it, too. First I dismissed it, then I considered it, and then I thought about taking it seriously. Now it seems like another goofy thing, Michael Moore says from SEIA to Shlub goes Michael Moore once again. Or take Kuhnen. Oh, sure. They got a couple of their adherents elected. Lauren Bobert in Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Green, FL for long. Q And on from Georgia. And Kuhnen is a serious threat, but it’s serious like Ebola, not the coronavirus. I mean, it’s terrible, but the outbreak so far has been contained. Also, the occupant of the White House during Ebola fought Ebola, but the occupant of the White House during Kuhnen and Korona claim not to really know how those things worked. Last week on the show, I talked about the ambivalence people felt. People who voted for Biden just seemed like a celebration or an exaltation. Well, maybe one reason back then that the emotions didn’t match. The result is that we we didn’t really have a result yet. Feels a lot better with an actual declaration of victory now feels a lot less threatening from the side that still won’t acknowledge a loss. Just seems more and more pathetic. There are still seventy two days to go before inauguration. Trump can still cause chaos. He could still not give out or sell some pardons. And please someone in the military firmament just lose the codes to the missiles, the nuclear football. Can we just do a couple kneel downs to end the game, run out the clock. But it is a new, fresh feeling in America. I say let’s bask in it and then let’s gather round and join in with passion, hope and solemnity as AOC Eocene. Lamb tear each other limb from limb and Mitch McConnell reacts to the concept of progress like Indiana Jones reacts to snakes. In other words, let’s get back to normal on the show today, the continuum from sanctimony to lachrymose. Now, the networks immediately made their calls. But first, Pennsylvania has been called for. Biden, you heard. Why did it take so long? Well, in some cases, it was for the same reasons that Oklahoma, California, New York and Missouri are still taking so long to count their vote, just that in those states, the outcome isn’t in doubt. So we don’t pay attention. We don’t think it’s a big deal. That’s one of the reasons. Another is that there was a long, tense process that was guaranteed by the political makeup of Pennsylvania politics. Now, if this were an exceedingly close race, we all might be looking at Pennsylvania and saying, oh, God, how could this have happened? But because it looks like Biden will win by a decent margin, we tend not to ask the hard questions. Well, I say we, but not I.

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S3: I shout to Katie Myers, political reporter, public radio station, why in Philadelphia, Onex, to explain the weirdness in the Commonwealth.

S1: Pennsylvania is the Keystone State, if you know how a keystone works, it’s the crux, the lever, the hub, it is, you know, the center of the foundation. And guess what? That’s what Pennsylvania has been turned out to have been during this election. I’m joined by Katie Meyer. She is a political reporter for WFYI. Hi, Katie. Hello. So I’m going to ask you a number of questions. They will end in a specific question, but I’m just going to tell you that every question, the implication is that all I am asking is what the hell is up with that? So let’s go through a few things going on in Pennsylvania where you’ll be asked to answer what the hell is up with that? OK, great. Sounds good. It’s really, really how journalism works. OK, so before the vote, before the vote was even set, as we know, different states have different procedures for handling mail in ballots, handling the vote. And the procedures for Pennsylvania were hashed out between the Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, and the Republican legislature. Could you draw the line between what they worked out and what we saw in and around Election Day?

