Sykes's Law: It's Always Worse Than You Thought
Plus: Maybe Joe should talk to Mitt
There’s no joy among the Cheeseheads today, but I have to report that there’s an extraordinary outbreak of schadenfreude even in the frozen tundra.
And I’m there for it all.
Naturally, as a lifelong fan, I was crushed by the meltdown/epic choke of the Green Bay Packers last night. But, as I admitted on Twitter this morning, I’m suffering from a particularly bad case of cognitive dissonance. As much as I was disappointed by the Lambeau Collapse, I’m thoroughly enjoying all of the dunking on Aaron Rodgers, who probably should have spent more time watching game film than listening to Joe Rogan.
Today is an especially good day to remind you that ideas do, indeed, have consequences. And not just for Packer fans.
Even as we drag Aaron Rodgers, anti-vaxxers are descending on Washington D.C. in a display of their new-found political clout. Via the Wapo:
As anti-vaccine activists from across the country prepare to gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, they are hoping their rally will mark a once-fringe movement’s arrival as a lasting force in American society.
That hope, some public health experts fear, is justified.
Almost two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the movement to challenge vaccines’ safety — and reject vaccine mandates — has never been stronger. An ideology whose most notable adherents were once religious fundamentalists and minor celebrities is now firmly entrenched among tens of millions of Americans.
The nation that gave the world Jonas Salk is now exporting reckless disinformation to the rest of the world. And what was once a near-universal consensus about the life-saving qualities of vaccines has been ravaged by the culture wars of our stupidest-of-all-timelines.
That propaganda has also found its way into many reaches of American life. It has invaded people’s offices and shaped the daily decisions of school principals. It has riven families and boosted political campaigns….
“Our worst worries have been manifested,” said Joe Smyser, chief executive of the Public Good Projects, a nonprofit group that tracks and seeks to combat vaccine misinformation. “These fringe ideas are no longer fringe ideas.”
Another Coup Memo
It’s probably just the Packer hangover talking, but I’m tempted to postulate a new law for dealing with the events of our era:
Sykes’s Law: It’s always worse than you thought.
Item #5674.1: “Read the never-issued Trump order that would have seized voting machines.”
The executive order — which also would have appointed a special counsel to probe the 2020 election — was never issued…
It’s not clear who wrote either document. But the draft executive order is dated Dec. 16, 2020, and is consistent with proposals that lawyer Sidney Powell made to the then-president. On Dec. 18, 2020, Powell, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump administration lawyer Emily Newman, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne met with Trump in the Oval Office.
In that meeting, Powell urged Trump to seize voting machines and to appoint her as a special counsel to investigate the election, according to Axios.
Don’t miss this detail: the draft opens with the usual citations of presidential authority. But then, “the draft executive order also cites two classified documents: National Security Presidential Memoranda 13 and 21.”
The existence of the first of those memoranda is publicly known, but the existence of the second has not been previously reported. NSPM 13 governs the Pentagon’s offensive cyber operations. According to a person with knowledge of the memoranda, 21 makes small adjustments to 13, and the two documents are viewed within the executive branch as a pair.
So what does this mean?
The fact that the draft executive order’s author knew about the existence of Memorandum 21 suggests that they had access to information about sensitive government secrets, the person told POLITICO.
I refer you back to Sykes’s Law. You knew it was bad. It was worse. We were alarmed, but the reality was crazier, dumber, and more dangerous than we thought.
ICYMI: You really need to go back and read Amanda Carpenter’s comprehensive breakdown of what was actually going on in the weeks before January 6:
The insistent notion that Trump and his allies are “too stupid to coup” should not be reassuring. Like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, shake enough door handles, and eventually one opens. By the end of the 2020 story, Trump had learned just how loose are the dusty old frameworks like the Electoral Count Act.
From the summer of 2020 through January 6, 2021, Trump’s buffoonish plans evolved—ultimately taking shape as a multipronged plot to rob Joe Biden of the presidency, one that descended into bloody violence at the United States Capitol.
Read the whole damn thing, because you think you know how bad it was.
We Get Comments
As you’ll notice, there’s no mailbag today. As usual, we got lots of feedback, but I want to call your attention to what’s going in our open comment section of Morning Shots.
All Bulwark+ members are able to comment on any post or any of my daily newsletters, and the response so far as been both encouraging and impressive. If you haven’t checked them out, please do so… you will find many of the same folks there who used to show up in the Sunday newsletters.
Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
The United States of Discontent
Maybe Joe Should Sit Down With Mitt
Radical idea I know, and probably far less emotionally satisfying than the current Democratic circular firing squad. (“Arizona Democratic Party board votes to censure Sinema after pro-filibuster vote.”)
But now that the strictly-party-line, we-don’t-need-no-stinking-Republicans-strategy has blown up in a cloud of Dem-on-Dem recriminations, maybe it’s time for a dose of actual bipartisanship.
Perhaps Ron Klain should put Pramila Jayapal on hold for a bit and place a call to Mitt Romney, and begin to explore the possibility a new centrist governing coalition in the senate. Right now Mitch McConnell has a testicle-lock on the place, but what if a group of senators — say, Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Angus King, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema for starters — formed a caucus of their own. Overnight, they could hold the balance of power in the evenly divided senate if they stuck together and chose to use it.
