Putin and the trump MAGA cult again on the same propaganda page: The Kremlin is pushing a MAGA talking point that Biden’s administration is to blame for the Trump assassination attempt

Business Insider

The Kremlin is pushing a MAGA talking point that Biden’s administration is to blame for the Trump assassination attempt

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan, July 15, 2024

  • Russia says the Biden administration should be blamed for the Trump rally shooting.
  • A Kremlin spokesperson said the Biden administration incited tensions that led to the attack.
  • Trump allies like JD Vance have similarly accused the Biden administration of causing the attack.

The attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump was indirectly caused by President Joe Biden and his administration, a Kremlin spokesperson said on Sunday.

“We don’t think at all and don’t believe that the attempt to eliminate the presidential candidate Trump was organized by the present power,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters, per Russian state media outlet TASS.

“But it is the atmosphere that has been created by this administration during the political struggle, the atmosphere around the candidate Trump, prompted what America is facing today,” he continued.

On Saturday, Trump was left wounded after a gunman tried to shoot him during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

“I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Saturday. “I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin.”

The Secret Service said the attack killed one bystander and left two others critically injured. The rally shooter, a 20-year-old man named Thomas Matthew Crooks, was shot dead by a Secret Service sniper.

But Trump’s life, Peskov said, had long been in danger.

“After numerous attempts to remove candidate Trump from the political arena using legal instruments at first, courts, the prosecutor’s office, attempts to politically discredit and compromise the candidate, it was obvious to all outside observers that his life was in jeopardy,” Peskov said on Sunday, referencing Trump’s conviction in his Manhattan hush money criminal trial on May 30.

The Kremlin’s remarks on Sunday echo that of Trump acolytes like Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia.

The trio were quick to point fingers at Biden following Saturday’s failed assassination.

“The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination,” Collins said in an X post on Saturday.

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also ripped the Democratic Party and accused them of inciting tensions before Saturday’s assassination attempt.

“Don’t tell me they didn’t know exactly what they were doing with this crap. Calling my dad a ‘dictator and a ‘threat to Democracy’ wasn’t some one off comment. It has been the MAIN MESSAGE of the Biden-Kamala campaign and Democrats across the country!!!” Trump Jr. wrote on X on Sunday.

This isn’t the first time Russia has sought to paint a picture of a dysfunctional America while weighing in on the country’s political developments.

Last month, Putin said that Trump’s Manhattan felony conviction was politically motivated and that the former president’s rivals were “simply using the judicial system in an internal power struggle.”

“They are burning themselves from the inside, their state, their political system,” Putin told reporters at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, per Reuters.

Representatives for Russia’s foreign ministry and the Biden administration didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

Heated rhetoric as Republicans blame Biden for Trump shooting


Heated rhetoric as Republicans blame Biden for Trump shooting

Robin Legrand with Marion Thibaut – July 14, 2024

US President Joe Biden has called for unity after his political rival Donald Trump was shot at a rally (Mandel NGAN)
US President Joe Biden has called for unity after his political rival Donald Trump was shot at a rally (Mandel NGAN)

Within hours of the assassination attempt on Donald Trump, his Republican supporters in Congress claimed they knew exactly who was responsible: Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.

Biden’s campaign “rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination,” Senator J.D. Vance, on Trump’s shortlist for vice president, alleged shortly after Saturday’s shooting at a rally in Pennsylvania, in which the former US leader was wounded and one bystander killed.

Vance’s comments were part of an escalating chorus of Republicans who have pinned the blame on Democrats — even as the FBI says it has yet to identify the shooter’s ideology.

They also heap more fuel onto the fire in a political atmosphere that has long been tense and fiercely polarized.

“Heated rhetoric has come from both sides” in recent years, Michael Bailey, a political science professor at Georgetown University, told AFP.

Republicans, for whom gun rights and a rejection of alleged government overreach are key themes, “have been more prone to marry such rhetoric with imagery related to guns,” Bailey noted.

“And some of them (including Trump) did not cover themselves in glory when they made light of the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband,” he said, referring to the 2022 attack by a conspiracy theorist on the high-profile Democrat’s spouse.

Trump later mocked the Pelosis, and stoked further conspiracy theories around the assault.

– Biden ‘sent the orders’ –

Steve Scalise, a Republican who was shot in a 2017 attack on conservative lawmakers by a left-wing activist, has also blamed the left for Saturday’s assassination attempt.

“Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning reelection would be the end of democracy in America,” he said.

“For years, and even today, leftist activists, Democrat donors and now even Joe Biden have made disgusting remarks and descriptions of shooting Donald Trump,” Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita charged on X.

Biden did recently tell donors that it was “time to put Trump in the bullseye,” according to comments put out by his campaign — though he was speaking in the context of focusing the party on beating Trump.

Representative Mike Collins went further on the shooting, stating “Joe Biden sent the orders,” without offering credible evidence.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, meanwhile, offered an escalation of her own, telling her followers “we are in a battle between good and evil” and casting Democrats as “the party of pedophiles” and “violence.”

“The Democrat party is flat out evil, and yesterday they tried to murder President Trump,” she said.

Such accusations risk removing “attention from the very welcome, widespread condemnation of the attack,” said Jacob Ware, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

– ‘America needs to stop’ –

The heated rhetoric pushed Biden to issue a rare address to the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday in which he called on Americans to “lower the temperature.”

Trump and Biden have spoken to each other after the incident, while Biden’s campaign is temporarily pausing television ads — part of what some on both sides hope is part of a broader national cooling.

“Tensions are high on both sides, and I think we’ve got to tone down the rhetoric,” 60-year-old Trump supporter Martin Kutzler told AFP in downtown Milwaukee, where the Republican convention is set to open Monday.

Republican National Committee chair Michael Whately meanwhile declined to speculate on the shooting while speaking to “Fox News Sunday.”

“Right now, I think everybody in America needs to stop. They need to pause,” he said.

Among elected officials, though, the accusations keep coming.

“When the message goes out constantly, that the election of Donald Trump would be a threat to democracy, and that the Republic would end, it heats up the environment,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Depoliticizing the shooting, however, is essential, Bailey said.

“In an environment with so many guns… it is possible for heated rhetoric to motivate an unbalanced person on any side.”

Wounded Russian soldiers – some on crutches – used in ‘meat wave’ attacks

The Telegraph

Wounded Russian soldiers – some on crutches – used in ‘meat wave’ attacks

Verity Bowman – July 14, 2024

Russia is sending injured soldiers back to the front lines to fight
Russia is sending injured soldiers back to the front lines and is using Ukraine PoWs as human shields

Injured Russian soldiers are being sent back into the line of fire in “meat wave” assaults.

The Ukrainian army has reported capturing Russians already suffering from their wounds sustained in previous attacks.

They had been given minimal medical attention before being sent back to fight.

The tactics show an apparent disregard for foot soldiers as commanders throw thousands of men into the front lines in a slow and grinding summer offensive.

Some Russians have been captured re-entering the battlefield on crutches.

Other injured troops have recorded videos pleading with their superiors for proper treatment as they receive orders to return to battle.

One soldier captured by Ukraine was said to be driving an armoured vehicle with bloodied rags over an injured eye.

