Tuesday, January 08, 2013

It's so Glenn-Glenn







Today US President Barack Obama nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.  Right-winger Andrew Sullivan is frothing at the mouth in joy.  Of course he would, Andrew Sullivan was an Iraq War cheerleader.  He believes in rewriting history just like Hagel.  So he portrays Hagel as some sort of brave leader.  David Corn (Mother Jones) notes reality and does so by dropping back to a 2006 piece he wrote about Hagel where Corn noted:
Of all the senators eyeing the White House in 2008, this Nebraskan [Hagel]  was the only one to express deep reservations about the resolution -- while still voting for it. "America -- including the Congress -- and the world, must speak with one voice about Iraqi disarmament, as it must continue to do so in the war on terrorism," Hagel said in explaining his vote. But he was prescient: "If disarmament in Iraq requires the use of force, we need to consider carefully the implications and consequences of our actions. The future of Iraq after Saddam Hussein is also an open question. Some of my colleagues and some American analysts now speak authoritatively of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, and how Iraq can be a test case for democracy in the Arab world. How many of us really know and understand much about Iraq, the country, the history, the people, the role in the Arab world? I approach the issue of post-Saddam Iraq and the future of democracy and stability in the Middle East with more caution, realism and a bit more humility." He added, "Imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice. A democratic effort cannot be maintained without building durable Iraqi political institutions and developing a regional and international commitment to Iraq's reconstruction. No small task."
Hagel was disappointed in the discourse within the Senate: "We should spend more time debating the cost and extent of this commitment, the risks we may face in military engagement with Iraq, the implications of the precedent of United States military action for regime change and the likely character and challenges of a post-Saddam Iraq. We have heard precious little from the President, his team, as well as from this Congress, with a few notable exceptions, about these most difficult and critical questions." And he cautioned humility: "I share the hope of a better world without Saddam Hussein, but we do not really know if our intervention in Iraq will lead to democracy in either Iraq or elsewhere in the Arab world." Bottom line: Hagel feared the resolution would lead to a war that would go badly but didn't have the guts to say no to the leader of his party.
That's an honest appraisal of someone who did nothing.  If you doubt how little Hagel did grasp that he's also falsely praised for being against Bully Boy Bush's so-called 'surge.'  Yet, if you visit Senator Tom Coburn's website, you find this:
Nebraska's senators voted opposite each other, even though both are co-sponsors of the proposed Senate resolution that "disagrees" with Bush's troop buildup.
GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel voted with his party to filibuster his own resolution disapproving of the president's plan, even though he has been the most outspoken Republican in Congress opposing Bush's troop escalation.
At a recent Senate hearing, for example, Hagel wagged his finger and chided senators hesitant about debating the war. "If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes," he said then. Hagel's spokesman, Mike Buttry, said Hagel voted for the filibuster Monday to preserve the minority party's rights.
So Hagel gets a ton of press attention for being against the 'surge' and proposes co-proposes a resolution against the 'surge' to get even more attention but when it's time to vote, he votes against the resolution he co-sponsored -- meaning he got all the press for a popular position among the public but he didn't actually take that position on the record February 7, 2007.   It's a cute little con game.   Sort of like an insincere 'apology' offered to circumvent valid criticism.  Wayne Anderson offers "2013: The Year of the Anti-Gay Non-Apology" (Huffington Post) which includes Hagel's nonsense on the list:

