The walkback really bothered me. By all accounts, Biden gave a brilliant speech, but all I've heard about is the regime change walkback. I've noodled how you can circle the square as a comms team member so that you're not seen as advocating for military removal of Putin while still making a point that the war criminal shouldn't remain in power- I came up with a clarifying line of- "We're hopeful the Russian people will, in a peaceful & democratic way, recognize that Putin is not a leader reflective of their great history and make it known their opposition to his war" That would have ticked all the boxes...

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I don't have a problem with Biden's comments. I think it would have been far better to not comment further on them though. No apology is needed here. I equate this with Kennedy and Reagan both calling out the Russians in their own administrations. Both the Berlin airlift and the "tear down this wall" moments have stood the test of time.

Sanctions take time. Finding and confiscating all the wealth of the oligarchs takes time. The program was designed to squeeze Russia to capitulation in the world community. Getting impatient at this point is counterproductive.

I do think that supplying arms is absolutely necessary and I don't object to a no fly zone. Suggesting we aren't in direct conflict with Putin is dumb. Of course we are. I don't see this going nuclear since it's still mutually assured destruction. I do not like this notion of a tactical nuke being considered. There's really no such thing.

Biden is doing fine in my estimate . Ukraine needs more weapons and it well may need NATO directly. It would be reasonable to do that before Ukraine is just converted into a parking lot.

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Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

Yes, the West wants Russia to lose and Ukraine to win. Yes, the West wants Putin gone.

But the reality is, the only way for that to definitively happen - Russia lose and Putin be dethroned - is for the West to declare war and go to war with Russia. (The sanctions may work - but after a while; there's no "instant" results with them and that means more people in Ukraine dying at the hands of the Russians.)

NOTHING ELSE - not sending weapons, not sanctions, NOTHING - will make that happen. We can send Ukraine every F35 we own - that is not going to defeat Russia or remove Putin. Even a whole Division of the US Army won't cut it. We'd need to send 2-3X the number of troops we sent to the Middle East (in 1991 and 2003) to even begin to think about removing Russia from Ukraine, let alone removing Putin from power.

So, until and unless everyone who says we should be doing all we can to defeat Russia or remove Putin agrees and understands that that means war with Russia - and the tens of thousands of dead US/NATO soldiers, along with the possibility of nuclear war...

We should all take a deep breath and layoff the criticisms of Biden/NATO and put the drumsticks to the drums of war down.

In the era when people "support" causes by clicking a like button, I don't think the Western peoples really understand what wanting the defeat of Russia and removal of Putin would truly entail. And I'm pretty sure the leaders of NATO understand that completely, which is why they aren't going all in with Ukraine.

(NB: I think Biden's "9 words" were entirely appropriate and he should keep that moral clarity about the terribleness of Putin.)

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The discussion about the damage done to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court by Ginni Thomas has focused narrowly on her activism surrounding January 6th. But there is a larger mythology about the court that has been destroyed. Americans like to think that if there is one institution in our national life that is staffed by serious students of the best our culture has produced, it is the Supreme Court. Who were Dante and Goethe and Lucretius writing for if not for people of high intellect trusted to wield immense power? What we have learned is that the spouse of a Justice is a garden variety moron. Power landing in the laps of these people reveals cultural rot profound in its depths.

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The rhetoric is all fine until the nuclear weapons start flying.

We have a nation populated by 30% moron, 30% grossly under informed and 40% informed but divided in what the solution should be. The notion that we US/Nato can stop Putin from being Putin (butchering, psychotic, terroristic dictator) is a bit naive, imo. Yes, we should send all the weaponry we can, we should shore up the NATO borders, we should keep the "Putin is a butchering dictator that needs to go" rhetoric flowing, but short of going to war with Russia, full on war, with Americans fighting and dying in the tens to hundreds of thousands.....we wait and see.

It sucks, but it seems to be our fate.

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Biden said exactly what he meant! Now, stand by it!

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The "walkback" was more deplorable than the "gaffe" was (somewhat) irresponsible. Europe appears quite blind to the long-term threat that Putinism presents and its own role in encouraging same. It cannot escape the bad bet it placed by voluntarily becoming dependent upon Russian oil and gas. But the longer we allow Putin to dictate the terms of engagement, the more we encourage him to believe Yuriev's 2006 Third Empire novel (see Dina Khapaeva piece in The Atlantic online). The risk of nuclear war needs to be faced straight-on.

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1) Walking back Biden's comment was a huge error. It isn't like Putin hasn't dabbled in regime change here is the US. The man needs to be deposed. The Russian regime DOES need to change. "Normal" relations should not be restored until that happens, regardless of what plays out in Ukraine.

2) The realistic odds of that happening are low unless the Russians (and I mean the leadership not the people) decide that it is time for Putin to "retire." This won't be a major step forward because all of the people involved are equally dirty--but it is a potential off ramp. The Ukrainians won't drive Putin out. Our actions short of war will not do it. The Russians have to do it themselves.

3) We should be providing the Ukrainians all aid short of war. We should be prepared to have to take that final step, as well. Better to do it now, when it is cheaper, than later when it is likely to be more expensive. Over time, the price always seems to go up.

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Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

I don't think what Biden said was a gaffe at all. I think it was a message to the Russian leaders. Get rid of Putin or it will get worse. The situation in Russia is horrible right now. Of course, he had to come back with, "I'm not suggesting regime change." Because you can't threaten the life of a foreign leader, but that was exactly what he was suggesting--‐regime change. The Ukraine invasion will stop if Putin is gone. Biden was clearly saying we don't want to fight the Russian people.

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Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

I think Biden's speech was really good, including the "Putin cannot remain in power" line. That rhetoric's consequences are measured by the Russian response, which in this case, was surprisingly muted. So in other words, no harm done.

It also happens to be true. This war is happening because of Putin. It is a product of the Russian military and Russian propaganda, and it's quite clear that even Putin's oligarch allies don't want it to happen. It's also quite clear Putin is not going to end the war, only Putin leaving will end that.

I think our political punditry needs to lay down some realism about this conflict: two nuclear powers are not going to go war with each other, except as a last resort. Our treaty alliances with NATO make another NATO countries untouchable. This means we can only fight for Ukraine in a proxy war, where the US/NATO supplies them with weapons, resources, and intelligence. But we can't actually fight Russia. Cyber warfare is a murkier category with few precedents, but I tend to think it could be very escalatory. The fact that Russia has held off on them shows they might believe so too.

Finally, sanctions are not war but are their own form of punishment and deterrent. I can't think of a time sanctions ever stopped a war unto their own, but they have a good track record of pressuring decisions in a certain direction. You can see the oligarchs already criticizing the war and feeling the pain.

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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.

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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.

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First they came for the Communists,

and I didn’t speak up,

because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak up,

because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn’t speak up,

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."

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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.

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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.

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You link to an article about how horrible Stefanik is. Absolutely. She’s my rep. You also link to an article saying people are wasting money on Flowers’ campaign against Greene. I agree there too and have thought about that myself in contributing to Stefanik opponents past and present.

ES’s district has gotten even redder through redistricting. Do I not contribute to a Democrat running against her? My thoughts are to do so sparingly, but to also contribute to those in tighter districts preferably through a PAC if one exists. I can’t bear the thought of her running unopposed or of her opposition being unfunded.

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