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Coverups... In Plain Sight
Don't Say Gay (said Vladimir Putin)
No matter what you think of British PM Boris Johnson, this was an extraordinary moment. And a reminder that courage can be contagious.
Happy Palm Sunday.
No Secrets. No Mysteries.
For the last several generations of punditry, we’ve relied on hoary clichés about coverups being worse than the crime. Because we are stuck in the Watergate model of political scandal, we’ve told ourselves it’s the coverup that calls down Nemesis on the heads of wrongdoers.
But coverups are so last century, because now the outrages take place in real-time and in plain sight, often on Twitter or its various tributaries and successors. None of the post-election coup attempts were really a secret and the whole attempt to overthrow the election is far from mysterious.
To be sure, even in our Age of Audacious Shamelessness, there is still obstruction of justice, but even that is taking place right in front of our eyes.
I mean, FFS, they put it all in writing.
Lest you missed it last week, CNN reported on Donald Trump Jr.’s text messages to his daddy’s COS, Mark Meadows, shortly after the election.
“This is what we need to do please read it and please get it to everyone that needs to see it because I'm not sure we're doing it,” Junior texted on November 5, 2020, and then laid out a plan to overturn the election using all the levers of power they controlled.
Washington (CNN) Two days after the 2020 presidential election, as votes were still being tallied, Donald Trump's eldest son texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that "we have operational control" to ensure his father would get a second term, with Republican majorities in the US Senate and swing state legislatures, CNN has learned.
In the text, which has not been previously reported, Donald Trump Jr. lays out ideas for keeping his father in power by subverting the Electoral College process, according to the message reviewed by CNN. The text is among records obtained by the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021.
"It's very simple," Trump Jr. texted to Meadows on November 5, adding later in the same missive: "We have multiple paths. We control them all."
Once again, the smoking guns are littered all around us.
The forgeries were not a side-show — they were an integral part of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
And the plan was widely known.
On December 10, 2020, a group of prominent “movement” conservatives signed an open letter call for swing states to “appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump.” They wrote:
There is no doubt President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election. Joe Biden is not president-elect.
Accordingly, state legislatures in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Michigan should exercise their plenary power under the Constitution and appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump. Similarly, both the House and Senate should accept only these clean Electoral College slates and object to and reject any competing slates in favor of Vice President Biden from these states.
Here’s a partial list of the signatories:
A week later, former White House spox Kayleigh McEnany talked about an “alternate slate of electors” that Congress would vote on, when it met on January 6.
Around the same time, Trumpists in the Department of Justice were drafting letters to states alleging election fraud, and John Eastman was writing a detailed memo laying out a scheme for overturning the election on January 6.
Exit take: Trump continues to fight to hide certain records and block the testimony of aides. But this time around, the story is not the cover-up, because we know exactly what they did. And why.
Don’t Say Gay (Said Vladimir Putin)
Hat tip Christian Vanderbrouk, who tweeted, “I thought I’d seen this movie before.”
From Wikipedia: “Russian gay propaganda law.”
The Russian federal law "for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values," also referred to in English-language media as the gay propaganda law and the anti-gay law, is a bill that was unanimously approved by the State Duma on 11 June 2013 (with just one MP abstaining—Ilya Ponomarev), and was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on 30 June 2013.
The Russian government's stated purpose for the law is to protect children from being exposed to homosexuality—content presenting homosexuality as being a norm in society—under the argument that it contradicts traditional family values. The statute amended the country's child protection law and the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, to prohibit the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" among minors. This definition includes materials that "raises interest in" such relationships, cause minors to "form non-traditional sexual predispositions", or "[present] distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships."
The 2013 amendment, which added "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" as a class of harmful content under the law was, according to the Government of Russia, intended to protect children from being exposed to content that portrays homosexuality as being a "behavioural norm". Emphasis was placed upon a goal to protect "traditional" family values; bill author Yelena Mizulina (the chair of the Duma's Committee on Family, Women, and Children, who has been described by some as a "moral crusader"), argued that "traditional" relations between a man and a woman required special protection under Russian law.
When Reagan Said Gay
Tim Miller mentioned this during our weekend podcast; and it’s a reminder that there was once a time when Republican leaders were willing to push back against anti-gay legislation.
Writing in the NYT, James Kirchick recounts the story of Proposition 6, a 1978 ballot referendum in California that would have barred “advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting private or public sexual acts,” as defined in the legal code, “between persons of the same sex in a manner likely to come to the attention of other employees or students.”
Polls showed that “61 percent of California voters supported banning gay teachers, a figure consistent with national sentiment.”
But, then Ronald Reagan spoke out.
