His Time is Up

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S1: I’d like to warn you about the explicit nature of the show, but I’ll just hint that you know what you’re in for, making this an implicit explicit warning and.

S2: It’s Wednesday, January 13th, 2021, from Slate’s The Gist, I’m Mike Pesca on the floor of the Capitol, the congressmen and women wear masks. They all have to enter the public space only after submitting to a metal detector. So in that regard, one complaint of the mob calling it the people’s house. Well, maybe they were right. Now, our congressmen are behaving more like all of us have to behave.

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S1: One week earlier to the minute, Congress had been overrun by insurrectionists, loyal to the president, loyal at the expense of loyalty to truth, facts and democracy. Overall, 232 House members today thought about those marauding rioters, thought about the man who helped inspire them or totally inspired them. And they decided that entire dynamic was a bit objectionable. And they put that objection on the record. One hundred ninety seven, all Republicans did not mind. OK, let’s be fair. Maybe they thought it was suboptimal, but not enough to do something about. Or in the case of freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, there were more or less on board Democrats.

S3: Impeachment of President Trump today has now set the standard that that they should be removed for their support of violence against the American people.

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S1: The words were unimportant, really unintelligent. It just that they were delivered through a mask that read censored. And yet I heard him. You heard him? We all heard him. Huh. Listen, if donning a demonstrably untrue slogan will get these people to wear a mask, I say print out masks. That’s a hoax China virus and stop the steel hand out at the next Kuhnen meet up. The Democrats in Congress all spoke for impeachment. Some overflowed with anger or emotion. Many just overflowed with words as judged against the clock.

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S3: Congress must act immediately to remove this clear and present danger to our country. It’s time to impeach Donald Trump. It’s time has expired. The gentleman from New York, he could monetize national support, as it says. And you get even the last time this is the person, the gentleman’s time has expired. The gentleman from capital, New York. We must act. We must impeach Donald Trump to show the world that we will stand for gentleman from New York reserves. But our nation cannot begin to heal until there is a clear gentleman’s time has expired crostini. The gentleman’s time has expired.

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S4: I yield back. There’s a lot to say. I know. But I did want to play a couple of good arguments that offered more subtle points than the blunt ones, the true ones, but blunt ones that his words inspired violence. Words have consequences. This is the consequence we have available to us so often when making an argument, I think of the historic and the comparative. So to every Republican voting against impeachment, but who also maybe be John Lewis or quotes Martin Luther King like the Save America rally provocateur Mo Brooks did, there was Hank Johnson raising this point.

S5: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I’m certain that every member of Congress would say that if they had been in Congress when John Lewis walked across that Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Civil Rights Act was passed, that they would have stood on the right side of history. Well, Madam Speaker, today we’re going to see exactly what side of history you all are going to be on. And with that, I yield back.

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S1: That was pithy. And so is this from freshman Rep. Sarah Jacobs of California.

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S6: Madam Speaker, the response to political violence must always be accountability without accountability. More violence will follow. I learn that working at the United Nations and the State Department in conflict settings around the world and the United States Congress is now a conflict setting that is a better framing than the by now cliched.

S4: We are not a banana republic. Somewhere in Uruguay and Costa Rica are saying we are more politically stable than you guys. Maybe pundits there will warn against cheeseburger republics up north. Also speaking against the motion was a freshman member of Congress named Madison Cawthorn. I’m going to predict right here right now that Madison Cawthorn won’t have a bright political future as an elected official. I don’t think so. I think he’s going to self-immolation because when he comes across, as is this handsome young man with a nice story and inspiring story because he relies on a wheelchair since a horrible auto accident six years ago caused spinal and leg injuries. So that alone is enough to win an election or two. But he has a terrible past, besotted by many, many credible accusations of sexual predation. Also, he thinks he could get away with the most incautious, over-the-top, wrongheaded, inflammatory rhetoric before one crowd and then go in front of another crowd and make arguments that seem to. Conciliatory lets you know about what he said the first time to be helpful to you, the listener, we have intercut some of his message today, which you’ll hear first and last in this next montage with a couple of speeches he’s given in the past, including one at the rally a week ago to save America. You know, the rally that played host to what Congress has now deemed the president’s inciting remarks. Take it away, Rep. Cawthorn.

