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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

McConnell: Senate Will Vote Wednesday On $40 Billion Ukraine Aid Package

(Reuters) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that he expects the Senate to vote on Wednesday to approve about $40 billion in proposed aid to help Ukraine resist Russia's invasion, after holding a related procedural vote on Monday.

"We expect to invoke cloture -- hopefully by a significant margin -- on the motion to proceed on Monday, which would set us up to approve the supplemental on Wednesday," McConnell told reporters on a conference call from Stockholm after visiting the Ukrainian capital on Saturday. He was referring to a procedural "cloture" vote that caps further debate on a matter at 30 hours.

President Joe Biden requested $33 billion in aid for Ukraine on April 28, including over $20 billion in military assistance. The U.S. House of Representatives boosted the sum to roughly $40 billion, adding more military and humanitarian aid.

Speaking from the capital of Sweden, which along with Finland plans to seek membership in NATO, McConnell voiced strong support for both countries joining the 30-member Western military alliance created to deter Soviet aggression.

"They have very capable militaries, both of them," McConnell said. "They will be important additions to NATO if they choose to join, and I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed in St.Paul, Minnesota, and Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by Matthew Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Ukraine Is Our War -- And Joe Biden Is Our Wartime President

We and our allies are in a war to save civilization. Fortunately for us, Ukrainians are doing the fighting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's barbaric assault on Ukraine has awakened Europe to the reality that he is truly evil and could continue his march westward. It is no coincidence that Sweden and Finland — once fiercely neutral countries — now show serious interest in joining NATO. Ukraine is not in NATO, which is why members of the military alliance have held back in sending in their forces.

It is also the West's good fortune that Joe Biden is president and not Donald Trump. Overseeing a flood of arms to Ukraine as it fights alone, Biden is playing Franklin Roosevelt to Ukraine's Winston Churchill, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And he's doing it carefully, working with allies to squeeze Russia financially and giving Ukraine the means to defend itself, all the while carefully trying to avoid a wider conflict.

This is a full-time job whose consequences are not politically helpful. Confronting Putin has raised the cost of gasoline. It's making food more expensive. The resulting inflation has hiked the cost of borrowing to buy a home.

This, plus the carnage in Ukraine, is making Americans feel bad. The tendency in such circumstances is to blame the president, even when the president is doing the best job possible managing crises that aren't his fault. (The one exception for Biden would be his fuzzy messages about easing immigration restrictions at a time of a surge at the border.)

Those worried about climate change must hold their tongues as Biden releases 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Same goes for his plan to open some public lands to new drilling.

It's hard to calculate the threat to national security had Trump won reelection — or succeeded in pulling off a coup after he lost. Trump was God's gift to Putin and his maniacal plans. Russians have owned him for decades.

In 1987, Trump took out full-page newspaper ads urging Americans to stop paying to defend others, the big subtext being to leave NATO. (George W. Bush and Barack Obama also called for other countries to raise defense spending but didn't dream of using that as an excuse to compromise U.S. security.)

These were Russian talking points parroted by a real estate investor whom the Russians were bailing out of bankruptcies. Trump in return laundered Russian oligarch/mob money through sales of U.S. property in all-cash, anonymous transactions. One example is the deluxe Trump Towers in Miami's Sunny Isles Beach, now known as "Little Russia."

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help elect comrade Trump. He came through for the Russians three years later when he blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Trump claims that Putin would never have invaded Ukraine had he still been president. This is the opposite of true. Trump's advisers reportedly warned him that blowing up NATO would be unpopular and could cost him reelection.

"Yeah, the second term," Trump is said to have responded. "We'll do it in the second term."

Had Trump succeeded, Putin would now have free rein to rampage through Eastern Europe and who knows where else.

After calling Putin "a genius" for invading Ukraine, Trump added, "I know him very well. Very, very well."

Apparently not nearly as well as Putin knows Trump.

As a wartime president, Biden has one mission: to stop the aggressor. He doesn't have the luxury to obsess over rough poll numbers related to inflation. And the culture wars can wait. Right now, the only war that matters is the one directed at defeating Putin.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: jorono at Pixabay


Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

When Biden Smacked Putin, He Was Playing Bad Cop

In Michael Kinsley’s immortal definition, "a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say." By that standard, the term would definitely apply to Joe Biden’s recent condemnation of Vladimir Putin.

“For God’s sake,” Biden blurted out “this man cannot remain in power.”

