Bill Barr’s Very “Special” Episode

The attorney general wants the benefits of special counsel status for John Durham, but without bearing the costs. He’s not alone.

Leading The Bulwark…

Bill Barr’s Very “Special” Episode

Adam J. White: The attorney general wants the benefits of special counsel status for John Durham, but without bearing the costs. He’s not alone.

🎧 On the Pods… 🎧

Tim Miller vs. Charlie Sykes; Hope vs. Despair

On today’s Bulwark podcast, Tim Miller joins Charlie Sykes to discuss COVID-19, the increasingly crazy election trutherism, and the GOP and 2024.

Tony Davis Returns! Why Do TVs Look Better than Theaters?

You may remember Tony Davis as the guy who explained to us why popcorn grease is destroying movie theater projectors. (He also had lots of interesting thoughts on 3D and the economics of the theater business, but mostly, judging by responses I received: popcorn grease.) He’s back this week to explain why the home theater set you can build in your home looks about as good as a standard (read: non-IMAX or Dolby) theater. (Whether or not it sounds as good is a separate issue.) And he has a few suggestions for theater owners as to how they could step up their game.

From The Bulwark Aggregator…

In Today’s Bulwark…

The Trump Pardon Spree

Kim Wehle: His actions may convert the pardon power into a presidential license to commit federal crimes while in office.

The End of an Era—or the Beginning of One?

William Kristol: The Baby Boom generation is now spent. Change is coming to American politics.

Vaccines Don’t Protect People. Vaccination Does.

David Shaywitz: Implementation. Implementation. Implementation.

From The Triad and Morning Shots 🔓

Unlocked because a.) it is the giving season, and b.) we’d like you to consider joining Bulwark+.

If This Is a Crisis, Then Act Like It

Jonathan V. Last: The "good" Republicans have nothing but words.

So: Gabriel Sterling thinks that Republicans—and specifically the two Republicans running for the Senate in Georgia are saying things which are untrue and conducting themselves in a way that is “un-American” and makes them “complicit” in an attack against “the backbone of our democracy.” He says that their words and actions are “going to get somebody killed.”

And he also says: “I will vote for those two senators.”


I wrote about this logic pretzel two weeks ago and, if anything, it’s getting worse.

The Leopards Eating People's Faces Party

Charlie Sykes offers some thoughts on hope:

But the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks reminded us that “Optimism and hope are not the same. Optimism is the belief that the world is changing for the better; hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better.”

Hope actually requires courage.


We lost another one… My favorite remaining haunt in St. Louis, Marley’s in Ferguson, Missouri, closed for good. Sadly, I barely got to really know Marley’s, but after Humphrey’s, the college bar I worked at, closed, I needed a new place to meet with old friends when I was in town, and Marley’s was not only convenient, but had fantastic food. So I adopted it. Or, maybe, it adopted me.

Including the local delicacy, The Slinger. Marley’s consisted of: Tater tots, burger, chili, fried egg, grilled onions, mixed cheese. There are many variations of The Slinger. And most all of them are amazing.


When are you going to get the vaccine? The New York Times has a rough estimation, and for me, the answer is: probably not soon.

Parler is flooded with porn. And apparently has no plans to come up with ways to curb it, as #bigtech has. Lots of Radical Traditional Conservatives who have fled to the Mercer-funded safe space probably aren’t appreciating it.

But before Parler, there was Gab… And what did Gab users get? A letter from the CEO, Andrew Torba, where he apparently identified as a supporter of QAnon.

I don’t know about you, but I think most normal Americans wouldn’t want to give their social data to QAnon adjacent CEOs, or Steve Bannon’s former boss who runs a site that doesn’t really care about policing porno. But then again, I don’t have three stars in my handle for Mike Flynn, or a red X because I believe in some shadow ban conspiracy. But for those who do… Enjoy Parler and Gab!

An interview with Alan Alda… One of my favorite actors reflects on M*A*S*H and The West Wing and his career in acting. (He was also great in Canadian Bacon, Michael Moore’s best movie.)

A PSA about email addresses… We’ve discovered in recent days that some members and readers with emails provided by their Internet Service Provider aren’t getting all of the emails they should be getting. Think Comcast, Verizon, Cox, etc. So if you’re seeing emails not make your inbox and would like to switch your subscription to a different email address, let me know and I’ll get Substack to arrange it.

