Ex-Flunkies Steve Bannon and Kash Patel Warn Trump Is Serious About Revenge

Daily Beast

Ex-Flunkies Steve Bannon and Kash Patel Warn Trump Is Serious About Revenge

AJ McDougall – December 5, 2023

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kash Patel promised Steve Bannon, a fellow member of the former Trump adviser club, that the former president means to deliver on the vengeance he has vowed to exact should he win re-election to the White House next year. While hosting Patel on his War Room podcast Tuesday, Bannon asked if he felt “highly confident” that a fresh Trump administration could quickly “get rolling on prosecutions.” Patel, who held a number of national security roles in the Trump administration, replied that they already had “the bench for it.” Without naming said members of the bench, Patel continued, “We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media… We’re going to come after you—whether it’s criminal or civilly, we’ll figure that out. But yeah, we’re putting you all on notice and Steve, this is why they hate us. This is why we’re tyrannical.” During the episode, Bannon issued his own warning. “And I want the Morning Joe producers that watch us,” he said, addressing the MSNBC staffers directly, “and all the producers that watch us—this is just not rhetoric. We’re absolutely dead serious.”

Trump doesn’t sound like somebody trying to get elected

Yahoo! Finance

Trump doesn’t sound like somebody trying to get elected

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist – December 5, 2023

Donald Trump promises more of the same if he wins the 2024 presidential election — more of the protectionism that defined his first presidential term, more dismantling of government, more slashing and burning of the system that many Trump supporters think is rigged against them.

But he may be misreading what voters want. Trump found surprise success in 2016 with his populist, America-first agenda, but voters didn’t love all of it. Plus, the electorate has changed since Trump first won the White House.

Trump, for instance, said recently that he still wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, the 2010 health reform law President Obama signed that extended health insurance to 40 million Americans. “Obamacare sucks!!!” Trump wrote recently on his social media site, Truth Social, vowing to replace it with something better.

In 2016, most Americans agreed with Trump that Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was a bummer. But not anymore. Public approval of the ACA has grown from around 40% in 2016 to nearly 60% in 2023, according to polling by KFF.

Republicans, who uniformly opposed the law when in passed in 2010, warned of socialized medicine, soaring costs, and other dire developments. Big surprise: That was hyperbole.

There were, in fact, some problems at the outset. But Republicans who vowed to repeal it couldn’t get the votes in 2017, even though they controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. After Joe Biden took office in 2021, he signed legislation and issued new regulations to patch up the ACA, which is now embedded in the US healthcare system, much as Medicare and Medicaid took root after Congress created them in 1965.

Repealing the ACA would cause hardship well beyond blue states and districts. The state with the most ACA enrollees is Florida, which leans red and which Trump won in 2016 and 2020.

Voters in the six swing states likely to determine the 2024 outcome — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — would be among those affected if a second-term Trump repealed the ACA. Biden won all of those states in 2020 by a combined 312,000 votes. Around 3.2 million people in those six states get health coverage through the ACA. The data doesn’t reveal how many of those 3.2 million people are swing voters who could tip the election one way or the other, but some of them certainly are.

Georgia is a stark example of the risk Trump faces by threatening, once again, to kill the ACA. Nearly 850,000 Georgians get coverage through the ACA. Biden won the state in 2020 by less than 12,000 votes. So whatever portion of those 850,000 are not die-hard Trumpers would have a new incentive to vote for Biden.

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a Commit to Caucus rally, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a Commit to Caucus rally, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Ankeny, Iowa. (Matthew Putney/AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Trump also wants to impose a new tax of 10% on virtually all imports to the United States. That’s a political head-scratcher. Trump already tried something like that the first time around when he slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and about half of all goods coming to the United States from China. Many economists slammed the tariffs as a foolish idea likely to raise costs for Americans, kill jobs, and undermine growth. The Tax Foundation estimates the tariffs amounted to an $80 billion tax hike during Trump’s term. Voters soundly disapproved of the tariffs and Trump’s overall trade war.

Trump’s across-the-board 10% tariff would be costlier, with the Tax Foundation estimating it would add $300 billion per year to consumer costs — at a time when voters’ biggest economic concern is inflation. Vowing to raise taxes is not a normal campaign promise, so maybe it’s possible Trump actually believes his own gobbledygook about foreign producers paying the tariff, which is patently untrue. At any rate, any politician threatening to raise costs for consumers is giving his political opponents a gift, and Biden is sure to attack that one as the 2024 election heats up.

Trump also has some explaining to do about his fight with labor unions and his trash talk relating to auto workers. In September, when unionized workers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis went on strike, Trump criticized Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, saying “auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership.” Then he went to Michigan to give a speech at a non-union plant whose workers weren’t on strike, where he said “the workers of our country … are getting screwed.”

Fain and the UAW ended up negotiating a four-year raise of at least 25% for workers at the Detroit Three, which promptly led to wage hikes at many nonunion auto plants. Biden played the strike well, expressing solidarity with striking workers, touting his lifelong support for unions, and even showing up at a picket line. Trump’s campaign website, by contrast, still features a video in which Trump says, “What’s happening to our auto workers is an absolute disgrace. Auto workers are getting totally ripped off by Crooked Joe Biden.” Doesn’t seem that way, but hey, maybe Trump is playing three-dimensional chess.

Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First

Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First

Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman – December 4, 2023

Donald J. Trump, wearing a blue suit and pointing to his right.
The extreme policy plans and ideas of Donald J. Trump and his advisers would have a greater prospect of becoming reality if he were to win a second term. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker.

In the spring of 1989, the Chinese Communist Party used tanks and troops to crush a pro-democracy protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Most of the West, across traditional partisan lines, was aghast at the crackdown that killed at least hundreds of student activists. But one prominent American was impressed.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it,” Donald J. Trump said in an interview with Playboy magazine the year after the massacre. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

It was a throwaway line in a wide-ranging interview, delivered to a journalist profiling a 43-year-old celebrity businessman who was not then a player in national politics or world affairs. But in light of what Mr. Trump has gone on to become, his exaltation of the ruthless crushing of democratic protesters is steeped in foreshadowing.

Mr. Trump’s violent and authoritarian rhetoric on the 2024 campaign trail has attracted growing alarm and comparisons to historical fascist dictators and contemporary populist strongmen. In recent weeks, he has dehumanized his adversaries as “vermin” who must be “rooted out,” declared that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” encouraged the shooting of shoplifters and suggested that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, deserved to be executed for treason.

As he runs for president again facing four criminal prosecutions, Mr. Trump may seem more angry, desperate and dangerous to American-style democracy than in his first term. But the throughline that emerges is far more long-running: He has glorified political violence and spoken admiringly of autocrats for decades.