The meat assault units are often made up of foot soldiers, released prisoners and the maimed.

Many are simply protecting the next wave of soldiers behind as part of a tactic to distract and overwhelm Ukraine, and make incremental territorial gains.

British military intelligence believes that Russian ranks have been depleted by as many as 70,000 personnel over the last two months – an alarming rate that shows no signs of slowing.

Ukrainian soldiers told The Telegraph that it is “normal practice” to see injured men staggering as they fight, and that Ukrainian prisoners of war are being used by Russia as human shields.

‘We don’t have the strength’

Meanwhile, Russian soldiers have been recorded pleading with their superiors, the military prosecutors office, and even Vladimir Putin, for their lives.

“Why would they send wounded and exhausted people into battle? It’s the same as sending people to their deaths,” said two soldiers of the 1009th regiment in a video shared on social media.

“The commander says that tomorrow we must go and storm this building again.

“But how can we do this if we are in pain, wounded, and simply don’t have the strength?”

The pair, who lent against a tree with visible wounds to their faces, said the only medical treatment they received for shrapnel wounds was from their own first aid kit as they hid in the forest.

Another video clip showed a group of the injured, a number of whom were walking on crutches, pleading desperately with their superiors, stressing that this was their final opportunity to make their case.

They told the camera: “Hear us, please, hear us, hear us. This is our last chance. We have no more options.”

The latest death toll figures of Russian soldiers is equivalent to an average of above 1,000 a day amid the escalating intensity of battle on the newly opened front in Kharkiv, and fighting elsewhere in east and north-east Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

“Although this new approach has increased the pressure on the front line, an effective Ukrainian defence and a lack of Russian training reduces Russia’s ability to exploit any tactical successes, despite attempting to stretch the front line further,” the MoD added.

Hunter (his call sign), a Ukrainian junior soldier, said that there are “frequent cases” of Russian soldiers “simply left in positions to die”.

“This is a common situation when wounded Russian soldiers are captured. According to them, they were left to their fate without food and water to die by their own comrades,” he said.

Hunter reported seeing Ukrainian PoWs being pushed to walk ahead of advancing Russian soldiers, forced into the cruel role of human shields.

Yuriy, a machine gunner, confirmed Hunter’s reports, telling The Telegraph: “Of course, I have seen PoWs, this is outrageous and tearing us apart from the inside, such an attitude towards prisoners of war is unacceptable and prohibited by conventions.”

In the Donetsk region, a Russian soldier was captured by Ukraine with his leg rotting from a shrapnel wound.

“He was not evacuated for some reason. Later in Dnipro, our medics had to amputate this leg for him so he can survive,” Vlad, a member of the Kraken Regiment volunteer unit, told The Telegraph.

Vlad reported that the Russians they captured revealed their commander, known by the call sign Ryba, had ordered that no one would be evacuated until they had secured the territory around the Kupyansk silicate plant in the Kharkiv region.

Kupyansk, a strategic rail hub, was seized by Russia in early 2022, retaken by Ukraine seven months later and missile and artillery strikes continue to hit the area.

The river through Kupyansk could offer a natural defence against future Russian advances.

A soldier who chose to remain anonymous said: “We carried a wounded Russian to our side for many kilometres to save his life as he was left alone to die.”

Hunter confirmed that many units – including the poorly-trained, lightly-equipped “Storm-Z” assault troopers – are “prohibited” from leaving their positions.

‘Storm fighters, they’re just meat’

Storm-Z is a series of penal military units for convicts – including murderers – established by Russia by April 6, 2023, renamed Storm-V later that year.

Illia Yevlash, the spokesman for the Khortytsia operational-strategic group, claimed in February that Russian commanders were using human wave tactics involving Storm-Z and Storm-V.

“Storm fighters, they’re just meat,” said one regular soldier from army unit number 40318.

“If such units retreat, they can be destroyed by their barrier units,” said Hunter.

“The Russian armed forces mobilise people with serious illnesses such as tuberculosis or HIV, and such ‘soldiers’ are treated differently.”

Use of suicidal human wave attacks does not appear to have reduced despite high-profile changes at the top of the Russian defence ministry.

Many Ukrainian soldiers who spoke to The Telegraph revealed they hesitate to save Russians because of their unwavering resolve to continue fighting even after being captured.

Yuriy explained that some injured soldiers wanted to surrender quickly, but that he had seen others “shoot to the last”, even attempting to detonate grenades when they were given medical aid.

The high Russian attrition rate comes as Ukraine also struggles to find enough soldiers to make any significant breakthroughs.

The much-anticipated Russian summer offensive appears to have largely fizzled out, with both sides once again locked in fighting along rigid front lines dividing Ukraine roughly from north to south.

The Republican Party platform has an audience of one

MSNBC – Opinion

The Republican Party platform has an audience of one

By Michael Steele, co-host of “The Weekend” – July 12, 2024

The 16-page document reflects the obsessions and quirks of Donald Trump, not the Grand Old Party.

‘Project 2025 has Trump’s revolting DNA all over it’: Why Dems’ infighting over Biden must end

In a matter of days, former President Donald Trump’s anti-democracy agenda will most likely be met with thunderous applause as he officially accepts the Republican nomination for president at the party’s national convention. 

The picture of a lawless America mired in poverty and perversion that Trump will paint isn’t backed up by reality, but it is set to be backed up by the official Republican Party platform.

On Monday, the Republican platform committee advanced a draft of the so-called principles that will guide the Republican Party for the next four years. But this platform isn’t a road map to prosperity for the American people. It doesn’t offer a framework for unity in a fractured country.

Instead, it is a manifesto for one man: Trump.

The 16-page document is written to appeal to Trump’s sensibilities — emotionally, rhetorically and even grammatically (the erratic capitalization reads like one of his unhinged social media rants).

The 16-page document is written to appeal to his sensibilities — emotionally, rhetorically and even grammatically (the erratic capitalization reads like one of his unhinged social media rants).

And because it’s tailor-made for the convicted figurehead of this once-great party, it’s riddled with lies and belligerence designed to divide us further.

Some tenets reflect the heartlessness Trump has ushered in.

For instance, the platform promises to “CARRY OUT THE LARGEST DEPORTATION OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY” — a policy that Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts also backed in his recent interview with “The Weekend” about Project 2025.

Let’s put the logistics of deporting millions of people — many of whom have built lives and started families in this country — and kneecapping the economy aside for a moment. Let’s focus instead on the morality of breaking those families up, of devaluing human lives to the point of boasting about it.

The position flies in the face of President Ronald Reagan’s more measured stance.

After noting that “our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands,” Reagan said:

“Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.”

Reagan later signed substantial immigration reform into law with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That bill banned the hiring of undocumented immigrants while still ensuring a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship for some 2.7 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 1982.

That’s a far cry from today’s Republican Party, which paints an apocalyptic picture of a so-called invasion at the southern border while tanking solutions to the issue at Trump’s direction.

The platform is also riddled with contradictions.

The platform is also riddled with these kinds of contradictions. 

