Finding the Right Track
Mr. Biden's Wild Ride....
You know the drill.
Now, let’s do this thing again.
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Almost everything President Biden does can be seen through the prism of right track/wrong track.
Except those things that can’t be cleanly viewed in that binary manner.
Let’s start our week together giving it a try.
First, let it be said that that was quite possibly the best 48 hours of four NFL games in the history of the Republic.
I’m not certain Joe Biden gets full credit for that happening, but it certainly cannot hurt the nation’s right track number.
What else does the White House plan this week to get things headed in the correct direction?
The goal: “lower prices for working families.”
If accomplished, that would definitely help the “right track” numbers, along with the presidential job approval ratings.
Nothing on the schedule (so far) about the vaunted POTUS page-turning travel across America to talk to some of those families.
But stay tuned.
What will happen to Mr. Biden’s approval rating if there is a war with Russia?
As the US and Europe mount increasingly frantic efforts to deter Russia from any invasion of Ukraine, it's Chinese President Xi Jinping who may have the biggest influence on Mr Vladimir Putin's timetable.
The Russian President has said he will join Mr Xi at the opening ceremony on Feb 4 of the Beijing Winter Olympics, where the Chinese leader has lavished billions of dollars to showcase his nation's superpower status to the world.
The last thing Mr Xi needs is for Mr Putin to overshadow China's big moment by triggering a global security crisis with the US and Europe.
* Raise your hand if you think Germany is staying on board:
Germany’s dependence on Russian gas has left Europe short of options to sanction Moscow if it invades Ukraine—and itself vulnerable should Russia stop gas exports to the West.
A two-decade-old decision to phase out nuclear power and more recent moves to cut reliance on coal in an effort to bring down CO2 emissions mean Germany is now more reliant on Russian gas than most of its neighbors, not just for heating but also for power generation.
This year, the country’s last three nuclear power plants will be closed, just as Germany faces some of the highest energy prices in the developed world. All German coal plants are due to be closed by 2038.
With cheap gas reliably flowing from Russia for decades, successive governments never built an infrastructure to import more expensive liquefied natural gas from major exporters such as the U.S. or Qatar. The country currently has no LNG terminal of its own.
These factors have converged to make Germany the biggest buyer of Russian gas in the world. It draws more than half of its gas imports from Russia against around 40% on average for the European Union, according to the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat. (Wall Street Journal)
LONDON — An increasingly anxious Europe is waking up to the threat posed by Russia’s military buildup on the borders of Ukraine, but deep divisions among and within European nations stand in the way of a unified Western response.
NATO and European Union officials have repeatedly stressed that the continent stands firm in its desire to prevent a Russian assault on Ukraine and in its willingness to inflict punishment on Russia if an invasion is launched.
But there is no unanimity on how best to go about deterring Russia or what measures to take in the event of an attack on Ukraine.
Europe’s three biggest powers, Germany, France and Britain, are pursuing sharply divergent approaches while also confronting domestic political distractions. Other countries are lining up on varying sides according to their geographical proximity to Russia, their dependence on Russia for their energy supplies and for reasons of history.
Fiona Hill, whose recent commentary on Russia across lots of platforms and programs has been cutting edge, says Putin wants a bigger win over the West than just Ukraine.
BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO said Monday that it’s putting extra forces on standby and sending more ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe as Russia continues its troop build-up near Ukraine.
It said that it’s beefing up its “deterrence” presence in the Baltic Sea area. A number of members of the 30-country military organization have offered troops and equipment.
Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and deploying F-16 war planes to Lithuania. Spain is sending ships to join NATO’s standing maritime force and considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria. France stands ready to send troops to Bulgaria, NATO said.
* The New York Times (along with other outlets) reports that the Biden administration is considering putting more forces in the region, and reminds us all of this:
More than 150 U.S. military advisers are in Ukraine, trainers who have for years worked out of the training ground near Lviv, in the country’s west, far from the front lines. The current group includes Special Operations forces, mostly Army Green Berets, as well as National Guard trainers from Florida’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Military advisers from about a dozen allied countries are also in Ukraine, U.S. officials said. Several NATO countries, including Britain, Canada, Lithuania and Poland, have regularly sent training forces to the country.
In the event of a full-scale Russian invasion, the United States intends to move its military trainers out of the country quickly. But it is possible that some Americans could stay to advise Ukrainian officials in Kyiv, the capital, or provide frontline support, a U.S. official said.
With talks between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine continuing into next week, who gains more leverage as the diplomatic clock ticks?
Following an agreement in Geneva on Friday to extend negotiations, each side is moving to beef up their military capabilities in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has positioned more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine and is continuing to expand his military deployments in Belarus and may be sending more amphibious vessels to the Black Sea.
Ukraine, for its part, received the first of a new package of military support from the U.S. on Friday: nearly 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition. Shipments of Stinger antiaircraft missiles and Javelin antitank missiles from the Baltic states have been approved by Washington and are also on the way.
Defense officials and military analysts said the question over leverage depends largely on Mr. Putin’s thinking. From the start, Russia has set the timetable, deciding to assemble its invasion force that is projected to reach its peak strength in February.
* Is the evacuation of Americans from Ukraine shades of Afghanistan, logistically and politically?
Schools should be open, pandemic or not, much of the public says. If only they all had what they need to function….
The problem…in many…schools boils down to a mismatch between demand and supply. While many officials and parents nationwide push to keep kids in school and away from remote learning, Omicron has left many schools short of the essentials needed to operate, like teachers, substitutes, bus drivers, cafeteria workers—and sometimes students themselves.
A long New York Times reconstruction of Team Biden’s pandemic record is largely negative, including this:
No single public health expert has the role of guiding the response, running interference between various players or standing up to the White House when necessary.
“There is no formal decision-making process,” one senior federal official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Who is in charge of all this?”
And/but given the reality behind the scenes and the Democrats who held their tongues on this one, Ron Klain knows they dodged a bullet.
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