A row of people, mostly in suits, in front of a blue backdrop and behind a lectern at a news conference.
Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., brought one of the sets of indictments that Mr. Trump faces. Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

As a presidential candidate in July 2016, he praised the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as having been “so good” at killing terrorists. Months after being inaugurated, he told the strongman leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, that his brutal campaign of thousands of extrajudicial killings in the name of fighting drugs was “an unbelievable job.” And throughout his four years in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump blew through boundaries and violated democratic norms.

What would be different in a second Trump administration is not so much his character as his surroundings. Forces that somewhat contained his autocratic tendencies in his first term — staff members who saw their job as sometimes restraining him, a few congressional Republicans episodically willing to criticize or oppose him, a partisan balance on the Supreme Court that occasionally ruled against him — would all be weaker.

As a result, Mr. Trump’s and his advisers’ more extreme policy plans and ideas for a second term would have a greater prospect of becoming reality.

To be sure, some of what Mr. Trump and his allies are planning is in line with what any standard-issue Republican president would most likely do. For example, Mr. Trump would very likely roll back many of President Biden’s policies to curb carbon emissions and hasten the transition to electric cars. Such a reversal of various rules and policies would significantly weaken environmental protections, but much of the changes reflect routine and longstanding conservative skepticism of environmental regulations.

Other parts of Mr. Trump’s agenda, however, are aberrational. No U.S. president before him had toyed with withdrawing from NATO, the United States’ military alliance with Western democracies. He has said he would fundamentally re-evaluate “NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission” in a second term.

He has said he would order the military to attack drug cartels in Mexico, which would violate international law unless its government consented. It most likely would not.

He would also use the military on domestic soil. While it is generally illegal to use troops for domestic law enforcement, the Insurrection Act allows exceptions. After some demonstrations against police violence in 2020 became riots, Mr. Trump had an order drafted to use troops to crack down on protesters in Washington, D.C., but didn’t sign it. He suggested at a rally in Iowa this year that he intends to unilaterally send troops into Democratic-run cities to enforce public order in general.

“You look at any Democrat-run state, and it’s just not the same — it doesn’t work,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, calling cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco crime dens. “We cannot let it happen any longer. And one of the other things I’ll do — because you’re supposed to not be involved in that, you just have to be asked by the governor or the mayor to come in — the next time, I’m not waiting.”

Mr. Trump’s plans to purge undocumented immigrants include sweeping raids, huge detention camps, deportations on the scale of millions per year, stopping asylum, trying to end birthright citizenship for babies born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents and invoking the Insurrection Act near the southern border to also use troops as immigration agents.

A line of people, some carrying bags, walking through an airport.
Mr. Trump has sweeping plans to deal with undocumented immigrants. Credit…Verónica G. Cárdenas for The New York Times

Mr. Trump would seek to expand presidential power in myriad ways — concentrating greater authority over the executive branch in the White House, ending the independence of agencies Congress set up to operate outside of presidential control and reducing civil service protections to make it easier to fire and replace tens of thousands of government workers.

More than anything else, Mr. Trump’s vow to use the Justice Department to wreak vengeance against his adversaries is a naked challenge to democratic values. Building on how he tried to get prosecutors to go after his enemies while in office, it would end the post-Watergate norm of investigative independence from White House political control.

In all these efforts, Mr. Trump would be backed in a second term by a well-funded outside infrastructure. In 2016, conservative think tanks were bastions of George W. Bush-style Republicanism. But new ones run by Trump administration veterans have sprung up, and the venerable Heritage Foundation has refashioned itself to stay in step with Trumpism.

A coalition has been drawing up America First-style policy plans, nicknamed Project 2025. (Mr. Trump’s campaign has expressed appreciation but said only plans announced by him or his campaign count.) While some proposals under development in such places would advance longstanding Republican megadonor goals, such as curbing regulations on businesses, others are more tuned to Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

The Center for Renewing America, for example, has published a paper titled “The U.S. Justice Department Is Not Independent.” The paper was written by Jeffrey Clark, whom Mr. Trump nearly made acting attorney general to aid his attempt to subvert the election and is facing criminal charges in Georgia in connection with that effort.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Mr. Trump did not address specifics but instead criticized The New York Times while calling Mr. Trump “strong on crime.”

Even running in 2016, Mr. Trump flouted democratic norms.

He falsely portrayed his loss in the Iowa caucuses as fraud and suggested he would treat the results of the general election as legitimate only if he won. He threatened to imprison Hillary Clinton, smeared Mexican immigrants as rapists and promised to bar Muslims from entering the United States. He offered to pay the legal bills of any supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies and stoked hatred against reporters covering his events.

In office, Mr. Trump refused to divest from his businesses, and people courting his favor booked expensive blocks of rooms in his hotels. Despite an anti-nepotism law, he gave White House jobs to his daughter and son-in-law. He used emergency power to spend more on a border wall than Congress authorized. His lawyers floated a pardon at his campaign chairman, whom Mr. Trump praised for not “flipping” as prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to get him to cooperate as a witness in the Russia inquiry; Mr. Trump later did pardon him.

A woman in a white dress with a red floral pattern and a man in a dark suit and white shirt exiting an airplane.
Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received White House posts despite an anti-nepotism law. Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

But some of the most potentially serious of his violations of norms fell short of fruition.

Mr. Trump pressured the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries. The Justice Department opened several criminal investigations, from the scrutiny of former Secretary of State John Kerry and of the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey Jr. to the attempt by a special counsel, John Durham, to find a basis to charge Obama-era national security officials or Mrs. Clinton with crimes connected to the origins of the Russia investigation. But to Mr. Trump’s fury, prosecutors decided against bringing such charges.

And neither effort for which he was impeached succeeded. Mr. Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into opening a criminal investigation into Mr. Biden by withholding military aid, but it did not cooperate. Mr. Trump sought to subvert his 2020 election loss and stoked the Capitol riot, but Vice President Mike Pence and congressional majorities rejected his attempt to stay in power.

There is reason to believe various obstacles and bulwarks that limited Mr. Trump in his first term would be absent in a second one.

Some of what Mr. Trump tried to do was thwarted by incompetence and dysfunction among his initial team. But over four years, those who stayed with him learned to wield power more effectively. After courts blocked his first, haphazardly crafted travel ban, for example, his team developed a version that the Supreme Court allowed to take effect.

Four years of his appointments created an entrenched Republican supermajority on the Supreme Court that most likely would now side with him on some cases that he lost, such as the 5-to-4 decision in June 2020 that blocked him from ending a program that shields from deportation certain undocumented people who had been brought as children and grew up as Americans.