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S7: Today is a moment for members of Congress to put aside partisan politicking and place people over power.

S8: And so, everybody, I’m telling you, I’m encouraging you, please get on the phone, call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say, say, you know what, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you. Madison Gotho is coming after you. Everybody’s coming after you.

S7: But my friends, the Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice. I urge my colleagues to vote against this divisive impeachment and realize that dividing America will not save this republic.

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S1: The anti divisive Madison Cawthorn. The vote today was the most bipartisan ever for an impeachment because no Democrats voted to oust Andrew Johnson. No Republicans voted to oust Trump. Impeachment, one point zero and five Democrats, three who went on to switch parties did vote to impeach Clinton. But today, Trump got 10 Republicans to vote against him. That is notable, actually. That probably gives a number of Republican senators something of a permission structure to vote for Trump’s conviction should it come to that. But senators also have other incentives. So senators come in two categories. The ones who know their future is in the Senate and want to cultivate power to get things accomplished there.

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S4: And the senators who dream of the White House and want to use their time in the Senate to cultivate attention as a launching pad, both groups have significant incentives, more than any single House member, to push Donald Trump off the political stage as per the language of the Constitution disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States. So a conviction in the Senate plus a ban actually does serve the interest of almost all the senators, maybe not Cruz or Holly, who have staked out claims to inheriting the Trump mantle eight days ago. That meant gaining the backing of the most populous wing of the party. Today, the Trump mantle means, I don’t know, maybe their next bomb labors to be banned from Twitter. It’s unclear when the articles will be sent to the Senate. It’s unclear when or if the Senate will pursue them.

S1: It is further unclear that a retroactive ban on a former office holder is what the framers had in mind, or even that it’s what the precedent that’s out there with the with the impeachment of judges might dictate. It’s also unclear that the current courts will allow it. It is clear the Congress has delivered a meaningful rebuke that represents a notable, though not seismic, shift away from partisan paralysis. With impeachment 1.0, it was part of the trend of reducing all of Trump’s transgressions to Republicans like him. Democrats don’t, and there’s nothing we could do about it outside the ballot box. Republicans still do like Trump, but not as many, not as much, and not without costs, costs that aren’t easily managed or mortgage, but more like a bill coming due. The dynamic has shifted and it is shifting away from the ever so shifty Donald Trump on the show today in remembrance of things Trump and a brief note on if impeachment means impeachment. But first, Ian Bremmer, through his Eurasia Group, has been studying world affairs and issuing guidance and predictions on where we might be headed. No place good, but he can specifically articulate which cul de sacs of horror might be bypassed, which corridors of decay is programmed into our GPS, and we’re being inexorably led down.

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S9: Ian Bremmer of.

S2: The Eurasia Group is one of these consortiums of brilliant individuals, economists and political scientists, and they advise lots of people, including world leaders, about things like where the world is going. And in fact, every year they put together a list. And I think every year for the last few, we’ve had the president and founder of the Eurasia Group on Ian Bremmer to talk about that list this year was interesting because, of course, this gigantically unexpected event has dominated the world. And so as we look back on the last list, you can either say, wow, they missed it or if you read it generously. But I think accurately, like I do, you could say, oh, man, they nailed it. Ian Bremmer is back again. Thanks for joining me again.

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S10: Hey there. Good to see you.

S1: So in March, you and pretty early on in March, you amended your biggest threats for 2020 and of course, the coronavirus dominated. But, you know, as I look back to the original list, your top list was about dysfunction in the United States government. And, you know, that is also, in a way, the story of why the coronavirus was so horrible and hit America so much worse than it did peer countries, wasn’t it?

