Scenes from the Endless Grovel

Plus: Reader emails

(Photo by Scott Olson / Getty)

ICYMI: In Ohio on Saturday, a guy with a red tie held a rally and recited his favorite poem.

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in

If only somebody had warned Bill Barr, who now has some regrets.

Happy Sunday.

In this morning’s Bulwark, Brian Karem has an account of Donald Trump’s Big Lie/Revenge Tour Rally.

But what happened over the weekend in my home state may tell us more about the current state of the GOP. Here’s the story so far:

Legislators from Wisconsin have actually travelled to Arizona to observe the bizarre election “audit” in Maricopa County, and there has been pressure for a similar farce in the Badger State.

Last month, the Republican speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos pandered to the Trumpkins by announcing that he will hire retired police officers to “investigate” the November election that Trump lost. A Madison newspaper reports: “Vos said he wants the investigators to look into the thousands of complaints about the election lawmakers received after the November presidential contest.”

This was not, however enough for the Petulant One, who issued a statement denouncing Wisconsin GOP leaders on the even of the state party convention.

One former GOP state representative fired back, calling Trump’s statement, “pure bullshit.”

But the other Republican leaders immediately went into grovel mode.

On Saturday, Vos, announced that former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman would oversee the 2020 election review.

It was a curious choice. Gableman had been a featured speaker at a post-election pro-Trump rally, where he echoed false election claims.

"I don't think anyone here can think of anything more systematically unjust than a stolen election," Gableman told a crowd at a pro-Trump rally staged Nov. 7 in a parking lot at American Serb Hall in Milwaukee.

Twitter avatar for @SykesCharlieCharlie Sykes @SykesCharlie
Gableman featured speaker at post-ejection Pro-Trump rally “The crowd waved flags, held up signs, chanted and listened to speakers, which included former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.”
tmj4.com/news/local-new…

Jessie Opoien @jessieopie

.@SpeakerVos announces at @wisgop convention that former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman will oversee the review of the 2020 election being conducted by retired police officers.

But this was only the start of the campaign to appease the angry God King.

State Senator Chris Kapenga, one of the targets of Trump’s screed, wrote a fawning 2-page letter to the ex-president telling him (I’m not making this up) that he wore “Trump socks,” and planned to wear a “Trump/Pence mask” when he got on an airplane.

Kapenga explained: “"I figure, if the liberals are going to force me to wear a mask, I am going to make it as painful for them as possible."

Our cringes cringed. But the cup of humiliation had not yet been drained. Some delegates presented a resolution calling for Vos’s resignation. Even though it was rejected, Trump doubled down on his election lie in a recorded video:

There was, of course, little or no pushback to the Lie from the state GOP — a reminder that despite occasional ineffectual gestures, Republicans have not yet exhausted their capacity for truckling and bootlicking.


ICYMI: I also had some thoughts about Tucker Carlson this weekend:

Via Mediate:

Charlie Sykes appeared on MSNBC’s 11th Hour Friday night and shredded Tucker Carlson for his recent comments about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Thursday, Carlson said Gen. Mark Milley is “not just a pig. He’s stupid” after Milley testified that day before the House Armed Services Committee. “I want to understand White rage,” Milley told the committee, prompting Carlson’s remarks. “Hard to believe that man wears a uniform,” said the Fox host.

Turning to Sykes, Brian Williams said that Fox News airs on some U.S. military bases. “So think about it,” he said “Through the ranks, they’re gonna hear Fox News refer to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as a stupid pig.”

Sykes ripped into Carlson:

Think about this. You have this pampered man-child trust fund baby calling a decorated veteran a pig and stupid. And you would think that people would step back and say, ‘Ok, I’m sorry. You can disagree with the man, but we are a party and a movement that has always prided ourselves on respect for the military, respect for what he’s accomplished. Those stripes on his sleeve are not, you know, Venmo accounts. Those stripes on the sleeve are, you know, places that he has served his country.’

