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[00:00:01]

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[00:01:26]

Welcome back to Positive America. I'm Tommy Betore. It has been a very exciting week for us here at Cricket Media. John and Emily Favaro welcomed a new baby boy, Charlie Fabro, into the world.

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And we are just overjoyed for them.

[00:01:41]

Hannah and I quickly stopped by their place when they got home from the hospital. We dropped off. We are there, pup. We got to see Charlie from an appropriate Lee distanced vantage point.

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And so I can confirm the early news reports from over the weekend that Charlie is in fact adorable. And we can't wait to feel his sweet little brain with our liberal propaganda. But for the for the next week or so, Jon is going to take a little bit of time off to change diapers and hang with Charlie instead of hate reading Twitter. So he is not on the pod today. And now if you're friends with the Fabro family, really any of them, you know that they don't just arrive on time.

[00:02:16]

They get there early. Charlie is no exception. He arrived a couple of weeks before his due date, which is wonderful because he is happy and healthy and a perfect baby boy who does not want that in your life. As soon as possible. But it also means that Lovett is out this week for a long planned bit of rest to recharge. So I am your soul. Monday pod representative today. Now, don't you even consider skipping this episode?

[00:02:40]

We have less than 100 days until the election. We've got to stay focused. There's a lot of important stuff going on right now. And we are thrilled to have an incredible guest co-host who you will love. His name is Mehdi Hossan. Meti is a columnist for The Intercept. He's the host of the deconstructed podcast and the presenter on the Al Jazeera English shows Head to head an up front. I guarantee you that you have seen clips of his interviews before.

[00:03:04]

He is known for dogged, unrelenting questioning to the point where you often wonder, like, why on earth did this person agree to do Metty show? Did they not Google him first? But frankly, that's what I love about Meti. It doesn't matter if we're talking about Trump or Obama or the Democratic Party. He pulls no punches. He suffers no fools. And I promise you will love hearing from him. So here's what we're gonna cover today.

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We're gonna talk about the state of the race now that we have less than a hundred days to go. Going to talk about how Cobh, it has reached deep into the White House and finally forced Trump to make major changes to his campaign. We'll get into the latest corona virus relief negotiations in Congress. How Trump went from calling Joe Biden soft on China as a strategy to like the mayor of Antifa Tifa, the law and order strategy and the politics of fascism that seems to be emerging in some great advice from The Washington Post and from METI about how we can learn from the mistakes in coverage of 2016 and get it right in 2020.

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Later in the pod, you'll hear an interview that Jon Favreau recorded with Mother Jones as Ari Berman about voting during the pandemic. Now that we are so close to Election Day, two quick things.

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We get to the news first. Don't miss love it or leave it this week. Love to talk to Eric Holthouse about the best case climate scenario. And Guy Branum came on for the return of OK stops. You know, that would be funny. And then yesterday we kicked off our every last vote we could action to fight back and make sure that every last vote is counted over. This week, we're gonna be asking you guys to volunteer to donate where you can.

[00:04:30]

And then tomorrow, specifically to request your vote by mail ballot. Tomorrow is national vote by mail day. I didn't get you anything either. Don't worry about it. But if you had to vote, save America dot com, slash every last vote you can. Request your ballot now and get it done early. While you're there, you can sign up to text young voters in swing states. You can tell them to do the same. This election is going to come down to every last vote and we cannot afford to lose a single one.

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We've got to work hard, go to vote, save America. Com Slash every last vote to find out all the ways you can help. And thank you in advance for everything you're doing. Okay. Let's get to the news of Netty.

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He hasn't so great to have you in the show. Great to see you from a Zoome distance safely, safely. Zoom's social distancing.

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OK, my friend, we have 100 days until the election. And I bet me saying that allowed me to punch. People want to throw up. But to them, I say think back a thousand years ago to Trump's inauguration and how you would have felt that moment to be just a few months away from sending this guy packing. So this is exciting stuff. It's a time for all of us get to work. So maybe I thought we could start with just a quick snapshot of the state of the race.

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So the 538 polling average has Biden up eight points. That's obviously quite good. Trump's approval rating is about 40 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove. That is quite bad. Biden's numbers in key swing states are strong to Fox News. I love that. Have Biden Trump stayed up in polls nine points. Yeah. TransFair poll has Biden up nine points in Michigan, 13 points in Minnesota, eleven in Pennsylvania. Other polls that Biden winning in Florida by as much as 13.

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NBC has him up five in Arizona. So, look, that's obviously good, but that's, you know, a snapshot in time. The question is why? Why is Biden up? What's driving these numbers?

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And the polling experts say the answer is covered. That Fox News poll we mentioned, 29 percent of respondents said Colbert is the most important issue facing the country. Fifteen percent said the economy. That's not normal, right? Usually the economy drives these elections in and from CNN argues that in these rare instances when a non economic issue is driving the campaign, usually the candidate who is best seen as able to handle that problem win. So my question is, Betty, do you agree with that?

[00:06:49]

Is this a covered election? And the rest is noise?

[00:06:52]

I mean, it's partly a covered election. It would be mad to say otherwise. I mean, I do push back and I know you have on the show before as well against this idea of it's covered versus the economy. Even in polling terms, for me, the economy is covered. Covered as the economy is. Yeah. There was no growth. There is no employment issues without dealing with the coronavirus. So I always find this kind of weird dichotomy that people trying to present this stark choice.

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Do you think the Koven nineteens of border economies? Well, I want 40 million Americans or whatever it is to get their jobs back. Which means you have to dekle the pandemic. So I don't I don't buy for a start the way it's framed by pollsters or by commentators, but clearly kov. It is at the from to people's minds, especially now this summer, with it kind of raging back in some of these Sunbelt states, et cetera. But even without Cauvin, let's be clear.

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Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president. Whichever Democrat was going to take him on this year, even if it wasn't Joe Biden, even if there was no pandemic, would have been in a very good position to take him down. And that's just the reality. I think what we did on the left is we kind of overcompensated. We didn't see him coming in 2016, most of it. Not all of us. There were the Keith Alyson's and Michael Moles who said he could win.

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But many of us, myself included, thought he wouldn't win. He couldn't win. And I think there was a kind of PTSD off the back of that. And we overcompensated. We went from saying, he's a joke.

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You can't win to saying he can't be beaten.

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Even now, friends of mine, a political friends among people, are not involved in journalism, media, politics, just average Joe. You talked about lifted up Trump's one. He's gonna get re-elected, especially in minority communities. Can a Muslim circles brown circles that I mean, there's a real defeatism. He's going to win again. And I kind of say that's not true. Actually, the evidence suggests he's more likely to lose the win. That doesn't mean he can't win.

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Of course he can win. Anything's possible. And the Republicans are the masters of cheating. But when you look at polling, he's historically unpopular. I think only Harry Truman comes even close to him in terms of unpopularity as a sitting president going for re-election. And he was still 10 points more popular than Trump and managed to get re-elected in 1948. I think, you know, he's had a consistent what what's this, 40 percent, 38 percent full year.

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But sailing, unless you're Rasmussen, he can't break 40 on any any particular grand day. So, you know, that's unheard of as well for most presidents. He looks in a very weak position. Why? Partly coronavirus. Partly his own historic unpopularity, unpopularity, incompetence, partly Joe Biden. I was a critic of Joe Biden and I didn't want him to be the Democratic presidential nominee. But two things happened with Joe Biden that's helped. Number one, he does get to kind of not have to have a high profile and do rallies and speak a lot, because the more Joe Biden speaks, the more mistakes he makes.

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It's great that he isn't actually doing that much. And Trump is kind of doing all the speaking and shooting himself in the foot. That's a good thing. That is not a conventional campaign, but they have definitely good for Joe Biden. And the second issue with Biden is even those of us who were opposed to Biden always knew that he had a huge advantage, one that we don't like.

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But it's just the world we live in, which is he's an all white guy. And an old white guy has automatic advantages in a race against Donald Trump and the Republican Party because the Republican Party playbook, Tommy, as we know, as you and I have discussed on our show many a time, is racism, sexism, black guy, racism, woman, sexism.

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What do you do when it's not a black guy or a woman? They have nothing left in their playbook. They are turning the pages. They don't know where to go. They oh, he's a Marxist. That doesn't want nobody's. Nobody believes Joe Biden is a Marxist.

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So, you know, they really. Oh, he's he's he's he's he's got dementia.

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Well, who else has dementia? You know, person, woman, man, camera, TV. See, I can be president. So that's their playbook doesn't work. And I think that's helped Biden hugely. I think the Republicans, the ones who are on the defensive. They are the ones flailing right now with no real strategy come November. And a completely insane person in the White House making everything worse for them.

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Yeah. Look, I do I do worry, like, if it hadn't happened with a strong economy, I think this would have been a a rough race. But I have this I have the PTSD you're talking about in one way. I'm trying to work around it. It's a look at governors. Right. So states like Arizona, Texas, Florida that you mentioned, they didn't take Cobbett seriously. They're really struggling now. They're governors. Yeah. Doug Deucy, Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis.

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Their approval ratings have just tanked. Meanwhile, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, who took a ton of heat from Trump because he wouldn't let the Republican convention happen in Charlotte with no social distancing, is now up 20 points in his campaign. His approval? Is it like even 90 percent?

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Gavin Newsom, Democrat in California, in California is one of those states is one of the few non Republican led states that's doing really, really, really badly right now. Even his poll ratings haven't tanked. Let Ron Dicenzo's because while California is doing badly, it's clear that the governor is not in la la land is not denying. Yes, not denying reality. I think even Republicans in Florida, I've woken up to the fact that they have a governor who is denying reality.

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You see that in the polling. His approval ratings are cratering. Even Republicans in Florida in big numbers are starting to support things like a mosque mandate. And I think that's really an interesting development.

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Yeah. Look, I share your frustration with this idiotic political debate about the economy or. It's both. And that's only we're going to save lives. Now, look, I think, you know, for listeners who heard our bullishness on this wind up right. Like, a lot can happen between now and Election Day. We know that some histories and contexts that will humble me like at this point, 2016, WikiLeaks had dumped the Podesta emails. The Comey letter was months away at this point, 2008, Lehman Brothers was about a month and a half away from bankruptcy in 1998.

