Patterico's Pontifications

2/28/2022

In Appreciation of the Ukrainian People

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:53 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The Ukrainians people and their leaders appear to be facing the Russian attack with great bravery and fortitude. And the neighboring nations are doing their part in taking in Ukrainian mothers and children who have fled for safety. We can all only hope that the defenders of their homeland can hold out long enough for the pressure on Vladimir Putin, both from inside and outside of Russia, to become so bad that he is forced to reverse course. The recent resolve shown by Europe — a development the likelihood of which I pooh-poohed last week — has been most welcome, though it’s entirely fair to wonder if Europe’s commitment to the cause will hold out. Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit has a great piece discussing whether this heralds a new age of Europeans taking a greater role in protecting their continent or if Uncle Sam is quietly pulling the strings behind the scenes.

If Vietnam was the network news war and the First Gulf War was the CNN war, then this Ukrainian-Russian War has become the first TikTok war. I’m not a fan of TikTok since I see it as an incursive and malevolent creation of the Chinese, and it would seem that it is contributing mightily to the shortened attention spans and mindless narcissism of the social media generation. That said, though, TikTok videos posted by Ukrainian soldiers and citizens are giving us a valuable insight into what is going on thousands of miles from our safe perch here, though at the same time it is also unsurprisingly spreading its share of misinformation and garbage.

But I feel a whole lot better today about the prospects for a Russian defeat, certainly diplomatically and perhaps even militarily, than I did last week. And I think the Russians need to figure out that when the country you invade has cute young social media influencers who are willing to make TikTok videos on how to operate an abandoned Russian tank, why then you may have bitten off substantially more than you can chew.

– JVW

Russia’s Economy Cratering; It’s Past Time to Hit the Rich Guys

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 am



If you missed my interview with Bill Browder over the weekend, read it now. His top recommendations for dealing with Putin were to disconnect Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and to go after Putin’s top oligarchs.

The U.S. and EU took his recommendation regarding SWIFT and cut off select Russian banks, including Russia’s central bank, from SWIFT. That was necessary but the fallout will be bad for the Russian people, who largely seem not to support Putin’s aggression. The ruble crashed overnight and lines are forming for a classic Depression-style run on the banks:

It is indefensible that the Russian people are being made to suffer while at the same time the Biden administration has failed to target Putin’s top oligarch trustees. Both Browder and Garry Kasparov, who are steeped in this information, are saying Biden’s sanctions have thus far missed some of the most important figures. I asked Browder if he thinks Biden and the Treasury Department know who these people are, but are taking no action, or don’t know. He seems to think the latter, but thinks that will change.

Do you agree with Kasparov that the sanctions so far have ignored Putin’s worst oligarchs?

The list of oligarchs who are currently sanctioned is woefully small, and doesn’t address the lion’s share of Putin’s capital and the capital that’s been stolen from Russia. And so there’s a very long list of high-profile, well-known oligarchs from Russia who still need to be sanctioned. And I hope that as the crisis continues to unfold, the next step in the sanctions program is to add those people to the sanctions list.

Do you think the Treasury Department and President Biden don’t know who those people are, or do you think they do know who they are and just haven’t taken the steps to sanction them yet?

Well, I think everything is happening so quickly that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that they’re not at the level of knowledge that I have, or Garry Kasparov has, because the people work on a lot of different issues, not just Russia. But many people from different governments and different lawmaking bodies have reached out to me asking for assistance in this area, so hopefully as the knowledge level increases, we will see some more of the high-value targets getting sanctioned.

As Gunnery Sergeant Hartman says in Full Metal Jacket:

2/27/2022

My Interview with Bill Browder at The Dispatch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:46 am



Go check it out. Browder is the driving force behind the law President Biden is using to sanction Vladimir Putin.

In this interview, Browder spoke to me about how he thinks Magnitsky would react to the unfolding Ukraine crisis, the strengths and deficiencies of the sanctions imposed on Putin and his oligarch trustees thus far, what President Biden should do next, the importance of disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT payment network, whether the energy sector should be included in future sanctions, how he feels about the possibility that Donald Trump could again be elected president of the United States, and many other topics.

