Trump to Putin: Do What You Want in Europe - The Monday AM Quickie 2/12/24

I'm still on my whale video kick. -Jacob
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Trump Promises Russia a Free Hand in Europe

At a campaign event in South Carolina on Saturday, former President Donald Trump said that he would encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to do what he wanted to NATO members who are "delinquent" on their bills (which is not a thing). Trump has long treated NATO as a protection racket – beautiful Eastern Europe you got there, would be a shame if something happened to it – and has repeatedly accused allies of not paying their fair share. NATO members have agreed to devote 2 percent of their annual GDP to military spending, but there's no bill or collective fund to which they're in arrears. Like so much that comes out of Trump's mouth, this grievance is pure invention.

Or as the former president put it, sliding into one of his rambling "please, sir" stories:

"One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’” Trump told an audience at a campaign rally in South Carolina. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want."

The crowd roared – probably not because they'd like to see Estonia absorbed into Russia but simply because they love when Trump plays a petty mafioso. It speaks to the reactionary anger that has animated MAGA since Trump descended the political escalator in June 2015. He simply doesn't care about anyone else, much less shibboleths about the global international order. And they love him for it as much as they like his plan to deport millions of people.

By Sunday, Trump was riffing about more pressing matters. On Truth Social, he complained about – who else – Taylor Swift:

"I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists. Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will. There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money."

Israel Prepares to Invade Rafah

Israeli forces continued to bomb Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians – half of all Gazans – are sheltered on a tiny stamp of land. Bereft of food, water, and medical care, the crisis in Gaza continues to provoke the world's outrage. But not Joe Biden's. After describing Israel's response to the Oct. 7 attacks as "over the top," some saw some potential for daylight between US and Israeli policy. Yet Biden hasn't done much beyond telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a phone call, that Israel needed a "credible and executable plan" to protect the people in Rafah, who fled their homes and gathered in Rafah because Israel promised it was a safe zone. Now, these refugees, facing renewed attacks, have nowhere to go.

Super Bowl Occurs

Surely you subscribed to this newsletter to learn that the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off in yesterday's Super Bowl. The Chiefs won. So did Taylor Swift and the advertisers and Usher. And maybe Joe Biden? Take heart, friend: spring training is already here.


  • Defense Secretary Hospitalized Again Pentagon honcho Lloyd Austin, who's being treated for prostate cancer, was hospitalized on Sunday for a bladder issue. Unlike his hospitalization last month, he disclosed this one. The Pentagon Inspector General is investigating the January incident, and Austin is scheduled to testify in front of Congress on Feb. 29. via Reuters.
  • Ukraine Claims That Russia Is Using Starlink The Ukrainian government claimed that a Russian military brigade is using Starlink, Elon Musk's satellite-based internet service, in Donetsk, in occupied eastern Ukraine. Musk denied that his company has sold Starlink terminals to the Russian government. via CNN and Elon Musk/X.
  • Alphabet-Owned Self-Driving Car Set on Fire in SF On Saturday in San Francisco, a crowd vandalized a Waymo autonomous car – test vehicles that are known to stop in the middle of intersections, among other traffic snafus – before someone threw a lit firework into the car, setting it ablaze. The vehicle had no passengers at the time. via NBC Bay Area and Reuters.
  • Senate Votes for Military Aid Bill The Senate voted 67-27 to pass a bill that would provide $95 billion in military aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. The bill, which has been carved out from the failed border/national security bill and is opposed by Trump and MAGA loyalists, may not pass the Republican-led House. via Politico and New York Times.



That's how many felonies Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. pleaded guilty to for his role in a September 2020 gender reveal party that accidentally started a fire in Yucaipa, California, which killed a firefighter. The fire consumed more than 22,000 acres and destroyed at least five homes. Jimenez Jr. will spend one year in county jail. His wife Angelina Jimenez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and received probation. They will also have to, somehow, pay a $1.7 million fine.


2/12: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Lainey Newman, research assistant at Harvard Law School, to discuss her recent book Rust Belt Union Blues: Why Working-Class Voters Are Turning Away from the Democratic Party, co-authored with Theda Skocpol


Brett Weinstein's Racist Mental Gymnastics Blow Tucker's Mind

Only a very gifted and damaged mind can come up with this stuff.

Conservatives Declare War On Each Other

The failed border bill has exposed a rift between the Republican Party's key factions of competent racists and inept bigots.


"They’re casting around for somebody who gives a shit about their stupid right-wing anti-vax politics, and nobody does. They have a candidate now. His name is Donald Trump. It’s probably the stupidest political strategy I’ve ever seen."

-- Former Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark, speaking about his party's embrace of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The LP has a lot of whacko concerns – 2016 nominee Gary Johnson was booed for being against abolishing driver's licenses – but it has ballot access in every state. That makes it a potential home for RFK Jr., whose We the People party needs to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures in order to get him on state ballots this fall.