The “Burner Phone” Edition

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S1: This Ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. Enjoy.

S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest from March 31st, 2020 to the Burner edition. I am David Plotz of City Cast here in Washington, D.C. If I sound a little logy, it is because I am still recovering from last night’s cocaine filled orgy. It was it was a doozy last night. It’s one. You guys must miss it. You must be missing it now that you are not in D.C. anymore.


S1: What are you talking about?

S3: What? You don’t know about them? Cocaine, wild orgies in the parking garages. Oh, my gosh. Between the key bombs that are flourishing around the head and the smell of the oil stains in the parking lot.

S4: Man, the orgies in the parking garages are not great.

S2: I have to say, I don’t like the ones in the parking garages. John, I don’t know about you.

S3: I only thought. I thought they only happened in parking garages. Sometimes I guess they could happen in the little valet booth. But Emily, obviously.

S1: The valet.

S4: Booth, you missed this. You’ve missed the story. The Madison Cawthorn, that horrible, horrible right wing.


S1: South Carolina, maybe.

S2: North Carolina has finally said the thing which enraged his fellow Republicans in the House, which is that he said in Washington, he’d people he respected had said, you know, we’re we’re doing cocaine and drug filled cocaine, cocaine filled orgies in parking.


S3: Lot and had invited him. Well first he said they were these people he we’re inviting him to orgies to do coke and then he saw people doing cocaine and then he was pressed by the Republican leader and then he said, oh, I saw a dude a hundred feet away in a parking lot. That’s what he came up to.

S2: But the Republicans are really mad at him for talking about the orgies and blaming them, saying they’re implicated in the orgies. Anyway.


S1: Rock on, Madison Cawthorn.

S4: Guess we know.

S2: Who hasn’t been the orgy. Emily back on.

S4: The road to Yale University Law School. I don’t know how.

S1: To feel about that. Actually. I felt pretty clear how I feel.

S2: About that or it’s a good cover story. John DICKERSON of CBS Sunday Morning. John wore his hat, so he was incognito at the orgy. Hey, John.

S3: Hey. I mean. Yeah. The you could go on at length about this except that he doesn’t deserve the attention. And yet on the other hand, this is the market that like, anyway, whatever.

S4: It’s just. Well, it’s it’s telling. It’s the only.


S2: Thing that has annoyed the Republican House caucus is that none of the out, deeply outrageous, terrible things that he’s said or that other people like Paul Gosar, you know, depicting murdering AOC in social media, that didn’t bother them. But this this was bother.

S1: Sex and drugs, man.

S3: Kevin McCarthy says very frustrating. He’s saying things that for which there’s no evidence. I thought, huh, really? That’s now that’s the standard now that we’re going to we’re going to suddenly.


S1: Start doing standard. It’s a good standard. Let’s apply it widely this week.

S2: We’re not going to talk about the orgies. I’m trying to keep them on the cut. We’re going to talk about President Biden’s gaffe. Did it fundamentally change the course of the Ukraine war and what’s going on in that war? Then, what is former President Trump trying to cover up about January 6th? Can anything be done to stop him? And then we’ll talk about the mysterious case of Ginni Thomas and whether Clarence Thomas should have to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases or even.


S4: Should he be impeached.

S2: Plus, we’ll have cocktail chatter.

S4: So famously.

S2: Our former boss, the founder of Slate, Mike Kinsley, said a gaffe is when a politician inadvertently speaks the truth. President Biden’s nine word gaffe.

S4: For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.

S2: The nine words he said off the cuff at the end of a of an otherwise successful trip to shore up European support for Ukraine was a classic gaffe. And it has unsettled foreign policy types who worry that this desire for regime change in Russia will be read as an actual change in American policy and will make Putin all the more likely to dig in and resist any reasonable settlement of the Ukraine war.


S4: So, John, why did.

S2: Biden say that? Or is there no actual why?

S3: Well, it’s a good question. I was about to stumble forward and say he said it because he just got over his skis. And that’s one that’s probably the most likely explanation. He was speaking in an it was an off script moment where he was was essentially saying this guy shouldn’t be allowed to stay in power because he’s such a dictator and a brute and he’s so awful. But it was a it was the wish, as the father of the thought, not the wish as the father of the policy. But the problem is, you can’t give a speech in which you talk about the absolute strict limits of the NATO’s alliance, which is defensive and not aggressive, give a whole big speech and a big trip, all making that super clear and then at the end say something that calls that into question. I wonder if it’s really the Kinsley gaffe, because wouldn’t that precise match with the Kinsley gaffe be that actual U.S. policy is regime change in Russia and therefore he let the cat out of the bag, essentially. I think this was the best read I can make is that this was a personal frustration, something everybody is saying that how can you have a leader of a country be this bloodthirsty and awful, but that it wasn’t actually policy which would have made it a more typical Kinsley gaffe?


S2: I do think this is a great case for the teleprompter. The teleprompter. It is good when people have to obey a script if what they are saying is very important. It is it’s often wise to have that. But Emily, President Trump, when he was president, said so many outrageous, ludicrous, dangerous things, but none of them matter. None of them were taken seriously. Why should President Biden be held to a different standard?

S1: Well, let’s also note that President Trump said wild things, though, this very week in which he called for Vladimir Putin to dump dirt about Hunter Biden and President Biden. So the outrages of Trump’s speech continue. Look, I mean, Biden’s being held to the kind of traditional standard for a president. He doesn’t have the sort of wild, irresponsible, sometimes crafty slash delusional deniability that Trump had because he said so many outrageous things. And also, I mean, there is a war going on and it is a moment for being very careful. And I think that with this exception, which is significant, the White House and Nero have been very disciplined and how they have been talking about the war. Though Biden was also, you know, taking it to Putin personally and calling him a war criminal and a butcher. I think that, John, you’re right, the most likely explanation is just like Biden said what he thought and my favorite Biden ism of all of this is his finally saying, I was expressing my outrage. He shouldn’t remain in power, just like, you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things. That would be a better world. But it’s not the world we live in. And you’re not supposed to say that about a leader of a major country who is super paranoid and whose paranoia may then fuel more violence.


S3: But you know what I wonder is so clearly this was a gaffe, something you shouldn’t say off message got in the way is representative of a of of I think a particular strain of Biden problem which is on foreign policy. He did this during his press conference before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in which he just got a little fancy about talking about the kind of response. And they had to clean that up, too. I think when you’ve been involved in foreign policy, as long as he has, perhaps he feels a little overconfident about what he can and can’t say. But I really wonder how much of a blunder this was. I mean, Putin is clearly deranged and has a set of ideas that are impervious to facts and reality. And so the paranoia that he feels about the encroachments of the West, I mean, it was it in part, if not in whole, the reason he launched this war. So a single statement seems to me to be not that much more contributory to his paranoia. So I wonder if, while this was clearly a gaffe, I don’t I don’t really know yet how much of a gaffe it really was.


S1: I mean, isn’t part of the problem that it just gives Putin or whoever wants to defend Putin or just criticize Biden an excuse to do so? I mean, if it if it’s a very small drop in the ocean of Putin’s grievances, like you sort of pretend and blow it up.