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At this time, Dukakis was winning by double digits. The infamous tank photo had not yet happened. So. So lots of time.

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Right. And we live in it and we live in a crazy time than any of those. Election is where where the news agenda changes by the hour, let alone the day. So I'm not complacent at all. Anything could happen in the next 99, 98 days, definitely. And, you know, if you'd told me six months ago the biggest story, it would be a pandemic. We wouldn't have known that there was no corona virus in January, mid-January, late January.

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If you'd told me during the Corona virus high in March, that actually coronavirus would be taken over in the news agenda by anti-racism protests. George Floyd. We didn't see that coming either, so anything could happen. What I worry most about Tommy and I know your share, my worry here is, is a foreign war. You know, I could. Could the October surprise be something to do with Iran? We're not following the Iranian crisis, which is ongoing in the back of all, you know, the stuff going on there.

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In terms of a flashpoint. So anything could happen, unfortunately. All I'm saying is, as of today, Joe Biden had in a very strong position, if the election were held, today would be a landslide victory. And he's not Hillary Clinton. Rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton faced unfair misogyny. But the reality is Biden is more likely than Hillary and he's seen as more trustworthy. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but he's seen as more trustworthy than Hillary.

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And that's you know, that wasn't the case in the summer of 2016.

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I share your anxiety about Iran, some might argue we are where someone is engaged in a low wage war with Iran because things keep exploding every couple of days. But, you know, that's a bigger topic.

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But one big thing ahead of us, Meti, is the V.P. selection. You've been making the case that the state of the race. Now Biden's strength means he should pick Elizabeth Warren. Why is that? What's the pitch for Warren, do you think?

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Right now, I think the pitch for Warren is very straightforward. It's three very simple points. Number one, she is best prepared to be president on day one, Biden says. That's his number one criteria. I agree with him. That should be the number one criterion. When you pick a V.P. who's a heartbeat away from the presidency and the president himself may have heart issues, head injuries, all sorts of issues at some point.

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Yes. You want someone who can take over a moment's notice and can do the job. That person is undoubtedly Elizabeth Warren. You know, Biden's people are talking about, you know, Roosevelt and rhetoric. He's gonna be another FDR. Yeah, I believe that when I see it. But there is a person who can turn Roosevelt and rhetoric into reality. That's Elizabeth Warren. So that person should be there in the White House at the side of Biden, ready to take over at a moment's notice.

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Execute a clear vision. Number two, she would boost him in the polls. You know, you want to go back to what we're just talking about. If you are still worried about Biden in some of those swing states, if you look at the polling done by YouGov for data for progress, makes it very clear that amongst persuadable voters who still haven't made up their minds on Biden in battleground states, Warren is the candidate that would help them make up their mind.

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Warren would do most to get them on board. Biden nomination. That's what the polling shows more than any other candidate. And finally, yes, there's this pressure for a person of color to be on the ticket. I get that. I'm a person of color. I hate all white tickets. Kamala Harris, amongst the black women being considered would probably be the best bet if you were going down that road. But on the other hand, I believe that Elizabeth Warren would be best in terms of policies for minority communities.

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And black voters say they prefer Warren to any other candidate, including Kamala Harris.

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I think the polling shows don't shoot the messenger. Those are good. Those are good, relevant data points. Two thoughts in response. One. I have no idea who Biden's going to pick. But I do think that the worst things are going to get for Trump, the more likely it will be that he jettisons Mike Pence to try to shake things up and swap out someone new on the ticket. So let's get that rumor going. Let's get that one over to pences house.

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Two, I thought it was interesting to wake up this morning and see a report in Politico about Kamala Harris and her V.P. prospects. Who you just mentioned in the gist is that many in Biden's camp think that on paper she's the most qualified. She's the obvious choice. But some specifically, Senator Chris Dodd, former Connecticut senator who's on the V.P. search committee. He questions her loyalty to Biden. This all dates back to that first debate in twenty nineteen when Kamala Harris hammered Biden on the issue of busing and school integration.

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And it was a tough night. The quotes on that piece are awful about, you know, she should be more apologetic. She should be more contrite. Type language from Chris Dodd. I am not going to help Biden at all. This idea, Dana Biden's or associated with old White Boys Club. And, you know, I have a lot of criticism of Kamala Harris. I get attacked by the KRIV all the time for daring to bring up her prosecutorial record in California, which I think is bad and I think would hurt her in the long term.

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But, you know, if you want to reject Kamala Harris, reject or on the substance, don't reject her on bullshit grounds like this. And I'll let Chris Dodd be the one who rejects Kamala Harris, especially in this moment of time, Chris Dodd, who's got all sorts of issues me to issues that we wouldn't have time to get into. You know, he's the all sorts of Wall Street issues that we now have time to get into. He's the last person who should be telling Joe Biden, who should be the vice presidential candidate.

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Unfortunately, given Biden's kind of the people around him and his own sensibility, that is what is going to come down, does going to come down to policy. He said himself, Biden, he said, you know, someone he gels with, you worked for Obama. Biden said, you know, had this great relation. Obama, he wants that chemistry again that he believes he had with Barack Obama, which again causes problems with people like Elizabeth Warren, who has a long history of clashing with Biden, which is why if I was a betting man, I would say he probably won't pick Elizabeth Warren, sadly, because he's clashed with far too many times, although apparently the reporting suggests that him and Warren now speaking once every seven to 10 days and she raised more money for him than any other person other than Barack Obama.

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So maybe that will influence. Yeah, fingers crossed that that will influence him. But, yeah, it's between Warren and Kamala Harris. Those are the two most qualified and obvious candidates. I think if you went anywhere else, that would be weird. And I'd love to see the reasoning for it. Yeah, time will tell. And I, too, found it interesting to hear that Warren and Biden are talking that often. I also know that Politico story I mentioned about Kamala Harris.

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I roll my eyes. Anything that quotes a whole bunch of donors.

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That's a good rule of thumb in politics. But one last quick thing on the V.P. dang, we obsess over the role of a vice presidential candidate in an election. All the data shows the vice presidential picks don't really influence elections. What role should more be worried about as Joe Biden is going to be almost certainly a one term president? You know, God bless his health. He lost the full four years. Maybe he doesn't. He's old. He's got health issues.

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Anyone like that? And I would say this if Bernie Sanders was a candidate, too, you need to have a vice president ready to step into the breach and take over. Just so you're really not just picking a V.P. this time, you are picking a president in waiting and therefore there should be much more consideration given to the policy record, the substance, the experience, not just how this will play in November. Many how dare you bring substance into this conversation?

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I am I'm offended by that. No, I totally agree with you. The stakes are higher than ever and a lot of ways because of that, the role that person will fill up. OK. So this is the corona virus election. Let's talk about it for a minute. As of this morning, we are just under four point three million confirmed cases in the U.S., nearly hundred eighty thousand deaths. Today, we learned that Robert O'Brien trumps national security adviser, has the Corona virus so many.

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Let's linger on this news for a minute. According to CNN NSC staffers, people who work for O'Brien learned that he has covered four news reports. O'Brien had just gotten back from meetings in Europe with the French, British and German officials. So good to him to spread this thing around there. The White House is trying to claim that there's no risk to the president or V.P.. I don't believe them for a second. You know, many Trump's valet got it.

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His son's girlfriend got it. Secret Service agents got staffers. Got it. Now is national security visor. How the hell is Trump avoided getting this thing? I don't get it is a great question, is the question.

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Everyone is asking everyone and even apolitical people the first person. How is he dodged it. But remember, in both scenario and his team came to visit Trump right at the beginning. They all tested positive. How come Trump doesn't have it? This guy doesn't wear a mask. He shakes hands and we know he. He gets everyone tested who comes near him. The hypocrisy. This is a guy who says testing is overrated. And yet anyone who comes near him has to be tested.

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He himself, according to his press secretary, gets tested multiple times a day. The hypocrisy of Iowa, you know, the would elitist. I mean, that's the definition of illegal. Testing for me, not for you. So he puts himself in that way.

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But, yes, even then, how is it not through to. I don't know. There's a theory on Twitter amongst many that he did have it and they covered it up. I don't know. I can't comment on such things, but it is bizarre.

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And this whole Robert O'Brien thing, you know, that story about him getting it. But then going home last week and not telling the NSC staff is about it and then finding out for the 'neath, it's yet another reminder that he, like everyone else who works in the White House, is a really shitty person.

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Right. In January 2017, I think I was one of the first columnists to describe this administration as a Carcas autocracy ruled by the worst people.

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And every time there's a crisis, there's a reminder. So instead of focusing on Robert, I want to think I want to be a good person today. Robert O'Brien, I disagree with him. I don't like him. He's OK. You know, he carries water for a fascist. But, you know, wish him well with his health. But I can't do that because the first thing I think is what a piece of shit he screwed over his own staff, who he may have infected, who don't get tested multiple times a day like the president.

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So that's what I mean. Just horrible, horrible people. And yes, I don't know how Trump's avoided it. He's risk the lives of so many people in Tulsa. His Secret Service agents tested positive. Organizers on the day tested positive. And even now in Florida, with the convention that was supposed to happen until very recently, he was going to risk the lives of all those people because he's a sociopath who doesn't care about human life and would happily sacrifice thousands of his own voters in order to get a good photo op.

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Yeah, I'm glad you're at the convention, cause that's what I want to talk about next. I just like if the national scrutinizer isn't meeting with the president several times a day. That is very weird. There are things they should be talking about. We're in wars right now, too. If that idiot went to Europe and infected Angela Merkel, I'm going to lose my shit.

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An accident away from her. Yes. She should be an act of war. Here we go. Well, but anyway, blame the Chinese. You know, if you go on the batshit far right conspiracy circuit, their claim is that China deliberately infected the well, let people leave China knowingly, that they could transmit the virus.

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Well, the Trump administration is guilty of the same thing, both in Oklahoma, both in terms of deporting people with Koven 19 to Guatemala, who they knew had it, both in terms of Roba O'Brien going to Europe, knowing he might have it and spreading it.

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The irresponsibility of these people, not just Trump members, always the enablers around.

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Robert O'Brien was a was it was until very recently a mainstream Republican, not a kind of crazy magnetite. And yet, look, he behaves in the same way.

