Stop Passing the Buck. Charge Trump.
Plus: FU, Russian War Ship
Russian warship Moskva : "Snake Island, I, Russian warship, repeat the offer: put down your arms and surrender, or you will be bombed. Have you understood me? Do you copy?"
Ukrainian 1: "That’s it, then. Or, do we need to fuck them back off?"
Ukrainian 2: "Might as well."
Ukrainian 1: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."
The successful attack on the Russian flagship Moskva by Ukrainian missiles obviously has huge symbolic value, but it also has real military significance.
The Russian navy cruiser Moskva by far is the most powerful warship in the Black Sea. If Russian President Vladimir Putin orders his troops to widen their war in Ukraine, Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, undoubtedly would lead the naval assault.
Think of Moskva as a 12,500-ton, 612-foot mobile missile battery with nearly 500 people aboard. She packs enough anti-ship missiles to wipe out the entire Ukrainian navy and enough air-defense missiles to swat away any conceivable aerial attack on the Black Sea Fleet’s amphibious flotilla.
The Russian Navy’s Black Sea flagship has suffered major damage and the crew has abandoned the ship, state media said late Tuesday in reports following Ukrainian claims of hitting the ship with a missile strike.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the mishap on RTS Moskva (121), a ship in the country’s Black Sea Fleet, according to state-run outlet TASS.
Exit take: If you are keeping score at home, this is how it’s going for the Kremlin’s savvy genius.
Trump should be charged. Don't pass the buck, again
Members of the House’s Jan. 6 committee are apparently split over whether to refer Donald Trump to the Justice Department, even though many if not all of the committee members appear to have concluded that the former president engaged in a criminal conspiracy.
“It’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing — what a number of people around him were doing — that they knew it was unlawful,” Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said last weekend. “They did it anyway.” (Trump of course denies he has done anything wrong.)
There doesn’t seem to be much doubt among the committee members about whether Trump committed federal crimes.
Indeed, the committee made that case in federal court recently, when it argued in a filing that it “has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
The evidence was enough to convince U.S. District Judge David Carter, who wrote that “the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”…
Despite all of this, members of the select committee probing the Capitol insurrection are reportedly worried that actually making a criminal referral might not be prudent. According to The New York Times, some members worry that even a largely symbolic referral “would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.”
You may have seen this movie before. Again and again — during Trump’s campaign, his presidency and now his post-presidency — we’ve seen responsible figures determine that something must be done about Trump’s behavior. And then, inevitably, they decide to let someone else do it.
They’ve rationalized their timidity as political prudence, but the result has been a pandemic of buck-passing.
In the 2016 campaign, Trump’s Republican rivals mostly refused to take him on until it was too late, all the while hoping that someone else would do the hard work for them. After his election, congressional Republicans fell into line. They rationalized that appeasement as a matter of tactical savvy. “I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told political reporter Tim Alberta.
And we saw the same pattern with Robert’s Mueller probe, which documented Trump’s obstruction of justice at great length but declined to recommend either impeachment or criminal indictment.
To the end, though, Mueller hoped that someone else would take action. During congressional hearings, he was asked point-blank by lawmakers, "Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?"
And Mueller responded with an unequivocal "yes." He also specifically affirmed that the president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office.
But that never happened.
My plea to the committee:
So now it is up tothe select committee and the Justice Department, which both seem to be caught in a cycle of hand-wringing. They worry about the “taint” of a referral and agonize over fears that Trump and the GOP will discredit any investigation as a partisan witch hunt.
But here’s a reality check: No matter what they do, no matter how cautiously they act, Trump will react with bad faith and demagoguery.
The Justice Department could hire an avatar of respectability and integrity to handle the prosecution (see: Robert Mueller) — and it wouldn’t matter. Whatever it does, Trump will let loose the dogs of disinformation, deceit and obstruction.
Knowing it can’t control the reaction, maybe the select committee should just do the right thing — and finally, finally end the cycle of timidity, self-deterrence and buck-passing.
The Madness and Badness of Greg Abbott
Buses, and trucks, and demagoguery, oh my.
Up for re-election and apparently determined to win the prize as America’s Most Deplorable Governor, Texas’s Greg Abbott has simultaneously (1) manufactured a massive snafu at the border, and (2) shocked even some conservative allies with the crassness of his immigrants-on-a-bus stunt.