S3: Yeah. You don’t want to make an unforced error. And that is definitely what this is. I wonder what you all think about Mike Morell, the former CIA director, said. What might be more dangerous is is that Biden re-upped the idea that this is totalitarianism versus freedom and that if there’s an ultimate peace agreement, it’s probably not going to be able to be something that fits into that frame. That that’s too grand a way of thinking about the U.S. obligations in the world and that that actually boxes the U.S. and its allies in, because there might be a lot of people who are willing to go with a peace deal that allows, you know, as bad as it may be, Putin to get away with some things and that that that U.S. policy is what’s more constraining than this single gaff.


S2: Yeah. I mean, I’ve been thinking about this question about where what the disposition of the peace agreement is going to be. I mean, all wars and and this war will end, whether it ends in a month or 25 years from now, we have no idea at this moment.

S4: But what should.

S2: We be rooting for, Emily, in terms of a peace agreement? Should we just be rooting for the Ukrainians to decide what the disposition of it is? That it is it’s not up to us to say the agreement needs to be X, Y and Z. It’s up to the Ukrainians to decide, like if they’re willing to give up, you know, will they give up all of the Donbass region and and give up Mariupol and and just say, that’s fine, but as long as this war is over, that’s okay.

S1: It is up to Ukraine and Ukraine’s sovereignty, and they’re the ones defending themselves. Since we’re not fighting the war and NATO’s not fighting the war, I’m not sure how NATO’s in the US justifies dictating tougher terms. At the same time, it’s a big deal for Russia to have a land bridge to the to Crimea. There’s lots of natural gas and shale in that part of Ukraine. I have learned. Let’s not have any illusions that these were things I knew before yesterday, but it seems actually like significant strategic theme.

S4: Same.

S1: Okay. But I sort of assumed, oh, it’s just a little piece of the country. It’s only like what’s less than 10% of their territory. Fine. Maybe it’s fine, but it’s not fine. Actually, it’s like a big strategic difference whether Ukraine continues to control that area. So I do think that there are these longer term consequences for Ukraine and for the world. And, you know, the main thing is, can Ukraine be safe going forward? You know, will Ukraine in some way jeopardize its own future by making too much of a compromise right now? And yet, like this war’s devastating?


S2: I mean, there is this question about like, is the goal to make it appealing for Putin to negotiate or is the goal to make it so miserable that Putin negotiates? And I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done to make Putin.

S4: Miserable.

S2: Like he is clearly willing to tolerate an enormous amount of suffering within Russia itself. His control of information sources within Russia is so profound that he doesn’t have to worry too much about popular support at this point. The kind of oligarchic revolution that I think some people wanted, that with Putin’s oligarchs overthrowing him in order to to restore their yachts and restore their their apartments in London doesn’t seem to have happened yet. And so it is. It’s hard to see how Putin means already gone so badly for him. It’s not clear that any amount of badness in this war would make him retreat from it and give up on it. And that’s a very worrisome position. I feel like.

S3: Yeah, he has a notoriously high pain threshold and so it’s his pain threshold against the allied countries. And and then obviously what the Ukrainians can withstand, they’ve already withstood so much. Two things I would add. One, the effect this is having on the world food situation, the World Folk Food Program buys 50% of the grain it needs from Ukraine. Prices at the World Food Program have gone up $71 million a month because of this conflict. Countries like Egypt and Lebanon get 80% of their grain from from Ukraine. I got all of this out of The New York Times. So again, that like Emily, I’m not pretending to have had lifetime knowledge of this, but when you when you think of the additional effects and the pressure that puts on ending this war. And finally, the other point is, again, quoting Mike Morrell. He talks to a lot of companies all over the world. They are all putting pressure on their leaders to end these sanctions because they are affecting companies and economies and all these different countries, which is part of the reason Biden was over in Europe last week, trying to keep everybody on board with these sanctions. But there’s a great deal of pressure. If it’s pain versus pain, there’s a lot of pressure on the other parts of the world to come to some kind of agreement to just be done with the effects of this war.


S4: But why, God, we shouldn’t. And these sanctions, my goodness.

S2: Should these sanctions should not end.

S4: You cannot have some.

S2: Someone who behaves this recklessly and with this much impunity gets away with it.

S4: It just can’t it can’t be it.

S2: Destroys the very kind of fundamentals of the system. The system becomes what and Applebaum has been warning us about it becomes a sort of an autocrats playground. If that’s the case. Yeah. Norms and rules and and sort of the the proper, correct behavior and sovereignty are illusory.

S4: That’s terrible. We we got to continue the work.

S3: But the question then is what’s what’s the line? So, for example, if Putin retreats to the Donbass region, does all of this pressure create a situation, a diplomatic situation in which countries say, look, it’s not good, obviously it’s not good, but let’s take a deal that gives him that, especially if somehow there’s pressure from inside Ukraine to take such a deal. All of these pressures, it’s not so much giving up sanctions for nothing. It’s giving up sanctions for not very much. Right?

S2: Right. I think if the Ukrainians come out and say, we we want this war over, we want you to stop sanctioning Russia so that they’ll behave themselves. I think that’s okay. I think that’s okay. It’s a not a great solution, but the Ukrainians have to ask for it.

S1: Well, also, it would seem to me that the last part of this that Ukraine will want to end are the sanctions. Right. Ukraine will want the bombing to stop, but they’re not going to want the support and the punishment the sanctions allow for to end quickly. Right. I mean, that should be the last thing and maybe it should continue for longer. I mean, there is this problem, which is obviously we’re talking about of like short versus medium and long term results and the lessons and what Putin does the next time and just all the signals and the problems of deterrence here.


S2: But I think the sanctions will be part of whatever the peace solution is because Russia will not agree to it unless the sanctions are lifted. Yes. So it has to be part of it.

S4: All right. One one question that I.

S2: Have about how this war is going. And I don’t know that any of us will have the answer, but I am curious why there’s been no Ukrainian campaign of sabotage and terrorism within Russia itself. Why have the Ukrainians not tried, at least in some small way, to take the war into Russia? I assume they’re Ukrainians who live in Russia. I assume that they’re. That border is porous enough that their Ukrainians could get in and there could be some attempts at it actually causing havoc in Russia itself. But there hasn’t been. And I wonder if that’s, you know, they feel like, oh, they’ll lose they’ll lose moral support of the world or they’re just unable to do it or why?

S1: I mean, if you’re trying to appeal to sympathy from the Russian people, I’m not sure that that is a smart move. Right. I mean, that kind of sabotage and guerilla warfare, you have to carry it out for a really long time. And in the limited examples I can think of or anyone succeeds, they do it on their own territory. It doesn’t work very well when it’s incursions into the other country, so maybe they’re making a cost benefit decision about not doing it.

