When Chuck Yeager Caught the Demon

The legendary pilot who first broke the sound barrier died yesterday at age 97.

Leading The Bulwark…

When Chuck Yeager Caught the Demon

Ward Carroll: The legendary pilot who first broke the sound barrier died yesterday at age 97.

🎧 On the Pods…🎧

A.B. Stoddard: Trump Will Break the GOP

On today’s Bulwark podcast, A.B. Stoddard joins Charlie Sykes to discuss her recent item: “What If Trump Is Trying To Break the GOP?”

Across the Movie Aisle: Mank' Reviewed, Plus: WB Dumps Its Slate to HBO Max

On this week’s episode of Across the Movie Aisle, Sonny, Alyssa, and Peter talk about the politics at the heart of David Fincher’s new Netflix movie Mank, a film that is nominally about the writing of Citizen Kane but is actually about something much deeper. And, in controversies and nontroversies, the trio take a look at the shocking decision by Warner Bros. to release their entire 2021 film slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. Is Christopher Nolan right when he says that “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service” — or is that a bit of an overreaction?

For Bulwark+ Members 🔒

Across the Movie Aisle: Matthew McConaughey: Radical Centrist

On this special bonus episode of Across the Movie Aisle, Sonny, Alyssa, and Peter puzzle over just what’s so controversial about Matthew McConaughey’s dalliance with radical centrism.

The Triad: Trumpism Is a Religion

JVL on why you cannot argue with "Stop the Steal."

Morning Shots: A Coup in Broad Daylight

Charlie Sykes on why you should brace yourself for January 6.

From The Bulwark Aggregator…

In Today’s Bulwark…

Lloyd Austin Should Not Become Secretary of Defense

Shay Khatiri: Congress made an exception to let recently retired general Jim Mattis run the Pentagon. They shouldn’t do it again now.

Media Ownership Rules, and Perhaps Much More, at Stake in FCC v. Prometheus

Corbin Barthold: This case could be the harbinger of an administrative-law revolution.

Seattle Surrenders

James Thayer: Seattle’s inability—or refusal—to solve its homeless problem is killing the city’s livability.

Ted Cruz Wants to Toss Out 7 Million People’s Votes. Appalling.

Kimberly Wehle: The ‘constitutionalist’ senator volunteers to help make the case at the Supreme Court.


Trump staff insists he will veto the NDAA bill… And his objections to Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 sound more like they come from far-left liberals than a criticism from the right. Also, Trump is mad about confederate bases and ship renaming.

Dropping clickbait for dead trees. A great read in The Guardian about former Wonkette editor Ken Layne about how he gave up a popular website for a desert-based print magazine:

It’s not an easy life, but for Layne it is better than the alternative. “There is a generation of writers who think that it is a perfectly acceptable thing to accumulate a couple of hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt and go write “takes” – contrary opinion on things like ‘Why Dogs Are Actually The Worst Pet.’” None of it is new, he says, “it’s what people were doing when Rome burned.” But it has left us worse off, he says.

How to gradually exit Twitter… I don’t think this is in the cards for me anytime soon, as promoting our work on Twitter helps The Bulwark, but I’ve seen a number of friends who don’t write about politics for a living give up on the platform. This item gives some insight as to why.

The Biden Honeymoon won’t last… So argues Jack Shafer at Politico. He’s right, because no honeymoon ever lasts for very long, but he’s on point here when he writes:

Barring some unforeseen early crisis that he mangles, some monumental failure to properly vet an important Cabinet officer, or some unexpected scandal, Biden has something going for his honeymoon that no other president has ever had. He isn’t Donald Trump, and for this he will be rewarded. He doesn’t Tweetstorm. He doesn’t call people names. He doesn’t lie anywhere near as often as his predecessor. He doesn’t call the press the enemy of the people. And he’s a little boring. Practically anybody who had beaten Trump would have reaped a similar dividend, it was just Biden’s good fortune to be the one to collect it.

Fate has favored Biden, but fate is also fickle. Here’s hoping Biden enjoys his honeymoon because it will be over before he knows it.

True Trumpism Has Never Been Tried! This item at Oren Cass’s American Compass is worth a read because it provides little forward looking intel, and more of an ex-post-facto explainer blaming various actors about about why Trumpism failed.

If only The Swamp hadn’t failed Glorious Leader Trump! Imagine the possibilities!

Or, as a friend quipped:

It would appear Bovard’s complaint here is that there weren’t enough people at institutions of academic rigor to implement Trump’s agenda, which is a fancy way of saying there weren’t enough idiots.

When you take the “Show Me” part of the Missouri ethos too far… The small town of Washington, Missouri (pronounced Warshington) changed its mind on a mask mandate after one elected official heard a child of 13, the same age of his kid, died of COVID-19. It’s nice they eventually made the right call, but it’s a shame that people probably died in the interim until it hit home.

Peace. Land. Cookie. The story of this temporary mural in Peoria, Illinois is something.

Quite the “I told you so.” Writing in The Washington Post, Daryl Johnson, former senior analyst for domestic terrorism at DHS has this headline: “I warned of right-wing violence in 2009. Republicans objected. I was right.”

It’s quite the read:

Extremists no longer hide anymore. They number in the hundreds of thousands and are extremely well-armed. The political apparatus and the news media appears confused in their reporting of the scope of the domestic terrorist threat — some ignoring it completely. When 9/11 happened, the government made an effort to connect the dots beforehand, but failed because of a lack of communication among agencies. In this case, the government isn’t even trying — and worse, it appears to be enabling the threat to flourish.

How a WASP turns cockroaches into zombies… Kind of an apt metaphor for Trumpism and the GOP, no?

The wasp's stinger is so well tuned to its victim that it can sense where it is inside the cockroach's dome to inject venom directly into subsections of its brain. The stinger is capable of feeling around in the roach's head, relying on mechanical and chemical cues to find its way past the ganglionic sheath (the insect's version of a blood-brain barrier) and inject venom exactly where it needs to go. The two areas of the roach brain that she targets are very important to her; scientists have artificially clipped them from cockroaches to see how the wasp reacts, and when they are removed, the wasp tries to find them, taking a long time with her stinger embedded in search of the missing brain regions.

Then the mind control begins. First the victim grooms itself, of all things; as soon as the roach's front legs recover from the transient paralysis induced by the sting to the body, it begins a fastidious grooming routine that takes about half an hour. Scientists have shown that this behavior is specific to the venom, as piercing the head, generally stressing the cockroach, or contact with the wasp without stinging activity did not elicit the same hygienic urge. This sudden need for cleanliness can also be induced by a flood of dopamine in the cockroach's brain, so we think that the dopaminelike compound in the venom may be the cause of this germophobic behavior. Whether the grooming itself is a beneficial feature of the venom or a side effect is debated. Some believe that the behavior ensures a clean, fungus- and microbe-free meal for the vulnerable baby wasp; others think it may merely distract the cockroach for some time as the wasp prepares the cockroach's tomb.

That Trump is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant just makes this analogy all more fitting.

Well, that’s it for me today. Questions, commeobservationstions? You know how to reach me: swift@thebulwark.com. I do my best to get back to people quickly. But I’m lone-wolfing it tonight and have to get the kids to the bath.

If you haven’t joined Bulwark+, there’s still time to get on board before our next livestream. (And you can enjoy the newsletters and podcasts we create for members!)

If you’re already a member, thank you! It’s possible you know somebody in your life who might appreciate the gift of Bulwark+ membership, and you can schedule it for whenever you exchange gifts. Thanks for considering, and for reading.

Give the Gift of Bulwark+ Membership