Saturday, November 21, 2009

With 60 votes, the health care debate is set to begin

Sen. Blanche Lincoln is a yes for debating health reform, but a no for the public option, and she and fellow centrists are making clear they expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to scrap his current plan for a government-run insurance program.

Lincoln (D-Ark.) announced Saturday that she'd deliver the deciding vote to push forward with a sweeping health reform plan, ending days of speculation over whether President Barack Obama's signature priority would proceed to the Senate floor or suffer a debilitating blow.

The vote is scheduled for 8:00 pm tonight.

Lincoln, Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and other "centrists" continue to oppose the public option that is included in Reid's bill, and, of course, there is still the likelihood of Democratic support for a Republican filibuster, mainly from Joe Lieberman ("D"-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), so there's a lot more to be done. What is likely, it would appear, is that either:

a) the public option will be removed from the bill in order to secure enough votes to override a filibuster; or

b) Reid will use reconciliation to move the bill to the floor for an up-or-down, simple-majority vote.

Either way, Republicans will continue to use every weapon at their disposal either to bring the debate to a halt or to kill reform altogether.

Landrieu, for her part, opined that "it is going to be very clear at some point very soon that there are not 60 votes for the current provision in the bill and that the leader and the leadership will have to make a decision, and I trust they will figure out how to do that." Well, true enough. There likely won't be 60 votes, and Reid will have to pick a) or b). But why should there need to be 60 votes? Why should such a super-majority be required to pass legislation? Only to overcome a procedural barrier, of course. If it were just a straight vote, up-or-down on the floor, Reid's bill would pass with a solid majority.

If I had to make a prediction now, it would be that Reid will water the bill down (perhaps by putting in a public option trigger), but it does not seem that, short of removing the public option, the centrists can be appeased.

Needless to say, I'm in a pessimistic mood.

For more, see Steve Benen.

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More Glenn Beck!

Glenn Beck, the controversial Fox News television host, is planning on becoming more active in the populist conservative movement he spawned, according to sources familiar with his thinking.

What must it be like to be someone "familiar" with Glenn Beck's "thinking"? It must be a nightmare.

At a rally Saturday at a massive retirement community in Central Florida, Beck is planning to unveil what he has billed as a "big plan" for 2010, which is expected to involve the 9.12 Project, the group he started earlier this year and named for the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when he says the nation was unified.

"Coming this January, my whole approach changes on this program," he hinted cryptically on his Wednesday show. "This next year is going to be critical, and I think it's going to change and I think we are going to set it right, at least set our course right. And if that means the Democrats or the Republicans are destroyed along the way, well, good. Good."

Let me be clear about something: Glenn Beck is dangerous. And not in a good way. What he represents, what he leads, is a movement of darkness, of hatred and paranoia, of fear and resentment and bitterness.

And yet, in a way, should we -- those of us on the other side, those of us who hope for, and are working towards, a brighter future -- not want him to maintain, if not expand, his domineering profile as a leading figure of the right? Should we not want him to continue to be a leading face of American conservatism, right up there with Dear Leader Rush? I mean, as frightening as it is that he is so popular, and has so many followers, there's no way the American people will ever flock to him in significant enough numbers to make much of a difference -- politically speaking. (Am I wrong about that?) For all his popularity, that is, he is actually extremely bad for conservatism, and for the Republican Party. All the more reason to urge him on.

Now, what's with this big announcement? Is he forming his own party? Well, that would be fine, would it not? Would that not severely weaken the Republican Party? His supporters aren't exactly Democrats, after all.

At Hot Air, Allahpundit thinks that Beck may be launching his very own political action committee:

And if he does, given his nonchalance about the destruction of the GOP, then what? Let's say his PAC endorses Rubio, who goes on to lose narrowly to Crist in the Florida primary. Will the PAC be indifferent in the general election? Or will it actually call on conservatives to stay home and not vote to protest the lack of a true small-government choice among the two candidates? This is what I mean when I say that, theoretically at least, he's on a collision course with Limbaugh. As much as Rush hates RINOs, he's made it perfectly clear that he’s prepared to elect them and accept half a loaf instead of none at all. Beck, it increasingly seems, is not. Which way, true believers?

Good question. As one who is anything but a true believer of the right, I can't answer it. But I'm sure looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

It was bad enough -- for the GOP -- in NY-23. We ain't seen nothin' yet.

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The terrible shock of reality

By Mustang Bobby.

Steve Benen examines the foolish inconsistency of the right-wing outrage over the plans to put terrorists on trial in civilian courts.
In 2002, the Bush Justice Department put Zacarias Moussaoui, an al Qaeda terrorist often referred to as the "20th 9/11 hijacker," on trial in a federal court near D.C. No one, at the time, said then-President Bush was putting American lives at risk or undermining U.S. national security interests with the trial. Despite the conservative apoplexy of the last week, the Moussaoui trial was simply considered appropriate and routine.


Likewise, let's not forget that Rudy Giuliani, one of the leading Republican attack dogs on President Obama, said he considered the Moussaoui trial a testament to the strength of our legal system and the American dedication to the "rule of law." Giuliani called the verdict "a symbol of American justice," and said the trial itself might improve America's standing internationally. After Moussaoui was convicted by a civilian jury, the former mayor boasted, "America won tonight."

This gets to the larger point that Jon Stewart made when he interviewed Lou Dobbs: if, as the right-wing talkers are proclaiming, Americans think the country is "out of control" and they're worried about what's going to happen next, why is it that all of this angst and concern is suddenly being expressed when we have a Democrat in the White House? Didn't these issues exist before January 20, 2009?

Of course they did. But the reason the wingers didn't shriek and carry on was because it was their guy who was in charge and to raise any concerns about how he was handling the job or question his motives was disloyal. And no matter how rotten the economy was, no matter how bureaucratic and expensive monopolized healthcare was, no matter badly the education system was crumbling before their eyes, no matter how incompetent the government was at providing disaster relief, and no matter how many people were dying in a war that had been instigated against a nation that never raised a hand to us, they were comfortable in the knowledge that the president was one of them. Even if he was comfortably numb, he was a known quantity, and everything was going to be all right -- it's Morning in America -- so no matter how terrible reality was, it was better than the great unknown: that Other Guy who might not even have been born here will take away your guns, turn your kids gay in the military, and tear down the Jefferson Memorial to replace it with a mosque. Or something; that's what they keep telling them on the radio, anyway.