S2: Slate Plus members, you get a bonus segment on the Gabfest every week. We do a bonus segment this week, very useful, extremely useful one that’s going to change your life. It’s if you needed to go into hiding, how would you do it? We’re going to talk about that. So go to Slate, that concept Gabfest Plus and become a member today. Robert Costa and Bob Woodward in The Washington Post revealed that the January six committee has phone records from the White House that show a seven hour and 37 minute gap in President Trump’s former President Trump’s official phone logs from that day. There’s also a report in The Guardian that. President Trump did make phone calls during that gap. We already knew that that the gap existed. We knew that there were phone calls during that gap, but that some at least some of the calls he made during that period were made with White House phone suggesting that, in fact, the official records may have been tampered with, that those calls were never recorded. John, we already know that Trump made a lot of phone calls during those 7 hours and 37 minutes when he allegedly made no phone calls. And he is presumption was he’s using burner phones and using phones that wouldn’t be logged. And that’s that’s a habit of his. It’s well known.


S4: What what is.

S2: Surprising about this seven hour and 37 minute gap, or is that not really surprising or important?

S3: This whole thing matters because of Donald Trump. Right. Because you have a president at the center of two things. One, the instigation of the riot, and then two, the dereliction of duty as commander in chief and doing nothing about the riot for a couple of hours. Those are two of the big things that are at issue in that they’re trying to find out. And so 7 hours of missing behavior by the key person involved in those two dereliction of duty is crucial. But it’s not surprising because he came into office undermining and undercutting the Records Act and the various norms and laws that rule presidential records that then filtered out throughout the administration, advisers using their own private email accounts, using messaging systems that deleted messages shortly after they were sent. And so the question is whether this was standard operating procedure or whether they did something specific to cover up in the moment or cover up when the records were supposed to be handed over to the January six committee. But all of that is is really important in terms of a, what he did or didn’t do and then whether there’s a new set of crimes here or potential crimes, which is a cover up after the fact.

S4: So there were other.

S2: Shockers this week in the January 6th investigation. Emily, there was Judge Carter finding in a ruling about a case involving Trump lawyer John Eastman that evidence strongly suggests that Trump committed crimes of fraud to overturn the election related to whether there was attorney client privilege on their communication. Another sort of utterly surprising or unsurprising fact that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, is accused pretty credibly by one of the January six planners of literally helping to plan to instruct the January 6th crowd to descend on the Capitol. That’s always been depicted as something totally separate from the White House, had nothing to do with any of the the the organizing of the actual speech that President Trump did. But here you have an accusation that Mark Meadows was, in fact, telling the planners, here’s how to go to the Capitol. Here’s where you should go to the Capitol with the Eastman ruling. Emily, is that what does that mean? What does the Judge Carter’s finding mean for both Eastman and for Trump?


S1: On its face, what Judge Carter’s ruling means is that Eastman is going to turn over the documents he was trying to prevent from turning over because Eastman decided not to appeal. Which is interesting because if this turned into a question about whether any of Ginni Thomas’s texts or other communications were, you know, part of what Eastman might have to overturn in that case were to have been appealed to the Supreme Court. That would have been a mess for Clarence Thomas to preview our next topic. So it’s interesting that we’re not going to see that showdown happen. Instead, Trump and Eastman are going to see these materials turned over. What you know, this sort of bigger legal question is about criminal liability for former President Trump and other folks surrounding him. Judge Carter ruled that Trump was likely to have committed a crime based on a much lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt. Where in a civil proceeding, this is just about whether you’re turning evidence over. It’s not a criminal finding. It does, however, I think, puts more pressure on the Justice Department to think about or explain why there was no criminal investigation. If indeed that is the case, it’s possible there is such an investigation. It’s part of the January six, you know, wider set of activities of the FBI. On the other hand, we haven’t really heard anything about specifics from the Justice Department and criminal liability. And so I sort of doubt the idea that it’s like all quietly going on.

S2: You got the idea that there is quite some quiet investigation of Trump, that we.

S1: Don’t know this in particular. Yeah. I mean, I think if the Justice Department was seriously looking into this like someone, Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, someone would have squawked because they would try to use it, as, you know, against the Biden administration by speaking up. I would think we would know.


S3: And you don’t think those subpoenas this week or the reporting in the Post about the subpoenas that that suggest that they’re looking at the funders of January six, that that doesn’t suggest that there might be more going on than we than we’ve known.

S1: Well, no, that’s good. I’m glad you brought that up. I mean, that suggests they’re widening their net and it’s possible they’re moving up the chain, which is sometimes how criminal investigations go. So I’m glad you reminded me of that. I just don’t think we have evidence yet that the investigation is going up to Trump himself. I really recommend this piece in Lawfare by Ben Wittes about Carter’s ruling. I learned a ton from it and then also raises more technical problem for the Justice Department, which has to do with the Office of Legal Counsel and the standard for whether a law of general applicability also applies. The President. If it doesn’t expressly state that it does, and if the law arguably involves the President’s constitutional duties, it seems like a terrible Office of Legal Counsel opinion to me. I absolutely want the President to be bound by all those laws. But that’s sitting there, too. And I guess the last thing I’ll say about this that I find really helpful is this was for me clarifying in reminding me what the crimes at issue here are. We’re talking about two federal statutes. One forbids the corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding, and then the other criminalizes conspiring to defraud the United States. Those are real federal crimes. We should not want people to do those things, and I just think it’s important to kind of keep that front and center. I think for me, the thing that keeps intruding or complicating this is that calls to gather and protest in Washington like that’s a classic form of free speech. And so there is some trickiness in thinking about when the planning became something that was conspiring to obstruct the vote count and potentially violent, as opposed to just like planning a protest. And of course, that’s the excuse of all the organizers, like, oh, we were just going to walk and we didn’t really have any other plans. And I think a lot of evidence has come to light that that’s not true.


S4: Well, I don’t think I mean, to me.

S2: The dangerous obstruction of the of the vote count did not occur with the rioters, because I actually think once the rioters entered the picture like it was, much more likely the vote actually was going to proceed and it would go well. I mean, it was it was going to get delayed by their chaos. But the chaos made it more likely that Biden’s election would be affirmed. I thought it was that to me that the dangerous part is trying to strongarm Pence and all the other legal back channels. Those are the truly dangerous things that Trump was doing that are more criminal than. Encouraging the mob.

S1: Yeah, you’re totally right about that. And then you get into this problem of criminal liability, which I find deeply frustrating, which is that Trump is so semi supposedly delusional that maybe he didn’t really believe he’d lost the election, even though every single adviser he had who was worth anything was making that very clear. He had a bunch of other people whispering in his ear, telling him otherwise. Maybe he just didn’t really get it. And so he didn’t have the requisite criminal mindset to be held liable in that. I just find deeply frustrating because it’s like he gets off the hook in this way for being, like, uniquely irresponsible.

S3: Well, but isn’t that part of what is so interesting? Intriguing. And we’ve already learned something about I mean, it already looks like Eastman basically was knowingly advising breaking the Electoral Count Act in his exchange with Pence’s lawyer.

S1: And yes, he called that a relatively minor violation of federal law, I believe so.