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Yeah. The disrespect, the stupidity. OK, let's talk about the convention, because I think it's it's hard to overstate what a disaster this process has been. The Republicans first raised and spent, raised and spent around 38 million dollars to set up their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, before deciding they had to move it to Florida. So that money is gone. It is lit on fire. It has been burned. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who suffers from a condition we call resting dum face, told Trump that it would be no problem to host the event in Florida.

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He promised them he wouldn't make them wear masks or draw social distance. And now dissenters. His leadership is a big reason why cases are exploding in Florida, which gets us to. Last week, Trump abruptly announced that the convention was canceled. He tried to portray that decision as being about safety. But the reality is that officials in Jacksonville didn't want them there. The attendees were going to have to book hotel rooms and vendors and lose more money. So this was more about logistics.

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Maybe the bigger question I have is, do we think finally canceling the convention hurts Trump? Did he have an advantage if he was to have a convention and Biden didn't?

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I think it hurts him in one central way, which is the only thing he's ever been good at. And I use good in a very loose sense is the rallies, is the showmanship, is the television events. You know, we all know that he was certainly helped by CNN running hours of uncritical, uninterrupted live coverage of his rallies in 2015 and 2016. Even Zucker has kind of admitted they should have done that. And this time around, that's what his plan was to do again, was to turn out to rallies, say all sorts of shit, get his base worked up, dominate the news agenda, because we know Donald Trump is the number one new assignment editor in America.

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He can decide the day's news headlines in a way that no one else can. No previous president has ever had that kind of grip over the Daily News just simply by saying match shake at events like an RNC convention or a Tulsa rally. And I think that has hurt him.

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And that's why he was so hellbent with doing it, because he knew he needed it as one kind of last gasp effort, reviving what looks like a faming campaign. They were so desperate. Tell me, did did you see the story in The Washington Post? At one point, RNC officials told city officials could they put attendees on a cruise ship on a fucking cruise ship? I mean, this is where the virus began for a lot of Americans back in February and March on cruise ships.

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I mean, imagine the Dominus carcass autocracy ruled by the worst people that we can have a convention. We're not just gonna endanger you in an indoor hall or an outdoor hall or no malls.

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We can ask you to get on a ship. Whose idea was that? I mean, absurd. So the levels of absurdity, the levels of desperation.

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But did you also see the Trump quote that he gave when he said he's canceling the keynote in Jacksonville? He said, and I quote, I've got it. I could see the media saying, oh, this is very unsafe. I don't want to be in that position. The media say if the media won't say that he's not thinking it's unsafe, it's the media would accuse him falsely of it being unsafe. So even at the very moment he's doing something semi responsible, as usual, he shoots himself in the foot by revealing he's a complete fraud and he's not actually taking it seriously.

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And another important quote to all of your listeners and viewers should really take on board the damning Kovel, which should be in every Democratic ad between now and November. David Carney, who is not a flaming liberal adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said, and I quote, The president got bored with it.

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It being covered 19. The president got bored with it. So the Texas governor's staff had to just talk to Mike Pence because Trump didn't want to talk to me anymore about what was happening in Texas. For me, that is the most damning and clear. I mean, we all know it to be true, but to hear it from the mouth of a loyal Texas Republican is interesting.

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Yeah, I mean, I imagine even casual observers will look at what's happening and think this is just been incredibly mismanaged. And why on earth would we give this guy a shot at managing the country again? I mean, look, it's still fascinating. Here we are weeks away. It sounds like the Republicans are still going to kick their thing off in Charlotte. Trump will still give some keynote. At some point, but the rest is a mess. I saw a detail in some of the reporting about the tick tock and how they came to this decision is that the White House plans to to adapt to not having a convention and sort of keep the media spotlight on him by saying, look, our persuadable voters watch morning network TV shows.

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So Trump will be out on more of those. I don't know that that's a good idea because things go badly when he leaves. This is sort of safe space. Yes.

[00:26:25]

So that's just it. Without contradicting what I said earlier, while he's good at the rallies and why they've helped him in the past, when it comes particularly to the Corona virus.

[00:26:32]

He has been so bad, so self-destructive, so self-defeating. If you just shut his mouth, he would have a better, you know, a smaller deficit in the polls with Joe Biden. That's the advantage right now. Biden does not say as much. Trump saying loads. Bring about the briefing Wall Street madness. Why would any advisers and Trump to go to get one good day's headlines from idiot journalists thing? Change in tone. It's not worth that much shit.

[00:26:55]

He's gonna say between now and November, we know he can't help himself. He even if he had a half a good day, it'll be canceled out by seven days of madness and doing any kind of rally, doing any kind of free flowing.

[00:27:06]

Remember how many weeks ago wisdom was ramp gate?

[00:27:10]

Remember that read at a rally, one of his rallies just about 52 minutes, 50 minutes of a live rally talking about how, though, was a slick ramp.

[00:27:18]

But he had shiny shoes and he had to. I was just that's batshit crazy. You want to show that to the world, to America in the run up to an election? I just think.

[00:27:27]

Great. Bring it on. I think he's going to just every time he runs his mouth, it's painful to watch. But he's actually finally seeming to be self-destructive with suburban women, with independent voters, et cetera.

[00:27:38]

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. No, look, you know, the details. The Democratic side are starting to leak out today. Stephanie Cutter, a Democratic strategist in charge of producing the Democrats event, says it basically entirely virtual. They rolled out some themes.

[00:27:49]

But my question, many, like long gone, are the days of a brokered convention and real news happening at these things. It is scripted events. It's scripted speakers. Some of them are newsworthy, right. Today is the 16th anniversary of Obama's 2004 convention speech, which was a hell of a night for me and launched his political career. Do you think that these virtual events can or should get the same amount of coverage this year? And maybe more importantly, do we cover conventions in a way that's fundamentally stupid here in the US?

[00:28:17]

I think we cover all conventions, conferences. I mean, I've covered British party politics. Before I moved to the U.S. in 2015, I went to the annual Labour Party Conservative Party conference in the U.K. They do it every year that everyone knew the whole thing was ridiculous. It was just a excuse for journalists to get drunk and politicians to get drunk and some people to sleep together. And I came to the U.S. and I went to the 2016 conventions. I went to RNC, DNC.

[00:28:40]

It's just yeah, it's not substantive. We know that it's not about substance. The speeches matter obviously on the night, especially with a new candidate unveiling them. I alone can fix it. Remember that that was his classic fascist one line. That's when he first unveiled his kind of fascist vision of America to the world. And I think, look, yeah, it's not going to make a big deal, whether it's remote or physical, it's just not.

[00:29:02]

The reality is we have a pandemic killing a thousand people a day in this country. We need to focus on that. If people at the Democratic convention can focus on that and come up with some good ideas and remind us that they are actually credible when it comes to the issue in the way that the other side is all fine. Let's cover it.

[00:29:15]

But otherwise, yeah, it doesn't really matter to me to whether it's Zoome or in person, I just don't know. Yeah.

[00:29:21]

Yeah. Mean look, I've been a few matches myself, like they can be fun. The parties can organize. It's good to hear from candidates directly. It's good to hear from up and coming voices in the party. But these things cost 60, 70, 80 million dollars to pull off. I think they are probably the the number one symbol of how the US political process is too long, too expensive, too much of a spectacle and stage manage.

[00:29:43]

You know, you mentioned just a brokered convention. Twenty, twenty, sixteen weeks ago, you and I would have been on this podcast talking about is there going to be a brokered convention, Bernie versus Biden? How quickly that went away. Now we're talking about virtual conventions where Biden, already the nominee, has been the nominee for weeks. It's all a formality. Get on with it. Bring on November. Get this thing over. Get up.

[00:30:01]

Agreed. Two more quick things on Unkovic. So, like, you know, the great thing about canceling your convention is you have more time for Sports and leisure. Trump played golf for the twenty eighth time over the weekend, including around with Brett Farve. He played catch with Mariano Rivera at the White House last week, ostensibly to prepare to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in August, which he then canceled many resistance. Twitter people like me.

[00:30:22]

We've long raged about Trump's golf habit and the hypocrisy given his attacks on Obama. To date, no one has given a shit in terms of the electorate. Is that changing because of the pandemic? Do you think these things are more salient now when you see Trump and Brett Farve?

[00:30:34]

I do. I do. And like you, I've been screaming about the Gulf since day one. But the pandemic is really brought it home in the way that I've tweeted about this endlessly, about the normalization of Trump's complete abdication of responsibility, the way he just has made it normal to turn up at his own properties. He didn't just play golf. He plays golf on his own properties. We make money out of playing golf, which is the crucial point.

[00:30:55]

And how he's normalized it. You know, the the reports study out a few weeks ago that he'd spent if you had spent a year of his presidency, 365 days at his properties playing golf or doing other things, if properties were known that got normalized. I accepted defeat. It's normalized. Nothing to do about it. But I do think you make an interesting point that during the virus period, yes, people lock down, unable to see loved ones, unable to play sports, unable to relax with their friends, canceling events, canceling travel plans.

[00:31:21]

Yet this guy, who's tested multiple times a day, doesn't wear a mask, tonnes up like clockwork at his properties every weekend.

[00:31:28]

No matter the weather, no matter what's happening in the politica, the thousand people died five days. Was it the weekend, five straight days of 1000 people or more dead in America? This guy turns up with his ridiculous thumbs up next to that guy, next to the quarterback at his golf course. I mean, tell me you've worked in government. You worked. Why would any sane press person working for a politician say that's a good idea? Mr. President, take that next to Twitter.

[00:31:54]

No, nobody would in any other normal climate for any other normal politician, Republican or Democrat.

[00:31:59]

He does this because he gets away with it. Hopefully he's not getting away with. And what annoys me is he only won't get away with it unless we all talk about it, not just us, but his political opponents. And, you know, the Lincoln Project has been doing these amazing attack ads. I'm not a fan of the wheel, the people behind it. Obviously, as someone on the left. But I don't believe that, you know, criticizing the ad to selling ads are amazing.

[00:32:17]

And I just don't understand why we don't have more ads like that from Democrats, from the Pelosi's and Schumer's and Biden's of this world. And Biden has done some good ads I've seen. But I just want to see more of that. I do want to see people dying and Trump playing golf. Yes, I do believe that will be Saillant in 2020.