An international coalition of Nervous Nellies and lunchroom monitors pronounced themselves aghast. You’d think the president had purposely broken wind at a state dinner, or proclaimed a Supreme Court justice’s wife to be as crazy as an outhouse rat.

No sooner had he made the remark at the end of a powerful speech expressing the West’s determination to resist Russian aggression—Biden warned Putin not to advance “on one single inch” of NATO territory—than White House staff began walking it back. “Regime change” in Russia, they emphasized, is not American policy.

A hand-wringing Washington Post headline read: “Biden’s Putin remark pushes U.S.-Russia relations closer to collapse.”

Not Putin’s manifest crimes against humanity, mind you, but Biden’s outburst. Might it not push Putin’s imagined paranoia over the edge?

On the Sunday talk shows, Republican politicians competed with Kremlin spokesmen to express their shock. On NBC’s Meet the Press, GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio worried that Biden’s indignation “plays into the hands of Russian propagandists and plays into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”

Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitri Peskov said it wasn’t up to Biden to decide who the Russian president should be. Somewhat laughably, he insisted that was up to the “Russian people,” whose say-so is entirely theoretical, given Putin’s practice of having political rivals jailed or murdered. Indeed, the Little Tsar’s reign resembles nothing so much as a series of footnotes to Dostoyevsky’s prophetic 1872 novel The Possessed. Suffice it to say that Russia has never experienced democracy—lurching periodically from one form of dictatorship to another.

Even so, America’s imaginary determination to conquer Russia is a major feature of the Putin regime’s propaganda, despite the U.S. having restrained itself from trying since 1945. Anybody familiar with Russian suffering in World War II can understand a degree of national paranoia, although Biden was surely correct to say that Putin’s pledge to “de-Nazify” Ukraine is both “cynical” and “obscene.”

Nevertheless, to many Russians, it plays,

That said, and much to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s dismay, everything about President Biden’s strong, but measured approach to Ukraine’s agony has demonstrated extreme U.S. reluctance to go to war in Russia’s backyard. First Napoleon and then Adolf Hitler long ago proved the futility of doing so.

And that was before Russia acquired nuclear weapons.

Even so, God forbid that the Russian dictator should get his little feelings hurt. Why he might do something crazy, such as bomb Ukrainian apartment buildings, hospitals and orphanages.

War crimes all.

Even French President Emanuel Macron of France, a stalwart NATO ally, expressed a degree of concern with Biden’s outburst. “I wouldn’t use this kind of words,” Macron of France said in a television interview. He said that he hoped to broker a cease-fire and a Russian withdrawal by diplomatic means. “If we want to do this,” Macron added, “we mustn’t escalate,” he said, “neither with words nor with actions.”

Down at the police station, this tactic is known as the Good Cop/Bad Cop approach to dealing with recalcitrant suspects. And cops use it because it works. Do you want to cut a deal with the very angry American president, or the more understanding French one?

Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, put it another way. President Biden, he said, had used words “that must make Putin clearly understand that he has to stop.” The American president,” he added, made “a very clear speech, he used resolute words…But let’s remember that on the other side, Putin uses bombs.”

Was Ronald Reagan wrong to call the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire?” Was it a terrible gaffe by a doddering old man to personalize the Cold War, when Reagan urged “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall?” Many thought so at the time, but few would say so now.

In his Warsaw speech, Biden cast the Ukraine crisis as a new Cold War, a generational conflict: “a new great battle for freedom: a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between rules-based order and one governed by brute force.”

Like blogger Kevin Drum, I doubt Biden’s spontaneous remark will send Putin over the edge. “Quite the opposite: the fact that Biden is obviously very sincere in his loathing of Putin makes it clear that the US and NATO are unlikely to back down in Ukraine.” He’d be well advised to find a pathway to retreat from a disaster of his own creation.

Good cop/Bad cop.

Biden himself now says he never meant to endorse a policy of “regime change,” but had an emotional reaction to meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

That’s good enough for me.

In Europe, Biden Mockingly Welcomes Trump 2024 Candidacy

At a press conference during an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels on Russia’s attack on Ukraine one European reporter asked President Joe Biden if he’s making decisions about Putin’s illegal war with a potential Donald Trump 2024 run in mind.

The reporter, from Der Spiegel, cited “widespread concerns” in Europe that Trump may run in 2024, and asked Biden if he and NATO are working to ensure the work they are doing today cannot be undone by any second Trump presidency.