S3: Part of part of what might be disclosed in the 7 hours as they piece it back together and is they have interviews with people, is the knowingness that the president knew. And even if there’s not criminal liability, it’s worth remembering there is an entire system that has guarded the President Trump in his breaches with norms and laws all across his presidency, and that even after a multiple, multiple, multiple instances of knowing that what he was doing was wrong, people rushed to his defense and that that was going on all the way up until the inauguration, even when it became as acute as having a riot on the Capitol. And so. This reminds the extent to which it was both centered on the president, but also that there were a host of enablers who are participants, many of whom are still in Congress. And then finally, he’s still the leader of the Republican Party and the likely nominee for 2024, despite all of the failures. And and these aren’t just small failures. This is according to Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who used to speak more plainly about this in the immediate aftermath of the sixth. This is not only instigating the riot, but then failing to do anything once it happened. And despite those two critical failures of doing his job, he’s the nominee or he’s the likely nominee of the party.

S4: I would also note.

S2: That one thing about the seven hour gap is it does point to state of mind. You don’t create a gap. You don’t hide what you’re doing if you don’t think what you’re doing is wrong. If Trump knows that what he’s doing is wrong, he you would think he would he would attempt to cover it up. And that’s what a big gap in the record suggests. I want to end this topic actually with a kind of philosophical question that the three of us have argued about repeatedly, with me being a very unsatisfying person to argue with about it. I find myself we are now more than a year past January 6th, just months away from the January six investigation in the House being shut down and memory holed by the Republicans once they take control of the House. We have a Republican Party that is completely unwilling to hold its leader to account. Completely unwilling to do it. We have an overwhelming knowledge about what happened. Not all the knowledge. We know a huge amount about what happened, but yet there is no accountability. We have all truth, no reconciliation and no accountability.


S4: What as a nation can we do? What can be done given the situation? You have completely different.

S2: Universes that people are living in, with one side simply refusing to acknowledge the truth of what happened or acknowledging it and being like it doesn’t matter.

S4: So how can.

S2: We actually get beyond.

S4: This?

S1: Well, I don’t know about beyond. I’m not ready for beyond. I mean, I think that what the January six committee is doing is really important. And yes, it’s drip, drip, but it’s super important set of drips. And actually, we don’t have the whole truth or really anything close to it. And the more we learn, the worse it gets. And they should keep going. And second of all, we should be protecting the country from another president like this who usurps power and threatens our whole system in this way. And we have not done that. And I’m sorry to raise that at a moment where there is such partisan polarization, because it means that I’m effectively telling the Democrats they have to spend their political capital and their legislating time on this boring structural matter that they don’t seem super interested in, especially in the Senate and in the White House. But it’s really, really important if Trump is going to run for office again, we should have more protections in place otherwise, like otherwise. What I mean, it just seems really obvious that the conditions would be ripe for this to repeat were he elected, and that it’s not a risk we should take.

S3: The only answer I can give to you, David, that is is not a satisfying one either, is that I think I’m quoting Stephen Skolnick, the political scientist at Yale here, where he looked at the movements in political realignment and talked about charismatic dissenters, which is essentially the way this changes, is if some Republican who’s not one of the usual suspects, a mitt Romney or even a Susan Collins, or comes out and says, and you saw this a little bit with Karl Rove, although he’s even in the in the usual suspect category. When he wrote in The Wall Street Journal several around the January 6th anniversary, he said there is a greater burden on the Republican Party to clean up the systemic behavior that was was built up and calcified around Donald Trump. That it requires that there’s a greater responsibility for Republicans and for someone who you wouldn’t expect to say, you know what, this has gone too far, not just his specific behavior, but the blind eyed turning the I didn’t see the tweet, the redefinition of the norms of the presidency in order to protect themselves, that somebody needs to stand up and say that has to change.


S1: I guess I’m skeptical, John, that it could be a charismatic dissenter or even like three, because, like you said, there is a small group of usual suspects and we’re already discounting them. You need group action here, right? That’s the whole problem. It’s always been the problem the Republicans have had in this with with Trump. Yeah.

S3: Charismatic dissent only works if the charismatic dissenter is so charismatic that they pull other people with them. I mean, as in Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor, GREENE and the others behave the way they do because you can be an independent person with a massive following and get lots of money and not rely on the connectivity of party that used to create movements of people rather than individuals. So I agree. It’s it’s the only thing I can come up with. And I recognize that it’s a weakness here. But I guess my big point is that the obligation overwhelmingly rests on the Republican Party.

S1: Trump is the charismatic center of the party, and as long as that’s true, the dissenter would have to be more loom larger than Trump. And that is really hard to envision.

S2: Yeah, I mean, I do think when the history of this era is written. Many, many centuries from now or many, many decades from now, it is going to be like.

S1: Your faith.

S4: That failure.

S1: Many, many centuries from now.

S4: That’s good. Well, I think there will be somebody. It may be institutional failure of the Republican Party. Well, it’ll be like, you.

S2: Know, how we write the history of Rome and and the the the collapse of the Senate and the failure of Republican leadership in the Senate. And that was all written 1500 years later or actually more like 1900 years later. Well, that’s what’s going to happen. They will this is what this is a documented era. And they will write 1900 years from now about the failure of our Senate, the failure of our Republicans, and the way in which extremists have cowed and written out the reasonable people. And the reasonable people failed to rise to the occasion because it’s very difficult to do it. And the few people who did have suffered enormously. I mean, you think about Mike Pence. Mike Pence is one small act.


S4: Small and.

S1: Small and extremely obligatory.

S4: Libertarian. But, you know, frankly, like required a bit of courage. Like it did require a little bit of courage. And for that one small act of little bit of courage, I mean, Mike Pence is persona non grata. You have Mitch McConnell who’d.

S2: Given up on this. Who? Mitch McConnell who stood up a little bit. Kevin McCarthy stood up around January six, totally capitulated. I mean, it’s what’s his name in Georgia now being.

S4: Grand Rapids being phased.

S2: Out. Raffensperger and and the governor.

S3: Brian Kemp.

S4: Both being flayed.

S3: Although there is.

S4: Some that are doing what is only moderately right.

S2: I mean, it’s the party is it is an incredible failure engine and. This country will not survive it.

S3: I suspect there is some evidence that their camp might survive despite the fact Donald Trump and is trying to run Perdue against him.

S1: He’s raising much more money than David Perdue, who Trump has backed to unseat him.

S2: Jeff, as listeners, do you know that we’re doing a new episode every month called Gabfest Reads, where every month one of us is sitting down with the author of a book that we really like and having, we hope, an interesting, engaging, slightly deeper conversation about that book. And we’ve now done it several times and we have one coming up on April 17th. I’ll be talking to Amy Bloom, the author of In Love.

S4: It’s a really complicated.

S2: Book that’s beautiful and funny and enraging all at once, which is hard.

S4: To pull off. So get the.

S2: Book, read it with us and listen in. April 17th in the new Gabfest reads Gabfest. Read three three. It’s going. Can you get a sound effect?


S4: Do you.

S2: Think you.

S4: What to make.

S2: Of Jenny Thomas? What to make of Jenny Thomas? Emily. That is the question.

S3: You can make a hat or a brooch.