The document highlights the importance of free speech multiple times throughout its pages, pledging to “ban the Federal Government from colluding with anyone to censor Lawful Speech.” In the same document, it vows “to keep foreign Christian-hating Communists, Marxists, and Socialists out of America.” 

Exactly how do you do that? I fervently disagree with communism, Marxism and socialism, but like the views that animate this MAGA platform, they aren’t unlawful, and, as long as their expression doesn’t put people in physical danger, I believe that even views I disagree with shouldn’t be regulated by the government. 0 seconds of 9 minutes, 11 secondsVolume 90% 

Trump’s fatal weakness suddenly exposed

If the government can begin sanctioning everyday people for their political views alone, it sets a dangerous precedent. The platform acknowledges this with the pledge to “hold accountable those who have misused the power of Government to unjustly prosecute their Political Opponents.”

Then, there’s a tapestry of issues that the Republican Party under Trump has proven ineffective at addressing.

“Republicans will reassert greater Federal Control over Washington, DC to restore Law and Order in our Capital City, and ensure Federal Buildings and Monuments are well-maintained.”

The irony is palpable. On Jan. 6, 2021, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, where they shattered windows, ransacked offices and trashed the emblem of American democracy. Federal authorities estimate that Trump’s foot soldiers wreaked $2.73 million in damage.

Now, Republicans claiming to support law and order have largely backed Trump’s promise to pardon the rioters who desecrated a building paid for by U.S. taxpayers while also threatening to undermine the self-governance of our capital city. 

Then there’s the platform’s vow to “END INFLATION,” a problem already under control.

Just this Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that year-over-year inflation rose only 3% last month — a sharper decrease than expected, continuing a steady reduction from a peak of 9% two years prior.

Or maybe Trump means the inflation that he will kick off with his other campaign pledges, as economists have warned that the drastic increases in tariffs he has endorsed would decimate that progress and worsen inflation.

The current Republican platform is incoherent, hate-filled and ham-fisted, but that should come as no surprise. It was made in the image of the man who will accept the party’s nomination in just a few days.

A famous speech in “Macbeth” compares life to “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” as the Scottish king’s empire implodes.

The platform of this once-great party has “sound and fury” in spades and is being told by no shortage of idiots, but unfortunately, it doesn’t signify “nothing.” It signifies what will guide the MAGA party if it is given the chance to write laws that govern your life.

Vote accordingly.

For more thought-provoking insights from Michael Steele, Alicia Menendez and Symone Sanders-Townsend, watch “The Weekend” every Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC.

Michael Steele is a co-host of “The Weekend,” which airs Saturdays and Sundays at 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC. He is a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. 

The West finally allowed Ukraine to strike back at Russia — and it seems to be working


The West finally allowed Ukraine to strike back at Russia — and it seems to be working

Ivana Kottasová, CNN – July 13, 2024

Ukrainian forces are striking Russia-occupied Crimea

Bankir and his men have been trying to fight off Russian attacks along the Ukrainian front lines for more than two years. But it’s only now that they are finally able to strike where it hurts: Inside Russia’s own territory.

The newly granted permission by the United States and other allies to use Western weapons to strike inside Russia has had a huge impact, Bankir said. “We have destroyed targets inside Russia, which allowed for several successful counteroffensives. The Russian military can no longer feel impunity and security,” the senior officer in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) told CNN. For security reasons, he asked to be identified by his call sign only.

After many months on the back foot because of ammunition and manpower shortages, Kyiv is finally able to take full advantage of Western military aid that started to flow into the country last month, after months of delays.

Soldiers on the front lines say the deliveries are beginning to make a difference – especially since they can now use the arsenal to strike across the border.

“We can see the impact of the aid every day. Artillery, longer-range multiple launch rocket systems with various types of ammunition and submunitions… it’s affecting the overall battlefield picture,” Ivan, an officer with the 148th artillery brigade, told CNN. He also asked for his full name not to be published for security reasons.

“We are deploying the most effective weapons systems in the areas where the Russians are trying to break through the defensive lines and there has been a significant slowdown in the Russian advance,” he added.

While Kyiv hasn’t managed to reclaim large swathes of territory, it has successfully averted what could have been a disaster: The occupation of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 148th Separate Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, prepare to fire a M777 howitzer near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 1, 2024. - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
Ukrainian servicemen of the 148th Separate Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, prepare to fire a M777 howitzer near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 1, 2024. – Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
‘Tragic moment’

Part of the northern Kharkiv region, including the cities of Izium, Kupiansk, and Balakliia, fell into Russian hands soon after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The occupation was brutal. When the area was liberated in the fall of 2022, Ukrainian troops found evidence of what they say were war crimes committed by Russian forces, including multiple mass graves and torture chambers.

In May this year, Russia launched another cross-border attack on the region, trying to exploit Ukraine’s ammunition shortages before the expected arrival of the first Western weapons.

The consequences were deadly. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that at least 174 civilians were killed and 690 were injured in Ukraine in May, the highest number of civilian casualties in a year.

More than half of the civilian casualties were in Kharkiv – even though the region encompasses a relatively small area compared to the whole country.

International security expert Oleksiy Melnyk, a former Ukrainian defense official and the co-director of foreign relations and international security programs at the Razumkov Center in Kyiv, told CNN that the re-occupation of previously liberated areas north of Kharkiv was a “tragic moment” for Ukraine.

But it also marked a major turning point.

“It triggered a change in the position of our Western partners, it encouraged them to, at least partially, remove the restrictions on the use of the Western weapons,” he said.

Fearing an escalation, the US and other Western allies had long prohibited Kyiv from using their weapons to strike inside Russia, restricting their use to Ukrainian areas under Russian occupation.

That has allowed Russia to use the border areas as safe staging grounds for offensives and missile attacks.

“(Russia) knew that Ukraine did not have the capacity to strike these targets on the Russian territory,” Melnyk said.

“If the decision (to provide aid) wasn’t made, if we lost American support and military assistance, that would have been a game changer.”

But the possibility of Russian re-occupation of parts of Kharkiv region convinced some of Ukraine’s key allies, including the US, to lift the restrictions. This allowed Kyiv to hit and destroy or severely damage key targets inside Russia.

According to Ukrainian defense authorities, these included a regiment command post in Belgorod region, an ammunition depot in Voronezh, a drone facility and an airfield in Krasnodar, communication centers in Bryansk and several naval sites in occupied Crimea.

The arrival of long-range ATACMS missile systems was a particular game-changer, Melnyk said. While Ukraine was previously able to strike targets inside Russia using Ukraine-made drones, ATACMS make these strikes far more efficient.

“Speed matters,” Melnyk explained. “With drone strikes, Russians have hours to react, because they can detect Ukrainian drones early. Russian pilots can have a coffee and a cigarette before jumping into the cockpit and taking off to take it down. With the ATACMS, it’s a matter of minutes,” he said.

Konrad Muzyka, an independent defense analyst and the director of Rochan Consulting who has recently returned from eastern Ukraine, said Russia is also no longer able to target Kharkiv region with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

“Ukraine started conducting HIMARS strikes on targets in the Belgorod region and forced the Russians to push their S-300 system with which they were striking Kharkiv much further away, so now Kharkiv is beyond their range of Russian S-300 systems,” he said.

