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They Are All Bannonists Now
Plus: Reviving Caligula.
I bring you glad tidings. The BBC is reviving one of the greatest historical dramas ever: I, Claudius, a 12-part dramatization of Robert Graves’s classic and lusty account of the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula and his successor.
The Rome of the Caesars was a full blooded (very) riposte to those who want to make ancient history dull. It really was sensational. The bit about Caligula intending to make his horse a consul: that’s in Suetonius. Or Livia, Augustus’s wife, poisoning candidates (and there were lots) who stood between her son, Tiberius, and the throne; in the sources.
The Caligula revival also seems timely, don’t you think?
On Monday, a federal judge reiterated his ruling that the former president of the United States raped E. Jean Carroll. In a ruling tossing Donald Trump’s countersuit against his victim, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that the verdict in the original civil trial “establishes, as against Mr. Trump, the fact that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her, albeit digitally rather than with his penis. Thus, it establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms. Carroll’s ‘rape’ allegations.”
Meanwhile, the GOP frontrunner continues to lash out with promiscuous abandon.
He . . . attacked Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge assigned to hear the case. He delivered angry speeches in Alabama and South Carolina. He jeered the U.S. Women’s National Team, blamed President Joe Biden for its early exit from the World Cup, and unintelligibly ridiculed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“She is a Wicked Witch whose husbands journey from hell starts and finishes with her. She is a sick & demented psycho who will someday live in HELL!”).
“In some ways, Donald Trump’s mental state is more transparent than nearly any public figure’s,” writes David Graham. “He has no shame, little discretion, and ample channels to broadcast his feelings in real time.”
Even so, the former president’s public behavior since Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted him last week suggests a man feeling cornered. This isn’t to say that Trump is cornered—his ability to escape tough situations makes him the envy of every house cat—but his handling of the case suggests a man rattled in a way he seldom has been before.
Rattled he may be, but he’s also intent on burning it all down. And he is not alone.
Several have adopted much of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric sowing broad suspicion about the courts, the F.B.I., the military and schools. As they vie for support in a primary dominated by Mr. Trump, they routinely blast these targets in ways that might have been considered extraordinary, not to mention unthinkably bad politics, just a few years ago.
Does this sound familiar to any of you?
Eight years ago, Steve Bannon, the many-shirted, hygienically challenged prince of grift declared: “I'm a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment.”
Well, they are all Bannonists now. It has become the GOP agenda.
Old and Busted Republicanism: Party of Law and Order.
The New Bannonism: DEFUND THE FBI.
To point this out is not Trump Derangement Syndrome — it is what Trump himself is promising rather explicitly. And he is bringing his entire party along.
The GOP now faces “a decision that has dramatic consequences for the rule of law.” Republicans, Baker writes in today’s paper, “must understand there is no turning back in the war between Mr. Trump and the Democrats on the battlefield of so-called justice—one he will prosecute with gusto if he is elected. There will be those who say that this is the inevitable path the party must take—a ruinous course, in my view. But Republican leaders should stop pretending they don’t know the consequences and decide whether they want to follow this perilous path.”
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Ep. 6: The Corruption of Lindsey Graham
After the 2020 election, Lindsey Graham had a chance to be free—of Donald Trump, and all the rationalizing he had done for four years. But the senator was no longer his own man: He now belonged to Trump.
Polling Groundhog Day
The state of the GOP race after three indictments and a DeSantis “reset”? Here’s the new Morning Consult poll:
This is what GOP voters are buying, writes Kevin Williamson:
What is neither complicated nor difficult is—or should be—the judgment that happens outside of the court of law. Of course, Donald Trump was manifestly unfit for the office he sought—or any office of public trust—in 2016. He was known to be unfit for any position of trust, at least by such people who knew of him at all, back when parachute pants were in fashion and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was on the radio.
Meanwhile, in Ohio
Via Politico: “Issue 1 in Ohio: A high-stakes proxy battle over abortion rights.”
More than 500,000 voters have already voted on Issue 1, an amendment that would make it significantly more difficult to alter the state’s constitution and bring citizen-initiated ballot measures to voters in the first place. The outcome of Tuesday’s election will have immediate implications for the fate of Ohio’s abortion rights ballot measure this November, but many predict it will shape the two parties’ strategies on ballot measures more broadly.
1. I Thought My Mother Was an Only Child. I Was Wrong.
The best thing you will read today: Jennifer Senior with an intensely personal story in the Atlantic.
. . . I have an aunt whom no one speaks about and who herself barely speaks. She is, at the time of this tweet, 70 years old and living in a group home in upstate New York. I have met her just once. Before this very moment, in fact, I have forgotten she exists at all.
