Archive for Chuck Hagel

Hagel & Miller Pissing Contest Results In Bergdahl Firestorm

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Bergdahl

Seems like the Republicans, sharks that they are, can't wait to taste the meat behind the Bergdahl blood in the waters. They realize that healthcare is a bust for them. The IRS scandal flamed out. Benghazi and the special hearings have taken a seat further back since the Eric Cantor massacre.  What's left?

The freshest meat in the Obama butcher shop -- the POW for Gitmo Prisoner Exchange. There's really nothing else for them to run on. And with Cantor being bounced from office, there's no new business that's going to transpire until, sadly, January of 2015 when the 215th Congress is called to order.

To distract the public's attention away from the anti-incumbent wave started by Majority Leader Cantor's demise, the GOP are push-push-pushing hard to get Bergdahl home so they can grill him. This is the GOP's last best chance to shake out voters and get them into the polling places in the November general election. A solid embarrassment for Obama and the administration could keep Democrats home and bring the fringe Republicans to the polls with their "white people's" ID's, ready to bring home a GOP Senate AND House.

So to goose things along before America's notorious short attention span -- just a few weeks ago it was the Benghazi special committee which was usurped by Hillary Clinton's head injuries "lingering effects." From there in America's short attention span theater, interest moved to the VA/Shinseki scandal, then came the Isla Vista Shooting and now it has turned to Eric Cantor. The Republicans in Congress are trying to right their tattered ship with the hull was punctured by the David Brat iceberg in Virginia's 7th District. The GOP urgently needs to grill our "no soldier left behind.", embarrass him, paint him a traitor and maybe they can limp into port with some sort of victory.

But that isn't easy to do when Bergdahl's not here in the US to interrogate. That's not stopping the GOP. Yesterday they called Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Hill to answer questions about the recovering ex-POW. Things got hot and testy. Florida's Rep. Jeff Miller (R) went on the attack, basically accusing the Defense Department of hiding the swapped soldier. His health be damned. Don't listen to the U.S. doctor's treating him in Landstuhl, Germany. Bring him to us NOW!!! -- preferably in shackles. (I added that last part).

Here, courtesy of NBC News is that short, but fiery exchange. When these two men, Hagel and Miller are rubbed together, there's more than smoke on the Hill. There's a huge conflagration.

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Hagel unaware of any "soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find, rescue Sgt. Bergdahl"

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will get another earful from the GOP, because Bergdahlzi!!! Yes, #Bergdahlzi!!!! is the new #Benghazi!!!!  I, for one, am as "flummoxed" as Rachel Maddow was in the video segment above. And by "flummoxed," I mean disgusted. Sickened. Outraged. It's hard to remember the last time Rachel was this aghast, and she's aghast on a regular basis:

"As the country celebrated the return of America's only prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan, the right decided to condemn the president for getting the soldier freed, and then to condemn the soldier himself, and now, in a special show of klass with a K, they've moved on to attacking the soldier's family.

"Should we subject... prisoners and their *worthiness* for rescue to some sort of test about how they got captured, and whether they were 'negiligent' or they left their post or they were 'incompetent' somehow, or maybe they made a dumb wrong turn [a la Jessica Lynch... see first part of video], or maybe they went down fighting but maybe their dad has too long a beard?

"Do we leave no soldier behind in captivity? Is that an American value, an American military principle? Or, do we leave some of them behind, because some of them frankly aren't worth it, according to the Fox News channel?

"[A former GW Bush/Romney political strategist/spokesman] has been organizing media strategy... to try to stoke criticism of this soldier, who has just spent five years in enemy hands and is now on his way home. It's an organized effort now, to try to organize opposition and condemnation of this man who's getting out after five years of captivity.

"Before this happened, you could not invent a hypothetical scenario in which this is the way it would play out. Before this happened, you would have laughed out of the room a would-be screenwriter who tried to sell you a plot about the freeing of an American prisoner of war being treated as bad news in the United States of America. But incredibly, that really is where we are now."

It is appalling that those on the right are suggesting that a man who was held prisoner for five agonizing years should be left in Taliban hands to die because they've already convicted him (without knowing the facts) of desertion. Or for any reason, for that matter. He's an American, a member of the armed forces, and we don't do that, GOP. Remember?

I suggest they (and you) read Brian Beutler's article, "Conservative Critics of the Bergdahl-Taliban Swap Have Some Explaining to Do." Then I suggest they (not you) STFU.

This is really about going after President Obama and about a fresh round of fundraising emails. Their irrational, sick obsession is out of control.

So of course, they'll attack Hagel for the following quote in The Hill:

I do not know of specific circumstances or details of U.S. soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find and rescue Sgt. Bergdahl," Hagel said at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, where he met with NATO defense ministers, Reuters reported.

Damned if that doesn't totally screw with the Republican talking points.

Then that wild-eyed radical Hagel went all irrational on us. And by irrational, I mean way too reasonable for members of his own party:

Hagel urged critics not to rush to judgment, saying they should wait for the facts.

Until we get the facts, until we have ... a review of all the circumstances, it is not in the interest of anyone and certainly I think a bit unfair to Sgt. Bergdahl’s family and to him to presume anything," he said.

What a maverick.

A-a-and cue the rabid Republicans and their flying flood of pundit spittle in 5...4...3...2...1...

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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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