Discover more from The Bulwark
Ted Cruz Wants Corruption 2.0
Smart enough to know better? Yes.
Leading The Bulwark…
WARD CARROLL: Tone deaf? Dog whistle? The Texas senator invokes the terrible electoral commission of 1877.
🎧 On the Pods… 🎧
On today’s Bulwark podcast, Ambassador Eric Edelman joins Charlie Sykes to talk about how the open letter from all living Secretaries of Defense about involving the military in election disputes came to be.
For Bulwark+ Members… (Plus, some unlocked content!)
Morning Shots: "I Wanted To Scream"
CHARLIE SYKES writes:
The elements of this grift are familiar: non-existent or bogus “evidence” that is used to stoke fear and outrage, mixed with the cynical exploitation of false hopes and expectations that are doomed to fail. Failure fuels more outrage and positions the charlatans for the next grift.
The Triad: The Politics of Power 🔓
JONATHAN V. LAST writes:
Because when Republican voters don’t really care about policy outcomes anymore, then institutional power has nothing to give them and popular power is everything.
Editor’s note: 'Soul’ has the worst Happy Meal™ toys ever.
Across the Movie Aisle: 'Soul' Reviewed, Plus: A Special Look at Bruce Willis's Filmography 🔓
SONNY BUNCH, ALYSSA ROSENBERG, and PETER SUDERMAN discuss the strange late-career filmography of Bruce Willis and the surge in stars cashing in on their personae for straight-to-DVD-and-VOD projects. And they review Pixar’s new piece of emotional terrorism, Soul.
Across the Movie Aisle: Bean Dad Bonus Episode! 🔐
The shocking story of The Bean Dad, Seattle musician John Roderick who fell afoul of Twitter’s scolds when he tried to teach his daughter how to use a can opener by making her learn how to do it herself.
From The Bulwark Aggregator…
In Today’s Bulwark…
JAMES C. CAPRETTA: Ramping up will require a greater sense of urgency and a national call to action.
TIM MILLER: The low-T coup attempt marches on.
HE’S NEW AT THIS!!!! After four years of being President, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong suggested that President Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensperger was because, well… he doesn’t talk like a “normal politician.”
“It’s why he has so much support as he has. It’s also why he gets himself into trouble once in a while.”
A note from a reader:
Back in December I recall you posting something about one of Diamond and Silk's tweets regarding the military. Specifically, they said If the Supreme Court can’t save our Republic, then where is the Military?" (Full disclosure: It may have been another Bulwark writer that wrote about it, but for some reason it has stuck with me that it was you, so I am going to proceed as if you were the one who called out that tweet.)
As a member of that military that was referenced, I remember laughing to myself, making a mental note to send you a response when I had a free moment, and getting on with my work.
Here it is, almost a month later, and I have a few free minutes to actually respond to that inane tweet.
To wit, what a lot of us are doing is COVID19 emergency response, and have been since March. In this pandemic Army and Air National Guard units around the nation are key support in the states' responses to the virus. Put simply, we don't have the time or energy to waste on imaginary problems, because we have real life and death problems that we are dealing with all day, every day.
To unpack that a bit: We all had opinions about the election and everything that happened afterwards. And while we may express them to each other, we work very hard at publicly remaining apolitical. By doing so we retain the trust of Americans of all stripes. This has enormous benefits for the nation as a whole. As a relevant example, one of the reasons Guard units have been instrumental during the pandemic is because we are perceived as serving our country first and foremost, and the natural goodwill most people have towards the uniform has allowed us to perform our missions so effectively. Diamond and Silk are so far 'round the political bend they don't understand that.
The military is actively, and relatively quietly, providing key assistance to our country during the pandemic. So to answer their rather shortsighted and rhetorical question of "Where is the Military?": They are out there among their fellow citizens, putting their health and lives on the line to serve their country in its time of need.
Legends of chainsaws. First ballot hall of famer.
Delivering the bad news… One thing people in media often have to deal with is confronting uncomfortable truths with their friends and family. This is not unique to our profession, but often times family and friends lean on us to tell them “the truth.”
Sometimes it’s verifying X or debunking Y. Other times, it’s asking us to look into something. And sometimes the results can have very, very personal consequences.
It’s not bad to tell people the truth, even when it hurts. Lying is always a bad proposition.
How PPP benefitted right wing COVID-19 misinformation purveyors… Yahoo News reports that PragerU, Newsmax, The Federalist, and The Epoch times accepted a whole load of PPP loans.
President Trump’s request in a leaked phone recording to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes” is a low point in American history. If I hadn’t already given Mr Raffensperger a Democracy Action Hero award last month—which my institute at the University of Southern California hands out to recognise officials who protect American values—I’d be scrambling to honour him now. He is a true hero for standing up to this un-American bullshit.
On January 6th, when electoral-college votes are counted, leaders in Washington, DC will be faced with a choice. I once did a Terminator film called “Judgment Day”. That’s just Hollywood. But January 6th is Judgment Day for a lot of politicians. Will they choose to side with the voters, or will they choose to side with their party and their selfish president?
For those in my party considering standing up against the voters on January 6th, know this: our grandchildren will know your names only as the villains who fought against the great American experiment and the will of the voters. You will live in infamy.
Pennsylvania is having a bad time… As an Ohioan, we normally like to chuckle when our neighbors to the north or east are doing embarrassing things. Not today. This is not good.
Your next pandemic binge:
A taste of our future…
Do you think you’re going to hear more from the right wing press in the next few days about pointless controversies or more about why what Trump and his allies are doing is bad and wrong? Don’t answer that.
Trump’s call is still a crime, even if he believes his own fraud fantasies. As Trevor Potter and Mark Gaber write, intent matters:
Although a criminal conviction does require proof of intent — proof Trump knew he was asking for nonexistent votes to be counted in his favor — a person cannot avoid criminal liability by simply deciding to believe fantasy over fact. For example, if a person becomes convinced that she owns her neighbor’s car and is shown the title certificate proving otherwise, she cannot steal the car and escape conviction by feigning she truly believed fiction over fact — at least, not without mounting an insanity defense.
Was Trump ever made aware of the facts?
That’s it for me for today. I have to take the twins to bed and accept the fact that the Cleveland Browns are in trouble. At least the dentist fixed my tooth.
Questions? Comments? Concerns or observations, you know how to reach me: email@example.com.
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