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S4: So I think one of the important things to note is that even before the pandemic hit way before the election, this would have been twenty nine. Pennsylvania, the legislature and the governor all passed this slate of election reforms. And one of the big ones was it created no excuse mail in voting. And so this was something that didn’t happen because of the pandemic that ended up being super important when the pandemic hit. People in Pennsylvania that used to have to have a reason for voting by mail. Now they could just do it. And so already we were expecting to see way more vote. But then the pandemic hits and we start to have these negotiations about, oh, my gosh, we’re going to have a lot more people voting by mail. Now, what do we do? And one of the big questions was, well, and this especially after the primary happened, when they realized how long it took them to count mail in ballots and how many there were they started discussing. We should probably give counties more time to count these things. It was actually never really that controversial. The counties were asking for this. Democrats were asking for Republicans were asking for it. And so they started debating, OK, how much more time should we give counties to tabulate ballots? Now, the problem came in when other things started getting added to the election mix. And one of the big ones was the Trump campaign had been pushing to get rid of mail ballot drop boxes and to allow poll watchers to kind of come in from anywhere. And people watching specific precincts of really what you would see was people watching polls in Philadelphia who had lived in Philadelphia, for instance. And so this negotiation, as it always does in Harrisburg, at least, all these issues got mixed up together. And the Republican controlled legislature passed a bill to Gov. Tom Wolf, who was a Democrat, and the bill would have extended the period for counties to count ballots. It gave them an extra week, but it also would have banned ballot drop boxes, the drop boxes where people can drop off their mailbox, mail ballots quickly and not have to worry about mail speeds. So would have banned those. And it also would have allowed poll watchers to come in from anywhere and watch polls in counties and precincts that don’t live in. So Democrats took this bill and said, we’re not going to sign off on this. We don’t want to ban Dropbox’s. We don’t want pollwatchers coming in from different places. And so they never came to a consensus and Republicans never passed them a clean bill on the on the canvassing stuff, so and so with that. And so then you get into this election where we know that Pennsylvania is going to have a ton of mail ballots. We know that the mail ballots are going to be heavily Democratic because Republicans had been discouraging people from voting by mail and Democrats have been really pushing it. We knew that the in-person votes would therefore skew Republican. And so that set up the dynamic that you saw during the election in Pennsylvania, where you had this very big Trump lead and then a very, very slow resurgence of fighting votes. And it wasn’t all those votes were new are coming in or anything. They were just slowly being counted because it took a while. So, yeah, all of this the groundwork for the main dynamic, I would say, of this election was laid by the Pennsylvania legislature many, many months ago.

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S1: So if the legislature never signed the clean bill, how did we get to the point where they would allow the count of ballots that were received three days after the election if they were postmarked before the narrowest such window of any state?

S4: That was courtesy of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And I should say the court is controlled by Democrats or dominated by Democrats right now. And the lawsuit came about I mean, it was the state had asked for this extension. There was contention that there were going to be mail delays and that people who sent in their ballots in good time, they were following all of the deadlines that the state sent for them, that those ballots would not arrive and they would be therefore disenfranchised. So the state Supreme Court accepted that argument and they said, OK, you can vote. Your ballot can be accepted by your county for three days after the election. So from Election Day, November 3rd until 5:00 p.m. on November 6th, as long as your ballot was postmarked by Election Day, which was the deadline to postmark it, then you’re good to go. The ballot can be counted. So that was again, that was a function of the Supreme Court. Now, of course, Republicans did not like this conclusion. They didn’t like the ruling. They thought it was overreach. Basically, they were saying the Supreme Court is creating law. They cannot do that. And they appealed it up into the federal courts, went to the US Supreme Court two separate times and has so far been upheld.

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S1: So these same leaders who were were battling with Tom Wolf, you know, the same leaders who were negotiating with Tom Wolf, Senate majority leader. Jay Korman and the president pro tem of the Senate, Joe Scarnati, have called upon Kathy Boockvar, who is the secretary of state, to resign because she fundamentally altered the manner in which Pennsylvania’s election is being conducted. Last part, first book, far is not going to resign, but what’s their case?

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S4: Yes, so there’s a couple different things. But the big one and I apologize, we’re going to get into the weeds a little bit here on Pennsylvania election administration. This has to do with that three day extension that we mentioned, four ballots to be accepted in Pennsylvania. So as far as I can tell, like the biggest case the Republicans are making here is that the court gave guidance that they felt was inconsistent to counties about what to do with this three day extension. So when Republicans made it clear that they were going to sue to try to get that extension overturned, and we are expecting there to be further litigation on this before sort of looking ahead, said, OK, when you accept these ballots counties, you must segregate them. That means you can put them into a different bucket. And her initial guidance to the counties was like, don’t touch them until I give you additional guidance about what to do with them. And Republicans, kind of the way they interpreted the ruling that the court had handed down, saying the ballots should be segregated. They took that to mean like, don’t touch them, don’t count them. When she then on Election Day gave additional guidance, as she promised to to the counties, she said, OK, keep them segregated. Yes, keep doing that. But you can count them and we’ll know how many and we’ll know who the votes were for. And so Republicans did not like that. She did that. They thought that that was against the guidance that the court had provided. And that was the counties did different things, but that some counties said, OK, them and some counties said, I don’t want to count them with Lancaster County and Republican controlled county did that. And so they thought there was confusion. They thought there were counties just kind of going off and doing the wrong things. And they said that was a problem, especially, again, if these votes are contested. Now, again, as far as I have been able to tell, all the ballots were still segregated. We have them in different buckets still being counted. That’s one of the big points anyway, that Kormann and Scarnati and Republicans are making.