S11: Absolutely. I mean, the coronavirus was nowhere on the list because we put out the beginning of January. And other than some Chinese scientists, nobody knew about it until a few weeks later. But it’s very clear that the impact of coronavirus was so striking, was so accelerated on the risks that we put out back in January. And the reason that it was for the first time in the history of the first twenty three years ago we started it that we ever did an interim report is because this crisis was so massive and I thought it would be interesting to talk to talk to people about, OK, well, given that we’ve just had this massive shock, how does that affect the way we think about the underlying risks that we’ve already called? It’s important to hold yourself to account on all of this stuff. Right. And if you do the good work, you end up learning something.

S1: And I would also say as you go down the list, this is how dominant coronavirus was. Many of the other things on the 20 20 list came into play vis a vis coronavirus US China relations. That was number two on the list. The second thing to worry about in twenty twenty was a great decoupling in terms of technology and geopolitics. I mean, if we define technology as things like making viruses, my God, did that not have a huge impact on the world?

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S11: It sped up. What happens if you’d like to say that you’ve got a really big crisis in the world will come together and indeed, after the 2008 financial crisis, that is what happened after 9/11. That is what happened. That is not what happened in twenty, twenty eight, despite the scale of the crisis being a lot greater. And it’s precisely because the underlying reality of both the US domestic political environment and the global environment was so deeply dysfunctional.

S12: Well, I also think and I have been reading polls that show that in some countries like Denmark, 95 percent of the people say the country handled it well. A friend of mine sent me a Globe and Mail story about how Coronavirus really showed that Canada has the right values. It’s not the story in the United States. And maybe Americans are a certain sect of Americans. Tell themselves the story that America is more dysfunctional than peer countries. But I don’t know if it’s Trump. It really seems to be.

S10: It’s more than Trump. It’s very deeply structural. Trump has certainly made it worse. So I wrote a book and back in twenty six called The J Curve, and you may remember it. I looked I looked at the relationship between countries stability and their openness. And some countries were stable because they’re closed like China or North Korea. Others are stable because they’re open. And back when I wrote that book, that’s only 15 years ago, Japan, the United States, Germany, France, Canada, all kind of looked like equally functional, stable democracies in the course of the last 15 years. The United States and the US really alone among the wealthy industrial democracies, has seen our institutions erode structurally. They’ve become delegitimized. I mean, Trump didn’t win the election we just had. But the system is actually increasingly rigged like that he has identified and that that’s not true of other major democracies in the world today. So you could no longer lump the United States equally? No, we’re not in danger of becoming a banana republic. We’re not about to become authoritarian. We’re not turkey. We’re not even hungry. But you can’t say the US has an equivalent political system to that of a Canada or Japan and and our. Response to coronavirus really is a very useful case study to show what happens when that’s the case.

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S12: Let me go back to one observation as I’m thinking about the J curve. Those countries, the functional quasi or just flat out authoritarian countries versus the and also the functional open countries, those are the two groups of countries that did really well with coronavirus like Singapore did really well. Right. And even to some extent. Well, I don’t know, maybe maybe this is debatable and you can’t trust their information. I was going to say China, but, you know, Japan, countries that are either Nordic examples of pluralism or pretty efficient, top down quasi autocracies fared through the coronavirus crisis better than others.

S10: The countries that did well were the countries that were leading with expertise and did not politicise the virus in any way. They didn’t play politics with it. The United States I mean, we got unlucky in a lot of ways. This hit right in the depths of our electoral cycle. You’d really rather not have that happen in an incredibly divided time with a maximally divided president. And as a consequence, the blame seamanship was extraordinary. We did have some successes of the bipartisan success in the United States. Really, you didn’t see any politicization of the Fed? All the Democrat economists out there will tell you that they think that Jay Powell did a fantastic job. And you also saw at least in twenty twenty, though not this year, you saw Manoogian and Pelosi working together reasonably effectively to get us stimulus and relief out. That looks pretty comparable to the successes that you’ve seen in Europe, in Europe and Canada and Japan. But on the on the responding to the disease, we we have been a disaster and we’ve been a disaster because we have politicized every piece of this response.

