"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Senator Schumer (D-NY) Announces His Support for Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense; Neocon Heads Explode

Hagel vs. Neocons

Posted on Jan 13, 2013, Steve Sack, Cagle Cartoons, The Minneapolis Star Tribune 
This morning after hearing that Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, was now supporting former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, I figured it was more than both had the same first name.  I did see that in a comment making fun of the neocons.   After the Schumer announcement, decided it was time to look into some background of why the Republican neocons had gone so far overboard with their attacks on Hagel making some Senators like McCain, Graham, Ayotte, and Corker look like fools.

How much are some of these Senators bought and paid for by the Defense industry who pushes neocons to do their bidding because with war comes big profits.  That is why I thought this cartoon from Cagle Cartoons was perfect for this post today.

Knew McCain was mad after Chuck Hagel slammed Sarah Palin: "It's a stretch to say she's got the experience to be President".  Frankly that was one of the smarter things Hagel has said.  He was 100% correct as it turned out.  He also opposed the surge in Iraq which McCain wanted.  Showed me then that Hagel was his own man and would put Country over Party.

The question of this nomination has been "Why do neocons detest Hagel?" which I typed into my AOL search.  Found this article from Barrie Dunsmore, a retired ABC News diplomatic correspondent.  After reading his article, it made perfect sense:
Dunsmore: Why the neocons don’t like Hagel 
Editor’s note: This op-ed by retired ABC News diplomatic correspondent Barrie Dunsmore first aired on Vermont Public Radio.  All his columns can be found on his website, www.barriedunsmore.com. 
Weeks before Chuck Hagel was announced as President Obama’s choice to run the Pentagon, a campaign against Hagel was launched by neoconservatives led by William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine. Kristol is not just any neo-conservative. His father was known as the godfather of the movement of intellectuals whowere once part of America’s Far Left — who in the 1960s began flipping to the Far Right over their disenchantment with American liberalism. Irving Kristol used to joke that a neoconservative was “a liberal who had been mugged by reality.” 
One feature of neoconservatism is that it advocates an aggressive, hard-line foreign policy. Another, is that it is strongly pro-Israel and historically has had close ties with Israel’s current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those two policy goals came together when neocons in George W. Bush’s administration pressed for the invasion of Iraq....
The opening shots of the campaign against Hagel were that he was not supportive of Israel. This past week Elliot Abrams, a noted neocon in the Reagan and Bush administrations, went so far as openly calling Hagel an anti-Semite. Abrams cited remarks Hagel once made, critical of the scare tactics of the “Jewish lobby” in Washington. Hagel now admits he should have said Israeli lobby because Christians, especially many evangelicals, are also strongly pro Israel.As Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame put it this week, being critical of the current hard-line Israeli government, doesn’t make one an anti-Semite. 
Actually, earlier this week two top officials from the current Israeli government praised Hagel for his record of strong support for Israel. So what is going on here
But I believe most Americans, including most American Jews, would find a negotiated outcome in Iran far more preferable than another Mideast War — a war most likely to be even more costly than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Excerpt:  Read More at VT Digger.com
How has the neocon short-sighted view of invading Iraq worked out to make the Middle East safer for Israel?  IMHO the Middle East is in more turmoil then it has been in years.  Have the neocons with their zeal for war and support of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu  upset the balance in the Middle East?  War isn't the answer to everything.
They (Bush neocons) wanted to show the world that with the end of the Cold War, America was the top dog and would not hesitate to use force to protect or advance its interests. And the overthrow of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein would make the neighborhood safer for Israel.  
The neocons received a huge blow to their chances of defeating Hagel for Secretary of Defense today with this announcement that Hagel had won over Key Democrats including Senator Schumer:
Hagel Wins Over Key Democrats In Defense Secretary Bid 
By Hayes Brown on Jan 15, 2013 at 10:28 am 
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — rumored to be a potential roadblock in the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, today announced his support of Hagel’s bid — following a lengthy meeting between the two. 
Schumer was thought by many to be a bellwether on whether coordinated attacks on Hagel’s stance on Iran and Israel by neoconservatives were having the desired effect. In the aftermath of a ninety minute meeting between the two on Monday, Schumer made clear that the smear tactics of the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and others had not swayed his decision, announcing his support in a prepared statement
Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him. [...] 
I know some will question whether Senator Hagel’s assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don’t think so. Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.
In his statement, Schumer also noted that Hagel provided assurances on his commitment to female and LGBT service members, another concern of several members of the Senate. 
By announcing his support, Schumer joins Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in firmly stating their backing of Hagel in the coming confirmation fight. “After speaking extensively with Sen. Hagel by phone last week and after receiving a detailed written response to my questions late today, I will support Sen. Hagel’s nomination as secretary of Defense,” Boxer said in a statement.
Read More at Think Progress.org 
Since President Obama announced Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense some of the dumbest comments have come out of Republican Senators against the nomination.  One of my favorites was Senator Corker (R-TN) questioning  Hagel's 'temperament' when you have John McCain in your caucus along with others which made me laugh.  It only took Sen Corker (R-TN) a little over a week to be brought back on board the 'smear campaign' against Hagel being run by McCain and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for the neocons and big defense contractors who depend on wars to make a lot of money.  The more conflicts the better for the Defense industry who pull the chains of Senators/Representatives when they want their way.  In this case, Hagel would be one of their worst nightmares which makes him the perfect choice.
GOP Senator Now Questions Hagel’s ‘Temperament’ 
By Rebecca Leber on Jan 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel received bipartisan support after President Obama nominated him for Secretary of Defense last week. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who served with Hagel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also praised him as someone he is “very open to” for the nomination: “Certainly his name coming forward is one I’m very open to. I had good relations with him while he was in the Senate.” (my bold) 
But this Sunday, during an appearance on This Week, Corker echoed the criticism of the smear campaign against Hagel, and raised vague concerns about his “temperament”:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): You had some positive things to say about Senator Hagel when his name was first floated. You said he had a good relations on the Senate foreign realtions committee. Do you see anything that should disqualify him fromt he Pentagon post? 
CORKER: Well I think like a lot of people the hearings are going to have a huge effect on me [...] You know, I have a lot of questions about just this whole nuclear posture abuse. Those are things that haven’t been discussed yet. Obviously people have concerns about his stance towards Iran and Israel. But I think another thing, George, that’s going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have questions about his temperament? 
CORKER: I think there are a number of staffers who are coming forth no just talking about the way he has dealt with them. I certainly have quesitons about a lot of things.
You have a Senator (Corker) who supported Hagel before he was against him bringing up the temperament issue with no background except some anonymous staffers versus former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and former top U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker who have announced their support.  Seems to me that the three heavy hitters trump Corker's comments he seemed to pick out of a hat provided by McCain and Graham.

