The Internet Is a Playground for Tyrants
Plus, One Key to Social and Economic Opportunity: Friendship
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Democracy Is Too Important To Be Left To the Lawyers. But…
THE FOCUS GROUP: "Lesser of Two Evils" Drinking Game (with Natalie Allison) 🔐
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
KIMBERLY WEHLE: Letitia James and Trump’s Costly Lies.
New York Attorney General Letitia James’s 222-page lawsuit against Donald Trump, his three children, and a slew of his organizations (plus Allen Weisselberg, who recently pleaded guilty to 15 crimes in a separate but factually related criminal case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney) reads like the definitive tome of the Trump family’s financial shadiness. Its seven-count civil complaint reflects the work of a three-year investigation involving over 65 witnesses and millions of pages of documents, yet covering a single decade of Trump’s career, 2011 to 2021. Although a trial date is likely years off, Trump has reason to worry that the law might actually stick this time around.
Bottom line: The state of New York alleges that the defendants, in their dealings with banks and insurance companies, grossly and fraudulently inflated their assets by billions of dollars—over 200 separate times—in order “to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, and to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums.” According to the complaint, these asset evaluations were all done internally, so Trump can’t readily rely an it-wasn’t-me defense.
Letitia James aims to shut down the Trump family operation in New York, which means he’d have to unload his skyscrapers in a fire sale. Plus, Trump will sell anything — he’s sold underwear, water, and steaks. Why wouldn’t he monetize nuclear secrets? Tim O’Brien joins Charlie Sykes.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
SHAY KHATIRI: The Internet Is a Playground for Tyrants.
Last week, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was arrested for not wearing her hijab properly while visiting Tehran. At the police station, she fainted from a brain injury caused by police battery during her arrest. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she was in vegetative state, and her heart stopped beating a few days later. This incident sparked yet another round of mass protests in Iran. The provincial capital city of Sanandaj, Mahsa’s Kurdish-majority hometown, was the center of the protests this time, and the internet there was disconnected soon after. As the protest spread to the rest of the country, users began losing connection en masse in other cities too, including Tehran.
A quarter century ago, President Bill Clinton promised that the internet would bring freedom to the world. His prediction of the internet’s ineluctable, liberal triumph—“Now there’s no question China has been trying to crack down on the Internet. Good luck!”—led to American complacency that ceded the internet to tyrants. The Chinese government wasn’t lucky; it was determined: It heavily censors what its people can see online and uses the internet to track and arrest dissidents, collect intelligence, control the society, and prevent or suppress protests. Others did the same.
BRUNO V. MANNO: One Key to Social and Economic Opportunity: Friendship.
A year ago, in a Bulwark article, I proposed a social and economic opportunity agenda for young people, job seekers, and people starting careers—an agenda that emphasizes knowledge and relationships: what individuals know, but also who they know. This understanding of opportunity focuses on social capital, the relationships and special friendships we develop with others that broaden our knowledge, deepen our skills, and expand our social networks.
Two new analyses of the relationship between social capital and economic mobility by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and nearly two dozen colleagues at the National Bureau of Economic Research provide new and compelling evidence for this view.
Happy Monday! Edward Snowden is now a Russian citizen, per decree of Putin. In case you were wondering, he is not getting drafted and sent to the front line in Ukraine. Curious!
Do not tell people Eric Schmitt is mad. The Missouri Senate candidate urged his followers to break up with the liberal media and he has refused to meet with the editorial boards, arguing they haven’t endorsed enough Republicans in the past. What if, and hear me out on this, the GOP in the Show Me state has not been sending their best?
How you can watch the DART tonight. Will the asteroid trajectory altering satellite hit its mark?
Benny Johnson goes full Armageddon… The TPUSA figure made some wild predictions.
Mike Pence campaigns with fake elector… You can’t make it up.
Americans? Have you ever heard anyone pronounce the word this way? Much less a U.S. Senator who doesn’t call it “nine eleven” but rather, 9-1-1.
Prayers for Florida. Hurricane Ian is poised to do an immense amount of damage. To our readers down there: be safe!
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.