Carlson’s full name is Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson. His father is a former reporter and U.S. ambassador. His stepmother is an heiress to the Swanson frozen foods brand.


We Get Mail

As usual, we got a ton of feedback this week. Some of the highlights:

**

Charlie

I wonder how the men and women in our VOLUNTEER military will react to hyena laugh Carlson calling Gen Milley a "pig and stupid".

Apparently Paul Ryan, who's on the Fox news board, is okay with it. Apparently so is everyone else there.

Rita


Charlie:

Your bullet points about hopeful developments should have included the report from the Michigan legislative committee that investigated the election fraud claims.  The fact that a committee of three Republicans and one Democrat issued such a scathing report is huge news. 

Joel Sanders


Charlie:

I can't sit here and say a good thing about what Rudy has become.  And I can't sit here and say he didn't deserve this suspension (or the disbarment to come).  But, this is so freaking sad.  

Forget being worthy of having a bridge named after you.  Rudy was airport worthy.  He was one of NYC's best mayors before 9/11 even happened.  That's not an exaggeration.  Now he'll get nothing.

What happened?  This is a Shakespearean level tragedy.

-Dan


Charlie,

I worked my way through law school at UCLA as a computer programmer after graduating from U. Chi in Math. I had many excellent instructors along the way, and I attempted to be a good faculty member at DU (U Denver) in math/CS (despite not finishing my doctoral dissertation).

The notion that two plus two equals three or five will never pass muster with us. We will never accept that the earth is flat, or that the sun goes around the earth. We will always stand up for the truth. 

The GOP for some regrettable reasons seems to loathe the law, the sciences and even basic mathematics. I am utterly and absolutely horrified about that. After seeing the Jan 6 videos, folks in the GOP seem to argue that "what you're seeing isn't real" or whatever.

There are no words to describe this form of psychological abuse. Nor is there any apparent solution. 

How in the world did approximately 30-40% of the American people come to decide that they preferred some counter factual narrative instead of what's precisely in front of their own noses? I will admit that I took more LSD than I should have as a much younger person. But nothing I ever saw, heard or believed on an "acid trip" ever compared with the mass delusions that appear to be so dreadfully widespread among this nation.

The roads will not be maintained if all of our civil engineers believe this variety of nonsense. Judges and courts would not function if we as a nation accept that two plus two equals five or three just because Trump or the GOP says so. The world will simply not go 'round if we all lost our collective minds. This is just downright unacceptable.

Raj


Charlie,

From your Morning Shots today, here’s my response to your list of opinions -

Opinion: Democrats are missing the real threat to democracy. >> AGREE

Opinion: Apologies would be nice. >>AGREE

Opinion: Democrats still have a crime problem.>>AGREE

Opinion: Bill Maher is right.>>AGREE

Opinion: I think this spin is the utterest possible bullshit.>>AGREE

Opinion: Biology may have been interrogated, but it hasn’t been repealed. >> Don’t know/understand enough to have an opinion.

Opinion: They should absolutely require the shots. >> AGREE

So almost 100% agreement then.

So – the question now is – are you a liberal like me…or am I a conservative like you?? 

Best,

Anjali


Good Morning Charlie,

I’m with you on 6.5 out of 7 of your unpopular opinions—I’m only half there on voter ID. Not *every* member of the pre-2015 Conservative movement was a bad-faith racist Klansman for pushing voter ID. To the extent that’s how you were portrayed, I’m regretful.

There is, of course, important nuance to Dems’ support for it now—specifically, the proposed penalty of perjury exception to the ID requirement, which helps to neuter concerns of disenfranchisement. More broadly, there now is a perceived necessity in finding compromise to get *something* passed in voting rights as 2024 looms.

So, I don’t quite see this as a brazen flip-flop by Dems, nor do I see the past expression of concerns as *wholly* cynical partisanship. But to the extent you once were swept up in charges of racism over voter ID, I’m sorry Charlie.

