03/02/2014 10:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lowry/Katrina Clash Over Arizona and Army and Ask: Bidding or Shooting War Over Ukraine?


By: Mark Green


The top editors at National Review and Nation debate the economics and morality of a) Arizona 1062, b) modern Pentagon budget and c) Kiev after Sochi. Looking 'into his soul', Lowry and vanden Heuvel agree Putin is dangerously confounding.

On Russia and Ukraine. While Secretary Kerry may say that Ukrainian crisis should not be Rocky IV, notes Katrina vanden Heuvel, it's now possible that the Ukraine will be carved up between East and West. She adds that a) it's not in Putin's long-term interest to invade Ukraine, b) any final arrangement with the US/EU/IMF must include Russia given its obvious interests and c) the jingoistic Krauthammers and Cohens should be wary of "owning" the Ukraine since it's bankrupt and European austerity hasn't worked so well.

Rich Lowry analyzes how Russia offered Ukraine a $15 billion that led to street rallies and how Yanukovych lost his authority and office when he mowed down 100 protestors. Now? He can't predict American elections much less the next days and months in Ukraine. But while Putin would prefer the peaceful control of the Ukraine, if he's challenged then "his military impulses will come into play" [which proved prescient since the next day Putin's military did go into the Crimea to secure that country's parliament and airports].

Host: when the Kristol/Bolton/Krauthammer America-is-weak crowd argues that this is a big test for Obama, sounder heads will note that a) America has had enough of our involvement in wars after Bush43 and b) far higher on our list of urgent issues are jobs/ACA/Israel/Iran/terrorism/climate/loose nukes...

On Pentagon Spending. Given our withdrawal from two wars plus the rise of drones, cyberwar and special forces, Secretary Hagel announced a one-fifth reduction in army troops to meet our security and economic needs. Agree?

Rich does not. "This is not driven by any strategy. The cuts are happening willy-nilly after the Sequester. Who knew in 2000 that we'd shortly have to go into Afghanistan? This often happens after a conflict -- WWII, Korea, Cold War -- when an exhausted public" wants to draw down. "But it's better to be prepared than not. I promise you, we will regret this."

Katrina, however, does think the Obama/Hagel budget is strategic and smart in the 21st century. "Are we a Globocop or a democracy that is not the indispensable nation but the indispensable partner?" Also, an iron-triangle on Capital Hill means that we build overbudget weapons that we can do without.

Question for Rich: aren't many conservatives hypocrites for saying 6 days a week that our deficits are unsustainable but then on the 7th asserting that the military should have a blank check...and isn't that why there's a national majority behind the Rand Paul-Barney Frank alliance to reduce our military budget.? He disagrees with the first since "it's entitlements that's driving our budget problem" but, yes, there is a new majority coalition "between anti-spending Rs and anti-military Ds."

On "Right to Refuse" in Arizona. Rich vigorously defends Arizona's 1062 because it largely just updates the 1992 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that enables religious people to avoid commercial relationships with things contrary to their beliefs, "a law proposed by Ted Kennedy and signed by Bill Clinton. Were they bigots?"

Katrina counters that this issue was resolved after lunch-counter sit-ins made it clear that, however prejudiced people may want to be as individuals in their homes or houses of worship, they can't be when involved in public accommodations. Also, GOP leaders like McCain, Flake and Romney -- and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce -- were opposed."

What about seven federal judges -- including those in Texas and Kansas, Utah -- ruling that bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional and AG Holder's speech saying that state AGs can refuse to defend such bans if they think it violates the constitution?

Katrina applauds this inevitable tide toward equal justice. Rich balks especially at Holder's view as "another example of this lawless administration since we have an adversarial system of government and a lawyer is supposed to vigorously defend his/her client -- and the state AG's client is the state." Would he have defended a state's segregation laws pre-Brown? He argues that's different since those laws were state-sponsored and "blatantly unconstitutional" (although, until 1954, they were permitted under the 1896 Plessy v. Fergusonseparate-but-equal decision).

Host: while it's now unlikely other states will attempt similar laws given GOP and business opposition, it's also probable that some 2016 aspirant will embrace the1062 principle to gain religious right votes in the primaries. This issue will be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in the pending Hobby case -- i.e., is a "person" under constitutional law also mean a "business" that would have a right to religion and to refuse to serve someone engaging in a practice that their faith condemns?While precedent and logic don't always persuade this Court presumably most people would consider it ludicrous that a corporation would have a right to religion.

Also, might the defeat of 1062 now create a backlash that would enable ENDA to get a vote in Congress, as Labor Secretary Tom Perez has urged? If law cannot allow corporate bias against customers, can it against employees?

On Obama's "Brothers Keeper." We listen to President Obama talk about his childhood without a father in the home, slacking off, doing drugs.

Consensus alert: all of us applaud president Obama's involvement in "My Brothers Keeper," a civic sector push to help young black men be more likely to go to college than jail.

Rich: "I have a hard time finding any problem with this whatsoever. Obama has a unique credibility to set a tone in our culture about all youth graduating high school and getting married before having children." Katrina thinks that while Obama has been careful not to racialize issues in his first term -- "Treyvon could be my son" being an exception -- "he's more liberated on issues like this in his second term."

Host: I've never seen any president, much less a supposedly cerebral one like BHO, be so personally and passionately engaged in a public issue to the point of using his misspent youth as a role model to be avoided.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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