April 1st, 2022: Putin and Ukraine, the Pandemic, Gas Prices, & Jobs
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus shares his insights into the recent developments in the War in Ukraine, Trump and Putin, President Biden's recent comments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy.
Meantime, Donald Trump asks his friend Vladimir Putin for help.
And progress against the pandemic:
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— from Washington — it’s Friday, April 1st.
Six weeks now — Russia’s war on Ukraine grinds on — deaths mounting on both sides, the destruction and despair — incalculable. But so is the defiance of the Ukrainian people — who continue to soldier on, determined to drive then invaders back.
Is this happening? The Pentagon doesn’t think so.
That’s spokesman John Kirby — meanwhile — and perhaps this sounds like a no-brainer — but the U-S intelligence community has ALSO determined — that Vladimir Putin the Kremlin dictator — is not hearing the truth from his advisors. There’s public evidence of this — as in that now famous televised meeting before the war — when top Russian officials seemed intimidated in Putin’s presence and turned into a band of quivering yes men.
It certainly sounds like the U-S has some well-developed intelligence assets and/or capabilities in Moscow — but let’s not dwell any further on that.
Meanwhile — Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky has spoken with President Biden again — said thanks for the military assistance — but send more. What Ukraine really wants is a no-fly zone to keep Russian aircraft away.
Here at home — it’s April Fool’s Day — but this is NO joke: Former President Trump apparently still considers Putin to be a close friend. He publicly asked the Russian boss to help dig up dirt on the Bidens — sort of like how he asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to in 2020 — IF Zelensky wanted any U-S military help.
Trump is not Putin’s ONLY friend in America, by the way. A Quinnipiac poll says one-in-three Americans think it’s OK to support Putin — his brutal and indiscriminate war in Ukraine not withstanding.
Speaking of Trump and Biden — 2024 — well, it’s still on the horizon — but a general election matchup shows Trump with a nearly four-point edge over the president — that’s according to an average of seven recent polls.
Good news and not so good news on the economic front — the good news first:
The economy grew at a 6.9% rate in the fourth quarter of 2021 — a blistering pace.
Now for the not so good news — talk about a pain in the gas — Triple A says the average cost of regular nationwide four-22 a gallon. President Biden has ordered the release of one million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — each day fr he next six months — the White House thinks this will bring prices down.
Meanwhile — here’s a catch-22 — the higher gas prices are, the more painful it is now — but it COULD speed the transition towards electric cars — that don’t run on gas at all. Renewable energy IS growing rapidly —solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and bioenergy—accounted 38% of the world’s electricity last year — topping coal for the first time.
Covid cases have plunged since January — as the Oma-chron variant fades — though there are worries about the new B-A-Two variant. Even so — cases have plunged and deaths are down to about 700 per day — 700 in air quotes — that’s still a lot. Even so, President Biden thinks we’ve turned the corner.
Of course we’ve heard the worst is over before. Among the tools Biden described is a new, updated website - Covid-dot-gov — it’s described as a one-stop shop where you fund whatever information you need — including where to get free vaccines and free boosters.
An even bigger long-term health problem is diabetes — more than 100 million Americans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. A huge problem. Well the House has passed a bill capping insulin costs at $35 a month for insured patients. 193 Republicans voted AGAINST lower insulin prices — Republicans in the Senate ALSO seem unlikely to support the measure.
Time now to open up the West Wing Reports archives — and see what made history this week in the past:
1917: Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. It did — and America formally entered World War I — it was called “the war out end all wars” — but sadly it wasn’t.
The war to end all wars was actually World War II — and this week in 1942 — Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered wartime rationing. Americans rationed everything from gas, coffee and meat and more — today folks call wearing a mask tyranny — but back then Americans pulled together in pursuit of a common goal.
And a 1968 bombshell from Lyndon Johnson — dragged downing the polls by he Vietnam War, LBJ announced his retirement. He had been elected just four years later by a huge landslide.
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I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: is’t from Woodrow Wilson: “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”