Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Toxic Ideas Can Have Fatal Consequences.
JVL: The Ukrainians are Still Winning🔐 and Ask the Hard Questions.
CATHY YOUNG: The Replacement Theory—And Terrorist Practice
BILL RYAN: Fred Ward, 1942-2022
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
CATHY YOUNG: Elon Musk is Not the Enemy.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is not yet finalized, and in fact now seems to be on hold. Nonetheless, the buzz about what this prospective change in the ownership of the social media giant portends for life online has continued—particularly with Musk’s recent announcement that he would reverse Donald Trump’s perma-ban from the site. The buzz says a great deal about the politics of the social media, on both the left and the right—and what it says isn’t particularly flattering to either side.
Ever since Musk started moving for a Twitter buyout last month, much of the commentary has treated this initiative as part of a right-wing insurgency against perceived left-wing social media bias. (The proximate cause for the Tesla CEO’s serious exploration of Twitter ownership was apparently the suspension of the account of the Babylon Bee, the conservative satire site, for a tweet naming Health and Human Services Secretary Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, “Man of the Year.”) Yet Musk’s politics are not particularly right-wing. At least going from his public statements and actions, Musk, unlike his former competitor-turned-colleague Peter Thiel, doesn’t aspire to empower a peculiar blend of ultra-libertarian and ultra-right politics. In June 2017, Musk stepped down from Trump’s two White House-commissioned business advisory councils, along with then-Disney CEO Bob Iger, because of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era Paris climate accords; prior to that, Musk had justified his participation in the councils by claiming that he and other business leaders could do good by helping shape the White House agenda.
The Pennsylvania Senate race might just be the craziest of 2022. There’s a Bernie guy who looks like a Trump guy (Lt. Gov. John Fetterman) and a Trump guy who looks like a Biden guy (Dave McCormick). There’s also Doctor Oz and an ultra-ultra-MAGA candidate surging late. POLITICO’s Philadelphia-based national political reporter Holly Otterbein joins Sarah to listen to voters make sense of this madness.
The replacement theory has become a mainstream Republican talking point while the party also preps for no-exception abortion bans. Plus, the invasion of Ukraine is the biggest geopolitical disaster since 1939. Will Saletan is back for Charlie and Will Monday.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
TIM MILLER: Stefanik: Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Pedos (Children)?
In 2022, the GOP has been enthusiastic in their reanimation of “Lovejoy’s Law,” that fallacious appeal to emotion which implores someone, somewhere to just please think of the children.
This little bit of platitudiny—memorialized in The Simpsons episode “Much Apu About Nothing,” in which the townspeople of Springfield demand first a bear patrol, then relief from the tax hike brought about by increased caniform policing, and finally the magic elixir that is mass deportation of illegal immigrants—has been employed by political mobs demanding they get their way for as long as there has been politics.
The demagogic and simple-minded of all ideological stripes fall back on this argument because, frankly, it works. Children are vulnerable and lovable. Ingrained in our DNA is an instinct which calls us to protect and nurture them so that our species, our culture, our memory lives on. It’s much easier to prey on the public’s parental sentiments by claiming that your issue du jour will protect some hypothetical babe in the woods than it is to make grown-up arguments on said policy’s merits. Because that requires the audience to consider the various risks and rewards, costs and benefits, of a given proposal. And thinking is hard. We are not wired nearly so strictly for it.
🎵On the Jukebox🎵 Arcade Fire - Unconditional I (Lookout Kid). It’s good to have some inspirational dad music for your kids when they start caring about the meaning of lyrics so you don’t have to rely on Tom Petty (though you can do both!)
I’m нет loving it. The Golden Arches “de-archify” Russia.
Move over B Roll, it’s time for Little Red Boxes… A deep dive at The Times into how politicians are using them to circumvent campaign finance laws to communicate with third parties.
A post office… At the loneliest corner of earth.
Do not taunt happy fun ball… Or Ivermectin. Missouri’s pro-Ivermectin for COVID lobby just passed a provision into a now-law that bans pharmacists from questioning a scrip for Ivermectin.
Yet another Trump children’s book… Endorsed by the former guy himself. Only click through if you don’t mind getting the heebie jeebies.
Biden secretly reversed Trump’s Somalia withdrawal. And hundreds of special forces are now authorized to go back.
Matt Labash on Dropping Christ From Christianity:
What’s causing all this madness? Well look around, it’s in the air. Of course, the church is supposed to be a sanctuary from what’s in the air, but too often these days, it’s merely an extension of it. If everything from our professional sports to our entertainments have been politicized beyond recognition, why wouldn’t the church – which is, after all, made of imperfect people - follow suit?
Michael Luttig joins Bill Kristol… On his Conversations series to talk about “Lessons of January 6 and the Ongoing Threat to American Democracy.”
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.