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S12: So to give listeners an idea of what your list is saying this year, no one on the list of of the challenges, the risks is the number forty six with an asterisk reference to the perceived legitimacy of the Biden presidency. Number two is long covid self-explanatory. The things that international thinkers and Frieda’s think and fret about are all there, and they’re well explained contextualised climate and US China relations and Iran. But there are a bunch of data or cyber threats that show up at different points. Five is global data reckoning and the cyber tipping point is six. And somewhere down there is the tech. They’re all related, though, aren’t they? Our relationship to technology and how technology proves a risk.

S10: Sure. Technology, on the one hand, has been what’s allowed the United States to maintain and in some ways even increase our power globally, as the US and the Chinese are the only ones that have really dominant tech capacity in the world today. It’s also the way that we are are rebounding. I mean, our stock market is doing well because it’s so tech heavy. Those companies, the conversation that you and I are having today that normally we have sitting face to face, but now we have to do over zoom. It’s all tech companies, but those same tech companies are also driving an enormous amount of inequality. They are fragmenting globalization because the Chinese and others around the world want much more control of the data. They want surveillance. And it’s a very different system. So it’s not free flowing the way that we think about commerce and commodities and cash. And so for all of those reasons, you suddenly throw a massive crisis into the mix and these challenges are going to become and the opportunities that come from them become a lot sharper.

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S12: What about oil becoming a less important fuel fueling many of the world’s dictatorships? Good thing or a bad thing? Why is it a risk?

S10: I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing for the planet that we are finally focusing on getting away from the trajectory of three to four degrees or more of warming. I want us to take that seriously. We are now taking that seriously, and coronavirus has helped us to take it more seriously. But that does not mean that there won’t be conflict. And there are two types of conflict that will come from this. The first will, of course, be from the oil producing regions of the world, many of which are authoritarian governments and very badly governed. And they usually some will collapse, but some will get angry and lash out and they will collapse. If you think about Russia and the Russians are in serious decline and they’re angry about it and they blame the United States and the US, pushing for climate is only going to make them angrier and more combative. It’s not like they have a. And to decouple away from their two leading sources of hard currency stuff that comes out of the ground and stuff that blows people up, so that’s a problem. And then you also have the fact that we call the risk this year net zero meets zero. So the good news is net zero. Everyone’s focusing more on getting carbon carbon emissions down. But we still live in a G zero geopolitical environment, not the G7, not the G20, but no global leadership. So when everyone’s talking about net zero, but they’re not cooperating, well, think about what happened with the vaccines. We’ve got a pandemic. Everyone wants to build vaccines. But the US leaves the World Health Organization in the middle of pandemic. How horrible. What’s the climate analogy for that? Well, everyone’s focusing on not zero, but they’re not coordinating. In fact, they’re fighting over it. The fighting over scarce resources. They’re fighting over who pays for it. They’re fighting over dominating the technologies that will be post fossil fuel energy development like solar and wind and electric vehicle infrastructure, all of which are dominated by the Chinese. And now that the Americans are going to take that seriously, we’re not going to focus on saving the whales. We’re going to focus on dominating the Chinese in those sectors.

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S2: So there’s going to be more geopolitical competition that comes from this to Americans sometimes overrate the effect of American policy on climate change to the world’s actual climate.

S10: No, in fact, they probably underrated. And I say that because, you know, the Chinese, of course, are well over twice the amount of carbon emissions, almost three times the amount of carbon emissions as the United States, the Indians are coming up very fast and will be the dominant carbon emitter within a few decades. But the United States is by far the largest carbon emitter. Historically, this problem exists the way it does today, largely because of the United States and per capita, where the biggest problem out there in terms of economies of scale. But we are completely unwilling to accept that level of responsibility. I think we actually need to take more seriously America’s custodial role in the world that we live on.