And Biden could work with them to re-set his presidency.
The president might explore a compromise on the child tax credit, maybe even some more election reforms. We’re seeing some fragile shoots of non-tribal negotiations over legislation to fix the Electoral Count Act. So that’s a start.
I bring all of this up even though the progs are in a state of high dudgeon about the failure of any Republican to support the two voting rights bills that died last week.
It’s a valid question: Why didn’t a single Republican vote for the bills that Democrats said were essential to save democracy? So I get a lot of, ‘Hey Charlie, why don’t you ask Liz Cheney and your buddy Adam Kinzinger why they didn’t vote for democracy?
“And WTF is with Romney?”
Well, here’s what Romney said last week. You may disagree with him, but it is worth listening to his arguments (which I doubt you heard on MSNBC or on prog Twitter.)
One of his key points was that the Democrats’ bill “does not focus on the real election threats—the corruption of the counting of the ballots, the certification of elections, and the Congressional provisions for accepting and counting a slate of electors.”
He also notes that there was never any attempt to win support from across the aisle… even though bipartisanship was always requisite for getting anything done. According to Romney, he never got a call from the White House about the legislation, which, in itself, seems to be a case of political malpractice.
Here’s what Romney said on the senate floor:
Given the interest in the priority and the importance of elections, it would have been helpful, prior to preparing this legislation for a vote, for those that were the drafters of this legislation actually invited a Republican—any Republican—to sit down and perhaps negotiate and see if we could find some common ground. But instead, the Democrat leadership dusted off what they had written before on an entirely partisan basis, and then are shocked—shocked—that Republicans don’t want to support what they drafted.
Now I’d note that political overstatement and hyperbole may be relatively common and they are often excused, but the President and some of my Democratic colleagues have ventured deep into hysteria.
Their cataclysmic predictions for failing to support their entirely partisan election reform—worked out entirely by themselves without any input whatsoever from any single person on my side of the aisle—are far beyond the pale.
They are entirely right to call out Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” about the last election being stolen.
But in the same spirit of honesty, they should not engage in a similar lie that Republicans across the country are making it much harder for minorities to vote, and thus that the federal government must urgently displace centuries of constitutional practice that gives states primary control over elections. So dire are the consequences, they claim, that this must be done by shredding the rules of our senior legislative body.
They point to Georgia as evidence of political election villainy. The President went there to deliver his crowning argument. But as has been pointed out by many before me, it is easier for minorities—and everyone else for that matter—to vote in Georgia than it is the President’s home state of Delaware and in Leader Schumer’s home state of New York.
In Georgia, there are more days of early voting, and in Georgia there is no-excuse absentee voting, by mail.
They do decry Georgia’s prohibition of political activists approaching voters in line with drinks of water. But the same prohibition exists in New York. And why? So that voters don’t get harassed in line by poll activists. Just like Georgia and New York, many states keep poll activists at length from voters.
My Democrat colleagues conveniently ignore the fact that the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibition of any voting practice or procedure that discriminates against minorities is still in effect. Even today, the Justice Department is suing two states under that law. Protection of minority voting is already required by law. Protection of minority voting is a high and essential priority for me and for my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
To be clear, I want an election system that allows every eligible citizen in every state to be able to exercise their right to vote in every single election.
So putting aside the hysteria, let me explain why I don’t support the Democrats’ bill.
First, their bill weakens voter ID. I, along with the great majority of voters of all races, favor voter photo ID.
Their bill makes it easier to cheat by accommodating unmonitored vote collection boxes.
Their bill opens the gates to a flood of lawsuits, pre-and-post an election.
And it weakens the safeguards of voter registration.
There are other things in the Democrats’ bill that I don’t support:
I’m not in favor of federal funding for campaigns.
I also don’t think that states should be required to allow felons to vote.
And most fundamentally, I think by reserving election procedures to the states, the Founders made it more difficult for a would-be authoritarian to change the law for voting in just one place—here in Washington—to keep himself in office.
Let me add that I think the Democrats’ bill is insufficiently focused on the real threat—and that is the corruption of the counting of the ballots, the certification of elections, and the Congressional provisions for accepting and counting a slate of electors. This is where the apparent conspirators were focused in their attempt in the last election to subvert democracy and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
Now, I respect Democrats who disagree with my point of view. I hope they will offer me the same respect.
People who want voter ID are not racists.
People who don’t want federal funding of campaigns aren’t Bull Connor.
And people who insist that vote drop boxes be monitored aren’t Jefferson Davis.
Give him a call, Mr. President.
Call Mitt Romney? He claims there was "never any attempt to win support from across the aisle." Then WTF was Manchin doing when he was writing his "bipartisan" version of a voting rights bill? And it Mitt had his feelings hurt because the WH didn't call him, he has a zillion ways to signal privately that he'd like to talk to Biden. And your proposed Centrist Caucus only has four Republicans. According to my math, that doesn't get anyone past McConnell's universal filibuster.
Ron Klain should just get off Twitter for a couple of months and go listen to some swing voters.