The walkback of Biden's "gaffe" was worse than it looked
Listening to the podcast today, I couldn't help but chime in on the Clarence Thomas issue. The argument right now seems to be about whether or not Thomas' decisions on the court were influenced by a desire to protect his wife. Amanda Carpenter argues, convincingly, that it is almost impossible to think that he didn't know about his wife's deranged adherence to conspiracies and that he was almost certainly compromised. Will was actually being a bit sympathetic to Thomas, citing how difficult it must be to publicly deal with having a mentally ill wife.
What I think we may be ignoring here is the possibility that Thomas actually buys into some of this nonsense himself.
If that seems far fetched to some, consider one possibility for why Ginni Thomas's actions in the past didn't receive more outraged scrutiny than they did. Personally, I had heard about his wife's "activism" before, but paid little attention - because it hardly struck me as surprising. To me, the idea of a compromised Clarence Thomas seems nearly indistinguishable from an uncompromised one.
Think of all of the split decisions we've seen where one or more justices vote against partisan expectations. Who is the justice you *least* expect to go against form? If there is an 8-1 decision where the liberal justices are among the eight, I don't hesitate to guess who the "1" is, and I can't remember a time where I've been wrong. If it's a 7-2 decision, it's almost a guarantee that the "2" are Thomas and Alito. I'd be open to being proven wrong on this one, but I'd also be surprised.
The point is, unless my perception is very skewed, Clarence Thomas is easily the most partisan conservative on the court, the most likely to vote in a manner which benefits the Republican Party, regardless of whether it involves being judicially conservative or judicially activist. He always seems to be the one to come up with bizarre interpretations and theories - not a terrible thing per se, if it weren't the case that they always seem to be in service of advancing Republican political goals. If some of these batshit-insane Republican lawsuits had actually made it to the Supreme Court, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Thomas find some rationalization for supporting them.
So simply put, I see no reason to discount the possibility that Clarence Thomas not only knew about his wife's crackpottery, and tried to protect it from exposure and accountability, but that he also partially or fully supports it himself. We've seen plenty of supposedly sane and reasonable conservatives sell their souls in recent years - some without obvious political motivations and thus seemingly for the sake of their cultural standing in Republican circles. Do we really expect Clarence Thomas to be immune to this?
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
DO WE NEVER LEARN????? Zelenskyy is absolutely accurate here!
As for Biden's honest, exhausted, heart-felt remark: He simply spoke for EVERY SANE HUMAN ON THE PLANET! So he "said the quiet part out loud". SO WHAT?!!? It is what every single one of us is thinking! Not "I'm gonna kill him" or "We seek regime change" or even "The world would be better off if he were dead," but, simply "That monster cannot be allowed to keep the power of life and death over everyone on the planet."
Analogies are high and narrow bridges, lacking railings, and it's easy to fall off of them. I used mine only to say that we have to be the adults in this situation, and Russia is unstable, unpredictable, and behaving dangerously.
Is highly doubting that Ukraine would "win" a case of defeatism? Or realism? Even with Ukraine's surprising resistance and Russia's surprising ineptitude, Russia is tightening its grip on the southeastern part of Ukraine where they have the most interests and some populace support, and It's hard for me to imagine any scenario where Ukrainian forces could push Russia out of that part of the country once they are there. I don't believe there are sufficient Ukrainians trained in flying various planes, or even operating our most modern tanks, even if we supplied them to Ukraine. So we could give Ukraine virtually every weapons system they have requested and it's STILL doubtful that they could eject Russia from their country even if Crimea is left out of that for now. That's the unfortunate reality that the West has to deal with, I think. I certainly support supplying what Ukraine needs to maintain a sort of stalemate, which IS realistic.
Putting aside the regime change nonsense, I'm interested in the compiled critique of the "west's" (assuming that includes NATO and U.S.) response thus far. I'm seeing lots of critique with very little explanation of what else, or in addition, should be done. Can we get some focus and analysis on that going forward? Because shouting "somebody do something" is getting just as stale as some of the bromides that the "west" has been offering.
"So the choice was: Rattle Putin or discredit and weaken the President of the United States. And we know what they chose."
I've been a semi-lefty Democrat since about 1971. Dems were rather tough cookies back than and for a couple of decades thereafter. But this party has transmogrified into a bunch of milquetoasts over recent years. Afraid of Trump. Kowtowed to the left. Panties in a bunch over Putin. They've become a lazy party. All words and highfalutin speeches. Easily intimidated. Afraid of laying cards on the table and calling the bluff. Putin knows this. He's calling our bluff. And we've got zilch.
