This week’s podcast looks at the final presidential debate, the panic among Democrats about GOP post-election shenanigans, the panic in the media about Jeffrey Toobin’s Zoom shenanigans, the feud between Lou Dobbs and Lindsey Graham, and how Sacha Baron Cohen may have just helped make Joe Biden president.
by Kevin Kelton
As we count down to election night and then a week or two of uncertainty following it, it’s important that everyone take a step back and settle in for the possibility of BOTH outcomes. With that in mind, here’s a few tips on how to survive the next two weeks:
1) Remember that no election is ever a sure thing. It’s okay to like your chances and feel optimistic. Just remember that no matter which way the polls are leaning, either candidate could win. It’s when you go in to an election night thinking the outcome is certain, that you come out devistated.
2) Realize that history is longer than you and me, and America isn’t falling apart due to any election or presidency. Even given another four years, this guy can’t undo 240. America survived James Buchanan (barely), Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover (barely again), Richard Nixon, and two Reagan terms. (And believe me, plenty of us thought he was pretty awful at the time.) If you don’t know much about these infamous stains on the presidency, listen to a few episodes of the Very Presidential pocast. You’ll learn that Trump is just the latest in a long history of crazy, narcisistic, incompetent a-holes who somehow fooled enough voters to get to the Oval Office. Sure, Trump is worse by far, and a second term would be dreadful. But he won’t dismantle America. He’ll just reset the bar a few notches lower.
3) Know that we’ve had conservative SCOTUS courts before. But a somewhat sane middle tends to emerge. Look at John Roberts. Look at Anthony Kennedy, who was a conservative appointee. Look at Sandra Day O’Connor (a Reagan appointee), David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Earl Warren. All Republican appointees who moved considerably left over time.
4) Read some history to get some perspective. American presidential politics tend to swing to extremes, from Coolidge and Hoover to FDR… from Eisenhower to JFK… from Nixon-Ford to Carter… from Carter to Reagan… from Reagan-Bush to Clinton… from W to Obama… from Obama to this guy. I suspect it will swing again in 2020. But if it takes until 2024 or even 2028, a progressive Democrat will occupy the WH eventually and there will be a new progressive era, with a progressive congress to help move this country in the right direction. Shifting demographics and the arc of history dictate it. You can take that to the bank. (Even to a Chinese bank account.)
5) Reset your priorities. Our job in life is not to obsess over D.C. and MSNBC/FOX all day. All you can do is volunteer in campaigns, donate, advocate, and vote. Then you have to let your representatives (loathesome as some may be) do their jobs while we return to our lives. As everyone in Open Fire knows, I love politics. You probably do too or you wouldn’t be reading this. But it’s not healthy to become obsessed with it. Live you life! Eat good/bad food. Play golf, or travel, or see a show. Make love. Enjoy your kids and grandkids. Do great things at work and build a nest egg. Find Facebook friends you genuinely like go meet them in person to make new real-world friends (as I did recently). Politics – like work, sex, family, sports, and cleaning up your dog’s poop – need not dominate your mind and soul. You don’t have to live every day under Trump’s spell.
6) Finally, take heart. Because I promise you this: this man you detest, he will get his comeupance. He’s too vulnerable and too crazy not to. And because of who he is, it will be gnawing and painful. His marriage is vulnerable. His children are (very) vulnerable. His business is vulnerable. And there will be legal consequences. Nixon fell. Weinstein fell. Cosby fell. OJ fell. Epstein fell. This guy will too. He’s a walking timebomb and his mouth is the lit match. So sit back and wait for the fireworks.
Because THAT show, whether it’s in 2021 or 2023 or 2025, will be freaking awesome!
This episode covers the Trump and Biden dualing townhalls, the state of the race with two weeks left, and everything that’s wrong with the “October Surprise” of the Hunter Biden faux email scandal.
This episode looks at the president’s return to the campaign trail after his Covid vacation, the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings, and whether Donald Trump can revive his sinking re-election campaign.
