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The Astronaut and the Alien
Plus, the Prescient Literary Visions of Vladimir Voinovich
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Ben Sasse Is About To Be Tested. Bigly.
SECRET POD: Herschel.🔐
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AMANDA CARPENTER: The Astronaut and the Alien.
Arizona’s Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, an honest-to-goodness astronaut, must have felt like he was talking to an alien tonight.
No, not in space. At the Arizona PBS debate, where Kelly had a “first and likely only” encounter with his opponent, GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters. Yes, it was weird.
Masters—a Peter Thiel creation—is a bastard conglomeration of the internet and Trumpism. Take one part Silicon Valley bro and add one part rad-trad Crossfit philosophy, shake on some Stanford pretentiousness, stretch it out into something that resembles a slightly more human form than Jared Kushner and you’ll get the idea. Watching the debate, one got the sense that Kelly, a stocky man who is not just a retired astronaut but also a naval aviator with combat experience and a master’s degree in engineering, didn’t know what to make of the being who called himself “Blake.” Probably because Masters is wholly and only conversant in the tongue of Trump.
Prof. Steve Vladeck joins the group (plus Bill Kristol) to consider how far the Supreme Court will go this term on matters of race and elections. Also, will GA really make Herschel Walker a US Senator?
Just five years ago, Republicans disavowed Roy Moore. Now, they’re all in with Herschel Walker’s lies. Plus, a shifting electorate, the prospects for ticket-splitting in the midterms, and Biden’s warning about nukes. The weekend podcast with Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol.
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Vladimir Voinovich, one of the great Russian writers—and great dissidents—of his time, would have turned 90 on September 26. Had Voinovich, who died of heart failure at 85 in July 2018, lived to see this day, it would have been a bittersweet birthday. A man passionately devoted to freedom, intensely sympathetic to the liberation of Ukraine (to which he had strong personal ties), and warily hopeful about a democratic revival in Russia, Voinovich would have been devastated by Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. As a writer with a keen satirical vision—often, especially in his later years, a surreal and dystopian one—he might also have felt vindicated by current events, in the worst possible way. But he might also have observed that current events have topped his most over-the-top dystopian fantasy.
SONNY BUNCH: ‘Amsterdam’ Review.
Amsterdam’s heart might be in the right place—a farce about incipient fascism feels fairly timely—but the execution is lacking. Both a tonal mishmash in which every actor feels like they’re in a slightly different movie and also saddled with an unnecessarily complicated narrative structure, the whole thing is just slightly off.
It’s a shame, because writer/director David O. Russell is usually pretty good at balancing tones and mixing genres. Silver Linings Playbook deftly combined comedy and drama and sweet goofiness for something like a slightly more adult Little Miss Sunshine. Three Kings melded comedy and action with political agitprop to winning effect. And I remain deeply fond of American Hustle, a movie that maybe have been slightly extravagant but to great success since Russell let a quartet of our finest actors—Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence—off their leashes to go a little bit nuts.
Amsterdam is at its best when it leans into similar nuttiness. You can imagine Christian Bale practically rubbing his hands together with glee when offered the part of Burt Berendsen, a doctor with one eye, crippled by chronic pain, and prone to fits of nebbishy awkwardness. The awkwardness is intrinsic but the glass eye and the pain were earned in the trenches of the First World War, where he met strait-laced soldier Harold (John David Washington) and free-spirited artist, confidence woman, and, possibly, spy, Valerie (Margot Robbie).
A live taping of The Bulwark Podcast hosted by Charlie Sykes and a 2022 election panel with Amanda Carpenter, Sarah Longwell, and Tim Miller
SAINT LOUIS—Happy Friday! I’m hyped. I guess you could say I have pennant fever. Even though Rob Manfred is a greedy jerk who schedules day games for the playoffs, the Guardians faithful (including some family of mine) turned out and turned Progressive Field into the loud, crazy place it was during the playoff runs of the 1990s. And they delivered. Jose, Jose, Jose!
And now, as I type, F-15s are flying overhead and the Cardinals are facing the Phillies in another pitcher’s duel and just lost in the 9th. Tickets are cheap and I might try to go tomorrow!
Tim Ryan’s spate of good ads… Continues as he seeks to appeal to Republicans.
Don’t vote for me! Somebody else with my name is also running! A confusing new phenomenon in politics.
Quit dragging Maggie Haberman. An insightful column for those not steeped in the media world. I’m in the process of reading Haberman’s book and highly recommend it.
I knew I knew that guy… Tucker Carlson as the Joker is the mashup you didn’t know you needed.
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