We Get Mail

Letters from the Bulwark community

Happy Sunday. As I mentioned last week, we’re bringing back our special weekend newsletter featuring select emails from Bulwark community members.

“Have thoughts, feedbacks, laurels, darts? Feel free to write me at cjaysykes@gmail.com.”

Once again, you people are amazing. My inbox is overflowing and I wish I could publish every one of the replies.

The response reminded me just how remarkable the Bulwark community has become — diverse, thoughtful, engaged, passionate, and often eloquent.

Here’s a sample:


Hi Charlie,

I turned 18 in the summer of 2008, dead-set on casting my first ever vote for John McCain. Sarah Palin was introduced the weekend I moved to Indiana to begin college. As someone in broadcasting, I’m sure you’ve listened to your voice on radio and said to yourself, with some alarm, “My God, is that what I sound like?” I had that same experience listening to Sarah Palin.

I wish I could say that that was the moment that turned me, but not quite. It took a few years for me to really shake off the fear that the GOP and Fox put in me. I remember being unqualifying in my concern about the clearly insidious plot to open a ‘mosque’ near the ruins of the World Trade Center. It wasn’t until the horrific reactions to the murder of Trayvon Martin that I wholly shed my former political identity.

In the last decade or so, I’ve come to a couple of realizations:

  •      I was so afraid! I thought us true-blues in the GOP were the realists, the ones that told hard truths. Nah. I could only exist as fearful or angry. I hear a lot about the sunny optimism of the Reagan era, but I can’t speak to that. That was well before my time. But the GOP I grew up in was one that saw insidious plots everywhere.

  •       The evangelical right needs fear to keep parishioners. I grew up Catholic in a small town. There were two Catholic churches, and while the priests had different personalities, that didn’t drive where people went. This small town, however, was a hotbed of evangelical churches. They would rise and fall constantly, as parishioners had loyalty to ministers, not to the church itself. Fast-forward 15 years – there’s one juggernaut church. How does the pastor keep parishioners loyal to him? Not by challenging them to examine themselves and see how they measure up to Christ. No, of course not. He gets them angry. He gets them angry at BLM, at trans folks, at scientists, at the government. This is happening throughout the country! That’s terrifying!

  • ·     Doctor Seuss. To quote the president, “Come on, man.” They’re children’s books with lousy drawings and crappy poems. This isn’t a great-thinker being forever silenced. He wrote books for children that portray lousy, cruel caricatures. I’m sure if we time-traveled to a 1940’s school library we would find dozens of books that would be deemed tasteless today that long ago went quietly out of print.

  • ·     I am scared of cancel culture though! You may not know this, but back in the mid-1960s, the most popular band of the time was canceled after one of its members compared the band favorably to Jesus Christ. Christians across America dutifully burned their records and canceled them. The Beavers? Balefuls? Beetles? Something like that, all I know is the band was never heard from after that.

Anyhow, I'm not a member — starving student at the moment. But thanks for doing a five-day-a-week show! I’m in Germany getting my master's in public policy – and your show always drops around 8 pm here. Perfect for a couple of Lucky Strikes and a cheeky little pilsner.

Take Care,

John


Hi Charlie-

I hope you and the rest of the crew know what a big tent you’re building at the Bulwark. I’m pretty far left (closer to Bernie than Biden) but I don’t hear much at the Bulwark with which I don’t wholeheartedly agree. This nation is in a dark place; we have to rebuild the most basic foundations of democracy and decency, and defeat powerful forces of authoritarianism and cruelty, before we can go back to disagreeing about policy minutiae. That’s what you guys are helping to do at the Bulwark. Defeat those dark forces. Rebuild those foundations.

I hope Trumpism can be defeated sooner rather than later; I hope we can move toward a kinder, better version of America—the “shining city on a hill” that a Republican president invoked but that makes my leftie heart want to explode. Then I can go back to fighting with you guys over the top marginal tax rate. But in the meantime I’m happy to be in the Bulwark bunker. Thanks for what you do.

Best,

Kim Kowren


Hi Charlie, 

First off, I just want to say I’m a huge fan of The Bulwark (and a proud Bulwark+ member).  I’m a fairly stereotypical liberal millennial, and yet I find myself feeling more ideologically aligned with you, JVL, Sarah, Tim, Amanda, Bill, Mona, and the rest of the crew. 

