Discover more from The Bulwark
What Comes Next On Abortion?
Plus: Scenes from a funeral
In today’s Morning Shots: Germany dithers over tanks for Ukraine; Roe at 50; feral cats with machetes; a GOP split on immigration; another mass shooting; and your weekend facepalms.
What happens when you invite a narcissistic sociopath to deliver a eulogy at a funeral?
“Trump Eulogizes Diamond By Saying He Hardly Knew Silk, Ranting About the 2020 Election, and Complaining About the Length of the Funeral.”
And it was, of course, perfectly on brand.
Meanwhile, another sign of Trump fatigue? Via the Wapo: “Trump team struggles to consolidate support ahead of S.C. event.”
What’s next for the pro-life movement?
ICYMI, the Bulwark’s Will Saletan had some thoughtful advice for anti-abortion activists. As they contemplate life after Roe, he writes, triumphant pro-lifers need to ask themselves: what do they really want? More babies, more abortion laws, or fewer abortions?
If the goal is actually fewer abortions, Will has a suggestion: “Support the provision and use of birth control. Specifically, long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs.”
You won’t see pictures of LARCs—IUDs and hormonal implants—at the March for Life. What you’ll see is pictures of babies. Babies are wonderful. Pictures of babies make us feel good.
But if your goal is to minimize the number of abortions, not to maximize the number of babies, then birth control is a better way to go.
I regret to tell you that the activists do not seem to be inclined to take Will’s advice. Instead, they appear determined to move ahead at ramming speed to enact more punitive legal prohibitions. Over the weekend, the NYT sketched out the movement’s new litmus tests for Republican politicians at the state and federal level.
These activists and their allies are pressuring potential Republican presidential contenders to call for a national ban. Raising the stakes nearly two years before the 2024 contest, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, one of the most powerful anti-abortion groups, said that any candidate who does not support federal restrictions should be “disqualified” from winning the party’s nomination….
Other conservative activists are pushing for a new series of litmus tests that include restrictions on medication abortion, protections for so-called crisis pregnancy centers that discourage women from having abortions, and promises of fiercely anti-abortion appointees to run the Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration.
But that’s not all, as anti-abortion activists continue to raise the stakes.
As some Republican-dominated statehouses prepare to further limit abortion, future presidential candidates are also likely to be asked about restrictive measures being proposed, including prosecuting those seeking abortion care in states where it is banned, targeting allies who help women travel across state lines for the procedure, criminalizing the mailing of abortion medication, and granting fetuses the same legal rights as people through fetal personhood bills.
Exit take: All of this suggests that the “Dobbs effect,” will be extended into the next few election cycles.
About those German tanks
There’s a hint of movement this morning:
PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Germany's foreign minister said on Sunday her government would not stand in the way if Poland wants to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, in a possible breakthrough for Kyiv which wants the tanks for its fight against Russia's invasion.
Good, if true. But let’s wait to see if this marks a genuine change in Germany’s policy. How bad has it been?
Bill Kristol sketches out what he called a Farce in Three Acts:
1. Germany to European nations: Please buy our excellent Leopard tanks in case there’s ever a ground war in Europe and we all need to defeat aggression.
2. Aggressor launches ground war in Europe.
3. Germany: No, you can’t use your Leopard tanks.
A farce in five acts:
1. U.S. builds Abrams tanks to use primarily in ground war in Europe.
2. Ground war in Europe.
3. Biden Administration: No U.S. troops.
4. So give Ukraine tanks to help defeat the aggression?
5. Biden Administration: Nah. They’re happier on bases in U.S.
In today’s Bulwark, Bill asks: “Whatever Happened to the ‘Zeitenwende’?”
As the Huns waffle, the Wapo editorial board has some advice for the Biden Administration:
Some officials in Berlin have suggested they would send Leopards to Ukraine if the Biden administration goes first, and provides political cover, by sending some U.S.-made Abrams tanks to Kyiv. Washington has so far been reluctant to do that, regarding the gargantuan, gas-guzzling Abrams, which requires constant maintenance, as a poor fit with Ukraine’s terrain and capabilities. That might be an accurate technical assessment.