Republicans in Congress were often partners and enablers — working with him to confirm judges and cut corporate taxes, while performing scant oversight. But a few key congressional Republicans occasionally denounced his rhetoric or checked his more disruptive proposals.

In 2017, then-Senator Bob Corker rebuked Mr. Trump for making reckless threats toward North Korea on Twitter, and then-Senator John McCain provided the decisive vote against Mr. Trump’s push to rescind, with no replacement plan, a law that makes health insurance coverage widely available.

It is likely that Republicans in Congress would be even more pliable in any second Trump term. The party has become more inured to and even enthusiastic about Mr. Trump’s willingness to cross lines. And Mr. Trump has worn down, outlasted, intimidated into submission or driven out leading Republican lawmakers who have independent standing and demonstrated occasional willingness to oppose him.

Mr. McCain, who was the 2008 G.O.P. presidential nominee, died in 2018. Former Representative Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and helped lead the committee that investigated those events, lost her seat to a pro-Trump primary challenger. Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and the only G.O.P. senator who voted to convict Mr. Trump at his first impeachment trial, is retiring.

A row of people on a wooden dais, with American flags and a large screen behind them.
Representative Liz Cheney, center right, helped lead the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and later lost a primary challenge to a pro-Trump candidate. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Fear of violence by Trump supporters also enforces control. In recent books, both Mr. Romney and Ms. Cheney said that Republican colleagues, whom they did not name, told them they wanted to vote against Mr. Trump in the Jan. 6-related impeachment proceedings but did not do so out of fear for their and their families’ safety.

Perhaps the most important check on Mr. Trump’s presidency was internal administration resistance to some of his more extreme demands. A parade of his own former high-level appointees has since warned that he is unfit to be president, including a former White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly; former defense secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper; the former national security adviser John R. Bolton; former Attorney General William P. Barr; and others.

Mr. Trump in turn has denounced them all as weak, stupid and disloyal. He has privately told those close to him that his biggest mistakes concerned the people he appointed, in particular his choices for attorney general. The advisers who have stuck with him are determined that if he wins a new term, there will be no officials who intentionally stymie his agenda.

In addition to developing policy papers, the coalition of think tanks run by people aligned with Mr. Trump has been compiling a database of thousands of vetted potential recruits to hand to a transition team if he wins the election. Similar efforts are underway by former senior Trump administration officials to prepare to stock the government with lawyers likely to find ways to bless radical White House ideas rather than raising legal objections.

Such staffing efforts would build on a shift in his final year as president. In 2020, Mr. Trump replaced advisers who had sought to check him and installed a young aide, John McEntee, to root out further officials deemed insufficiently loyal.

Depending on Senate elections, confirming particularly contentious nominees to important positions might be challenging. But another norm violation Mr. Trump gradually developed was making aggressive use of his power to temporarily fill vacancies with “acting” heads for positions that are supposed to undergo Senate confirmation.

In 2020, for example, Mr. Trump made Richard Grenell — a combative Trump ally and former ambassador to Germany — acting director of national intelligence. Two prior Trump-era intelligence leaders had angered Mr. Trump by defending an assessment that Russia had covertly tried to help his 2016 campaign and by informing Democratic leaders it was doing so again in 2020. Mr. Grenell instead won Mr. Trump’s praise by using the role to declassify sensitive materials that Republicans used to portray the Russia investigation as suspicious.

A man in a blue suit and white shirt at a lectern, in front of numerous American flags.
Richard Grenell was one of the acting heads named by Mr. Trump for positions that are supposed to undergo Senate confirmation. He became acting director of national intelligence. Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

After Mr. Trump left office, there were many proposals to codify into law democratic norms he violated. Ideas included tightening limits on presidents’ use of emergency powers, requiring disclosure of their taxes, giving teeth to a constitutional ban on outside payments and making it harder to abuse their pardon power and authority over prosecutors.

In December 2021, when Democrats still controlled the House, it passed many such proposals as the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Every Republican but one — then-Representative Adam Kinzinger, who was retiring after having voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 riot — voted against the bill, which died in the Senate.

The debate on the House floor largely played out on a premise that reduced its urgency: Mr. Trump was gone. Democrats argued for viewing the reforms as being about future presidents, while Republicans dismissed it as an unnecessary swipe at Mr. Trump.

“Donald Trump is — unfortunately — no longer president,” said Representative Rick Crawford, Republican of Arkansas. “Time to stop living in the past.”

Charlie Savage writes about national security and legal policy. An individual winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about presidential power, he is also the author of the books “Takeover” and “Power Wars.”

Jonathan Swan is a political reporter who focuses on campaigns and Congress. As a reporter for Axios, he won an Emmy Award for his 2020 interview of then-President Donald J. Trump, and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Aldo Beckman Award for “overall excellence in White House coverage” in 2022. 

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. 

Trump’s revenge? GOP braces for daily blasts from ‘orange Jesus’


Trump’s revenge? GOP braces for daily blasts from ‘orange Jesus’

Burgess Everett, Olivia Beavers and Meridith McGraw – December 4, 2023

Eric Gay/AP

Congressional Republicans are steeling themselves for a return to daily life with Donald Trump — which means constant, uncomfortable questions about his erratic policy whims and political attacks.

With Trump far ahead of the GOP primary pack and leading President Joe Biden in some polls, Republicans are getting a preview of future shellshock akin to their experiences in 2016 and his presidency. It’s likely to continue for the next 11 months. And perhaps four more years after that.

Trump’s recent call to replace the Affordable Care Act is triggering a particularly unwelcome sense of deja vu within the GOP. Even as many Senate Republicans steered away from Trump over the past couple years, now they’re increasingly resigned to another general election that could inundate them with the former president’s often fact-averse and hyperbolic statements.

But Hill Republicans are girding to treat Trump the third-time nominee the same way they did Trump the neophyte candidate and then president. They’re distancing themselves and downplaying his remarks, which touch on policy stresses like his urge to end Obamacare and political grievances like his vow to come down “hard” on MSNBC for its unfavorable coverage.

“He is almost a stream of consciousness,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), one of only three Senate Republicans who will remain in office after voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial — the other four have either already left or plan to next year. It’s “analogous to when every day he would tweet,” Cassidy added, “and 99 percent of the time it never came to anything.”

Even so, Trump’s return threatens to spark the same clashes with the Hill GOP that took a heavy political toll on the party, perhaps to an even stronger degree than his first term. Some potential flashpoints are evident in his agenda: Trump is likely to tap nominees who rankle Senate Republican leaders and pursue a polarizing bid to reshape the civil service into a less independent force.

