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Posts tagged "Chuck Hagel"

I agree with Chuck Hagel that the military’s ban on transgender individuals needs to be put up under review and hopefully ended. 

H/T: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM LiveWire


If there’s one thing I am really, really sick of, it’s greedy, amoral, inhuman politicians who worship and fetishize the military to the detriment of everyone else. And if I had to pick the worst example of that kind of politician, Dick Cheney would top my list:

Former vice president Dick Cheney went on Fox’s “Hannity” show last night to discuss the recent plans to reduce the Army to levels not seen since 1940 — through a reduction in personnel and removing a class of warplanes from the field — in an effort to cut budgets after a decade of war, calling the decision “over the top.” He told host Sean Hannity that President Obama would “much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.”

The military cuts proposed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday were in part a reaction to the Congress’ latest appropriations bill. The Pentagon is authorized to spend $1 trillion over the next two years — far more than the sequestration cuts allowed but $75 billion less than the Obama administration requested. The Pentagon’s plan would call for a reduction in troops from their wartime peak of 570,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000 troops.

The plan also proposes cutting pay and benefits for military employees. Hagel said Monday, “No realistic effort to find further significant savings can avoid dealing with military compensation.”

read more

h/t: Think Progress LGBT

Tensions on the Korean peninsula are nothing new — historically, North Korea frequently rattles its saber for one reason for another. But the recent escalation in tensions between the North and South have experts worried that this time might be different, that the threat of the United States being drawn into a devastating war with the nuclear-armed North is real in a way that it might not normally be. At the very least, it’s worth paying special attention this time around.

The escalation of tensions began in mid-February, when North Korea conducted its third-ever nuclear test. While the North’s ability to strike the United States is limited at best, the Obama administration interpreted the test as a violation of international law, and pushed throughstricter, though still porous, sanctions on North Korean elites.

North Korea responded in turn by threatening to nullify the armistice that ended the original Korean War, reverting the North and South to a legal state of war. Two days ago, it shut off the last remaining line of communication between the two Korean militaries, warning that “Not words but only arms will work on the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces.”

Thursday night, the United States responded in kind, conducting a bombing drill with two B-2 bombers over South Korea. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described the thinking behind the move: “The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un got the message Friday morning. He ordered his country’s missile arsenal be readied to strike South Korea and the United States if necessary. While North Korean Unha-3 missiles could theoretically reach the West Coast, it’s not clear the missiles actually work. Moreover, North Korea lacks the technology to arm the missiles with nuclear warheads and to deliver them accurately even if they can get them in proper working order. 

So how is this different from the last 60-odd years of North Korean provocations? Many think it isn’t. Writing in the National Interest, Rajon Menon says the current Northern provocations are an example of the Hermit Kingdom’s “measured madness,” an attempt to wring more concessions out of an overcompensating international community.

But North Korea experts Victor Cha and David Kang disagree. They argue that Kim Jong Un’s inexperience (he’s only been running the country since December 2011), together with the South’s new President and more aggressive military stance, means there’s a greater risk (not certainty by any stretch, but risk) of escalation this time around:

So why worry? Two reasons. First, North Korea has a penchant for testing new South Korean presidents. A new one was just inaugurated in February, and since 1992, the North has welcomed these five new leaders by disturbing the peace. Whether in the form of missile launches, submarine incursions, or naval clashes, these North Korean provocations were met by each newly elected South Korean president with patience rather than pique. The difference today is that South Korea is no longer turning the other cheek…for half a century, neither side believed that the benefits of starting a major war outweighed the costs. The worry is that the new North Korean leader might not hold to the same logic, given his youth and inexperience.

So how do we know where this is going? The Washington Post’s Max Fisher suggests that you watch the joint North-South Kaesong Industrial Plant, which he believes the North would shut down in advance of any war.  Of course, states have gone to war with far less economic foresight, though there are other reasons to believe the North won’t go as far as war. It’s likely we’ll just have to wait and nervously see.

h/t: Zack Beauchamp at Think Progress Security

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made an interesting observation on his radio show yesterday. Speaking about the confirmation of Chuck Hagel, Perkins mused about the ‘irony’ that Hagel, whom he considers to be anti-Israel, was backed by Democratic senators who are “mostly aligned with a lot of the Jewish lobby” and “enjoy the money coming from the Jewish community.” Hmmm, “Jewish lobby,” where have I heard that before?