S2: So that’s a great answer. That’s why I like having you on. I throw out a subject like, no, you’re totally wrong, but you educate me.

S10: But you’re wrong there a very interesting way. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

S2: Let’s say I wanted to craft a China policy that was as adept as China’s ambitions seem to be. What is the most and best nuanced way to think of and react to China? Because I don’t know. I’m seeing much of that in American politics.

S10: I think it starts with the recognition of just how interdependent we are and the areas where those with interdependence is great. So the way if you want to have a nuanced view, you use a traffic light and you want to take all of the places. I’m not saying that we trust the Chinese. We don’t, by the way, they don’t trust us either. But you take all of our interests and you say which of those interests are truly interdependent? Which of the interests are truly zero sum we’re fighting each other and which we’re not sure or they’re changing. And you then put them on your traffic light and the ones that are truly interdependent are green and the ones that are truly zero sum like Hong Kong status. So at the South China Sea are red. And the ones that are changing that are in between like technology are yellow. And then you say, OK, how do we create a China policy that absolutely treats those three parts of the traffic light appropriately so that we actually do drive forward with speed when we’re in a green area and we stay where the hell we are and stick to our guns, we’re in the right area. We proceed with caution, with yellow, but also with once you’ve done that, with the recognition that that that traffic light can change over time, either to our advantage or not to advantage. And it’s to our advantage to have stuff move, to have more green and yellow and less red. And how can we nudge and nudging also means getting our allies on board with us so that we have more capacity. And you don’t want to nudge a mountain, right? You want to be the mountain nudging something small. And that would be the way to. That’s probably the best analogy. I have a metaphor I have for thinking about China policy more constructively.

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S2: It should be a blinking yellow light because when it’s just the yellow light, it’s going to turn red. And I think that’s how a lot of people think about China.

S10: It’s and it’s a blink. You know, you’re absolutely right. It’s a blinking yellow improvement on the metaphor. That’s a meaningful a meaningful improvement. Give me a footnote in the twenty twenty one top risks. Well, you sure thing. What is the thing that we’re not thinking about? What is the pandemic of twenty two. One that no one was thinking about in January that could actually happen this year. I hate to say this, but let’s all hope that Biden stays fine this year. Because he’s the oldest president ever and he has health issues and this job is really hard, especially if you want to do it well and he’s going to try and there’s massive disinformation out there in this environment with Trump and Trump supporters doing what they’re doing. You really don’t want big questions about Biden that are legitimate in his first year of office.

S12: Ian Bremmer is the founder of the Eurasia Group. He’s the host of Jazira World, which has seen on many, many PBS stations. Thanks again, Ian.

S9: Good to talk to my. And now remembrances of Trump.

S1: We go live to our Michigan correspondent and just producer, Jane Arraf.

S13: John Dingell was a giant of Congress. He was beloved by many Republicans and Democrats. And when he died in February of twenty nineteen, the outpouring of grief was pretty massive, except by President Trump. You see in his retirement in 2014, then 87 year old Dingell became something of a Twitter icon. He eagerly adapted to the role as Sussie elder statesman on cultural issues like what exactly is a Kardashian? He also used Twitter to needle the president. He called Trump the angry TV guide. He said he would be remembered as the smallest and most vile and in twenty eighteen said, All I want for Christmas is January. Twenty, twenty, twenty one. No, they were not friends. So it was really no surprise that when Dingell died, Trump was less than sympathetic. What seemed beyond the pale, even for him, was this statement at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, 10 months after Dingell died.

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S14: I said, that’s OK, don’t worry about it. Maybe he’s looking up. I don’t.

S13: Here’s the thing about the John Dingell might be in hell comment, it wasn’t really about John, it was about his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. You don’t ever hear of her.

