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Daily Tech News 23 March 2023 | Main | Mid-Morning Art Thread
March 23, 2023

The Morning Report — 3/23/23

rondedorfman.jpg

Good morning kids. Frankly, I don't know why I'm covering the battle between Trump and DeSantis since – along with the nation's continued headlong plunge toward a totalitarian dystopia (world-ending coronal mass ejections notwithstanding) it is a lead pipe cinch that the Democrats will attempt to steal the 2024 election, and all things considered, likely get away with it. Yet again. For the Kurts and Karens around here that insist Joey Sponge-Brain Shits-Pants' 82 million votes were actually cast by 82 million legal registered voters, I give you this article about a detailed audit of the data, the conditions on the ground, combined with the massive amount of circumstantial and anecdotal evidence that would at a minimum cause any reasonable non-Kurt or Karen to raise a Mr. Spock eyebrow to the summit of K2.

But be that as it may, for those of us who think that Trump's past his prime, is too old, made too many mistakes, hate his childish name-calling, etc. etc. and are pinning their hopes on Ron DeSantis as the golden boy who, ironically enough, will carry the movement to restore America that Trump started, maybe we should pause for a second to reconsider that. It might be a bit premature to say he screwed the pooch but for sure "Meatball Ron" might have shot himself in the foot, and on a matter that is far from trivial to say the least.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis toughened his stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling Putin a “war criminal” who should be “held accountable” for the invasion of Ukraine, just days after he claimed the Ukraine war is not a “vital national interest.”

DeSantis angered Republican hawks, Never Trumpers, and neocons less than two weeks ago when he characterized the Ukraine-Russia conflict as a “territorial dispute” that is not a “vital” U.S. interests. . .

. . . DeSantis also said his critics “mischaracterized” his use of the phrase “territorial dispute.”

“Well, I think it’s been mischaracterized,” DeSantis said when asked if he regretted using that language. “Obviously, Russia invaded (last year) — that was wrong. They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 — That was wrong.” . . .

. . . When asked if he would support any efforts to hold Putin accountable for war crimes, DeSantis affirmed his belief that Putin is a “war criminal,” but fell short of endorsing any trials by the international criminal court (ICC).

“I think he is a war criminal,” DeSantis told Morgan. “This ICC … we have not done that in the U.S. because we’re concerned about our soldiers or people being brought under it. So, I don’t know about that route, but I do think that he should be held accountable.”

[Tucker] Carlson seemingly responded to DeSantis’s tougher stance on Wednesday, criticizing politicians who cave to media pressure and regurgitate “childish slogans” like “Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.

Carlson said:

Welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight. Let’s enter fantasyland for a moment. Let’s pretend for a sec that our country had a news media that was interested in bringing you the news. Not in lecturing you about your moral inferiority “You’re so bad” or lying to you and transparently obvious ways. “January 6 was an insurrection guys” or even in forcing you to repeat whatever childish slogan they’ve come up with this week. “Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.” Okay. “transwomen are women.” All right, “say it or else.”

Ultimately, DeSantis believes Ukraine will prevail in the war against Russia.

Ugh. Just fucking ugh.

Before people start replying "But Trump did this and Trump did that!" I'm not interested in that right now. We know what Trump did, didn't do and should've done. I'm interested in how the DeSantis boosters can defend this kind of flip-flopping from someone who is supposed to be the greatest thing, well, since Trump. And saying that is not a defense of Trump nor an implication that I support Trump. Before this, and certainly before the Bragg-a-douche-ious attempt to toss him into the Garland Archipelago, I was mostly consigned to throw my support to DeSantis. But no matter how you slice it, this kind of "let-me-be-clear" wishy-washiness is not good.

The fact of the matter is DeSantis was right on target when he said this was a border dispute. And yes, Putin is a war criminal, a thug and generally a not-nice person. And I feel sorry for the innocent people on both sides of that disputed border, which has been disputed for a few hundred years if not longer, who are suffering and dying. But unless and until Putin launches a nuke on the USA or directly attacks our actual national security interests, I could care fuck-all about Ukraine, meaning its corrupt government and banks which are tied at the hip to the ruling class on both sides of the mythical aisle right here. And in fact, I'd be heavily inclined to look the other way if he actually did launch a nuke on D.C.

The other fact of the matter is the base of the Republican Party in the main does not support our sending money to Ukraine, does not support sending troops to Ukraine, and a majority of Americans fear a potential nuclear war over Ukraine.

The other other fact of the matter is Donald Trump feels the same way about this. Unequivocally I might add.