While Russia switched to aerial glide bombs – guided munitions with pop-up wings dropped by fighter jets from a distance of some 60-70 kilometers – out of range of Ukraine’s air defenses, the elimination of the S-300 threat has provided at least some relief to Kharkiv.

People gather following the collapse of a section of a multi-story apartment block in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on May 12, 2024. - Reuters
People gather following the collapse of a section of a multi-story apartment block in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on May 12, 2024. – Reuters

Weapons without men, men without strategy?

But while the new weapons are making some difference, Ukraine is long way off being able to push Russian forces off its territory.

Another officer with the 148th separate artillery brigade who goes by call sign Senator told CNN that there is still a lot more that Ukraine needs.

“It isn’t enough to turn the tide at the front. Enough to hold the enemy back, yes, but not enough to change the situation dramatically,” he said.

“The enemy is now exhausted but not destroyed,” he said, pointing to the fact that Russia still has complete air superiority over Ukraine.

Kyiv is now pinning its hopes on the deliveries of F-16 fighter jets which should start soon – the first Ukrainian pilots were set to complete their training in the US this summer.

But Muzyka said it is far from certain the jets will bring a massive change to Ukraine’s fortunes.

“The F-16s are combat aircraft from 1980s and 1990s and their capabilities are worse than the most modern Russian combat aircraft,” he said, adding that the newest Russian jets would likely prevail in an air battle with the F-16.

However, Ukraine can still use the F-16 to deny Russia control over the skies – and push away Russian aircraft delivering bombs.

Yet the new weapons are just part of the puzzle.

“If it had not been for the supplemental package, Ukrainians would be in a much worse situation right now, but at the same time, the current situation is not only the result of a lack of actions by the US Congress, it’s also the result of the decisions that were made and were not made in Kyiv, especially when it comes to mobilization,” Muzyka said.

“The decision to introduce a wider mobilization was probably as important, if not more important, and it came too late,” he said. The new mobilization law, which requires all men between 18 and 60 to register with Ukraine’s military, came into effect in May.

He said that while Ukraine has managed to recruit a significant number of men over the past month and half, it will take time for these new soldiers to be trained up and ready for the front lines.

“Ukrainians are going to be in a very difficult position until August, September, when the first mobilized guys start to enter the front line. If they can get to that point, then there is a big likelihood that they will manage to stabilize the situation from August onwards, but until this happens, more Russian gains are highly likely.”

Muzyka said that with the new weapons arriving and battalions and brigades getting a boost soon from the new recruits, Ukraine will need to decide on its next steps.

“It is unclear what the plans are. What is the strategy for counteroffensives? The problem is that Ukraine is waiting to see what equipment the West can supply them with, and the West is waiting to see what plans Ukraine have for the future,” he said.

Time is of the essence here. Experts estimate that the $60 billion US aid package approved earlier this year will last for – at best – a year or 18 months.

Ukraine’s allies made fresh pledges on arms this week while at a NATO summit in Washington, DC, President Volodymyr Zelensky called for all restrictions on their usage to be lifted.

Given the possibility of former US President Donald Trump winning a second term in November – he has little time to spare.

Maria Kostenko and Daria Tarasova-Markina contributed reporting.

Resilience in the Face of the Onslaught

By Charles M. Blow – July 11, 2024

A blurry photo shows President Biden speaking at a podium in front of the American flag.
Credit…Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times

Joe Biden is still standing, refusing to bow out — he reiterated that once again in a lengthy and mostly successful news conference on Thursday night. Some may view it as selfish and irresponsible. Some may even see it as dangerous. But I see it as remarkable.

Despite sending a clear message — in his recent flurry of interviews and rallies, in his stalwart address this week to members of the NATO alliance and in his letter on Monday to congressional Democrats, in which he assured them that “I wouldn’t be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024” — there’s still a slow drumbeat from luminaries, donors and elected officials trying to write Biden’s political obituary.

The talent agency mogul Ari Emanuel (a brother of Rahm Emanuel, Biden’s ambassador to Japan), recently said Biden “is not the candidate anymore.” In a post on X, the best-selling author Stephen King said that it’s time for Biden “to announce he will not run for re-election.” Abigail Disney, an heiress to the Walt Disney fortune, said, “I intend to stop any contributions to the party unless and until they replace Biden at the top of the ticket.”

They seem to believe that they can kill his candidacy, by a thousand cuts or by starving it to death.

But none of this sits well with me.

First, because Biden is, in fact, his party’s presumptive nominee. He won the primaries. He has the delegates. He got there via an open, organized and democratic process.

Forcing him out, against his will, seems to me an invalidation of that process. And the apparent justification for this, that polls, which are highly fluctuant, now indicate that some voters want him replaced, is insufficient; responses to polls are not votes.

Yes, two weeks ago, Biden had a bad debate, and may well be diminished. Yes, there’s a chance he could lose this election. That chance exists for any candidate. But allowing elites to muscle him out of the race would be playing a dangerous game that is not without its own very real risk. It won’t guarantee victory and may produce chaos. The logic that says you have to dump Biden in order to defeat Trump is at best a gamble, the product of panicked people in well-furnished parlors.

Furthermore, no one has really made the case that whatever decline Biden may be experiencing has significantly impacted his policy decision-making or eroded America’s standing in the world. The arguments center on the visual evidence of somewhat worrisome comportment but mostly speculation about cognition.

That is just not enough.

I am not a Biden acolyte. I’ve never met the man. And I’m not arguing against the sense among those who have seen him up close and express worry. I’m not pro-Biden as much as I am pro-stay the course.

Like Biden’s Democratic doubters, I want above all to prevent Trump from being re-elected and to ensure the preservation of democracy. It’s just that I believe allowing Biden to remain at the top of the Democratic ticket is the best way to achieve that.

And since that’s the goal, perhaps the best argument in Biden’s favor is that his mettle has been revealed by the onslaught of criticism he has endured since the debate, much of it from other liberals.

Biden’s support hasn’t cratered, as one might have expected. Which suggests that the idea that Biden can’t win — or that another Democrat would have an easier run — is speculative at best.

Indeed, when I saw one headline that read, “Poll finds Biden damaged by debate; with Harris and Clinton best positioned to win,” I thought: Hillary Clinton? Now we’re truly in fantasy baseball territory.

And in the national poll on which that article was premised, Biden trailed Trump by just one percentage point while Vice President Kamala Harris led Trump by just one percentage point; in both cases, well within the margin of error.

A new Washington Post-ABC News-Ipsos poll found that Biden and Trump are tied nationally.

As for hypothetical candidates like Harris — who I do believe would acquit herself well at the top of the ticket — that same poll shows her performing slightly better against Trump than Biden does. But that is in the abstract, before the chaos of a candidate change, and before she received the full-frontal assault that being the actual nominee would surely bring. And in an era of opposition to “wokeness” and the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, that frontal assault, directed at the first Black, Asian American and female vice president, would be savage.

The potential drag on down-ballot races is a legitimate concern for some Democrats, but it appears to be the panic of some down-ballot candidates that has exacerbated the problem, as more than a dozen House Democrats and one Senate Democrat have called for Biden to leave the race.