Best,
Graham


I actually agree with most of these {Seven Possibly Unpopular Opinions], but let's pump the brakes on the apologies for now. Gaming of Voter ID requirements was absolutely an attempt to restrain minority turnout. What I think we're seeing now is:

  • Any negative effect imposed by Voter ID is more than counteracted by an end to partisan gerrymandering and other democracy reforms. Democrats are willing to trade horses and accept the lesser of two evils if it means they get to kill the greater.

  • A recognition that allowing utility bills as proof of ID defangs the requirement's partisan impact.

  • As the democratic base attracts more educated/suburban voters (and likewise, as the GOP pins its hopes on high school educated voters and chipping away at the latino margin), programs that target less engaged populations begin to have a backfire effect. 

That said, I think we can all agree: Fuck Jared and Ivanka. :)

Cheers,

Mark


Hey Charlie - 

I’m a lifelong Democratic voter. Well, aside from the Illinois Primary 2016 when I crossed the line and voted for John Kasich on a Republican ballot in an attempt to stop Trump, but I digress. Anyway, I’ve been against Voter ID because in the past it had been presented as a government-issued photo ID. Expanding it to included the same kind of identification somebody would need to get cell phone service or utilities is fine. This debate has been a zero sum game but, hey, if we want to expand to include more than a government-issued ID, the public supports it, and we can get the other “Manchin provision,” then yes, let’s do it. 

Sorry we didn’t agree to these terms earlier. 

Jake


Let’s tell the full story here:  Most voter ID proposals in Republican-led states would effectively function like a poll tax.  Painting such proposals as racist is not beyond the pale.  Voter ID mandates should come with provisions to make such IDs free, and to make the process for obtaining them simple, transparent and accessible.  The question is whether voter ID laws will actually contain such assurances.  I’m not holding my breath.

Charles Hsu


Charlie,

It’s clearer than ever that there is essentially no in-person voter fraud (most recently confirmed in Michigan).  To probably six significant figures, it is true to say there is no in-person voter fraud (“The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent”).  Given that it definitely isn’t a problem, it’s fair to ask why Republican politicians were eager to introduce legislation to “fix” it.

We know why.

The fact that Democrats are pivoting now reveals that we were unable to win that argument in the court of public opinion, so our attention must be focused on introducing voter ID without introducing any additional obstacles to voting.  We should ensure that any new law does not add burdens for any voter, including those in groups that the Republicans intended to exclude with their proposals.

Regards,

Chris Evenden

Los Gatos, CA


Great conversation today (one of manymanymany). One thing I thought Anne Applebaum left out of her final point about 21st century technology and its effect on democracy: I think it's more than the rise of (and primacy of) partisan voices; I think there's also something about how our access to instant information and our forming of instant opinions, often based on only the most superficial understanding of things, works against (and may even make impossible) a culture of deliberative debate.

The culture that gave birth to our country was a printing-press culture--a deep reading culture (for those who could read)--a classical education culture (for those who got any education). De Tocqueville talked about our habits of democracy, which he saw playing out at the most local level.

If everything in our culture is now hot takes and quick pwns, and we raise new generations learning, thinking, and communicating that way...maybe THAT is why the totalitarian/authoritarian idea of one-guy-just-decides-and-makes-things-happen looks appealing to some (if appalling to others).

Andrew Ordover


Charlie,

The gentleman who decried The Bulwark for being an echo chamber for the same ideas coming from the Department of Redundancy Department, is onto something. Yes, we have become aware that if the Trump fluffers end up owning Congress, the Electoral College may become an anachronism.

So why don't all of you look into your collective crystal ball and project, prophecy, predict, what America might be like if a Republican Congress, NOT United States citizens, elect any president they please. What are the outcomes? Is democracy dead? If so, what does its replacement look like? What would be an immediate response if this happened? What would be the long-term repercussions? Do we need to be ready for something like this to happen? Violence? Yes or no? Military involvement? From which direction? Is it 1932 Germany? There were a few think tankers that projected all sorts of dire possibilities regarding the Trump/Biden election. Now, why don't you do the same.

Brian