S2: A hat. I bet she has a hat and approach. Jenny Thomas seems like a woman who would have a hat and a.

S1: Brooch and strands or a.

S3: Pterodactyl.

S2: I get the reference.

S4: There’s one other quality that came off the wire. Johnny, what can you make out of this? This? Well, I think a cap or a brooch. A pterodactyl.

S3: Yeah. Okay. I just want to make sure that anybody who hadn’t gotten the reference on the first two that I completed the scene.

S1: I spent time.

S2: In a Turkish prison.

S4: Okay.

S2: Sorry, Emily. Go ahead.

S1: That’s okay. I’m glad the references are continuing to roll out. I. Yeah. I mean, the texts that were released from Jenny Thomas are bananas. Like, they’re both bananas in the way that they reveal her thinking, her lack of punctuation, and then the way in which her role, you know, just puts Clarence Thomas in this very compromised position. I just it’s really remarkable. It’s remarkable that he did not recuse himself, in particular in the case that already has reached the Supreme Court about whether the January six committee could have documents. You have to decide to imagine that he did not know that Jenny Thomas was playing this kind of role. She has said that he didn’t know anything about her political activities. On the other hand, he has talked about them being basically like melded into one being. I believe those are his three. I mean.


S4: How how preposterous.

S2: Is it? Sorry.

S4: Yes. Can I just.

S2: Interrupt on this?

S4: I mean, it is it is ludicrous for people to.

S2: Think that they are telling the truth when they say, oh, they don’t consult. They’re having independent, professional lives.

S4: You couldn’t you.

S2: Never believe that of the.

S4: Clintons. Why would anyone.

S2: Believe that of any married couple, least of all one whose.

S4: Overt political actions are so deeply aligned? The Kabuki of pretending that they’re not aligned is infuriating and weird. It’s like. Except yes, they undoubtedly they talk about all this stuff.

S3: Well, also, every.

S4: It’s crazy to pretend.

S1: Is that the phrase you’re for?

S3: Yeah, well, all right.

S1: And yet we have no direct evidence of it at the same time.

S4: But happens in the. In the marital.

S2: Bed, in the marital bedroom, in the marital text chain.

S3: But also, I would add to this that if you read the texts, one other thing it’s strange is, is one’s attempt to come up with a metaphor to explain just how bananas they are. I mean, it’s not just it’s it’s not just one bunch of bananas. It’s not just one tree of bananas. It is a plantation of bananas stretching beyond the limits of human sight. The Hubble telescope couldn’t see the size of the banana plantation that this is on because in these texts she’s talking about the the white hat sting operation with watermarked ballots that are going to that. Are you going to take that’s going to take place in 12 key battleground states. And Biden and his his crime family are going to be sent to Guantanamo. This is the furthest edge of madness and the rapidity and and pelting that that the White House chief of staff is taking from this constant this constant number of text, which then is also framed in apocalyptic terms. This is literally second coming language being used in the fight between good and evil. So it is impossible to imagine that anybody who has lost their senses in believing the things that are the subject of the tweets and who says it with apocalyptic fervor is at home, struck mute around their best friend and spouse. It does indeed strain credulity.


S1: Yeah, right. So then we’re left with this institutional problem, which is even larger than the particular problem of Thomas’s role on the court. And that is the fact that Supreme Court justices individually decide when to recuse themselves, when not to hear cases, and there is no review of their decisions. There is just zero institutional accountability, and that is just a terrible way to do business. These are incredibly powerful people. They should not be able to make these decisions with no way to review them. The court needs to come up with its own rules that bind at least bind the justices to the same code of judicial ethics that other judges have to follow. And that also comes up with some way to review the decisions they’re making. They could put a bunch of retired Supreme Court justices in charge of reviewing.

S4: There are no retired Supreme Court justices.

S2: They’re all dead because these people stay on the court forever. So Stephen.

S1: Breyer is about to be retired.

S3: Going to be a man of.

S1: Hopefully not dead. And David, you’re a really good at coming up with things for Stephen. So you can just do a whole riff on it and we’ll be all set. You could have appellate court judges. There are there are ways this is not this is a problem that has solutions and they just choose not to solve it.

S3: And the bigger problem is one that John Roberts talked about when he got into a spat with President Trump and President Trump referred to Obama judges and and Roberts says there are no Obama judges in judicial independence is so important. And then at the end of the year, when he wrote his, I guess, the letter from the chief justice, which I think goes out with his Christmas cards, he said that the independence of the judiciary was was under threat and under attack. Amy Coney Barrett gave a speech at the McConnell Institute about saying that that judges should bend over backwards to make sure that people don’t misunderstand political or personal connection with their rulings. Why? Because if the court is undermined by people thinking it’s just another place for politics and personal influence, than the rulings won’t have any weight in the American system. And if John Roberts wants to keep talking about the Supreme Court as the only functioning branch of government, then it will no longer be the functioning branch of government. And so this goes well beyond or I should say, Thomas’s individual decisions about his relationship with his wife in the cases before him have this much larger impact which existed before this case, before these texts were learned. This was a concern of many members on the court, including the chief justice.


S2: I bet Roberts is just furious about this.

S1: But. Right, but is he doing anything about it? He can’t do anything about this particular instance, but he could push to change the rules.

S4: Why is Ginni.

S2: Thomas famous and influential?

S4: She does seem.

S2: Like a garden variety, lunatic fringe person.

S4: Is she influential.

S2: For anything in and of herself, or is she influential simply because she is not simply she is married to a very influential, powerful person and.

S4: Who who.

S2: More importantly, is at the center of a web of clerks and their allies, a conservative legal world and policy world. That is very important. And I.

S4: Don’t understand why her.

S2: Voice would be one that anyone would care about.

S1: I mean, it’s not that she’s an individual, but she seems like a good organizer. I mean, she’s put together these awards ceremonies that have been influential in the right wing movement. She seems like she gathers smart and influential people around her. She’s a kind of magnet, and she has been an effective activist in a number of ways. She’s raised a lot of money. It’s hard to know whether all that would have happened completely independently, but I think in her world, she has real sphere of influence. I don’t think we have to discount that.

S4: You know, it’s.

S2: Interesting a bit there is this accusation that that Republicans have been making incessantly about the deep state, the Democratic deep state. And and whenever that accusation I hear that accusation, I’m right. I’m like, oh, yeah, because it holds true for you friends. The organized conservative movement on especially as it relates to law, is the most effective network of power in the United States. The Federalist Society, the conservative Clark’s the kind of effort to take over the Supreme Court.


S4: It is an incredible.

S2: Triumph of networking and and planning. And not everybody is working with everyone at every minute. And it’s not all a single plan, but the overall kind of effect of it is it is like when you talk about, oh, that’s the deep state.

S4: That’s the deep state. That’s like the legal state.

S2: Is it’s kind of organized around that, that world. And it was.

S4: Really well.