Other sources of tension will be political. Trump could try to force an ouster of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, if the Kentucky Republican even tries to keep the top job under another Trump presidency. House Republicans could see their own leadership shakeup if Trump is elected, since the former president has the power to purge a leader he dislikes.

“One thing I’m pretty certain of is that the leadership is all up in the air. And I don’t think any of them survive after this term,” said Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), a Trump ally who recently began airing public criticisms of Speaker Mike Johnson.

Trump’s first four years as president were a time of nearly constant tension within the establishment GOP, which wanted another nominee in 2016 but gradually fell in line behind him. Those stresses boiled over after the violent riot of Jan. 6, 2021, with many Republicans savaging Trump for stoking the Capitol insurrection and 17 Republicans in both chambers opposing him at his second impeachment trial.

Most of those 17 Republicans will be gone from Congress by the end of 2024. Those who will remain are slowly resurrecting a familiar dynamic: pushing aside worries that he’ll lose again to Biden and minimizing his online screeds and less palatable policy proposals.

“I’m under no illusions what that would be like,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who served as the GOP whip during Trump’s first two years as president and voted to acquit Trump. “If it’s Biden and Trump, I’m gonna be supporting Trump. But that’s obviously not without its challenges.”

The retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted to convict Trump at two impeachment trials, put it more bluntly. He recalled meeting with a health secretary during Trump’s administration to delve into the president’s policies: “They had nothing. No proposal, no outlines, no principles.”

“He says a lot of stuff that he has no intention of actually doing,” Romney said of Trump. “At some point, you stop getting worried about what he says and recognize: We’ll see what he does.”

Trump is paying little heed to how Republicans on Capitol Hill are reacting to his candidacy or plans for a second term. While only 13 of the 49 Republican senators have endorsed Trump, he has racked up over 80 House GOP endorsements and the list is expected to grow. In a statement, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said the former president’s “second term will be one for the ages” and attacked Biden.

Even for those who liked Trump’s policies during his term, his related slew of controversies is an inescapable part of the deal.

“We have a lot of people on our side that utilize Donald Trump for their political benefit,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said, people who “get really tired of answering questions about Donald Trump. And I don’t think that’s fair to the president. You don’t get the good without … the whole package.”

Another House-Senate GOP split is also likely to emerge if Trump continues steaming toward the nomination. Senate Republicans can win back the majority next year even if he loses the presidential election, given their red-leaning map.

But in the House, Republicans’ future is more deeply intertwined with the vacillations of the mercurial ex-president. And many of Trump’s House GOP critics don’t even want to entertain the idea of trying to govern alongside him; in interviews, some simply shook their heads and furrowed their brows in feigned fatigue.

“Shit, yeah,” Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) replied when asked whether his colleagues are worried about clashing with Trump. “The orange Jesus?” he added with a laugh.

Trump’s allies argued that his second term would be smoother than the first, notwithstanding the reality of his chaotic exit from office and subsequent indictments.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), an influential voice on the House’s right flank, said Trump has “learned that there are people who [he] can trust and can’t trust.”

Miller, a former Trump aide, said that the presidential frontrunner would look more closely to “allies like me who are moderately pragmatic, that are all in on the America First agenda,” than more unpredictable conservatives like the eight (including Biggs) who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He dismissed those Trump allies as “the freak shows within our party.”

Trump’s team is confident of their broader relationships in the House and predicted GOP senators would fall in line behind pro-Trump colleagues like Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Rick Scott of Florida. Indeed, Johnson has endorsed Trump for president and recently met with him at Mar-a-Lago on the sidelines of a political fundraiser at Trump’s club. The two men, who have a good relationship since Johnson’s days on the Judiciary Committee during Trump’s first impeachment, had a friendly conversation and smiled for a photo together.

Johnson also supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, as did most House Republicans. Most Senate Republicans, on the other hand, did not — which could mean more static toward McConnell and his allies should Trump reclaim the White House.

A Trump adviser laughed off a question about McConnell’s relationship with Trump, arguing “there’s not much that Trump hasn’t said on that himself.”

McConnell’s office declined to comment for this story. He’s made zero effort to rejuvenate his partnership with Trump, which crumbled after Jan. 6.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) argued that McConnell and Trump could still rekindle their partnership, “remembering that there’s pre-election and then there’s post-election. Things change after people become elected.”

Another Republican close to Trump’s campaign specifically mentioned Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), whose reelection Trump threatened to oppose, as a potential target of future ire. (Thune won his race handily in 2022.)

In an interview, Thune acknowledged that Trump was in a strong position but said he likes what he’s hearing from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign. Thune advised fellow Republicans to “be prepared to respond to similar types of ideas and proposals and statements in the future” from Trump as the primary accelerates.

Other Republicans who served during the first Trump presidency are reluctant to make any predictions about the future — beyond expecting the unexpected.

Still, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said plenty in the GOP dread Trump’s return to the political spotlight but “everybody is being more private about it.”

“I wouldn’t expect him to be different,” Simpson said, adding that many colleagues worry about “four years of revenge … we just have to wait and see.”

Texas is about to follow Arizona through the immigration gates of hell

AZ Central – The Arizona Republic – Opinion

Texas is about to follow Arizona through the immigration gates of hell

Phil Boas, Arizona Republic – December 4, 2023

To say the U.S.-Mexico border is in chaos is to actually understate the problem.

Some 2.5 million migrants have been encountered trying to illegally cross the border in fiscal 2023, topping the record of the year before.

As quickly as the state of Texas can put up razor wire to stop the influx, the federal government is cutting it down.

Democratic governors and big-city mayors in Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have screamed at the Democratic White House to get control as migrants flood their social services.

Even Jesse Jackson — yes, Jesse Jackson — is scolding the feds for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico line.

“Laws need to be enforced at the border,” the long-time civil rights leader said, as reported by Politico on Thursday.

Texas mimics Arizona’s immigration law

Today in Arizona, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will temporarily close their crossing at Lukeville to free up agents to help manage the rising level of migrant encounters between ports of entry, reports Arizona Republic writer José Ignacio Castañeda Perez.

But the real madness comes from Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is poised to walk through the gates of hell by signing a bill that looks very much like Arizona’s notorious Senate Bill 1070, signed into law in 2010.

Texas Senate Bill 4 would make it a misdemeanor for a person from a foreign nation to illegally enter or attempt to enter Texas at a location other than a lawful port of entry.

“If a police officer has probable cause to believe a person crossed the Rio Grande, that person could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to six months in jail, Texas Tribune reporter Uriel J. García explained.

“If the person has been previously convicted of entering Texas illegally under SB 4, the charge could be increased to a second-degree felony, which carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison.”

