Friday, February 1, 2013

GOP Senators Despicable Antics at Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense Hearings

Latest from The Hill on the Hagel nomination -- they anticipate that he will be confirmed because he has more than 50 votes and do not expect a filibuster from Republicans even though some have said they might filibuster but that would set a bad precedent that a President cannot appoint who he wants to his cabinet.
Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Friday that there was "no question" the White House had secured more than 50 votes to support former Sen. Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb.) nomination to head the Defense Department. 
"We're very confident of that," Pfeiffer told Bloomberg TV. "There's no question that there will be more than 50 votes to confirm Sen. Hagel." 
Hagel struggled through a contentious confirmation hearing Thursday, often having to correct statements or apologize for past comments. But White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday that he believed Hagel "did fine" and helped secure votes necessary for his confirmation.
"We expect the Senate to confirm Sen. Hagel to the position of secretary of Defense," Carney said. "By my estimates and reading of press reports, there has been a net increase in the number of confirmed 'yes' votes for Sen. Hagel's confirmation since the hearing ended." 
Pfeiffer also said he did not expect Republicans to filibuster Hagel's nomination, which would increase the threshold required for Hagel's confirmation to 60 votes. 
"I would be disappointed and surprised if the Republicans were willing to filibuster one of their former colleagues for the secretary of Defense," he said.

That was good news this afternoon after what Senator Hagel endured yesterday at the Committee hearing of Armed Services.

Started supporting former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as soon as I heard there was a chance he would be announced by President Obama as the next Secretary of State.  He knows the Defense Department and unlike most Republicans in Congress today, he is part of a small group of GOP Senators and former Senators who cannot be bought by lobbyists.

Most likely the reason the defense industry lined up against him along with Neocons as Hagel would not recommend us going into a war that is unnecessary to the protection of this Country.  The Neocons seem to have never met a war they didn't like, yet very of them have ever served.  Chuck Hagel not only served as an enlisted man in Vietnam but was wounded.  Would say he has a different perspective on what war means.

Senator Hagel has been criticized for his reaction to the Republicans Senators as being unprepared.  I have another take asking how could anyone have been prepared for the attacks by his fellow Republicans yesterday where the most important topic was Israel.  That blew my mind.  After Senator Inhofe's insulting opening remarks, anyone would have been off their game trying not to lose their cool.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who opened by arguing that Chuck Hagel’s views are far outside the mainstream, questioned the former Nebraska senator aggressively on Iran, Israel and nuclear weapons at the Senate confirmation hearing for Hagel as defense secretary.
My Senator calling anyone far outside the mainstream has to be the biggest joke of the day.  Inhofe is not mainstream by any shape or form and in many instances is too hard right.  Who is far outside the mainstream today are Republicans in Congress and they go farther right by the day it seems.

This except from the London Guardian sums up the hearing by Republicans who acted like they were picking a Secretary of Defense for Israel not the United States:

