A Surprising Voice From A Conservative

Keith pointed me in the right direction on this one, telling me about Henry Olsen’s latest OpEd in The Washington Post.  I read Olsen’s work only occasionally, for I typically disagree with him on most things, but he really surprised me on this one, and in the best of ways.  What Olsen writes here is proof that there ARE moderate Republicans/conservatives who are not so deeply partisan that they cannot see the forest for the trees.


Biden deserves props for his masterful Ukraine policy

By Henry Olsen

17 November 2022

This week’s report that a Russian-made missile had fallen in Poland, a NATO ally, could have increased tensions with Russia and even led to direct conflict between the belligerent nation and the Western alliance. The fact that it didn’t casts a light on one of the year’s underreported stories: how masterfully the Biden administration has handled the Ukraine crisis.

Some of my fellow conservatives will strenuously disagree with this assessment. In their telling, the United States has no essential national security interest in a free and democratic Ukraine. President Biden’s decision to send massive amounts of military aid to the nation unnecessarily risked war with nuclear-armed Russia. And his decision to join our European allies in imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia is harming our economy, too.

But that ignores the key fact: America’s primary national security interest is to keep our potential enemies far away from our shores, and the least costly and most effective way of doing that is to assemble a network of allies across the globe. We take interest in their security objectives; they, in turn, assist us in obtaining ours.

Biden understood from the start of the conflict in Ukraine that our European allies in NATO viewed Russian designs very differently. Our allies in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, feared they would be next if NATO allowed Ukraine to be conquered. Our allies in Western Europe, such as Germany and France, also feared an aggressive Russia but thought that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be bought off with his country’s extensive economic ties with their countries. Balancing those views was the most important principle animating U.S. policy in the run-up to the invasion.

Thus came Biden’s elegant two-step: First, he warned the world that the invasion was coming and that there would be serious consequences if Russia went through with it. Second, he let Germany and France take the diplomatic lead, giving them the opportunity to prove that their assessments of Putin were correct. Biden also chose not to rush massive amounts of arms to Ukraine, an act that would have given Putin a pretext for the invasion he had already decided to launch. Being too quick to provide weapons also would have harmed Biden’s ability to rally recalcitrant allies in an anti-Russian cordon.

This dance worked perfectly. The Eastern allies knew we shared their fears, and the Western allies were shocked into action after their views about Putin proved dangerously naive. This gave Biden massive credibility to shape the alliance’s actions regarding Russia.

As a result, the economic sanctions the U.S.-led grouping levied were far more severe than almost any observer would have thought possible beforehand. And the military aid the alliance provided has been much more lethal than any that had been contemplated just a year ago. Ukraine now has the upper hand in a war against a foe three times as large. That’s all due to Biden’s superb diplomacy.

This maneuvering has also created collateral behaviors that redound to U.S. security. European powers had been leery of confronting China before Russia’s invasion, weakening the United States’ ability to contain its primary security threat. Now, with Chinese President Xi Jinping tacitly supporting Russia, Europe no longer sees China as a benign power. Even though many European elites resent America for its sometimes overbearing diplomatic manner and military swagger, they also know they share more values with the United States than they ever could with an autocratic Russo-Chinese axis. They are now likelier to back our initiatives to reduce China’s economic and diplomatic influence.

None of this was preordained. A U.S. president whose primary goal was to prevent confrontation with Russia might have been inclined to cut a deal with Putin that effectively gave him what he wanted, pushing Europe further into a strategy of appeasement. A president who intended to confront Russia might have involved the United States too deeply in Ukraine, alienating our allies and setting up the potential for a direct military clash between superpowers. Biden’s middle course avoided these missteps and set the United States up to reap massive benefits.

Biden will have to keep this balanced approach as the war continues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would like to see the United States and NATO involve themselves more directly in his war, which is why he was quick to argue that his country was not responsible for the missile that fell in Poland. But the more territory Ukraine retakes, the closer it gets to the territory Russia seized in 2014. We now know Putin will not risk war with the West over Kherson or Zaporizhzhia. He might feel differently if a U.S.-armed Ukraine threatens to retake Crimea.