There’s no guarantee that swapping out candidates would leave Democrats in a better position, but I believe the case is building that the continued dithering among Democrats about Biden’s candidacy is doing further damage to their chances.

Biden’s candidacy may not survive. But forcing him out of it may hurt Democrats more than it helps them, even with voters who say they want a different choice.

More on President Biden:

David French: Biden Has an Inner Circle Problem. He’s Not the Only One. – July 11, 2024

Ezra Klein: Democrats Are Drifting Toward the Worst of All Possible Worlds – July 11, 2024

Charles M. Blow is an Opinion columnist for The New York Times, writing about national politics, public opinion and social justice, with a focus on racial equality and L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

What Does the G.O.P. Have Against America?

By Paul Krugman – July 11, 2024

A lectern and a teleprompter at an outdoor rally for Donald Trump. In the middle ground is a crowd of people and in the background are palm trees.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

While Democrats tear themselves apart over President Biden’s disastrous debate performance and his refusal to consider stepping aside, the Republican National Committee, without much fanfare, has released its 2024 platform.

Compared with previous platforms, it dials back references to abortion — downplaying what is, for Republicans, a losing issue. That choice goes along with Donald Trump’s recent attempt to distance himself from the extremist Project 2025 — even though that blueprint was concocted by some of his close political allies. Here, Trump is clearly employing sleight of hand in an effort not to be seen as autocratically inclined. But at this point, if you believe that, I have a degree from Trump University I’d like to sell you.

In any case, there’s nothing moderate about a platform whose first plank reads, “SEAL THE BORDER, AND STOP THE MIGRANT INVASION” and whose second item calls for “THE LARGEST DEPORTATION OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” (Yes, the list is in all caps, just in case you need help imagining Trump shouting it to you from a Mar-a-Lago ballroom.)

I’ll have a lot more to say about Republican policy ideas in the weeks ahead. For today, however, I want to focus not on what the platform proposes but what it says about the G.O.P. image of America today — a dystopian vision that bears hardly any resemblance to the vibrant country I know, a nation that has coped remarkably well with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Republicans may try to brand themselves as patriots, but they truly appear to despise the nation they live in.

Start with item No. 10, which begins with the promise to “STOP THE MIGRANT CRIME EPIDEMIC” — presumably one of the justifications for mass deportations. Any attempt to carry out such deportations would be a humanitarian, social and economic nightmare. But leaving that aside, the whole premise is false. There is no epidemic of migrant crime in America.

Yes, some Americans have been the victims of terrible crimes, and some of the perpetrators have been migrants. But violent crime in America, homicides in particular, which surged during the last year of the Trump administration — a year of low immigration — has plunged over the past two years.

And Americans have been signaling by their behavior, literally voting with their feet, that our big cities feel fairly safe. Downtown foot traffic on nights and weekends — that is, traffic that mainly reflects people going out for shopping and entertainment rather than for work — is close to or above prepandemic levels in many major cities.

Far from facing a crime “epidemic,” America has been highly successful in recovering from the Trump crime wave.

The G.O.P. platform also pledges to “MAKE AMERICA THE DOMINANT ENERGY PRODUCER IN THE WORLD.” The subtext here is the pervasive belief on the right that woke environmentalists have undermined the U.S. energy sector.

Given how often one hears this asserted, it’s a bit shocking to look at the data and learn that America produced more energy in 2023 than ever before. In fact, we’ve become a major energy exporter, for example selling Europe vast quantities of liquefied natural gas that helped it reduce dependence on Russian supplies after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

The area in which we’re really lagging China is renewable energy, which the Biden-Harris administration is promoting — and Republicans hate.

Further, the platform promises to “END INFLATION, AND MAKE AMERICA AFFORDABLE AGAIN.” In reality, inflation is already way down — from 9 percent at its peak to just 3 percent as measured by the Consumer Price Index, and is probably down to 2.4 percent according to an alternative price index preferred by the Federal Reserve. Gasoline and groceries are just as affordable, as measured by their prices compared with the average hourly earnings of nonmanagerial workers, as they were in 2019.

So what are Republicans talking about? Are they promising to roll back the price increases that took place almost everywhere as the world economy recovered from the pandemic? We haven’t seen deflation on that scale since the Great Depression — not exactly an experience we want to repeat.

Why does the Republican vision of America, as revealed in the party’s platform, bear so little resemblance to reality? A large part of it, I believe, is that the party instinctively favors harsh, punitive policies — which obliges it to believe that failure to pursue such policies must lead to disaster, even when it doesn’t. Democrats haven’t been deporting millions or toying with the idea of shooting protesters, therefore, the logic seems to go, we must be experiencing a crime epidemic. Democrats care about the environment, therefore they must be hampering energy production. Democrats want to expand health care coverage and alleviate poverty, therefore they must be feeding runaway inflation.

For a little while, reality seemed to cooperate with some of these grim visions, mainly because of spillovers from the pandemic and its aftermath. We did have a spike in homicides, although it mostly happened on Trump’s watch. We did have a burst of inflation, but it’s behind us.

Bottom line, there’s no reason at all to believe that Republicans have moderated their extremist agenda. Energy independence — which we have already achieved! — won’t be on the ballot this year. Health care, abortion and, probably, birth control will.

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.

The Devil May Be Enjoying This Election Season, but I Am Not

Thomas L. Friedman – July 9, 2024

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

When I look at my country’s presidential contest, the first thought that comes to mind is that only the Devil himself could have designed this excruciating mess.

Both men running for president right now are unfit for the job: One is a good man in obvious cognitive and physical decline, and the other is a bad man who lies as he breathes, whose main platform is revenge — and who is in his own cognitive tailspin.

But the most important difference for the country — where you really see the Devil at work — is in the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The plain fact is that only one party in America’s two-party system is ready to defend our constitutional order anymore. The other party is interested only in gaining and holding power for the sake of it.

The G.O.P.’s moral emptiness is manifested in several ways. The party has been purged of virtually every Republican politician unwilling to submit to its Dear Leader — Donald Trump, who attempted to overturn our last presidential election. The wife of a Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice advocated overturning the results of the election on utterly bogus grounds, which shows you just how little respect that party now has for our sacred institutions. And it is ready to renominate Trump even though many of those who worked most intimately with him in his first term — including his vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, chief of staff, national security adviser, press secretary, communications director and attorney general — have warned the country in speeches, interviews and memoirs that Trump is erratic, immoral and someone who must never be let near the White House again.

One of the biggest mistakes Americans would be making if they were to elect Trump again is assuming that because we survived four years of his norm-busting, law-abusing, ally-alienating behavior once, we can skate by again without irreparable damage. It is the political equivalent of assuming that because you played Russian roulette once and survived you can play it again. That’s insane.

But that is precisely why this election is so important and precisely why the Democratic Party, which still prioritizes defending our democracy, must urgently produce a presidential candidate with the wits, vitality and appeal to independents to build an electoral majority to preserve our constitutional order.

Nothing else matters today — nothing, nothing, nothing.