• "Is Israel a great country, or is it the greatest? And if it's the former, can you explain your lack of support for America's most important ally?"
• "Why don't you think Iran is crazy, unbalanced and a military competitor of the United States, as I do?"
• "Let me tell you more about the vital national security rule played by the weapons system or military base located in my home state." 
I'm not really exaggerating when I say these three themes accounted for practically 80% of the questions asked of Hagel, particularly by Republicans. In fact, according to a tweet from Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran that made the rounds yesterday evening, Israel was mentioned 136 times in the hearing and Iran 135 times.
Even though the defense secretary nominee said repeatedly that he supports Israel, that he considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and that he wouldn't take military force off the table in dealing with its potential nuclear program, Republicans mined practically every statement ever made by Hagel (and often taken out of context) in an effort to assert that he doesn't hold as uncompromising a position on these issues as they do.
The day reached its point of high comedy when Senator Lindsey Graham began interrogating Hagel on whether he believes – as he allegedly said several years ago – that the so-called "Jewish lobby" causes US senators to occasionally do dumb things that harm US foreign policy. Hagel hemmed and hawed on the question when, in an ideal world, he should have said, "Yes, and this hearing is example A." 
In fact, after a while, it was hard to figure out if Hagel was the nominee for secretary of defense or "Israel's new bestie", so obsessed were Republican Senators with how Hagel views the US-Israel relationship. It was a demoralizing spectacle.
As we saw during the GOP primaries last year, the new apparent litmus test for being a foreign policy-maker in the US government appears to be the extent to which you offer unconditional support for basically everything that Israel does (even when it goes against stated US policy). 
That a hearing on the fitness of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense was dominated by a discussion of a country that is not even a military ally of the United States – and which, in the just the last three months, has take actions on settlement construction that run precisely counter to US policy – offered compelling evidence of the disproportionate and unhealthy role that Israel plays in US foreign policy debates.
Israel is the same country that sold some of our military weapon systems secrets to China.
One good reason why Israel should not receive billions of dollars in military assistance annually is its espionage against the United States. Israel, a Socialist country where government and business work hand in hand, systematically steals American technology with both military and civilian applications. The Israelis then reverse engineer this US-developed technology and use it in their own exports with considerably reduced research and development costs.
This is an example of the Country of Israel that Republicans in the Congress hold in such high esteem.  Do any of them get kickbacks from Israel is a question that needs answered.
Almost as depressing was the panel's discussion of Iran. It was bad enough that New York Democratic Kirsten Gillibrand called Iran an "existential threat" to the United States, or that senators kept referring to an Iranian nuclear weapons program that, according the IAEA and America's own intelligence agencies, doesn't actually exist.
But from listening to the questions, one might not know that there are currently 66,000 US troops fighting a war in Afghanistan. It was barely touched on – mentioned only a handful of times in the day's proceeding. 
Al-Qaida: that got mentioned twice. China: hardly came up. Payroll and healthcare issues, which are a huge part of the Pentagon budget: barely referenced. The growing epidemic of military suicides and sexual assault: each were raised once.
Instead, when given the chance, senators were far more interested in referencing the military spending in their own states that is, oh, so vital to national security. Thus, we were presented with Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about the importance of submarines to the US fleet – subs that just happen to be built in Groton Connnecticut; or Jeanne Shaheen and Angus King inquiring about naval building – for example, at the shipyards in their home states of New Hampshire and Maine; Tim Kaine of Virginia, which is home to a huge military and contracting footprint, warning about the dangers of sequestration military cuts; and Deb Fischer, inquiring about the (false) claim that Hagel supports unilateral reductions in nuclear weapons, which, of course, coincidentally touches on the presence of the United States strategic command (USSC) in her home state of Nebraska.
It's almost as if the nation's actual wars, actual troops and actual national security challenges were of little concern to the assembled senators. 
One must be careful about romanticizing the past glories of the Senate and the armed services committee, but still, there did used to be a time when there were senators who approached national security concerns and issues related to the military with some level of seriousness and sobriety. Such attributes were in meager presence on Thursday.

A little background on that explains even when he was young, he was given anything he wanted whether qualified or not which has led to a perception you don't cross John McCain or he pays you back which is what I see was on display yesterday - pay back for not supporting Sarah Palin as VP.  Hagel wasn't alone as a lot of us didn't support her.  

John McCain graduated near the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy as the son of an Admiral.  Anyone who knows the academies know that pilot training goes to those closer to the top of their class, but when you are the son of an Admiral, you get special privileges so off to pilot training he went.  He crashed more planes then most of us could have imagined but he graduated from pilot training and then was assigned to a carrier group in SEA where he was shot down and became a POW.  Will not go into his TV appearance, etc., but will state that when the POW's were released and flown back to the states McCain's Father met him at the plane and whisked him away.

One of the big problems I have with with his Father is that McCain is that when he was returned from North Vietnam as a former prisoner of war, McCain never went through debriefing or any other medical tests that other POW's went through.  My boss at the time of the POW release was named by the AF Surgeon General as he representative for returning POWs as USAF Medical Center Wright-Patterson AFB was one of the centers where POW's were returned.  The information on McCain is not second hand but first hand from the message I delivered to my boss from the Command Post.

Have I calmed down at Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee?  Not even close.  Thought Senator James Inhofe of OK would do a good job as the ranking Republican on Armed Services but I was 100% wrong if yesterday was an example.  As for John McCain I have to wonder why he is still in the Senate after his antics in the last few months starting with Benghazim as he has turned into a bitter old man part of which could go back to the fact he never received the medical treatment like other returning POW's and in some way he may also have regrets about some of his actions.

