Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Republicans sacrifice border security for Trump and Russia

Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Sometimes though, it’s evil that is the enemy of the good. That seems to be the case with the border security compromise.

Over the past few months, Republicans said that border security should be tied to aid for Ukraine. Over the past few weeks, Republicans negotiated a deal that did just that. Over the past few days, Donald Trump and his MAGA minions killed the deal, sacrificing strict immigration controls on the twin altars of Donald Trump’s campaign and Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.

Trump and Putin, both seated, lean over and shake hands
By The White House from Washington, DC - President Trump at the G20, Public Domain,


Now a separate bill providing aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan has passed the Senate, but Speaker Johnson is refusing to bring the bill to a vote in the House. House Democrats are working with Republican supporters of Ukraine and Israel to force a vote on the measure, which no longer contains border security provisions, using a discharge petition.

A large hangup on both the border bill and the current aid package is that they contain aid to Ukraine. As Steve Berman noted recently, the extent of “Putin love” within today’s GOP is mindboggling. Some is overt, like Pastor Mark Driscoll’s gushing about Putin’s love for his country. Sure, Putin loves his country so much that he’s willing to send his young men to die in a feckless war and see his own nation destroyed by sanctions.

Other Putin love is slightly cloaked. An example of this is Tucker Carlson’s profession that “the city of Moscow, where I’d never been … it was so much nicer than any city in my country.”

There’s a phrase for what Tucker saw and it originates in Russian history. A “Potemkin village” is a facade in which you see only what the powers-that-be want you to see.

Another example is from Senator Mike Lee, one of the biggest disappointments of the Trump era, who tweeted, “Prolonging this war doesn’t help the people of Ukraine.”

Lee’s statement is demonstrably wrong on several levels. First, the war is keeping a large part of Ukraine free. Without Western aid, Russia would probably be successful at overrunning the rest of the country.

Second, Lee is wrong that ending Western aid would end the war. There were many predictions before Russia’s invasion that Ukrainians would resist in a guerilla insurgency even if the whole country was occupied. That prediction has been borne out in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied territories and would continue if the West cut off aid. It would be more bloody with less likelihood of success than the status quo, but the Ukrainians have been under Russia’s thumb for hundreds of years and seem to be tired of that situation, strongly preferring independence. They would keep fighting.

Finally, aiding Ukraine maintains hope for people in Russian-occupied territories. There is a real possibility of liberation for at least some oppressed Ukrainians. Others at least know that they have friends and family who are safe from Russian persecution.

Some Putin love defies description. The Republican frontrunner and the purported holder of a strong foreign policy announced a laissez-faire policy towards Russia this week.

Speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina, Trump attacked NATO as “broken” and said that if NATO countries don’t “pay” then “I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want.” [View the full clip here.]

A tell that Trump is making stuff up is when he says random, anonymous people address him as “sir,” as he does during this riff when he says, “One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’”

I’ll take things that never happened for $1,000, Alex.

Trump’s statement is ignorant and he is lying. He does not understand that NATO is a joint defense pact, not a protection racket. NATO members don’t pay the US or the alliance, they pledge to spend two percent of GDP on defense. Not all countries fulfill this commitment (although how you count does matter since many NATO members pay to house US troops based in Europe), but spending has been boosted since Russia invaded Ukraine. No European leader would have asked about paying NATO because Trump’s premise is completely wrong.

Trump’s statement is not only a blatant betrayal of our treaty obligations, it is an open invitation to Russia. It is frighteningly similar to diplomatic misstatements that predated North Korea’s invasion of the South and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

I’ve heard plenty of Trump supporters accuse Joe Biden and Nikki Haley of being warmongers and wanting to start World War III, but Trump’s invitation to Russia and the MAGA willingness to abandon allies, even Taiwan and Israel, is how you get World War III. Foreign policy like this doesn’t project strength, it shows weakness and creates a vacuum that Russia and China will be only too happy to fill.

For now, Europe is filling the gap in aid to Ukraine. After cutting Trump and Putin's ally, Viktor Orban, out of the picture, Europe was able to extend more help to the beleaguered Ukrainians but the United States is the arsenal of democracy and our munitions are badly needed.

Ironically, Republicans blame the Biden Administration for the loss of Afghanistan. That’s at least partly true. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the buck stops with President Biden. Yet in the same breath, Republicans are doing their best to abandon Ukraine, a country that is much more vital to the world economy and Europe’s defense and a country where Americans are not dying, to Vladimir Putin.

The MAGA Putinists are wrong. No one except Vladimir Putin benefits if the West shuts off aid, and even then it won’t end the war.

Many of the same people said two years ago that Ukraine would fall quickly to the Russian onslaught. They were wrong then and they are wrong now, but they are trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which Ukraine falls so that they can blame Joe Biden. Because you know they will because they preemptively blamed Biden for the fall of Ukraine two years ago.

I called MAGA’s actions evil in the first paragraph. I do think it is evil to sell out a country to foreign invaders in the cynical hope that it will benefit your party in an upcoming election.

If the discharge petition works, the coalition of Democrats and national security Republicans may be able to pass the aid bill without MAGA or Speaker Johnson. The irony is that the foreign aid could have become law in the border security compromise, but now the shrill minority will have lost on foreign aid while missing their chance to strengthen the border.

Cut to Willy Wonka shouting, “You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”

I supported the border bill, but I’ll be happy if we can get help to our allies without it. After all, we’ve had the status quo at the border for decades. If MAGA doesn’t want to resolve the problem, we can keep going for another few with a broken immigration system.

How severe is the Biden Derangement Syndrome when MAGA passes up a very strict border security deal and is willing to sacrifice an entire country because they think it will help defeat Biden’s reelection campaign? It seems as though the BDS is both acute and chronic, and it may well be terminal for Republican electoral hopes.

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LARA TRUMP FOR RNC: Donald Trump has endorsed Lara Trump as co-chair of the Republican National Committee. Lara promises to spend “every single penny” on Donald Trump if she gets the position. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing since it would formalize the Trump takeover of the GOP and remove any doubt that the party is no longer conservative but has become a personality cult.

MAYORKAS IMPEACHMENT: House Republicans couldn’t find time to take up the border security compromise or the foreign aid bill, but they were able to impeach DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas by a single vote. Mayorkas will not be convicted in the Senate and some Republicans opposed the impeachment because it was based on policy, not constitutional grounds. It was a revenge impeachment carried out because the Biden impeachment is stalled.

SANTOS SEAT GOES BLUE: George Santos’s old seat in New York’s third district was won by Democrat Tom Suozzi in a special election. Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip 54-46 percent. Suozzi has previously served as the district’s congressman.

From the Racket News

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