[00:32:32]

Yeah. I think you're right. I think we'll get there. The other major thing happening over the weekend and right now, frankly, is the ongoing congressional negotiations over covert relief. And we got Senate Republicans want to cut the supplemental unemployment benefit from six hundred dollars a week to 200 a week until states can create a system where they figure out how to cap your benefit at 70 percent of your previous pay. It's worth noting that Trump's own labor secretary had previously said that creating a system like that is impossibly complex.

[00:33:00]

It's basically unworkable. And states are already having a hard time managing the massive influx of people who are unemployed. McConnell is also hell-bent on passing liability protections for businesses and schools.

[00:33:12]

So many things are getting dire, right? Benefits have expired. People are struggling. The negotiations are a mess.

[00:33:18]

What do you think Pelosi should do here when offered this sort of skinny plan that is sort of a half assed benefit along with, say, liability protection for businesses?

[00:33:29]

It's easy for me to say, but I would say reject it. And I know there's been an argument about rejection since day one, since the first piece of legislation in March. And there was a debate then and the argument from Democrats, which was a good argument. I'm not dismissing the argument, which was people need help now. Now is not the time to make a political point or grandstanding. Now is the time to get them that help. Some of us said fine.

[00:33:50]

Then it happened again.

[00:33:51]

Number two, second piece of legislation, third piece of legislation. And I think AOC and others have pointed out how many times we kick the ball down there, how many times we say, you know what, next time. Next time we'll take a stand. At what point you say, you know what? We cannot sign off. This is a disgrace. It's an insult. People need proper help, not scraps from the table. Why you while you support corporations and billionaires.

[00:34:13]

And that only works, of course. I mean, it's a two part strategy. You can only reject something if you're then willing to go to the country and fight like hell to say why you rejected it and why everyone should be on the phone and in the streets pushing back against that ridiculous legislation. The problem is most people tell me, you know, listeners to pub pubs save America. Listeners of Deconstructed might be following politics closely. Average Americans don't.

[00:34:34]

Right. The average American does not watch the news. Does not look at the content of legislation. So, you know, they'll get the check with Trump. Very clever. Twelve hundred of dealt with name. Great to hear about the trouble. Little check.

[00:34:44]

And then they're redoing that. Surprise, surprise. But they don't maybe know about the evictions if they're not a renter themselves or even with their rent to them or wherever. That moratorium ended at the weekend that the six hundred dollars ended the weekend. It's gone. We paid the deadlines, came and went. Mitch McConnell took a break. The Senate went home last week. Shamefully, shamefully. But the man has no shame to very much shamefully. But the problem is that you have to go to fight Tommy.

[00:35:06]

And that requires a different mindset, which I just don't believe Nancy Pelosi has. I think she's too much of a compromise. I've been a critic of her leadership for a long time. You know, it's not it's not the right leadership for the time we're in. You're not just facing fascism and white nationalism, but, yes, you're facing a humanitarian crisis. That's the only word for it. It's a humanity. We don't like to use that phrase because we apply that to developing countries.

[00:35:25]

But it's a humanitarian crisis when people are losing their homes, losing their jobs, lining up at food banks. And that requires a much stronger response.

[00:35:33]

You know, Steve Manoogian came out over the weekend, picked up the quote before I came to talk to you.

[00:35:37]

We're not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay at home, says Steve Manoogian, who, like every Trump child, was born with a silver shovel in his mouth. He was born to a Goldman Sachs partner. His dad, he himself became a multimillionaire. Goldman Sachs partner and is now grotesquely lecturing Americans on how they should survive on scraps. And when he says, by the way, we're not going to use taxpayer money to pay people stay home, the people stay home are taxpayers, too, you idiot.

[00:36:05]

Right. So this is the problem. The demonized. I don't get it.

[00:36:08]

This is a perfect opportunity. We talk so much about populism. Oh, Trump.

[00:36:12]

You know, he's managed to get working poor people, angry at DC, angry at the swamp, angry corporations. Well, this is the moment for Democrats say, you know what? These people are the elites. They are the Marie Antoinette's of our time. The cushion is and the solutions and the trumps.

[00:36:27]

Take him down in November. And now don't accept this shit that they're shoveling towards.

[00:36:31]

You have 400 bucks or while they give half a trillion dollars to corporations, no questions asked. No, I don't. You just keep accepting one McConnell bill after another.

[00:36:40]

I don't I, I think a bad bill that is a compromise will actually harm people. And look, Republicans usually win these fights when they have lots of time and they have corporate money to to message them. Like that's how you end up with the inheritance tax being framed, as, you know about farmers and not about Don Junior being able to buy a second beach house. Right. So public opinion is with Democrats here. And Lindsey Graham said that half of Republicans are going to vote no on any additional stimulus.

[00:37:06]

That means the Republicans need a lot of Democratic votes in the Republicans own whatever happens. So I agree with you. I think Pelosi should go to the mattresses. Right. Ted Cruz is also out there saying that unemployment benefits are keeping people at home when they should be working.

[00:37:19]

So, hey, Ted. That's the point. The pandemic is worse now than before. We have to get the virus under control.

[00:37:25]

You know, response to Ted Cruz should be sorry. Record numbers of people are dying in Texas. More people died in Houston in the month of July than in the previous four months. Ted Cruz, shut your mouth and deal with people dying in Texas. We don't need your commentary on unemployment benefits. Deal with your state that is now a one of the epicenter of the global coronavirus crisis. And I think the problem is, though, Tommy, Nancy Pelosi and a lot these Democrats, I often feel like it's pointless to ask them to do this because it's just not who they are.

[00:37:51]

Their mindset, they're it's not about politics. Oh, he's left. He's right. It's not about donor money. I mean, that's a factor, no doubt about. I'm on the left. I believe there's far too much, you know, big money in politics. But it's also about who they are. I think in their DNA, they've just take they grew up in politics. They do politics in a way which is inherently cautious. They come at it from position, which is Democrats are always in a defensive crouch, always trying to find some middle ground.

[00:38:14]

You even have Democrats now talking about how do we pay for this? Democrats are saying this. I want to shoot my head right now. You're saying this seriously. I mean, when Primula Jeb Paul came to them in conference and said, you know what, you're doing this Heroes Act. You know, it's not going to pass. It's a messaging. Therefore, best message possible. Put my proposal to cover everyone salary 100 hundred percent until this crisis is over.

[00:38:37]

Which is what they've done in some European countries. Politicians said no. And they had a falling out over this.

[00:38:41]

And many other Democrats said no, because I thought, how do we pay for it? That's bullshit. I mean, seriously. Now, is it time to go big, go big or go home? Sorry, it's a cliche, but surfy. Just go home if you're not willing to save the American people from the worst humanitarian crisis in living memory.

[00:38:55]

Yes. I could not care less about how we are going to pay for this right now.

[00:38:58]

And Republicans don't either. That's the key point. They don't. They don't. And they never. Well, you never will.

[00:39:10]

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[00:42:40]

One thing I did want to raise the medi is like if you and I talked three weeks ago, it looked like that China was gonna be the focus of this election. Right. We had Republicans pouring literally millions of dollars into ads on TV, calling Biden soft on China. And I checked in with the Biden camp over the weekend. And I don't think those ads are on TV in anymore. They might be digital ads, but they're gone and they've gone all in on calling Joe Biden the mayor of an TIFA.

[00:43:03]

Right.

[00:43:03]

And so we'll get to that lonely message in it. Well, no. To identify a member. Yeah. You know, Joe.

[00:43:08]

But so I just wanted to raise this because I know, you know, you and I both carry a lot about foreign policy. And listeners might not realize that Trump has dramatically ratcheted up tensions with China lately. Right. It started with the Wuhan virus rhetoric. But there have been reports that the White House wants to ban all Chinese Communist Party members from traveling to the U.S.. That's an estimated 92 million people. Last week, the U.S. ordered closed the Chinese consulate general office in Houston, Texas, claiming as part of an espionage ring.

[00:43:36]

It probably was. But we should just note, the Chinese say they will reciprocate and close a U.S. facility. The administration has been delivering a series of speeches about China, including one by Mike Pompeo, where he said, quote, The free world must triumph over this new tyranny. China, a bit of an axis of evil vibe to me, Meti, because, Betty, what do you make of this escalation from the Trump administration? And if you have advice for what they should be doing, I am happy to hear it, though.

[00:43:59]

I know it's a very hard problem.

[00:44:01]

So it's a worrying time, no doubt, about the relations between the two countries on a low point. Some are saying, you know, there's not been this bad a relation between the U.S. and China since the late 1970s when relate diplomatic relations were normalized between the two countries. You mentioned Mike Pompeo. He gave a speech at the Nixon Library, of all places, Nixon to China, basically disowning the approach of Nixon and Ford and Bush senior and other presidents saying basically China exploited engagement, got what it wanted, screwed everyone over, which is not a fair description of what has happened over the last 40 years at all.

[00:44:32]

But yes, sounding axis of evil is sounding regime change. Yes. I mean, certainly regime change in Iraq or Libya is one thing, regime change in Beijing. That's that's a big, big talk. That's big from Mike Pompeo. It is very worrying. Many of us worry about a conflict between the two countries of an accidental unwitting conflict between the two sides would be disastrous for the world and for the two countries. But, you know, the problem, of course, is that there is no strategy as usual.

[00:44:59]

So plumbago make noises. But what's his plan to go to war? No, of course not. What does he actually want to do about.

[00:45:04]

Oh, we're going to ban nine to two million people crossing in a band, 92. You can't ban 92 million people. Of course, Trump's solution to everything is to try and ban it. Terrorism will ban Muslims. China will ban the Chinese. It's a ridiculous gesture. I'm all for talking to sanctions, actually. Trump signed targeted sanctions legislation against Chinese party officials, Chinese Communist Party officials who've been directly linked to or involved in the crimes against the Wiegert and Shin Jang, which you and I have talked about before.

[00:45:29]

I mean, there's a cultural genocide, what's being called a demographic genocide going on in Qinsheng Province. Up to a million people may be in camps being brainwashed, tortured, held against their will. AP just had a story out a few days ago. Horrific story about WIEGEL women being forced to undergo abortions for sterilizations, draconian, inhuman response by the Chinese to the what they call the problem of the Wiegel Muslims in Shenzhen. But he cut the population 40.