I’m not totally sure why that is, but I think part of it has to do with the realization that temperament and broad constitutional principles are more important than quibbles over policy.  And hey, maybe that will change at some point, but right now it feels pretty true.  I actually feel more “at home” in the company of center-right writers who stuck their necks out to oppose Donald Trump than I do among my fellow Liberals. And honestly, some of that is seeping into my policy positions.  The other day, I actually admitted that I was worried about inflation.  What the hell is happening to me?!

Some other quick thoughts:

  1.  I grew up in Phoenix, and it has been truly puzzling and disheartening to witness the level of crazy pervading the AZ GOP.  Paul Gosar is a bona fide nutjob.  I know that’s not a particularly original take, but it’s remarkable to witness this mutation of the party.  I still remember when John McCain was the alpha and omega of AZ Republican politics, and people like Arpaio and Gosar were just a sideshow. But maybe I was wrong all along.

  2. My support for Andrew Cuomo did not age well.  I’m so glad I don’t use Twitter or any other platform that could have left a paper trail of me liking that guy.  I think there’s a text message to my dad floating around somewhere where I say that Cuomo is doing a great job compared to Trump, etc.  But wow.  NOT A GOOD TAKE.  I have to admit it’s been somewhat cathartic to read The Bulwark’s coverage of the Cuomo scandal.  It’s almost like a form of self-absolution for having such a supremely bad take.

  3. Speaking of bad takes, this whole anti-dog faction at The Bulwark is deeply troubling.  As the father of a three-year-old corgi (her name’s Bonnie, photo attached), I could not disagree more vociferously with JVL and Sarah.  I also want to point out that many of those who participated in the Jan. 6th insurrection were cat people.  I can’t prove this, but I’m just asking questions, my constituents are concerned, etc.

Anyway, keep up the good work, Charlie and The Bulwark crew!

Best,

Will A. Brooklyn, NY


Hi Charlie,

I must be missing something. Why are Democrats reluctant to abolish the filibuster?  It doesn’t function to force the majority party to compromise with at least some of the minority, which seems to be its only justification. Current Republicans won’t compromise on anything. And isn’t it a sure bet that the next time Republicans win a majority in the Senate, they’ll abolish the filibuster as soon as Democrats threaten to block Republican legislation? This is not a distant possibility. If the Democrats can’t beat back voter suppression around the country, which will require neutralizing the filibuster somehow to get an anti-suppression bill through the Senate, the Republicans will waltz to control in 2022. Rather than nibbling on it, why not abolish the filibuster now, once and for all, rather than punting so that the Republicans can finish it off as soon as they get control again?

Thanks to the Bulwark for creating a forum for this kind of discussion.

Frances Fendler
Little Rock, Arkansas


Good morning, Mr. Sykes.

I’m a big center-left fan of both Morning Shots and the podcast.

But now that the election is over, I was starting to tire of the Never-Trumpers’ continued bitching about the latest outrage from Trump and his Republican supporters.

Cathartic, but not at all useful.

It was time to transition to a discussion about how to combat and defeat Trump, Hawley, Taylor Greene, etc. going forward.

And you were about to get a very frustrated email from me.

Then about 2 minutes before I was to press “Send”, you had David Shor on the podcast.

An excellent start to a discussion I think is absolutely crucial right now.  Please keep it up. 

[If there’s a center-right equivalent to Mr. Shor, get him/her on the show immediately.]

I wish all good things for you and your family.

Best regards,

Nikos D. Andreadis, Esq.

Astoria, NY


We Get More Mail…

Dear Charlie:

I’m writing because I want to propose a slightly different direction for The Bulwark. I believe you should take WFB as your model. I’m a lefty Democrat who came of age during the Civil Rights era and cast my first ballot for LBJ. I’ve never looked back, except once. When GHB accused Reagan of “Voo Doo Economics” I re-registered as a Republican so I could vote in the primary. I went back into the Democratic fold for the general election.

Though I remained a Democrat, I always felt it was my duty to read up on both sides, so in election years, in order to get the best presentation of both sides I subscribed to both The New Republic and National Review. And this gets me to my point about WFB. Every Sunday morning, I left my bride sleeping and went downstairs to watch Firing Line on TV. Buckley didn’t just have people with whom he agreed as guests. He had the courage to put his ideas up to the test against people “across the aisle” so to speak. You have lamented the fact that congress doesn’t reach “across the aisle” to reach bipartisan solutions, but you don’t either.