I also asked Browder how he felt when he learned in 2018 that Putin had personally asked Donald Trump to hand him over to Putin — a suggestion that Trump called an “incredible offer” — and how he felt this week watching video of Trump praising Putin as a genius for his invasion of Ukraine. In a sane world, Browder’s answer would be a wake-up call for anyone contemplating the horrific possibility of a Trump presidential run in 2024.

Go read it all, and leave a comment over there.

2/25/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:27 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Under immense pressure and risking his life, this is leadership in action:

Zelensky’s finest hour here.

Also, brave, defiant Ukrainian soldiers give their all:

A Ukrainian soldier on the ill-fated Snake Island was livestreaming as Russian warships opened fire and wiped out the 13 soldiers stationed there.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday local time. World leaders and diplomats widely condemned the attack and promised strong sanctions in response.

A Russian warship issued a warning to the Ukrainian border guards at Zmiinyi Island – also known as Snake Island – only to be told by one of the guards, “Russian Warship, go f— yourself.”

Social media identified the soldier as a 23-year-old among the troops. All 13 soldiers died “without surrender,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during an update on Thursday night.

Second news item

Directly targeting Putin:

The US will join the European Union in directly sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the White House confirmed on Friday.

CNN’s Phil Mattingly and Jeremy Herb reported earlier Friday the US was planning to impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin according to two people familiar with the decision.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision came following a phone call between President Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

“The United States will join them in sanctioning President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov and members of the Russian national security team,” she told reporters. “I expect we’ll have more specific details that later this afternoon.”

Third news item

Making history, President Biden nominates first Black woman to Supreme Court:

President Joe Biden on Friday nominated federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the first Black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed American segregation.

Introducing Jackson at the White House, Biden declared, “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.”

A fun “small world” story involving Judge Kenji Brown Jackson and Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan here.

Fourth news item

CPAC speakers reveal what the midterms and 2024 will prioritize:

In his 20-minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ron DeSantis hit on everything from immigration and “mob violence” to critical race theory, the Bill of Rights and the peril of a “biomedical security state.”

One thing the Florida governor — who is a U.S. Navy veteran and former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — did not mention on Thursday was Ukraine.

It was a curious, but not entirely surprising, omission by one of the GOP’s leading presidential prospects as the world watched the Russian invasion unfold in real time.

DeSantis was hardly alone in avoiding the subject at CPAC, where Russia’s offensive — just hours old — drew only glancing interest at one of the party’s most prominent gatherings of the year. Even in a country where conflicts abroad rarely animate the electorate, it was one of the starkest indicators in decades of how far foreign policy has fallen on the Republican agenda. No longer is the GOP the party whose president once told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Former President Trump is scheduled to give the keynote speech tomorrow night…

Fifth news item

Alexander Vindman writes:

Instead, for two decades, the U.S. entertained illusions about what might be accomplished with Russia, a reluctant partner, while remaining oblivious to opportunities in Ukraine, a far more willing one. In its relationship with Russia, the U.S. had limited prospects of achieving any objectives outside of arms control, whereas with Ukraine it might have successfully influenced regional development.

The seed of this conflict was planted many years ago, across multiple Republican and Democratic administrations. But the Biden administration and its successors will own the geopolitical consequences of this war.

…U.S. leaders cannot absolve themselves of guilt by claiming they did all they could to prevent another invasion; they offered a necessary response, not a sufficient one. Like every administration since the end of the Cold War, Joe Biden’s fell victim to wishful thinking about the Kremlin’s ambitions in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s basic commitment to international norms. In doing so, the Biden administration continued the decades-long practice of allowing deterrence to erode. The paths to prevention were not taken.

Sixth news item

President Biden’s job performance ratings slip via Marist Poll:

President Biden’s job approval rating (39%), notched down from 41% in December, is the lowest of his presidency. Biden’s negative score (55%) matches his worst which he received in that same December poll. Americans are nearly three times as likely to strongly disapprove (41%) of Biden’s job performance than strongly approve (14%).

Biden’s approval rating on his handling of the economy (36%) is his lowest since taking office. Biden’s economic score has been on a steady decline since April 2021 when he achieved his highest rating on the issue (54%). 58% of Americans disapprove of his economic approach, marking his highest disapproval rating on this issue.