[00:45:56]

But that is genocide, right? Is trying to destroy a minority population. So the world has to do something about it, has to say something. And the Trump administration belatedly has come to this and said, you know, we're going to bring in sanctions, we're going to target Chinese officials. A lot of right wingers have jumped on the. And told me, if you look at Twitter these days, Ben Shapiro and Co., they're talking about we got Muslims, the first Muslims, any right wing has ever actually spoken out in favor of.

[00:46:20]

Surprise, surprise. Wonder why. Because they're in China, right? My enemy's enemy is my friends. It's almost like a remember the last time this happened? Afghanistan, 1984, anyway. When the communists come along, suddenly we care about Muslim minority. They don't give a shit. We know from John Bolton's book, The Donald Trump encouraged President Xi Jinping to build camps to put Muslims in. Donald Trump, the president of states, encouraged genocide abroad.

[00:46:43]

Let that sink in. Another story that was a 24 hour news story. More moved on. No one talks about it anymore. No one asked him about it. He encouraged genocide in China. And this is the problem. There's no strategy. There are problems in China that need to be dealt with. This administration, this president, this party can't do it. I mean, until the other day, he loved China more than any other presidents ever loved China.

[00:47:03]

I mean, this is the whole irony of the whole Biden is the candidate of the Communist Party. Donald Trump.

[00:47:08]

Just just just if you could look at his Twitter feed and if you look at some of the stuff you say, he said, and I quote this, what he said about China from January onwards, they were working hard, working very hard, working really hard, leading a successful operation and doing a very good job on the Corona virus.

[00:47:25]

He said he appreciated their efforts and transparency. He said, I want to thank President Xi, called him a friend multiple times. And here's my favorite time. He did you. I hadn't heard this until I. I looked into it in Davos in January.

[00:47:37]

He said he's for China, I'm for the U.S. But other than that, we love each other. Now, we've talked about the Kim letters, love letters, and we laugh about Sharon King. How about Xi Jinping? I think Xi Jinping and Trump get a pass. I think Xi Jinping gets a pass in and of itself.

[00:47:52]

I think he's one of the world's worst dictators, if not the world's worst dictator right now, not just because of Shin Jang, but Hong Kong and what he's doing in China, even by Chinese dictatorial standards. This guy is extreme, and yet Trump says I'm in love with him. Again, sorry to do this hashtag. Imagine if Obama did it. Imagine if Obama said, I'm in love with a dictator who the rest of the Republican Party was slamming.

[00:48:13]

And he goes from this love affair with Xi Jinping to suddenly Wu Han virus.

[00:48:18]

It came from China. There are number one enemy regime change. That's just bizarre. That's not how you handle a country like China, which doesn't need to be tackled on issues like the wiggers, but not by this erratic, crazy, reckless, completely ill thought out nonsense from the White House.

[00:48:33]

Yeah. Quite possibly the single biggest problem that Joe Biden will inherit from Donald Trump in terms of foreign policy.

[00:48:41]

But maybe Trump you know, his goal here is to emulate Xi Jinping. Right. Because if you look at the campaign's new message, it's law and order. Right. And so if you look at Portland, you know, the goal clearly is stoke the flames of a culture war, demonize all Democrats, demonize protesters, call them the radical right. There are reports trickling out about how personally involved Trump is in all this. He's calling the DHS secretary in the morning for updates on what's happening in Portland.

[00:49:06]

These agents in Portland are no longer just defending federal buildings. They're moving up locks into the neighborhoods. The Daily Beast reported that Trump wanted an ostentatious show of force and to see protesters, quote, shaking in their boots. One official gave up the game by telling The Washington Post that, quote, It was about getting viral content online.

[00:49:24]

Maybe always is. You've been arguing for a while that it is time to start saying the F word fascism. What do people need to know?

[00:49:31]

So what people need to know is if Donald Trump is an authoritarian. That is indisputable to the anyone debates that the issue is, you know, oh, has he gone far enough to be a fascist? Has he met whatever threshold people have in their imagination of what a fascist is? And often it's just reduced to Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini? Jason Stanly, who's a professor of philosophy at Yale, written a brilliant book on fascism. Good friend of mine.

[00:49:51]

He made the point on Twitter a couple of days ago. He said, you know, fascism apparently is only comes from Germany and Italy. That's that's what fascism is. Sarcastic sarcastically This idea that we've just we think that can only happen in that way.

[00:50:02]

No fascism threat on board at each country, responds to fascism differently, produces different forms of fascism. There is an American form of fascism which has been around for a while since even before Hitler. Hitler paid tribute to Jim Crow laws in Mein Kampf when he was writing Montcalm and you know, neo-Nazis were gathering in the 1930s.

[00:50:20]

Henry Wallace, vice president under FDR, his second vice president, wrote a famous article for The New York Times in 1944 at the height of the global war against fascism.

[00:50:29]

And I just got the quote here because I knew you'd ask me about fascism. And he said he said at the time is what he said. He said the American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They claim to be super patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. Sound familiar to anyone right now? Yeah, there is a.

[00:50:51]

I mean, look, Trump, you mentioned China. We just talked about China in 1990, a year after Tiananmen Square.

[00:50:57]

Trump did interview with Playboy magazine in which he praised the Chinese for their show of strength against the protest Chinaman's Square. That's who he's always been an admirer of autocracy and admirer of state sponsored violence. That's what he. Joyce. Yes. He doesn't have some thought out ideology as a Hitler and Mussolini does, but he definitely likes the tactics of fascism, the state sponsored violence, the criminalization of the free press, the use of paramilitaries on the streets, the talk of them, and as the xenophobia, the nationalist.

[00:51:29]

It's all there, all of the ingredients. And look, yes, maybe we're not Germany 1943, but are we Germany 1933? Are we the Germany of the Reichstag fire? The Germany where Hitler was seen as a idiot who could be controlled by the conservative elites to get what they wanted done in terms of tax cuts? Are we in that period of time? I don't know the answer. I suspect we are. But I'd like us to have a discussion about this and talk to the experts and look at the evidence in front of us.

[00:51:53]

Look at what? How can you look at what's happening in Portland, Oregon, and say, oh, this is just any other bog standard authoritarian American president? It's not. Come on.

[00:52:01]

The day daily. You mention The Daily Beast. Another quote in The Daily Beast that I saw jumped out at me.

[00:52:07]

Former senior Trump administration official told The Beast Trump would often talk about lining up drug dealers and gang members in front of a firing squad if it was solely up to him. That's how the country would solve crime in Democrat run cities. We just we just gloss over this and move on. What I feel are official is saying that Trump says he wants to line people up and shoot them. This is about respect for due process. I mean, Richard Nixon didn't come anywhere close to this and look along these lines.

[00:52:35]

I mean, all lost in the incoherence of that interview with Chris Wallace was it was a claim Trump made that the Supreme Court's recent ruling against his attempt to rollback the doctor program somehow gives them new authorities on immigration and health care. And I remember thinking like that is maybe the big news out of this interview. What is he talking about? Initially, nobody knew. But apparently he was referencing an argument advanced by a Bush administration lawyer named John Yoo in case listeners at home don't know who John Yoo is.

[00:53:03]

Can you remind us and why this should make us a little nervous? Yes.

[00:53:06]

And before I get to John, you just touched you on the Trump Wallace thing. What he said was just a new version of what he's always said, which is I should have complete power.

[00:53:16]

I should be writing. He said this at Kronosaurus presses. He says. Article two of the Constitution gives me total power and authority. Right. He is mad. This is what he believes. And of course, Republicans have always believed a strong executive. Right. Dick Cheney and and the unitary executive theory that the president can basically do anything. But they only believe that for Republicans, they didn't think your boss, Barack Obama, had executive power. He was a tyrant and a dictator.

[00:53:40]

Obama. But Republican presidents should always have no controls, no checks and balances. And Trump is part of that school of thought. He himself is just wants to be a dictator. Right. So he he reaches out for whatever argument he can get. Article two. And then obviously, someone saw this National Review article by John Yoo, which basically said that the Dacca court ruling, which the Supreme Court didn't say Dhaka's good or bad. I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding of what they said was the process that Trump used to try and get rid of Dukkha.

[00:54:05]

He can't do that. And John use argument was, well, if he can't do that. That means the next president can't undo what Trump's doing. Trump can do whatever he likes using executive power. Right. Tortured argument that a lot of more qualified law professors. That is completely bonkers, as have the ACLU. But this is John Yoo. John Yoo was part of the Bush administration. Argued says the president can do whatever they like as long as they have a Republican next to their name.

[00:54:28]

And the thing that John Yoo pushed under George W. Bush was torture. That was his issue. He was in the Office of Legal Counsel. I think he was deputy assistant attorney general at the time. And he wrote the famous torture memos in 2002 which gave Bush and the CIA and others the authority to torture people, literally torture people, in fact, to you.

[00:54:48]

He came up with the argument that it's not torture unless it's organ failure, unless it's permanent damage to the body or unless you die when it's happening. Otherwise, fine. You want to slap someone around. No organ failure. You want to waterboard someone. They're not dead. Fine. Go for it. That was his legal argument, which never stood up in any court of law, violated the Geneva Conventions. And, you know, I would say two things.

[00:55:12]

Number one, the one of the biggest mistakes your boss made Barack Obama in office was not prosecuting people like John Yoo. This whole we're not going to look backwards, won't go look forwards on torture.

[00:55:23]

The reason John Yoo is able to write National Review pieces today and go on CNN and FOX is because he was never really held to account for the crap he did for George W. Bush. He should have been. The rest of them should have been. And, you know, we talk about council culture today, canceling people. John Yoo is a law professor at fucking Berkeley. Right. The home of all lefty liberals in America. How the hell is John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley?

[00:55:47]

If we're supposedly count on people. I don't want to hide from Berkeley. You want to a country. I don't want to cancel his career. I want to see him in prison. You and I should have a long debate Sunday about exactly this question, because I think it's a worthwhile debate, but it is insane to me that this man is so do publish pieces, work at a law school and taken seriously in watching a liberal law run out of town, liberal law school.