Kirchick recounts how a gay activist named David Mixner, "sensed an opportunity,” because he knew that Reagan, “with his Hollywood background, was more familiar with gay people than the average American and that the former actor was an advocate for limited government and individual rights.”
To persuade him to oppose Proposition 6, Mr. Mixner used Mr. Reagan’s own language: “Anarchy,” he told the former governor, who had used that word to describe campus unrest at Berkeley, would be unleashed in classrooms statewide as students lodged spurious charges of homosexuality against their teachers. Disciplinary proceedings would in turn spark court challenges, and the power of state authorities over school boards would increase — a development that ought to raise alarms with any advocate of local control, as Mr. Reagan was.
Finally, endless witch hunts against teachers would swell administrative budgets and legal costs, bugbears of every small-government conservative….
A few days later, Mr. Mixner’s gambit paid off. “I don’t approve of teaching a so-called gay lifestyle in our schools,” Mr. Reagan announced. But Proposition 6 “has the potential of infringing on basic rights of privacy and perhaps even constitutional rights.”
He made a more substantive case in his syndicated column published a week before the election, refuting the claim that gays had a greater propensity to be child molesters and the canard that they joined the teaching profession to recruit impressionable youngsters.
On Election Day, voters rejected Proposition 6, 58 percent to 42 percent, a nearly exact reversal of what the polls indicated just two months earlier.
Prop 6’s chief proponent, State Senator John Briggs, complained after the election: “That one single endorsement — Ronald Reagan’s — turned the polls around.”
Reagan’s record on LBGTQ issues may be mixed, but it’s important to remember that his intervention in the 1978 referendum was not without political risk to his presidential ambitions.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, then emerging as a leader of an increasingly powerful voting bloc, evangelical Christians, declared that Mr. Reagan had taken “the political rather than the moral route” and would “have to face the music from Christian voters two years from now.”
Reagan, as you know, not only survived, but went on to win the presidency, with the overwhelming support of evangelicals — a reminder that acts of political courage are not necessarily fatal.
The Wages of Pandering
Five days ago, in Bloomberg: “The Bridgewater CEO Who Went Full MAGA”
“David McCormick, who once championed diversity and inclusion under Ray Dalio, is now trying to out-Trump Dr. Oz in a Pennsylvania race that could become the most expensive Senate primary ever.”
By now this is a tale as old as time. After all that shape-shifting, pandering, and groveling…. The ex-television huckster goes with an ex-television huckster:
And after McCormick Tried. So. Hard.
Nota bene: At least initially this endorsement is NOT going over well in MAGAWorld. Stay turned.
We Get Mail
Keep your rants, raves, laurels, and darts coming firstname.lastname@example.org. And, remember that all Bulwark+ members can comment on any Morning Shots.
A couple of comments.
First, on the Republican walkout after Judge Jackson’s confirmation vote. I entirely agree that it’s appalling that the GOP caucus couldn’t exercise a modicum of civility to share in the celebration of a historic moment for the country. The least they could have done would have been to let the Democrats and Mitt Romney acknowledge the moment without the spectacle of their childish behavior. But it’s also a moment for the Supreme Court and the Constitution - no matter who is joining the Court, it’s a testament to our democracy when the tradition like a SCOTUS confirmation takes place. The Senate Republicans don’t even have the decency to respect that/
Second, on Truth Social. Until your conversation with Tim during the Podcast, I didn’t realize that the full weight of the Republican Party is aggressively promoting Truth Social. AND EVEN WITH ALL THAT SUPPORT, it’s still a fu*king failure.
Third, regarding “Groomers and Pedophiles.” The fringe hasn’t been absorbed BY the establishment. The fringe has absorbed the establishment, and has become the establishment.
Hi Charlie - I came back to The Bulwark ‘cause I couldn’t stay away…. While I frequently disagree with you, it’s good for me to get outside my left-wing bubble and get a different perspective. Thank you for what you all do every day.
I particularly enjoyed your discussion with Lis Smith on Tuesday. There was a sincere dynamic of respect and open mindedness on both sides which is what we need more of.
Suggestion - sometime, when you sigh and shake your head at Democrat policy, why not get someone articulate to come on the show and tell you why they think it’s a good idea. Example - getting rid of cash bail. There is a good argument that says bail unfairly means extra jail time for poor people. I would really appreciate hearing a reasoned discussion between you and someone who supports bail reform… and lots of other issues, particularly the ones that cause you to sigh in exasperation..
Why not every once in a while, get someone who supports a policy advocated by Democrats - something you disagree with - and have a reasoned discussion in which no one wins or loses but which does (excuse the phrase) present both sides.
I think it would make excellent listening and I and many other might hear some ideas we haven’t considered before.
Please keep up the good work.