S14: Michigan Debbie Dingell. That’s a real beauty. So she calls me up like eight months ago. Her husband was here a long time, but I didn’t give him the treatment. I didn’t give him the C or the D. I could have nobody with us. You know, I gave the plus.

S13: The rally was smack dab in the middle of Trump’s first impeachment. And the point, if such a thing exists of Trump’s rant was that Congresswoman Dingell had called him to give him a, quote, profuse thank you for the memorials for John’s funeral several months earlier. And now she was trying to get him impeached. Trump lowered the flags in respect for the longest ever serving congressman, and he apparently expected some kind of a blood oath of loyalty by Congresswoman Dingell. It’s a little unclear. The attack on Congresswoman Dingell, however, can be seen as of a piece with a particular passion of Trump’s attacking women for Michigan, his open criticism of Governor Gretchen Whitmer fueled anti mask and anti shutdown rallies. Attorney General Dana Nessel recently had to tell him, quote, You’re not our type after he kept tweeting about her. Remember when Trump could tweet and when he can, he will hunt for the lowest possible blow, even diminishing the memory of a recently deceased husband because he has just never quite known how to handle any of those women from Michigan. And this has been remembrances of things Trump. Michigan’s congressional delegation consists of seven Republicans and seven Democrats. All the Democrats, including the five women, voted to impeach President Trump. So to have two of the Republicans, Fred Upton and freshman Peter Maer.

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S1: Jane Arraf reporting. And now let’s call it a last note. What I call it the spiel. Fine, but it’s a note about bass notes, as in, he will forever be known as one who has been impeached. The solemnity, the stentorian nature of the intonation around impeachment, something about the word just drags the octaves down. This was how Chris Cuomo spoke of impeachment 1.0. Back in twenty nineteen, President Trump will bear the stain of being impeached only the second in modern history. Now, there was no stigma except how Trump used impeachment as a stigmata to prove his martyrdom to the faithful. Stain came out in the wash wash of new scandals and loud election fights. Do you remember? I mean, we do you remembrances of things, Trump. But there were long periods of time where we had to be reminded. Oh, yeah, he was impeached. The word impeached wasn’t uttered in either of the presidential debates politically. The first impeachment was a symbolic act, but it was actually denuded of its symbolism because most politicians agreed it would only appeal to the members of the public who were irate about Trump already. So it just didn’t come up in a meaningful way in most meaningful fights. The entire tone the first time around was of this de facto historical importance. The talk was to my ear, so overblown, especially one who lived through the Clinton impeachment, which didn’t amount to this horrible, horrible stigma that undid Bill Clinton. He got more popular afterwards. I mean, just listen to the music that ABC used to announce its special coverage of history, history back in twenty nineteen.

S15: This is an ABC News special report, The House Impeachment Vote now reporting George Stephanopoulos.

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S1: It didn’t matter because impeachment is a political act and the politics didn’t align to make a defeated impeachment mean really anything this time, as I described it may be different, but this time I also sensed a different tone. The anchors, the people talking about impeachment, they seemed a little defeated, spent even Fox News wasn’t getting its Irish up over this one. This is an impeachment, not over the unconscionable, but over the expected. I would describe the tone as sepulchral, which means funereal, but without a scintilla of morning, gloomy, dismal toome like we are all. Well, not all. Let’s accept that Trump is diehards, but all Americans of good conscience are more shaking our heads than our fists.

S2: And that’s it for today’s show, Jane Roth produces the gist. You know that you heard a report. Stay safe out there. Margaret Kelly, just producer, is so glad I nixed the line. Madison Cawthorn, he has done more to thwart division than a fraction with a zero on the bottom. Jasmyn El-Aziz here for the math jokes here for all of them. Lisa Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts. I am working at a system of recompense called Podcasters Get Paid by the clip. Hey, by the clip. It’s like pizza by the foot or gold by the yard. The gist. This is a day that history will remember, especially Hardin and Victor Oladipo, who were desperate to prove. And thanks for listening.