Yet if sending some Abrams tanks is the key to breaking the impasse on a potentially much greater shipment of Leopards, President Biden should give his assent. He should do so not only to add muscle to Ukraine’s arsenal at what is likely to be a decisive moment in the war, but also to maintain Western resolve and unity in the face of the gravest threat it has faced in more than a generation.
We wake up once again this morning to news of yet another mass shooting, this time at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California.
It is the 33rd mass shooting so far in 2023. And it is only January 23.
Last year, there were 648 mass shootings in the United States.
Meanwhile, despite a slight decline in gun deaths last year, the historical trend is clear.
Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) U.S. murders in 2020 – 19,384 out of 24,576 – involved a firearm. That marked the highest percentage since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the CDC has online records…
The 2020 total represented a 34% increase from the year before, a 49% increase over five years and a 75% increase over 10 years.”
The response of congressional leaders? Here’s Congressman Thomas Massie:
And the newly minted member of the Homeland Security Committee:
Your weekend facepalms
The FBI found more classified documents at the Wilmington, Delaware, home of President Joe Biden during a consensual search Friday that lasted nearly 13 hours, his personal lawyer and a prosecutor said Saturday evening.
The discovery was the fourth time since November that classified records or material has been found at a private address of Biden’s.
“Look, this is 2018. I will tell you she has matured,” said McCaul. “I think she realizes she doesn’t know everything, and she wants to learn and become I think more of a team player. I think it’s incumbent upon more senior members to try to — she’s a member of Congress — bring her in and try to educate her that these theories that she has are not accurate.”
“I will never leave that woman,” Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, told the friend, who described the private conversation on the condition of anonymity. “I will always take care of her.”
The GOP in disarray. Over immigration?
House Republicans’ attempt to bring a border security bill to the floor as early as this week was thwarted after backlash from more moderate Republicans, delaying not only a pledge Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made to a handful of lawmakers but also the fulfillment of a key campaign promise to a Republican base eager for tougher immigration laws.
ICYMI: Catherine Rampell: Psychotic Feral Cats with Machetes
Republicans are holding the debt ceiling hostage after adding $4.7 trillion to the deficit during the Trump years — and that was before the pandemic. Why risk financial market chaos? The Wapo’s Catherine Rampell joined me for the weekend pod. You can listen to the whole thing here (or subscribe on the platform of your choice).
1. Biden’s New Immigration Plan Is Just a Band-Aid
The Western Hemisphere is suffering the greatest migration crisis in its history, with some 18 million persons displaced from their homes, but the politicians who can do something to mitigate the crisis have been unable or unwilling to do so. The new GOP House leadership would rather keep the border crisis roiling through the 2024 elections than solve the problem, and Democrats are too divided and distracted to make the issue a priority. So, what can be done?
2. How the Freedom Caucus Hopes to Defund the Police
On August 5, 2022, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) publicly called for use of the Holman Rule to “start defunding some of these bad agencies—the FBI, the DOJ.” Biggs’s desire to defund the FBI and the Justice Department was echoed by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, and others. Notably, the Freedom Caucus letter to McCarthy that demanded reinstatement of the Holman Rule was led by Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.), a major figure in the plot to overturn the 2020 election results. (You might recall that his cell phone was seized last summer by the FBI.)
It is not a coincidence that the people seeking to defund the FBI and the Justice Department are people who were heavily involved in the plot to overturn the 2020 election, which has since become the subject of the largest criminal investigation in American history. Most of those named above requested presidential pardons from Donald Trump, and they have consistently been some of his most zealous allies in seeking to use their power to silence, intimidate, and punish his enemies.
3. What the ‘Weaponization’ Committee Is Really After
Is the government really picking on conservatives? Or, hear me out, did a defeated, twice-impeached president and some of his conservative allies maybe do something unconstitutional or illegal in trying to overturn the 2020 election by lying, scheming and attacking the Capitol? Or moving hundreds of top secret documents to Mar-a-Lago and then (unlike Biden) stonewalling for months to forestall handing them over? Maybe these things deserve federal attention. Right?
The tragedy is that, when it comes to Jim Jordan’s investigations, facts may not matter. What will matter, painfully so, is how shoveling paranoia and distortion into the news stream will further undermine trust in the U.S. government, its integrity, its motives, and its elections.