I’m going to watch Thursday Night Bulwark tonight, and there won’t be anyone there from “the other side of the aisle.” Why not? WFB never gave an inch on his conservative credentials, but he did listen respectfully to his guests. Well, except for the time Gore Vidal called him a crypto-Nazi, but he had the courage to invite Vidal on for debate. I didn't agree with WFB, but I admired him very much. He made me think.

I was particularly sad when we lost WFB because National Review was never the same. I never subscribed to it again. Didn’t they show their true colors under Trump? Oh, and didn’t David Stockman out Reagan Economics as Voo Doo Economics?

I very much respect what the Bulwark team has done so far, and I can’t imagine proposing my ideas to any other organization. Please give it some thought. Reach across the aisles. Demonstrate what can happen if the two sides began talking to one another. Mona Charen gets you part of the way, but I’d like to see a wider array of guests. I’d like someone to model respectful conversation among persons who disagree with one another. If you don’t do it, who will? Will you leave to the likes of Bill Maher and Trevor Noah?

Thanks for reading,

Bunker Hill

Sturgis, SD


Hi Charlie,

As someone based in Ireland. I’ve listened to your podcast since it was launched. Prior to that, I had read “how the right lost its mind”. Whilst not a conservative on most political points I can appreciate good writing and the need for good governance. You must find it strange that all letters seem to say whilst not a Republican but ....

A lot of folks on the bulwark have been on a journey of moving away from of the GOP. My questions to you was it easier for you to move towards Democrat positions considering you started off as a Democrat in your early life ?

I’m sure you have Wisconsinite friends who stayed Democrats while you went conservative, how have they reacted to your return ?

Can you think of 3 policies ( not including infrastructure) that the GOP and Democrats could cooperate on and make progress on that would improve the lives of all Americans. It feels like everything is a war zone designed to forever be in the quagmire and it’s a zero sum game.

I love the various podcasts and without the bulwark I would never have discovered the “French Village”!  I do hope the producers appreciate all the free publicity and viewers you gave the programme.

Keep up the good work and bulwark plus is definitely worth every penny.

Kind regards
Denis Ryan


Mr. Sykes,

I know you were struggling a bit to come up with a comparison for what is about to happen with the vaccine, economy restart, etc.

I can give you what springs to mind for me: in October 2001, the Mayor of New York (who I don’t care to name at this point, but it was different then) was asking people to return to New York. So a couple friends and I used some hotel points, booked a hotel in Midtown, and got a flight from Los Angeles. We didn’t have plans—we were winging it. We didn’t go to the World Trade Center site, although the pall literally hung over the city (we saw the glow of the continuing fires at Ground Zero from the bar at the Rainbow Room).


We went to hotel concierge and said “what do you have tickets for?” What we got were three tickets to Neil Diamond at Madison Square Garden, center court (they had apparently moved the sound/light booth and opened up the seats). I wasn’t a Neil Diamond fan, but we wanted to support the city.

It was the first concert at the Garden since 9/11. The biggest U.S. flag I’d ever seen was hanging in front of the stage. It lifted and, of course, Neil Diamond began to sing “America.” We could hear the people all around us take deep breaths before cheering.
That rush of emotion from the crowd—the feeling that maybe things would be OK again, pride in getting through the ordeal, hope for the future—was amazing. Diamond sang “America” again, then went on to do a three hour concert. It was pure joy.

That times—I can’t even come up with the number, but now in every city, in every venue and restaurant and grandparents’ home—multiplied across the world. That’s what’s coming.

I got my first Moderna shot this week. And at the end of April when when I’m fully vaccinated, I’m going to see my friends, and listen to “America” with them (still a Diamond fan after that night). It’s going to be magnificent.

Regards,
David Burkhart

Share Morning Shots


Your email about emailing you was amazing timing. I literally was saying to myself that I absolutely had to email you about something that I heard on the Dan Abrams show on Thursday night.  I was traveling and on the road and was Listening to SiriusXM and caught part of the Dan Abrams show. It was actually a guest host so I think that contributed to the host not pushing back on the most amazing thing that I heard from one of the callers.

Here’s what went down on the call:  I am not exactly sure what the topic of the night was but the caller had called to say that they felt that Donald Trump was now hurting the GOP.  He felt that Trump needed to kind of go away because he was now a source of trouble for the GOP and  it was hurting the future. Being a former GOP guy, this sentiment perked my ears a bit and I thought “OK I’ll go along with this caller on this...” However... this didn’t last very long because the next thing out of his mouth was this incredible statement:  “ I think that Trump is a bad person and should have been arrested for treason for January 6th.   The GOP Needs to get rid of him but if he runs again I’ll vote for him over Joe Biden.”