Hagel has been savaged in recent weeks for having used the phrase in a 2006 interview. He has since apologized and said he should phrased his comments differently. In case it isn’t obvious, the ADL’s Abe Foxman explains the many problems with saying “Jewish lobby.”

Notwithstanding Hagel’s apology, Sen. Lindsey Graham grilled him about his use of the phrase during his confirmation hearing. FRC also cited Hagel’s use of “Jewish lobby” in its background document opposing his confirmation. Meanwhile over at the website of the American Family Association, which broadcasts Perkins’ show, David Limbaugh railed against Hagel’s “bigoted accusation” about the “Jewish lobby” and said he failed to provide a “satisfactory explanation for his disgraceful terminology – because there is none.”

“Bigoted” and “disgraceful” sounds about right, but don’t hold your breath waiting for conservatives to denounce Perkins’ comments.

Perkins seems mystified as to why most American Jews support Democrats, but his right-hand man thinks he knows the reason. FRC’s Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin has argued that Hitler was “an extraordinarily off the scale leftist” but “many Jews in America, for example, can’t identify with the Republican Party because they’re called the party of the Right, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.”

This is the same Boykin who was rebuked by the ADL in 2003 and believes that the “Jews must be lead to Christ.” And this is the same FRC – a certified hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – that warned yesterday that Hagel’s confirmation may bring God’s judgment on America. So I guess we shouldn’t be suprised.

- See more at: RWW

Apparently, President Obama and John Brennan aren’t the only secret Muslim agents in the administration.

Yesterday, Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth America interviewed Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly about Chuck Hagel, who is set to be confirmed as secretary of defense later today. Adding to the other ridiculouslast-ditch efforts to sink Hagel’s nomination, Eliason asked Schlafly about wild allegations “that Mr. Hagel has become or has been a part of Islam, he’s Islamic.” Rather than specifically address Eliason’s question, Schlafly said that since Obama “gives a pass to Islam” in “his attack on religion,” Americans “have to be on guard on that all the time.”

The two then went on to praise Hagel-critic Jerome Corsi of WorldNetDaily, who must be taking a break from his usual endeavors of exposing Obama’s foreign birthplacesecret Muslim faith and gay past.

Later, Schlafly compared the American policy of Cold War deterrence to the current policy for “dealing with the Islam,” while noting that “the Muslims are different” than the Soviets as “they seem to like to commit suicide.”

Schlafly’s classification of all Muslims as terrorists was part of a bizarre argument that criticized Hagel for supposedly seeking to do away with America’s nuclear arsenal that she claims we need to scare terrorists who also are not at all afraid of our nuclear weapons.

Schlafly: I want to point out one difference between dealing with the Communists and dealing with the Islam. When the Communists in Russia were in charge we had a policy called mutually assured destruction which we called MAD and it was that they knew that if they dropped a bomb on New York City we’d hit back and wipe them out and that was supposed to deter them from doing any bad attack. But the Muslims are different; they seem to like to commit suicide. I don’t think they are going to be deterred by that type of an attitude and we have to make sure that we have the weapons that are enough to scare them that they never attack in the first place.

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Senate Republicans today chose to uphold a filibuster against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, despite many of them previously pledging that they would be willing to allow him to be confirmed.

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) all voted against cloture, despite their pleas during the Bush administration that a president’s Cabinet nominees should receive an up-or-down vote.

Four Republicans, Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), voted to break the filibuster. The final vote was 58-40, with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) voting present, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) not voting at all, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voting “no” as a procedural move so that he can bring another vote to the floor at a later date.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had originally scheduled the cloture vote for tomorrow morning, but surprised many by pushing it up to this afternoon. Earlier today, Reid took to the Senate floor to lambaste his Republican colleagues for delaying an up-or-down vote on Hagel, the first filibuster of a Secretary of Defense nominee.

