Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: The Humiliation of Kevin McCarthy.
SONNY BUNCH: ‘The Northman’ Review and Netflix: The Least-Essential Streaming Service.
THE SECRET POD: Kevin McCarthy Is Everywhere, All at Once.
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WILL SALETAN: Sham Elections and Shameless Lies.
Every day, we learn more about politicians who conspired to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Russia is planning phony referenda to fabricate a mandate for its occupation. Both stories are dismaying, but the contrast between them raises a useful question: Do people who claim that American elections are rigged—that the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump, or that voting laws must be tightened because Democrats cheat—also protest when elections overseas really are rigged? Or do they look the other way?
The answer, in many cases, is that when Vladimir Putin and his allies engineer fake plebiscites, Trumpists who claim to stand for “election integrity”—including Trump himself—say nothing, do nothing, or defend the bogus referenda. They’re fine with fraudulent elections. They just don’t like American elections.
MIKE DUNFORD: This Isn’t the Right Way to Get Marjorie Taylor Greene Out of Congress.
[I]f I were the judge in this case, I’d be very skeptical of the theory. A state administrative law tribunal is an ill-equipped and inappropriate venue for determining whether someone engaged in insurrection against the United States—just as it was, ten years ago, for determining whether someone was born in the United States or Kenya. Being asked to disqualify someone who is 20 years old from appearing on the presidential ballot is one thing. Age is relatively simple to determine, birth certificates and other evidence are widely available, and there is an objective standard to apply. Determining whether someone has committed a serious federal crime is not so simple. That’s one of the reasons we place those decisions in the hands of a jury, rather than any one person.
Greene has not been charged, indicted, or convicted of insurrection. Nor has the House of Representatives, which has the sole power under the Constitution to decide the qualifications of its own members, decided that Greene is disqualified because she is an insurrectionist. In the face of this, asking a single judge to decide that Greene is disqualified, and to then refer that decision to a partisan elected official to remove her name from the ballot, flies in the face of due process norms.
It is understandable that many do not want Greene to continue to soil the halls of Congress. But this hearing is not the way to fix that problem.
McCarthy thought he was rid of Trump after Jan 6, but he didn’t have the backbone to stand up to him. And Mitch is just as guilty. Plus: JD Vance’s post-constitutionalism, and calling DeSantis’ Disney vengeance campaign for what it is: “Socialism.” Tim Miller joins Charlie Sykes on the weekend podcast.
Arc Digital’s Nicholas Grossman joins the group to consider the mask mandate, the corruption of presidential relatives, and James Carville’s advice about “weird Republicans.”
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DANIEL LELCHUCK: A Defense of Art for Art’s Sake.
In this slim but powerful volume, critic Jed Perl, a longtime writer for the New Republic before that magazine’s implosion, provides a moving and passionate defense of the arts in and for themselves. He notes that the question of the intrinsic value of art is one he never expected to need to address. For him, it is a given. For others, it has become a questionable hypothesis.
The book’s six thematically connected chapters can stand alone as individual essays, and they blend Perl’s deep cultural expertise with autobiographical stories that illustrate the power of art to fundamentally change a person’s life. As a professional cellist, I approached the book with great interest, but also some anxiety: Wondering about the future of Beethoven and Schoenberg in a TikTok- and Twitter-dominated world keeps me awake at night. Perl’s book offers reassurance that great art has a justification and a future regardless of the apps people use to access it—and regardless of social media’s ability to shorten and damage our attention spans. The two words of the book’s title are poles that Perl’s arguments move between. A core question that comes up repeatedly—“what’s the point?”—speaks to the first pole, of authority. What’s the point of a Vermeer painting or a Mozart piano concerto if it doesn’t concretely improve society? The assumption underwriting this kind of question is that the work of art does not exist on its own authority, and so needs to borrow it from elsewhere.
RICH THAU and MATT STEFFEE: Pennsylvania Swing Voters Aren’t Rushing Back to Republicans.
The conventional wisdom is that 2022 is shaping up to be a wave election for Republicans. But only one of our respondents personified this view.
David, 40, from Phoenixville, explained, “Biden has done a horrible job. Crime is up everywhere. . . . It’s all the Democrat-run cities. Inflation is at a 40-year high. I don’t see any solutions coming out. I think maybe we need to have Republicans controlling the House and the Senate to provide good checks and balances for Biden.”
The other 12 didn’t view the midterms as a referendum on Democrats. Instead, they were focused on the qualities of the individual candidates, rather than punishing or embracing one party over the other.
Bridget, 60, from Trevose, remarked, “Not as a protest would I just pull straight Republican [while voting] . . . I’d have to know that I wanted that person, not because they were [of] that party.”
Walter Olson begs to differ… on my item yesterday about the MDGov race, read his thoughts.
When the far right shows you who they are… Believe them.
News from back home… An Ohio judge bizarrely employs an armed constable. Here’s why.
America Talks! Sign up for the national week of conversation and help discuss America’s problems and your solutions. Best of all? Meet some new people with different backgrounds. Here’s some highlights from last year’s.
From the party that was against picking “winners and losers” and “cancel culture” comes… The new Florida law going after Disney.
Putin is not looking good. This is probably not a good thing.
J.D. Vance’s allies come for Josh Mandel… And it is brutal (because it’s true.)
Build the w… Oh wait, we’re probably going to prison for being grifters?
If you want… You can buy RBG’s stuff. For charity.
Tennessee’s homeless criminalization bill… Is nasty stuff. Rep. Antonio Parkinson responds.
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