This episode covers Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, the first presidential debate and how SNL parodied it, and whether sente candidate Cal Cunningham’s sexting scandal could doom the Democrats’ chances for control of the senate.
by Kevin Kelton
This week the gang discusses what the world will be like in the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the future of the ACA and Roe v. Wade, the presidential campaign in the shadow of the upcoming confirmation battle, and the Emmy Awards in the time of Covid-19.
by D.J. McGuire
For millions of Republican voters, the first, last, and only reason for supporting the Republican Party of Donald Trump is the abortion issue. As someone who shares their desire to save pre-born children from untimely death, I humbly submit to them that in choosing to support Trump and his party, they are making a mistake – for it is Joe Biden, not Trump, who is more likely to enact policies that will save more children from dying before they are born.
The assumption driving pro-lifers to the Republican Party of Donald Trump is this: a re-elected Trump will lead to a dramatic reduction in abortion via the reversal of Casey v. Planned Parenthood (the successor to Roe v Wade). That assumption fails on two fronts. The first is the unlikelihood of a reversal at all. The second is the minimal effect a reversal would have even if it happens.
Those who look forward to Donald Trump’s third appointment to the Supreme Court should pay more attention to actions of Trump’s current appointees in June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo, the first major abortion case involving Justice Kavanaugh. While the state of Louisiana (personified in Health Secretary Stephen Russo) did not ask the Court to examine Casey while defending its restrictions on abortion providers, the Justices themselves could have forced the issue. Justice Clarence Thomas himself wrote as much in his dissent: “Because we can reconcile neither Roe nor its progeny with the text of our Constitution, those decisions should be overruled.”
No one joined him.
In fact, Justice Gorsuch went so far as to defend Casey in his dissent, while Justice Kavanaugh wouldn’t even state his view on whether Louisiana’s law should be enforced (“additional factfinding is necessary to properly evaluate Louisiana’s law”). I leave it to others to determine if the drama over Kavanaugh’s confirmation – along with the alienation of millions of women from the GOP – was worth the rousing call for “additional factfinding.” The more important point here is that the likelihood of Roe and Casey being reversed looks far lower in 2020 than it did in 2019 – with absolutely no assurance that Donald Trump’s additional selection(s) for the Court will have any more impact than his previous two.
The more crushing blow to the GOP argument comes from data and projections regarding the potential effect of a Roe reversal. An analyst published last July (in Contraception) found at most a reduction in abortions of just over 15 percent, and possibly as low as 10 percent. If we look at the CDC data on the ratio of abortions to live births from 1972 (the year before Roe was handed down) and 2016 (the latest year with data), we find a potential abortion reduction of less than 4 percent.
Compare this to the potential for abortion reduction if would-be parents’ economic concerns were addressed. Dr. Wm. Robert Johnston, a researcher at the Global Life Campaign, found that anywhere from 25-40 percent of abortions were economic reasons.
There are plenty of policies that could allay those concerns (paid parental leave, backdating child support to include pre-natal cost, compensating for disruptions to development in career or in education, etc.) while also facing far less political and constitutional resistance. Moreover, addressing the economic concerns of prospective parents could save two to ten times as many pre-born children as reversing Roe would.
Which major party nominee is more likely to support those policies? Who is more likely to be effective in getting these policies enacted? Who is more likely to leverage political support for these policies at the state and local level, where applicable?
Answer: Joe Biden.
The logical conclusion of this runs counter to our culture-war script, but it is inescapable: More pre-born children would be saved under a Biden Administration than under a second Trump term.
If this estimation of the future doesn’t convince, perhaps the data from the past will. Again, the CDC has been tracking abortion data for decades. Using the number of reported abortions, the ratio of abortion per 1,000 live births, and the rate of abortion per 1,000 women, we can compare Republican and Democratic Administrations going back to 1980. The differences between the two parties is staggering.
Reagan-Bush I (1992 versus 1980): abortions up 4.7 percent, ratio down 7.0 percent, rate down 8.0 percent.
Clinton (2000 versus 1992): abortions down 36.9 percent, ratio down 26.6 percent, rate down 30.4 percent.
Bush II (2008 versus 2000): abortions down 3.8 percent, ratio down 8.2 percent, rate down 2.5 percent.
Obama (2016 versus 2008): abortions down 24.5 percent, ratio down 17.3 percent, rate down 25.6 percent.
By my calculation, that means over 173,000 children were born in 2000 that wouldn’t have been in 1992, while in 2016, over 54,000 children that would have died in 2008 were born instead.
