🇺🇸 Putin a Damper on Christmas
December 23, 2021

Good morning, and happy Thursday. This is potentially great news from across the pond. An experimental treatment in Spain put 18 cancer patients into complete remission.

Plus, the first text message in history was sold as an NFT. Here’s how much it sold for.

Go Deeper: Here's where we source our Flag Polls data and here's where you can learn more about each pollster including their accuracy and bias.

Flag Polls

ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 12/22: Biden Job Approval, Politico/Morning Con. Approve 43,
Disapprove 53
ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 12/22: Congress Job Approval, Economist/YouGov Approve 14,
Disapprove 63
ab521640-e2ad-6400-4ea0-8848d603c575.png 12/22: Direction of Country, Politico/Morning Con. Approve 37,
Disapprove 63
D 12/22: Gen. Congress Vote, Politico/Morning Con. Republicans 36,
Democrats 43

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Trending On The Right

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Washington Examiner: 'Important signal': White House amplifies Biden praise of Trump booster shot

The Blaze: Fox's Jesse Watters flattens 'clown' Dr. Anthony Fauci after calls for his firing


Putin a Damper on Christmas

Reporting from the Left: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country has "every right" to "react harshly to unfriendly steps" as the US and NATO continue to pressure Moscow over its aggression towards Ukraine. (CNN)

Reporting from the Right: The Russian president reiterated his demand for guarantees from the US and its allies that NATO will not expand eastward, blaming the West for "tensions that are building up in Europe." (Fox News)

From the Flag: Here's what both sides are saying about Putin's latest comments and Russia's continued military buildup near the Ukraine border.


Mixed: Some Think War is Imminent. Others Think There is a Way Out.

Left-leaning sentiment is mixed. Two commentators below write that Putin has backed the West into a corner and Ukraine should prepare for guerrilla warfare. A third, however, thinks war hawks need to calm down.

"Checkmate. Putin has the West cornered" Michael Bociurkiw, CNN: "Putin could care less about the West's threats, sitting as he does in the enviable position of being able to call the shots. Europe is in the grip of an energy crisis with low reserves. And with Russia supplying some 40% of the European Union's gas imports, the Kremlin has already shown its ability to checkmate the West's harshest sanctions by limiting production and potentially triggering rolling blackouts across the continent. Putin's endgame is USSR 2.0, coming almost 30 years to the day the Soviet Union collapsed. ... Clearly, video chats with Biden and threats from European leaders of 'serious consequences' will not deter Putin. With an invasion of Ukraine imminent, the West needs to clarify the pain that awaits Putin should he decide to make his next move. The appearance of a lack of resolve, whether in diplomacy, on the battlefield, or on the chessboard, is never a winning strategy."

"To deter a Russian attack, Ukraine needs to prepare for guerrilla warfare" Max Boot, The Washington Post op-ed: "With Russia mobilizing 175,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, Europe is facing the prospect of its biggest war since 1945. ... The West could target the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would carry Russian natural gas to Germany; go after the ill-gotten gains that Putin and his cronies have stashed in the West; and even kick Russia out of the SWIFT system of interbank transfers. But Putin has endured economic sanctions since his initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and he is still as menacing as ever. ... US officials should point out to their Russian counterparts that Ukraine shares a lengthy border — nearly 900 miles in total — with NATO members Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Good luck controlling that frontier. The threat of guerrilla warfare is the most potent deterrent to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it is one that Ukraine and its supporters in the West need to play up to make Putin think twice before he launches another war of aggression."

"The Narrow Path to Averting War Over Ukraine" Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect: "Hawks on both sides need to back off. The resolution of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is a useful analogy." Keep reading.


Putin Laying Groundwork, Betting West is Weak

Right-leaning commentators think Putin is laying the groundwork for an invasion, convinced the West isn’t serious about the threats they've made thus far.

"Vladimir Putin offers his casus belli for Ukraine attack" Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner: "Contrary to the delusions of some, Putin does not seek mutually beneficial compromise with the US. Instead, he seeks the destabilization of US civil society and the fraying of the post-World War II US-led democratic international order. A KGB man of the old school, Putin defines America as the 'main enemy.' It was in this vein that Putin appeared determined to rally the Russian people against his great foe. ... What happens next? Much depends on the West. A public display of credible and unified resolve in the face of Putin's threats is critical. But we're not seeing it. France and Germany are wobbling, and President Joe Biden's hesitating weakness is fueling rather than cooling Putin's aggression.”