But those concerns are in the future. For now, it appears that Biden has reinvigorated NATO and brought the Europeans closer to our views on China. That’s cause for celebration across the partisan divide.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 10/8

As I struggled with motivation, or rather a lack thereof, this morning, I thought perhaps this would be a good time to visit TokyoSand over at Political Charge and see if she had done her usual posting of the week’s best political ‘toons.  Sure enough, I was not disappointed!  Naturally, the main topic of the week was Herschel Walker’s utterly ludicrous campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate … I’m so sick of hearing his name that if I never hear it again it will be too soon.  But other topics vied for space as well, such as Hurricane Ian, women fighting for their rights in Iran, Vladimir Putin’s failing war against Ukraine, the Supreme Court and more.  Thank you, T.S., for bringing us the best of the best each week!


Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

A short one this morning, an excerpt from Robert Hubbell’s latest newsletter regarding the news that both OPEC and Russia intend to reduce oil production.  We all know that means higher prices at the pump, and while this should not be the highest priority on people’s minds as we head into the November mid-term elections, it probably will be.  People ought to be more concerned with the environment, the state of democracy, and human rights, but nope … they are more focused on how much it costs them to drive their gas-guzzling SUVs all over the place because, as one ‘friend’ told me, “it’s my happiness that matters most.”  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Putin’s War Tax on Americans

Saudi Arabia gave Russia a huge gift on Wednesday by coordinating a two million barrel per day reduction in oil production among OPEC oil producers. The effect of Saudi Arabia’s decision is to thwart the efforts by the Group of 7 nations to place a cap on the market price of Russian oil. Saudi Arabia’s decision will drive up oil prices, which Russia will use to fund its war against Ukraine. See NYTimes, The E.U.’s plan faces a new hurdle, as oil producers led by Saudi Arabia aim to keep global prices high.

          To state the obvious, neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia is a friend of the US or western democracy. Indeed, both are dictatorial, murderous regimes that ruthlessly suppress their people and seek to destabilize global peace and security. And both are darlings of the GOP and Fox “News.” Tucker Carlson claimed on Tuesday that Joe Biden blew up Nord Stream gas pipelines—an act of sabotage that occurred as Russian submarines and warships were spotted lurking near the points of attack on the pipelines.

          And, of course, the GOP’s mob boss welcomed Saudi Arabia’s blood money at his Bedminster golf course only weeks before the twenty-first remembrance of the victims of the Saudi-assisted terrorist attacks on 9/11. Trump provided a feeble excuse for “sports-washing” the Saudi involvement, saying, “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom” of responsibility for the terror attacks—a blatant lie.

          The effort also seems intended to meddle in US and European politics. It is only a matter of time before Republicans begin blaming Joe Biden and Democrats for the increase in gas prices—rather than acknowledging that the increases are directly attributable to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to prop up Vladimir Putin. Don’t let Republicans peddle that lie without challenge. Saudi Arabia has just imposed a “Putin war tax” on all Americans.

Chilled Yet???

Back in February, Russia’s dictator aka ‘President’ Vladimir Putin apparently thought he could launch an attack on neighboring Ukraine and that the Ukrainians were so weak or so stupid that they would simply lie down and turn over their country to him.  Well, he had another think coming!  Ukrainian President Zelenskyy stood firm and the Ukrainian people basically gave Putin the middle finger.  Despite their losses, they continue to stand firm today and with only help in military hardware resources, not human resources, from other nations, Ukraine has made Putin’s life significantly harder, has turned the tides just a bit.  Where Putin expected an easy victory 7 months ago, he is now facing the very real possibility of defeat.

However, if you thought Putin would back off, leave well enough alone and go home to lick his wounds, you’ll need to rethink that.  For starters, he has mobilized some 300,000 ‘military reservists’.  If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 65 years of age, you are now forbidden to leave the country.  Most other people are trying their best to get the hell out, and all flights out of Russia are filled to capacity through at least Friday.

Given that most Russians are not in favour of the war against Ukraine … most have family members living in Ukraine … there have been anti-war protests in a number of cities across Russia.  Just in the last few days, over 1,200 such protestors were arrested for no crime more serious than simply disagreeing with Putin’s goal of destroying another nation.