I’m pretty sure that I’m not getting all the details correct on what he exactly said but I can guarantee you that the premise of what he was saying was that Donald Trump was a traitor who committed treason but he would still vote for Trump over Biden.

ARE YOU FRIGGING KIDDING ME?!!!

I would have lost a lot of money if someone predicted and asked me if I believed that an intelligent person would call into a talk show and accuse our former president of being a traitor but that they would still vote for him over Joe Biden.

I’m sorry if I’m being obtuse but I’m struggling to know what exactly a POTUS could do that is worse than being a traitor committing treason?

I hope you have the ability to go back and find that clip of that phone conversation because if that is what we are up against with the GOP voters of today then we are in a bunch of trouble.

I personally believe that Fox and the conservative media is guilty of creating a Frankenstein‘s monster of these voters who have been convinced that no matter how bad their candidate is the Dems are always worse.

I love your show and I listen to the podcast every single day. Thank you for what you do and you can count on me to be behind you and all others working to fix the GOP or to create a new party that is more of the middle of the political spectrum.

All the best,  Jeff Johnson, USN Captain ret.


And even more…

Hi Charlie,

I'm a huge fan of the Bulwark+, a subscriber from early on, listen to all the podcasts, read all your newsletters and articles, the whole nine yards. Love it all. 

I am a gay filmmaker who lives in Portland, Oregon. I just turned 50. I came of age in San Francisco during the peak of the AIDS crisis in the late eighties and early nineties. This is when new drugs to treat HIV were just turning a corner to start working for people a good ten years after the first cases showed up. I saw the horrifying results of the early drug combinations to fight the virus before they became reliable because the people taking them were my friends, neighbors, and lovers.

For the last 15 years I have dedicated my artistic life to feature length documentaries that ask difficult questions about Americans on both sides of the aisle…

This is all a framing device for a suggestion. To use your terminology, I desperately want you to not “memory-hole” Reagan and what he did to the gay community in the 1980s. It's hugely important that people understand the connection to that era with the current one, to what Reagan did to a marginalized community then, and what Trump and Republicans did to the entire society in the last year. Reagan sat on his hands for *five years* while thousands of gay people died without even mention the word AIDS in public. He didn’t want to deal with it. Or maybe the cruelty was the point. Regardless, it’s all-too-familiar behavior. The coronavirus pandemic has been experienced by LGBTQ people my age through a very different prism because we have all seen it before: the lies, the ignorance, the dragging of feet, the ghastly deaths that didn't have to happen. 

I urge you to speak about this more when you mention Reagan if it is possible to. Please make these connections from Republican conservative history to Republican behavior now because they only illuminate the arguments you are already making. For my relatively marginalized community at the time, Reagan’s policies (or lack thereof) were horrific and barbaric. Now every single American is living through and barely surviving another president's ignorance and cruelty in the way we experienced it back then. What does that say about political conservative or Republican history? This behaviour all springs from the same well. It may be difficult to confront, but some of your listeners may gain much-needed perspective if you shone a light for them in this direction.

Regardless, please keep doing what you’re doing. Your show and team are goddamned fantastic. If you want to watch any of the films I mentioned, they’re easy to find (Amazon, iTunes etc), or just drop me a line and I’ll send you private links to them. I think you’d like them. We share a ton of common ground.

All the best,

Michael Palmieri


Charlie -

I can't thank you, along with Tim Miller, Mona Charen, Bill Kristol, and the rest of the Bulwark Team, enough for the amazing work that you have done and continue to do.  Your podcasts and newsletters are thoughtful and informative and truly are the actual voice of conservatism.

I'm a lifelong Republican and come from a family of very strong and politically active Conservatives.  My first vote in a Presidential Election was for George Bush 41 in 1988 and I was so proud to do so.  However, I am a little bit of a black sheep in the family in that I married a lifelong Democrat.  Throughout our marriage we have prided ourselves on being able to show our children that you can have thoughtful and civil debate over the issues.  We have always taken our kids with us on election day so they can see this in action as well.

However, in recent years the Republican Party has begun to not be the part of true Conservative ideas and principles, but rather a party of telling the base what they wanted to hear and therefore abandoning all principles for the sole purpose of holding power.