It is extraordinary what we hide from ourselves—and even more extraordinary that we once hid her, my mother’s sister, and so many like her from everyone. Here are all these pictures of nonverbal children, so pulsingly alive—their parents describing their pleasures, their passions, their strengths and styles and tastes—while I know nothing, absolutely nothing, of my aunt’s life at all. She is a thinning shadow, an aging ghost.
2. Vivek Ramaswamy’s Rise in 2024 Field Brings Scrutiny Beyond Anti-Woke Record
[A] detailed look at Ramaswamy’s record of political commentary, dating back to his Harvard University years when he was an occasional rapper, shows some past statements may be out of step with some GOP primary voters and even his own current rhetoric.
Before he was a presidential candidate, Ramaswamy at least playfully praised billionaire Democratic mega donor George Soros, criticized Trump for not conceding the 2020 election and had his name on a joint letter calling for greater diversity and inclusion efforts in business.
He has also made statements in the past that could be problematic in Iowa, where the Jan. 15 caucuses start the GOP presidential nomination process. He has called himself an “animal-rights activist” and said he is a vegetarian—not uncommon for those who practice the Hindu faith as he does—because it is “wrong to kill sentient animals for culinary pleasure.”
Such comments could rub farmers in Iowa, where hogs outnumber humans seven to one, the wrong way. His views on meat also could present awkwardness later this month at the Iowa State Fair, where presidential candidates traditionally take a turn flipping grilled pork
3. I Saw the Hollowness Inside Andrew Yang’s New Third Party
[The] Forward Party is making a dangerous miscalculation. It is betting that what a party opposes is more important that what it stands for. Motivated by a tech industry ethos that considers disruption for disruption’s sake a virtue, Forward is following a path blazed by some of startup culture’s biggest debacles — Theranos and WeWork.
I know because I saw it from the inside as the national press secretary…
Its very existence was premised on the idea that, in the future, political parties will succeed by not having a philosophy of government, a shared vision or even a platform to unite behind.
That’s not what I signed up for.
4. Charlie Kirk’s Siren Song
It is tempting to look at Kirk and the circumstances that have put air beneath his wings and conclude that such a man should be welcomed as a representative of American conservatism broadly.
Such an acquiescence to Kirk’s prominence would be wrong, however. He engages in reckless rhetoric that disgraces the conservative cause. He indulges people who would otherwise be left to the fringe of American politics. He parrots the worst lies perpetuated by his patron in Mar-a-Lago and thereby does immense damage to the conservative movement among younger Americans.
5. America’s Second Abandonment of Afghans
IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE THE FALL OF KABUL, when more than 124,000 Afghans fled their home after the United States withdrew its last troops. Some 76,000 Afghans eventually resettled in the United States, granted temporary humanitarian parole by the Biden administration. But most remain in legal limbo, unsure of their future, because Congress has not acted to grant them permanent status. It’s a disgrace, and a handful of Republicans are largely to blame.
The race at the UCI World Championships, which are being held in Scotland, was halted for around 50 minutes after activists glued themselves to the road on a narrow section of the route. The disruption was branded “utterly nonsensical” after the activists said they had also intended to protest against fossil fuel extraction by disrupting a cycling event.
The Scottish climate pressure group This Is Rigged claimed responsibility, with five members removed by Police Scotland specialist “protest removal team” and taken into custody.
The International Cycling Union, cycling’s world governing body, last month ruled transgender women, who were born male, will be prevented from racing in competitive female events.
Rebecca Kerr, a 28-year-old trans woman, was among the protesters. She said she had been keen to highlight “hypocrisy” by halting the race. “As a trans woman, I’ve been told I’m not welcome on the cycling track by the UCI,” she said….
Organisers stopped the 271.1-kilometre (168.4 mile) race from Edinburgh to Glasgow after protesters glued themselves to the road in the Carron Valley area, causing a major backlog of cyclists.
A breakaway group of nine riders had opened up a seven-and-a-half-minute gap on the rest of the peloton by the time the race was halted. The leading group resumed racing ahead of the other riders once the demonstration was cleared.
Critics hit out at the protesters, especially as the race had led to widespread road closures across Scotland to make way for cyclists.
Graham Simpson, Net Zero and Transport spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said: “This was a dangerous act of disruption which put both the protesters and athletes in this race at risk.
“It’s utterly nonsensical for a group which claims to stand for environmental protection to target an event promoting active, green travel like cycling – and raises a huge question mark about this publicity-seeking group’s true motives.”
This aged badly, didn’t it?