Things I Read This Week, February 12-18

Dark Money, the American Heartland, and Two Owls

Welcome to the second ever Things I Read This Week, where I share some of the things I read this week. You get it. You get the idea.

As always, I have tried to provide paywall-free links where possible. If you find yourself confronted with a paywall, and can help (or you could always sign up for a subscription).

  • “National conservatives” are forging a global front against liberalism (Economist, paywalled, sorry

    • The article calls it “National Conservatism.” The New York Young Republicans Club calls it “National Populism.” If only there were a word for a movement that embraces social conservatism, rabid nationalism, and the trappings of economic socialism. Socialist Nationalism? It’ll come to me. Anyway, this article does a great job of explaining the current state of this somewhat incoherent but rapidly growing movement. The ethnonationalist alt-right is a dead letter, especially in America, but this far more palatable version 2.0 is expanding into the mainstream. It’s a movement I’m watching very closely.

  • Putin's genocidal myth (Substack)

    • Tucker Carlson sat down with Vladimir Putin last week for what I assumed would be an irresponsible softball interview with a murderous dictator. What we actually got was an exhausting 2-hour history lesson from an openly fascist ethnonationalist. This fantastic article from Timothy Snyder, a historian who focuses on tyranny and who is always worth your time, breaks down why 1) Putin’s entire premise is stupid and 2) his history is also wrong. If you’re going to read one article about the Tucker/Putin interview, I recommend this one. 

  • The meaning of one vote: An American soldier’s journey from Iraq 2007 to Election Day 2020 (WaPo)

    • This article is earnest to the point of cringe, but underneath this cynicism so am I. A beautifully-written excerpt from a book about Brent Cummings, a conservative-leaning Iraq war veteran with 28 years in the military, who grew up with a very simple worldview about America being good, and good always winning. In this article, he tries to make sense of a world where America sent so many of his friends to die overseas so that he could return from war to watch Trump keep winning, and winning, and destroying the country he swore to defend. I cried.

  • Jon Ronson’s Guide to the Culture Wars (New Yorker)

    • This list isn’t an attempt at objectively determining the best and most important pieces of journalism this week, but a list of things that I found most interesting and enjoyable this week, which will always include anything by or about Jon Ronson. Ronson, who once snuck into the Bilderberg group with a very young Alex Jones and saw the goddamn Owl, is one of my favorite living journalists. If I ever meet him,I will perish instantly. Here’s him talking about his podcast, which I missed somehow and which I’m going to listen to, and also the state of the world generally. Sometimes mistaken for a centrist, Ronson is eternally curious about human nature and approaches his subjects with empathy. I’ll never not recommend him.

  • Inside tech billionaires’ push to reshape San Francisco politics: ‘a hostile takeover’ (Guardian)

    • I’m all for people being rewarded for hard work. What I am emphatically not for is a world where a handful of tech bros are able to consolidate enough wealth to buy government. This is bad actually! Say what you want about monarchy, at least they had noblesse oblige. This article is not directly about why late-stage capitalism and democracy cannot coexist, it’s just a really good example of why the two are antithetical.

  • The Tangled Fates of Fani Willis and Her Biggest Case (New Yorker)

    • A good rundown of the the judge who fucked a prosecutor and, possibly, the Georgia case against Trump. If anything, Willis's actions weakened the prosecution, but not everyone is reading the New Yorker and feelings don't care about your facts. The Georgia case is potentially the most damaging one for Trump, and anything that even appears to weaken it matters, a lot. Recuse Willis and damn the torpedoes.

  • Georgia Senator Vows to Protect Girl, But Then Runs Away After Learning She Is Trans (Substack)

    • A quick read by Erin in the Morning, who is emerging as the news source for trans-related legislation in the United States. A really good case study in why bathroom bans are going to cause a LOT of trouble if and when they are passed

  • Trans adults on edge as legislatures broaden focus beyond children (WaPo)

    • It was never about sports. It was never about protecting children. It was always about “eradicating transgenderism,” which has always translated into “protecting traditional gender roles.” Trans activists have been telling us about the real agenda behind sports and gender-affirming care bans for a long time, and the masks are starting to come off. It won’t stop here. Ambiguous gender presentation is about to be a big problem for cis and trans people alike if we don’t push back against this, HARD.

  • The Year Flaco the Owl Roamed Free (NYT)

    • “If I’m going to continue this Inbox Zero thing I have to stop reading every news article that looks sorta cool,” I said to myself, then read this entire NYT article about Flaco the Owl, who used to live in the Central Park Zoo. Someone freed him a year ago and now he flies around New York City, hunting rats in Central Park and looking for love. Aren’t we all. This isn’t news but it sure did make me happy, also the pictures are beautiful.

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Dark Money, the American Heartland, and Two OwlsDark Money, the American Heartland, and Two Owls

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