I grew up in rural farmland of Idaho about 45 minutes from Boise.  My family's farm was started by my Grandfather, his brother, and their Father back in 1914 and my brother and two of my cousin's still work the farm today.  When I was in high school and college my summer job was to work the farm.  It was through this work that I embraced the conservative principles of less government, lower taxes, and free markets.  Given that, I also was exposed to many of the people who would now be considered "Trump Supporters" who felt that the Republican Establishment (and also general political class) was only in it for themselves.  Many years later, I can know see how "the Dear Leader" tapped into these emotions and took over the party.

I am one of the few members of my Republican family who believe the party has lost its way.  I also have many Republican friends who are still all on the "Trump Train" and refuse to get off.  However, for those of us who were never with President Trump, it was due to voices such as yours that have helped us believe that our voices can still be heard.  

Now, the voices of the current form of the GOP is are slimeball politicians like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, and Kevin McCarthy.  Men who have no moral compass and will say whatever will gets them re-elected.  This is the exact behavior that Trump supporters claim they despise.  Yet, it is these men that they are rooting for.  

President Reagan said the reason why he switched parties all those many years ago was "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."  I feel the same way about the current Republican Party.  They have sold their soul to a man who could care less about them or their values.

The Bulwark is doing great work so please continue your battles!!

Joe Mertz


Hello-

I'm a subscriber to your publication, and have appreciated the care care and thought that is evident in the perspectives offered here. I have also appreciated that such an entity exists, add-free, especially in our current reality of journalistic misery and flux. 

I found myself entirely taken aback by Mr. Sykes mockery of Charles M. Blow's tweet about Pepe Le Pew contributing to rape culture, relegating it to a random shot in the "culture wars." I do not follow twitter, and generally avoid the social media morass as much as I can, so I'd heard nothing about this before.  But, as a woman who has dealt with  unwanted attention from men all her life and the mother of a rape survivor who will spend the rest of her life coming to terms with having first hand experience that some portion of the population feels entitled to use her body for their pleasure, while fighting the stigma placed on her for having the misfortune of being the victim of this crime, I recoil in revulsion at Mr. Sykes' tone and argument. I am curious:  does Mr. Sykes truly believe that unwanted sexual aggression is culturally or humanely appropriate in any subset of any society?

All women live with the knowledge that  a significant number of people think that forced sexual attention is some weird kind of compliment, and that many/most folks feel it's perfectly acceptable to crack wise about it, including in a cartoon ostensibly directed at children. That's part of the long list of evils that men do that live after them, and perhaps the cost and horror of living with those evils of it is not comprehensible until you directly experience the cost with your body or on the body of your child.

Every time I see opinion like what Mr. Sykes wrote today, I immediately check the gender of the writer and the tweets used to support the position. He pulled some tweets from women, yes, but the bulk were from clever men who denigrate the idea that there is any connection between laughing at a cartoon skunk who relentlessly pursues an unwilling cat and a young woman who finds herself locked in a room with a man who who sees her as a rightful receptacle for his desire or hatred.  Some of the referenced tweeters pointed out that Pepe is a cartoon, that he never succeeds in his assault. It's hard to understand how that mitigates things. Because we have not yet sunk to a level where we turn depictions of rape into a fit subject for general viewing cartoons?

For what it's worth, I'm guessing Mr. Sykes and I are about the same age. The older I get, the more I realize that the majority of the popular culture I was raised with cannot hold up to serious examination. I laughed at LooneyTunes cartoons as a kid, and once bought my spouse a Pepe Le Pew T-shirt for father's day, not because of his amorous behaviors, but because the man is a gaseous machine, second only to our dogs in his ability to clear a room. Interestingly, he wouldn't wear the T-shirt because he didn't want to be connected with the skunk's sexual behavior, not because he objected to the stinky label. Our daughter was just a baby then, and I might have felt the way you seem to. I know it bugged me he rejected what I thought was a clever, funny gift.

Flash forward 16 years, and find out your child has been raped at a church party. Hear her sob out her confusion and shame and terror about finding herself locked in a room with a boy she thought liked her. Learn about her fear of telling you because she thought you would blame her, or finally understand that her subsequent drinking herself into a near coma was her attempt to make sure no accidental child was conceived. See the behavior that comes out of that gaping, unhealed wound for the next six years. Then, think about this again. I dare you to find any unwanted sexual attention funny, in any context, in any way. I dare you to mock anyone for being "woke" because they speak up about the way popular culture normalizes and cutifies one of the  enduring evils of our civilization.