Biden also receives his lowest rating on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Americans now divide with slightly more saying they disapprove (49%) of how Biden is doing than approve (47%). Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been trending downward since May 2021 when 66% of Americans approved of Biden’s approach.

Seventh news item

This is so good. Read the whole thing:

At Newsweek, Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk has written one of the most foolish, self-serving, hypocritical, illiterate, and counterproductive columns I’ve read in a good long while. “The First Amendment has long been a bedrock principle of my worldview,” Kirk begins, before proceeding to demonstrate that, in fact, it has been nothing of the sort. “There are legitimate legal limits to expression,” he writes. “Some things are so objectionable — even downright evil — that they don’t merit society’s protection.” Specifically, Kirk objects to what he describes as the “one ‘substantive evil’” that “Americans can all agree to prevent: worshiping Satan.”

The Devil’s next finest trick, it seems, is to persuade us that the First Amendment doesn’t actually exist.

Eighth news item

Most definitely *not* a great American:

But last night, he was singing a different tune:

Tucker Carlson offered a stunning reversal Thursday night: after months of defending Russian President Vladimir Putin, he blamed the Russian dictator for invading Ukraine.

“What is happening in Ukraine, whatever its scale — and it’s not totally clear right now — but whatever it is it’s a tragedy because war always is a tragedy,” he opened, before blaming the Russian president for the deadly incursion.

“Vladimir Putin started this war,” Carlson said. “So whatever the context of the decision he made he did it, he fired the first shot. He is to blame for what we are seeing in Ukraine.”

It’s easy to see why he pivoted. Just pathetic.

Ninth news item

To mask or not to mask?:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.

The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC’s risk map and puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the people who can stop wearing masks, the agency said.

The agency is still advising people, including schoolchildren, to wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high. That’s the situation in about 37% of U.S. counties, where about 28% of Americans live.

The new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations. The CDC guidelines for other indoor spaces aren’t binding, meaning cities and institutions even in areas of low risk may set their own rules. And the agency says people with COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive shouldn’t stop wearing masks.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

U.S. Women’s Soccer Wins on Opponent’s Own Goal

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:04 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I figured I should comment on the most recent, and perhaps final, development in the matter of the United States Women National Soccer Team (USWNT) and United States Soccer (USS) which we have discussed first in 2019 and then updated the following year. Please refer back to those posts for an overview of the issues, as I am too pressed for time right now to recap.

This past week, the sides settled their dispute with USS agreeing to pay $24 million to the USWNT, with 11/12 of that sum going as back-wages to players and the remaining $2 million set aside for a fund which players can tap for post-career initiatives or for charitable purposes. The settlement is contingent upon USWNT agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement which is expected to happen within the next few months. USS also has committed to providing equal pay to both the women’s and men’s team going forward, including player bonuses which are paid by USS for participation in tournaments such as the quadrennial World Cup. (Presumably this commitment does not encompass prize money paid to players by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, seeing as how the men’s World Cup revenue is nearly fifty times larger than the women’s World Cup revenue.)

This is being seen as a win for the USWNT, and rightfully so. Coming off of yet another World Cup title (if, to be sure, coupled with yet another underwhelming Olympics performance), the women not only are receiving the back-pay they had been fighting for, but they are also forcing USS to admit in deed if not in fact that the former collective bargaining agreement — which the USWNT’s represented had agreed to back in 2017 — was unfair. This argument had been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner almost two years ago. Yet USS decided to give in and settle anyway, and even though the national governing body insists this is a justifiable compromise (the $24 million settlement is indeed far less than the $67 million the USWNT had originally demanded), there is no way that ever-woke sports media wasn’t going to spin this as an acknowledgement that the women were unfairly paid in relation to the men, even though neither Judge Klausner nor I was convinced of that fact. Yes, USS gets this distraction off of their daily agenda, and they say that this will save them an estimated $9 million in legal fees going forward (being a sports labor lawyer must be a ka-ching! profession), so I suppose it is entirely up to them and their legal counsel to determine whether or not this step makes sense.