Meanwhile in Ukraine......
Americans are officially afraid to take on bullies who butcher innocents by the thousands because we don't believe in ourselves anymore. Our fellow citizens are SCARED SHITLESS of fighting wars against anyone who could possibly be considered a near-peer military. The Greatest Generation ought to be rolling in their graves right now. Do we think people like Putin will just melt away in the years ahead if we don't go in and break his nose open in front of the whole world? What WORLD are these people living in? By dodging this fight now, we're guaranteed to kick the fight down the road to our children. That's what pissing in your pants does. It passes the buck onto somebody else at some other place and time. I am *embarrassed* to consider myself an American right now. This country is full of decadent bed-wetters who couldn't be bothered with making personal sacrifices on behalf of democracy-preservation. No wonder we don't have a draft anymore. Decadence killed duty decades ago and it's showing now even more than in the post-9/11 space when we relied on recycling combat veterans to fight the same war over and over again for 20 years because all the able-bodied men were off getting laid in college and not thinking about things like national duty and societal sacrifice. It's the same now. We haven't changed at all since 9/11. We're still a very decadent nation when it comes to fighting. The fact that our military runs on a contract system you can't un-volunteer from shows you just how hard it is to pull people into the military and retain them there. Nobody in America wants to serve. Nobody in America wants to fight. Putin LOVES that dynamic. It's where his blank check on war-criming comes from: our decadent softness and general war-aversion.
Thanks for this Charlie. I was dismayed by the walk back. As I am dismayed, disheartened and discouraged by all the NATO countries pussy-footing around Putin. Scared to piss him off. Well, you know what?!? I AM PISSED OFF! We all should be!
Zelensky is correct: We are ALREADY in the beginning of WW3... Just look at the news. It has begun.
If Putin is deranged enough to drop a nuke later, then he's deranged enough to drop it now. He is a rabid dog and needs to be put down either by dying, or by arresting, or by a violent overthrow by the Russian people.
I wish to God Biden's WH had not tried to tiptoe backwards out of the room. When Biden makes a "gaffe" it's usually because he's telling the truth, in an unpolitic way.
Biden was correct in the first place: Putin must not be allowed to remain in power. It's time we go into Ukraine to protect the innocent, and be as brave as the Ukrainian people. Putin is why the world cannot have nice things.
BTW... giving in to the demands of a psychopath only encourages them... it does NOT stop their bad behavior.
NATO is trying to sacrifice Ukraine to keep themselves safe. But it won't work. They need to go in en masse and put an end to the slaughter. Shame on us for trying to use the Ukrainian people as a shield. We are sacrificing them on the altar of fear.
As someone who is interested in language and words and their power of communication among ourselves, and therefore a proponent for naming things properly, the recent descriptions of Vladimir Putin as "the world's bloodiest terrorist" are, I think, absolutely 100% spot on correct. Technically, he is indeed a "head of state". But in reality (and more importantly) his actions in Ukraine are in my opinion concrete evidence of the validity of the "terrorist" appellation. And going forward, that is how he should be thought of. He may indeed be the top political dog and the "leader" in Russia, but Osama bin Laden was the top dog and leader of Al-Qaeda. And while the details of their motivations for their actions may differ, the only other substantial difference between them is that Putin has the resources of a large country, a large standing army and nuclear weapons at his disposal, and bin-Laden did not. Beyond the direct military-on-military actions Putin's forces are engaging in in Ukraine, not one thing they are doing there can properly be considered as war-making. It is terrorism. State conducted terrorism. Not military action. Not war. Terrorism. Period.
So, let's start calling this slaughter and bloodshed what it is. And the man who is propagating it what he is. And let's quit agonizing over the fact that the leader of the United States said out loud what all have been too timid to say up until that point. Does anyone really, truly believe that Putin doesn't already know - and has known for a very long time - that if the West had a button connected to some magical weapon that could remove him from power without the risk of a huge conflagration ensuing that there wouldn't be a dog fight to see who could get their finger on that button first? And does anyone believe he isn't perfectly cognizant of the deterrent effect of his nuclear arsenal? And does anyone actually believe that he felt more threatened the day after those words were spoken than the day before? I guess some do. And there are no doubt cadres of experts continuing to consider that very question as I write this. But from where I sit, as an admitted non-expert on statecraft or geopolitics, this is all bullshit. And the sooner we gather it up and dump it in the compost pile where it belongs, the better. Are you listening, CNN et al? Of course not. Wouldn't be good for ratings, would it?
