A Closer Look

Talk about competition! I could have justified picking any of several stories as the biggest in American politics last week. I decided on a, in my mind, five pronged one. Please read on.

Last week Congress finally passed and President Biden signed into law a package of bills that provided aid to three regions as well as attempted to set a deadline for banning Tik Tok in America. Like most good legislation this package was a compromise where no one got everything they asked for, most got what they really needed and many members of Congress held their nose on at least one aye vote.

President Biden asked for an aid package for Ukraine back in October. House Speaker Mike Johnson finally put it on the floor in April. Those who are holding him out as a courageous hero are mistaken! Johnson has once again proven himself to be woefully inadequate for the job. It certainly appears that he held up the legislation as long as possible at the bidding on Donald Trump.

Will the delay end up costing Ukraine the war? We do not know the answer to that question at this point. However, we know that preventable deaths resulted from the delay. Remember that essentially the war in Ukraine is an effort to preserve democracy. Make no mistake about it; Vladimir Putin, like Adolph Hitler before him, will not stop at Ukraine if allowed to succeed. If Ukraine falls another European county will soon be next.

While to other than the Russpublicans the defending democracy situation is crystal clear in Ukraine, in Israel’s situation it is cloudy. Both, (like America under Trump), are imperfect democracies but they are democracies nonetheless and as such it is both America’s interest and a moral obligation to defend them. The situation in Israel is a bit cloudier because of the actions of its far right led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government in perpetrating what is effectively (if not intentionally) a genocide against the Palestinians. I am among the many on the American left that want to stop any American aid that can be used to continue the genocide. However, I still feel strongly that Israel has a right to defend itself -especially against terrorist, albeit proxy group attacks – and as such want to fund that military defense.

Two of the tragedies in Gaza are famine conditions and the almost total absence of medical care. That is also being addressed in these measures.

One of the biggest criticisms you will hear from the right is that America is sending a ton of money to these regions. Here is the reality, approximately 80% of the aid will be in the form of “finished product” that has been manufactured in America and transported by American carrier.

It doesn’t get a lot of coverage in America but China is trying to militarily dominate the entire South China Sea region. I certainly can’t cover this in a paragraph or two but spending more money in this region is both a step in the right direction and in America’s interest.

The legislation also calls for the Chinese ownership of Tik Tok to sell off its interest within one year or forfeit the right to operate in America. My views on this topic are less complete, but in the interim I would tend to risk error on the side of security over freedom of speech. I don’t feel this law is the end of the controversy and I expect both interesting moves and court cases.

I always like to play a game in my head of what I would have done if I were voting in the Senate. I would have voted aye on all issues. The Republican led House basically gave the Senate a take it or leave it proposition. Some of the aye votes would have been cast while holding my nose but we can’t wait for a perfect option; with people like a Trump obedient Johnson in positions of power perfect is an unrealistic expectation.

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