This exchange with McCain was like a 2-year old throwing a tantrum because the question could not and should not have been answered with a YES or NO and McCain knew it -- bitter to the end.  Guess he hasn't gotten over Romney losing and him not being named Secretary of Defense which would have set off a rash of retirements by senior officers.
The nominee's fiercest exchange came with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a fellow Vietnam veteran and onetime close friend. Politics and Hagel's evolving opposition to the Iraq war caused a split between the two men that was on full display. 
McCain suggested that Hagel and his critics were not quibbling over small matters.
"They are not reasonable people disagreeing; they are fundamental disagreements. Our concerns pertain to the quality of your professional judgment and your worldview on critical areas of national security," he said.   
McCain pressed Hagel on whether he was right or wrong about his opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to send an extra 30,000 troops to Iraq in 2007 at a point when the war seemed in danger of being lost. Hagel, who voted to authorize military force in Iraq, later opposed the conflict, comparing it to Vietnam and arguing that it shifted the focus from Afghanistan. 
"Were you right? Were you correct in your assessment?" McCain asked 
"I would defer to the judgment of history to sort that out," Hagel said as the two men talked over each other. 
"The committee deserves your judgment as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge," McCain insisted. 
Unable to elicit a simple response, McCain said the record should show that Hagel refused to answer. And he made it clear that he would have the final word – with his vote, which he said would be influenced by Hagel's refusal to answer yes or no. 
"I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you're on the wrong side of it," he said.
This is just more proof that McCain should step down as a Senator and allow someone who has a more even demeanor/temperament to represent Arizona.  His attacks on UN Ambassador Susan Rice on Benghazi were also over the top.

Then you have the new Texas Senator Ted Cruz who never should have been elected.  He is coming across as a good old boy Tea Party but his wife is a VP at Goldman Sachs.  His questions to Chuck Hagel yesterday were an insult to every person who wears the uniform which Cruz did not by taking his comments out of context which is a typical Tea Party ploy.

During Republican Chuck Hagel's defense secretary confirmation hearing on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chose to use a large portion of his five minutes of questioning to play a YouTube video of Hagel in an Al Jazeera interview from 2009. 
Hagel's original statement at a Senate session held on July 31, 2006 described the conflict in Israel as "a sickening slaughter on both sides" that Hagel said "must end." However, Cruz highlighted Hagel's "sickening slaughter" remark and his agreement with a caller who referenced "war crimes."
From Crooks and Liars -- Fox's Hannity Lauds Sen. Cruz' Deceptive Attack On Chuck Hagel:
Color me not shocked that Fox is carrying water for wingnut Sen. Ted Cruz and his dishonest attack on former Sen. Chuck Hagel during yesterday's confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense. Sean Hannity opened up his show by replaying part of Cruz' cheap shot at Hagel earlier that day.
Hannity and Cheney called Hagel about every name in the book and implied that he was feckless after hearing his testimony today. That's pretty rich coming from Bush administration cheerleader Hannity and the daughter of someone who likely qualifies as one of, if not the worst Vice Presidents -- someone who dishonored the office in which he served. Both of them actually believe that Donald Rumsfeld did a good job as Secretary of Defense

If that wasn't enough on Cruz here is more from the London Guardian:

Ted Cruz tried to link Hagel to a speech given by Chas Freeman, a former US diplomat who has been publicly critical of American support for the Jewish state, and in particular, the domestic lobbyists that defend Israel. 
When Cruz could not identify an obvious link between the two men, he backed off. But the moment was chilling because the implications of Cruz's questioning wasn't hard to deduce: simply having a relationship with Freeman and his controversial views on Israel would have been enough to indict Hagel.
This is quite frankly modern-day McCarthyism: guilt by association with those who hold differing views. It was the low point of the day in which the depths of practically every valley of squalid foreign policy discourse was plumbed
Cruz is showing himself to be a grandstander and a unethical Senator and only in his first month, but then he comes from the Tea Party which should be a warning to voters not to support any Tea Party candidates for any position.

Cannot leave out NH's  Kelly Ayote who is  the puppet of McCain and Graham showing off her stupidity and why she should not be on Armed Services.  More from the perspective of
My ()  personal lowlight came when Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire pushed Hagel to answer why he thought a nuclear Iran might be containable or even worth talking to, considering that, in her words, the country's leaders are not "sane". Consider the implications of such a comment. If Iran is not sane, not containable and not able to be reason with, then we might as well bomb and invade them tomorrow because, clearly, there is no negotiating with "crazy" people. Ladies and gentlemen; your United States Senate.
I want to know how McConnell assigned committees to some of these people because Cruz and Ayote don't belong on Armed Services.  Did he choose people he knew would be puppets to what Defense Contractors wanted.

The Republican Senators I have seen for two days, first on gun control and then on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense are bitter, whiney, and full of themselves like they are in charge because they won the election -- delusional and failure to face reality are bad signs.  Majority Leader Reid should be ashamed for giving into this bunch.  People I once admired, I wouldn't give you two cents for after what I witnessed with my own eyes.

The first question that pops in your mind is how much money are these Senators being paid not only above the table but under the table because they don't normally act like what I have seen.  Know Hagel couldn't do it, but I would have loved to see him tell McCain to his face that he was a bitter old man who needed to sit down and shut up.  With the attacks on his character and statements, I thought Hagel did pretty good because the Republicans were so far out of line, they don't belong in the Senate.  May not vote for a Republican for anything for a long time after what I am seeing out of the jerks in Congress.  They don't seem to care about the American people and the Country by putting Party and donors over Country day in and day out.