Kathleen Robins


Hi Charlie,

I’ve been a long-time listener of your podcasts, started in February ‘19. It’s been a useful way for me to get insight on what the saner/healthy center-right perspectives would be regarding current events, and may occasionally curb my more liberal-ish/center-left perspective. I try to listen to it on a daily basis, but do occasionally fall behind in doing so.

On your March 1st, 2021 episode w/ Tim Miller, Tim had noted an interest in hearing from Bulwark listeners in South Dakota. Tim had talked about how Gov. Kristi Noem got rock-star level reception at CPAC this year, primarily over her handling of the COVID crisis, and her bragging over the state never having shut down. Gov. Noem was misstating the facts about her own state; while she did not institute any shutdowns in the state, it was local governments that did so in her stead. Public schools in Sioux Falls went entirely to remote learning in Spring ‘20, and teachers were told to give students their 3rd quarter grades for the 4th quarter, so long as they completed one assignment during the quarter. While it took longer than I would’ve liked, it was the cities that set up mask mandates, although Sioux Falls will be ending its mask mandates this weekend. In a City Council meeting Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken spoke about his agreeing with local health experts that masks were essential to keeping citizens and workers safe, and that he saw the reduction in hospitalizations as a sign that we were approaching the end of the crisis, yet still cast the tie-breaking vote to end the city’s mask mandate. Gov. Noem has also escaped scrutiny from her mishandling of the COVID crisis here in the state in large part having the metaphorical “needle in a haystack” aspect to it because of other scandals in the state taking up all the oxygen.

Some prime examples being:

-Her frequent appearances in out-of-state political events using a state government plane in 2019

-Her frequent appearances in out-of-state campaign events for Trump/Republicans over the 2020 election cycle, and for GA Senate Candidates for the December runoff

-Her office fighting the attempts within the state legislature to address the costs of her travel and security for said campaign events during the 2020 election cycle 

-The SD AG’s involvement in the accident that killed a pedestrian last year, the duration in which no progress was seemingly being made in the investigation or press updates of, the release of his police interviews (and subsequent removal of those videos from the public view after a court order), and on-going debate within the state legislature over whether they need to wait for criminal proceedings to occur first to begin impeachment 

I also think that the lackadaisical approach Gov. Noem has taken has also gotten cover because of the misunderstanding the public has about the dangers COVID presents. Because South Dakota has such a low population density, the numbers of positive test results and hospitalizations doesn’t quite seem to translate well into a convincing enough public health/safety threat when state leaders will make faux-comparisons with more populous states. I’m fortunate that most of the people I’ve known to have contracted COVID had only mild experiences with the virus. However, I lost my hero, my grandfather following a long bout with the virus late last year. It’s been depressing when even my mother casually doubts my concerns, with her being a smoker for a substantial amount of her adult life, and thus dangerously susceptible to complications should she become infected; with her having participated in 2 regional dart tournaments with substantial attendance in an indoor hotel event hall, but no use of masks whatsoever by players. It’s depressing when my own mother casually questions whether it was COVID that took my grandpa, or not; while I’m not sure there’s truth to her sentiment, I remember having to don myself with numerous articles of PPE just so I could go to his bedside in his final days, to hold his hand, to say goodbye, and to see how much it had deteriorated the physical condition of someone I hold in such high regard.

Best Regards

Kameron Burmeister 


Hello Mr. Sykes,

I saw you on MSNBC and signed up for the free version of The Bulwark to see what it was all about.

Needless to say it has been quite insightful and informative, even when I do not agree with the position stated in the article.

When I read your Saturday article with your readers' responses I was inspired to write to you as well.

A couple of things I find of interest that I wanted to share with you.

1: The notion of a liberal media bias. 

As a life long Independent voter from San Francisco, Ca. I frequently say to my conservative brother-in-law about the liberal media, tell me where it is, I will go there.

Unfortunately he always responds with NYT & WAPO CBS, ABC, NBC, & LA Times, which are hardly bastions of liberal bias. At least not to me.

For me, I feel that the whole notion of a liberal bias in the mainstream media needs to be dispelled with so the truth can be seen as the truth, not spin because you do not agree with it.

(I always recommend to my brother-in-law that he read Eric Boehlert at Press Run Media, but he never does, sigh)

2: Being Woke & Policing

While I feel that the younger generation lost an opportunity when they chose the slogan Defund the Police; their ideas to invest money into their communities is constructive for structural change. Personally, I had wished they had chosen the slogan Reimagine Policing. I think everyone could get behind that. 