What's piteously ironic is that if we had had that kind of mindset in 1776, we'd still be a British colony. The teabaggers who think they're emulating the Spirit of '76 by demonstrating against the tyranny of our government are actually trying to maintain the status quo that we had when things were rotten. Picture Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck railing against the rabble-rousing John Adams, the agnostic Thomas Jefferson, and that secular humanist Benjamin Franklin who wanted to rebel against the system and replace it with a dangerously experimental form of democracy; talk about a radical socialist plot. No matter how insidiously oppressive the British colonial government was, it was still safe and secure as opposed to the scary adventure of going -- literally and figuratively -- into the wilderness of the New World or, at the very least, trying to make things better for everyone, not just the rich white guys who didn't want to pay their taxes.

The worst thing that Barack Obama did was tell us that not only were things not all rosy, it was going to take some hard work and sacrifice to make things better. After eight years of an artificial high, reality is a terrible shock.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Friday, November 20, 2009

No one's stuffing gay rights down Utah's throat

Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars -- a Republican, of course -- claims to support gay rights. He may even support gay rights legislation. But the struggle for gay rights in Utah is still at an early stage. Forget same-sex marriage or adoption, or anything that like that. Utah is not nearly that progressive. Indeed, where the Mormons rule, in one of the most conservative states in the union, the fight is for even more basic rights. What gay rights means is that gays and lesbians wouldn't be subjected to state-sanctioned bigotry with respect, for example, to housing and employment. (Even the Mormon Church, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, has come out in support of this, backing an anti-discrimination measure in Salt lake City.) All else will have to wait, if it ever comes at all.

Indeed, while he may support basic gay rights, Buttars is full to the brim of bigotry himself -- yes, very much like the LDS. As Think Progress notes, Buttars "has said that gay men and women are 'the greatest threat to America going down.' 'I believe they will destroy the foundation of the American society,' he said in February. 'In my mind, it's the beginning of the end... Sodom and Gomorrah was localized. This is worldwide.'" Charming.

Butters and the LDS, and presumably most Utahans, support basic gay rights but nothing else, and Buttars was clear about this recently, in one of the most inadvertantly funny comments by a politician in a long time (watch it below):

I meet with the gays here and there. They were in my house two weeks ago. I don't mind gays. But I don't want 'em stuffing it down my throat all the time. Certainly not in my kid's face.

Aside from the obvious moralist condescension, I'm not sure that's exactly the best way to put it. One can only presume that he doesn't mind it some of the time, even as he worries about "America going down."

I suppose one ought to applaud his, and others', efforts to promote at least some level of gay rights in Utah. Still, as long as their unswerving bigotry keeps them from recognizing gays and lesbians as equal members of society -- indeed, as equal human beings -- it's hard to imagine genuine change coming to this regressive state anytime soon.

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Don't steal my lamb

By Creature

I understand why liberals want Geithner to go (Robert Reich for Treasury, anyone), but for Republicans to be after him is ludicrous. If Wall Street was tanking then maybe I see a reason for their bluster. Absent that, they should just shut the fuck up about him. He's our sacrificial lamb.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Virginia Foxx

We all know Foxx is crazy. Apparently, she's also incredibly stupid. Consider a couple of things she said yesterday:

-- "Actually, the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country."

Maybe, if you go all the way back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt. More recently, the GOP is the party of global warming denialism and opposition to environmental legislation generally.

-- "Just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the '60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history."

If it's revisionist history you want, you'll get it whenever Foxx opens her mouth. She's certainly old enough to remember that it was a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, who was largely (but not solely) responsible for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Furthermore, Republicans were broadly against civil rights, and in fact it was to a great extent their opposition to civil rights that flipped the South from the Democrats, who had long held it, ushering in a new regional alignment in American politics and paving the way for Republican electoral success over the next few decades, pretty much up to the present. It was only in 2008, with a hugely popular presidential candidate, that the Democrats were able to break through in parts of the South -- notably Virginia and North Carolina -- that were for the most part solidly Republican. Even with Obama, though, the South remains a Republican bastion.

Did some Republicans support civil rights in the '60s? Of course. A lot of them did -- and a lot from parts of the country that are now solidly Democratic, now that the GOP has moved to far to the right. But it's crazy to think that they did it on their own, or that they were largely responsible for it, or that Democrats not only had nothing to do with it but were actively against it. That last one is insulting, not just to President Johnson but to the many Democrats who were on the front lines of the struggle, and to those who stood with their president to change America for the better.

But, then, this is Virginia Foxx we're talking about. If she's not a blatant liar, she's insane.

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The stakes in Afghanistan

Guest post by J.F. Murphy

J.F. Murphy is a former Marine infantry officer and Iraq veteran who graduated from the U.S. Navy's SERE program. He is a fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Ed. note: This is Jim's second guest post at The Reaction. You can find his first (from back in May), on how "enhanced" interrogation undermines American security and violates military values, here. -- MJWS


After nearly two months of deliberation, some have criticized the Obama Administration of foot-dragging a decision on Afghanistan. As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, I could not disagree more. If the previous administration had put such care into its approach toward Iraq and Afghanistan, we might not be facing the difficulties we face today.

An informed decision is not the same as indecision. Given the complexities of securing Afghanistan and turning the tide against the insurgency, it is critical that our commander-in-chief understand the nature of the challenge, and I applaud the president for taking the time to acquire that understanding.

But to succeed in Afghanistan, we need more than a president who understands what we're up against. We need the American people to understand. To achieve this understanding, I would suggest that there are two major trends in our favor that the American people ought to know.

First, Pakistan has finally recognized the need to confront al Qaeda and the Taliban within its own country, conducting significant operations over the last year to retake Taliban controlled territory.

This is a tremendous shift by Pakistan, which has historically funded terrorist organizations aimed at attacking India. They are in the fight against terrorism now. This gives us the opportunity to crush al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region, with Pakistan attacking them from its own territory in the east, while U.S. and allied forces attack from the West in Afghanistan. This is a vice we should tighten.