S3: And conservatives had to create these external structures because they don’t have the actual deep state, which is to say the bureaucracy is not filled with a bunch of movement conservatives. Hopefully it’s not filled with a bunch of movement liberals either. It may have its own challenges. It may be worthy of of of comment and criticism for its own reasons. But the conservatives felt like, oh, my gosh, there’s this huge these all these apparatus, the media, the bureaucracies all against us. So we have to create our own structures, super successful in doing that. And when you’re a politician, those structures are what create the pressure campaigns that get other lawmakers to work it keep stuff on the front page that that raise money. They’re super important to get elected and to carry out politics that ends up creating the pressure that ends up getting Supreme Court nominees confirmed, but also gets policy through. And in the old days, used to make senators go with you or go against you, shall we? So she had a lot of power in all these ways that are super useful. Can I just say one other quick thing about the investigation, which is that these texts end in, I think, November, which means they didn’t, obviously. And she was full of passion. So what happened? All the other texts did. Did Mark Meadows just not turn them over? Does the committee have them? And they’re not telling us. And the reason these matter is not just because any old person can sending crazy texts to to a White House chief of staff. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it does suggest that Virginia Thomas probably has a lot. Knowledge about what the White House was up to and could be a good fact witness distinct from her own issues that she may create for her, her husband on the bench.


S1: I just want to go back to your point about the Federalist Society, David, because I think another key part of this to point out is that the people who created the Federalist Society in the eighties also didn’t have the law schools. They could see that law schools were moving in a kind of mainstream liberal direction, and they created this basically like rebellion. I mean, that’s not really the right word because it’s so establishment. Tyrion Is that a word anyway? But you know what I mean. They’re it’s not like they were all there.

S2: Counter-Reformation.

S1: Thank you. They were in their suits having meetings, not like barnstorming in any way, but they managed to be incredibly effective with this network. That did a couple of things. It raised a ton of money from people interested in the goals of changing the composition of the court. It also harnessed the really important and crucial free speech protections in universities to allow for lots of meetings and discussions and debates. And, you know, I bring this up in part because Yale Law School has had a whole set of questions around a Federalist Society event recently involving the alliance defending freedom, which is this really right wing group. And while I absolutely support the right of the Federalist Society and ADF to speak at law school, I think it’s completely essential to universities to have those free speech rules when you create a fair forum to let people talk. It is also really interesting that an organization that in a lot of ways has very anti-democratic goals, right? I mean, you could argue we’re talking at this point about a form of minority rule. It’s able to be effective in part by taking advantage of the freedom universities create to express, to raise money, to meet and organize.


S2: And taking advantage. They don’t take advantage of it. They use it like taking advantage implies that it’s there for that purpose.

S1: I don’t mean take advantage in a pejorative way.

S4: It’s it’s their.

S1: Right. Like it’s their it’s part of their strategy. And we need it to be there for all kinds of reasons. But it is also having this impact.

S4: I do think it’s like it is.

S2: An interesting question about whether whether they’re radicals or whether they’re conservatives.

S4: Like if you.

S2: Looked at this as a personality type, are the people who are kind of creating this network, are they the radicals of our time or are they actually the conservatives of our time?

S1: That’s a great question. I mean, they are trying to to wait. So I guess let’s see. I mean, there’s can we have it both ways here? I mean, they are extremists, right? Their views are outside the mainstream in terms of how they want to change the law. They are trying to freeze the country in place in a lot of ways or pull it back to an earlier time. And so in that sense, you could argue that they’re sort of Burkean conservatives, right.

S3: Can you get to be revanchist? But if you do, if you do radical things in the service of limited conservatism, then then you’re not a conservative. If you’re breaking the rules, then it seems to me you can’t say you’re conservative just because you think your goals are. And also, by the way, in the end, lots of people have traded their what would have been traditionally conservative ideas for power.


S1: That seems right.

S4: I go back.

S2: To sort of a David Plotz principle, which I come back to all the time, which is that who’s having fun? And I, I think when I look at what the right has done around the law there, they’ve had a lot of fun doing it. And the left needs to find a way to have as much fun. Doing what they want to do as the rate has had recently. And once they do, they’ll they’ll they’ll be able to kind of win this back. But for now, the Conservatives got it.

S4: Let us go to cocktail.

S2: Chatter when you’re having a drink with a radical friend, a conservative friend, a authoritarian friend. A communal friend. What are you going to be chattering about? John Dickerson.

S3: I’m me. It’s a pastiche. A little bit. So I’ll just do three quick things. One is Great Town Mysteries this week about the oddities within Wikipedia. So go read the Times piece. And the other is Morning Brew, which is a one of the many digests I get, and it’s more about business in the markets, but has all kinds of has a great breadth of odd and interesting things in it. And then finally, I’ve been playing Elden Ring, which is a video game which has been mentioned a lot in the world because it’s this massively open environment. And I haven’t played video games kind of successfully for a long time, and this has been a wonderful distraction and respite from this weary world. So thank you to the creators of Elden Ring and anybody who is into that, that kind of immersive experience. I would I would recommend it if you’ve been away for it for a while, as I had been.


S2: That is a real potpourri of a chatter that was I don’t know if I would think a cocktail party whether that would be.

S3: Yeah, you you’d. Well I would.

S2: Have enjoyed that.

S1: I’ve been like that for sessions. It would be great.

S4: It would be keep turning away John’s turn.

S3: I think my attempt was really to try to remove everybody from the room by talking about three super random things. Find something to disappoint everyone.

S2: Emily, what’s your chatter?

S1: I was in the Netherlands last week, which was so much fun, and I went to the Anne Frank House, which is a very moving memorial to Anne Frank. And this visit and conversations I had while I was in the Netherlands filled me with rage about a book called The Betrayal of Anne Frank that was published either earlier this year or late last year, which is based on, according to a lot of Dutch historians, extremely shaky, maybe just like zero evidence and making an accusation that it was a prominent Jewish notary who betrayed Anne Frank’s family. The Dutch publisher has apologized for the book and pulled it from the shelves. There is now a 69 page refutation that six historians and academics have written debunking the book’s claims. And I just found myself so frustrated. I feel like if you are going to make this kind of accusation, you should really, really, really know that you are basing it on credible evidence. Like there are certain things that are really explosive and you have an extra responsibility and it just seems like this book vs suppose it investigators did not do that at all and I just it just it just really really frustrated and infuriated me, frankly. So don’t read this book, The Betrayal of Anne Frank, but do go to the Anne Frank House if you are ever in Amsterdam.


S2: Okay. I’m going to do a potpourri of two.

S4: One. Have you guys.

S2: Heard of the HBO show by foreigners or by foreigners?

S4: Now, have either of you.

S1: Yes. Yes. Is it good?

S4: It’s wild. It’s. It’s wild. It’s kind of great. So it’s it’s this HBO show.

S2: There are two seasons of it. I’ve just finished the first season about Norway.

S1: Right?

S2: It’s about Norway. And the premise is that for reasons that are not at all explained, people from Norway’s past are just washing up on the beach in Oslo every night. So from three eras, they’re stone age people. Then there are people from the 19th century, and most importantly, they’re people from the Old Norse era, the Viking era. And then there’s this kind of set of murders or deaths that are that a cop, one of two, a pair of cops, one of whom is modern Norwegian, the other of whom is a is a Viking warrior who’s now become a cop, have to solve.