Last night, Putin gave a rare address to his nation … although it seemed to be intended for others, such as leaders of western nations.  In his speech, he warned that …

“NATO is conducting reconnaissance across the south of Russia. Washington, London and Brussels are directly pushing Kyiv to move military action to our country. They are openly saying that Russia should be defeated on the battlefield by any means.

Nuclear blackmail has also been used. We are talking not only about the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – encouraged by the West – which threatens to cause a nuclear catastrophe but also about statements from senior representatives of NATO countries about the possibility and permissibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia: nuclear weapons.

I would like to remind those who make such statements about Russia that our country also possesses various means of destruction, and in some cases, they are more modern than those of NATO countries. When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we, of course, will use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.

This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them.”

Foolish talk?  Sure.  But a cornered rat is a dangerous creature.  Vladimir Putin is a calculating madman who would see the world destroyed rather than admit he lost (does that remind you of anyone closer to home?)  U.S. President Biden responded while giving a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last night …

“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and [Ukrainians’] right to exist as a people. Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold.

The United States wants this war to end on just terms, on terms we’re all signed up for – that you cannot seize a nation’s territory by force. The only country standing in the way of that is Russia. But no one threatened Russia and no one other than Russia sought conflict.”

Most of you are old enough to remember the Cold War between the USSR and the U.S. that began in 1947 and did not end until 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved.  I well remember air raid drills in school when we were made to crouch under our desks and put our hands over our heads … as if that was actually going to protect us in the event of a nuclear bomb!  Frankly, I never want to return to those days, but … it damn sure sounds to me as if that is where we are heading.  In the words of Roger Cohen, a New York Times bureau chief who has observed international affairs for more than 30 years …

“Perhaps not since the Cuban missile crisis six decades ago have American and Russian leaders confronted each other so explicitly and sharply on the danger of nuclear war.”

What is the solution?  IS there a solution?  Wiser heads than mine will have to answer that question.  Let us hope there are some who can.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/3

The biggest topic for the political cartoonists this past week has once again been … the former guy.  I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty sick and tired of seeing his name and his ugly mug wherever I look on the ‘net.  That said, with the investigations into his business, his criminal mishandling of classified documents, and his involvement in the January 6th attempted coup, there is reason for the news media to continue covering those things, and the cartoonists to continue drawing cartoons about him.  He’s just so damn easy to make cartoons about, for he IS a cartoon.  Nonetheless, when I checked out TokyoSand’s weekly cartoon collection to reblog here, while still impressed by the talent of the cartoonists, I selected mostly ones that were not about the former guy for this brief sampling.  But please do click on the link at the bottom of this post and visit TokyoSand’s Political Charge to see all the cartoons.  As always, she’s done a great job at finding the very best ones!


I hope you enjoy this collection of the best editorial cartoons I saw this week.

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

Ukraine

So wrapped up are we here in the U.S. with our internal crises that we have forgotten to pay as much attention to what is happening in Ukraine. It isn’t that we’ve forgotten, or that we don’t care, but simply a product of the fact that the human mind can only process so much at one time. Our friend David in Wales has been paying attention, however, and he is here to remind us that Putin’s aggression has predictably increased, that more and more lives are being lost every day. While we in the U.S. bemoan the loss of our rights, our democratic foundations, the people in Ukraine are fleeing Russian bombs, watching their homes and their lives destroyed in front of their eyes. Thank you, David, for the timely reminder.

The BUTHIDARS

Todaay we enter a new darker period in the war in Ukraine.Prior to the G7 and Nato meeting on the conflict there was a rocket attack on a suburb of Kyiv which left at least one dead and more civilians mourning. Since then there has been a rocket attack on Kremenchuk in Central Ukraine, an area well away from the front line. The attack in full daylight hit a busy shopping arcade/ This cannot have been a mistake so showing that Uncle Vlad is now condoning attacks on civilians in Crowded areas.

I have to believe that The G7 meeting may have pissed Putin off, since he is no longer invited and this is his way of showing he’s not worried by their deliberations. A bit of a short sighted view since the accusations of War Crimes won’t be easy to shake off and if he is ever turfed out…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 4/9

I seem to lack motivation today … so I decided to share TokyoSand’s weekly political cartoon post with you rather than subject you to my own ill humour.  The main topics of the day, of course, are the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Russian war against Ukraine.  Be sure to follow the link at the end to see the rest of the ‘toons, for this is only a small sampling.  Thank you, TS!!!