So, when analysis of the past combines with the likely development of the future, the theory that the GOP is better for pre-born children collapses. The events of the last 40 years make it abundantly clear. The politics tell us Republicans are more likely to oppose legal abortion. The data tell us Democrats are more likely to save more pre-born children. Thus, pro-lifers should look to the Democrats as their party and to Joe Biden as their presidential candidate.
by Kevin Kelton
The vote-by-mail war is on! With President Donald Trump and his puppet Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, aligning to muck up the postal service’s ability to collect and deliver mail-in ballots, Democrats in Congress seem to have little power to resist Trump’s assault on the USPS budget and processes. Yet the battle is not lost.
Each of the 50 states plus D.C. sets its own election laws. And those laws can be adapted in extreme circumstances. So let’s say that because the delivery of mail-in ballots has been slowed down by Trump’s interference, causing millions of ballots to arrive after the individual states’ deadlines. In some states that is election day, but in some it could be three to seven days after Election Day if the ballot is postmarked by November 3rd.
Under those circumstances, some states may have room to loosen their deadline to allow for processing of the delayed ballots. In other words, a governor in tandem with the secretary of state or the state legislature could decide to expand the three day window to five or seven days, allowing tens of thousands of valid mail-in votes to qualify to be counted. Such a last-minute change would be akin to deciding to leave the polls open past the announced closing time so as to give everyone already on line a chance to vote.
Of course, that would be an ugly rodeo of individual state laws and politics. But Democrats are not without their weapons. If the party has enough clout in a state, it’s possible the politics could work in their favor.
Using the chart below, I analyzed the most likely scenario: Joe Biden wins most of the swing states now leaning or likely to vote blue if all the votes are counted, but might lose if all the mail-in votes are not accepted. How would that work out if those state’s governments align with the Democrats?
Lets look at 25 states that Biden has a good chance of winning if all the votes are counted (chart below).
In states in which at least two of the three electoral power players – governor, secretary of state, and state legislature – are controlled by Democrats, those mail-in vote deadlines might be adjusted to let Biden carry 284 electoral votes and win the election. However, in-state power battles with Republicans could make that number dwindle.
In most states, the legislature has little role to play in the vote count and certification of elections. So if we just count states in which the governor and secretary of state are Democrats (or all three components are in Democratic hands) (blue highlights), Biden commands 252 votes – eighteen shy of the presidency.
While that sounds ominious, a more nuanced analysis delivers a more optimistic result. Vermont (3), Oregon (7 votes) and Washington (12 votes) are three “divided government” states that are very likely to vote overwhelmingly for Biden, making the issue of late mail-in ballots moot. That adds 22 votes to the 252 to give Biden 274 and the presidency.
Still too close for comfort? Consider Nevada and New Hampshire, both states with either a Democratic governor or a Democratic Secretary of State and a Democratic state legislature. That combination of consolidated power could shake one or both of those states’ electoral votes back into Biden’s grasp, potentially adding up to ten more EC votes to his column.
And while Arizona has a Republican governor and state legislature, it’s conceivable that the state’s Democratic Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, might be able to use her office to get more votes counted in a close election, giving Joe a shot at 11 more votes.
Of course, no analysis of this type can be definitive, as we cannot account for legal challenges between government branches, lawsuits, and the partisan makeup of each state’s highest court.
But the bigger picture shows that the Biden campaign is not helpless even with a feckless postal service that is stacked against them.
Trump may be able to slow up the mail. But he cannot unseat the people who will decide how the votes are counted.
This week, the MPU hosts look at why Trump’s latest executive orders will not advance the cause of pandemic relief and why Cardi B’s new song about women’s sexual power does advance modern day feminism. EXPLICIT CONTENT!
This week the gang talks about Trump’s threat to delay the election, how and why the the postmaster general is trying to weaken the postal service, the war on TikTok, the demon sperm doctor who endorsed hydroxychloroquine, and the hosts make their best guesses as to why Joe Biden’s vp announcement was delayed.
This week’s podcast covers the escalating tensions on the streets of Portland and Seattle, Kim Kardashian’s comments about Kanye’s bipolar disorder, Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard, and AOC’s perfect takedown of Ted Yoho.