Trump . . . [argued] that our commitment in the region was simply not in America’s strategic interest. 

Retaining his transactional view of diplomacy, Trump spoke like a dealmaker by asserting that it is Europe’s responsibility to pay “far more than [the United States].” He also promised that, as president, he would end the war “in 24 hours.” Given Trump’s foreign policy achievements while president—ranging from North Korea, where he got Kim Jong Un to agree to a nuclear ceasefire, to Afghanistan, where he set into motion the end of a nearly two decades-long conflict, to Ukraine itself, where Russia ceased aggressive maneuvers in the region while he was in office—there is reason to take his claim as something more than bombast . . .

. . . For his part, DeSantis offered his best Trump impersonation on foreign policy. The Florida governor’s insistence that the United States should not become “further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” at least seemed to incite the ire of David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Jonah Goldberg. At any rate, DeSantis’ supporters have pointed to these reactions as proof that their favored candidate has fully adopted MAGA noninterventionism, a claim ardently contested by Trump supporters who argue the Florida governor’s unexceptional record, which pretty much toed the establishment line on foreign policy, as well as the questionable personal ties some of DeSantis’ closest acolytes have to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Given that nothing in DeSantis’ background, prior to becoming governor, screams populist or nationalist bonafides on foreign policy, it is important to read DeSantis’ statement carefully. Criticisms from neoconservative pundits aside, many of those mobilizing behind DeSantis’ presidential campaign, including Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, the Murdoch family, and Jeb Bush, might be called neoconservatives or neocon-adjacent. With that consideration in mind, DeSantis’ statements seem far less radical. For instance, his argument that the United Should not become “further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” could well be read to mean that the current situation, in which well over $100 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars has already been expended, is acceptable under a would-be DeSantis doctrine. Not too long ago, Biden himself said he would be interested in meeting with Putin to find “a way to end the war”—suggesting an approach not unlike that advocated by DeSantis. 

. . . Finally, the telltale sign that DeSantis may not be serious about spearheading a fundamental shift from the uniparty consensus was his usage of the term “blank check.” The phrase, used in the context of critiquing the Biden Administration’s wasteful management of the conflict to date (“The Biden administration’s virtual ‘blank check,’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes’ . . .  distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges"), has repeatedly been offered by other leading Republican establishment figures . . . In sharp contrast, the “blank check” language is totally absent from Trump’s statement, or from any public statement the 45th president has issued so far about the Ukrainian conflict. Instead, what we see are statements written in his recognizable cadence. Unlike DeSantis’ somewhat ambiguous language, Trump’s statements exhibit his trademark authenticity, and are to the point: totally unequivocal about where he stands on the conflict. That level of precision is ultimately missing from any other candidates’ statement—including the Florida governor’s. 

Though it is undeniably good that DeSantis finds it necessary to pay lip service to noninterventionist strategies in order to win over the base, there is still cause to question whether his allegiances are truly aligned with the MAGA base or with the war lobby that remains hellbent trying to involve us deeper in yet another winless war in Eastern Europe.

This essay seems to have been written before DeSantis sat down with Pierced Organ (a.k.a. Piers Morgan). So this, coupled with the flip-flop on "territorial dispute" and Putin as a "war criminal" should give Team Ron boosters something to think about. Citing Trump's negatives – and believe me, he has them in spades – does not erase, excuse nor eliminate the ones that DeSantis has. Trump is of course a known quantity. DeSantis is gradually becoming one, and his strongest positives are in his record of resisting the Chinese COVID lockdowns and maskings, beating back the transexual perverts and critical race hustlers, as well as creating an environment that has attracted fleeing blue staters to breathe freely in Florida by the thousands.

But in the run-up to his officially announcing his candidacy, some of these negatives about who his backers are are coming to the fore. Worse, the triangulation/ equivocation/ diffidence/ mixed-messaging – hell, let's be honest here, flip-flopping – on his characterization of Ukraine is troubling to say the least.

Yes, Trump has his baggage and his negatives. But that does not mean that DeSantis doesn't have any. Is this gaffe a one-off? We shall see.

Known knowns vs unknown knowns, or whatever the hell Rummy called it.

Meanwhile, while we're all flinging poo at each other over this, the institutionalized cheating that fucked us all over in 2020 across six crucial states has yet to be dismantled.


NOTE: The opinions expressed in the links may or may not reflect my own. I include them because of their relevance to the discussion of a particular issue.

ALSO: The Morning Report is cross-posted at CutJibNewsletter.com if you want to continue the conversation all day.

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