Those convicted of the law would then be returned to a port of entry and ordered to return to Mexico. If they refuse, they could face a felony charge, Garcia explained.

Arizona Republicans argued this before

Tell me where you’ve heard this before:

SB 4 merely follows federal immigration law, the bill’s sponsor in the Texas House, Republican David Spiller, said.

That was the reigning argument when Arizona Republicans passed and signed into law SB 1070, meant to shrink the size of Arizona’s undocumented immigrant population through aggressive state enforcement of the federal law.

In time, much of that Arizona law was gutted by the federal court.

Spiller argues that SB 4 is significantly different than Arizona’s controversial law in that it would focus exclusively on people who have recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally into Texas, not the undocumented who have been living illegally in Texas for years.

The opponents of SB 4 are lining up to legally challenge the State of Texas if and when the bill becomes law. And they are not appreciating the distinctions Texas makes from Arizona’s beleaguered SB 1070.

“(This is) one of the country’s most radical anti-immigrant laws — EVER,” the ACLU of Texas said. “If Gov. Abbott signs #SB4 into law, we’ll sue.”

“Senate Bill 4 is the broadest, most invasive piece of legislation to ever potentially challenge the very nature of our federal and state power,” said Texas state Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, a Dallas Democrat and chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

“The power to enforce immigration is unquestionably, exclusively a federal power.”

The biggest problem with Arizona’s SB 1070

The problem with Arizona’s SB 1070 was that it opened fissures between the white and Latino communities in a border state where the Latino population is a significant and growing part of the community.

No matter how many assurances Arizona Republicans offered that SB 1070 would not target legal citizens, Latino citizens and their allies were unconvinced.

They saw SB 1070 as a target on the back of every person with brown complexion. Feelings were raw. And many Latino citizens talked about leaving the state.

Then-President Barack Obama stood with then Mexican President Felipe Calderón to oppose Arizona’s law.

“In the United States of America, no law-abiding person — be they an American citizen, a legal immigrant, or a visitor or tourist from Mexico — should ever be subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like.”

The times have changed on immigration

Already, the office of Mexico Foreign Minister has said in a statement that the proposed Texas law “categorically rejects any measure that allows state or local authorities to detain and return nationals or foreigners to Mexican territory.”

Good luck trying to send detained migrants back to Mexico, immigration experts tell the Texas Tribune. Mexico is under no obligation to receive those people.

“In fiscal year 2023, about 83% of the 1 million immigrants encountered by Border Patrol on the Texas-Mexico border were not Mexican citizens,” the news organization reported. “Many are coming from Central and South America, Asia or Eastern European countries.”

Without a doubt the earth is shifting on immigration.

During the 2010s when SB 1070 made Arizona a national flash point, you did not hear the howls of Democrats worried about unchecked immigration.

Democratic cities were lining up to boycott Arizona, along with national conventions and arts and entertainment, including Kanye West and Rage Against the Machine.

The real damage was eroded trust

But the boycotts never did real damage to Arizona. The real damage was the erosion of trust between Latinos and the majority white population.

Much of the white business establishment had begun to see this too late and tried to fend it off, but the damage was done. I remember this newspaper entertaining a delegation of some of the most distinguished Latinos in our state speaking to us with real anguish and fear.

The federal court would dispense with much of the law, and it was never enforced. But both parties would work for a decade to avoid the wrenching emotions of that time.

Gallego is proof: Border politics have reached a tipping point

For a decade after, Arizona’s GOP-dominated Legislature and governor’s office steered cleared of similar iron-fist immigration measures.

Many of the politicians who pushed SB 1070 would eventually be driven from office, and the author of the bill, Russell Pearce, would see his gambit to follow SB 1070 with roughly a half-dozen follow-up bills unravel.

Working behind the scenes to help Arizona’s moderate Republican lawmakers dismantle those follow-up Pearce bills was a retired judge of some note — former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Learn from us, Texas. Don’t go there

Texas Republicans, like Arizona Republicans, aren’t likely to care about what Mexican officials think about our state immigration laws. They can thump sand.

They’re not likely to flinch at rock bands canceling concerts, or California cities boycotting them.

But they will feel the sting of their fellow Arizonans and Texans — Latinos who are their friends, colleagues, neighbors and family members — who feel betrayed by laws that no matter how you write them are likely to distinguish by race.

The Texas governor would be wise to learn from Arizona and its encounter with the abyss.

So far, President Joe Biden and his immigration officials have not commented on the Texas bill.

They may be waiting for the Texas governor to generously take from the White House the lightning rod that is illegal immigration.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist.

This number will shape Earth’s future as the climate changes. You’ll be hearing about it.

USA Today

This number will shape Earth’s future as the climate changes. You’ll be hearing about it.

Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY – November 30, 2023

Consider that 3 degrees Fahrenheit is the difference between a raging fever and a healthy toddler. Between a hockey rink and a swimming pool. Between food going bad or staying at a safe temperature.

Now consider that Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter on average than it was in the 1800s. It’s little wonder that has already led to measurable shifts in the climate: The last eight years have been the hottest in recorded history and 2023 is expected to be the hottest yet.

But there’s a looming threshold that will dictate the future of planet Earth. It could have cascading effects on how hot the planet gets, how much seas rise and how significantly normal daily life as we now know it will change.

The number is 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

World leaders at an annual gathering beginning Thursday will be spending considerable energy pondering that number, although they will use the Celsius version: 1.5 degrees.

“We can still make a big difference and every single tenth of a degree is enormously important,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Representatives and negotiators from 197 nations are gathering at an event called COP (Conference of the Parties) in the United Arab Emirates, a 13-day meeting that comes at what scientists say is a critical moment in the fight to keep the already dangerous effects of climate change from tipping over into the catastrophic.

Research published last month estimated humanity has only six or so more years before so much carbon dioxide has been pumped into the atmosphere that there’s only a 50% chance of staying below the threshold.

Why 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is so important

In 2016, the United States and 195 other parties signed the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change aimed at lowering the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to keep global warming at bay.

All the nations that signed the Agreement pledged to try as hard as possible to keep the global average temperature increase below 2.7 degrees, and to definitely keep it below a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit rise. (Only the Agreement said it in Celsius, which comes out to the smoother-sounding 2.0 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius.)

The numbers sound pretty small – but they aren’t.

A few degrees is a big deal

The difference between 65 degrees and 67.7 degrees (that critical 2.7-degree difference) isn’t even worth carrying a sweater. So why does it worry climate scientists?

It’s because they’re thinking about global temperature averages, and when the global average goes up, the extremes go way up.

The Earth is already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was in the 1800s, about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. And it’s warming fast.