Prior to the roll call’s beginning, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) attempted to explain that the vote that was set to take place was the vote “to confirm Chuck Hagel,” rather than merely being a procedural vote. Inhofe also claimed that a 60-vote margin was common practice, rendering the actions of the Republicans not a filibuster. However, the motion was still filed by Reid as cloture — the ending of debate — rather than the actual confirmation of Hagel, as laid out be Levin before voting. This leaves the door open for Hagel’s nomination to remain on the Senate floor and renders the GOP’s actions a filibuster under the Senate’s rules.

While Senate Republicans are opposed to voting on Hagel today, they seem to believe that they’ll change their minds after the Senate returns from its President’s Day recess in 10 days. This morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that he expected to be willing to move Hagel forward at that time, “unless there’s some bombshell that he likes blood sucking vampires.” Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and John McCain (R-AZ) said roughly the same thing today, leaving their votes against Hagel today confusing.

h/t: Hayes Brown at Think Progress Security

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 ofquestioning 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.”

Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska, navigated questions from his own party regarding his record, including his stance on the defense budget, nuclear weapons and the Middle East. 

h/t: Huffington Post

Apparently every Democrat automatically despises the troops, even when those Democrats once volunteered to serve in the armed forces. It’s a trope Republicans have pulled out ever since the Nixon years. The Obama era—replete with drone strikes, Libyan intervention, and the death of Osama bin Laden—has robbed Republicans of a bit of their bluster. But on Saturday Ted Cruz, the newly elected U.S. Senator from Texas, breathed new life into the old smear when he tarred two highly decorated former veterans.

A quick refresher about the two men he claims somehow oppose the U.S. military. In 1966, secretary of state nominee John Kerry, while studying at Yale University, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In 1968, at the peak of the conflict, he requested to serve in Vietnam. The U.S. government ultimately awarded Kerry three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star for his service. Contra the despicable Swift Boat ads trotted out in the 2004 presidential campaign, Kerry is indisputably a war hero.

In 1967, Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense nominee, was called before the draft board and volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army. Hagel saw combat in  both Vietnam and Cambodia. Along with the shrapnel from a mine explosion still lodged in his chest, Hagel walked away from the war with two Purple Hearts and a host of other commendations.

The two men would later serve together in the U.S. Senate—Kerry as a Democrat, Hagel as a Republican. Neither voted consistently against the use of American forces abroad. Both, in fact, approved the resolution granting George W. Bush approval to pursue the foolish Iraq War. 

Yet for Ted Cruz, who never served in the military, both Kerry and Hagel are dangerous peaceniks who cannot be trusted. Cruz, who has quickly earned a reputation in Washington for serving up Michelle Bachmann-style red meat to the right-wing crowd, didn’t elaborate on his statement on stage and ducked out of the conference without fielding questions from the media. But it’s simple to see where his objection lies: President Obama nominated Kerry and Hagel. If a Democratic president has nominated you, you must loathe the military. And if you’re just another chicken-hawk Republican, you must love it more.

h/t: The American Prospect


Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s pick for Defense secretary, supports equal benefits for same-sex military couples.

He made the pledge in a Monday letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., where he also promised to support government-paid abortions for military women in cases of rape and incest and to improve sexual assault prevention programs ordered by Congress.

Boxer endorsed the nomination of the former Republican senator after receiving the letter, which also outlines Hagel’s views on Iran, Israel and Hezbollah.

RELATED: Sen. Schumer endorses Hagel

On gays in the military, Hagel said he fully supports the 2010 repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make,” Hagel said, referring to his own combat service in Vietnam. “If confirmed as secretary of defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under law to provide equal benefits to families of all our service members.”

His options are limited as long as the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 remains in effect. That law prevents most same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, including military health care, housing allowances and travel payments.

Boxer also asked about Hagel’s support for programs to combat sexual assault in the military and for the change in abortion policy that was ordered as part of the 2013 defense authorization bill.

Hagel said he is “committed to the full implementation of all recent policies and procedures” on sexual assault and will “ensure” the programs have full resources.

On abortion and reproductive rights, Hagel said he “will fully implement all laws protecting women service member’s reproductive rights” and additionally pledged to work with Congress and the White House “to ensure female service members continue to be afforded world class health care, including reproductive health care.”