There is a whole list including former Secretary of Defense/State like current Sec Def Panetta, former Sec Def Gates, General Colin Powell, former Sec of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, and the list goes on who support Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense which far outweigh the GOP spoiled brats in the Senate where Hagel served and was friends with a lot of them.  Their reason for the attacks seems to be that Hagel dared accept an appointment from President Obama plus he stood up that the Iraq surge and the War in Iraq after finding out the facts they were given on Iraq were wrong.  He is right -- he was lied to like others in order to go into Iraq.

Excerpts from the Huffington Post on the Hagel hearing:
WASHINGTON — Bruised and battered, Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama's next defense secretary and increasing Republican opposition to a former GOP colleague. 
Mathematically, Hagel has the edge as he looks to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as the nation's 24th Pentagon chief, with Democrats holding a 14-12 advantage on the Senate Armed Services Committee. 
That vote, which could come as early as next Thursday, looks increasingly like a straight party-line count as committee member and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Friday he will oppose the nomination.
"Senator Hagel's answers before the committee were simply too inconsistent, particularly as they related to Iran and Israel," said the Missouri lawmaker. "The idea that we can contain a nuclear Iran and his view that we should not have unilateral sanctions are just wrong and are too dangerous for us to try." 
In fact, Hagel corrected his statement about containment of Iran and said all options, including military action, should be on the table to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. 
While Blunt announced his opposition, he signaled he would not support any effort to block the nomination, a looming question as Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel in the full Senate but would need five GOP senators to end a filibuster. 
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., expressed optimism about Hagel's prospects after nearly eight hours of testimony Thursday. 
"I think his answers were honest and forthright and he did very well," Levin told reporters. "I hope that there will be some, who maybe were skeptical but who are undecided before this hearing, will maybe now look at him in a more favorable light. But I think there are a whole lot of folks who basically decided before the hearing that they were going to vote against him." 
Hagel struggled at times as GOP senators hammered him on issues ranging from his support for Israel, opposition to Iran, stand on Hamas and Hezbollah and his backing for a group that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons. 
They repeatedly pressed him on past statements, votes and even letters he declined to sign. Refusing to show any frustration or anger, Hagel defended his record. 
The former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska described his views as mainstream and closely aligned with those of Obama, the Democrat who nominated him. But several GOP members of the committee sought to portray him as radical and unsteady. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called his ideas "extreme" and "far to the left" of Obama.  (My NOTE:  Fisher is the most hard right person elected from NE to be a Senator and was not supported in the primary by NRSC because she was so hard right - she is Tea Party all the way) 
Hagel said he believes America "must engage – not retreat – in the world" and insisted that his record is consistent on that point. 
He pointed to Iran and its nuclear ambitions as an example of an urgent national security threat that should be addressed first by attempting to establish dialogue with Iranian rulers, although he said he would not rule out using military force. 
"I think we're always on higher ground in every way – international law, domestic law, people of the world, people of the region to be with us on this – if we have ... gone through every possibility to resolve this in a responsible, peaceful way, rather than going to war," he said.
He pushed back on the notion – first raised by one of his harshest Republican critics, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma – that he favors a policy of appeasement.  (My NOTE:  A man who was wounded in Vietnam was attacked by Sen Inhofe as favoring appeasement which Hagel has never done.  Another Senator who could not be honest who has let his hatred of Obama cloud his judgment IMHO) 
"I think engagement is clearly in our interest," Hagel told Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who denounced the idea of negotiating with a "terrorist state."  (My NOTE:  Obviously Chambliss has a comprehension problem as engagement is not negotion or appeasement or surrender)
"That's not negotiation," Hagel said. "Engagement is not appeasement. Engagement is not surrender."  
Hagel, 66, would be the lone Republican in Obama's Cabinet, the first Vietnam veteran to be defense secretary and the first enlisted man to take the post.
In my analysis of reading stories around the internet about how nasty the Republican Senators were towards Hagel yesterday have made me more convinced than ever that the real reason for the hatred is that Chuck did have the nerve to accept an appointment from the President to be Secretary of Defense.  He was roundly criticized earlier when he accepted an appointment as co-chairman of Obama's President's Intelligence Advisory Board.  He was heavily criticized for taking that post.  Republicans have so much hate for this President that it has totally clouded their judgement in Congress and has been hurtful to the Country IMO.

At the end of the day, looks like Hagel can be confirmed and the Republican Senators can then focus on how they are going to derail other parts of the Obama agenda no matter who it hurts.

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