Inside Trump’s Lizard Brain – The Bulwark

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Inside Trump’s Lizard Brain – The Bulwark

Donald Trump has to pick a running mate soon. Whoever it ends up being, will their life insurance rates go up? Happy Wednesday.
I don’t believe in God. But if I did, I’d say he likes me. Bigly. 
I mean, as I dictated to The Bulwark last month, I was already in pretty good shape in this election. (By the way: What the hell kind of name is “The Bulwark”? What the hell is a “bulwark”? Do bulls even work?)
Anyway, a month ago I was ahead in the national polls. But my lead had narrowed some with that bullshit conviction in New York and all, and that debate coming up on June 27 was a wild card.
Ha! That wild card turned out to be the ace of spades. Thank you, God, whom I don’t believe in.
And God, if by some chance you do exist, do not—do not—come down to tell Joe to step aside. I need Sleepy Joe to hang in there. I was worried for a few days that I’d have to run against someone new, someone young, someone dynamic, someone promising change. In America “change” is good. “New” is goodest, as Joe would say.
But Joe doesn’t want to leave, and the Dems don’t have the nerve to force him out. So I’m a 78-year old ex-president, but I’m the candidate of change. Amazing. Beautiful.
My only worry is that they keep the pressure up and Joe does get out. Hang in there, Joe! Ignore those terrible polls. Pretend the debate never happened. Pretend everyone didn’t see that. Some guy Orwell—he’s being recognized more and more recently—said something about not believing your own eyes. Fine. Don’t believe your eyes, Democrats.
And keep telling yourself Biden can “put that debate behind him” and “move on.” Well, good luck with that. We’re not going to let them put it behind them. We’ll make sure those video clips will be seen over and over again in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Last night Natalie showed me a tweet that got me worried for a second.
Jesus. But then they told me that the “straightforward from here” thing means it’s kind of a joke. Whew! But whoever tweets that is obviously trying to hit them over the head about the need for change, for something new.
But I don’t think they’re listening to him, and they’re not even listening to the guys who actually won presidential elections like Carville and Axelrod. So please: Keep on ignoring them!
One thing that I have been thinking about, though. I was kind of planning on Burgum as VP. But that name. Doug. Who is excited about a Doug? And maybe with Biden’s age so front and center, I need to get a little of the youth/change thing going with my VP pick.
So I’m thinking Cotton or Vance. And I’m thinking Cotton is safer. The donors think he’s serious, and the establishment types think he’ll talk to them when he’s VP. I’ll obviously ignore him and them—but they can delude themselves if they want.
But whichever one I take, I’ll have a veteran on the ticket. Like I told John Kelly, it was stupid of those guys to volunteer. But people like that stuff about serving your country. And Biden made a mistake at the debate when he said no service members had died on his watch. We’re going to clobber him on that at the convention next week. Anyway, me having a veteran on my ticket—I think that’s a good look.
We’re going to win. We’re gonna win very strongly! I think we could have done it on immigration and inflation alone. But to have Joe’s age and his decline front and center—what a gift!
What’s that quote the liberal do-gooders all like? The arc of the universe bends toward justice? Bullshit. The truth is: The arc of the universe bends toward TRUMP.
—William Kristol
Here’s our promise to you: We tell you what we really think and why. You’re welcome to disagree. (Bulwark+ members can disagree in the comments!) We can’t promise we’re always right. Sometimes we change our minds. But we do promise to be honest. We’re building a community based on good faith. We’re happy to have you with us.
I’ve spent several days eager to hear how the post-debate chatter is filtering down to voters in Biden’s base. So this week I convened three focus groups of black voters from swing states who voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
Only four of the 27 voters wanted to see Biden replaced as the nominee. Some of Biden’s most ardent defenders may see this as proof that he is the only path forward. But it was clear that the reason they were sticking with Biden wasn’t out of loyalty to him, but because they think he still stands a better chance of defeating Trump than his Vice President Kamala Harris. Though they weren’t terribly bullish on his chances either. 
Some made excuses for his debate performances (though most still panned it), and many thought it was too late in the game to bring in a new nominee. But it was clear that Biden stepping aside would not be riskier with the party’s base than keeping him. These Democratic base voters are committed to defeating Donald Trump, and will vote for just about any Democrat to do it—unlike the swing voters we’ve spoken to in previous groups, who would like a new Democratic nominee.
If Biden were to step aside, the conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats would have to choose Kamala Harris to replace him or risk alienating their most loyal voters, black women. But that’s not what we heard in the focus groups. In fact, nearly all of the black women we talked to expressed doubts that the country was ready to elect a black woman. They raised Harris’s (presumed) electoral weakness as a reason for keeping Biden and worried about the attacks she would endure if she were at the top of the ticket.
No group drove this home more succinctly than a Tuesday afternoon group made up entirely of black women from Georgia, in which one participant summed up her criteria for an “electable” nominee: “It has to be a straight white male.”
“It sucks to say I’d rather vote for a white man than a black woman,” another added. “But at this point we’re not getting into the emotions of it.”
While the voters in these groups were all enthusiastic to vote against Trump, there was less consensus about who, if not Biden, was best suited to do it. Some wanted more information about Gretchen Whtimer before giving a strong opinion. Some were skeptical of Josh Shapiro’s stance on Israel—one participant even called him “pro-genocide.” But in general, these reservations were not as strong as the straightforward, pragmatic commitment to beating Trump.