The Week’s Best Cartoons 4/9

This week spanned the emotions — the highs of Ketanji Brown Jackson being confirmed for the Supreme Court and lows of the conflict in Ukraine.

See all the ‘toons at TokyoSand’s Political Charge!

Send Jets to Ukraine!

This post by Diane Ravitch is in and of itself worthy of a re-blog, but check out some of the accompanying commentary … very interesting! Thank you, Diane!!!

Diane Ravitch's blog

President Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded with every nation that would listen: Send us jets so we can protect our citizens. Thus far, President Biden has stood firm in opposition because he fears a wider war. Ukraine is not a member of NATO so NATO is not obliged to defend it.

But as awareness of the war crimes and atrocities committed by the Russian military increase, the necessity of helping Ukraine defend itself grows more compelling.

Ukraine wants MIGS. Poland wants to give them to Ukraine. Let it happen.

What is the difference between sending tanks to Ukraine and sending jets? What’s the difference between sending Stingers and Javelins and sending jets?

Putin threatened war if the West defends Ukraine. But the West is already defending Ukraine.

Putin already said that economic sanctions are a declaration of war. So in his mind, he is already at war with the West. But…

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good …

First, the good.  Yesterday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine announced that she is planning to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson next month.  I have long felt that if any Republicans would stray from the party line and follow their conscience, it would be Collins, Murkowski of Alaska, and Romney of Utah.  We can only hope that with Senator Collins stepping forward with her courage, others may follow suit, realizing perhaps that their oath to We the People matters more than their oath of fealty to party.

UNITED STATES – MARCH 8: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Bidens nominee for Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in her office on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.  I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”

It’s not often these days that a member of the Republican Party has the courage to go against the flow, and I think it’s important to give kudos to those who do.  Thumbs up on this one, Senator Collins.  👍


The Bad …

From Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter on Tuesday night …

Russian state TV featured a Russian government official calling for “regime change” in the United States, asking the people of the U.S. to replace President Biden with Trump “to again help our partner Trump to become President.”

Our partner???  Well then … can there be any clearer statement than this to confirm what most of us realized early in 2017 … that Russia did assist in the former guy’s election in 2016 and would happily do so again today?  Why?  Because Putin realized early on that Trump was enough of an egomaniac that he could be played like a fiddle.  But this, a Russian official calling for intervention to unseat a sitting president, is even worse, for it is an attempt to not only overthrow an election, but a duly-elected president who is already in office and has been for 14 months!  And yes, for the record I did verify this news via a number of sources.


The Ugly …

Every former president that I can think of in my lifetime has left the limelight with grace and dignity at the end of their term … even Richard M. Nixon tucked his tail between his legs and slunk off into the night.  We did not hear Nixon calling for revenge, nor trying to control the Republican Party from afar.  In fact, we heard very little from Nixon over the years after his exit from the Oval Office on August 8, 1974, and frankly, what Nixon did to force his resignation pales in comparison to what the former guy did during and since his time in office.  So why is the former guy still in the news on a daily basis?  Why is he being allowed by the GOP to continue to make utterly stupid remarks, sparking the wrath of the nation – except, of course, for his rabid followers who would love him even if he threatened to murder their children.

The latest?  From his ‘home’ in Mar-a-Lago, he called on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to ‘find dirt’ on the president’s son, Hunter Biden.  It’s not the first time … in fact, Trump’s first impeachment came as a result of him asking Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy to ‘dig up dirt’ on Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid that had already been approved by Congress.  But today, he is in no position of power, has no role in our relations with either Russia or Ukraine!  As White House Communication Director Kate Bedingfield, filling in for Jen Psaki who is out with COVID, said yesterday …

“What kind of American, let alone an ex-president, thinks that this is the right time to enter into a scheme with Vladimir Putin and brag about his connections to Vladimir Putin? There is only one, and it’s ****** *****.” [name deleted to protect the integrity of this blog]

What kind indeed?  The kind who, according to his own niece, would burn down an entire nation to protect his own ego.  The kind who thinks, erroneously, that he is some sort of a great mind, when he cannot string together a simple sentence.  The kind who will never care for others, who considers himself the only important being in the world.