“That’s not how I think of this,” President Biden responded, stating that his focus is on the matter in front of him, not on the 2024 election. He spoke about the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville with their “vile” slogans and Trump – who he did not name – saying “there were very good people on both sides,” motivating him to run for President.

“No election is worth my not doing what I think is exactly the right thing,” Biden said.

“I don’t think you’ll find any European leader who thinks that I am not up to the job,” he added.

But President Biden seemed to welcome his former opponent running in 2024.

“The next election I’d be very fortunate if I had that same man running against me,” Biden, mocking the severely politically damaged, twice impeached former president who is reportedly under multiple investigations.

Watch:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Ukraine Speech Biden Should Deliver Now

President Joe Biden should deliver an Oval Office address. Here is a suggestion:

My fellow Americans, our country has been through several tough years. The pandemic was a severe blow. But even more serious than the disease was the fraying of our national spirit. We've been so polarized that we've forgotten our core identity as a country — that we stand for democracy and freedom.

In the past few years, some Americans have lost faith in those things. So this is a moment to refocus. When Russian tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory on the night of Feb. 24, the savage attack on a peaceful neighbor reminded the world of what autocracy looks like.

This is what can happen when a strongman exerts his will unrestrained by free elections, the rule of law, public opinion, a free press or a loyal opposition. This horror — young men killed; civilians deprived of food, water and power; families separated — the entire heartbreaking story — is the face of autocracy.

But here's another thing we've been reminded of — the war on truth. Through relentless lies and propaganda, and by suppressing all outlets that tell the truth, Vladimir Putin has been able to persuade millions of Russians of an alternate reality. His state media have said that the war is defensive. They've claimed that Ukraine was preparing to commit genocide against Russians, that it was ruled by a Nazi clique and that only military targets are being struck. All lies. Vicious, cynical lies.

Most people are peaceable and fair. They won't support wars of aggression. No, the only way to get assent for evil acts is to propagandize people and convince them that up is down and black is white.

On the subject of righteousness, let's not forget the brave Russians who have seen through Putin's alternate reality and are risking everything to protest the atrocity that is being perpetrated in their name. Tens of thousands of ordinary Russians have taken to the streets to protest this war, and thousands have been detained — because speaking the truth is a crime in Russia. The regime calls it "fake news." That has a familiar ring.

Putin believed that the world's democracies were weak and decadent. He could not have been more wrong. He misjudged the Ukrainians. He misjudged his own military. He misjudged NATO. And he misjudged the United States.

Putin thought NATO was on its deathbed. Today, he is staring at an alliance that is rearming, reuniting and reconfirming its determination to defend freedom. And it may soon welcome new members.

Those supposedly weak and divided democracies have managed to resupply the Ukrainians with Stingers and Javelins and rifles and grenades and machine guns and moral support. Those putatively decadent Westerners have reduced the ruble's value to a fraction of a penny. The Russian stock market has been closed for three weeks, fearing a complete collapse. The ostensibly feckless West has deprived the oligarchs of their yachts and their London mansions, and frozen half of the country's foreign reserves.

Putin has clarified certain realities. He has reminded the NATO alliance and everyone who lives in freedom of how precious democracy is. What was Ukraine's offense? Ukrainians wanted to be like Europe and the United States, free and democratic, not like Russia.

Putin's war has already brutalized that brave nation. And we cannot ignore the additional harms this war will cause. A world just starting to recover from two years of a pandemic will now endure more disruptions and more shortages and more inflation. I have been so moved that Americans have responded to the prospect of higher prices with resolve. As many Americans have affirmed: "It's a small price to pay for freedom."

Let's talk a bit more about energy: Putin believed that the democracies couldn't get along without his oil and gas. The world is sending the opposite signal, but we must use all of the clean power available to us. There would be no more painful outcome for Putin and other autocrats around the globe than for us to embrace clean, safe nuclear energy. And the climate would thank us, too.

We've heard lots of cheap talk in the United States in recent years about strength. Some have even admired Putin's brand of autocracy because he was supposedly a strong leader.

But here's what Putin has reminded us of — strength alone is not a virtue. Only strength used for good is admirable. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is what true toughness looks like: strength in the service of good.

We Americans have made some mistakes, but all in all, we use our power to enhance freedom and human dignity. We use our power to keep the peace. We use our power to uphold the truth. And we will remain a beacon of liberty and democracy for the world.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.com