We can argue all day long about what should or shouldn't be done to defend - or at least help to defend - Ukraine from what has now become an act of state directed terrorism in furtherance of a political goal. We can debate what has been done rightly, and what has been done wrongly. But let's flush this debate about Biden's words down the toilet where it belongs. Let those words stand as the expression of what all of us who believe in and cherish freedom and liberty - wherever in the world we live - are truly thinking in our heart of hearts, regardless of our views on tactics or levels of involvement of our respective governments and countries. Because by doing so we can say that if nothing else, we at least got that right.
All these stars at the Oscars are SHOCKED SHOCKED at Will Smith's slap and cursing of Chris Rock? Have they noticed the behavior of their peers when the cameras aren't rolling, the fancy dresses and jewels are sent back to wardrobe? And the Academy doesn't condone violence? It's apparently ok in the films they promote, just not ok when they're on camera being "normal people" in an audience.
What was Biden supposed to say to get out the message to Russia?
"Beware the Ides of March"
Establish a no-fly zone in stages. First stage, any Russian plane west of (an easily definable boundary just west of where the farthest western advance of Russian ground forces are) will be shot down. Move in allied operated air defense systems up to this boundary. Allied combat air patrols orbit the western part of Ukraine. Allied ground and logistics units take up positions in western Ukraine. See what happens.
Your warning to the West is exactly right. Ukraine has battled the "mighty" Russian military to a stalemate with minimal defense against attack from the air and sea. If it loses the war, this commenter, a life-long Democrat, will no longer be able to support Joe Biden. I am sure many other Democrats, already deeply unhappy about the manner of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, are likely to abandon him, too. Give Zelenski the d___n planes already! That's just for a start. Anne Applebaum says correctly that our side needs to focus on the objective, which is that Ukraine wins.
Gaffe or Not, What's The End Game with Putin?
Russia has already lost the war. They will not take Kiev. Karkiev also seems out of reach. An assault on Odessa is unlikely at this point. Russia reached the high water mark of its invasion weeks ago. They are making few advances and are being pushed back from Kiev.
The Russian military is hemorrhaging men and equipment at an astounding rate. Per Oryx (@oryxspioenkop) Russia has lost at least 2200 vehicles and other pieces of heavy military equipment. The true number is higher as Oryx only uses video confirmation to compile it's numbers.
How bad is it? Well, just this morning I saw pictures of "technicals" with white Z's painted on them. For those who don't know, a technical is a small pick-up truck with a heavy gun mounted in the bed. These are typically seen in use by rebel groups with few resources.
NATO places the Russian casulties at 40,000. This undoubtedly includes many deserters. I've seen reports that Russia is pulling units back into Russia and Belorussia due to their taking heavy losses. One unit reportedly drove an armored vehicle over its commander after it lost many men in action Morale has to be very low.
Putin, if he is getting accurate information, has to know he cannot take all of Ukraine. He knows he cannot remove Zalinksky from power. These were the original goals. If the Russian army does not collapse in the field (Not likely, but not impossible either) the strategy now is to try to finish taking Mariupol and then consolidate Russian holdings in Southeast Ukraine.
What then? Maybe Putin declares victory and spins this whole disaster into a success for the Russian people. Does Ukraine and the West accept this loss of territory as a price to stop the bombing of civilians?
If so, do the sanctions continue? Despite the criticism, they will wreak havoc on the Russian economy. Does Putin ever have to answer for his war crimes? Does he get to stay in power? These are issues in play as the war winds down.
I think its time for Biden to say something like - "If Putin uses chemical or nuclear weapons, the U.S. will designate him a state terrorist along with any government officials complicit in such action and will use all resources at our disposal to eliminate them as we have done with other terrorists in the past." The only way to potentially deter WMD based war crimes is to make it clear that Russian leaders will pay the ultimate personal price. If Putin, or anyone in his regime, is on the fence about using WMDs then a powerful stance that is clear about the consequences has a chance of preventing them. Also, I can't imagine a scenario where such a statement would be the escalation that would cause Putin to use them, so I believe its a fairly safe ploy in terms of not triggering WWIII. Thoughts?
Even though it's not that reasonable at this point, the hangover from the middle east in the US and other NATO countries continues. Putin knows this because he's done quite a bit to help nurse it. I'm not sure what the answer here is, but it's going to take a while to break the delusion that countries the West can be for protectionism and isolation with everything else staying the same.