Four Things You Really Ought to Read Today
Plus: For the Russian orcs, suffering is the point
"They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth... destroy our people who are sleeping at home in (the city of) Zaporizhzhia. Kill people who go to work in Dnipro and Kyiv," — Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky
Take a moment away from our political madness to give some thought to what is happening in Ukraine, where the Russian orcs continue to wage a war of indiscriminate destruction. For Putin’s inner circle, the cruelty and the suffering are the point.
On Monday, state television not only reported on the suffering, but also flaunted it. It showed plumes of smoke and carnage in central Kyiv, along with empty store shelves and a long-range forecast promising months of freezing temperatures there.
Some other things to keep an eye on today:
*Via NBC: “Christina Bobb, the attorney who signed a letter certifying that all sensitive records in former President Donald Trump's possession had been returned to the government, spoke to federal investigators Friday and named two other Trump attorneys involved with the case, according to three sources familiar with the matter.”
Frustrated that Trump wouldn’t talk to him, stressed that his chance to become House speaker could be in jeopardy and furious that a trusted confidante had publicly disclosed a tense call between himself and Trump, McCarthy snapped.
“I alone am taking all the heat to protect people from Trump! I alone am holding the party together!” he yelled at Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) during a previously undisclosed meeting in McCarthy’s office on Feb. 25, 2021. “I have been working with Trump to keep him from going after Republicans like you and blowing up the party and destroying all our work!”
*Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance debated last night. Read Jim Swift’s take on the clash in today’s Bulwark, but JesusMaryandJosephandtheweedonkey… watch this:
Just a few weeks ago in Youngstown on the stage, Donald Trump said that J.D. Vance, all you do is kiss my ass to get my support. He said that….
After Trump took J.D. Vance’s dignity from him on the stage in Youngstown, J.D. Vance got back up on stage and started shaking his hand, taking pictures and saying, “Hey, aren’t we having a great time here tonight?”
I don’t know anybody I grew up with, I don’t know anybody I went to high school with, that would allow somebody to take their dignity like that and then get back up on stage. We need leaders who have courage to take on their own party, and I’ve proven that. And he was called an ass-kisser by the former president.
Later in the debate, Ryan returned to the theme: “I’m for Ohio. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass like him. Ohio needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser.”
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Four things you really ought to read
Sometimes there’s too much going on, and too much good stuff to read. And I know it can just be overwhelming to keep up, especially with all the flotsam and jetsam out there. But here are a few pieces that have stuck with me over the last few days. They are the ones that I’ve bookmarked and find myself thinking about as we navigate the madness.
1. The first is from Kevin Williamson’s (new) newsletter: “The Laziest Politics”:
Our politics is upside-down in several different ways, but one of the most important of them is that politicians and activists seem to have forgotten how to ask for votes and how to engage in old-fashioned democratic persuasion. Instead of saying, “What can I do to earn your support?” our contemporary politicians insist that we are morally obligated to support them no matter what. After hearing the stories about Herschel Walker, purportedly a pro-life Republican, paying for an abortion for one of his many extramarital attachments, Dana Loesch gave the definitive Republican answer of 2022: “I don’t care if Hershel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles—I want control of the Senate.”
2. In the Unpopulist, Tom Palmer writes, “Jordan Peterson: Putin's Useless Idiot.”
Peterson goes on in his long diatribe to denounce the abandonment of traditional views of sex and gender in the West: “In our society, all sexual proclivities and desires, no matter how rare, dangerous, or socially disruptive, are not to be merely tolerated, but must be celebrated. Pride Month. Outright, or else! And regarded as hedonically desirable and absolutely harmless!”
(Bear with me. This really does lead to the Kremlin’s genocidal war on Ukraine.)…
Russia is a part of the West, he asserts, and “Russians believe that they have the highest moral duty to oppose the degenerate ideas, philosophy, theology of the West.” More strikingly, that belief, Peterson insists, is “not wrong”: “And there’s something about that, that is not wrong. And that is why the incursion of Russia into Ukraine is, more truly, a civil war in the West.”