S1: So the court did not give guidance as to whether to count or not. They left that ambiguous and into that ambiguity. Boockvar said what she said, which is count them. Am I getting that right?

S4: Yeah, that’s again, my understanding of it is that a lot of lawsuits so far. But, yes, I think that is the case.

S1: So, you know, I looked at this call for resignation. That kind of means nothing. It doesn’t have any force of law. What does it tell us that this was the tactic that they used?

S4: I mean, you know, I think singling out I mean, first of all, it’s a Democratic administration went as far as a Democrat, a tweak that she made back when she was a private citizen, before she was secretary of state, saying that she thinks that Donald Trump demeans the office of the presidency that got tossed around. Basically, it’s another point that the Republicans are making or that they’re trying to bring up to say, hey, look, we do believe that there’s reason to believe that people with interests that go opposite to the president or to Republicans we’re in charge of this election may have affected it in ways that were negative for the president. And I should say at this point, like Republicans did great down ballot in Pennsylvania, like the Democrats really did not do well in state House, state Senate and congressional races that they wanted to flip. So I think this idea that there was systematic fraud that Democrats perpetuated on behalf of the Republicans. It’s an interesting question to ask. Why didn’t they do any fraud down ballot then? But that’s kind of beside the point, because there’s really been no evidence of anything systematic that was done by Democrats. So anyway, I think it is them putting out whatever they can and saying, hey, we’re not happy with the process. We believe there are questions about it and we’re pursuing this in court.

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S1: What is the sense of the Pennsylvania state legislature or are they more the Republicans in the mold of Pat Toomey, who’s the senator who has, along with Mitt Romney, been one of two prominent Republicans saying that while we do want to pursue every legal avenue, let us not alleged fraud when there is no fraud or have they been more on the side of, you know, one of some sort of fellow who might be giving a press conference outside of Four Seasons landscaping? What’s their tone been?

S4: It’s mixed. I have to say, I mean, I think it depends on what if you’re talking about the House or Senate. Certainly, I think the House has tended to order at least certain members, certain prominent members of the House have tended more toward like a Rudy Giuliani type of rhetoric. The Senate tends to be a little bit more. Cautious, but I think in general, I think they’ve kind of fallen somewhere between Toomy and Giuliani in terms of rhetoric. I think they’re being pretty careful about the methods that they use. But they’re also not being you know, there’s no secret that they believe that at least Kathy Bookclub has overreached and they believe that they have a case about that. So I haven’t I presented I haven’t seen them say like, oh, votes were stolen. There was huge fraud. But I think what you have heard them say is Democrats misbehaved in several ways that we believe we can make a case about.

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S1: I think this is going to be my penultimate question. But can you give us a round up or an assessment of what the different lawsuits or specific allegations of fraud? Where do they stand in the state of Pennsylvania?

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S4: Yeah, so so far we have not seen a lot of the lawsuits really stick that the Trump campaign and other Republicans have filed. But I’ll give you like a couple of the big ones that we’re looking at first. It’s that three day window that the state Supreme Court gave for acceptance of ballots. This is the one that Republicans think was overreach on their part. So we that is being contested. We’ll see where that goes. And again, these ballots segregated some some conservatives on the Supreme Court kind of gave themselves a window for maybe saying, OK, we think this case has merit. But it’s unclear if the rest of the court believes that. Then we have some stuff about pollwatchers in Philadelphia. This is one of the things that Giuliani has been talking about a lot, saying that pollwatchers could not get as close as they wanted in that convention center where Philly was counting votes. Now, I should say the whole process was live streamed and poll watchers were in that building pretty much consistently as the votes were being counted. So we shall see. There’s also, again, some stuff about like bookless guidance to counties about how to handle the three day window. So those are some of the big components that we’re going to see talked about here in the weeks to come forward.

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S1: OK, Katie, here’s my last question. So far, we’ve talked about negotiations between the governor and the legislature to open or limit balloting. We’ve talked about leaders of the legislature calling on the secretary of state to resign. We talked about lawsuits and where they’re going allegations and where they’re going. And so far, it seems like none of it is working. If working is defined as taking away the results of the election or getting Donald Trump elected is the reason that it’s not working simply because the margin of victory is so big as to obviate all these methods. Or is it that the tactics were never were always shaky and never going to really work in the first place?