But the leader the Democratic Party has right now, President Biden — someone I admire but who clearly has lost a step cognitively and physically — has combatively dug in his heels, lashed out at his critics and dared them to challenge him at the convention, despite the mounting calls for him to step aside. One would hope that his wife and family, who surely know the extent of his physical and mental frailties, would prevail upon him to step aside, but they won’t — seemingly oblivious to the risk this is posing to the country and the whole Biden legacy.

My God, the Devil must be enjoying this. I am not.

If Biden were to win, we’d all need to pray that he can get out of bed every day to carry out his agenda as well as he did in the past. If Trump were to win, we’d all need to pray that he stays in bed all day so that he can’t carry out his impulsive agenda, which seems driven first and foremost by which side of the bed he gets out of.

We can do better than this — and we must. Because this is also no ordinary election season. We are at a profound hinge of history that is going to put us on a roller coaster of job market volatility, geopolitical volatility and climate volatility.

The artificial intelligence revolution of the past four years is widely expected to slam into the white-collar job market in the next four like a Category 5 hurricane. The lengthy Hollywood writers strike last year was just a tiny foretaste of what this destabilizing revolution in white-collar work will look like.

At the same time, we are in the middle of defining the post-post-Cold War order, now that the U.S.-dominated post-Cold War order has come unstuck since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Managing a hostile Russia — aligned with an increasingly hostile China, aligned with malign actors like Iran and North Korea, and super-empowered nonstate actors like Hamas, the Houthis and Hezbollah — will take not only incredibly wise U.S. leadership but also a U.S. leader able to forge multiple alliances. The post-post-Cold War world can’t be managed by a lonely American superpower telling all its allies to spend more on defense or we will leave you to the tender mercies of Vladimir Putin.

And finally, speaking of hurricanes, there is every indication that our core climate change challenge — how we manage the disruptive weather that is already unavoidable and avoid the disruptive weather that would become unmanageable — is now on our doorstep. The decisions we make in the next four years may be our last chance to avoid the unmanageable.

Those are just a few of the anticipated challenges facing the next president. And God save us from the unanticipated ones, like massive climate-driven migrations amplifying geopolitical instability. America always needs clearheaded and vigorous leadership, but we need it now more than ever.

Democrats, if they are being responsible, need to imagine Biden two or three years from now, given the inevitable march of time. Do those running the Biden campaign and those Democratic Party leaders who tell Biden to hang tough really believe that in two years he will have the capacity to carry out the rigorous job of president, with all its pressures, even on a good day? He is already saying he doesn’t want to schedule events past 8 p.m., but the presidency has never been and will never be an 8 a.m.-to-8 p.m. job.

And can you imagine the conspiracy theories that will be circulating on social media and Fox News over “who is actually making decisions?” at the Biden White House when people see a president in two years who is more physically and verbally impaired? The only-Biden Democrats — and the Biden campaign — owe the country an answer to that question. I take no joy in asking it, but ask it we must.

Ditto for Trump. What will it mean for America in the age of A.I. to have a president who swore in an affidavit in a 2022 court case, “Since at least Jan. 1, 2010, it has been my customary practice to not communicate via email, text message, or other digital methods of communication”?

What will it mean to have a president who is a crude-oil-loving climate change skeptic when nearly 70 million Americans were under heat alerts last Sunday, a day on which temperatures in Las Vegas hit 120 degrees for the first time in recorded history?

What will it mean in an age when there is no important problem that can be solved by one country alone — whether mitigating climate change, regulating A.I., dealing with massive global migrations or confronting nuclear proliferation — to have a president who believes in America first and only, and that most allies are freeloaders, that U.S. tariffs are paid by China, not American consumers and that global multilateral institutions — NATO, the W.T.O., the European Union, the W.H.O., the U.N. — are an alphabet soup of useless “globalists”?

Of course, I will vote for Biden if he is the Democratic nominee. And you should, too. We have to do anything we can to stop Trump. But Democrats continuing to insist on putting him there are behaving with dangerous recklessness.

I repeat: Just because we managed to barely survive the Trump stress test to our constitutional order once — not without some serious damage — does not mean our democracy can survive another four Trump years with his now Supreme Court-fortified sense of impunity. Especially if we combine the self-induced stress levels from a second Trump term with the boiling external stresses already building up around us.

That would indeed be playing Russian roulette again — only this time with a fully loaded pistol. That’s a game only the Devil himself would design.

More on the 2024 presidential candidates:

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens: The Presidential Fitness Test Is Back – July 8, 2024

Charles M. Blow, Ross Douthat, David French, Nicholas Kristof, Pamela Paul, Lydia Polgreen, Derek Arthur, Sophia Alvarez Boyd, Vishakha Darbha and Jillian Weinberger: Who Should Lead the Democratic Ticket? Six Columnists Weigh In. – July 4, 2024

Charles M. Blow: Forcing Biden Out Would Have Only One Beneficiary: Trump – July 3, 2024

Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs Opinion columnist. He joined the paper in 1981 and has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is the author of seven books, including “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” which won the National Book Award.

Omnipotent SCOTUS bows to the Court of King Donald

Omnipotent SCOTUS bows to the Court of King Donald

John Hanno – July 4, 2024

I’m astonished, on this Independence Day 2024, the near 250th anniversary, of America’s Founding Father delegates of the Second Continental Congress declaring the original Thirteen Colonies emancipated from the Monarch of Great Britain, King George III., at having to rationalize SCOTUS’s irrational political proclamation, returning subordination of America’s Democratic experiment back to a now unfettered, kleptocratic, facist minded, autocratic King.

The Mighty Oz has spoken. Six extreme right justices of the highest court in the land have shown their true colors. They clearly believe 250 years of American jurisprudence is suspect, and that our elected legislative branch’s of government can’t be trusted to fashion unbiased laws, that large segments of our judicial branch’s of government can’t be trusted to rule fairly and without favor, that the Democratic Institutions which have served us dependably for many decades, can’t be trusted to dispense scientific and reasoned judgments, that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees Freedom of the Press, is just more proof of a deep state conspiracy, that disaffected members of the Rockefeller, Eisenhower, Regan conservative Grand Old Party can’t be trusted to engage in bipartisan governance, and that pro choice women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, environmentalists, gun rights and labor advocates, teachers and librarians, the secular and non christians, all can’t be trusted on anything, and that large majorities of We The People, who are at loggerheads on dozens of critical issues, with this new trump conscripted MAGA cult, with the rich and powerful, and with SCOTUS itself, can’t be trusted.

The uncompromising SCOTUS answer to litigants who seek justice and reasoned deliberation from the Court, and who sometimes kneel in prayer on the steps of the Supreme Court building, begging for help, is:

“You’ve no power here! Begone, before someone drops a house on you too!” Wizard of Oz

This Court’s rulings; sometimes applying originalist or textualist interpretations, sometimes not, sometimes narrow, sometimes expansive, sometimes quick, sometimes slow, sometimes follow The Doctrine of Stare Decisis, but only if it suits them. These consequential decisions, more often than not, render unprecedented and confusing views of the U.S. Constitution, and are befuddling to common folks and legal scholars of every stripe alike.