3. In the Daily Beast, Roger Sollenberger writes about Herschel’s Other Son. It’s devastating stuff.
Walker has not seen their son in person for more than six-and-a-half years, the woman said. The football legend has, by her count, met his son a total of three times, which she supported with photographs. Two of those instances were related to child support hearings.
For an idea of how present Walker has been in their son’s life, the woman shared a series of screenshots of text messages from Walker to the boy’s iMessage account on his iPad.
The messages are incredibly revealing.
For instance, Walker never told the boy he had a half-brother until after The Daily Beast broke the news this June. The woman said she also didn’t know about the other son, which she expressed in a text message to Blanchard the day after the story published.
On July 7, the messages show—three days after Walker sent his son an Instagram photo from a July 4 campaign event—the boy asked his father if he had any other brothers or sisters he did not know about, in addition to adult son Christian Walker and a daughter Walker had previously disclosed to the boy.
Walker, who had confirmed the half-brother to The Daily Beast three weeks previously, lied to his son. “You have the brother and sister I told you about. Love you,” he wrote.
On Aug. 1, Walker sent his estranged son a photo of his half-brother, explaining, “This picture never went,” followed by the half-brother’s name.
That message is followed by four unanswered texts from Walker, all of them saying, “Love you.” Three of them were sent after midnight.
Walker sent that same “Love you” message to his son frequently, no matter how many times it went unanswered. Sometimes the child would write short notes back—inviting Walker to a baseball game, wishing him a Happy Easter, sending a photo of himself with gifts. The pace accelerated in 2021, when Walker was gearing up to announce his candidacy.
Between June 4 and June 12 of that year, the texts show, Walker sent seven “Love you” messages, and nothing else. The boy replied, “You to,” on June 13, after which Walker asked how he was doing. The boy invited his father to watch him play baseball, and Walker said he would like to see him play, but according to the woman, the last time Walker saw his son was January 2016.
Then, between July 1 and Oct. 11, the texts show, Walker sent his son 34 unanswered brief text messages. All but six say “Love you,” with the vast majority of them coming between midnight and 3:41 a.m.
On the evening of Oct. 13, his son replied, “What’s my favorite color? What grade am I in? And how old am I”
Walker responded the next afternoon: “God bless you, love you”.
4. I’ve saved the absolute must-read for last. In today’s Wapo: “What Will Happen to America if Trump Wins Again? Experts Helped Us Game It Out.” It’s grim.
Imagine it’s Jan. 20, 2025. Inauguration Day. The president-elect raises his right hand and begins to recite the oath: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear …
It’s an anti-Trumper’s nightmare, but it could happen: 47 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents want Trump to be the nominee in 2024, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. And if Trump and Joe Biden are the contenders, Trump narrowly edges Biden, 48 to 46 percent, among registered voters (albeit within the poll’s margin of error).
The twice-impeached president’s tenure in office was a festival of democratic norm-breaking, culminating in the “big lie” about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection. A second term would likely bring more of the same — only this time Trump would have four years of practice under his belt.
To help game out the consequences of another Trump administration, I turned to 21 experts in the presidency, political science, public administration, the military, intelligence, foreign affairs, economics and civil rights. They sketched chillingly plausible chains of potential actions and reactions that could unravel the nation. “I think it would be the end of the republic,” says Princeton University professor Sean Wilentz, one of the historians President Biden consulted in August about America’s teetering democracy. “It would be a kind of overthrow from within. … It would be a coup of the way we’ve always understood America.”
The Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy
But what about the long-term effect? Whether or not Walker wins, the GOP will have, by supporting him, implicitly endorsed abortion exceptions that have nothing to do with the life of the mother, rape, or incest.
We might call it the Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy: Abortion is acceptable when it is for the convenience of the father, politics, and personal interest.
The Herschel Walker Abortion Exceptions Policy turns the old Democratic position about being “against abortion personally but pro-choice as a policymaker” on its head. Walker’s candidacy proves it’s just fine for a Republican to be personally in favor of abortion so long as he’s against it as a policymaker and willing to inflict standards on others he never heeded himself.
The gnarly question isn’t why anyone would actually believe anything Walker has to say anymore. It’s why Republicans think Walker would be more loyal to their values than he’s been to his children.