The End of “America First”?
How the past might influence the present.
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Putin's Right-Wing Shills and Indicting Appeasement in Munich.
HANNAH YOEST: Defiance, Discrimination, and Denial.
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WILLIAM KRISTOL: The End of “America First”?
Why rehearse this history? To suggest that, sadly, we shouldn’t expect most of today’s America Firsters to change their minds any time soon because of Putin’s acts. Indeed, the representatives of today’s new pro-authoritarian or anti-anti-authoritarian right are if anything more invested in their worldview than their forebears from eight decades ago.
One hopes that there are some sincere but misguided types who will learn from being mugged by the reality of Putin. One hopes that some others who have acquiesced in “America First” without believing in it may decide this is a moment to speak up.
If any of these figures wish to join the alliance of pro-democratic forces, they should be welcomed aboard. We can leave historical reckoning to another time and place.
But, as one can tell from the litany of apologias for Putin assembled by Charlie Sykes, we shouldn’t expect that the defenders of democracy will have our ranks substantially augmented.
CHRIS TRUAX: Everything You Need to Know About Biden’s Messaging Problems with One Easy Test.
One of the biggest differences between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans sing Donald Trump’s praises even if he’s done something abjectly stupid and evil—“He’s playing three-dimensional chess!” But Democrats find reasons to whine and complain even when Joe Biden does something smart and genuinely useful. Just look at the progressive angst over Biden’s program to distribute free COVID tests by using the U.S. Postal Service as a disaster relief agency.
This was a brilliant idea and has been a huge success. People need to be able to do COVID testing at home. Commercially-available tests are expensive and the U.S. Postal Service needs all the revenue it can get. The plan to distribute—absolutely free—four COVID tests to every residential address in the country that wants them is nothing short of revolutionary.
The plan is also efficient. There’s no paperwork to fill out and no bureaucracy driving up the cost by administering complicated eligibility standards. Consequently, tests are typically delivered within a few days of being ordered. By almost any standard, you’d think this was a model program and one to be proud of.
Voters said they wanted a businessman for president. Now, he's making clear he treated our country as a vehicle for his own profit. Will Saletan is back for 'Charlie and Will Mondays.'
BILL RYAN: Steven Spielberg: The Director Abraham Lincoln Deserved.
The film had long been a passion project for the director. He’d obtained the film rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a portion of which is the basis for the movie, three years before the book was even published. At one time, Liam Neeson, the star of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), was set to play the 16th president of the United States, but that iteration of the project fell apart due to the director’s dissatisfaction with the script. Years later, however, Spielberg developed a working relationship with Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Angels in America, among other acclaimed works; the two have worked together four times since 2005’s Munich. In Kushner, Spielberg seems to have found his ideal writing collaborator, in that Kushner is able to cut through what I’m sure Spielberg would admit are his natural sentimental instincts. So it was Kushner who he finally tapped to write his long-gestating, and often in doubt, Lincoln film.
Lincoln is not really a biopic, in that it’s not a cradle-to-grave account of the man’s life. Rather, it focuses on a very specific time in Lincoln’s presidency: the period near the end of the Civil War when Lincoln, alongside certain sympathetic members of his cabinet and Members of the House, worked to pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. The amendment was legally complex, and what Lincoln wanted, of course, was to not only pass it, but also bring the war to a close as quickly as possible. Doing both was no easy task, given that, however badly the South was losing by that point, negotiating peace with the Confederacy would be extremely difficult if they decided that Lincoln was offering them nothing in return.
BENJAMIN PARKER: Here’s What Sets Kamila Valieva Apart from Sha’Carri Richardson.
It wasn’t the CAS or the IOC that suspended Richardson after her failed drug test—it was the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The key difference here is that the USADA monitors and punishes the use of performance-enhancing or otherwise illegal drugs, whereas its Russian counterpart, RUSADA, is a scandal-ridden joke. RUSADA formed part of a multi-year, state-sponsored special-operations doping program in partnership with Russia’s secret police. The independent investigator hired to look into the matter found that “The [Russian] Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation” of athletes’ test results “or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the [Federal Security Service], CSP [Russia’s national team training organization], and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories. . . . The Ministry of Sport . . . RUSADA . . . and the Russian Federal Security Service . . . were all involved in this operation.”
As a result, RUSADA has been suspended from cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency since 2015 (even though the evidence of state-sponsored doping goes back much further). Valieva, like every other Russian Olympian since 2018, has competed not under the Russian flag, but as an “Olympian from Russia,” after the entire Russian athletic system was banned from international competition.
STEVEN LUBET: Are University Diversity Staffers Rabid Anti-Semites? A New Report Would Like You to Think So.
Serious social scientists observe some basic principles. They do not report selective or exaggerated results. They make their data available so others can evaluate its accuracy and significance. They are responsive to questions. Politicized studies, which are unreliable by nature, do not adhere to these simple conventions. A case in point is a recent report from the Heritage Foundation purporting to show rampant anti-Semitism in university diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. Although there has been an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents on many campuses, the Heritage report does not support its conclusion about widespread anti-Jewish sentiments in DEI programs—a problem exacerbated by the authors’ refusal to respond forthrightly to inquiries and criticism.
According to the Heritage Foundation website, the study, titled “Inclusion Delusion: The Antisemitism of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Staff at Universities,” reports that “an overwhelming number of DEI hires are spewing anti-Semitic views about Israel on social media.” The authors have made this assertion in newspaper opinion essays, and it has been repeated by media outlets, but unpacking the numbers shows that the study’s methodology is deeply flawed and the widely publicized conclusion isn’t supported by the evidence.
The researchers began by locating publicly accessible Twitter accounts for 741 DEI officials at 65 leading universities. Among these accounts, they identified 633 tweets about Israel, of which 605 were negative or hostile. In contrast, there were only 216 tweets about China during the same unspecified period, of which 128 were coded as favorable. From these thin data the authors, Jay Greene and James Paul, have concluded, without qualification, that “DEI staff are relatively obsessed with Israel,” and claimed to have shown how DEI staff applied a “double standard” to Israel and China.
🚨 OVERTIME 🚨
Happy Monday! I hope you are enjoying a long weekend, as I did.. with our first family trip to Disney on Ice.
The Angle-ization of the GOP… Marjorie Taylor Greene wants the GOP to “embrace” its “civil war” against the RINOs. (What about her is civil, again?) About a dozen years ago, we had a candidate on the fringe running for Senate in Nevada talking about “second amendment remedies.” Had Angle not faced Harry Reid, she might have won. But you just have to realize most all of the GOP’s candidates now are Sharron Angle-like candidates. If Angle isn’t the baseline, she’s one standard deviation away.
When the U.S. government loved it some fonts… A great watch on the Nixon years.
My name is Joe Biden… And I’ll be your server.
Reflections on journalism… From our friends at Connors.
The XFL agrees to serve as the NFL ‘petri dish’… But not share players. As long as we get the Defenders back (and, for the in-laws, the Battlehawks, too) I’ll take it.
How a small conservative town in Washington State beat their QAnon neighbors… Chris Hayes has the report at MSNBC.
Anatomy of a tweet. CNN has the behind-the-scenes story of how a retired federal judge used a newly created Twitter account to try to stop the 1/6 insurrection. (And Mike Pence listened!)
Speaking of January 6… One of the insurrectionists, who brought and brandished a gun illegally, was arrested in a fatal stabbing.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
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