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S4: I think it’s a combo. Obviously, if, for instance, Pennsylvania had not been called yet and we had a real question over who won, you’d be seeing a lot more emphasis on these lawsuits. And I think you’d be seeing many more Republicans sort of saying like, oh, my gosh, like this is a really big deal. We cannot call this race. We cannot say that Donald Trump has lost Pennsylvania at this point. It looks at my last check. It looks like Biden is leading by over forty five thousand votes, which is bigger than the margin Trump won by four years ago. It seems extremely unlikely that any of these lawsuits would change enough votes to change the outcome. So I think it’s a combination of like we’re going to see where the lawsuits go. We’re going to see if Republicans get any little wins. But also we just don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact. So that’s absolutely part of the dynamic you’re seeing here is Republicans kind of like will pursue it to make a point, but it doesn’t look good for Trump.

S1: Katie Meyer covers politics from the center of our political universe, which is not Four Seasons landscaping, it is as was once the case, are capital now our de facto capital of politics, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Why? Reporter Katie Meyer, thank you so much.

S4: Thank you. And thank you for giving Philadelphia and Pennsylvania to do the same.

S1: Yes. Wow. What a scrappy underdog. They need their due. That was seriously. That was excellent. I thank you for your time and expertise. Of course.

S5: Thank you for having me.

S1: And now the spiel, the big board, the latest totals, a new batch from Maricopa, new results from Allegany at this hour, Pennsylvania can report. And then it all came to this.

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S6: CNN projects Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected the forty six president of the United States. OK, we have an announcement to make. Joe Biden is president elect of the United States. CBS News projects that Joe Biden has been elected the forty sixth president of the United States. We can say that Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is on track to win the state of Pennsylvania, become the forty six president of the United States. The Fox News decision desk can now project that former Vice President Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania and Nevada, putting him over the 270 electoral votes he needs to become the forty sixth president of the United States.

S1: And that was it. But it wasn’t because for every broadcaster, it was a chance to mark the moment as a general. Marks of victory as a poet marks a turning point as a bear marks a tree over on CBS. John Dickerson was insightful. Norah O’Donnell was probing. Major Garrett got a little lost in demographics.

S7: What did we see about why suburban women were so decisive in this election?

S8: The general sense is temperament. There were many suburban women who said, you know, if you ask me and pin me down on the policies, I would say I’m probably net Trump. Yes, but I’m not in a Trump temperament. There’s part of his temperament. His approach to the presidency is a part approach to talking to the country or at the country that I find, if not offensive, so troubling that I will set my policy preferences aside to have a different. There are those who describe the presidency as the background music of American life. They want a different background music because the presidency is always with us and certainly with this president.

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S1: OK, so it’s less a repudiation of indecency and more of a Spotify playlist thing. But you know what? That’s fine. It’s plausible even over on CNN. The opinions ranged from the factual to the grandiose. Lately, every anchor on CNN has begun to mistake their program for their soapbox. I get it. Trump is excessive and dishonest and infuriating. And when you stand up to a force that’s not right, there is a temptation to become righteous. It feels good. Some feel like news persay. One guy like on CNN’s Jake Tapper, here was his elegy for an exiting president.

S9: It’s been a time of several significant and utterly avoidable failures. Most tragically, of course, the unwillingness to respect facts and science and do everything that can be done to save lives during a pandemic. It has been a time where truth and fact, we’re treated with disdain. It is a time of cruelty. We’re official in humanity, such as child separation became the official shameful policy of the United States. But now the Trump presidency is coming to an end to an end with so many squandered opportunities and ruined potential, but also an era of just plain meanness. It must be said, to paraphrase President Ford, for tens of millions of our fellow Americans, their long national nightmare is over.

S1: OK, that’s pretty eloquent. And if CNN is going to allow itself a bit of brief editorializing, that’s fine. Have Tapper do it. But it wasn’t brief. Their commentator chimed in. Their contributors chimed in. Van Jones cried. Fellow anchors made their marks. Here’s Don Lemon when he was first given a platform to explain his reaction.

