[guest post by Dana]
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.