S4: And it’s just it’s really.

S2: Fun and really weird. It’s depiction of Norse life and the kind of nature worshipping, heavy metal kind of warrior spirit of it is so deeply appealing and magnificent. And I tore through it.

S1: So I’m so excited to watch this. I someone mentioned it and did a pretty good job of describing it, but didn’t quite get it. Now I totally get it.

S4: It’s it’s really weird. It’s really weird. Then the second thing, I just want to toot.

S2: My other hat, wear my other hat, put my other hat on. I think everyone in the Gabfest knows. I also run a company called City Cast, which is creating daily local podcasts and newsletters for cities around the country. And we.


S4: Launched a year ago.

S2: We just to celebrate our one year anniversary this month, and it’s going really well. And I just want to come back to you, Gabfest listeners. If you are not listening to city cast in your city, you’re missing out. We’re now in Denver, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Houston, Pittsburgh. This week we launched in Las Vegas. We’re coming to Boise and DC and Philly and Portland and a bunch of other cities, really. Madison, Wisconsin, really soon.

S4: And these podcasts will.

S2: Make you feel more connected to your city. They will fill you with love and curiosity about your city. They may make you angry sometimes, but always in a way that will help you feel more connected to whatever city you live in that we’re doing it and we have incredible newsletter, so please subscribe to City Council. If you live in any of those cities, try it. Email me at David Plotz at or have any questions about it. And if you also want to come work with us, we have a ton of jobs open for podcast, producing for a newsletter, writing for other various other things that city cast out for slash jobs. So, you know, we’ve been here a year. It’s going really well. We love it and we want you to listen.

S1: I am so excited for you to launch in Philadelphia. Then I can keep in touch with my my past city, which seems almost like even better.

S2: Exactly. Listeners. Thanks for sending chatter to us. You tweet them to us at at Slate, Gabfest or you email us them at Gabfest at This is something that is intriguing you that you want to share with Gabfest world. And our listener chatter this week is from Andre Walker.


S5: Hey Gabfest, this is Andre Walker in Chicago and my chatter is a follow up to a recommendation from last week’s show. After listening to the show with Ruth Marcus chatter for the book Rethinking Sex and Provocation, my wife and I later attended a performance in Chicago that seemed to be the perfect response, entitled All the Sex I’ve Ever Had. The show is currently being performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Chicago by a group called Mammalian Diving Reflex. In contrast to the jaded millennials and Ruth’s story, the cast is composed entirely of seniors 65 and older, all non-actors. Each performer autobiographically recounts the complex role that sex has played in their own lives, from their youth to the present day. And despite some difficult experiences, each has maintained a healthy appreciation of sex as a form of human connection and expression, as well as a source of pleasure. It’s a frank and moving production that’s also very hopeful.

S2: It sounds really cool.

S1: We started with orgies. We ended with all the sex in the world.

S2: All the sex I’ve ever had.

S3: In a party.

S2: But all the sex.

S1: With cocaine.

S4: That is our share. That’s our show for today.

S2: Good. Gabfest is produced by Jocelyn Franco. Researchers Bridgette Dunlap, Das and Bridgette got to see each other this week. That was exciting. That was the big news of the week. They got to hang out. June Thomas is managing producer of Slate Podcasts. Alicia montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcast. Please follow us on Twitter and at Slate Gabfest. We chatted who was there for Emily Bazelon and John DICKERSON on David Plotz. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you at the Origin next week.


S4: Hello. Was at time just said something.

S2: I don’t even know what.

S4: He was saying.

S1: A little. A little.

S4: I think he did.

S3: I don’t. I can’t tell whether I got too much sleep or too little sleep. It’s like that line from The Thin Man. I woke up and I feel terrible. I must have not had enough to drink. Um.

S4: Carry on, everyone. One of the.

S2: One of the great things about that, the foreigners the show was just talking about is they’re always going to these meat, meat halls and drinking. Feed me that of horns and just getting wasted on meat.

S4: I. But their horns are so good. I wanted to drink.

S1: Can I. Can I say something though? I recently. I was. What was it? Someone in my house was like reading a book about you, olden days in which they were constantly drinking beer and they were drinking all this beer because the water was contaminated. It’s like a spear. Must have been very.

S4: It’s very weak.

S1: Beer weak. Yes, exactly.

S3: Okay. I’ve been listening to and reading Samuel Pepys diary from 1660 to 1669. And every day he starts by having his morning draught and and basically and also, by the way, he’s drinking sack and a pint of wine and he really runs the whole he doesn’t have a Tom Clarke.

S4: Is what sack.

S2: Is like port or something.

S1: Can I give it more up to date example.

S3: But wait I was going to. But but am I beloved and tells me that that the morning draught was basically they thought it was good for them to have a glass of beer in the morning.


S1: I mean, it depends what good for you means. It must have made the day different. And some. Sure, it was like really, really, really.

S3: Right. Well, the oil of conversation.

S4: But it wasn’t filled with bacteria.

S2: I mean, it was it was not contaminated. That is really.

S1: They weren’t going to die. That’s a big advantage. What I want to say before I just reread The Secret History by Donna Tartt, where they literally drink like fish every second of the day. And I just was like blown away by it. I mean. Bennington In the eighties, all you did was drink all day. It was like, I can’t really imagine how they’re functioning in the book. There’s so much alcohol. Yeah.

S4: There was.

S2: Also coke. There was also yeah, there.

S1: Are some Coke. But because Bret Easton Ellis is like a peripheral character, right? I mean, or a he was a friend of Donna Tartt’s at the time, I should say, and the book is dedicated to him, I believe. But yeah, the amount of drinking in that book is insane.

S2: All right, Slate Plus.

S4: So the topic.

S2: Today, if you were going to go into hiding, how would you do it? I’ve done it. I’ve done some thinking.

S1: You start.

S4: I have. I’ll start with you.

S2: Fine.

S4: So my first thought is.

S2: First of all, it would be really hard for me to do this because I have not prepared. I have no I’m very law abiding. I have nothing. I have no cash. I have nothing in Bitcoin, which I think is the key thing. You need to have something in Bitcoin. You’re in crypto. I have no gold, I have no secret stash. I don’t really have people who would help me. All the people in my life are very law abiding. I think I’m much more of the if I were in trouble, I would count on hiring a great lawyer and getting myself off.


S4: Kind of proud.

S1: That’s all about going into hiding.

S4: Well, right. I know.

S3: I know. Going into hiding. No, I don’t. If it’s for benevolent reasons and not because you knocked over the Brink’s truck.

S4: Well, I don’t know why.

S2: You’d have to go into hiding for benevolent reasons, but. Okay, so first of all, I would probably think about going to the UK because I and in hope like the UK would protect me because I am I have a British, I am a British citizen or have a right to be a British citizen.

S4: But I kind of think I would be really.

S2: Bad at going into hiding because I’m very public and I don’t know how to do it. And I was thinking like, Oh, maybe my girlfriend is from Honduras and I’m thinking maybe I’d go to Honduras, but like.

