Archive for Chuck Hagel

ALL Is Okay in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Air Force BaseYou know how some people see the glass as half empty while others see it as full. Well, there's a universal solution to this age old dilemma. Don't see the glass at all. Such is the case in the Sooner State, Oklahoma.

Mary Fallon is the governor of one of four hold-out states, firmly against recognizing same sex marriage in the military. She even points out that it's the law in her state that same sex marriages are prohibited, so she feels she's in the right there.  Okay, I can see her dilemma. State vs. Federal. There's definitely a difference of opinion. But in this case, the military, including the National Guard falls under a larger umbrella of the Federal Government. Oh, the National Guard may be state controlled, but it's final orders must be approved by the Federal Department of Defense. Just ask all of those guardsmen and women who are serving over in Afghanistan right now. Their states didn't call them up, the U.S. did.

Despite a reprimand from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expounding the military rules now fully accept and acknowledge same sex marriages, the individual states can't discriminate against them and must let all military, including the national guard, have full access to all military services and benefits. Anything less would be discrimination.

This didn't fall on deaf ears in Governor Fallon's state, which BTW is home to six military bases (including two Coast Guard - yup, in this land-locked state).

Sister, er, Governor Mary F's totally against discrimination. So she took immediate action. She's not going to single out same sex marriages and legal civil unions. She's going to restrict state services to ALL marriages, straight or gay. So now, if you're stationed in Oklahoma, and have a legal  marriage or civil union, NO SERVICES by the state will be provided for you or your family. The governor has spoken. There will be no discrimination in her state. If you're married to anyone of any gender, you're out of luck. Single soldiers don't have to worry. They can still utilize state facilities under their military identification.

You gotta hand it to Marriage-minded Mary. In her spite of being told what to do against her will, she's not only lopped off her nose but also her entire head. She's a total moron. Here's how the wonderfully apoplectic Rachel Maddow summed it all up.

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Pentagon to grant benefits to same-sex couples, "treat all married personnel equally," by September

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Marriage equality is alive and well at the Pentagon. As of September, benefits for same-sex couples will include housing, medical and family separation, and they will be made retroactive to June 26. Not only that, couples will be granted leave if they're stationed in a location where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Via The Hill:

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it would grant same-sex couples previously unavailable federal benefits by September.

The Defense Department is giving legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples by Sept. 3, a move that's being made in response to the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) earlier this year.

"It is now the Department's policy to treat all married personnel equally," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a memo announcing the new benefits.

Now it's time for the rest of the country to take note and catch up to the U.S. military.

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White House: U.S. Intelligence Has ‘Varying Degrees of Confidence’ That Assad Used Chemical Weapons

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I woke up to a flurry of email news alerts about how the White House says "chemical weapons were used in Syria."

Chris Matthews is saying that Hagel "has determined that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, specifically sarin."

The L.A. Times subject line was "Breaking News: U.S. believes Syria's Assad has used chemical weapons."

I preferred the headline from the New York Times which I used as the headline for the post. It's a little more measured:

WASHINGTON – The White House said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now assess, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, but it said it needed conclusive proof before President Obama would take action.

The disclosure, in letters to Congressional leaders, takes the administration a step closer to acknowledging that President Bashar al-Assad has crossed a red line established by Mr. Obama last summer, when he said the United States would take unspecific action against Syria if there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used.

The White House emphasized that, “given the stakes involved,” the United States still needed “credible and corroborated facts” before deciding on a course of action. The letter, signed by the president’s director of legislative affairs, Miguel E. Rodriguez, said the United States was pressing for a “comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what happened.”

Chuck Todd is reporting that the chain of custody is not clear, that we know chemical weapons were used, but that we have an obligation to investigate, so we're requesting that the U.N. do just that. The president is trying to get the U.N. to confirm the use of chemical weapons before any action is taken, we will not rush to judgment, and wants an international body to investigate before we insert ourselves into a civil war.

Secretary of State John Kerry says there have been two instances of chemical weapons being used, and Secretary of Defense Hagel is saying that U.S. intel says they were used.

Here we go again. Fortunately, this president is more cautious and not looking to get us involved in another war, as opposed to GW Bush's eagerness to start a fraudulent one.

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Is Eric Cantor doing his best Chuck Hagel impression?

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Please welcome The Political Carnival's newest guest blogger "The Democratic Advisor" (@demadvisor):

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) tweeted this out from last night’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee: @GOPLeader “To all of our Christian brothers and sisters who are with us, we salute you and we thank you for standing with Israel #aipac2013.”

The tweet jumped off the page because it is suggesting quite explicitly that Jewish Americans have a greater or more intrinsic interest in the fate of Israel than other Americans do.  To some extent, it was a grand conflating of Israel and Judaism by America’s top Jewish elected official.