S10: What being a true American is. It’s not just performative putting up flags and putting big flags in your yard. And I heard someone say, oh, I don’t understand why how Joe Biden could win because I didn’t see a lot of flags and he didn’t I didn’t see a lot of people with big events. That is not what this country is about. It’s not about performative patriotism. It’s not about who can hang the biggest flag. It’s about who has the biggest heart and who who who has class, who can turn the other cheek, who can forgive their neighbor. That’s what being a real patriot is.

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S1: No, I think that’s what being Jesus is. We elected a president who wrote the crime bill and tried to expand categories of the death penalty. We did not elect Jesus. CNN was very keen on letting us know that we just elected an old man.

S11: So this man who was the youngest man, one of the youngest, I should say, ever elected to the United States Senate, will now be the oldest man ever to take the presidential oath. Think of that. Think of that. That was Gloria Borger. But it was, as you said, Dana, a white old man who did it.

S1: That was Abby Phillips.

S11: And here again is Abby Phillips between Joe Biden, who has been in Washington for decades and decades, the old guard, the 70 something year old white man, and Abby Phillips, again, really hitting the actuarial tables this. It just so happens that Joe Biden was the guy for the moment. And he had to wait until the very end of his political life.

S1: So it is on CNN that Joe Biden is said to have an eye towards the future and a foot in the grave on MSNBC.

S8: He was just Odysseus home is the metaphor for Joe Biden, I would think, today. And that’s what he wants to do with the country, with the United States of America, is to bring all of us home.

S1: I’m actually already home. I’m just looking forward to kicking Donald Trump out of one of the major living room appliances within my home. Mika Brzezinski noted that the presidency wasn’t the only great honor that Joe Biden has won.

S7: Joe Biden received the first Brezinski award after the passing of my father for a million reasons. But the one I look to is how grounded they are. When you meet Joe and Jill Biden, you do not look at them and hear the sounds and sights, see the sights of people who are creatures of Washington. You see Scranton, you see Wilmington, you see people that are just like you and me, and that’s everybody. They are people that never got changed by Washington and grounded by that hardship.

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S1: And on and on it went. Save hero Vassall, also Caucasian, teetering on the edge of his mortal coil. Joe Scarborough of MSNBC quoted Escalus, the MSNBC reporter with the Biden campaign quoted Seamus Heaney, If I hung around too long, I was sure someone was going to quote Mark Anthony addressing the citizens of Rome. And I get it. I’ve been on TV, too. You have a little moment. You want to say something meaningful. And Donald Trump is not an honorable man. That is true. But this was like after the US hockey team won in 1980, the miracle on ice. What if Al Michaels got to say, do you believe in miracles? Yes, but then every sportscaster in America each got a crack at making his mark on the moment. Do you believe in miracles then, Curt Gowdy? It’s not enough to believe in miracles. Our young Olympians have conjured one. Brent Musburger never before has such a muddled group of youngsters face down a terrible army. Jack Buck. Some say the world shout and then fire. I say the free world has ended the FWS dominance on ice and on and on and on. It would go just like on the network’s grander and grander. They went longer and longer, more and more dramatic, circling the cotton candy machine to spin an even greater confection of sugary impermanence. This has been an unprecedented and in many ways a terrible time. And the news not all, but lots of it, sort an emotional connection with an audience asserting that they weren’t only speaking the truth, but sharing our truths. And OK, I get it, we’re all human. Probably great for ratings. But just as the Biden presidency is said to represent a return to normalcy, constraint and reserve, so too should the news take note. Let’s breathe two, three and step back from the nightly tearing of hair and rending of garments and the occasional pronouncement of doom and go back to the reporting of news. There might be a Brezinski award in it for you if you do.

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S3: And that’s it for Today Show just producer Margaret Kelly has called a press conference at the Marriott. No, no, not the hotel, the Marriott Marriott finery and Affordable Garments. It’s a lovely dress shop run out of the back of an old curbs for women. Daniel Shrader is having a gathering at the W., not the hotel. That’s what he calls the what, a burger on Route 17. You know, McDade’s B.K., the W Dolphins’ of Montgomery, is executive producer of Slate podcasts. She invites you to her kickoff party in Las Vegas at the Venetian Blinds store that closed and became a vape store and then an escape room. And now it’s just where a family of jack rabbits breed. All guests get a party favor if you could catch them. They are jumpy suckers.

S1: The gist. We are a middle aged white man, a close to half century old white man in many ways a more dead than alive white man, Peru. And thanks for listening.