COMPASS: Ukraine divides the GOP

February 22nd, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. Happy President’s Day (or, for the purists, Washington’s Birthday!).

The House and Senate are out this week, and all eyes are on Russia, Ukraine, and if Joe Biden is awake for it all. There is more than enough coverage on the issue to sate your appetite, but I did find this dispatch from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton – on the splits the issue is creating among the right – to be an interesting take:

The unfolding crisis in Ukraine is creating tensions between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans who back a tough military posture toward Russia, and those more aligned with former President Trump’s “America First” worldview.  

McConnell has emerged as a leading proponent of the traditional Republican foreign policy views, advocating for a strong military that protects American interests and deters foreign threats around the world.  

He led the effort in Congress to push back against Trump’s plan in 2019 to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in Syria.  

Now he’s pushing Biden to send U.S. troops to NATO allies bordering Ukraine and military arms and intelligence to Ukraine itself.  

“The United States and our partners should waste no time in helping Ukraine prepare for war. Weapons, materiel, advice, logistics, intelligence. We should be building the infrastructure to help Ukrainians sustain their resistance to Russian aggression if and when it comes,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday.  

Republican senators more closely aligned with Trump and his “America First” worldview are leery about shifting additional NATO and U.S. troops along Poland’s and Romania’s borders with Ukraine.  

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago last year, says other steps should be taken before shifting U.S. troops closer to potential hostilities with Russian forces.  

“The last thing you ever want to do is have troops at risk,” Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. “So I think they ought to do the other things first.” 

“I think we ought to do it in this order: No. 1, shut down Nord Stream 2; No. 2, go ahead and sanction Russia; No. 3, get all of our allies to do the same thing,” he said. Nord Stream 2 is the natural gas pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.   

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) says Republican voters are suspicious of the U.S. getting involved in new foreign military entanglements. 

“I would describe my own foreign policy views as nationalist, and that means we shouldn’t be trying to build a liberal empire abroad, we shouldn’t be trying to be the world’s policemen, we need to act what’s in the best interest of America’s national security, economic security,” he said, arguing that the United States should prioritize China as “the leading threat.”  

“That means that we can’t expand our security commitments in Europe,” he said, suggesting that the United States should reduce troop levels in Europe instead of sending more soldiers.  

“There’s a question of repositioning troops that are already there, that’s one thing. Sending new troops, expanding the security commitment in the form of expanding NATO, I just think that’s a strategic mistake,” he added.  

And in other news, the CDC appears to be withholding COVID data. From the New York Times:

Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected, several people familiar with the data said.

Much of the withheld information could help state and local health officials better target their efforts to bring the virus under control. Detailed, timely data on hospitalizations by age and race would help health officials identify and help the populations at highest risk. Information on hospitalizations and death by age and vaccination status would have helped inform whether healthy adults needed booster shots. And wastewater surveillance across the nation would spot outbreaks and emerging variants early.

Without the booster data for 18- to 49-year-olds, the outside experts whom federal health agencies look to for advice had to rely on numbers from Israel to make their recommendations on the shots.

Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency has been slow to release the different streams of data “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She said the agency’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.”

Another reason is fear that the information might be misinterpreted, Ms. Nordlund said…

The performance of vaccines and boosters, particularly in younger adults, is among the most glaring omissions in data the C.D.C. has made public.”

I guess the CDC wouldn’t want those normal people – you know, the ones who pay the salaries of CDC employees – to have access to the data on all those vaccines they’re being forced to take. What if they start to think for themselves? Can’t have that. More on how the CDC has diminished its credibility from The Federalist.


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One More Thing…

Donald Trump’s new social media app, Truth Social, had a bumpy rollout yesterday. But can the app withstand the scrutiny of Apple the gatekeeper of the free market? Is a censorship free app even possible when Apple and Google set the terms of what’s permissible? I examine both questions here.