Realist Hagel and His Neo-Con Haters

Those who oppose Chuck Hagel for DoD, and either whisper or shout that he is anti-Israel/anti-Semitic are really saying that to be pro-Israel, you have to support absolutely everything that Benjamin Netanyahu wants and stands for.

It’s like saying that you’re anti-American unless you support the GOP or anti-British unless you support the Tories.

Suddenly support for Israel is limited to support for its far right.

By this bizarre standard there are a whole lot of folks in Israel and politicians in its Knesset who are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham and newbie Ted Cruz are afraid of Hagel.  They want to stay in Afghanistan forever, and they know that Hagel will argue to get out sooner than the end of 2014, which is what this war-weary country wants.

Now sometimes being war-weary doesn’t mean you’re right, sometimes you have to suck it up and stick it out, but in this case, the mood of the country matches the strategic reality that we have nothing to gain by staying longer in Afghanistan.

The Hagel haters also fear that he will be an effective spokesman for making DoD more efficient.  They can see him on the Sunday talk shows convincingly arguing that some weapons systems can be eliminated, that the defense budget can be cut without making us less safe.  They can see him authoring cogent op-eds that will sway opinion leaders.

I am excited about the combo of Hagel at DoD and Brennan at CIA.  Brennan is our Drone Guy, and he and Hagel will continue to fight the War on Terror the way it needs to be fought, with more drones and special forces, not tens of thousands of troops stuck manning mountain outposts while Al Qaeda finds other homes.

As Al Qaeda and its affiliates move and spread, we have to be as flexible as they are.  We had as many drone strikes in Yemen in 2012 as we did in Pakistan because we are taking the fight to the enemy.  There is talk of drone strikes in Mali (and maybe they are happening as I write this) because that’s where Al Qaeda is.

Obama, Hagel, and Brennan get it.  They see the big picture of how everything fits together. They see the importance of our relationship with Pakistan, frustrating and infuriating as it is.  They see how the war in Iraq destabilized the region and upset the balance of power by taking away Iran’s biggest rival and constraint.    Now Iran and Iraq are friends, and Iran is freer to pursue its dreams of hegemony in the region.  Hagel is a realist like Bush 41, who recognized that we should kick Iraq out of Kuwait, but not continue to Baghdad because we were better off with Saddam Hussein in power.

 

Madly Spinning

With the emphasis on madly…

Charles Krauthammer has gotten a lot of press for his comment to Sean Hannity that Obama is trying to provoke a “civil war” in the GOP.

Now pretend that Bush is president, that the Dems control the House, and that the GOP has a majority in the Senate, but not a filibuster-proof one.

What would Krauthammer say if Bush was trying to keep us from going over the cliff?

He wouldn’t say Bush was trying to provoke a civil war among Dems, he’d praise him for trying to reach out to what he’d call the “reasonable” Dems, who weren’t “crazy, far-left types with San Francisco values.”

Bush would be heroically trying to save the country, while the Kenyan Muslim Socialist is heinously trying to destroy it.

We need intelligent policy debates about the right level of taxing and spending, but all we’re getting is stupid personality attacks.

They Are All Tea Partiers Now

From “Triumph of the Tea Party Mindset,” Steve Kornacki, Salon:

“Defined as a literal movement, with an active membership pressing a specific set of demands, the Tea Party absolutely is in decline. Tea Party events have become less crowded, less visible, and less relevant to the national political conversation.

“But if you think of the Tea Party less as a movement and more as a mindset, it’s as strong and relevant as ever. As I wrote back in ’10, the Tea Party essentially gave a name to a phenomenon we’ve seen before in American politics – fierce, over-the-top resentment of and resistance to Democratic presidents by the right. It happened when Bill Clinton was president, it happened when Lyndon Johnson was president, it happened when John F. Kennedy was president. When a Democrat claims the White House, conservatives invariably convince themselves that he is a dangerous radical intent on destroying the country they know and love and mobilize to thwart him.   [Especially if he happens to be black.]

