Defining Deviancy Down

Plus, a story about lunch with Lech Walesa.

Leading The Bulwark…

Defining Deviancy Down

William Kristol: The president retweets a story suggesting that Barack Obama had Seal Team 6 murdered. And the world barely notices.

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On the pods…

Mona Charen Makes the Case for Optimism

On today’s Bulwark podcast, Mona Charen joins Charlie Sykes to discuss her item on catastrophic thinking and optimism. Plus, a discussion about October surprises, conspiracies, and Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings.

It's Harvest Time on the Conspiracy Theory Farm!

All the conspiracy theories are coming home. Sarah has new focus groups. And the polling for Trump keeps getting worse.

This is the last free episode of The Next Level. If you’ve liked hearing Tim, Sarah, and JVL shoot the breeze about the news of the day, you’ll only be able to listen to future episodes if you become a member of Bulwark+.

From The Bulwark Aggregator…

In today’s Bulwark…

Breaking News: Not Everything Is Terrible

Mona Charen: For the first time in a long time, the world looks brighter and a little more hopeful than it did seven months ago.

Trump’s Great “Unmasking” Hoax Is Finally Dead

Tim Miller: Another “Deep State” non-scandal goes down the memory hole.

What Do We Do About Voter Intimidation?

Nicholas Grossman: The president is urging supporters to go to polling places because of a made up threat. Some will listen.


To Mona’s point… The Cleveland Browns are, perhaps inexplicably, 4-1. So not everyone around here is a pessimist. Though, I would caveat my joy by saying, as a Browns fan, there is still a lot of football left.

RIP Sokolowski’s. It appears the famous Cleveland cafeteria might be closing, just shy of 100. As a high school classmate of mine, who is Polish, writes:

Dziękuję ci Sokolowski’s.

Pierdol się 2020.

Translated? Thank you Sokolowski's. Fuck you 2020.

I could not agree more. Sokolowski’s is a Cleveland institution on the near west side in the Tremont neighborhood. One of my absolute favorite memories growing up there was being able to eat at Sokolowski’s with none other than Lech Walesa.

One of the quotes from his speech, given through a translator, was “even opponents of globalization have cell phones.” It has always stuck with me for some reason.

Aggressive as I was for a photo, he joked that perhaps I would run for office one day. At the time, I think he meant it as a compliment. Now, not so much… Maybe he was talking about HOAs.

Walesa came to speak at my high school because a wealthy alumnus donated money for a speaker series, and naturally, if the city’s most famous Polish restaurant is right nearby, you have to take him. So, the school did.

The restaurant didn’t always cater to the famous, in fact, it got its start feeding Cleveland’s blue collar workers. But, it got a James Beard Award.

Bernie [Sokolowski] told Ideastream yesterday that the decision has been made to permanently shutter the beloved local treasure, which had gathered a small mountain of local accolades in its day, along with its fair share of national renown and a James Beard "American Classics" award to boot. Not bad for a cafeteria slinging homemade comfort food.

Hopefully, if the universe is just, Sokolowski’s can be saved. But the universe often isn’t. Life is not fair.

I’m not Polish, so I don’t even remember what, specifically, I ate 18 years ago when I got to get lunch with a Nobel Laureate at one of Cleveland’s most famous restaurants. Whatever I had was delicious. It is a memory I will never forget.

And now that I’m older, I have an appreciation for the amount of work it takes to offer up cafeteria-style offerings that are all good. Our old haunt on 17th Street, NW, The California Grill served many then-TWSers and AEI types and I still don’t have any idea how those guys were able to sling that much food on a daily basis. (The grill went into that good night when the AEI building was razed, but lives on in Yafa Grille.)

The McCloskeys are at it again… The gun-toting couple from St. Louis famous in the MAGAsphere is on the verge of facing the court (even though the MAGA-friendly guv of Missouri has promised to pardon them). They got lunch at the Original Pancake House and what did the include with the tip? A signed card of them pointing guns at protesters. As a friend opined: “This is Trumpism… distilled.”

PSA: Supermarket Sweep is back.

Speaking of super markets… This Lidl in Ireland gives customers a look at ancient Irish history, right under their feet.

Baseball can bridge the gap. This new documentary, Bad Hombres on Showtime about U.S.-Mexican relations and baseball looks fantastic.

In Lieu of Fun… Tim Miller joins our friend and frequent podcast contributor Benjamin Wittes on his afternoon show. Tune in!

A spicy donut? I love hot sauce as much as the next guy, but this obsession with ghost pepper might finally be going too far.

The new Hillbilly Elegy movie looks pretty great! Granted, what does Ron Howard produce that is not? Remember, you can be concerned about J.D. Vance’s recent migration towards nationalist conservatism, and still think the book is good, and the movie looks great. Because it does look great.

The Practical Wisdom in Statecraft. At City Journal, our friend and sometimes Bulwark contributor Andy Smarick has a must read where he reminds that “‘Common sense’ and technical expertise are no substitute for governing experience.”

Practical wisdom in statecraft will never inspire like the novice’s theatrical displays and dramatic expressions. The governing amateur, not knowing what he doesn’t know, will gladly offer exaggerated assessments and imprudent plans. Likewise, the technical expert can astound with subject-matter erudition. The practically wise public leader, on the other hand, will typically be moderate in disposition, measured in speech, and incremental in action. Not exactly the stuff of a tent revival

Well, that’s it for today’s Overtime, friends. Remember, when you become a member of Bulwark+ you get access to other newsletters and podcasts that aren’t available to others.

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