Then there is the usual puppet of McCain/Graham, Kelly Ayotte, who joined the criticism of Corker.  Imagine that -- does she ever think for herself?  Her Benghazi's attacks on the Secretary of State Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice were beyond disgusting and showed a lack of integrity as she followed along with anything McCain/Graham had to say without bothering to check facts.  Speaking of McCain/Graham, what is up with Lindsey Graham?  Is he that worried about his reelection that he comes out with McCain now making the strangest comments I never thought he would make.  He has joined the hard right which is a shocker.  The McCain puppet Ayotte is now promoting Iranian propaganda instead of Benghazi to oppose Chuck Hagel:
Senator Promotes Iranian Propaganda To Oppose Chuck Hagel 
By Igor Volsky on Jan 13, 2013 at 9:49 am 
This morning, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Republican Senator and rising party star Kelly Ayotte (NH) cited Iranian propaganda in explaining her opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. 
“I have not made up my mind,” Ayotte began, before warning that Hagel has not expressed sufficient commitment to using military force against Iran if it develops nuclear weapons. She then pointed to Iranian propaganda, noting that the country “reacted favorably” to his nomination:
AYOTTE: Iran, this week, kind of reacted favorably somewhat. There were statements that were favorable to his nomination, in fact, they said they were hopeful that with his nomination, they hoped that we would change our policies. What I want to make sure is that Iran is actually not hopeful, but they are fearful as a result of our nominee from a Secretary of Defense perspective, because I think that will cause them to stop marching toward acquiring a nuclear weapon, not hope that we’ll change our policies, they need to change their policies.
On Tuesday, the Iranians responded to the Hagel nomination and used it to take a backhanded slap at the United States, saying, “We hope there will be practical changes in American foreign policy and that Washington becomes respectful of the rights of nations.” Unfortunately, neo-conservatives — desperate to derail Hagel — jumped on the propaganda from Iran’s foreign ministry to make their case.
Hagel has warned against the consequences of war with Iran, but has stated that his position is “fully consistent with the policy of presidents for more than a decade of keeping all options on the table, including the use of military force, thereby increasing pressure on Iran while working toward a political solution.” As a senator, Hagel also voted in favor of several rounds of targeted sanctions against Iran including packages in 1998, 2000, and 2006.
Now we have a United States Senator, Kelly Ayotte, using Iranian propaganda against the Hagel nomination which should give his nomination even more credence.  Do you know how sad that is that a US Senator who was the NH Attorney General doesn't understand propaganda and how foreign countries use it to influence people like her?  Iranians know if they praise the nomination, the neocons will go nuts, and they were right.