Ocean surface temperatures were the highest ever recorded this year, causing fish die-offs and increasing red tides.

People across America are already noticing the effects. Storms are more extreme, drenching areas with more water that’s causing an increasing number of devastating flash floods. Dozens of people in VermontTennessee and Pennsylvania are only the most recent victims.

These aren’t just normal storms, these are deluges where four months of rain falls in one day.

We’re also experiencing more devastating droughts catastrophic wildfires and wetter hurricanes.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a press conference at the UNFCCC SB58 Bonn Climate Change Conference on June 13 in Bonn, Germany. The conference lays the groundwork for the adoption of decisions at the upcoming COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a press conference at the UNFCCC SB58 Bonn Climate Change Conference on June 13 in Bonn, Germany. The conference lays the groundwork for the adoption of decisions at the upcoming COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December.
Why is it important to not let the Earth warm an extra degree?

The difference between an aspiration of no more than 2.7 degrees warming and a serious commitment to no more than 3.6 degrees might not seem large.

But multiply the extremes and their effects, and each results in a vastly different world. One is difficult, resulting in a less reliable and more chaotic climate than the one we live with today. The other verges on a movie cataclysm.

At their heart, the 13 days of COP28 negotiations are the place global governments sit down to hammer out just how much each will lower its carbon emissions, though many other climate change topics are on the table as well.

Using published research and reports from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Carbon Brief laid out the likely measurable difference between a world that is 2.7 degrees warmer and one that is 3.6 degrees warmer:

◾ Sea level rise by 2100 of 18 inches vs. 22 inches

◾ Ice-free Arctic summer chance of 10% vs. 80%

◾ Central U.S. warm spells last 10 days vs. 21 days

◾ Percentage of people facing at least one severe heat wave in five years is 14% vs. 37%

Why is this all about fossil fuels?

Before the Industrial Revolution, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – which is what’s causing global warming – was 280 parts per million.

The current measurement is 421.47 parts per million.

NASA graph showing the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere from 800,000 years ago to today.
NASA graph showing the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere from 800,000 years ago to today.

The change has been underway for decades, but the extent of the shift is only now becoming clearly evident. In the 1980s, the country experienced on average a $1 billion, adjusted for inflation, disaster every four months. It now experiences one every three weeks. This year, the country has set a new record with 25 billion-dollar disasters.

The Earth crossed a key warming threshold in 2023, with one-third of the days so far having an average temperature at least 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than preindustrial levels. On Nov. 17, it reached 2.07 degrees above. This year is expected to be the warmest in recorded history, warmer than any other in 125,000 years.

What is COP28?

COP28 is the annual United Nations meeting of the 197 parties that have agreed to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, originally adopted in 1992. The meeting is the decision-making body of the countries that signed onto the U.N. framework. It is held to assess how well nations are dealing with climate change and set agendas and goals.

How important is this COP?

In a major report, the UN’s climate change body said earlier this month that global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 45% by the end of this decade compared to 2010 levels to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Things are not going in the right direction. Instead, emissions are set to rise by 9%.

COP28 is where changes can be made.

Scientists say humanity has about a decade to dramatically reduce heat-trapping gas emissions before thresholds are passed that may make recovery from climate collapse impossible.

To do so will require cutting nearly two-thirds of carbon pollution by 2035, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said. That means ending new fossil fuel exploration and weaning wealthy nations away from coal, oil and gas by 2040.

“Humanity is on thin ice – and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the spring. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Trump’s 48-Hour Manic Rant Had Immediate Consequences

The New Republic

Trump’s 48-Hour Manic Rant Had Immediate Consequences

Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling – November 30, 2023

The GOP’s presidential front-runner had himself a bit of an unhinged social media binge over the last couple of days, using Truth Social to air his scattered grievances, attack the wife of the judge overseeing his New York bank fraud trial, and take a wild left turn by claiming sudden allyship with the broader Black Lives Matter movement.

Kicking off the rapid-fire onslaught of posts late Tuesday, Trump called MSNBC’s coverage of the Republican Party “illegal activity,” adding that the “so-called ‘government’ should come down hard” on the news outlet and “make them pay.”

Then the former president revived an old gripe that “Obamacare sucks”—thus reopening the possibility that his campaign will renew the call to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act that has dogged the GOP since that law’s inception. Less than 20 minutes later, he redirected his attention to the sexual assault allegations made against him by columnist E. Jean Carroll, spewing comments eerily similar to the ones that have already lost him two defamation cases brought by the writer, in which he claimed that the allegations were a “made up fairytale” that was “funded by political operatives” to interfere with the 2020 presidential election results.

Over the ensuing hours, Trump also warned that the indictments against him had opened up “pandora’s box,” which he followed by snubbing his Koch-backed GOP opponent Nikki Haley as “a very weak and ineffective Birdbrain.”

In yet another post, Trump said he had done “more for Black people than any other President,” including Lincoln. He also confused the support of Mark Fisher, the founder of Black Lives Matter Incorporated, for that of the larger, national movement, despite statements front and center on BLM INC.’s web page that they’re not affiliated with “any other Black Lives Matter Movement.”

But the pièce de résistance of Trump’s 48-hour digital diatribe was a string of attacks on the wife of the judge overseeing his business fraud trial, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, whose gag order on Trump had been repealed. In five separate posts, Trump uplifted a conspiracy theory that Dawn Engoron and her husband were inherently biased in his case and that Mrs. Engoron had attacked Trump and other “white male politicians” online.

“Judge Engoron’s Trump Hating wife, together with his very disturbed and angry law clerk, have taken over control of the New York State Witch Hunt Trial aimed at me, my family, and the Republican Party,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

In a statement to Newsweek, Engoron denied ownership of the account and any of its content.

“I do not have a Twitter account. This is not me. I have not posted any anti-Trump messages,” she told the outlet.

That may have been enough to convince a New York appeals court that Trump wasn’t capable of playing nice without his recently stayed gag order, which the four-judge panel dutifully reinstated on Thursday, in an attempt to halt the verbal onslaught against the judge, his court staff and, apparently, his family.

America is failing Ukraine

Yahoo! Finance

America is failing Ukraine

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist – November 28, 2023


If you haven’t heard much about Russia’s war in Ukraine lately, it’s not because no news is good news. In fact, the war in Ukraine may be tipping in exactly the direction Russian President Vladimir Putin wants.

Ukraine failed to make major breakthroughs in its much-touted 2023 offensive, intended to break Russian lines in eastern and southern Ukraine and push Russian forces back toward the Crimean peninsula. Billions of dollars’ worth of American and European military hardware arrived too late, giving Russian forces months to build stout defenses Ukraine proved unable to penetrate, except for small breakthroughs. Exhaustion and winter mud have now effectively ended that offensive.