“My goal is to ensure that the health care provided to our service members remains contemporary with the care provided to the private citizens of our nation,” Hagel said.

President Barack Obama has settled on Chuck Hagel, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Nebraska, to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with an announcement expected Monday, Democratic officials tell POLITICO.

The choice of Hagel, who opposed his party on  the Iraq war as a senator, is likely to ignite a raucous confirmation battle, since several Democratic interest groups and prominent Republicans have voiced strong opposition since Hagel’s vetting for the job was reported five weeks ago.

A Democratic aide described the White House’s logic for choosing Hagel, age 66: “Chuck Hagel is a decorated war hero who would be the first enlisted soldier and Vietnam veteran to go on to serve as Secretary of Defense. He had the courage to break with his party during the Iraq War, and would help bring the war in Afghanistan to an end while building the military we need for the future.

“He has been a champion for troops, veterans and military families through his service at the VA and USO, and his leadership on behalf of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The President knows him well, has travelled with him to Iraq and Afghanistan, trusts him, and believes he represents the proud tradition of a strong, bipartisan foreign policy in the United States.”

Obama, who is due back at the White House at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, is expected to announce his nomination of Hagel on Monday, as his first public appearance after the continuation of his Hawaii vacation.

h/t: Mike Allen at Politico

Republican Chuck Hagel is going to endorse Democrat Bob Kerrey.

That’s the word from the Kerrey camp this evening, as they prepare to make a “major” announcement tomorrow.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

Advisers to President Barack Obama are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who “would devastate the American middle class,” Democratic sources tell POLITICO.

According to convention planning documents, the three-night convention in Charlotte, N.C., early next month will seek to “[e]xpose Mitt Romney as someone who doesn’t understand middle class challenges” while also burnishing “the President’s image as someone whose life story is about fighting for middle class Americans and those working to get into the middle class.”

Convention planners are considering featuring a centrist Republican leader on at least two of the three nights. Nightly remotes from swing states may include a CEO or “major Republican.” On Wednesday night, a “notable GOP woman” is among the possible participants. And on the final night, Democrats may include a Republican leader — someone like former Sens. John Warner or Chuck Hagel — or a GOP woman.

“This segment would speak directly to independents, noting we are all ‘Americans first,’ ” the documents say. “Depending on the speaker’s background, the President’s military accomplishments might be highlighted.”

Thursday also may include a former military leader, perhaps paired with a former enlisted man or woman. “Ideally they would have witnessed first-hand the difficult decisions [Obama has] made,” the documents say. “A Republican leader would be ideal.”

The convention’s broad themes depict Romney as “an exemplar of [the] bust-and-boom economy,” while “Obama led us through the darkest days of the deepest recession in generations. … Now he’s fighting for the next steps, so we do more than recover from a deep recession that was a long time in the making, and reclaim America’s promise on behalf of hard-workers, the strivers, the dreamers, who ask only for a fair shot and a fair shake.”

Here is more on the night-by-night plans:

On Tuesday night, a speaker from a swing state will be charged with contrasting “Romney’s vision — a return to the same failed policies that caused the crisis — with the President’s vision. Drive strong contrast around middle-up vs. top down policies. Demonstrate how POTUS vision creates a strong, secure future for middle class and Romney’s top down approach failed [Massachusetts] and would devastate the American middle class.”

On Wednesday night, planners hope that President Bill Clinton will “use his own term to remind voters what was accomplished, and draw parallels to what President Obama is doing today.”

NBC will be carrying the opening game of the NFL football season, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants. But presidential aides hope to pre-tape an interview with a major convention figure for broadcast during halftime.

On Thursday night, a speech by Vice President Joe Biden putting Obama’s name in nomination “will provide the ultimate contrast on the economy, making clear ‘we’re fighting for you.’ He will recognize the struggle middle class Americans have been facing, and warn that we should not go back to the policies that created the crisis, but instead move forward correcting the imbalance that has weakened our middle class. The Vice President’s background and middle class values should shine through.”

H/T: Mike Allen at