[00:56:13]

So the last thing I want to talk to you with is about the media, because you are an expert. Margaret Sullivan from The Washington Post wrote this piece about why the media coverage of 2016 was disastrous and how we can get it right and 20/20. And we do a lot of media criticism here in parts of America. But you are you are a professional. You're a trained journalist. And the best part I think, about your perspective is you came up in the UK where the press is less deferential, it's more brutal, it's unsparing, and you are unsparing in your criticism of the political media.

[00:56:44]

So let me briefly summarize Sullivan's criticism of the 16 coverage. For the listeners, it basically, she says it rely too much on polling. It overplayed. The press overplayed the e-mail story. They were out of touch with the anger in the electorate and the racism and sexism there was often driving it. The media let Trump play assignment editor. They didn't understand Facebook's influence and generally didn't adapt to modernity. What do you think of that list? Anything you'd add?

[00:57:10]

100 percent.

[00:57:11]

I think she and she now I'm a big fan of Margaret Sullivan. She's one of the few journalists who gets it. And she basically covered everything.

[00:57:17]

The whole Trump being a shiny new toy for the media, I think is the phrase she's which was spot on description of the way he was treated with like, yay, somewhat different than entertaining. You know, he was a fiscal stimulus for the media in 2016. CNN made. Yeah. Prof. MSNBC, FOX, wherever you were on the political spectrum, you made record profits as a cable news provider. The New York Times had a record boost in subscriptions once he was elected.

[00:57:38]

I mean, that was a silver lining to the times of the Trump election.

[00:57:40]

The New Yorker and others all did really well out of the Trump phenomenon, and they treated them in that way as a kind of shiny new toy.

[00:57:47]

So I think she's right. There were so many failures. My biggest worry, which she touches on in this piece, but I think she could have been even more unsparing about is that they haven't learned the lessons. So, you know, one of the things we've talked about over the last year, journalist, is have we learned the lessons of 2016? And we haven't read. We have not learned the lessons of 2016.

[00:58:04]

And therefore, you still see the both sides coverage. You still see the resistance to calling a lie a lie. You still see the the the euphemisms for racism in The New York Times and The Washington Post, you know, racially coded, racially, whatever it is, inflame all this nonsense, meaning racist, save freaking racist. Right. So I think those are the huge problems, the inability to really think again.

[00:58:27]

It comes back to my criticism of Pelosi.

[00:58:29]

It goes about who these people are, politicians, Democratic politicians, all the way they are. It's in their DNA, political journals, D.C. preschool. It's the way they are. It's the way they've always been. They don't know any other way. They've always covered it a certain way. And when someone like Trump comes along and disrupts the topper, they can't compute. They can't cope. And they try and use the same methods which don't work.

[00:58:51]

It doesn't work at all to do both sides.

[00:58:53]

We know today that free free speech is under assault. Democracy is under assault. Civil liberties are under assault. All of the progress that the U.S. has made on racism is under assault. And the only way you can cover that fairly is to point out that it's the Republican Party and Trump that is leading that assault. And neutral journalists can't do that. They can't call. They can't call it out because that would be one side. Well, hold on.

[00:59:15]

What's the Democrats? Where's their role in that? They have to be blamed, too. And of course, the Democrats have problems. But right now, the white nationalist is the guy in the Oval Office.

[00:59:23]

And I think they just and then they say, oh, we can't be biased. We can't take a side. Yes, you can. Sorry. You can be pro fact. You can be pro truth. You can be pro civil liberties. And you can be anti racism, an anti authoritarianism. There's nothing stopping journalists from doing that other than if they do go down that road.

[00:59:40]

They'll have to start saying some an unpleasant to themselves home truths to their viewers and readers about the modern Republican Party.

[00:59:48]

Yes, one. One thing I think that she missed, just from a whiny Democrats perspective, that is a pre Trump problem, which is one of the big differences between you're running as a Democrat and running as a Republican is the way conservative media can drive the NRA. Yes, Benghazi is the best example. It was a tragedy. There's lots to criticize in the government's security measures for those individuals. But what the coverage was disproportionate. It was partisan.

[01:00:12]

It was driven by constant FOX News coverage. And there's no analogous capacity on the left. We know that because we recently learned that Russia was paying Taliban linked militants to kill U.S. troops. Trump did nothing to stop them. It's no longer a story.

[01:00:26]

I mean, it's no longer a story is the epitaph of the Trump presidency and media character. I mean, if I go to the things that whisper I mean, the other day I was just tweeting last night about something about Trump.

[01:00:37]

Oh, you know, he tweeted just tweeted yesterday about mothers, the scam of the mothers in Portland. And he put mothers in marks. And I was like, are they not mothers? I mean, even some days I don't know why I do this to myself. So I'm not even even a bizarre Trump standard. What does that even mean? And somebody point reminded me about, you know, his history of attacking protesters and drama. Is it Martin Gugino?

[01:00:58]

I think his name was the 75 year old guy in Buffalo who was just down to the pavement. Trump attacked him. Remember, Trump called him and Trevor said he was a troublemaker.

[01:01:06]

Totally false. Seventy five year old white pensioner. Right. Normally, Republicans would be first to the defense of this guy. He's in a hospital summit. We don't even talk about eye to eye. Who? All I do is criticize. Trump had forgotten about it. We.

[01:01:19]

It's no longer a story, as you say, because we in the media, even those of us who are critics of Trump, don't have the infrastructure, old, quote unquote, echo chamber to really do harm to the Republicans by constantly saying. What about this? What about this? What about. Don't forget this. The way that the Republicans could over Benghazi or over Ebola. We don't do it. We just move. I mean, partly it's Trump just overwhelms us, you know, to quote Steve Bannon.

[01:01:41]

Right. He floods the zone with shit, which means we can't cover everything. But on the other hand, we do just we don't circle back to things. So one classic example I often ask is Trump does a lot of interviews. Why does no one say to him, you know what you told AOC at L.A., I want to go back to where they came from. Let's talk about that. I would love to see impressions that one issue because it's different where no Republican can defend him.

[01:02:02]

No, no one has one of the few issues. You'll note that no Republican has ever come out and defended him on. They say they don't criticize him, but they don't defend it because it's indefensible by any any stretch of the imagination. There's no cover for it.

[01:02:13]

No one asked him about it. It's a year ago. This was a year ago. Is 20 years ago.

[01:02:17]

Trump dog years. So that's a real problem when it comes to coverage. And you know, one thing, I will never forgive the D.C. press corps. And we're at the moment, I really, really knew that they're completely irredeemable, sadly. Most of them, if not all, is, you know, Sarah Huckabee. Sanders was two years White House press secretary carrying Warton for a president who basically incited violence and hate against the media every day, called him fake news, called him scum.

[01:02:41]

Call them enemies of the people. She herself attacked the press from the podium. She then abandoned the briefing. She lied to them so much that Robert Muller included one of her lies in his report to the press.

[01:02:53]

And yet when she quit, they held her a going away party, the White House press corps. I mean, just you would be gone. Yeah. God. Do you want to go? Shame on them for organizing the damn thing. And you know, when when when ordinary people say, you know, people on Twitter say to me, the problem is it's access journalism. You know, and I try and defend my colleagues. But yeah. But his access.

[01:03:18]

It's access. It's a fear of power.

[01:03:21]

You look at the way that even in the briefings to me. Have you seen some of these journalists do what British journalist, British media has a lot wrong with it. But at least some journalism. England can ask tough questions. You look in the brain, does a couple of them who can ask tough questions? Mostly women, by the way. And a lot of the rest of them are just intimidated by Trump or by Kaley McInerney. Annual where is they're very different.

[01:03:40]

Did they get spooked easily when they're attacked? They don't really push back hard enough. Maybe, Jim Acosta, occasionally. But, you know, this is just there's the access, the deference, the fear, the both sides. I mean, the both sides, as the killer told me, that's what's going to kill us in the run up to the election when even The New York Times is both citing Trump and 20/20. You know, we're screwed.

[01:03:59]

And it's an old phrase. Maybe some of your listeners have heard it before.

[01:04:02]

There's an old line about journalism. What is the job of a journalist?

[01:04:05]

If someone says to you it's raining outside and someone else's to you it's not raining outside. Your job is not to say person A says, it's raining. Person B says it's not raining.

[01:04:14]

Your job is to open the fucking window and find out if it's raining outside so that we will finish on a positive note here, which is Sullivan's fixes.

[01:04:23]

OK. So she says focus on voting rights and election integrity. Good idea. Present polling with more context. Good. Don't let Trump play Simon at or don't fall for manufactured crisis like the e-mail scandal. Understand the influence of social media to your point. I would like to include in that list. Be more adversarial. It drives me crazy when people like Mike Pompeo come on Sunday shows, they get deferential treatment. I don't care if they come back.

[01:04:45]

The house shouldn't care if they come back. Everyone should watch your shows and to see the way guests are pressed again and again and again when they're not answering. I feel like if everyone did it. Where else are the Trump people going to go? They can't only go on Fox. Yeah.

[01:04:58]

And even on Fox, Chris Wallace is relatively, by cable news standards, a good tough into that. What was interesting about our interview with Trump that everyone praised was that I tweeted about the time and was, you know, oh, Chris Wallace did great.

[01:05:09]

Okay. Why didn't other people do it rather than just go? Is it Chris Wallace? Great. Well, why did the rest of the TV interview I mean, Trump has pretty much sat down with most top American TV. You know, he doesn't do often, but if you go through the list, he's done Stephanopoulos. He's done Chuck Todd. You've done all most of them. You haven't done Jake Tapper, I believe. But he's done he's done most top TV host.

[01:05:29]

He's done most Sunday show hosts. He's done 60 Minutes. Why haven't they been able to kind of put him on the spot in that way? Why haven't they been able to offer followups? I think they used a real long, long, hard look at themselves.

[01:05:40]

A lot of these journalists who have interviewed Trump either on tape or on print and ask themselves, really, you know, history will judge you when this guy, when this serial fabricator, when this deranged narcissist, when this white nationalist was sitting in the Oval Office and you got a chance with him to sit down with him, what did you ask him? What did you do with that time? Yeah, that's a great question. Mary, thank you so much for doing the show today.