Not everyone is pleased with the result, though. Former USWNT goalie Hope Solo, who was one of the first players to sue for higher pay (and a separate suit she has against USWNT is still in the court system), believes that the settlement’s dependence upon CBA ratification is actually a trap and could cause the women’s player association to settle for a lesser deal in order to unlock the back wages. An article in The Athletic (restricted to subscribers) points out that in order to align their CBA with that of the men’s team, the men’s player association is going to have to cooperate, and the fellas will certainly have their own opinions on what “equity” entails.

But let’s tip our caps to the women’s team who played their match in the Court of Public Opinion far better than they played it in United States District Court.

– JVW

2/24/2022

Putin Recorded His Invasion Announcement Monday — And He Wants You to Know That

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:05 am



Back during the Kimberlin saga, a fella whose name rhymes with Steel Bowhowser used to harass me and my family incessantly under thinly disguised accounts. One could not prove him to be behind the accounts, but it always seemed to me that he deliberately left breadcrumbs. Like Olenna Tyrell, he wanted his antagonist to know it was him.

It seems Vladimir Putin is following the same playbook.

Many people have remarked about how bad the propaganda is that Putin has been spreading, supposedly showing aggression by Ukraine. It’s like he doesn’t care that it’s not believable. Odd, that.

Now, he announces an invasion, days after holding a bizarre session with his top aides that was supposedly geared towards “deciding” whether to “recognize” two sections of Ukraine that his hand-picked stooges had declared to be “independent.” Yet in his announcement, he is wearing the same suit and tie he wore in the bizarre Monday session. And the metadata from the new announcement shows it was recorded on Monday:

He’s not trying that hard. He wants you to know he planned this ahead of time.

2/23/2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine Well Underway

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:35 pm



Twitter is alight with news, and some of it may be fake, so beware. That said, multiple correspondents for different television networks have heard explosions in Kyiv. There have been explosions in multiple other cities. The U.S. embassy reports:

Air raid sirens are going off in Kyiv as I write this. People are trying desperately to get out:

Here is video of the debris of a cruise missile in the capital city:

Zelensky has declared martial law, and the Ukrainian government reports that the Russian military has attacked military targets all over the country. The first wave of attacks appears to be targeting air defense. Reports are that all military airports have now been destroyed:

A family friend has a mom in Kyiv. She reports to her daughter: “War.”

Meanwhile, as you have surely read, the repugnant punk Tucker Carlson has gone to town propagandizing for Putin, asking his audience: what did Vladimir Putin ever do to you? Did he call you a racist, or make fentanyl, or eat dogs? Why, no! As stupid as that sounds, I’m not even making it up. I’ll show you the version shown on Russian state television, with subtitles that gleefully proclaim this useful idiot propaganda to the Russian people:

Nor am I making up Trump’s talk tonight to his dullard crowd in Mar-a-Lago as he fanbois for Putin, dreamy-eyed at the thought of a “smart” man who can just waltz in and take over huge tracts of land without repercussion:

Trump is a monster. Tucker Carlson is a sinister propagandist. Now if there is anything they can do for us:

Keep the people of Ukraine in your thoughts. And as to the evil Vladimir Putin and his sinister propagandists in the United States, like the unspeakable cretin at Mar-a-Lago, or Father Carlson, I wish them . . . nothing good.

UPDATE: Russian cyberattacks have taken down Ukranian news sites:

Our friend with the mom in Kyiv told us the same thing tonight.

UPDATE: Russians are firing rockets indiscriminately into the city. The face of a victim:

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

I’m going to bed. I’ll leave you tonight with this message:

Constitutional Vanguard: Yes, the Crazies Really Do Have Influence

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am



Today’s post is another long thumb-sucker, this time on the topic of whether people espousing some crazy views, like Candace Owens or Joe Rogan, really do have influence. We’re often told these days that they don’t. But they have very large audiences — and as I am at pains to show in this piece, that matters:

I think it’s easy to miss just how large an audience 11 million people really is. I think the following question really helps drive it home. What if I were to ask you how many Joe Rogan fans will likely commit suicide in the year 2022? Before moving on to the next paragraph, ask yourself: what would your gut tell you? Close your eyes and muse upon the subject before you read on any further. See if you can come up with an answer. Zero people? One or two? A handful? Don’t read the next sentence until you have your own answer.