We really do need to reimagine policing so it can be a useful tool to society and the officers don't have to be so overworked and underpaid. 

Both the police and the communities they serve need to see each other as human beings, not as adversaries. 

That's going to take some reimagining, reworking and perseverance.

On being Woke, the biggest thing I try to explain to older white folks like myself is the younger generation and minority groups are only asking for respect and consideration when they talk about being Woke. The Golden Rule is being Woke. Treat them as you want to be treated. Honestly, it is that simple. 

They want to be heard and for us to understand that they have been mistreated and misrepresented. 

This is a systematic and injurious treatment that has been endured for centuries. 

Not all underserved communities are of people of color. That is why some people take offense when it is represented as such on board meetings etc.

Kinda like all Republicans are not white supremacists.

Maybe someday soon we will get to a place where we can realize that all Earthlings are rare precious pearls to be cherished.

Hopefully you are feeling better after your vaccine shot and enjoying your weekend with the ones you love.

Thank you very much for the window into a respectful perspective and for your time and attention to this email.

All the best,

Lauranne Muir Lee


Charlie.

You and Mickey Edwards shake your heads and declare regretfully that “both sides” are more interested in winning than they are in making democracy work. Indeed, Mr. Edwards suspects he may be the last person anywhere who cares about democratic processes. You two make a fuss about being the last of your kind ON THE SAME DAY that house Democrats once again pass the “For the People” electoral reform act. You claim to care more about expanding the franchise than millions of Democrats who have worked tirelessly on this for years, than Stacey Abrams, than Eric Holder (see https://democraticredistricting.com/ ).

So what is it exactly that you two paragons of democracy are doing to fight gerrymandering, the new Jim Crow or dark money in politics? I mean besides patting yourselves on the back.

Really.

Susan Watson


And, yes, even more…

Charlie:

I have a very great fear that the U.S. is in a situation that echoes
post WW1 Germany, and that we do not appreciate just how dangerous the
perpetuation of the Great Lie is.  My belief is that we need to devote
substantial energy to destroying the Great Lie, although I have no
concept of how to do that, because allowing it to continue is already
resulting in piecemeal attacks on democracy, e.g., voting rights.

When I was in college (a very long time ago, in Madison...) I invested
substantial energy attempting to understand how the Third Reich came to
power in post WW1 Germany.  My grandfather was born in Germany and
emigrated to Canada early in the 20th century; he turned out to be a
valuable resource, as did a couple of his brothers.

A few factors stood out when I read about post WW1 Germany and discussed
it with my relatives.  One was the "big lie," that Germany had not lost
WW1.  Many authors consider that the staying power of the Big Lie was a
necessary, although not sufficient, reason for the emergence of the
Third Reich.  At the same time there was serious unemployment, little
food, insufficient shelter, scarce healthcare, and heavily damaged
infrastructure; the people citizens lived in fear of something that they
could not understand.  What my grandfather explained was that there was
substantial dissonance created by the conflict between "winning the war"
and the "on the ground" reality.  The consequence was that there had to
be "someone else" to blame.  Those of Jewish faith have long been
suspect, for reasons dating back thousands of years, and they were the
logical target.  The rest of that story is just sad.

What we are experiencing in the U.S. today results from neither
understanding nor planning for the world to change.  This is why "Make
America Great Again" resonated with "non-college educated white males"
(among others).  The lifestyle of perhaps one-third of the people in
this country is seriously threatened.  As a society, however, we have
done nothing to prepare people for that eventuality.  Most manufacturing
jobs, the mainstay of the middle class for much of the 20th century,
have already been outsourced to Southeast Asia.  By 2030 tens of
millions of additional jobs will be staffed by robots.  Meanwhile, our
schools still follow a curriculum, designed by Andrew Carnegie, to
prepare people to work in factories.  Our Federal government is
organized to manage and police a manufacturing economy.  Our cities are
constructed so that employees can commute to work, and it's only the
knowledge workers who have benefited from "work from home."  We live in
a global economy, but we elect people to represent us who are
technically and economically illiterate.

The people in this country are not stupid.  They are well aware that the
world has changed and that they haven't, and that terrifies them. 
That's what created an opportunity for Donald Trump, who somehow keyed
into those fears and pledged to "fix everything."  He also keyed into a
long-held Republican hatred of people who are not white males.  He
managed to mobilize the "storm troopers," and they are now joined
together by the Great Lie.