Comedian investigated by Secret Service over joke… Comedian John Mulaney got a phone call from the feds after making a joke that could have been interpreted as a threat against the President. It was not a serious threat, and the Secret Service has to do its job. But it did remind me of this Nathan for You episode about the perfect talk show story.

Greg Sargent makes a very good point… In The Washington Post:

There’s a particularly vile aspect to all of this, however, that isn’t a laughing matter. Georgia Republicans don’t mind when Trump lies about the integrity of their elections in a way that they think will help them. They only mind when Trump lies about the integrity of their elections in a way that threatens to harm them.

Ivanka gets deposed. And she is not happy!

Jenna Ellis and embellishment… The President’s lawyer-turned-PR flack doesn’t have the experience she suggests, and not only that, isn’t actively lawyering on his behalf in election cases. I know you’re shocked. Bulwark reader Craig Silverman, who has had Ellis on his show, gets a number of quotes in the story, too.

Rob Manfred’s plan to murder the minor leagues. If you’re a subscriber to The Athletic, make sure you read this if you’re a fan of baseball. Unlike JVL, I never got to fall in love with the Potomac Nationals before their move to Fredericksburg, VA. But I did work for a minor league baseball team one summer in college, and would go up to Hagerstown, Md. before they switched leagues (SAL to Midwest) to watch them play.

If Manfred succeeds in pulling the minors (and its owners and players) closer into the MLB orbit, Congress should revisit some of the protections it’s afforded MLB that were perhaps dubious to start with. Congress wanted to “protect America’s pastime” but I’m not sure that’s what Manfred is interested in at all.

He is interested in centralizing control. Hopefully the teams that don’t make it will find ways to join independent leagues, like the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Atlantic League.

Why did Arizona turn blue? Why did it lose both of its Republican Senate seats? Well, the Kelli Wardification of the party certainly contributed.

Why can’t the deep state do anything to stop the White House and Trump super spreader Christmas events? At Washingtonian, Andrew Beaujon reaches out to some of MAGAland to find out why:

Where is the Deep State? You know, the shadowy cabal of permanent Washington that sandbagged the Trump administration with the Russia hoax, filled the Mueller investigation with 13 angry Democrats, pivoted to the impeachment hoax, then squashed the news of the laptop from hell with a big assist from social media companies, and then collaborated with Hugo Chavez’s ghost to steal the election via server farms in other countries? Surely stopping parties would be child’s play for those folks!

Ghosts of conspiracies past. If you thought the Melissa Carone show in Michigan was something to behold, hold on, there’s more about the #EliteStrikeForce’s affidavit signers. Jesse Morgan, who the President amplified, drives trucks under contract for the USPS and he has allegations! But he also, per the Daily Beast, “believes his family has been stalked cross-country by ghosts.”

Doing some more good. In Alexandria, Virginia, where I used to live, there’s a great local charity called The Campagna Center. They do a lot of good work. And every December, they typically host a “Scottish Walk” parade to raise money. It’s been a few years since we’ve been able to participate, with young toddlers, but our West Highland Terrier, Gus, used to join every year. We started marching with the Westies, but opted to march with our social club, The Fraternal Order of Eagles.

They had to cancel the walk this year, but kids in Alexandria are still in need. If you’re local and able, please consider donating. If you’re not local, think of places by you that could use your help, if you’re in a position to do so.

Evicted. Stephen Miller’s inside woman at DOJ has been banned from the building after some really unethical stuff, the AP reports:

Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago. She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud, the people said.

It gets worse:

Stirrup had also extended job offers to political allies for positions at some of the highest levels of the Justice Department without consulting any senior department officials or the White House counsel’s office and also attempted to interfere in the hiring process for career staffers, a violation of the government’s human resources policies, one of the people said.

Stirrup was the former Director of Government Relations for the Christian Coalition and President of Faithful Catholic Citizens.

That’s it for me for now, until we see you Bulwark+ members on tonight’s livestream. If you have any questions for me, you know how to reach me:

If you’re not yet a member of Bulwark+, you can join anytime! And if you join before 8:00 p.m. EST, you can join us on the livestream.

If you’re already a member and struggling for gift ideas, perhaps somebody you know would appreciate a gift of Bulwark+. If so, we have you covered!

Give a gift subscription

Please note, gift subscriptions take effect immediately, so if you want it to be a surprise, perhaps wait. But these coming days are important, so maybe don’t wait. It’s 2020. People will deal.