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The MAGA Right Loves El Salvador's Dictator. They shouldn't.
Plus: Lessons for American Democracy from a Russian Prison Cell
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CHARLIE SYKES: Ron DeSantis: Real Man of Political Genius
THE SECRET POD 🎧: How Should DeSantis Approach the Debate?
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EL SALVADOR’S PRESIDENT, Nayib Bukele, is running for re-election, and with a (supposed) 90 percent approval rating, he’s overwhelmingly favored to win. He calls himself a “Philosopher King” and the “world’s coolest dictator” on Twitter. Whether he’s “cool” is a matter of opinion; that he’s a dictator is a fact.
Bukele has created one of the toughest security states in the world. To solve El Salvador’s decades-long security crisis that has left hundreds of thousands dead since 1980 and created a lucrative illicit economy, Bukele put more than 70,000 people (more than 1 percent of the country’s total population) in overcrowded, maximum-security prisons without trial. He just finished building a mega-prison that can hold up to 100 detainees per cell.
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BENJAMIN PARKER: Lessons for American Democracy from a Russian Prison Cell.
ALEXEI NAVALNY HAS A LOT OF TIME TO THINK. He’s been in jail in Russia for more than 940 days, since January 17, 2021, and has spent more than 180 of those days in an isolation punishment cell. On August 11, a court sentenced Navaly to a further nineteen years of jail under the harshest conditions—in addition to the eleven-and-a-half-year sentence he was already serving. The charges against him aren’t worth dignifying by mentioning: They are as fanciful as the court procedure itself. So, with no real opportunity to defend himself and no hope of freedom any time soon, Navalny has ample time to think, to read Natan Sharansky’s prison memoir, Fear No Evil, and, it turns out, to write.
Just days before the court was to announce his inevitable conviction, Navalny released (through associates) a strange and interesting essay. It’s about the people he hates more than Vladimir Putin, the man who tried to kill him and who has deprived him of his rights.
SONNY BUNCH: ‘Strays’ Review.
WE’LL GET TO THE DOGS WHO CURSE—and thus incite laughter—in a moment. Before we address them, however, I would like to take a moment to praise Will Forte for taking a grave professional risk in the feature film Strays.
As an actor, your job is to be believable. Not realistic, precisely, but believable. For instance: Tony Stark isn’t a realistic character, but I believe Robert Downey Jr. when he smarmily informs Chris Evans’s Captain America—who, again, is not realistic but believable as a teen who takes magical steroids so he can throw a circular shield at villains in such a way that it always bounces back to him—that, absent Iron Man’s suit of armor, Stark is still a “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist.”
Happy Friday! The family road trip draws to a close as school season returns. For me, the last few hours are usually the prettiest (no offense to I-70’s farm belt) but also the most stressful. Thanks to all the readers with the offers of coffee and baseball game viewing opportunities. I wish I had time to take you up on them! I think next year, I’ll organize an informal Bulwark open house event.
Back home… Maryland just reported a case of locally-acquired Malaria. Yes, Malaria. And in D.C., some next level trolling.
Podcast update: We’re migrating some back-end stuff, and if you use Google Podcasts, as I do, there might be disruption while feeds repopulate. When in doubt, go to the site, and if you notice anything, drop me a note.
Those “87,000 IRS agents”… Sure are cutting back waiting time on calls to the IRS.
Ohio, get ready for… BS High on HBO… Featuring my alma mater, which somehow got fooled into playing them. (We won.)
DeSantis has moved on… But Disney hasn’t. It’s suing for damages.
Elon wants to ban “blocking…” But Apple might have something to say about that.
Trump isn’t going to debate… The NYT reports. He’s going on Tucker’s Twitter/X show. Related: A new Tucker biography only sold 3,000 copies. I saw about 10 unsold at Walmart, coming soon to the discount aisle.
We Turned an Abandoned Church Into a Skatepark. Then Tragedy Struck. RIP to Saint Louis’s SK8Liborious.
How small donors have become… a destructive, dividing force in American politics, writes Jonah Goldberg.
Kid Rock goes… woke?
Hey, look! It’s the GOP’s 2024 platform.
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