Second, America now "does" counter-insurgency. The attitude, tactical skills, and operational ability needed to defeat an insurgency are very different from the conventional warfare abilities that have guided our military thinking since World War II.

Leaders such as Generals Petraeus and McChrystal have recognized this fact and begun to conduct military operations accordingly. The Army and Marine Corps also gained counter-insurgency skills the hard way, during the Iraqi crucible, learning that the key to defeating insurgents lies in protecting the population.

Success in Afghanistan will only come if the Afghan people see the U.S.-led mission in a positive light, which requires the military to put a premium on protecting people. With a counter-insurgency strategy firmly in place, securing this long-term support has now become a possibility.

Of course, these developments alone do not guarantee easy success in Afghanistan. There are, however, no real alternatives. The two most popular suggestions – walking away from Afghanistan or returning to a failed "counter-terror" strategy – carry far too much risk.

Walking away from Afghanistan would be a disaster. We did that once before, after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in the 1980s. The result? Without an American hand in the region, Afghanistan disintegrated into chaos. Pakistan supported the least bad path toward stability, the Taliban. The Taliban eventually gave legal sanctuary to al Qaeda, which used Afghan territory to prepare the 9/11 attacks.

Were we to leave Afghanistan now, the region would spiral out of control once again. Except this time, Pakistan is a nuclear nation. Getting out of the game now would allow extremists to get closer to nuclear weapons, a decidedly unacceptable situation.

Similarly, a counter-terrorism approach to Afghanistan is no real solution. We have been trying that for eight years, with large unit operations to hunt bandits, and drones to kill Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. Though we have eliminated a significant number of bad guys, we have also alienated a lot of fence-sitters, and the insurgency has grown stronger. Clearly, we need a new approach.

So what should that approach look like? First, the U.S. must commit to defeating the elements of the Taliban who would either challenge the legitimate governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or harbor members of trans-national terrorist organizations.

Then we need to follow up these commitments with troops and time. Give General McChrystal what he needs to get the situation under control, and the time he needs to train more Afghan forces. The sooner the Afghans can protect themselves, the sooner we can bring our troops home.

There won't be a Victory-Afghanistan day that we will all be able to look back on thirty years from now. We live in a different world that includes a different kind of war and a different kind of victory. But the path to that 21st century victory is on the table right now. A steadfast commitment from the United States will ultimately help the Afghan people to pursue a better future for themselves and bolster our security by denying safe haven to terrorists and extremists.

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Rudy Giuliani set to run for U.S. Senate -- maybe

Rudy Giuliani has apparently decided not to run for governor of New York and may instead seek the GOP nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year. (Giuliani's people are denying this.)

If he wants to get back into politics, all I can say is: Bring it on!

(I called Gillibrand "a horrible, horrible pick" when she was appointed by Gov. David Paterson earlier this year, but, while I don't follow her all that closely, she seems to be doing fairly well. She doesn't seem to be anything like the quasi-Republican some of us thought she was. Against Giuliani, though, it's an easy choice. I'd be for Gillibrand all the way, without question.)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

8,000 posts

Just a quick note to say that we passed 8,000 posts at The Reaction today. (#8,000 was Capt. Fogg's this afternoon.) Some blogs have done more, of course, but that's a lot, and I think back to that first post I wrote way back on March 29, 2005.

At the time, I wrote that this blog would be "a reaction to all the nonsense out there that passes for intelligent discourse." I'd like to think it's an enlightened reaction to a lot of things, that we contribute positive ideas, and that we add something of value to the blogosphere and to public discourse generally. And I'd like to take this opportunity, once more, to thank my wonderful team of co-bloggers, without whom there wouldn't be so many posts, and without whom this blog wouldn't be nearly as good as it is, if I do say so myself.


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First date

By Carl

It's kind of funny, I suppose, the reaction that the naysayers of the right wing have expressed with regards to the now-concluded trip to the
Far East by President Obama:

The result was a trip more dominated by imagery -- some positive, some controversial -- than substance. A photo of Mr. Obama bowing deeply to the Japanese emperor has stoked indignation among conservatives in the U.S. Pictures of Mr. Obama staring down at his lectern as Chinese President Hu Jintao lectured him on free trade left the impression of a U.S. leader who was frustrated but powerless.

Factually, true. Obama did bow his head to the Japanese emperor... just as Richard Nixon did.

And it is true that Hu did lecture the United States on free trade... in response to wholly unnecessary and dangerous tariffs slapped on Chinese tires. Obama's misstep, or at least mistimed step, should have been noted by Hu. Protocol demanded it, and let's face facts: China has gone from the eighth largest economy to the fourth in the space of this decade alone, and is poised to overtake the United States by 2015.

Only the European Union would be a larger economic entity. The United States enjoyed much of the 20th Century dictating world economics. It's only right that the largest have the biggest voice, so to expect suddenly that we'd enjoy some outsized voice when China overtakes us (which is inevitable) is ludicrous. It would be like the US suddenly decide that England must have the larger voice after World War II.

What is most notable about the Hu lecture didn't relieve the tariffs. For that alone, Obama should be credited, for standing his ground on an issue he feels is important enough to piss off a country that holds an awful lot of our paper.

To expect Obama to come home with a goody basket on what amounts to a first date to the APEC conference is pretty silly. It's like expecting your date to put out on the first date when you are no longer in college and are no longer the first string quarterback or the head cheerleader.

It's called maturity. Obama didn't come home with his clothes dishevelled and lipstick all over his face. He came home with a quiet smile and a phone number or two.

And this is all against a backdrop of a world community, particularly in China and Asia, that didn't trust the United States after electing that jackass tall-hatted faux-cowboy... twice!

His work was hard enough considering the economic crisis, global warming (which affects Asia far far more than nearly any other region of the world), and the simultaneous spike in poverty and hunger these twin crises have created. He had to start from his ten yard line (to torture the metaphor further) and with only ten players on his team.

I'll settle for the field goal. This time.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Neither a borrower nor a lender be

By Capt. Fogg

And he said unto them that stood by, Take away from him the pound, and give it unto him that hath the ten pounds.