Trucks attempting to enter Texas loaded with goods from Mexico sat motionless for hours on Tuesday as lengthy vehicle inspections ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott in a clash with the Biden administration over immigration snarled traffic at major commercial crossings…
“This has national ramifications,” said John D. Esparza, the chief executive of the Texas Trucking Association. “This is trade going to Ford Motor Company. This is trade going to Minnesota. It’s not just about the city of Laredo trying to get stuff to their local H-E-B,” he said, referring to the Texas grocery chain.
And then there was his cynical stunt of busing immigrants from the border to Washington D.C. to protest the Biden Administration’s border policies.
This was too much even for some of his Republican allies. Here’s GOP State Rep. Matt Schaefer:
Schaefer’s right; the plan sounds gimmicky. And more than that, it’s dehumanizing to some migrants, thousands of whom are fleeing situations of poverty and persecution. They should not be regarded as mere political pawns (no matter where you stand on immigration).
Exit take: Even performative assholery has real-life consequences.
The airlines are right: The mask mandate makes no sense
Well, oof. The Administration has decided to extend the mask mandates on planes etc. for another two weeks to… figure things out?
The move rebuffs pleas from the airline industry to drop the masking requirements.
In making their case, many groups cited updated guidance issued by the CDC in February that laid out a new framework for determining when masking should be necessary. The new calculations, which were based on the level of disease in the community, meant large swaths of the country no longer needed to wear masks. Groups also argued that keeping the requirement in place for transportation seemed contradictory since states had largely stopped requiring people to wear masks in public settings.
“It is very difficult to understand why masks are still required on airplanes, but not needed in crowded bars and restaurants; in packed sports arenas; in schools full of children; or at large indoor political gatherings,” [Nicholas E. Calio, the chief executive of trade group Airlines for America], wrote in his letter Wednesday.
Exit take: He’s right.
1. Trump: Still Not Losing His Grip on the GOP
I would love to be wrong about Trump and the Republican party. It would be good for America if the GOP would move on. But when you look at the numbers and listen to the voters, the idea that the party is growing to be independent of Trump seems less like analysis and more like wishcasting.
2. Israel can’t stay neutral in Ukraine’s battle between good and evil
Israel, to be sure, is not as bad as India, Brazil and South Africa, which abstained, along with America’s Arab allies, on a motion in the United Nations General Assembly on April 7 to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel supported the resolution, just as it supported an earlier motion to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel can be proud of the humanitarian aid it has provided Ukraine, including sending a field hospital, and it can be proud of all of the Ukrainian refugees — many of them not Jewish — that it is taking in.
But Israel refuses to send arms to Ukraine or impose sanctions on Russia. Israel provides Arab dictatorships with its powerful Pegasus spyware but refuses to sell it to Ukraine, an embattled fellow democracy. Israel also won’t send Ukraine its Iron Dome missile-defense system or sufficiently crack down on Russian oligarchs, many of whom have ties to the Jewish state.
3. Dems retreat on crime and police reform
But it might be too late. Via Politico:
The signs of the Democratic Party’s evolution on crime are everywhere — and go beyond defeats suffered by the “defund the police” movement in Minneapolis and elsewhere last year. As the midterm elections pick up, Democrats are calling for more police funding and attempting to co-opt traditionally Republican talking points on crime….
The adoption of firmer postures on law and order come after a spike in murders nationally in recent years, including in some of the nation’s largest, most heavily Democratic cities. The change of tone also comes in anticipation of attacks from Republicans about “defund the police” in this year’s midterm elections. After Democrats underperformed expectations in House races in 2020, many in the party blamed the broadsides from the GOP…
In Seattle, where local Democrats tied to the “defund” movement were cut down in municipal elections last year, Sandeep Kaushik, a Democratic strategist, said the result was that “a lot of the wind has come out of their sails.”
He fears the impression the movement left on voters may linger, with disastrous consequences.
Voters, he said, “are seeing images of Seattle and crime and disorder … They’re hearing that nobody’s being prosecuted anymore.”
“I’m terrified this stuff is going to reelect Trump in ’24. Forget about the midterms. I’m terrified this stuff is going to take down Biden if he runs for president again.”