Meanwhile, a few short weeks ago, what seemed like the entirety of the GOP was in an outcry over Chuck Hagel’s comment in a 2006 interview that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Hagel apologized, saying that he should have said “pro-Israel lobby,” and pointed out that this was the only time he had used the “pro-Jewish” wording.  Hagel also walked back the rest of the comment, saying that he should have said “influences” rather than “intimidates.”  Here's a short Washington Post piece on the Hagel comments.

It’s hard to know exactly how much of the GOP outrage was genuine and how much was part of its failed attempt to trump up an argument against Hagel’s candidacy.  But an underlying issue was that Israel and the Jewish religion were two separate things, and that suggesting anything else (or using a phrase once in your life that could have been construed as such) was anti-Semitic. 

But it seems like Cantor did exactly the same thing last night.  Looking forward to the calls for an apology from his fellow Republicans.

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Senate Dems think Harry Reid should revisit filibuster reform if GOP continues to block Chuck Hagel

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“How’s that ‘gentleman’s agreement’ going now that we’ve just had a filibuster of a cabinet nominee for the first time in American history?”

Rachel Maddow: “Harry Reid decided he would… make a handshake deal with the Republican’s top senator, Mitch McConnell. He said he was ‘satisfied’ with the Republicans just ‘agreeing’ to be more reasonable… Remember? …  They would just agree as ‘gentlemen’ that the Republicans would ‘curtail the excesses’ of filibustering everything, and effectively ruling from the minority. … They said, you know, at a minimum this will at least improve the confirmation process for the administration’s nominees. How’s that working out now?How’s that ‘gentleman’s agreement’ going now that we’ve just had a filibuster of a cabinet nominee for the first time in American history?

Apparently, some Senate Democrats are asking themselves and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the same question.

Again, under Merkley's plan for reform, the filibuster wouldn’t have ended and the Dems would still be able to use the option to filibuster when they are the minority party. It would have taken more effort and transparency to voice opposition, but the filibuster would have remained intact.

The Hill:

Some Senate Democrats think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should revisit filibuster reform if Republicans continue to block Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s pick for secretary of Defense. [...]

[S]ome Democrats say Reid still has the option of changing the rules for the 113th Congress and should consider doing so if Republicans continue to hold up what in past years would have been considered routine business.

The Senate has never used a filibuster to reject a cabinet nominee-- and the GOP also threatened to filibuster Richard Cordray, the president's pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-- so why shouldn't the "nuclear option" be considered? One "first" to counter another, tit for tat. As for Reid breaking his word to Mitch McConnell, it's pretty obvious that McConnell has already abused their handshake agreement.

George Kohl, senior director at Communications Workers of America, said Reid "reserved the right to reconsider the rules if they continue to obstruct. If they continue to go down that path I think he’ll have to reconsider options he would like not to exercise."

I'm not holding my breath.

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Ben "Friends of Hamas" Shapiro to speak at California Republican Party convention

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"This organization is so sinister that it doesn't even exist!.. What else is [Hagel] hiding that hasn't happened?... What are his ties to the Dead Poet's Society? And why are they dead? Did they know too much about Benghazi?

"President Obama, you must withdraw Hagel's nomination, or you will lose the support of every moderate Republican, another group that doesn't exist!"

-- Stephen Colbert Taking Apart Breitbart for ‘Friends of Hamas’ Debacle

 Meet Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of Breitbart.com:

The Sacramento Bee is now reporting that Shapiro will be speaking at the California Republican Party convention. Karl Rove's slot had to be moved due to a scheduling conflict, so Breitie Ben will be taking his place.

Yes that Ben Shapiro.

You can stop laughing-- or crying-- now.

As my friend and Twitter pal @Jazzcattrio (h/t for the link) tweeted me just now, "I guess his speech won't be titled 'Journalistic Integrity'."

To refresh your memory, here's a recap of the utter insanity and lies that pass for Republican politics these days, from Raw Story:

Breitbart.com editor Ben Shapiro wrote, “On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas.’”

When Shapiro called the White House for comment, they hung up on him, which he took as confirmation. Shapiro ran the story and tweeted the link out to his more than 40,000 Twitter followers, touching off a right-wing media avalanche.

Those wacky, zany smear mongers on the right just don't know when to quit. They've become quite the laughingstock, yet persist in their nasty, delusional little ways. So now the GOP is anticipating Breitie Ben's California convention antics with glee, blissfully unaware of the immense hole they're continuing to dig for themselves.

If this is what they meant by reinventing the party, then by all means, please proceed.

hagel smear jon stewart

H/t: Jazzcattrio

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Video- Stephen Colbert Takes Apart Breitbart for 'Friends of Hamas' Debacle

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Via the wonderous Heather.

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