S4: People would figure that out. They’d be like, Oh, his.

S2: Girlfriend is from Honduras. He went to Honduras. That’s easy enough.

S4: I have one.

S2: Close friend who lives kind of off the grid, and I would he probably would hide me if I asked. And not that many people know that we’re connected, so I might throw myself on his kindness.

S4: But mostly I feel like I would. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I think I need to start gathering.

S2: Bitcoin right now and start planning now so that I can do it later because I just don’t think I would be able to get away with it.

S4: I’m to trackable. I think I.

S2: Might go to the Philippines. Everyone on the dark web seems to be in the Philippines.


S3: Yeah, I think you want to. What? I wonder about Bitcoin. Undoubtedly you’re right. And it shows the my level of ignorance about bitcoin to what I’m about to say. But why should I let my displaying my ignorance stop me now? I would think you’d want ready cash. Which means you need to start yourself on a regimen of taking out ten, 20, 30, 100 extra dollars in the cash machine for the next couple of years and just stack 100 under the bed. Because if you’re in some far flung place, cash might be the easiest way to get, you know, your bottle of milk in the morning as opposed to Bitcoin. So that was my thinking. I would I am often want to disappear for benevolent reasons like all the time. So I guess my point is that you could if you wanted to just send an email and. Say It’s my 111/18 birthday and I’m leaving so that people could not find you. You could go to places that are not all the way to the Philippines and where would it be? And I think it would probably be somewhere in the mountains. But the thing is, I’m such a. I need some creature comforts, including wi fi. So that would make you trackable. So simple. I’m not sure. I think I would be the greatest impediment to disappearing. Not any lack of logistical ability. Like I would walk out of the woods and be found.

S1: Are we in the apocalypse or are we in like we need to hide individually?

S4: Not the apocalypse, I think. Okay. I think going.

S2: Into hiding implies there’s a there’s an infrastructure of the world that is arrayed to try to find you. Maybe it’s maybe it’s your enemies because you’ve crossed someone criminally. Or maybe it’s the government.


S3: How long do you think you could stay hidden? Each of you.

S4: What do you mean by hidden? I mean, I can’t even employ. Like, let’s.

S3: Imagine you could employ the best that your rickety faculties could cobble together as a scheme for hiding. How effective do you think you would be?

S4: How many?

S2: Who am I hiding from my hiding from the government or from from the the mob boss?

S3: I mean, I’m accepting your context, which is that the the forces of the world are out to to look for you. And I’m assuming that the mob boss and the government have a basically equivalent ability to find you.

S1: I mean, I feel like if you’re really willing to do great, it’s not that hard. One of two days. Come on. If you really needed to get away from the police or Interpol or whatever you get out of the country, you probably drive instead of fly.

S4: And how does that get you out of the country?

S2: Have you tried to get out of the country?

S1: Not well, yeah. Last week and I flew with my passport. But I feel like you could drive to Mexico without showing your passport.

S4: Probably like you are not sure you.

S1: Okay, maybe you have to get out and block itself. Dear, I feel like you could get to either Mexico or Canada. I mean, you could places where people cross illegally all the time, like.

S4: Right. Okay. So you’re. Oh, so you’re positive.

S2: You’re going to cross illegally into Mexico or Canada now what?

S1: Well, I think I would go to Mexico because. How’s your.

S4: Spanish?


S1: Poor. That’s poor. Okay, that’s a problem. But let’s just.

S2: How are you supporting yourself?

S1: You have tons of cash, I think.

S4: Where did you get that cash? Okay. I need.

S1: You.

S4: To be positive, though. Yeah, but you can’t take, like, what?

S1: The people draw lots of cash before they go into hiding. You go to an ATM machine or you go to the bank and you take a lot to try to take you.

S3: I think you can only take out like.

S1: You have some.

S2: $40,000 out of a ATM machine.

S1: I don’t know if I have that amount of money. I whatever. You take as much money as you can get. I mean, it would definitely help if someone would wire you more money later. I give you that. I feel like someone in my family would do that. No, no, I’m trying to think. Who? Someone. One of my sisters. And you get out of the country, you go to Mexico, you just keep going. You keep going. You end up in the mountains of a South American country. And you don’t have wi fi. Definitely not. You have like your bathing suit and you know, you quietly rent a room or you stay in a tent for a while. But that seems like if you’re really willing to stay out of communication and be and you have some money and you’re prudent about it, then you get like a low level job and you continue to support yourself and you get some falsified documents. Well, it seems plausible.

S4: I feel like you’ve just.

S2: Presumed all sorts of things. The number one thing you presumed is I’ve got a whole bunch of money that I can that is portable and that I planned ahead.


S4: You mean my my.

S2: Presumption is like you have to plan ahead and stash it, which John is obviously doing hidden underneath that typewriter behind him.

S1: Yeah, I know. I’m not a prepper in any way, shape or form, so that would be a problem for me. I’d definitely have to surmount the cash hurdle.

S3: I wonder if you.

S1: But I feel like that’s surmountable.

S3: But if it was easier to hide quasi in plain sight. So let’s say you went to Boise, changed your appearance sufficiently. You used, you know, not credit or debit cards that you can get like at CVS. And you used the powers you do have, which are for fiction writing to create a narrative of yourself. Maybe you go by some frames with pictures of people already in them and say, That’s your family. And you use that. You’ve left no trace because you’ve driven. I mean, your car and your license plate were probably good photographs somewhere, so you’d have to change your plates. But that might be easier for a softy like me than you’re an admirable backpacking in the Amazon rainforest.

S1: The Amazon.

S4: But like, how would you change your plates? John Oh, what do you mean? I’m going to change my plate. Oh, yeah, you guys, that’s not that hard. You mean all kinds of capital? That’s not that. How?

S3: No, no, that’s not hard. So hell of a night. You’re going to go.

S2: Are you going to steal someone?

S3: Yeah. Take a cab into Brooklyn. I take somebody’s plates off their car, come back home and put those plates on my corner. Now, I have to make sure I’m not caught.


S1: Criminally minded enough.

S3: I got to make sure I’m not caught on CCTV going into Brooklyn to get the plates. So that’s a challenge, but that can be surmounted. That part is I have a theory of that case, but not of of any of the other.

S4: Okay. I guess I.

S2: Apologize to that. But the plates thing does make sense. I definitely I’m going back to my original answer, which is whatever the trouble is, I’m going to throw myself. I’m going to hire a very expensive lawyer and and attempt to get get beyond these troubles that way.

S1: That’s fine. But the premise was going into hiding and that is not going into hiding so.

S4: Well.

S1: Whatever.

S3: It’s a very sleepless topic to have a premise and then totally disagree with the premise.

S4: I will.

S1: Look, you would be. I think you’re. Underselling your capacities. You’re super good at direction, so you are going to get to the Amazon and be completely lost.

S4: Know right? You turned right at the Amazon. They’re turning left like, oh my God, I thought I was going to be in Brazil and I’m in the Andes. Oh.

S1: That’s good to happen to me.

S2: By Flight-Plus.