"Vladimir Putin Names His Price" Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal: "Moscow wants NATO to rule out eastward expansion and roll back military activity in a range of theaters. ... This would mean blocking Ukrainian accession to the alliance and effectively banning NATO forces from being stationed in member states like Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. ... Mr. Putin isn’t worried that Latvian troops will march on Moscow. His goal is Kremlin hegemony over Central and Eastern Europe, which have prospered under Western security and economic arrangements. His invasion threat is a power play to win concessions from Europe and the West such as President Biden’s decision in May to waive sanctions against the company behind the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. ... President Biden and European leaders have warned Mr. Putin that invading Ukraine would lead to the toughest sanctions to date, but it’s unclear how far they’d go. The US has refused to target Mr. Putin or Russia’s access to the Swift financial clearing system despite repeated cyber attacks on the US. ... Mr. Putin’s demands show his growing confidence, and perhaps a belief that the West will do nothing serious to stop him. Mr. Biden and Europe certainly haven’t so far."

"Putin Moves Ominously toward Ukraine" Jim Geraghty, National Review: "The evidence is piling up that Vladimir Putin really does intend to invade Ukraine later this winter." Keep reading.


Russian Sentiment is Mixed

According to the Levada Center — "a Russian independent, nongovernmental polling, and sociological research organization" — 39% of Russian respondents believe that war with Ukraine is either highly likely or unavoidable. Another 38% said that a war between the two countries is unlikely. Exactly half of those polled blamed the US and other NATO countries for the current tensions with Ukraine.

Flag Polls: Do you think a war between Russia and Ukraine is likely in the next six months? Click here to share your thoughts.


Contemplating Life’s Big Questions

As we near the end of the year, it's time to pour yourself a glass of wine and reflect on the past 12 months. What went well? What didn't? How can we improve in 2022? As you contemplate the questions that make life worth living, make sure you're doing so with a high-quality, large stemless wine glass from Bevvee. Featured text is engraved by hand and will never wear off, and all glasses are etched right here in the USA by a small Colorado-based business. The "Purr Me a Glass'' version above is just one option from the Bevvee store. Click here to explore.


At-Home COVID Treatment, Student Loan Payments On Hold, Omicron Update

CNN: The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized Pfizer's antiviral pill, Paxlovid, to treat COVID-19. This is the first antiviral Covid-19 pill authorized for ill people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized.

NBC: The Biden administration announced Wednesday that the moratorium on federal student loan payments would be extended through May 1, as the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a new threat to the economy.

Bloomberg: South Africans contracting Covid-19 in the current fourth wave of infections are 80% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the omicron variant, compared with other strains, according to a study released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

CNBC: The House select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot said Wednesday it has asked for a meeting with Republican Rep. Jim Jordan to discuss his communications with then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6.

CBS: Nearly five million people have signed an online petition for a truck driver who was sentenced to 110 years in prison after his truck plowed into a line of vehicles near Denver in 2019, killing four people. 

BBC: More than 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xi'an have been ordered to stay at home as authorities attempt to tackle a Covid outbreak there.

WaPo: It’s the rare thing that Americans of all ages and across the political spectrum largely seem to agree on: They don’t trust social media services with their information and they view targeted ads as annoying and invasive, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll. Many Americans use social media — and most use Facebook — but 64 percent say the government should do more to rein in big tech companies.


Van Gogh's Ear, Doughnuts, Pineapple Burns

On December 23, 1888, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from severe depression, cut off the lower part of his left ear with a razor while staying in Arles, France. Above is a self-portrait of van Gogh's bandaged ear, which he painted the following year.

BBC: Doughnuts: The fried treat that conquered the modern world

Domino: Chef Eden Grinshpan Turns to This Recipe When She’s Over Cooking

The Marginalian: Marcus Aurelius on How to Motivate Yourself to Get Out of Bed in the Morning and Go to Work

Today I Learned pineapples burn your mouth because they contain bromelain, which breaks down the proteins in your mouth.

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