Leading The Bulwark…
This Is Your Brain on Newsmax
Tim Miller: What it’s like bingeing on the Fox-killer.
The cast of characters who appear on Newsmax is so random that you might be tempted to describe it as a Political Star Wars Bar but that would be unfair to the Mos Eisley cantina. I saw Dinesh D’Souza. Dick Morris’s shiny dentures. The Gorka. Random kids from Twitter. Rudy, Rudy, and more Rudy. Blago. John Gizzi. Lots of blonde ladies. Broadway Joe.
🎧 On the Pods… 🎧
Jonathan V. Last on the Politics of Paranoia
On today’s Bulwark podcast, Jonathan V. Last joins Charlie Sykes to discuss how when the unthinkable becomes thinkable, literal coups are possible. How right wing political entertainment has largely become the id of the GOP base, and how the politics of paranoia are shaping the party’s future.
Can Normal Elbow Out Crazy?
Bill Kristol joins B2D to discuss the normal (!) congressional Covid compromise, Biden’s cabinet so far, and the insanity on the Trump right.
For Bulwark+ Members…🔒
"Trump Election Truthers" Livestream
If you missed last night’s livestream with David Frum, Mona Charen, Charlie Sykes, and Tim Miller, don’t worry! Bulwark+ members can watch if they can’t make it live.
If you’re not yet a member of Bulwark+, you can join now and watch it. It was fantastic.
The Triad: A Very COVID Christmas
JVL on why the “period of maximum danger is now.”
This is the only thing former presidents are good for: Acting as bipartisan bridges for giant national crises.
My great fear about the next nine months is that vaccine implementation—which should be a moment of national triumph—will devolve into The Mask Wars: Part Deux.
Do you think Donald Trump will be likely to stoke that fire, or help put it out?
Morning Shots: All the GOP Really Cares About
Charlie Sykes writes:
Most Republicans sat quietly as President Trump escalated his attacks on the election, flinging bizarre conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines and stuffed ballot boxes. Few were roused to dissent as Trump lashed out at the FBI and his own Department of Justice, or when his lawyers called for overturning state election results. When Trump’s former national security advisor endorsed martial law, and a military takeover of the election system, there was nary a peep of protest.
After all, why should Republicans speak up about all the lies and threats? All that was at stake was faith in our democratic system, so they apparently felt no comment was necessary.
Remember, if you join us at Bulwark+, you can log in and read what you may have missed!
From The Bulwark Aggregator…
Congress passes bill authorizing fallen journalist memorial in D.C., includes honors to murdered Capital Gazette staff members – Brooks DuBose, Capital Gazette
Loeffler, Perdue face pressure in Georgia Senate runoffs over pandemic relief delays – Stephanie Akin and Jessica Wehrman, Roll Call
Pandemic Data Are Stalling Out – The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project
Ex-Presidents Can Get Intel Briefings. Trump Shouldn’t. – Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
New Videos Show The Dramatic Collapse Of The Arecibo Telescope – Patrick Redford, Defector
Airbnb may take legal action against unauthorized New Year’s Eve parties – Natalie B. Compton, The Washington Post
Wall Street Poised for Win on Money-Laundering Bill in Lame-Duck – Jesse Hamilton and Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg Businessweek
In Today’s Bulwark…
Movie Theaters Were Fun While They Lasted
Sonny Bunch in Screentime:
There were ominous rumbles on Twitter yesterday around noon. A few members of Film Twitter had obviously been given an embargoed press release, one that would change the game, alter the world of filmmaking as we know it, reset the entire cinematic universe. The guessing game began on Slack and Gchat: What was headed to streamers? Was Disney pulling the trigger on Black Widow? Did Netflix buy No Time to Die? Heck, did Netflix just buy all of MGM?
Editor’s note: I wonder, will my children ever know the deliciousness of butter-flavored soybean oil popcorn? Or what it’s like to sit in a packed theatre to watch the premiere of Independence Day after Mike Emancipator’s birthday party?
We obviously already have our in-home solution, but I think the home popcorn game needs some work. I don’t think my wife will let me install a dispenser, even if they are available from Amazon.
Moving Films to VOD Can’t Make Up the Revenue the Traditional Theatrical Model Generates
James Emanuel Shapiro: One low-budget film shows how hard it will be to make up lost revenue from the traditional theatrical model if the window narrows to 30 days.
They’re Fine With It
Amanda Carpenter: Republicans have no qualms with Trump’s dangerous conspiracy theories—until they get tangled up in them themselves.
Michael Cohen on What Trump Wants Now
Brian Karem: The president’s longtime lawyer, still serving out his federal sentence, explains his former boss’s post-election maneuvering.