And last but certainly not least, we have President Obama's apparently favored choice for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, offering up one of the most, if not the most, blatantly unbelievable non-apologies when he decided, after 14 years of silence, to finally apologize for his repulsive anti-gay remarks about the first openly gay American ambassador, James Hormel, but only after President Obama started floating his name as a potential Secretary of Defense. And even then Hagel couldn't actually admit that his comments were wrong, saying that he just feels that they were "insensitive."
Hagel apologists like to excuse away the attack on Hormel as oh-so-long-ago.  But it's not that simple.  Michelangelo Signorile (Huffington Post) explains, "Hagel scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's Senate scorecard between 2001 and 2006 (which is not that long ago), voting against pro-gay initiatives and for anti-gay ones, and was on record as opposing allowing gays to serve openly in the military (calling it a 'social experiment'), let alone representing this country as ambassadors."
October 3rd, the Defense Dept announced that three US soldiers had died October 1st in Afghanistan following a suicide bombing.  The dead were Wilmington, North Carolina's Sgt Thomas J. Butler IV, Maysville, North Carolina's Sgt Jeremy F. Hardison and Raeford, North Caroline's Sgt Donna R. Johnson.  All three were under the age of 30, all three were married.   Sgt Donna R. Johnson was an Iraq War veteran having also served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.  Michael Futch (Fayetteville Observer) reported on her October funeral service:
A U.S. flag draped Sgt. Johnson's casket, and a framed photograph of the soldier wearing an Army duty uniform was nearby, along with a table displaying a number of her military medals.
Throughout the service, Sgt. Johnson's spouse, Tracy Joe Dice, sat with her head bowed.
"I can say when God took Donna, he took one of the best," Jessica Rivera, a lifelong friend, said during the service.
Dee Charles, another close friend, called Sgt. Johnson a confidante and someone she trusted.
"Most importantly," Charles said, "she loved all of us."
Like her father, Philas, a great basketball player, Donna Johnson was athletic.
Like her mother, Sandra, a teacher for 35 years, she excelled in the classroom. Donna Johnson had been an honors student.
Donna Johnson's spouse was not treated in the same fashion the other two spouses were because Johnson was in a same-sex marriage.  Her spouse was Staff Sgt Tracy Dice.  Colin Kelly (Military Times) produced a video of an interview with widow Staff Sgt Racy Die and Donna's mother Sandra.  Transcript:
Staff Sgt Tracy Dice:  I told her I didn't want her to go.  I was honest with her.  But I knew that, had I asked her not to go, it probably would have been one of those things that surfaced later on.  It seemed like we had finally gotten to the point in our relationship that we had perfected it.  It was just going so well.  It was going so perfect.    You know, whether you're deployed or you're waiting on someone to come home, it's very easy to just bury yourself into a pillow and sleep the day away because it makes things go by so much quicker.  So I was home that day.  And I thought, "You know, I'm going to sleep in because I don't have to get up and go to work."  And I was just going to wait for her to call and -- uh -- after the time -- which was like the latest time that I thought she would be calling, I -- uh -- I got up and I -- I started to panic.  Her sister called me back and told me that the military was at her house and that I needed to come there.  There Casualty Assistance Officer, CAO, yeah, he's got to work within the confines of the law and stuff like that and he did everything that he possibly could for me.  I mean it's a sad statement that three soldiers lost their lives and all three of them were married.  But one of the soldier's spouses wasn't treated -- She was treated as if she was single.  If someone else had another gay spouse is to through this and they don't have any of that -- if they don't have family support and they are not in the military, it's too easy for them to get shut out and not have any rights whatsoever.  The military can't do anything with DOMA [Defense Of Marriage Act] being changed.  That's just the bottom line.
Sandra Johnson: They gave their life for their country.  They served their country.  Man, woman, it doesn't matter.   They served their country.
Staff Sgt Tracy Dice:  It's a sad state of affairs that America would let one of their soldiers fall and not take care of the soldier's spouse.  Regardless of who that spouse is. And that is a sad statement.  We gay soldiers have been here the entire time.  And we're not going to go away.  Everybody just knows about us now.
Tracy Dice is thought to be the first widow from a same-sex marriage since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was lifted.  Who's going to implement policies in favor of Dice and others in similar situations?  Who's going to advocate for them?  They are part of today's military and they serve with honor.  Will a homophobe like Chuck Hagel be able to honor their service?  It's a valid question.  As Mark Thompson (Time magazine) observed last month, "With the end of 'Don't ask, don't tell' and the growing legalization of same-sex marriages come the challenges of adopting military life to new mores."  And Hagel can provide leadership on that issue?
Who will they look to
In whose hands will their future lie
Who's going to tell them, "Stand up again.
Why not, why not give it one more try?"
-- "Who Will They Look To" written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, first appears on their classic Street Opera
One of the two biggest issues facing the military right now is the rate of rape and assault in the ranks.  Laura Bassett (Huffington Post) notes that Hagel's "past opposition to abortion rights for rape victims in the military does not seem to be a sticking point for progressives."  It's cute the way the media ignores left criticism of the choice of Hagel.  I thought Daily Kos was supposed to be the home of 21st century progressivism?  As FloraLine pointed out at Daily Kos:

 He voted six times for banning servicewomen from being able to get an abortion in military medical facilities WITH THEIR OWN MONEY even if they are stationed in countries where abortion is forbidden for civilians (and he succeeded). In twelve years' time. He also thinks pregnancies caused by rape are "irrelevant" when talking about his no-exceptions-anti-choice position because they don't happen a lot - while fully knowing that a servicewoman is twice as likely to be raped by a fellow American than a civilian is, even, and that the majority of abortions in the military are performed because the subject was raped. Hagel's past has had more than serious consequences for hundreds, if not thousands, of valuable people in the military. Many people got fired for returning home to be able to get an abortion, while many others' careers were terminated because (surprise!) literally forcing unwanted pregnancies to continue creates single moms.
Emily Bockrath has started a petition at ForceChange.com entitled "Protect America's Servicewomen: Don't Appoint Anti-Choice Senator to Defense Secretary Position."  In September, NOW was calling out US House Rep Todd Akin and insisting that all rape must be taken seriously.  They have no comment for the record on Chuck Hagel.  That's our 'feminist' media.  Martha left a comment at Ms which she copied and pasted to me.  We'll see if it makes it up at the site but we'll include it here.  Martha's commenting in response to the post "Who needs feminist media? Answers from short-essay contest winner:"
Martha says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
I need feminist media. Please let me know when one emerges. Seeing that Ms. is silent as Chuck Hagel is named the Secretary of Defense nominee indicates we can't count on Ms. Too bad for our sisters in the military considering Hagel's record. But don't worry, the junior Senator from New Hampshire just knows everything's going to work out fine and Hagel's a blessing.
Point of fact, he's anti-choice don't tell me that won't impact the way resources are allotted, the way the command responds to rape and so much more.
I long for Ms. to stop being the kid sister of the Democratic Party and start being the voice of feminism.
Every year Martha and Shirley do the community book review, the most recent being "2012 In Books."  Meanwhile the whoring never ends as those who should stand up stay silent or go along.  There is no strength or honesty in our political 'leaders.'  Tune them out and listen to One Direction's "Kiss You" (written by Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk, Savan Kotecha, Shellback, Kristian Lundin, Albin Nedle and Kristoffer Fogelmark) which has more passion, strength and guts then anything you'll find in Congress and might actually help you through the day -- something our Congress no longer cares about doing.  If that seems harsh, I'm not expecting them to lead on Barack's other nominee today, John Brennan to be CIA Director.  Drone Warrior Brennan should be behind bars.  For more on Drone Warrior Brennan, read Howard LaFranchi's piece for the Christian Science Monitor.  This is from Jon Swaine (Telegraph of London):
A career spy who served as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, Mr Brennan was also accused of being complicit in the agency's torture of terror suspects under former president George W. Bush.
Controversy over his involvement in the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" is believed to have prevented Mr Obama from nominating Mr Brennan to lead the CIA after his 2008 election win.
He promised to ensure the work of the CIA "always reflects the liberties, the freedoms, and the values that we all hold dear".
Remember, if you broke the law and/or showed shoddy judgment, you're a perfect Cabinet fit for Barack.  One outlet that didn't ignore left objections to both nominations was Free Speech Radio News today which featured a report by Alice Ollstein.  We'll note this on Brennan.
Alice Ollstein:  Yet many legal rights and human rights experts including the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International  are critical of Brennan's involvement in and support for the Bush era torture program, the NSA's wiretapping and ongoing drone strikes overseas.  Some of these concerns stymied Brennan's nomination for the same job in Obama's first term.  Brennan was the first Obama administration official to speak openly about the targeted drone killing program.  Yet he and that agency refused to disclose to Congress or the public who was on the so-called 'kill list' and why as well as the legal justification for signature strikes that target anyone in a certain area with certain characteristics. Because of this, Zeke Johnson with Amnesty International questioned Obama's praise of Brennan's transparency values.
Zeke Johnson:  So much is still shrouded in secrecy that the government -- sorry, the public still doesn't have enough information to even fully know what's happening in our names.

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