Aid and comfort to the enemy.
February 22, 2022
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In quick succession on Monday, Putin recognized two Ukrainian provinces as independent nations, endorsed a “mutual aid” treaty with the newly recognized states, and announced that Russia would send “peacekeeping troops” into territory that every other nation in the world recognizes as part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. One European diplomat described Putin’s lies as follows:
Putin just put Kafka and Orwell to shame: no limits to the dictator’s imagination, no lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross. What we witnessed tonight might seem surreal for the democratic world. But the way we respond will define us for the generations to come.
There is much to understand about what happened Monday on the ground in Ukraine, but the most consequential development occurred inside the Kremlin—a speech in which Putin effectively claimed dominion over former Soviet republics. Putin denied the legitimacy of Ukraine as a sovereign nation, saying, “modern Ukraine was entirely and completely created by Russia” and “Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood.”
Putin’s theory of Russian dominion can be employed against every former Soviet republic and therefore poses a threat to the peace and stability of Europe. That is why the current crisis over Ukraine matters to the United States— and why the GOP’s embrace of Putin is so dangerous. Indeed, Putin is relying on political division in the U.S. to provide cover for a war against Ukraine that will kill thousands of innocent civilians, politicians, journalists, and people who do not conform to Putin’s view of what constitutes “normal” human behavior. Republicans are providing aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States—a scandal of historic proportions that defies explanation.
Russia’s gambit of “recognizing” regions of sovereign nations as independent states as a pretext for invasion is a recurring theme. Putin used similar strategies to invade parts of Georgia in 2008 and the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula in 2014. His strategy will not end with the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2022—and Republicans are fools to believe otherwise. The world must punish Russia severely for this latest invasion so that it will never resort to the same strategy again. If we fail to do so, we signal to Putin that his unfounded theory of Russian dominion justifies future expansion. Tonight, that is the message that Republicans are sending to Putin. Charlie Sykes, writing in The Bulwark, has cataloged the sorry list of Republican apologists for Putin. See Charlie Sykes, Putin’s Right-Wing Shills.
As Republicans fall over themselves to praise Putin, President Biden has handled the Ukrainian situation expertly. It is doubtful that any U.S. president could have avoided Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but few could have handled the situation as well. See Loren Thompson in Forbes, Whether Russia Invades Or Not, Biden Has Handled The Ukraine Crisis Well. Thompson writes,
Within the geopolitical and military constraints that limit Washington’s options, President Biden and his security team have exhibited a clear sense of purpose, a willingness to act decisively, and a good deal of imagination in addressing the Russian threat. . . . Meanwhile, the Biden administration has persevered in preparing the diplomatic battlefield for whatever comes next.
The road ahead with Ukraine will be difficult, and there will be plenty of opportunities for failure and disappointment. Every decision Biden makes will be second-guessed by armchair experts who will operate with the benefit of hindsight and an astonishing lack of humility. But everyone who hopes for a strong America on the global stage should support Biden as he tries to navigate a challenge that would test any American president. You can help Biden by knowing the facts about how he is succeeding and ensuring that others know, as well.
Proposed Republican “Don’t Say Gay” bill moves from reprehensible to depraved.
Florida Republicans proposed a bill that would prohibit school districts from “encourag[ing] classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” As originally crafted, the bill singles out sexual orientation as a prohibited topic for discussion—creating an implicit stigma for LGBTQ students. That reprehensible bill is about to get worse.
GOP Rep. Joe Harding proposed an amendment requiring school administrators to disclose “personal information” about students to parents within six weeks of learning that information or face lawsuits for civil damages. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat and LGBTQ activist, called the amendment “horrifying” and said,
[I]f the concept becomes law, it would put some of Florida’s most at-risk teens into precarious situations where they feel more isolated and unable to talk to adults about their situations.
Let’s hope that the national outcry over this bill, and the amendment, will prevent its passage. But let me pause here to make a point about “identity politics.” Readers frequently complain that Democrats should stop engaging in “identity politics.” Those readers have adopted a right-wing talking point designed to deter Democrats from defending groups targeted by Republicans because of their identity. In Florida (and everywhere else, for that matter), it is Republicans who are making identity an issue by seeking to discriminate against people based on their inherent human attributes. If rising to the defense to those targeted groups is “identity politics,” we need more of it, not less—as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill demonstrates. But most importantly, Democrats should stop spreading the false rumor that Democrats are focused on identity politics. They are not; they are focused on making the lives of all Americans better.
It’s rough all over, so cheer up!
Jennifer Rubin addresses the challenges faced by Democratic governors by noting that Republican governors are having a worse time. See Jennifer Rubin in WaPo, High-profile GOP governors are losing popularity. Democrats should take note. I won’t walk through the detail in Rubin’s article. Instead, let’s focus on a simple truth: Both parties are “underwater” in their favorability ratings, according to recent polling. Unfavorability for Democrats is at 51%, while Republican unfavorability is at 58%. Those facts shouldn’t make Democrats feel like they can relax, but they should serve as a force-field against the constant stream of articles that catalog the woes faced by Democrats.
Yes, Democrats are facing stiff headwinds going into 2022, but Republicans are burdened with the unprecedented burden of being led by a twice impeached, possibly indicted, serial liar, and sexual predator. Rubin’s article is a timely reminder that we have a fighting chance in 2022 to defy the historical odds. Although I disagree with Rubin’s suggestion for a bumper sticker, she gets points for creativity:
It might not be a winning slogan for a bumper sticker, but it does boil down to: “At least we’re trying. The other guys are nuts.”
Why Democrats will retain the House in 2022.
Yesterday, I deconstructed an Axios article claiming Democrats are in big trouble in 2022 because “Squad Politics” was turning off voters. Robert Reich has published the perfect antidote to the Axios article. See Robert Reich, Why Democrats will retain control of the House and Senate next year. Reich offers ten reasons why the political winds will shift in favor of Democrats before November 2022. I can’t improve on Reich’s article, so I urge you to read it yourself. Though you may not agree with everything he says, he makes a reasoned case for his optimism.
A reader sent a note to me today that had a tagline above his signature that said, “Anyone can find fault. Let us find solutions.” As we head into 2022, we have no shortage of experts at problem-spotting and finger-pointing. Indeed, those skills are so ubiquitous that they are effectively worthless as political currency. The key is to find solutions. Even better, we should be the solution. Much of our strategy in 2022 comes down to people showing up with positive attitudes who are willing to work hard. In that scenario, you are the solution. You don’t have to be the entire solution, just a tiny part of it. If everyone does their part, we can win. And don’t let expert problem-spotters tell you differently.
Talk to you tomorrow!