“The twist in the Obama-era is that some of the conservative backlash has been directed inward. This is because the right needed a way to explain how a far-left anti-American ideologue like Obama could have won 53 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes in 2008. What they settled on was an indictment of George W. Bush’s big government conservatism; the idea, basically, was that Bush had given their movement a bad name with his big spending and massive deficits, angering the masses and rendering them vulnerable to Obama’s deceptive charms. And the problem hadn’t just been Bush – it had been every Republican in office who’d abided his expansion of government, his deals with Democrats, his Wall Street bailout and all the rest.

“Thus did the Tea Party movement represent a two-front war – one a conventional one against the Democratic president, and the other a new one against any ‘impure’ Republicans. Besides a far-right ideology, the trait shared by most of the Tea Party candidates who have won high-profile primaries these past few years has been distance from what is perceived as the GOP establishment. Whether they identify with the Tea Party or not, conservative leaders, activists and voters have placed a real premium on ideological rigidity and outsider status; there’s no bigger sin than going to Washington and giving ground, even just an inch, to the Democrats.

“It’s hard to look around right now and not conclude that the Republican Party is still largely in the grip of this mindset. Yes, since the election, there have been GOP voices – some of them genuinely surprising – speaking out in favor of giving President Obama the income tax rate hike that he’s looking for. But the January 1 deadline is now just days after and, crucially, there’s been no action.

“This is the case even though Obama apparently indicated that he’d settle for only raising rates on income over $400,000, that he’d dial back his new revenue request by $400 billion, that he’d be OK with not extending the payroll tax holiday, and that he’d sign on a form of chained-CPI for Social Security benefits.

“This is exactly what the Tea Party mindset produces. For one thing, the House GOP conference (and to a lesser extent, the Senate GOP) contains no shortage of Tea Party true-believers – men and women who embody the spirit of the movement and have no qualms about going to war with party leadership if they believe their principles are at risk. And they are backed by a conservative information complex – media outlets and personalities, commentators, activists and interest group leaders – ready to cast them as heroes in any fight with “the establishment.”

“All of this is more than enough to instill real fear in Republicans on Capitol Hill who aren’t true believers – but who do like their jobs and want to keep them. McConnell falls in this category. Boehner evidently does too. And so do many, many other Republicans who don’t want to look back and regret the day they cast a vote that ended their careers.”

Emphasis added.

New Character in Petraeus Mess — Gray Wolfe

We’ve learned that both Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen wrote letters to a judge in a custody battle involving Jill Kelley’s twin sister, Natalie.  What their expertise is in child custody matters, I have no idea.

Now we’ve learned that Natalie’s ex is named Grayson P. Wolfe.  Yes, that’s right, the guy’s name is Gray Wolfe.  Perhaps he’s friends with Wile E. Coyote.

The other interesting thing is that he worked for the Bush Administration in Iraq in 2004, back when Paul Bremer was emperor there, trying to encourage private investment.

The Benghazi Speech

I know the Prez is doing a press conference next Wednesday, but he really needs to do a speech about Benghazi.  It needs to be an air-tight, comprehensive speech that will stand up a month, six months, a year from now.  No drip, drip, drip.  He needs to explain exactly what happened, what went wrong, and what’s being done to fix it.  The White House should release documentation to supplement and back up the speech.

He will never have more good will from the American people than he has right now.

Having executed a brilliant campaign, I worry that his people will drift back into their first-term crappy communicating.

He needs to explain why the Africa Command (Africom), established in 2007 under Bush 43, was the only command not to have its own Commanders’ In-Extremis Force (CIF) and  had to rely on help from the European Command, which meant forces that were on a mission to Croatia.

As for the members of the GOP who have been critical of Benghazi, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, they had to have known that Africom didn’t have a CIF.  I’ve heard John Bolton rant about a lot of things on Fox News — why wasn’t he complaining about this?

Two Words from the Election Results — Patience and Contradictions

I’ve been reading thousands and thousands of words about the election results, but I come away with two — patience and contradictions.

Obama won because voters were willing to be patient with him about the economy.  They realized that we had an economic meltdown, not a garden-variety recession, and so we weren’t going to have a garden-variety recovery.  More voters still blame Bush for the current economy than blame Obama.  And people vote trend more than current conditions.  The economy is getting better, albeit slowly.  This patience won’t last till 2016, but that’s Hillary’s problem.