They might advocate for Fundamental Rights, for corporations yes, but seldom for the less powerful. It’s almost as if they’re taking directives from wealthy, fawning benefactors expecting quid pro quo from justices, or from powerful political party leaders and operatives bent on undermining both the Constitution and our Democracy. Pandering to the rich and powerful, no matter how convoluted in reasoning and no matter how demented or suspect the litigant, is not beyond the courts ability to excuse the un-American and un-Democratic conduct of a demented citizen suffering a boggled mind. One would think that judges who aren’t accountable to anyone, or to any set of rules, who have lifetime jobs, would not be intimidated by the person who hired them.

“As for you, my fine friend, you’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom.” — The Wizard of Oz

The 6 far right Supreme Court Jesters (SCJOTUS) have now putinized the Presidency of the United States. trump was always envious of putin and Kim Jong’s luxury of ruling as Kingly monarchs unconstrained by rules, laws, precedent, integrity, equity, honesty, human decency, and above all, the truth. Toss in the express ability to break any of our mortal laws, including retribution and exacting revenge on any perceived member of one’s enemy’s list, and having been granted the capability of disappearing a political rival, and America’s Democracy is no longer the model for the world to aspire to.

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy

Justice Sotomayor Dissented:

“Looking beyond the fate of this particular prosecution, the long-term consequences of today’s decision are stark. The court effectively creates a law-free zone around the president, upsetting the status quo that has existed since the founding. This new official-acts immunity now ‘lies about like a loaded weapon’ for any president that wishes to place his own interests, his own political survival, or his own financial gain, above the interests of the nation.

“Sotomayor said that the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, invents “an atextual, ahistorical, and unjustifiable immunity that puts the President above the law.””

“Their ruling, she went on, makes three moves that she said “completely insulate Presidents from criminal liability.” Sotomayor said the court creates absolute immunity for the president’s exercise of “core constitutional powers,” creates “expansive immunity for all ‘official acts,'” and “declares that evidence concerning acts for which the President is immune can play no role in any criminal prosecution against him.””

“Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody, not nohow!”— Doorman

Sotomayor warned that the ruling “will have disastrous consequences for the Presidency and for our democracy” and that it sends the message: “Let the President violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends.”

She added, “Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”

In her own written dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said that the majority’s ruling “breaks new and dangerous ground.

“Departing from the traditional model of individual accountability, the majority has concocted something entirely different: a Presidential accountability model that creates immunity—an exemption from criminal law — applicable only to the most powerful official in our Government,” she wrote.

“These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell.” Wicked Witch of the West

Jackson warned that under the majority’s “new Presidential accountability mode,” a hypothetical president “who admits to having ordered the assassinations of his political rivals or critics…or one who indisputably instigates an unsuccessful coup…has a fair shot at getting immunity.”

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” — The Wizard of Oz

Chief Justice Roberts rebukes the 3 liberals on the court, suggesting that his three liberal colleagues had misinterpreted the majority’s opinion and were engaging in “fear mongering.” Roberts argued that they “strike a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the Court actually does today.” He wrote that “like everyone else, the President is subject to prosecution in his unofficial capacity.”

“My goodness, what a fuss you’re making! Well naturally, when you go around picking on things weaker than you are. Why, you’re nothing but a great big coward!” Dorothy

A Biden campaign adviser, on the other hand, said that the ruling doesn’t change what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Donald Trump snapped after he lost the 2020 election and encouraged a mob to overthrow the results of a free and fair election,” the adviser said. “Trump is already running for president as a convicted felon for the very same reason he sat idly by while the mob violently attacked the Capitol: he thinks he’s above the law and is willing to do anything to gain and hold onto power for himself.”

The twice impeached ex president trump, four times indicted by grand juries, convicted on 34 felony counts, awaiting 3 additional trials on scores more felonies for attempting to overturn the 2020 election and overthrow our government, and for stealing top secret confidential documents, was found guilty of rampant fraud personally and in his business, was also found guilty of sexual assault and libel, has so far escaped being held accountable for his 6 years long crime spree. Because he’s been able to spend more than $100 million dollars of other people’s money on legal fees, in order to delay all of his pending cases, that accounting probably won’t happen before the 2024 presidential election.

“Lions, and tigers and bears! Oh my!” “Lions, and tigers and bears! Oh my!” “Lions, and tigers and bears! Oh my!” Dorothy, Tim Man and Scarecrow.

Soon after the court issued the ruling, Trump celebrated the decision on his Truth Social account, writing in all caps: “Big win for our Constitution and democracy. Proud to be an American!”

“Some people without brains do an *awful* lot of talking, don’t they?” The Scarecrow

trump’s conspirators are numerous, starting with the republi-cons in the U.S. Senate, who could have stopped him long ago. Minority Leader McConnell said the former president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol on January 6. But after voting to acquit, McConnell argued that he believed it was unconstitutional to convict a president who was no longer in office.

“For 23 years, I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you, and now… well, being a Christian woman (Senator), I can’t say it!” — Auntie Em

All of the members of the MAGA republi-con congress could have held trump accountable by not condoning or endorsing every hair-brained scheme, criminal conduct, grift and assault on our Democratic institutions, our courts, the independent press and the American voters.

“Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.” — The Wizard of Oz

The embarrassing and comical parade of U.S. Congress men and women, dressed in their cult leader’s blue suit and red tie costume, who pontificated outside the New York court about the injustice of the American system of justice’s attempts to hold trump accountable for his one man crime wave, will be remembered in history for their un-American and treasonous butt kissing of an angry, demented megalomaniac bent on retribution and revenge.

“You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” The Cowardly Lion

The U.S. Constitution establishes 3 equal branches of government. The partisan deadlocked legislative branch has proved powerless to hold trump and many of his cowardly conspirators accountable. The many courts who have ruled against and prosecuted trump for his crimes, in spite of scores of trump lawyers filing hundreds of frivolous, obfuscating briefings aimed primarily at delaying accountability until after the election, have been mostly neutered by this unjustifiable Supreme Court ruling on immunity. This rogue court has attempted to not only usurp and strip legislatures, the lower courts and our Democratic institutions of their Constitutional powers, they have empowered the executive branch and the president with a broad immunity contrary to the founding fathers intensions.

There are some hero’s in this American tragedy. Although the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 to acquit trump at his impeachment trial, for his role in inciting the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, the largest number of senators in history, voted to find a president of their own party guilty of an impeachment charge. Voting to find Trump guilty were GOP Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The Republicans in the House censured and forced out Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of my home state of Illinois, for their courageous role in the January 6th Committee hearings and for referring trump’s conduct to the Justice Department. Liz Cheney has more balls than all the MAGA republi-con men in congress combined.

On September 17, 1787: Benjamin Franklin presided over the first day of the Constitutional Convention, in his home town of Philadelphia.

The day began with a prepared speech from Ben Franklin (PA) who, eighty-one years old and painfully afflicted with gout and kidney stone, was unable to read the speech himself and delegated that task to Wilson (PA).

On September 18, 1787, the final day of the Convention, this now famous quote of Benjamin Franklin was recorded in a journal kept by James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. 