Once again, Bloomberg News comes along with the background on what is driving the neocons to launch attacks on Chuck Hagel.  Leave it to Al Hunt to give the facts you won't find from the mainstream media where some like to play it both ways sometimes missing the facts along the way.

From Al Hunt, Bloomberg News:
“This battle has not as much to do with Chuck Hagel or any comments he made on Israel,” says Joseph Nye, a former top Defense Department official who teaches at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “This is about re-litigating major changes in foreign policy.” 
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has supported most Obama administration Cabinet nominees, should have credibility when he assails the choice of his former Senate colleague. “Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream,” Graham says, “on most issues regarding foreign policy.” 
Nonetheless, Graham and other critics, in particular the so-called neo-conservatives who dominated Bush’s first term, obfuscate the central issues with dubious, duplicitous charges. 
Hagel is accused of being anti-Israel. “He would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward Israel in our nation’s history,” Graham charges. 
More antagonistic than the third defense secretary, George Catlett Marshall, who once told his commander in chief, President Harry Truman, that he’d vote against his re-election if the U.S. recognized the state of Israel? 
Hagel once carelessly referred to the “Jewish lobby” to describe the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. That prompts neo-cons such as Elliott Abrams, who served in foreign policy positions for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, to call him anti-Semitic, an outlandish fabrication. 
In two Senate terms, Hagel voted for every measure containing aid to Israel. He is a critic of some of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s policies; so is President Barack Obama. 
In contrast to Hagel -- or the president -- they express few reservations about intervening in places such as Syria or carrying out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear capacity. In the Middle East, they are unswervingly pro-Israel. 
These policies require an ability to simultaneously take action in multiple trouble spots, which means a beefed-up Pentagon budget, and more forces and weapons.   
“They (Obama and Hagel) believe in a more efficient, as opposed to just a greater, use of American power,” says Nye, who supports Hagel, with whom he served on the Defense Policy Board. 
He sees the Nebraska Republican, out of sync with his own party today, as emblematic of President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy of the 1950s. “Ike felt that forces of occupation in poor countries where they are not welcome are losing propositions,” Nye says. (Eisenhower’s granddaughter has championed Hagel’s nomination.) 
Graham’s charge that Hagel is “out of the mainstream” is refuted by the nominee’s roster of supporters, including prominent Republicans such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, former homeland security chief Tom Ridge and former Defense Secretary Bob Gates. Hagel also has the backing of leading Democrats, including former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and top defense experts in the Senate, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan, along with more than a dozen former top generals and prominent ambassadors, including six who served in Israel. 
The public, on issues ranging from the value of the Iraq war to remaining in Afghanistan to the size of the defense budget, appears more in tune with Hagel than with the neo-cons. Israel has strong support; an attack on Iran doesn’t. 
The nominee will be confirmed and a healthy debate over these matters might show the public who is the more mainstream: Hagel or Graham. 
Excerpt:  Read more at Bloomberg 
If you want more proof of the hypocrisy of some Republican Senators look no further then Graham's comments on the surge in Iraq.  He doesn't have a problem with John Kerry as Secretary of State who also opposed the surge in Iraq like Hagel and others but he has a problem with Hagel for not following the party line?   
The Nebraska lawmaker’s conversion to opponent of the Iraq war rankles neo-cons, especially his criticism of the troop surge in 2007. “I’ll have a hard time supporting anybody to be secretary of defense who believes the surge was a foreign policy blunder,” Graham says.Yet Graham says he supports the nomination of Senator John Kerry to be secretary of state. 
The Massachusetts Democrat opposed the surge, as did Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine and Norman Coleman of Minnesota, as well as Democrats such as Joe Biden  of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.
This lends more credibility to what I am hearing that this anti-Hagel crusade is coming out not only the neocons but also out of the Defense industry who are afraid Hagel will start cutting the fraud, waste, and abuse that is rampant in the DoD.  He knows where some of it is buried like in sole source contracts to major defense contractors.  Chuck Hagel is not going to be bullied by US Senators like Graham or McCain or by defense contractors.  IMHO necons are going to be on the outside looking in which is why they are attempting to derail the Hagel nomination.  Halliburton may have to work to get contracts with Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

With the announcement by Chuck Shumer that he is supporting Hagel for SecDef, the nomination should have no trouble being approved by the Senate.  Lindsey Graham would be smart not to put a hold on this nomination as 63% of Republicans according to Rasmussen think Republicans in Congress are out of touch.  That should send shock waves through the GOP, but today's GOP has gone so far hard right playing up to the Koch Brothers and other hard right groups, that those 63% of us don't matter.  Maybe they will sing a different tune in 2014.

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