[01:06:03]

Everyone should follow your work at The Intercept. They should subscribe to deconstructed your podcast and check out everything you're doing with Al Jazeera English. Head to head up front. It's fantastic work. I love talking to you, man. I love that you are you. You give me a couple of shots to the face.

[01:06:17]

You're welcome back on Deconstructed anytime. Thank you. Thank you. And have a great day.

[01:06:22]

Appreciate it. Thank you so much, Tom. It's fun, OK.

[01:06:25]

When we come back, you're going to hear John Edwards interview with Mother Jones. Is already Birman about voting during the pandemic. Now we are less than 100 days out.

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Hakuna matata, the circle of life. Now it's all happening for sure. Our thanks to the chief, though.

[01:08:24]

I just will say, though, I'm glad we're not in the office, otherwise Emily would bring that little baby to the office, hold it up and say everything the light touches is yours.

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We looked really good in those wedding photos.

[01:09:05]

And next thing you know, another person, Ari Berman is a senior reporter at Mother Jones covering voting rights. He's the author of Give US the Ballot The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Ari, thanks for joining us.

[01:09:18]

Hey, John, good to see you from afar again. I know. So people are hearing a lot of crazy lives from Donald Trump about voting by mail. You're a journalist who spent more time on this topic than just about anyone. How safe is voting by mail?

[01:09:36]

You're absolutely right, John. The president has engaged in a massive propaganda effort around thought by mail, calling it rigged and dangerous and fraudulent. But in fact, a vote by mail is very safe. There is very little fraud when it comes to vote by mail. The conservative Heritage Foundation, which is a close ally of Donald Trump, found only one hundred and forty three criminal convictions for mail ballot fraud over the past 20 years. So that equals point oh oh oh oh oh six percent of fraud out of total votes cast.

[01:10:16]

So you can see it's not a very big problem. Also, I think we've had, you know, people like the military has been voting by mail for I don't know how long decades. We have multiple states that vote by mail like this is a practice that has gone on for so long in this country that the idea that it's some new thing that we should worry about is just absurd. Right.

[01:10:40]

Yeah. That's absolutely right. Voting by mail is going to be used in larger numbers than ever before. But it's not a new invention. It's not like we invented vote by mail in the year 2020. States like Oregon have been doing it for a few decades now. It works really well. They're both Republicans and Democrats like it. The military has been voting by mail for decades. Overseas voters have been voting by mail for decades. So we have a lot of data on this.

[01:11:10]

We have data that shows that vote by mail doesn't lead to large scale voter fraud. We have data that people like using vote by mail and we have data that vote by mail increases voter turnout. So we're going to see an expansion of vote by mail, but there's not going to be anything really different in terms of how it works this year than how it's worked in years past.

[01:11:32]

In fact, I believe there's there's some people who voted by mail in the past who live and work in the White House. Isn't that right?

[01:11:41]

I imagine that there are. So according to The Washington Post, there are 16 top Trump administration officials, including Trump himself, that have voted by mail. So you have Trump voting by mail. You have pense voting by mail. You have Attorney General Barr voting by mail. You have Kellyanne Conway voting by mail. I'm not going to read the whole list, but on and on and on you go. Basically, every top member of the Trump administration has voted by mail.

[01:12:11]

And Trump is trying to create this crazy distinction between vote by mail, mail ballots and absentee voting. But they're the same thing. It's people voting by mail every time I see him say that on Twitter.

[01:12:26]

I want to scream because it's just like, no, there's not enough people pointing out that there is absolutely no difference between voting by mail and absentee voting. It's the same thing. And Donald Trump is trying to do is to draw this distinction between the two. It's crazy.

[01:12:40]

It's the same thing. He's basically saying, well, if you vote absentee, you have to go through a process. Well, in every state you have to go through a process. If your ballot is automatically mailed to you, you still have to go through a process of sending it back if you request an absentee ballot. You still have to go through a process to get it. And so it really doesn't make any sense what Trump is saying. I think what he's trying to do is he's trying to say that states should not make it easy to vote by mail.

[01:13:06]

That state should not, for example, mail ballots to every registered voter like Oregon does, like Washington does, that California is going to do this year, in my view, that that's actually what we should be chilly. If you look at the data, the best way to do vote by mail is to have it be universal and to send a ballot to every registered voter. And I think Trump is so afraid of that because that way of voting by mail is going to lead to the largest increase in voter turnout because it's going to get ballots in the easiest way to the largest number of voters.

[01:13:36]

So 2020 will be the first time that a lot of people vote by mail. How easy is it to do that right now? It's very easy to vote by mail. In most states, in seven states in the country, ballots are mailed to every registered voter. So you'll actually get a ballot where you live. If you're registered, you want to do anything to get it. And that's really the gold standard. That's what Oregon and Washington and California states like that are going to do in 34 states.

[01:14:02]

You can request an absentee ballot for any reason. That means that anybody in those states can vote by mail. And that includes basically every swing state in the country. So in all of the states that are going to decide the next presidential election, people will easily be able to vote by mail then. And there is about 10 other states in which you have to have an excuse to vote by mail. Most of those states allowed you to vote by mail, do the corona virus in the primaries.

[01:14:27]

And the hope is that there allow you to do that in the general. Now, there are some notable exceptions where it's a very, very difficult to vote by mail. One of those places is Texas, where, for example, if you're over 65, you can vote by mail for any reason. But if you're under 65, you can't actually cite fear of contracting Kofod as a reason to vote by mail, which I just think is so absolutely, totally insane.

[01:14:54]

The Republican attorney general there has said that fear of contracting it is an emotional condition, not a physical condition, even though there are 10000 cases a day in Texas right now. So in a few states like Texas, Republicans have create a situation where it's easy for their voters to be able to vote by mail, particularly voters over 65. And it's harder for Democrats those. Under 65 to be able to vote by mail. But the good news is that in most of the country, anyone can vote by mail and it's very easy to do so.

[01:15:27]

What do we know about voter turnout in states where there's a lot of voting by mail?

[01:15:30]

We know that voter turnout increases when you make it easy to vote by mail. So just look at what happened in the primaries. Four of the five states with the highest increases in voter turnout mailed ballots to all registered voters. So that policy works in 13 of the 15 states with the highest voter turnout in the primaries, 60 percent or more of the electorate voted by mail. So what we're seeing is that in states with high turnout, a lot of people decide to vote by mail because that's the safest way to vote in a pandemic.

[01:16:02]

And I think that's what the Trump administration is so afraid of. They're afraid of the fact that there will be unprecedented voter turnout in November and that voters will decide to cast ballots by mail because it's the safest way to do so. And they think that's going to hurt their voters, even though, in my view, Republicans are just as likely, if not more likely, to want to vote by mail as Democrats will be.

[01:16:24]

Well, that that was gonna be my next question is, I've seen a lot of stories recently that Republican operatives in various states are now trying to tell the White House, stop having the president attack, vote by mail because they want vote by mail because they believe that if more of their voters get ballots to mail in, they will have better turnout in Republican sections of certain places in America. Absolutely.

[01:16:52]

If you look at who the GOP is, core voters are, they are older, more rural voters that are going to need vote by mail more than just about anybody. And so what President Trump is doing by trying to dissuade people to vote by mail is he's essentially disenfranchising his own voters. And that's why Republicans in Wisconsin and Florida and all of these states are saying, no, we actually want people to vote by mail and they really reach an absurd level in Florida.

[01:17:21]

Jonah, you may have seen this mailer that was done by the Florida Republican Party where they took a tweet from President Trump that says absentee voting is good. And they highlighted that. Then they blurred out the part where he said mail voting is bad. So they are doing quite the jewed, the jujitsu here, trying to finesse this issue. And what we're seeing is that in states like Florida, Democrats have now a huge advantage in terms of requesting mail ballots.

[01:17:48]

And that's a big reversal because in Arizona and Florida and other swing states, Republicans were ahead when it came to vote by mail. They've completely lost that advantage because of what the president has been saying.

[01:18:00]

Are there any drawbacks, a vote by mail that you've seen? Yeah. So vote by mail isn't perfect. There are a few things to keep an eye on. One thing is the fact that if you don't turn your ballot in on time, it can be rejected. So in the primaries so far, sixty five thousand absentee ballots have been rejected because they arrived too late. Now, that's not that big of a number. That's only one percent of total ballots cast.

[01:18:25]

However, if the election is close, you have to keep an eye on are these ballots being returned in time? So I would urge everyone who wants to vote by mail. Make sure you request your mail ballot early and make sure you send it back early because the closer to the election you get in terms of requesting it. That's going to put more stress on election officials. That's going to put more stress on the Postal Service. Another potential drawback, a vote by mail is the ballots can be rejected if you don't sign them.

[01:18:50]

For example, if you don't sign them neatly, they might be thrown out because of things like mismatch signatures. So you have to be careful when you vote by mail. Some states have very strict laws about this. So voting by mail, I think is really good, particularly the pandemic. But you have to be careful in terms of how you do it. You have to request a ballot early. You have to fill it out carefully. And to me, all of the rules governing mail voting are a reason why we should make mail voting easier, not harder, because there are already a lot of rules surrounding mail voting.

[01:19:22]

And if they become more restrictive, not less restrictive, fewer people are going to use it as a result. I've talked to a lot of folks on the Democratic side who say that as much as we want to make vote by mail much easier and universally accessible, really, that they also want to preserve some in-person voting options that are safe for the fall because there are a number of Democratic constituencies or people who tend to vote Democratic.

[01:19:49]

This is especially true, apparently, of a lot of black voters who don't have a lot of trust and vote by mail, partly because of voter suppression efforts over the years. And they worry that their ballot somehow won't be counted until they actually want to go vote in person.

[01:20:04]

Do you think it's important to sort of preserve these in-person voting opportunities for people in the fall, even as you know? You know, we may be dealing with with it?

[01:20:14]

Yeah, I think in-person voting is still really important. I don't think it's either or. I don't think you vote by mail or you vote in person. You have to have both options. And we've clearly seen that in the primaries because one of the most disturbing things that happened in the primaries is there's been very long lines to vote. Five hour lines in Wisconsin, six hour lines in Georgia, seven hour lines in Nevada. And one of the reasons why the lines were so long is because so many polling places were closed.