Elizabeth Willing Powel of Philadelphia, asked Dr. Franklin: “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”

Oblique view of Powel house, looking southwest
Elizabeth and Samuel Powel’s house at 244 South Third Street, Philadelphia, where the conversation between Elizabeth Powel and Benjamin Franklin might have taken place. Historic American Buildings Survey. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

It appears we must rely on another 81 year old patriot to help preserve our Democratic Republic. Although not as eloquent as Benjamin Franklin, and in spite of his word fumbles and stutters, President Joseph Biden believes he’s up to the task. I also believe he is. One very important advantage, is Joe Biden’s ability to bring people together to solve America’s and the world’s monumental problems. With the highly qualified and diverse people he’s brought into his administration (none of them indicted, resigned, fired or in prison), to the 50 countries he’s help assembled to defend Ukraine against trump’s brother from another mother, the Biden administration has more than risen to the task over the last 3 1/2 years. But Uncle Joe can’t do it himself, everyone in his administration must step up. And the voters must award the President with a big D Democratic House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Joe Biden is remarkably adept at overcoming trying times.

Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe. I was petrified.” — The Wizard of Oz

trump, on the other hand, hires people not for their expertise at governing or solving problems, but for their ability to dismantle the critical Democratic institutions they’re tasked with running, for their talent at ignoring laws and regulations, for engaging in self-serving financial enrichment, and for turning a blind eye to trump’s chaotic reign of terror. During his administration, the media had flow charts of the dozens of trump appointees who were fired, resigned, indicted, tried, convicted and sent to prison. And all of them had to hire lawyers, and their lawyers had to hire lawyers, and their lawyers, lawyers had to hire lawyers.

And a Final Word From the Library of Congress Blog:

“Another source of Elizabeth Willing Powel’s influence was her own social and political dexterity, which she deployed to make her home a gathering place for the city’s political elite from the revolutionary period through George Washington’s presidency. Among the regulars at Powel’s dinners and parties were George and Martha Washington, with whom the Powel’s became close friends. Letters exchanged between the couples are in the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress. One of these, from Elizabeth Powel to George Washington, dates from the third year of Washington’s first term as president, a time when he was hoping he would be able to resign the presidency and go home.

Detail of letter from Elizabeth Willing Powel to George Washington
“May you, till the extremest old age, enjoy the pure Felicity of having employed your whole Faculties for the Prosperity of the People for whose Happiness you are responsible, for to you their Happiness is intrusted.” Elizabeth Willing Powel to George Washington, November 17, 1792, George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division.

In his 1789 inaugural address, and in many private letters as well, Washington made clear that he was longing to return to his retirement at Mount Vernon. Less than a week after his inauguration, he wrote to former military officer and South Carolina legislator Edward Rutledge that when he accepted his “duty to embark” on the presidency, which he described as “the tempestuous and uncertain Ocean of public life,” he “gave up all expectations of private happiness in this world.” In the fall of 1792, seeing the end of his first term in sight, Washington began planning his exit. Elizabeth Willing Powel was among the friends who convinced him to stay. In her letter she warned him that his political opponents would see his resignation as a sign that he believed the republican experiment had failed and, fearing for his own reputation, had “withdrawn from it that you might not be crushed under its Ruins.” She pleaded with him: “For Gods sake do not yield . . . to a Love of Ease, Retirement, rural Pursuits.”

Please don’t retire Joe !

George Clooney: I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee.

By George Clooney – July 10, 2024

President Biden at a fundraiser in Los Angeles in June.Credit…Alex Brandon/Associated Press

I’m a lifelong Democrat; I make no apologies for that. I’m proud of what my party represents and what it stands for. As part of my participation in the democratic process and in support of my chosen candidate, I have led some of the biggest fund-raisers in my party’s history. Barack Obama in 2012. Hillary Clinton in 2016. Joe Biden in 2020. Last month I co-hosted the single largest fund-raiser supporting any Democratic candidate ever, for President Biden’s re-election. I say all of this only to express how much I believe in this process and how profound I think this moment is.

I love Joe Biden. As a senator. As a vice president and as president. I consider him a friend, and I believe in him. Believe in his character. Believe in his morals. In the last four years, he’s won many of the battles he’s faced.

But the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time. None of us can. It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe “big F-ing deal” Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.

Was he tired? Yes. A cold? Maybe. But our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw. We’re all so terrified by the prospect of a second Trump term that we’ve opted to ignore every warning sign. The George Stephanopoulos interview only reinforced what we saw the week before. As Democrats, we collectively hold our breath or turn down the volume whenever we see the president, who we respect, walk off Air Force One or walk back to a mic to answer an unscripted question.

Is it fair to point these things out? It has to be. This is about age. Nothing more. But also nothing that can be reversed. We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate. This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and congress member and governor that I’ve spoken with in private. Every single one, irrespective of what he or she is saying publicly.

We love to talk about how the Republican Party has ceded all power, and all of the traits that made it so formidable with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, to a single person who seeks to hold on to the presidency, and yet most of our members of Congress are opting to wait and see if the dam breaks. But the dam has broken. We can put our heads in the sand and pray for a miracle in November, or we can speak the truth.

It is disingenuous, at best, to argue that Democrats have already spoken with their vote and therefore the nomination is settled and done, when we just received new and upsetting information. We all think Republicans should abandon their nominee now that he’s been convicted of 34 felonies. That’s new and upsetting information as well. Top Democrats — Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, Nancy Pelosi — and senators, representatives and other candidates who face losing in November need to ask this president to voluntarily step aside.

All of the scary stories that we’re being told about what would happen next are simply not true. In all likelihood, the money in the Biden-Harris coffers could go to help elect the presidential ticket and other Democrats. The new nominee wouldn’t be left off ballots in Ohio. We Democrats have a very exciting bench. We don’t anoint leaders or fall sway to a cult of personality; we vote for a president. We can easily foresee a group of several strong Democrats stepping forward to stand and tell us why they’re best qualified to lead this country and take on some of the deeply concerning trends we’re seeing from the revenge tour that Donald Trump calls a presidential campaign.

Let’s hear from Wes Moore and Kamala Harris and Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsom and Andy Beshear and J.B. Pritzker and others. Let’s agree that the candidates not attack one another but, in the short time we have, focus on what will make this country soar. Then we could go into the Democratic convention next month and figure it out.

Would it be messy? Yes. Democracy is messy. But would it enliven our party and wake up voters who, long before the June debate, had already checked out? It sure would. The short ramp to Election Day would be a benefit for us, not a danger. It would give us the chance to showcase the future without so much opposition research and negative campaigning that comes with these ridiculously long and expensive election seasons. This can be an exciting time for democracy, as we’ve just seen with the 200 or so French candidates who stepped aside and put their personal ambitions on hold to save their democracy from the far right.

Joe Biden is a hero; he saved democracy in 2020. We need him to do it again in 2024.

George Clooney is an actor, director and film producer.

More on Joe Biden and 2024:

Bret Stephens: The Abyss Stares Back at Joe Biden: July 9, 2024

Clark Hoyt: I Share a Birthday With President Biden. Ask Me About Our Age. – July 10, 2024

James Carville: Biden Won’t Win. Democrats Need a Plan. Here’s One. – July 8, 2024

The Editorial Board: The Democratic Party Must Speak the Plain Truth to the President – July 8, 2024