Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome Sen. Tom Cotton’s measured view of Russia, not hysterical but also not blind to Russia’s troubling record on many issues including their lack of participation in the war against radical Islam. They also push back against columnists who don’t want Charleston murderer Dylann Roof executed because of childhood problems, societal issues or other possible factors in him committing the church murders. And they discuss the the pickup truck question that had Twitter on fire earlier this week.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching more Clinton campaign fingerpointing – this time at Huma Abedin. They rip the intelligence community for being willing to offer anonymous stories to the press on Russian election hacking but being unwilling to brief members of Congress. And they get a kick out of celebrities launching a new video begging GOP electors to reject Donald Trump.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., is calling for immediate aid to the displaced Syrian people at risk of being butchered by the Syrian government forces and he warns the incoming Trump administration that Russia has designs on calling the shots throughout much of the Middle East.
Reacting to Tuesday’s news that Syrian rebels have effectively lost their stronghold on Aleppo, Pascrell says that leaves a massive humanitarian crisis.
“There’s a huge humanitarian problem there for the people who remain in Aleppo and the surrounding areas. Aid has not been able to get to them. Food has not been able to get to them because of the cabal between the Russians and the Syrian government,” said Pascrell.
“Right now, the immediate problem is to bring aid to those people who need it. There’s no water. There’s no food. And obviously, if you watch the pictures, there’s very little shelter,” said Pascrell.
He says the blame for the humanitarian nightmare belongs at the feet of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Assad has butchered his own people. He chooses to continue to do this. He wants to bring the people and anybody that joins them, such as the rebels, to their knees. While that’s happening, innocent people are dying,” said Pascrell.
Pascrell admits the crisis in Syria has no simple solutions, since trying to find and train moderate rebels has proved elusive and the U.S. is simultaneously fighting radical forces like ISIS and the Al Nusra Front.
“That’s a very difficult enterprise. Four years ago, we did know there were a certain amount of rebels who had the exact same agenda as we had, and that is is to overthrow the Assad government. We put that aside and allowed Assad to get stronger,” said Pascrell.
Russia is one of the key reasons for Assad;s ability to beat back the rebels, particularly in providing the air power that eroded the rebel grip in Aleppo. Pascrell says it’s long past time to impose economic sanctions on Moscow.
“We don’t want to risk outright war with the Russians. That’s not what we seek and I’m sure that’s not what they seek with us. But I think if we put economic sanctions on the Russians, it’s worked before. It could work again,” said Pascrell.
He says Americans should have no illusions about Russia.
“We cannot trust the Russians. We can’t trust the Russians now and we’re not going to be able to trust them after January 20. Anybody that’s foolish enough to think that we can do this is simply going to bring more misery upon the Syrian people,” said Pascrell.
But the wariness toward Russia extends far beyond Syria. To begin, Pascrell says you just have to look at how Vladimir Putin handles criticism from his own people.
“We’re dealing with a Russian government here that has suffocated any dissent in its own country. How many journalists have been thrown in prison? How many journalists have been thrown the heck out that are now in the United States?” said Pascrell.
He says the Russian involvement in Syria combined with the crackdown on rights in Turkey are combining towards the creation of a troubling and growing alliance throughout the region.
“Pretty soon you’re going to have an alliance between the Russians, the Turks, the Iranians and the Syrians. I see that developing there right now. The Turks have their own problems internally and [Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan] is going to take it out on American foreign policy. There’s no two ways about it,” said Pascrell.
“[The Russians] don’t want these countries to turn to the West. They want these countries to turn to Russia. So we’re between that rock and the rock of not getting involved where American lives are going to be lost. Not an easy question to resolve whether it’s Obama or Trump,” said Pascrell.
In fact, the congressman would not be surprised if Russia makes our fight to eradicate ISIS more difficult than it needs to be.
“While we’re fighting ISIS and giving all we can in order to fight the extreme jihadists, we need to recognize at the same time that Russia will simply go with the flow in whatever suits their purpose,” said Pascrell.
While he encourages President-Elect Trump to study up on all the ways Russian aggression is evident today, Pascrell says he has no idea what to expect from the incoming administration.
“I don’t know what to expect. Does anybody know what to expect? Whether it was the campaign or whether it was after the campaign, you never know what he’s going to say or what direction he’s going to go in. I don’t think it’s healthy for the region. I’ll tell you that,” said Pascrell.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Donald Trump’s selection of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be secretary of energy. They wince as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell taps the brakes on the Trump tax plan and offers no ideas on how to reduce spending fight future deficits or replace Obamacare. And they discuss the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI disputing the CIA’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 campaign explicitly to help Trump win.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America not enjoy watching the quixotic Jill Stein recount come to a whimpering end but applaud Michigan for using the episode to push for stronger voter ID laws. They also groan as Donald Trump says he doesn’t need daily intelligence briefings. And they wade into the growing furor over what role Russia played in hacking the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta – and what to do about it if it’s true.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Jim’s colleague, David French, for ripping the Democrats who are horrified over Donald Trump’s actions but were only too eager to defend Bill Clinton in the 1990’s. They’re also a bit uneasy as Russia moves missiles around, asks their people if they’re ready for nuclear war and makes other ominous moves. And they react to a poll showing Trump’s lead in Texas is now at the margin of error.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to Liberty University students denouncing Jerry Falwell, Jr. for making the school synonymous with Donald Trump. They also discuss reports of Trump pulling mostly or entirely out of Virginia, making his road to victory more difficult. They have fun with the Clinton team’s contradictory explanations for all the embarrassing emails coming out from Wikileaks. And they they note Bob Dylan’s winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Russian and Georgian leaders have signed a cease-fire agreement, but while Moscow claims the fighting is over, the signs on the ground suggest something very different. What is Russia really up to and will the international community be able to do anything about it? Tell us what you think Russia’s real ambitions are?