- Luke 19:24 -


Once upon a time, there were people who would lend you money at high rates of interest. We called them loan sharks and we put them in jail if we could catch them. We had usury laws to protect the public from being forced into ruinous transactions. We were just inches away from Marxism.

Then came the deregulators who told us that it was toxic government interference and was depriving us of our "freedoms" to apply the same laws to that class of supercitizens known as corporations, and so now we are free to borrow at rates Don Corleone wished he could have charged. Sure, some states jumped in and capped payday loans and the government "protected" the military from being charged more than 36%, but of course that's an outrageous assault on our "freedoms" and, sure enough, the lobbyists came out of the woodwork and bought themselves a House subcommittee which went to work legitimizing loans with a 391% APR. For many in the payday loan business, that's not enough.

H.R. 1214, introduced earlier this year by Congressman Rep. Luis "dances with jackals" Gutiérrez [D-IL4], is still in committee. Yes, Luis is a Democrat, let's give credit where it's due, and Luis, who rose from poor Hispanic roots in Chicago promising to help others like him is now the champion of legalized juice loans and the big banks that screw the little guy in a big way.

The congressman got into trouble last year for getting a $200,000 loan from a contractor for whom he had intervened with the zoning board, but I'm sure he isn't paying 391%. A competing bill from Congressman Joe Baca would prevent states from capping rates at all and would allow much larger add-on fees and charges, but the really great feature would allow you to roll over the loan indefinitely, racking up that 400% or so until you're forced to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us who aren't desperate enough with trying to pay medical bills and mortgages we can't afford, the credit companies are out to protect our freedom, too. Faced with having to warn us they're tightening the screws in the near future, they're tightening them now without warning. I got a letter yesterday from my friendly MasterCard folk -- I won't mention the name, but it rhymes with Citibank -- informing me that since I've been such a good customer for 25 years and always paid the full balance on time, they would raise my interest rate to over 20%. Well, to tell the truth, there was a time or two when I got the unpostmarked bill on or after the due date, although the last two times they tried that I'd switched to e-bills and had documentary proof that they sent the bill too late to be paid on time. They refunded the charges, which would have amounted to nearly 100%, but I never got an apology for their attempt at petty larceny and I don't expect a letter of appreciation for my part (and yours) in bailing them out when they choked on their own greed.

Yes, I know, when the Republicans justify their crimes by insisting the Democrats aren't pure at heart either, they don't avoid the guilt, but they're not always lying.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Fox News "screws up" again

[Yesterday] afternoon, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett proudly announced that Sarah Palin is "continuing to draw huge crowds while she's promoting her brand new book. Take a look at — these are some of the pictures just coming into us." But the pictures that the network chose to display on-air appeared to be old file footage of Palin rallies from the 2008 presidential campaign. Individuals in the crowd are seen holding McCain/Palin signs, and others are holding pom-poms and cheering wildly. "There's a crowd of folks," an enthused Jarrett observed, referring to the old footage.

Unfair, unbalanced, and blatantly dishonest. But you knew that already, surely.

(Or do you think this was just another silly mistake? You know, like all the other silly mistakes, like mixing up Obama and Osama. That sort of thing. Well, if you think so, and if you insist on giving Fox News the benefit of the doubt, you'd have to admit it's a pretty shoddy production, a little too prone to error, no? But isn't it a little curious that these mistakes all seem to involve smearing Democrats/liberals and pumping up Republicans/conservatives? Funny, that.)

It'd be funnier if they just dispensed with pretending to report the news -- and Fox News really is fake news, news through a partisan lens -- and used footage from, say, Nuremberg ca. 1923-38 to highlight the success, or to exaggerate it, of their beloved Sarah Palin, and those like her, and of the Republican Party, for which it proselytizes and propagandizes.

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As health-care reform gets closer to a vote, Reid says reconciliation on the table

At a special evening meeting of the Democratic caucus [last night], Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined, in broad strokes, the details of his health care bill, which the CBO has found, in a preliminary analysis, will expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans while reducing the deficit. And earlier in the day, during a separate meeting about floor procedure, Reid let three of his party's key skeptics know that if they join Republicans at any stage of the process to block the bill, he still retains the option of passing major parts of it through the filibuster proof budget reconciliation process.

The three are Nelson, Landrieu, and Lincoln -- three likely to vote against the final bill if it includes a public option, but three who could still reject a Republican filibuster and at least allow the bill to go to the floor.

And what does Reid's bill look like?

The bill will include a public option with an opt-out clause for states, though the public option itself, and many other key provisions in the bill, including the exchanges and a Medicaid expansion wouldn't be available until 2014 -- one year later than previous versions of the legislation, and the House bill call for. It also includes new language prohibiting federal funds from financing abortions -- though the exact mechanism remains unclear.

So it's hardly ideal, but it would still constitute meaningful reform that could lead to more progressive reform down the road. In that sense, it's important now to get the wedge in, and this would be just that. (Assuming that the abortion provision is less prohibitive than the Stupak Amendment over on the House side.)

But will this be enough to persuade the likes of Nelson, Landrieu, and Lincoln, not to mention Lieberman, to vote for it? Not all of them, perhaps, and certainly not Lieberman (who isn't really a Democrat anyway), but the key is to get past a filibuster, and, if Democrats can't pull together to do that, that is, if some of them help Republicans block what an overwhelming majority of Democrats support, it's good to know that Reid seems to be keeping reconciliation on the table.

Still, reconciliation remains unlikely.

For more on the Democratic Senate bill, see Chris Bowers, David Dayen, Matthew Yglesias, and, as always, TNR's Jonathan Cohn.

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McCain contra Palin

Understandably, John McCain is pushing back against Sarah Palin's vindictive criticism of the McCain team in her memoir, Going Rogue:

There's been a lot of dust flying around in the last few days and I just wanted to mention that I have the highest regard for Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace and the rest of the team... and I appreciated all the hard work and everything they did to help the campaign. I think it's just time to move on.