—Sarah Longwell
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More than a month ago, I wrote about the Moscow trial of theater director/poet Evgenia Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk on charges of “justifying terrorism” in a play about Russian jihadi brides—a politically motivated case grotesque even for Vladimir Putin’s wartime Russia. On Monday, the military court imposed a six-year penal colony sentence for both women.
The absurdities of this case start with the fact that the play in question was freely performed in Russia until late 2022 and even received two prestigious theatrical awards in 2020. The prosecution, triggered by a social media screed from an obscure war-hawk actor/director, Vladimir Karpuk, is generally seen as retaliation for Berkovich’s viral antiwar poems—but of course, she’s technically not on trial for those.
The prosecution’s case, wrote commentator Zoya Svetova, was a “fiasco.” Neither of its two “forensic experts” testified; one of their written reports had been nixed by the Russian Ministry of Justice for relying on junk science (“destructology”). Actual scholars demolished the notion that the play, based on real-life incidents of Russian women enticed into online marriages to ISIS fighters, was pro-terrorism; cast members saw it as anti-terrorism. Karpuk, the prosecution’s star witness, was effectively caught lying about having seen the play in Moscow. Another prosecution witness, “Nikita,” who testified by audio link with his voice digitally altered—supposedly because he worked in theater and feared backlash—claimed to have been outraged by the play’s terrorist sympathies when he heard its first reading at a 2019 theater festival; he too was caught in contradictions and was widely suspected of being an FSB or police plant. After “Nikita’s” testimony, the trial was closed to the public and the press.
Few expected acquittal. But the women could have been sentenced to probation and a fine, or time served (both had been in detention since May 2023). Instead, the judge handed down the sentence requested by the prosecution. Svetova notes that the “ISIS bride” whose story partly inspired the play got a shorter sentence (four and a half years), while two actual ISIS combatants in a related case fared even better (four and two).
Appeals are pending. But in Putin’s Russia in 2024, hope lies low, and writers and artists, just like in Soviet Russia, can face the gulag for their work. “The law has nothing to do with it,” commented exiled writer and television broadcaster Viktor Shenderovich, pointing out that a six-year sentence for dissenters is the new normal for the “criminal underworld that the Russian state has become”—the standard way to deal with “free people who oppose them.”
—Cathy Young
Russia Seeks to Boost Trump in 2024 Election, U.S. Intelligence Officials Say: Wall Street Journal
Biden support slips in deep blue New York: ‘We’re a battleground state now’: Politico
Democrats split on Biden’s survival strategy: Axios
Anguish about Joe Biden’s candidacy is rational, polls suggest: Economist
Why NATO Still Exists: Atlantic
If you missed the latest episode of Hacks on Tap, Bill joined David Axelrod and Mike Murphy to talk about Biden’s options, Kamal Harris’s future, and much more. Listen here.
On the homepage today, Will Selber and Bill Roggio take on David Petraeus, who thinks that what Israel needs to do in Gaza is a lot like what the United States did in Iraq. Not so fast, say Selber and Roggio:
According to Petraeus, the IDF should pivot to population-centric counterinsurgency. He and his coauthors, Meghan L. O’Sullivan and Richard Fontaine, argue that the IDF needs to clear Hamas, hold the territory so Hamas no longer returns, and rebuild Gaza with Palestinian partners from the region.
There are numerous problems with this argument, chief among them that the IDF is not fighting an insurgency. Instead, they’re fighting a terror state. Hamas is the state. They are not insurgents. While Hamas may employ guerrilla warfare tactics, so did the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The IDF would be fighting an insurgency if Hamas were trying to topple a government in Gaza. But that’s not what’s going on here. Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization. However, they do not solely operate clandestinely because they are the de facto state in Gaza. They field a terror army consisting of over twenty light infantry battalions. Similarly, in 2014, the United States and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fought an Islamic State terror army in Mosul. Neither the ISF nor the United States conducted COIN in that gruesome fight. Why? Because the Islamic State was the government in Mosul, so a COIN approach would be inappropriate.
Brian Stewart reviews Sergei Radchenko’s huge new history of the Cold War from the Soviet perspective, with special attention on what it can tell us about Russia today:
Too many in the West are uncomfortable making the distinction between honor and interest. There are, to be sure, some threats that involve access to resources or real damage to the territory, economy, or political system of a state. But another class of threats are, to paraphrase the political scientist Alexander Wendt, what we make of them. From Putin’s perspective, the threat from the West springs primarily from the political and military project that continued uninterrupted after the end of the Cold War.
This consolidated military and political hegemony was regarded not as a dire threat to Russian security per se but as an intolerable imposition upon Russian honor. The idea that “the Soviet Union acquired true greatness by waging and winning a war against a mighty enemy . . . proved so resilient that it outlived the Soviet collapse and the death of Marxism-Leninism. The peculiar Soviet ideology was only a means to greatness,” Radchenko writes, “but greatness itself—that was for the ages.” Perhaps that’s what Putin meant when he said that “Anyone who doesn’t regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains.”
There’s a clip going around of Trump calling Kamala a "fucking bitch". Too bad that couldn’t get a little coverage.
I don’t believe in god either, but Trump’s incredible luck may be enough to get me to believe in the devil.
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