[01:20:40]

And so these states were encouraging people to vote by mail, but they weren't preserving enough polling places. And what happened was you either had constituencies that wanted to vote in person or you had constituencies that didn't get their mail ballots for one reason or another. And if you don't get a mail ballot, your only recourse is to go vote in person. And so I think we should expect that in November we're going to see unprecedented mail voting. But a lot of people are still going to want to vote in person.

[01:21:07]

And it's going to be critically important to have enough polling places. And I think one thing is also really important is that to make sure there's enough poll workers because poll workers tend to be older. I saw a statistic that 58 percent of poll workers are 60 or over. So they're the highest risk category. So if you're if you're young, if you feel like you're in a safe enough position, I would encourage people to become poll workers, because if you don't want your polling place to close, someone has to be able to staff the polls who's not at risk and willing to do this kind of work.

[01:21:41]

Yeah, we're trying to do that this week, as well as to try to make sure as many people as possible who are young and healthy can sign up to be poll workers so that a lot of people who are elderly and at risk don't have to do that. What are most important things? Obviously, we need for a vote by mail to be successful is a working post office.

[01:21:57]

Trump has been trying to screw that up, too.

[01:21:59]

What worries you about how he's treated the U.S. Postal Service and sort of the state of the U.S. Postal Service right now as we head into this election?

[01:22:07]

I'm very concerned about what the Trump administration is doing to the post office. They named the former top fundraiser for the Republican convention as postmaster general, which is totally unprecedented to put such a partisan person in that position. He recently announced a major changes to the post office. One of the things the Trump administration is trying to do is to eliminate overtime for postal workers and also to say that they don't have to deliver packages the same day. So what's that going to mean?

[01:22:38]

That's going to mean that postal workers are not compelled to work as many hours and mail is not going to be able to be delivered as efficiently in the middle of a pandemic in which you're going to see unprecedented vote by mail. So it's I don't think it's coincidence that suddenly the Trump administration is attacking and politicizing the post office at the very moment when vote by mail is more important than ever. I think they are using the post office as a vehicle for voter suppression.

[01:23:08]

And that's why it's so important that Congress funds the post office. Congress has already given the post office ten billion dollars, but the post office hasn't been able to access that money because Steve Manoogian is putting all of these considerations on them, using the funds. So that's insane. They're not even able to use the money that they've already gotten. And also, they are running out of money. And one of the things Democrats did in the Heroes Act, which they passed in May.

[01:23:34]

They included they included twenty five billion dollars for the post office. And so the post office says they need that money or they're going to run out of it. And to me, again, this should not be a partisan issue, just as in the same way that Republicans vote by mail. Republicans get mail. It's not there's not an inherent bias when it comes to mail.

[01:23:54]

And again, a lot of Republicans live in rural areas where they absolutely rely on the post office. So this is one issue where it seems like there should be some sort of bipartisan agreement that we need the post office in general and we specifically need it in election, which vote by mail is going to be used in unprecedented numbers.

[01:24:11]

So, you know, as you said earlier, in in the swing states that will decide the election. It it does seem like voting by mail is accessible and all those in all those states without an excuse.

[01:24:23]

Now that we've been through most of the primaries and we're looking towards the. And you've been covering a lot of the voting problems that we've had in these in these primaries. What sort of worries you the most? As we as we look to the fall about ensuring voting access in November, what worries me is we've never done this before.

[01:24:44]

We've never had a presidential election in a pandemic to begin with. And then we've never had people vote by mail in such large numbers. So during the primaries, for example, in Wisconsin, they went from six percent of people voting by mail to 60 percent of people voting by mail, which is just an unbelievable increase from one election to the other end. Election officials were overwhelmed. The post office was overwhelmed. Voters were confused by the process. And now voter turnout is going to be two to three times higher and all of these key swing states than it was during the primaries.

[01:25:18]

So I'm worried that even if everyone is well-intentioned about this process, the system could just get overwhelmed by the volume of mail voting. That's one thing that concerns me. The other thing is that clear. There are people that don't want this process to go well, that the Republican Party has been engaged in a very long effort, you could say a 50 year long effort to try to suppress voters. Certainly it's accelerated since the 2010 election when all of these new restrictions on voting went into effect in places like Ohio and North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

[01:25:50]

And they're going to double down on those efforts during a pandemic. And they're trying to the Republican Party is currently trying to weaponize corona virus to make voting more difficult. They're trying to make it more difficult to vote by mail. They're also trying to make it more difficult to vote in person. The good news is that in the primaries, a lot of these efforts seem to have backfired, that there has been record voter turnout so far. And so I'm hopeful that people are going to be so motivated to vote that they're going to be be able to overcome whatever barriers are put in front of them.

[01:26:20]

But I also think that in the way that we saw high turnout in Georgia and high turnout in Wisconsin, the voter suppression efforts could actually motivate people to vote and say to people, if my vote didn't matter, why are they trying so hard to suppress it?

[01:26:34]

I'll tell you one thing that keeps me up at night that I actually think we can all have an effect on by educating people about it now is, you know, in 2018, for example, Arizona is a state that has a lot of vote by mail. On election night, it seemed like Kyrsten Sinema was behind Martha McSally. A lot of networks didn't think that she was going to win. Right. We didn't know that she was going to win.

[01:26:58]

Couple days later, she ends up winning by two or three points because it took time to count these ballots. I have a fear that with so much voting by mail, some of these states on election night will look like we'll look closer than they will end up. And Donald Trump may even declare victory in some of these states. And I worry that sort of the reporters covering these races won't really price in the fact that in a couple of days the outstanding ballots maybe may favor Joe Biden or the Democratic candidate.

[01:27:32]

And this could start causing the trouble where Trump declares victory when when he didn't win at all.

[01:27:39]

Is that something you're worried about or is that just sort of a fear that I have? I'm incredibly worried about that scenario. And it's completely plausible to me because one of the effect of Trump urging Republicans to vote in person is that in-person ballots are counted sooner than mail ballots. And in most states, because in a lot of states, ballots don't have to arrive till Election Day or after. And so that means that it takes longer to count the ballots.

[01:28:04]

So you could have a situation where more Republicans are voting in person and their ballots are counted sooner and more Democrats are voting by mail and their ballots are being counted later. And so it makes it seem like there's a lot more Republican votes than Democratic votes when in fact, it just takes longer to count the Democratic votes. So I think that's absolutely possible in a lot of key states that the Republicans could be up early. But the Democrats are going to be up when all votes are counted, and that's just going to be because votes are being counted.

[01:28:33]

But Republicans need to do everything they can't, just like they in Arizona, just like they did in California in 2018, saying the psytrance system is fraudulent, saying it's rigged. And I think that's why it's on all of us as journalists, in addition to election officials saying we're not going to declare any kind of winners until all the votes are at least enough of the votes are counted. Wisconsin's election in April was a complete disaster, but one of the things they did well was they just held all the results for a week until all the ballots were counted.

[01:29:01]

And so, therefore, there was no speculation on election night. Everyone knew that the results were coming out a week later. There was nothing untoward about it. And on a week later, the ballots were counted and we knew who the winners were. And so I think we need to have some sort of agreement on this now. And I think all of the major institutions in America that have credibility, whether it's local election officials, the media, other government agencies outside of the Trump administration have to start educating people about this because.

[01:29:27]

You're completely right that Trump's gonna do whatever he can to try to delegitimize the result, especially if it looks like he might lose. Yeah, I think it's incredibly important that everyone in a position of influence, who is a reporter, who is a journalist, and this is this doesn't have to be partisan. Like, we have to socialize the idea now with the American public that it may not be election night, it may be election week, and that we're all just gonna have to go to bed on election night without the results, without knowing who won the election.

[01:29:56]

And that's just we're in the middle of a pandemic. That just may be what we have to do this year.

[01:30:01]

There is another scenario that also worries me a lot, which is the Supreme Court. We've already seen a number of decisions from the Supreme Court that have put, in effect, bad voting loss for the primaries. So they've put in place restrictions in Florida and Alabama and Wisconsin and Texas pretty much consistently. The Supreme Court has intervened in 2020 to say that Republicans can basically put, in effect any restrictions on voting they want. Even in a pandemic. So what worries me is there's all of this litigation about the rules of mail voting.

[01:30:36]

When do balance need to be postmarked by? Do the signatures have to absolutely match those kind of things? And if the election is really close in certain states, you can absolutely imagine that this stuff is going to be litigated to the Supreme Court. And I'm very concerned if we have a Florida 2000 situation where it's 537 votes or a few thousand votes in a number of key swing states. It's going to go to the court and the court in that case will say that the Republicans are going to prevail.

[01:31:09]

And Donald Trump is going to be elected. I really hope that doesn't happen. But unforced. There's already a precedent for that in this country. And when it comes to voting rights, John Roberts is not a swing vote. And I think it's really, really important for people to understand that this is the guy who authored the majority decision gutting the Voting Rights Act. This is the guy that said federal courts can't review gerrymandering. This is the guy that said that states can do aggressive voter purging.

[01:31:36]

So he's not a swing vote when it comes to voting rights. And basically what I hope is, number one, the election isn't close. But number two, that we know what the rules are ahead of time. And there's agreement on that so that the Supreme Court doesn't again decide the winner of the election like they did in 2000.

[01:31:54]

Yeah. Fortunately, the answer to all of these concerns, no matter which way you slice it, is massive voter turnout. Ari Berman, thank you so much for joining us. Senior reporter Mother Jones. Your book is Give US the Ballot The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Go check it out. Thanks again for the time. Thanks so much, John.

[01:32:12]

Great to talk to you. Thank you again to Ari Berman. Thank you. To Meti Hossan for four guest hosting today. Thank you to all you listeners who made it to the outro who have gone to vote, save America, dot com, slash every last vote and who are pitching in and doing your thing.

[01:32:31]

Dan and Alyssa will be here on Thursday.

[01:32:35]

Jon Favreau is threatening to be back a week from today, that next Monday. We'll see if that holds up. But thanks, everybody. Talk to you soon. Positive of America is a crooked media production. The executive producer is Michael Martinez, our assistant producers, Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle segment is our sound engineer based a tiny simulator, K.D. Lang, Roman Pappert, Demetrio, Caroline Reston and Alisa Gutierrez for production support into our digital team.

[01:33:07]

Alija Ko Na Melkonian, Elfriede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.