That's fine, but perhaps McCain needs to be reminded that he picked her -- and therefore is responsible for making her what she has become, what she is today. And while he may want to move on, much of the GOP, and pretty much the entirety of the conservative base that makes up McCain's party, clearly does not. Palin is a joke, yes, as David Brooks said the other day, but she's still hugely popular on the right, and the bitterness, the civil war that divides the GOP, will continue, with Palin on one side and McCain both on the other and in the past. McCain may be right, and his team may be right, and Palin's book may be full of lies, self-absorbed spin, but, with few exceptions, conservatives will side with her over him regardless of his protests.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


By Carl


SUBEJCT: Wooing New Voters

If u r selling fear, u r doing it rong.

This week has seen some pretty spectacular fear-mongering amongst the GOP, and I suspect it will spell the eventual downfall of the party as a whole.

Item 1:
Palin on Nidal Hasan: "Profile Away"

Item 2:
Holder: Don't fear trial of 'coward' 9/11 plotter

Item 3:
Is Obama planning a $3 trillion income tax increase?

Item 4:
CNN Poll: Does the GOP want ideologically pure candidates?

Item 5:
Republican to Bloomberg: What if Terrorists Take Your Daughter

Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

And that was just today's headlines!

Fear-mongering worked in 2004 because the Bush administration, from their bully pulpit, were able to terrorize Americans with constant tales of terror alerts and rainbow-colored fearcandy. Week in and week out, month in and month out, the Bushies seemed to manufacture terrorist plots by the bushelful.

And like Rudy Giuliani's prosecution of white collar criminals in the '70s and '80s, it was mostly smoke bombs and mirrors. No real convictions to speak of, certainly none in proportion to the almost-constant stream of "We are at war with East Anglia" stentorian pronouncements of imminent death, disease, and devastation.


Are you afraid? It seems Republicans sure are. I wonder why?

Admittedly, when one has been in control for a long time and loses not only control of the executive branch but also control of the legislative branch, it's going to cause a certain amount of uncertainty.

Uncertainty creates a vacuum of authority. New voices struggle to be heard or to even grab power while old voices, now discredited and humbled, have to be muted.

And vacuums create more uncertainty. And uncertainty creates fear.

You're driving a car. You have a map. You pull over and look at the map and confirm your route.

You get back on the highway. Your map tells you "Turn right" only when you look to the right, there's this big gaping hole where the exit used to be.

What to do?

If you had GPS, of course, you'd be fine. It would adjust your route as you drove ahead to the next exit, re-routing you around your problem.

Ah, but now with a map, you've got to rely on instinct and improvisation. Suppose that next exit is ten miles down the road and then the map cuts off at the county line?

This is where the Republicans are right now: off the map. And terrified.

The odd thing, instead of being humbled and learning the lessons of 2006 and 2008, the front-runners in the party are acting as if nothing happened, that it was all according to plan.

But the true story, the backstory, is watching the Palins and Limbaughs and other crackpots try to justify their previous escapades by fomenting fear, by playing off the ignorance of the base, by manipulating information.

I foresee the crash of the Republican party as the most likely outcome here. I think within the next five years, the Republican party will have finally filled enough people with enough fear that they will either commit mass suicide like the
Heaven's Gate crew, or more likely, the boy who cried "Wolf" will finally be shown to have piped up once too often with the lies and scare tactics.

After all, this is a country we're trying to all of us run here, not a class election.

What I can't foresee is what comes next? Do moderate Republicans abandon the party for the Democrats or do they force the conservative Neaderthals out, forcing them to come to grips with their hate-mongering in some backwater party like the Libertarians or Reform party?

Either way,
Duverger's Law comes into play: third parties don't stand a chance in a country where winner-take-all elections are the norm.

So goodbye to the Republican party as we know it.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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The Unbearable Liberalness of Truth

Rush Limbaugh may get his wish and what used to be a viable, if flawed democracy may just disappear into the kind of thing that used to go on in Michael Vick's back yard. Barking, snarling bared tooth and bloody clawed madness is everywhere, in the wild, outraged e-mail I got last night showing Barack Obama "refusing" to salute the flag on Veteran's day, to a new attempt to propagandize small children into supporting mad-dog mentality and bigoted mockery against liberal political figures, Jews, and gays. Even Geraldo Rivera, of all people, is calling Fox and Gretchen Carlson "preposterous and irresponsible" for insisting that trial by jury is dangerous. That may be the first time I've caught him in an understatement.

It doesn't help any more to refer the hoax spreaders to or, since there are ten thousand web sites telling us that these sites and the facts they cite are wildly biased against the Gospel of Obamahate and never mind the unimpeachable sources they reference. Fox news? The voice of God, of course and we never question it. I don't think we have any chance to survive it.

It's chic to disparage American products. We can't make cars Americans say, but in China? They'd really rather have a Buick and the US is seen as an innovative technological leader with a competitive advantage over the rest of the world. We have the best health care we insist although our nation's capitol has a higher infant mortality rate than Sri Lanka. Socialism and terrorism are our biggest fears yet acetaminophen alone kills many times more people in a year than have ever died in all the terrorist attacks on our country while the healthiest, happiest, most prosperous, free countries offering the most opportunity for advancement are described as socialist, third-world hell-holes by people who can't find Denmark on a map.

The nativists are restless, the bigots are howling like banshees, and the Christianists are speaking in tongues while we roll our eyes and babble about birth certificates, about our Muslim president and Sarah the Rogue Palin who wants to lead us into a future although she insists the end is coming any day and traffic accidents are the result of witchcraft. Millions of my countrymen are as out of touch with reason and objectivity as anyone languishing in a padded cell ever was and I'm without hope. There is a tide of hate and madness in the lives of men and countries and I'm beginning to think we're surfing it straight to hell.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Stupidity incarnate: Sarah Palin on Obama and the Israeli settlements

Sarah Palin has said a lot of stupid things since entering the national stage last year, but this, from her interview with Barbara Walters, is right up there with the stupidest of them all:

I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.

She's siding here with the most extreme elements of Israeli society, the far-right colonialists who wish to occupy Palestianian land (and call it their own).

And she seems to think that Israel should expand as much as it wants, with no regard whatsoever for the Palestinian people, let alone for any possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

And what does it mean that "[m]ore and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead." Is there some reverse diaspora about to happen that I'm not aware of? Does Palin know something the rest of us don't?