Isolationist Republicans who now control the US House of Representatives have so far scotched $61 billion in additional aid President Biden wants for Ukraine, and some weaponry designated for Ukraine is now instead headed to Israel as it wages war with the Hamas terrorist group. Nobody’s going soft in Russia, however, where Putin is boosting defense spending from 4% of GDP to 10%.

Despite devastating losses, Russia’s posture in Ukraine is getting stronger, with some analysts saying it is Ukraine that now needs to shift to defense. “Russia will be materially advantaged in 2024,” military analyst Michael Kofman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said on a recent podcast. “If the West just assumes it’s a stalemate and can reduce its commitment to Ukraine, Russian advantages will compound because Russia doesn’t accept the stalemate.”

A slim majority of Americans still support robust US aid for Ukraine, but opposition has grown during the last six months. Most Republicans now say the United States is doing too much for Ukraine, while only 44% of Independents and 14% of Democrats feel that way. A chief complaint among Ukraine objectors is that President Biden should be focusing more on homegrown problems such as inflation and the influx of undocumented migrants.

But that’s a false dichotomy, and the United States is getting something important for its spending on Ukraine: The long-term degradation of Russia’s military and political power. US military aid for Ukraine is only about 5% of the nation’s defense budget, which exists in part to counter and contain Russia.

Plus, the stakes in Ukraine could be far higher than many Americans appreciate. If Putin reverses his losses in Ukraine and ends up victorious, it would validate his view that the West doesn’t have the stomach for an ugly, drawn-out war, even if its own troops aren’t involved. Putin has ambitions beyond Ukraine, and if the West gives up on Ukraine it could meet Putin in Poland or the Baltic states, all members of the NATO military alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Minsk, Belarus, November 23, 2023.  Sputnik/Valery Sharifulin/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Ambitions beyond Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik/Valery Sharifulin/Pool via REUTERS) (Sputnik Photo Agency / reuters)

Also watching closely is Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has ordered his nation’s military to be capable of invading and conquering Taiwan by 2027. A key factor in Xi’s decision to invade will undoubtedly be his estimate of US and allied resolve in their vows to help defend the breakaway democratic island. If the US-led alliance fails Ukraine, it would be rational for Xi to conclude they’d bail on Taiwan, too. And a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be an economic earthquake that makes Putin’s energy war, waged in parallel with his military war in Ukraine, seem tame.

Ukraine isn’t losing. Early in the war, it repelled invading Russia forces from northern Ukraine, and later in 2022, from key strongholds in the northeast and southeast. Ingenious naval drones have chased Russian warships away from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allowed the export of grain and other products, an astonishing feat for a country that basically lacks a navy. Russia still controls 18% of the Ukraine, but has gained basically no ground all year.

Two Western assumptions about the war have collapsed, however. The first is that Western training, intelligence, and equipment would tilt the war in Ukraine’s favor. It hasn’t. The second is that Russia would continue the shambolic battlefield performance of the invasion’s early days, when poorly prepared units expecting a cakewalk instead met determined resistance that sent them reeling. But the Russians have learned to plug holes, adapt to Ukrainian innovations, and keep their war machine rumbling along.

Some analysts snickered when Russia made a deal to buy ammunition from hermetic North Korea, but that deal may provide Russia with more artillery shells in 2024 than Ukraine will get from its own allies. That’s a key edge in a war where artillery is one of the most important weapons. Russia showed another weakness by buying relatively low-tech attack drones from Iran. But now Russia is building those drones on its own, by the hundreds, and using them in attempts to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses in a likely effort to wreck the country’s energy infrastructure again this winter, as it tried to do last year.

China's president, Xi Jinping, speaks at a dinner with business leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Watching closely? China’s president, Xi Jinping. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Ukraine pioneered some of the early innovations using armed drones to penetrate enemy lines. But Russia’s state machinery is now cranking out more drones than Ukraine can produce, and using them to deadly effect. As for battle tactics, Russia continues to expend soldiers in appalling human-wave attacks in which commanders seem to treat bodies as receptacles for bullets. There are sporadic protests in Russia of long deployments for troops and other concerns, but nothing approaching mass discontent with the war, suggesting Putin sees no constraint on sacrificing his own troops — another advantage over Ukraine, which husbands its human resources much more carefully.

Meanwhile, some Ukraine backers are beginning to say it’s time for Ukraine and its allies to change strategies.

“Kyiv’s war aims — the expulsion of Russian forces from Ukrainian land and the full restoration of its territorial integrity, including Crimea — remain legally and politically unassailable,” Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan wrote in Foreign Affairs recently. “But strategically they are out of reach, certainly for the near future and quite possibly beyond. [Ukraine’s] near-term priorities need to shift from attempting to liberate more territory to defending and repairing the more than 80 percent of the country that is still under its control.”

Haass and Kupchan argue that Ukraine should dig its own defensive fortifications, similar to Russia’s, and push for an enforceable cease-fire, while letting Russia worry about further territorial gains.

Since Russia invaded in February 2022, the Biden administration has armed Ukraine incrementally, first withholding and then providing key equipment such as armor, air defenses, and missiles that can reach far behind enemy lines. Biden has been careful not to push a nuclear-armed Russia over some perceived red line that would trigger a disproportionate Russian response. Europe has broadly followed the same pattern. But Russia never responded as more and more advanced Western weaponry arrived in Ukraine, prompting complaints that Washington has been too timid, and is not in it to win it.

“When I see this and ask the question whether the US administration wants Ukraine to win the war? The answer I see is ‘no,’” historian Phillips O’Brien of the University of St. Andrews wrote on Nov. 25.

So, the weapon tease continues. In October, the United States provided Ukraine with a small number of long-range ATACMS missiles capable of reaching Russian targets more than 100 miles away, threatening airfields, headquarters, and other crucial nodes. In the first strike using the new missiles, Ukraine reportedly destroyed more than a dozen Russian helicopters used to strafe Ukraine’s front-line troops. But there has been only one other known ATACMS firing since then. “This is a sign that the Biden Administration never wanted to give them in the first place, and is still strictly limiting what they will give Ukraine,” O’Brien wrote.

The next 12 months are likely to be momentous. Putin faces reelection in March, and while there’s no doubt he’ll win, Putin wants high turnout and a lopsided victory, so he may keep the war on simmer until then. Once the election’s over, Russia seems likely to mount a new mobilization effort to funnel more troops into Ukraine and press its manpower advantage. Sanctions are stifling the Russian economy, yet Russia is still selling plenty of oil, its main source of revenue, and finding most of the components it needs to boost defense production.

