Slate’s war stories correspondent Fred Kaplan spoke with Mary Harris to share his thoughts on President Joe Biden’s Ukrainian position – and what he thinks will happen next.
“If you’ve heard anything about this troop buildup around Ukraine, alarm is probably what’s resonated the most alarm that Vladimir Putin is testing the West alarm that Russia might expand an ongoing military operation inside Ukraine,” Harris said. “But I wanted to talk to Fred because alarm was not his first reaction to this news.”
“What I’m about to say is the kind of thing that, if I’m wrong, could be played back six months from now and make me look really stupid,” Kaplan said. “But I don’t think that he’s going to invade Ukraine. I don’t think that’s what’s going on…If they were really going to invade Ukraine from the east and from the west through Belarus – kind of a pincer movement and then occupy the place – they would need a lot more than 90000 troops. Second…going in and crushing the place, there would be armed resistance. There will be Russians coming back in body bags. And finally, as is in general, Putin has been quite cautious in the use of military force.”
Harris referred to the agreements as “hedges against autocracy” and Kaplan offered, “These two countries, Ukraine and Taiwan, they’re examples of what some people call strategic ambiguity. I mean, were we sort of have a commitment to them, but not quite for many years. These relationships have been allowed to keep things stable. They’ve never really been tested. And now, you know, at least some people are saying they might be tested, and we don’t really quite know what we’re going to do about it.”
Kaplan added, “Biden himself is very keen on on Ukraine. When he was vice president in 2014, he wanted to do more to help Ukraine than than Obama did. He wanted to send some lethal arms even then. But I asked, ‘Is there anybody who is saying that what we need to do is to let Ukraine into NATO’s right now? Or is there anybody who is saying if Russia invades, we have to send us troops to counter them?’ And what I’m hearing is, ‘No, nobody’s saying that.’ So why base your whole position on an insistence for something that that you’re never going to do anyway? Look, I have no idea whether this approach will meet success. I don’t know. But this is what Putin has laid down on the table. Let’s take that as a premise and go from there and see if it’s if it works.”
Kaplan said it appeared Russia could be worried about backlash from the West, specifically the U.S.
“It seems they certainly don’t want to get into a war with the United States,” he said. “What Putin has been doing for the last several years is disrupting and interfering with American democracy and disrupting ties between the U.S. and countries in Western Europe, especially when Trump was president that were provocative and destructive in ways that were indirect and subtle, and therefore not likely to provoke a direct response from the United States. So he goes for the indirect approach, which is much harder to deal with.”
A direct interference in Ukraine would not be wise, according to Kaplan.
“If he really does do what the more alarmed people think he’s priming to do, then yeah, this is going to provoke a tremendous backlash from from the West, which is one reason why I don’t think he’s going to do it because he can’t afford that,” Kaplan said.
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Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets
Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.
An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.
“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”
Republicans held an offsite, mock Congressional hearing where they plotted to defund and shutdown the VA.
Healthcare for veterans is on the midterms ballot. pic.twitter.com/PAKFCQZk7Y
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 30, 2022
A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.
“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”
Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.
In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after militaries service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.
Republican leaders are now floating abolishing the VA and stealing veterans’ health care. And if you think that’s unlikely remember that 84% of republicans in Congress voted against veterans’ cancer care this year. https://t.co/BV1msdniP5
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) September 30, 2022
In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.
After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.
Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’
Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows’ texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn’t want revealed were communications with his wife.
Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas’ 2020 election overthrow attempts.
Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions.
“Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component,” wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called him to express concern that telling Americans that such an influential figure had gone full-Q. Cheney was worried it would turn the whole committee into a political sideshow and overshadow all of the other work the committee was doing. The release of Riggleman’s book has left the committee members furiousover possible leaks after spending a year with so few.
Riggleman persisted in pressing Cheney to tell Americans about the Thomases.
“The committee needed to show the American people that there was an organized, violent effort to reverse the election—and that there were indications it could have been directed by the White House,” he wrote. “Thanks to their prominence, Ginni and Clarence would make a lot of headlines, but those headlines might overwhelm the other important work we were doing.”
The conversation with Cheney didn’t go well, with the two “type A personalities” duking-out their arguments. Riggleman argued that data wasn’t political. It wasn’t right or wrong.
“I also thought that, given Clarence’s position and Ginni’s prominence in conservative circles, the American public had to know what she had been up to,” argued Riggleman. “Some of the messages went beyond simply cheering Meadows on. It was legitimate for me to have concerns as to whether a Supreme Court justice had been involved in the legally questionable push to overturn the election. Was it possible that one of the country’s nine top judges was on board with an authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution? The implications were overwhelming. Cheney found it all improbable. I think she still had more faith in the institutional GOP than I did at that point.”
Riggleman’s book, The Breach, is on sale now and Raw Story has complete coverage here.
Trump Sarcastically Prayed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health – Before Asking ‘How Much Longer’ She Had: New Book
Donald Trump has bragged about how installing Supreme Court justices was one of the greatest things a President can do. By the end of his one term he had placed three far right wing jurists on the nation’s highest court.
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health was failing, Trump apparently was looking forward to nominating yet another justice to the bench.
The Washington Post, citing New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book, says Trump derisively prayed for the 87-year old liberal icon.
“When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was dying in 2020, the book says, Trump would sarcastically raise his hands to the sky in prayer and say: ‘Please God. Please watch over her. Every life is precious,’ before asking an aide: ‘How much longer do you think she has?'”
Justice Ginsburg was far from the only woman Trump spoke ill of.
The Post reports “Trump was often crass and profane about world leaders and others in his orbit. He referred to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel as ‘that b—-,’ according to the book.”
When Trump met British Prime Minister Theresa May, he brought up the issue of abortion.
“Some people are pro-life, some people are pro-choice,” Trump said, according to Haberman’s book. “Imagine if some animals with tattoos raped your daughter and she got pregnant?” Trump reportedly asked.
Haberman’s book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” is 607 pages long and chronicles Trump’s time in the White House and in New York, going back as far as the 1980’s.
Among many other topics it also reveals Trump’s rarely discussed homophobia and transphobia. The Post says Haberman “reports [Trump] frequently made comments that were homophobic, particularly toward gay men, and washed his hands immediately after meeting someone who had AIDS.”
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