As for whether the U.S. can tell Israel what to do... well, look, I'm generally a friend and supporter of Israel, and I think it has every right to assert its sovereignty over its own territory, but the occupied territories pose a rather more complicated challenge that the U.S. has every right to be concerned about. Besides, where would Israel be without the U.S.? This doesn't mean the U.S. can order Israel around, but it does mean that the U.S. can and ought to involve itself in Israeli affairs that threaten or undermine peace efforts or that otherwise could impact, and do impact, Israel's neighbours. Besides, there will only be peace in the region, and between Israel and the Palestinians, if the U.S. acts as an honest broker, and if the U.S. isn't simply Israel's unconditional ally and advocate. Palin clearly doesn't grasp any of that, and her "policy" is both ignorant and dangerous.

And some people actually think she belongs in the Oval Office?

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Much ado about showing respect: Obama, the bow, and the right-wing smearfest

Politico's Ben Smith has posted a clip of Nixon bowing to Mao -- see below. (It's more of a head bow, with the shoulders, but it's still a bow, and it was to a brutal totalitarian dictator.)

Please, can we all just shut the fuck up about Obama's bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito?

As Laura Rozen reports, the State Department says that Obama was "simply showing respect."

Correct protocol or not, it's hardly the big deal so many of his right-wing detractors are making it out to be. Was it a sign of American submission? Hardly. If you think that, you must think that America is so weak that a simple bow can bring it down. Besides, it was no worse than -- and certainly less embarrassing to the country (and the president) than -- holding hands with a Saudi tyrant.

But, then, conservatives think the U.S. president should basically be an arrogant prick, as should the country, and, given that they're trying to smear Obama with anything and everything at their disposal, they're not likely to give this up until they've bled this non-story to death.

As for the bow itself, Obama is no weaker for it, America is no weaker for it, and it's time to move on.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When it comes to Sarah Palin, blame John McCain

Sometimes Andrew Sullivan is simply on fire -- as he is here, getting to the root cause of the whole Palin phenomenon:

The WSJ and TWS have long ago lost any intellectual credibility. They use sophism to maintain power. Their cynicism and/or denial mechanisms are deeper than most mortals can imagine.

We knew that about a charlatan like Kristol and a nihilist like Rove. But what I didn't fully come to terms with, until the Palin farce, was the full extent of John McCain's recklessness and cynicism. This is worth keeping in mind through all this. The only reason we even know about Sarah Palin is John McCain.

He picked her so carelessly, and his thought process was so cynical, that he should stand in the dock of public opinion before Palin does. Her vanity led her to say yes to his crazy offer. But he gave her that chance. And in the end, she is his responsibility.

These points have been made before, of course, and by many -- both about right-wing media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard and about McCain's responsibility for picking Palin in the first place, but Andrew puts it extremely well here. Make sure to read his post in full.

There is a good deal of blame to go around when it comes to Palin, and a lot of worthy targets -- Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Palin herself, among many others -- but it was McCain who made the decision to put her on his ticket and to give her that national platform. He may not have known quite what he was getting into, and unleashing upon America, but the responsibility, ultimately, is his.

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Top Ten Cloves: Things Bill Belichick was thinking just before going for it on 4th down

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Bill Belichick enters another elite club

10: Was trying to remember how much change he had in his pocket

9. Thinking that, maybe, he should have jumped into the NY-23 race

8. Feared many will "Unfriend" him on Facebook if he blows the call

7. Instead of coming up with what play to run, was trying to remember the words to the Bon Jovi tune playing in his head

6. Wondering how meddlesome he would be, if Rush Limbaugh owned the Patriots

5. Since's he's married now, debated about pointing out to Tom Brady the busty cheerleader on the sidelines

4. Was preoccupied with coming up with anagrams of Peyton Manning's name

3. If he blows it, hoping that Sarah Palin's book coming out will bury his gaffe

2. Should have looked at all the films of the Colts' signal-calling before the game

1. Not making it puts him in the chute for one of those "Should'a had a V-8" commercials

Bonus Bill Belichoke Riffs

NYT: Colts Pull Off Improbable Win as Patriots’ Gamble Backfires

TSN: Belichick's Decisions Set Him Apart from Other NFL Coaches

Dan Fogarty: Michael Wilbon Leads Charge Against Belichick’s “Arrogant” Play Call

USA Today: Rodney Harrison: 'The worst decision I've ever seen Bill Belichick make'

George Donnelly: Belichick made the right business decision

Monique Walker: Decision by Belichick still one very hot topic

Bonus Bonus!

Top Ten Cloves: Things Brett Favre Can Expect On His Return To The Green Bay Packers

Top Ten Cloves: Possible Reasons Peyton Manning Threw Six Interceptions Last Evening

Top Ten Cloves: Ways To Tell Your Next Door Neighbor May Be Conducting Illegal Dogfights

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Ugly American

By Capt. Fogg

Have we become a nation of skateboard and spray can street brats who live just to piss off the adults and piss on everything we can just for the fun of it; laughing with idiot glee while impressing our idiot friends?

Maybe not all of us, but certainly the Tea Baggers and the third of us who think Sarah Palin would make an outstanding president and most assuredly the idiot CNN reporter who thought she could get noticed by wearing a T-shirt with the president of the U.S. dressed as Mao Zedong in a Red Army uniform -- not at some idiotic Republican rally, not in a high school parking lot, but in the streets of Shanghai and while Barack Obama was making a historic visit to convince the world's largest country we're rational and dependable and trustworthy.

That's right, look at me folks, I'm an American and I'm an offensive and ignorant twit! One wonders at what feelings such a spectacle elicits in the Chinese. Mao, after all and after all the horrors, is still a hero of the "anti-Japanese War" and the man who ended much of the horror of Chinese history, albeit by instituting his own horror. Still, his picture looks down at Tian an men from the gates of the forbidden city.