Putin also has a keen interest in next year’s US presidential election.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is broadly viewed as a Putin patsy who would end the war in one day, as he says, by suspending US aid to Ukraine and giving Putin much or all of what he wants. “The event most likely to bring US backing for Ukraine to a juddering halt would be a victory by Donald Trump,” historian Lawrence Freedman of King’s College wrote on Nov. 23. “Putin might assume this to be such a positive possibility that it is one worth waiting for.”

No outcome is preordained.

Ukraine’s allies might yet rally and overcome the war fatigue that seems to settle more easily on allies far from the fighting than on those in the midst of it. In Washington, the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, says he’s “confident” that Congress will provide more aid for Ukraine, though it may be far less than the $61 billion Biden wants. In Europe, several nations are ramping up weapons production to fill gaps the United States might leave. At some point in 2024, Ukraine seems likely to get Western fighter jets and finally be able to provide consistent air cover for infantry, a condition so fundamental to American military doctrine that the Pentagon would never consider fighting as the Ukrainians have been doing.

The Carnegie Endowment’s Kofman argues that the biggest American shortcoming in Ukraine isn’t some miracle weapon system, but the lack of advisers in-country who can understand how the plucky Ukrainians fight and tailor American aid to that. There’s a good reason Americans aren’t doing that: It conjures the specter of Vietnam, when advisers morphed into combatants and a slippery slope became a mudslide. It would be more fraught still if Americans ended up in direct combat with Russians.

But something needs to change if American resolves means anything, and it may start with America determining if it has that resolve in the first place.

Rick Newman is a senior columnist for Yahoo Finance

Donald Trump Wants Federal Government To “Come Down Hard” On MSNBC For Its Criticism Of Him


Donald Trump Wants Federal Government To “Come Down Hard” On MSNBC For Its Criticism Of Him

Ted Johnson – November 29, 2023

Former President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media are central to his image, but he’s once again calling on the federal government to take action against NBCUniversal for its MSNBC criticism of him.

In a late night post on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump complained that MSNBC “uses FREE government approved airwaves, and yet it is nothing but a 24 hour hit job” on him and “the Republican party for the purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE.”

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He also attacked Brian Roberts, the CEO of NBCU parent Comcast, as a “slimeball who has been able to get away from these constant attacks for years.”

“It’s the world’s biggest political contribution to the Radical Left Democrats who, by the way, are destroying our Country. Our so-called ‘government’ should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity. Much more to come, watch!”

A bit of background: MSNBC is a cable network, so it does not use the public airwaves. Yet even if it was a broadcast outlet, the FCC has been clear that it will not regulate news programming content. The Fairness Doctrine, which required that broadcasters present an array of viewpoints on controversial issues, was abandoned more than 35 years ago during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

The Federal Election Commission expenditure rules, meanwhile, exclude the news media, or more specifically, “any cost incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station (including a cable television operator, programmer or producer).”

Trump’s attacks on NBC, MSNBC and Roberts are nothing new. In the first year of his presidency, he was upset over the network’s reporting and suggested that NBC’s broadcast license be challenged. Ajit Pai, who Trump appointed to chair the FCC, said a week later that the FCC “under the law does not have the authority to revoke the license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast.”

While Trump’s Truth Social post was one of many, many outbursts at the news media, his suggestion of government retaliation, something that would surely raise a First Amendment challenge, also comes as many of his allies and others on the right chide tech platforms for censorship over their content moderation practices.

The Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana have been challenging the Biden administration’s contacts with social media platforms, claiming that they were efforts to curb misinformation about Covid vaccines and elections were in fact censoring conservative speech. The administration has argued that it is merely pointing out the spread of misinformation on platforms about urgent issues of public health and election integrity. Supreme Court last month lifted a preliminary injunction on Biden administration contacts while it will hear arguments in the case in a hearing next year.

Trump has told supporters that he would be their “retribution” in a second term, and has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Joe Biden and his family. The New York Times and The Washington Post also have been reporting in recent weeks on Trump and his allies’ plans for a second term, including taking greater hold over the federal workforce.

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Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners


Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners

Guy Faulconbridge and Lidia Kelly – November 29, 2023

Steam rises from chimneys of a heating power plan over the skyline of central Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia’s interior ministry has prepared draft legislation that would force foreigners to sign a “loyalty agreement” forbidding them from criticising official policy, discrediting Soviet military history, or contravening traditional family values.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has introduced a slew of tough laws that outlaw discrediting the military, and courts have handed down long jail sentences to opposition activists.

As the 2024 presidential election approaches, Putin has cast the war as part of an existential battle with the West, saying he will defend Russia’s “sacred” civilisation from what he portrays as the West’s decadence.

The TASS state news agency reported on Wednesday that the draft legislation had been prepared by the interior ministry and would force all foreigners entering Russia to sign an agreement that essentially restricts what they can say in public.

A foreigner entering Russia would be prohibited from “interfering with the activities of public authorities of the Russian Federation, discrediting in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation, public authorities and their officials”, TASS said.

The proposed agreement would include clauses about morality, family, “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations” and history.

In particular, foreigners would be barred from “distorting the historical truth about the feat of the Soviet people in the defence of the Fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism”.

The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost at least 27 million people in World War Two and eventually pushed Nazi forces back to Berlin. Governments loyal to Moscow then took power across swathes of eastern Europe.

It was not clear from Russian media reports which foreigners the draft legislation – if it becomes law – would apply to or what the punishment would be for not adhering to the “agreement” which foreigners would have to sign upon entry to Russia.

The Kremlin declined to comment on the initiative.


Opposition activists and foreign diplomats in Moscow have for months been warning that the authorities are toughening their stance on any dissent ahead of the presidential election.

The Kremlin said earlier this month that some measure of censorship was needed as Russian troops were fighting in Ukraine, and cautioned those who wanted to criticise the military to think carefully before they did.

For the draft to become law, it has to be introduced to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and to go through committee review and several readings before being submitted to Putin for signing.

The chairman of the Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee said that the draft law was well advanced and was being worked on by the interior ministry, the government, the presidential administration as well as his committee.

“The draft law on the so-called ‘loyalty agreement’ with migrants entering the Russian Federation is in a high degree of readiness,” Leonid Kalashnikov told Interfax.

Kalashnikov said some details of the proposed law were still to be worked out. The interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.

The law has not yet been introduced formally in parliament, according to Reuters searches of the Duma’s database.

Since the start of its war in Ukraine, Russia has imposed a number of restrictions on foreigners from what it calls “unfriendly countries” – meaning those that have imposed sanctions on it over its war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Nick Macfie)