The bad news for democracy continues overseas on today's BradCast, but there is at least a bit of better news on that front back here at home. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
FIRST UP, the latest on the crisis in Eastern Europe: Ukraine declares a nationwide state of emergency; Russian troops are said to be "as ready as they can be" and "literally ready to go now, if they get the order to go," according to U.S. officials; Nancy Pelosi describes the Russia's aggression as "an attack on democracy'; China's U.N. ambassador seeks a diplomatic and peaceful solution for "safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states"; And a new AP polls finds little support among Americans for a "major role in the conflict" (though a "minor" one is much more popular.)
THEN, with that grim news for democracy overseas, some slightly better news back home. The GOP majority on the Ohio Redistricting Committee has, apparently, given up in their attempt to draw state legislative and U.S. House maps that they can live with and which meet the new requirements of both the state constitution and state Supreme Court. What that means for the future of those maps, with primary election deadlines drawing near in a close-divided if GOP-leaning state, is currently unknown. But it's likely not good new for Republicans who had hoped to continue their extreme gerrymanders of the past 10 years.
In the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania some (almost) unambiguously good news along these lines. After a standoff between the commonwealth's GOP state legislature and Democratic Governor, today PA's Supreme Court has selected a map to be used that is supported by Democrats, voting rights advocates and is seen as fair by political analysts, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The new map will combine two currently Republican U.S. House districts into one, to make up for PA's loss of a House seat following the 2020 census. That said, there is still an existing federal lawsuit against the new maps filed by a number of Republicans. And with the GOP's packed federal courts, anything could happen these days.
NEXT, it's back to Ukraine. Or, at least, U.S. foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine which our guest today, JOHN JUDIS, argues has helped lead to this moment of crisis and potential war for many years, not unlike other failures of U.S. foreign policy where America has failed to play the long game.
Judis is a journalist, author and Editor-at-Large for Talking Points Memo after spending two and a half decades at The New Republic. His latest book (his eighth), is The Politics of Our Time: Populism, Nationalism, and Socialism and his latest piece for TPM, which we discuss in detail today, is "A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia".
He details how the latest mess in Ukraine begins way back in the late 80s and early 90s and, like a number of similar U.S. foreign policy failures in recent decades, was based on the misguided theory "that as you become more capitalist, you become more democratic. This was an entirely abstract notion, not borne out by any particular experience, but more by a kind of millennial dream that Americans have had of a world transformation, of making the world like us. And it backfired."
Judis, who notes in his TPM piece that he both opposes Putin's "decision to dismember Ukraine" and supports "placing sanctions on Russia," nonetheless cites China, Iraq and now Russia/Ukraine in our conversation today as case studies where "we sort of get into these things willy-nilly. Where we start off, we're going to make things better and we end up with a big war."
Among the many related topics we delve into here: America's broken promise to prevent NATO from moving east toward Russia after the end of the Cold War; Putin's "designs on expansion" and whether expansion of NATO is really what's triggering him; Or is it fear of a prosperous democracy next door in a former Soviet state?; What was the real U.S. interest in the expansion of NATO? Was it security or a money machine for the arms industry?; And why has the U.S. so consistently failed to play the "long ball" game in so many of its foreign policy gambits?; Is declaring neutrality for Ukraine the best way out of this mess?; And why did Judis find it necessary to put forward a "dissenting view" to so many of the "foreign policy establishment types" receiving much of the airtime on American media outlets, arguing only on "a very narrow, tactical basis"?
As Desi notes after the discussion, you'll get a broad "history lesson" along with much more in today's conversation with Judis.
FINALLY, bad news in New York? It sure seems like it today. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon that the two lead prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s criminal investigation of Donald Trump and his company have abruptly resigned. That, after a monthlong pause in what had previously been an accelerating investigation last month, and after the new D.A., Alvin Bragg, finally got fully up to speed after succeeding Cyrus Vance, Jr. at the end of last year. The Times reports that Bragg reportedly has "doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump." The new D.A.'s office, however, says that the investigation remains ongoing. There is still much unknown here, but the civil probe by NY's state Attorney General Letitia James, looking into many of the same alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud schemes by Trump and his company, continues to power forward, as does another lesser discussed criminal probe by the D.A. in New York's Westchester County...
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