Mitt lost because aside from that patience with Obama, he was stuck with his party’s contradictions.  They said they wanted to save Medicare by destroying it (that worked really well with those villages in Vietnam).  They said we had to drastically cut Medicaid and food stamps, but we could easily afford more tax cuts for the rich.  They said we needed more personal responsibility, but not when it came to expecting Americans to buy health insurance.  They said they wanted to get government off our backs, but they had to get government into our vaginas with their ultrasound wands.

The GOP talks about being “common sense conservatives.”  They make no sense at all, common or otherwise.

A Race Ending in Racism

As we approach the finish line, the racism gets more overt.  In his latest Washington Post column, George Will begins by calling President Obama, “Energetic in body but indolent in mind.”

You know, black people sure can run and jump, but they’re lazy and not all that smart.

He and Peggy Noonan in her WSJ column have been pushing this garbage about the President being in over his head, not up to the job.  In their sick hatred of Obama, they’ve sunk to the pathetic and pathological level of Rush and Sean.

And if white people are such geniuses, how do they explain Bush 43?  Given his obsession with working out and his well-documented lack of intellectual curiosity, we might describe the previous president as “Energetic in body but indolent in mind.”

If Obama Wins, the Calendar Breaks the Deadlock

If Obama wins, it will be a whole new ballgame with the GOP and their obstructionism, not because they will see the light, but because they will see the calendar.  Those who wonder what will light a fire under the House GOP if he’s re-elected need to recognize the greatly-increased power and bargaining position he will have.

From “November 7th, Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine:

“Obama does have a plan to break the legislative impasse and settle the long-term struggle over the scope of government.

[O]n January 1, 2013, we will all awake to a different, substantially more liberal country.  The Bush tax cuts will have disappeared, restoring Clinton-era tax rates and flooding government coffers with revenue to fund its current operations for years to come.  The military will be facing dire budget cuts that shake the military-industrial complex to its core.

“At that point [Obama] will reside in a political world he finds at most mildly uncomfortable and the Republicans consider a hellish dystopia.  Then he’ll be ready to make a deal.

“Administration officials no longer say that they can cajole Republicans into agreeing to raise tax revenue through negotiation.  Instead, they understand something important…. They no longer have to.

“What really lured Republicans into a trap was the timing of the arrangement.  The beginning of 2013, when the automatic spending cuts take effect, coincides with the expiration of every penny of the Bush tax cuts.  And so, by postponing the fiscal reckoning, Republicans inadvertently scheduled it for the very moment when Obama (should he win reelection) will hold his maximum leverage.  Last summer, Obama was pleading with Boehner to give him $800 billion in additional revenue.  Come January, he’ll have $5 trillion in higher revenue without doing anything.”  Emphasis added.

Happy New Year, GOP!

 

 

Rove Tried to Contain Planned Parenthood/Komen Damage

From “Karen Handel book:  Karl Rove urged retreat on Planned Parenthood,” Kathryn Smith and David Nather, Politico:

A tell-all book by a former official at Susan G. Komen for the Cure alleges that Karl Rove told the charity to reverse its decision to end its cancer screening funding of Planned Parenthood — raising eyebrows among conservatives who wanted Komen to stand firm amid the uproar.

The book by Karen Handel, the former Komen vice president who resigned after the charity restored funding to Planned Parenthood, says Komen CEO Nancy Brinker told her that Rove said the organization should back down.

The book, “Planned Bullyhood,” went on sale Tuesday, and the Rove story is already provoking comments from conservatives who have been skeptical of Rove in the past.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81036.html#ixzz26BjDBbM5

Rove wisely wanted the GOP to focus on the economy in the 2012 presidential election and not get bogged down in social issues, driving women away, especially white suburban women who helped elect Bush 43 twice.

 

Our Frenemy Iraq

We freed the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and they pay us back by letting Iran fly over their territory to arm the Syrians.  Thank you, George W. Bush.

Under Hussein, the minority Sunnis ruled Iran.  Now the majority Shiites have taken over to form a powerful coalition with Shiite Iran, a major supporter not just of the brutal Assad regime but of terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Not the outcome we were looking for, but one we should have seen coming once Hussein was gone.