|Obama’s moderation vis-à-vis Russia continues even after the takeover of Crimea. Despite fierce pressure from hawks—for the latest, see the open letter to Obama from virtually the entire neoconservative movement calling on the president to “strengthen Ukraine, isolate Russia, and strengthen NATO”—Obama has responded judiciously to the Russia-Crimea action so far, imposing a very limited set of sanctions and avoiding anthing like Cold War rhetoric. Hopefully, that means that the White House is still committed to diplomacy with Russia, and to continuing business-as-usual over Iran, Syria, and other hot spots.
But all bets are off if Russia moves into eastern Ukraine and/or Moldova, or acts elsewhere along its periphery in supposed defense of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking cities of the former USSR. In that case, the hawks will almost certainly get what they want.
In the wake of 9/11, just about everyone hawkish, authoritarian, and police- and surveillance minded politician, agency and authority in the United States hauled out their wish list and used the 9/11 attacks to justify getting what they wanted: more money for the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence agencies, an expanded FBI counterintelligence division, new domestic powers through the Patriot Act and other laws, more money for police intelligence units, and so on. So today are the same folks using the Crimea events to appeal to Obama for their own, updated laundry lists: more money for defense, expanding NATO, reinstalling missiles in eastern Europe, more military aid to Poland, the Baltic countries, and other former USSR nations, boosting military spending in Europe, and even semi-irrelevant issues such as accelerating U.S. exports of natural gas to compete with Russia in Europe and approving the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.
For now, Obama can resist most or all of that pressure. But if Putin moves beyond Crimea militarily, he’ll cave in to the hawks on most of what they want—and the world will be launched into, well, not a Cold War exactly, but a prolonged, hostile relationship with Moscow that will probably only end when Putin is toppled by a domestic, democratic movement.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Strategy Memo: putting a silver lining on GOP obstructionism:
|As debate on the reconciliation "fix" bill winds down and Senate Democrats have been unifying around a strategy of defeating all amendments (including a public option amendment, which is why we won't see it offered) so that the bill remains intact, I've been wondering whether that strategy could or should change if a Republican amendment were somehow adopted despite the plan.
The adoption of any amendment anywhere along the line would make the question of whether or not the reconciliation bill would have to go back to the House moot. Any change would send the bill back to the House. So if the bill were amended at any point, it would basically be costless to attempt to send the bill back to the House with a public option attached.
But it now occurs to me that the points of order the Republicans are threatening might not be handled until the end of debate on the bill and any amendments, so it may well be the case that Democrats are able to prevail against all amendments and keep the bill intact until that point, and only after the opportunity for amendments to be offered had expired would any of the changes that points of order could force actually be made. So it could be that supporters of the public option in the Senate would feel constrained from offering it until it was too late. The "costless" opportunity to add it by amendment might arise only after amendment time had come and gone.
But if the bill does have to be amended due to Republican points of order, that just creates an opportunity for public option supporters in the House. Yes, the path of least resistance at that point would be for the House to concur in the Senate's changes and pass the reconciliation bill without further amendment. But if the House is going to have to take another vote on the bill, it might as well extract some price for it.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin joins us for the morning chatter about Hobby Lobby, Nate Silver, Chris Christie, etc., before turning to Radley Balko's latest on his "warrior cop" theme, E.J. Dionne, Mike Konczal and even Greg himself on the persistent Republican fantasy of "voluntarism." Afterwards, we double back on the "warrior cop" issue, and then back to Hobby Lobby for a look at just how wrong this whole thing really is.