Is this statement meant to say: "look, our leader is just like your great founding father, which might be an insult? Perhaps it means "look, your leader was a monster and so is ours" which would be a very confusing concept since drawing any parallels or valid comparisons between these two men is the stuff of foil hatted and straight jacketed ravers -- or unscrupulous reactionary propagandists. What must it seem like when a representative of the country that has everything China wants mocks the system that gave it to them by comparing it to the dark days of starvation and violent oppression?

Who knows, but if we hark back only a handful of months to when criticizing the US or it's leaders while abroad was considered treason - at least when non-Republicans did it, it would be confusing to anyone. No Chinese thinks Obama has anything to do with Communism, much less with the dictatorship of the Party or the Gang of Four or the Cultural Revolution.

Emily Chang, a Chinese based CNN reporter was hassled by Shanghai police who had put a ban on such display in order to avoid offending America. That an American news network would make an effort to openly flaunt it rather than some anti-American local must have seemed as strange as it seems to me, but perhaps no stranger than the tokens and tags of the domestic brat culture with its graffiti, self mutilation and 'attitude.'

Nice job Emily. Thanks for reminding the world that we're as sophomoric and scatter-brained as we ever were and the world can feel safe with us, our massive nuclear arsenal, our worshipful militarism, our xenophobia and the joy we feel in our disrespect for everything and everyone.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Is that Glenn Beck's hand up Doug Hoffman's ass?

So, with Democrat Bill Owens's margin of victory narrowing upon recanvassing in NY-23 (from 5,335 to 3,026), and with over 10,000 absentee ballots being counted, Conservative-Republican insurgent Doug Hoffman has unconceded.

And where did he unconcede? Or, rather, who pushed him to unconcede?

Why, Glenn Beck, of course, Hoffman's mentor and manipulator.

Now, let me be clear: Hoffman has every right to unconcede. The vote was close, and it's essential that all the votes are counted (even if Owens has already been sworn in). A reversal may be a "long-shot," as Hoffman himself has admitted (he would need to win 65 percent of the absentee votes), but, well, stranger things have happened.

Still, it's awfully amusing, isn't it, that the Beck-Hoffman relationship is basically akin to the ventriloquist-dummy relationship?

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Palin, pageants, and porn

By the way, it's awfully rich of Sarah Palin to criticize Levi Johnston for "aspiring" to "porn" -- he's apparently going to pose for Playgirl -- given her own beauty pageant past.

She made the comments on Oprah yesterday -- for more on that, see my long post from last night -- but she's made similar comments before. See my recent post "What price, Sarah Palin's butt?" for more.

Is being in a beauty pageant the same as posing for a softcore "porn" magazine? There are differences, to be sure, but Palin herself has admitted that she "did the beauty pageants to earn money for college," and that the pageants were explicitly sexual: "They made us line up in bathing suits and turn our backs so the male judges could look at our butts."

Should we all pray for you, Sarah?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Palinio ad absurdum

Honestly, I've had enough of Sarah Palin, more than enough, and, as I watch the Palin PR train steam its way around the media, including on Oprah today -- what level of hell is that, I ask? -- I blame myself for being so Palin-focused this past year. Well, maybe not "focused," but I have written a lot about her, and what an awful waste of time it has been.

It was one thing when she was a veep candidate, an unavoidable figure on the national stage, and when she was actually in office, back when there was a point to her, but now that she's just a self-aggrandizing and woefully delusional, not to mention exceedingly dishonest, political celebrity in search of money and attention, still pushing her weight around even as she wallows in self-styled victimhood at the hands of nefarious elites, pushing her "death panel" lies, her incongruous theocratic-libertarian right-wing worldview, and her me-first persona, the object of so much lustful affection from the neocons at The Weekly Standard, the extremists in the conservative media, and the mob-like GOP base, there doesn't seem to be a point at all, except perhaps to the extent she's contributing to the ongoing Republican civil war.

Except that she's now a bestselling author, what with Going Rogue already destined for huge sales, and so we face the ongoing media blitz that seemed to peak today on Oprah. No, I didn't watch, and, no, I won't, given how much I dislike them both, but, thankfully, others did, to them we turn, if we must. Michelle Cottle found that Palin "came off looking... pretty good," which is hardly surprising, given how packaged she is and how prepared she no doubt was, and it wasn't like Oprah was going to sabotage her own catch by pulling a Katie Couric and embarrasing Palin with a few relatively tough questions:

All things considered, the sit-down should prove a plus for Palin. That said, it did raise a few questions about the long-term prospects for her reinvention tour. This is clearly a woman who has neither forgotten nor forgiven the many injuries she feels were unfairly visited on her last year by the media, the Democrats, the McCain campaign, and other "haters." It's possible she realizes that she made some significant mistakes, but that realization is clearly buried under a massive glacier of resentment and irritation at others. Asked point blank by Oprah if, when she got the call from the McCain campaign, she had even a moment of wondering whether she was ready for the job of vice president, Palin stuck with the "I didn't blink" assertion and reminded us of all her executive experience. The only failure or naivety Palin remains willing to acknowledge is that she didn't realize the perfidy or self-interestedness of those around her. Palin is charming and charismatic enough that this wasn’t a big problem for the length of an unexceptional Oprah interview. But it promises to make any future political runs verrrrry interesting.

Interesting, perhaps, but Palin doesn't stand a chance on the national stage, where she would only embarrass herself further. It's one thing to look good on Oprah, another to reach out to voters beyond the GOP mob, to put together a coherent policy platform, and come across as a worthy national leader. It's hardly surprising, after all, that an overwhelming majority of Americans thinks Palin is not qualified to be president. There is a great deal of delusion in the American electorate, but a lot of voters were paying attention last year, and they didn't exactly like what they saw. Still, you shouldn't count out the influence of her conservative admirers, the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh, Kristol and Barnes, Coulter and O'Reilly, the increasingly dominant faction of the GOP behind the Doug Hoffman insurgency in NY-23, and so you never know.

But back to Oprah: Some critics were less kind than Cottle, including the Times's Alessandra Stanley, found Palin's performance "surprisingly unsmooth," which is also hardly surprising, given how easily rattled she is when challenged outside of her narrow comfort zone. As prepared as she may have been, all the preparation in the world can't cover up her core. She generally looks good, and is generally amusing enough, but beneath the surface is a woman who is, as I put it repeatedly last year, both a twit and a thug.