What was your answer? Well, given that I am asking the question, you’re probably guessing higher than you otherwise would. Maybe you guessed a dozen? As many as twenty? Surely it can’t be that high!

For the answer, click here and read the whole thing for free. Subscribe here.

P.S. I initially used the term “conservative crazies” in the title, but I have removed the word “conservative” because Rogan is not himself conservative, although the dark aspersions he casts on COVID vaccines are widely embraced by the movement that currently calls itself “conservative.” Truly, we need a new word for the crazy movement — or, possibly, we need a new word for those of us who have always been what we used to call conservative.

2/22/2022

George Washington Takes Stock of the Senate

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:32 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Today is the 290th birthday of the Indispensable American, George Washington. Since I started guest blogging here, I have attempted to write some sort of remembrance of our first President each February 22. I failed last year, but prior to that here is what has been covered:

2015 – George Washington’s Birthday
2016 – George Washington Quiets the Rebellion
2017 – George Washington Fears for His Country’s Future
2018 – George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term
2019 – George Washington Goes Back to His Farm
2020 – George Washington Rallies the Troops

I kind of struggled to come up with a topic this year that might be interesting yet is not a particularly well-known story about one of the most storied figures in history. Fortunately, earlier today I joined in on a National Review Plus Conference Call with historian Richard Brookhiser, who has written a magnificent book on President Washington’s two terms, and during a discussion on Presidents he gave us an anecdote which I think will work for this year’s salute to The Father of Our Country.

William Maclay was a Pennsylvania lawyer who had fought with George Washington at the Battle of Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War. He would later serve as a commissary for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In 1789 he was elected along with the more renown Robert Morris as the first two United States Senators from the Keystone State. Morris was the luckier of the two Senators, having drawn a lot for a full six-year term which (in order to stagger Senate elections for each state) left Maclay with a two year term. After spending his two years in New York (where the first post-Constitution Congress met), Maclay decided to return to his estate on the Susquehana River rather than seek reelection. Probably the most significant legislative effort by William Maclay was a resolution which would have required the Senate’s consent for any Executive branch dismissal, which failed when Vice President John Adams cast the tie-breaking vote against it.

But one thing Senator Maclay did to earn him the gratitude of future generations was keep a diary of that first Congressional session, the only Senator known to have done so. The diary survived after his death in 1804, and it is the only real record we have of those years in the Senate, a formal federal record of the session having been poorly kept. Because Maclay was something of a gossip and rather grouchy to boot, the diary is a very interesting read.

One story he relates is an account of when President Washington himself came to Senate chambers to formally (and quite literally) conduct the “Advice and Consent” requirement for treaties as laid out by Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution. Vice President Adams accompanied him, and the two sought to get Senate approval of a treaty the Administration was seeking with the Creek Indians. Here is how Rick Brookhiser describes what unfolded:

As the Vice-President read the proposed terms, “carriages were driving past,” wrote Senator Maclay, “and such a noise! I could tell it was something about Indians, but was not master of once sentence of it.” After closing the windows, the Senate began an inconclusive discussion. . . .

Brookhiser told us today that one Senator then interrupted and rose to suggest that the Administration provide copies of all other treaties with native tribes by way of comparison. Another Senator then suggested that a special committee be formed to hash through all of these issues and then report back to the main body. This brought a different Senator to his feet exclaiming that the signing of treaties was an important duty that required the attention of all Senators, and thus the matter should be for the committee of the whole. Still another interjected that every great legislative body throughout history used smaller groups for deep study of issues, and this would be the appropriate tact for this treaty with the Creek. And so it went on.

Meanwhile, the President was getting impatient. He understood that as the first Chief Executive of the new nation, the steps he took would come to be considered the norm for his successors, and he wanted to establish the idea of the United States as a republic with co-equal branches of government and separation of powers. But sitting in the Senate’s cramped chambers on a hot summer’s day listening to a collection of bloviating popinjays discussing procedural minutiae was not particularly suited to the Founding Father’s temperament. “This defeats every purpose of my coming here!” Washington groused, in what Maclay termed “a violent fret.” The session was adjourned, and since it was a Saturday there was no session scheduled the next day. It has gone down in legend that the Senate doorman would overhear the President muttering as walked out the building that he would “be dammed if he ever went there again.” And, as Brookhiser reminds us, no President ever has.