Let us remember, folks, that neither the former guy nor Hunter Biden are president of this nation … our president is Joe Biden and he is doing a damn fine job, given all that’s been thrown onto his plate in the past 14 months since he took his Oath of Office!  Meanwhile, I call on the Department of Justice to proceed with all due haste in the indictment of the former guy so that he may reside in a federal prison with few venues for his hateful communications.

And I call on those who still consider themselves disciples of the former guy to search high and low for your consciences, for your integrity …

Words …

President Biden gave a speech yesterday in Warsaw, Poland, before heading home.  The speech has been hailed by many, comparing it to two of what are considered the greatest speeches of the Cold War by U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.  While I have not listened to the speech, I have read the transcript … here are a few parts that caught my eye:

  • “A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.”

  • “Let me say this if you’re able to listen: You, the Russian people, are not our enemy. I’m telling you the truth: This war is not worthy of you, the Russian people.”

  • “For generations, Warsaw has stood where liberty has been challenged and liberty has prevailed. In fact, it was here in Warsaw when a young refugee who fled her home country from Czechoslovakia was under Soviet domination, came back to speak and stand in solidarity with dissidence. Her name was Madeleine Korbel Albright. She became one of the most ardent supporters of democracy in the world. She was a friend with whom I served. America’s first woman Secretary of State. She passed away three days ago. She fought her whole life for central democratic principles. And now in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are in the front lines.”

  • “My message to the people of Ukraine is a message I delivered today to Ukraine’s foreign minister and defense minister, who I believe are here tonight. We stand with you. Period!”

  • “President Zelenskyy was democratically elected. He’s Jewish. His father’s family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust. And Putin has the audacity, like all autocrats before him, to believe that might will make right.”

  • “And earlier today I visited your national stadium, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees are now trying to answer the toughest questions a human can ask. My God, what is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my family? I saw tears in many of the mothers’ eyes as I embraced them. Their young children, their young children, not sure whether to smile or cry.”

  • “I didn’t have to speak the language or understand the language to feel the emotion in their eyes, the way they gripped my hand, little kids hung on to my leg, praying with a desperate hope that all this is temporary. Apprehension that they may be perhaps forever away from their homes. Almost a debilitating sadness that this is happening all over again.”

  • “I also want to thank my friend, the great American chef Jose Andres, and his team for help feeding those who are yearning to be free. But helping these refugees is not something Poland or any other nation should carry alone. All the world’s democracies have a responsibility to help. All of them.”

But in keeping with the way this nation is today, the media and others seized on one of President Biden’s last lines …

  • “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

He uttered the heartfelt words that so many of us are thinking … one way or another, Putin cannot remain in power for if he does … if he does, it is a near-certainty that the world will see another massive war that will touch every nation, every person on the globe.  But immediately people jumped to the conclusion that the president was calling for regime change and that he was willing to be the one to make that happen.  NO, people, that is not what he said nor what he meant!  A statement was issued by the White House to clarify the president’s remarks …

“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

I hate it when people try to ‘interpret’ what someone has said.  If I say I’m not hungry right now, that’s precisely what I mean.  I do not mean I am not feeling well, I do not mean that what you’re offering does not appeal … I simply mean I’m not hungry.  Every word President Biden utters is picked apart ad nauseam by those on the right side of the aisle, by the media, and by people who don’t even understand the situation.  Sometimes it’s okay to take a person at their word, to take what they say at face value.  Why on earth would people let 9 short words colour their view of a 30-minute, 3,097-word speech, one of the best Biden has ever given in my view?  Because the free press jumped like a pack of hungry dogs on a bone.  I support freedom of the press to the fullest extent, however with freedom comes responsibility — in this case, the responsibility to speak with conscience, not to put words into the mouth of another, not to twist and turn words into something they were not meant to be.

We, as a nation, really need to get over the finger-pointing, the seizing on every word a member of the opposing political party utters, the lies, the hatred, the divisiveness.  There is much work to be done, but we cannot do it as long as the nation remains so divided that we cannot even listen to one another.