🚨 OVERTIME 🚨
What is it with Three Stars? Three yellow stars became the stand of solidarity with former NSA, QAnon adherent, a recent pardon recipient, and now military coup advocate Michael Flynn. That’s because he was a three star general. One of his former colleagues has joined him, and, as the Army Times reports, it is BONKERS.
The RNC enriches DJTJ. They spent $300k buying his most recent book, which Lachlan Markay reports “appears to be the RNC's largest-ever payment for "donor mementos.” History. Made.
The Browns are 8-3. Just let that sink in, Mike Polk argues. Maybe we’re just rookies at not sucking.
I regret to inform you that Rudy Giuliani farted during a hearing. No, I am not making this up.
Dear Lord Baby Jesus… Michelle Bachmann implores you to give the bad orange man a second term. Is this how Christianity works? I mean, not what I grew up with as a Catholic. It’s bizarre.
Oh hey, but speaking of bad spinoffs of Christianity… I have this for you.
You know he’s probably gonna get the pardon, right? I want to be wrong, but this war criminal, Robert Bales, is asking for a Presidential Pardon, and everything I’ve witnessed from President Trump in recent years suggests to me he’s going to get it.
I side with the state… I mean, if you cause an avalanche that costs government a lot of money and destroys things, you should be held accountable. Just like if you had a gender reveal party that caused a wildfire. Will be interesting to see what happens in this case, given its particulars.
Must be Italian! If you’re from Cleveland, you know that A Christmas Story was largely filmed there. One of the funny quirks of the movie, at least for us Clevelanders, is the prominence of leg lamps. (My parents have one.) If, like me, you love this movie, here are some interesting facts about one of the most famous lamps outside of the magic genie genre.
A MAGA superspreader. The alt-right adjacent New York Young Republicans held a party, and, well, you can imagine how it went. Especially since the guest of honor was Rep. Matt Gaetz.
More Pentagon firings. Corey Lewandowski, for whatever reason, is now on an advisory board to the Pentagon. And so is David Bossie, Trump whisperer and chairman of Citizens United. This comes after President Trump fired the board to install loyalists in positions that, well, Joe Biden can easily fire them from.
Trump also appointed his (fired) former alt-right speechwriter Darren Beattie to Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.
The Trump administration, finally, seems hard at work in the business of doing government work. Not in our interest, but just to be a dick to Joe Biden, who will have to (and should) fire all of these loons.
Dr. Riviera. Wyoming has a Department of Health Doctor who seems destined for a bad time:
The Nov. 10 event, held by the group Keep Colorado Free and Open, was meant to gather people who disagreed with health restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Igor Shepherd, readiness and countermeasures manager for the Wyoming Department of Health, spoke at the event.
“It’s kind of (a) strange and questionable situation about (the) covid pandemic,” Shepherd said, calling the current global crisis a “so-called pandemic,” that had been invented by Russia and China as a tool to spread communism across the globe.
Shepherd, who was introduced at the event as a health department employee, went on to share a debunked conspiracy theory about the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, saying it had been developed as a biological weapon and would reprogram a person’s immune system.
Maybe he could go work for Kristi Noem after Wyoming (hopefully) parts ways with him.
What’s for dinner. Getting some takeout from our local, wonderful do-it-all family restaurant, and I’m getting Rigatoni Chorizo Mac & Cheese. Behold. If you’re able, think about supporting your neighbors this weekend. And remember, just because something is part of a big chain doesn’t mean it isn’t part of your local community. The person who franchises your McDonald’s, your Wendy’s likely lives near to you, and so do the people who work there. We’ve lost 276k fellow Americans because of COVID and 22 million people have lost their jobs at some point.
I remember in 2008 when we conservatives mocked Obama for saying “spread the wealth around.” We got Joe the Plumber out of that. (Sorry, America.) But Obama’s underlying principle then does have a lot of applicability now. We’re spending far more to deal with the 2020 pandemic than we did the 2008 economic crisis.
In recent years, I’ve seen memes about why you shouldn’t buy from chains. Silly things like: “you’re paying for ballet lessons for your neighbor rather than yadda yadda yadda.” As if the shift manager at your Best Buy or your Chili’s doesn’t have kids who might be interested in Ballet.
A friend of mine who works in the restaurant industry and I were talking about this just yesterday, and I couldn’t have put it better than this: “I try to water my lawn. If you’re near me, I try to patronize your business.”
The important thing, I think, is to broaden your horizons. Support your favorites, but also get something from a place you have never tried.
2020’s economic problems are far worse than 2008’s.
That’s it for me for today. Have a great weekend and see you on Monday. Questions, thoughts, comments, observations? You know how to reach me: email@example.com.