Imagine what George Washington would think about a Senate session featuring Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz, Sheldon Whitehouse, Josh Hawley, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell. By refusing to return to that body’s chambers, our first President probably did more to properly delineate the line between the Executive and Legislative branches of government than had he continued to make periodic visits.

– JVW

Open Thread: President Biden’s Update on Russia-Ukraine

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:49 am



[guest post by Dana]

I’m going to open a fresh thread on the Russia-Ukraine situation. Things are pretty fluid right now. Journalist Dimitri Alexander Simes sums up Putin’s demands:

Putin lays out three conditions for normalizing relations between Russia and Ukraine. They are:

1. Ukraine recognizes Crimea as part of Russia
2. Ukraine renounces NATO aspirations and pledges neutrality
3. “Demilitarization of Ukraine”

Mitch McConnell responds to the ongoing crisis with a level head:

“Through his rhetoric and actions, Vladimir Putin has turned his back on the Minsk process and diplomacy in favor of escalation and invasion of a sovereign country.

“Every indication suggests these actions will almost certainly be used as a prelude to even further aggression and an even larger invasion. If that occurs, many Ukrainians could die. The humanitarian consequences could be catastrophic. And the threat will not stop with Ukraine. All the free nations of the world will be affected if Putin’s aggression is allowed to stand unchallenged.

“The world is watching. Our allies, our adversaries, and neutral countries will all judge the West by our response — and plan their futures accordingly.

“As he escalates his war against Ukraine, Putin must be made to pay a far heavier price than he paid for his previous invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. This should begin, but not end, with devastating sanctions against the Kremlin and its enablers. The President should waste no time in using his extensive existing authorities to impose these costs.

“Our NATO and EU allies must likewise take action to impose significant costs on Putin. Germany’s suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a welcome but overdue announcement and must be turned into permanent cancellation.

“We must also stand by the brave Ukrainians fighting to protect their sovereignty. The United States and all friends of Ukraine must ensure a pipeline of support, including arms, flows to Ukrainians resisting Russian aggression.

“We must also shore up NATO’s defenses along its eastern flank and make clear that aggression against NATO countries will be met with an overwhelming collective response.

“Finally, the United States and our allies across the world must fully acknowledge the growing threats posed by decades of Chinese and Russian military modernization. We need to rebuild our atrophied ability to deter and defend against aggression by these adversaries. That means we must invest more robustly in our own military capabilities to keep pace. Our budgets have to reflect reality.

Prior to President Biden addressing the Russia situation today, the White House called Russia’s actions an “invasion”:

[T]he White House signaled it considers Moscow’s actions in Ukraine to be an invasion. A US official noted a “severe response” is in the works.

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday recieved authorization from the upper chamber of parliament to use Russian troops outside of the country. He told reporters this was necessary to formalize the military’s deployment in two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine, which Russia recognized as independent on M+onday.

The White House called the provocations an invasion of Ukraine.

“I am calling it an invasion,” deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told CNN. He said, “sanctions on Russia will be rolling out in a matter of hours.”

And just now:

On a side note:

Hey, Barack Obama . . .2012 called, and it wants Mitt Romney back.

Others are admitting that Romney was right:

At the time, the attack worked. Obama cast himself as the candidate who understood the current threats — led by al Qaeda. Romney was the candidate still stuck in the Cold War age, a black-and-white figure in a colorful — and complex — world.

But today, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, Romney’s comments look very, very different. And by “different,” I mean “right,” as even some Democrats are now acknowledging.
“This action by Putin further confirms that Mitt Romney was right when he called Russia the number one geopolitical foe,” California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said on CNN Monday night.

What looked like a major flub during the 2012 campaign — and was used as a political cudgel by Obama — now looks very, very different. It should serve as a reminder that history is not written in the moment — and that what something looks like in that moment is not a guarantee of what it will always look like.

–Dana

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