There are far too many similarities to post WW1 Germany.  We saw that at
the CPAC convention, where most attendees obediently bowed to the Great
Lie.  If that lie is not destroyed, it is likely to become the banner
under which democracy dies.

George Santayana's observation that “Those who forget history are
condemned to repeat it" is no longer relevant, because we no longer
seriously teach history in our schools. Perhaps the more relevant
thought is that "Those who have not forgotten history are doomed to
stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it."

Roger Loeb


Hi Charlie,

I have enjoyed listening to your podcast for the last year or so. It really helped me to understand that I and my husband were not losing our minds. We have never identified as Republican or Democrat and have a voting record to prove it. We have friends and family who think that Trump was the best thing and have friends and family who think he was the worst (my husband and I are with the latter camp). So as you have noted many times in your podcast and articles you are also in the latter camp.

My issue is with Biden as president (sigh of relief) my Republican friends have a recurring theme, he is reading off a teleprompter, OMG this is the issue of the day. Had a conversation with a friend last night and her first words were "can't talk now watching your president read off a teleprompter". My reply was, "at least he can read". This morning another friend posted on FB that he watched the president read off a teleprompter. Frist, who the fuck cares, second, I didn't see any signs of a teleprompter and third, name a president who hasn't read off a teleprompter since its inception. Before the teleprompter, I believe, most had notes to help them follow their train of thought, again who the fuck cares.

I know the theme is to imply that President Biden is demented and doesn't have the mental capacity to speak on his own, but that is not what I observed in his speach. Am I wrong? It would be nice to see you or one of the Bulwark do an article on the last 5 Republican presidents on the use of notes and the teleprompter. I know it's a little issue but I feel the need to put in the open that everyone uses notes and such when giving speeches. 

I taught for 13 years and always had something to help me keep on track.

After 4 plus years of having to listen to the word salad of bullshit it is refreshing to have a person give a speech that is articulate and given with empathy and facts.

Thanks for helping me keep my sanity for the past year or so and look forward to continuing listening and reading the Bulwark, and yes I am a Bulwark plus member. 

Just a little background on me. I also live in WI, not far from you I live in Oconomowoc. I was in law enforcement for 40 years starting in 1974 as a Army Military police officer, 1977 onto civilian policing until 2001. 2001 to 2014 I taught law enforcement at Madison College(full time), part time at Waukesha County Tech and Marquette University. My husband is also a retired police officer. If you ever need insight on law enforcement would be happy to help, during my career I served as patrol officer, detective, lieutenant. My teaching career also included being the program director for the criminal justice program, police academy director and program creator and program director of digital forensics for Madison college.

One last thing, I have wanted to write to you for a long time. You have helped me to come to terms with past attitudes and thought processes that I have felt were not in my best interest as I look back. In your podcast you have expressed how you view things you have done in the past as a radio show host. You express how you have changed. By the way we are the same age so it helped me move forward.

Sorry this is so long but it was in a long time coming. Thanks for all your great work and I will continue to listen and read your Bulwark news letters.

Garilyn Truttschel


Dear Mr. Sykes,

One would, and should, think that Mr. Meghan McCain and others trying to get the “senile” president label to stick is obviously a ridiculous claim. However I work with a few Fox News viewers who truly believe that Biden is a shell of a president and the ambiguous “they” are actually running the country. I am usually either stunned into silence or get so angry that it’s better I not respond when I hear my co-workers talk about it. And it’s not my anger at my co-workers, although their concurrence is frustrating, I blame the narrative, with ridiculously edited video and lies of omission, squarely on Fox News. It’s fun to laugh at how unbelievable the network’s lies are and yet, I know too many people who believe that Biden is drooling in the corner until they prop him up to read a teleprompter. THEY BELIEVE IT. Viewers don’t know that President Biden is making nearly daily appearances (while I watch Nicolle Wallace), because Fox doesn’t show the live appearances. It ruins their storyline. How does this end? If Fox News Network receives repercussions for not reporting factual information, they claim censorship/cancel culture. If they’re allowed to lie, 40-50% of Americans are on Earth 2.0. I wish I knew the answer or knew SOMEONE has the answer. This is unsustainable.

Thank you for being a bulwark at the Bulwark. Every podcast I think, “If I could only get my co-workers to listen to *just* this episode…” I know you could do it Charlie. (And Mona, and Bill, and Tim, and Sarah, and JVL, and Jim…) 

Thanks for your work, your writings and your time reading this.

Blessings,

Lisa K.