At Slate, Christopher Beam noted that "Oprah avoided going into full Oprah mode." For the most part, she stuck to "the Palin-approved script" -- and, for the most part, Palin stuck to hers.

Oprah closed the interview by asking whether it was true that Palin might be getting her own talk show. Instead of an answer, Palin reached for the butter. "Oprah, you're the queen," Palin said. "You have nothing to worry about." That may be so. But for Palin, a talk show would be a best case scenario: Top billing. Pre-set conversation topics. A favorable audience. And once and for all, a media filter of her own.

If you still can't get enough, check out Andrew Sullivan's courageous live-blogging of Palin's appearance on Oprah. I say "courageous" because it no doubt took a certain self-sacrifice to sit through it all. Sullivan does stellar work peeling back the layers of bullshit that thinly disguises the real Sarah Palin, and his post is worth reading -- it's certainly more enjoyable, I can only imagine, than actually watching the interview, and many of his points only further discredit a woman who, to me, has no credibility at all.

Okay, enough. We're already well past the point of Palin saturation, and even tonight's ugly Ravens-Browns Monday nighter, a game featuring two of my most hated teams in professional sports, a dull game tied 0-0 at the half, is more interesting than the predictable cult of narcissism that is Sarah Palin. This media blitz is just a rerun that would have been better left in the can, bestseller and all.

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A look at the book: Goodbye, Billie Jean: The Meaning of Michael Jackson

Here it is -- the anthology containing my article on Michael Jackson is now in print. You can hook a copy direct from the editor, details here, or you can order it from in a few weeks.

The article was discovered here at The Reaction.

(Cross-posted at The Swash Zone.)

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A diplomatic surge in Pakistan

Guest post by Ziad Haider

Ziad Haider is an MPA/JD candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and Georgetown Law, and a Truman National Security Fellow. He conducted field research on governance in FATA with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the summer of 2008 and previously worked as a foreign policy advisor in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent three-day visit to Islamabad and Lahore highlighted the ongoing challenge of conducting diplomacy in Pakistan. For a nation whose partnership is vital to U.S. security, the fact that 64% of Pakistanis view the U.S. as an enemy represents no small problem. As the White House reassesses its "Af-Pak" strategy, it is important to clearly define U.S. interests in Pakistan and to chart a new course in US-Pakistani relations that places a greater emphasis on diplomacy.

The U.S. has two vital interests in Pakistan. The first is to combat extremism. This includes al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the associated domestic terrorist groups that threaten Pakistan's stability. A corollary to this threat is the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

The second is to ensure regional stability for three reasons: to avoid a conflict between Pakistan and India that would force Pakistan to redeploy troops from west to east and detract from the war in Afghanistan; to avoid a conflict between Pakistan and India that may escalate up the nuclear chain; and to improve regional relations so that Pakistan no longer feels the need to retain militant proxies as leverage against its neighbors.

In combating extremism, the U.S. has been relatively successful at securing Pakistani operational support in Afghanistan, including the transit of vital supplies; getting Pakistan to eliminate key al Qaeda leaders; and nudging it to confront internal threats such as those in the Swat Valley.

While domestic dynamics have driven many of these decisions, U.S. diplomacy has played a role. These successes were accomplished through a mix of coercive and soft diplomacy ranging from a "with us or against us" choice at the onset of the invasion of Afghanistan to the lifting of sanctions and generous provision of military assistance.

On regional stability, the US has successfully engaged in short-term crisis management. These include external crises such as the 2001-2002 Indo-Pak military mobilization and the more recent standoff between the civilian government and opposition over the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Breakthroughs were respectively possible due to high-level and intensive interventions by Secretary of State Colin Powell and by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet U.S. diplomacy has also failed in significant measure. The U.S. has been unable to alter the Pakistani army's strategic calculus. The army continues to retain the Taliban and other militant groups as a hedging strategy against Pakistan's neighbors and a seemingly inevitable U.S. drawdown.

U.S. diplomacy has also been unable to generate support among Pakistanis who harbor deep grievances: historic US support for military rule, "abandonment" and sanctions in the nineties, the invasion of Afghanistan, drone strikes, and U.S. policies in the Middle East. This tortured and at times distorted public narrative has impeded robust cooperation with Pakistan's fragile democratic government.

Lastly, the U.S. has failed to take a long-term view in addressing regional dynamics. Historic fissures remain, such as the Pak-Afghan border dispute and Indo-Pak grievances, including Kashmir. The military imperative of fighting a war in Afghanistan has eclipsed the diplomatic imperative of tackling the root causes of insecurity in the region.

So how does the U.S. leverage diplomacy to strengthen its relationship with Pakistan based on "mutual interest and mutual respect?" Here are four key elements to consider.

First, U.S. diplomacy must focus on the Pakistani people. The Kerry-Lugar bill that tripled economic aid was an important start; patience and public diplomacy are required to reap the dividends.

Second, the U.S. must also advance the resolution of core regional issues, including supporting the resumption of the Indo-Pak composite dialogue as well as an eventual Af-Pak dialogue on the status of the Durand Line.

Third, the U.S. must manage the visibility/invisibility paradox. This entails balancing a lower profile to avoid appearing overly intrusive with being sufficiently visible to secure the public dividend of development initiatives and to demonstrate sustained engagement. As reflected in the Kerry-Lugar debate, the U.S. must also walk the fine legislative line between accountability for taxpayer money and perceived dictation infringing on Pakistani sovereignty.

Lastly, however, the U.S. must be honest about why Pakistan matters. Stretching back through the Cold War, the U.S. has always seen Pakistan through a security lens. This raises an inescapable question: can the relationship ever be sustainable if it pivots on avoiding negative outcomes instead of achieving positive ones? The way this question is answered or reframed will define the bilateral relationship beyond the current crisis of the hour.

For now, a democratic and prosperous Pakistan at peace with itself and its neighbors is critical for U.S. national security. To this end, as in Afghanistan, the U.S. is essentially fighting a form of counter-insurgency in Pakistan – minus the troops. This further necessitates a surge in U.S. diplomacy toward Pakistan to secure a more willing and able partner.

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