Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Opposition To Hagel Grows 

The Senate is expected to hold another vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense this week -- perhaps as early as tomorrow. Yet as Democrats prepare to force Hagel's confirmation, they are doing so as opposition grows from pro-Israel groups. 

Friday, B'nai B'rith International issued a statement that was critical of Hagel and urged a thorough review of his record. Here is an excerpt of the B'nai B'rith press release: 

"B'nai B'rith International remains concerned with many aspects of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's responses to questions during his confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of defense. Since then, more questions have been raised about Hagel's views on a number of important issues. ů 

"We are concerned that Hagel, unlike the vast majority of his Senate colleagues, underestimates the threat of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. ů 

"We are troubled that Hagel, during his confirmation hearings, undermined the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He appeared to endorse a policy of containment of a nuclear Iran before being advised that containment was not administration policy. 

"In recent days, Hagel has disavowed, or said he didn't remember, making certain past comments about Israel. At a 2007 speech he is said to have referred to the U.S. State Department as 'an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister's office.' Our hesitation on his nomination is based on our uneasiness with such updates to his record."

In addition to B'nai B'rith International, the American Jewish Committee has also called on the Senate to further investigate Hagel's anti-Israeli comments in speeches that came to light after his confirmation hearings. But getting more information is proving difficult. 

The Weekly Standard has attempted to gain access to the former senator's archives, currently housed at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. But its requests were denied by university officials and byHagel himself. This is a hypocritical, but not unusual, move for someone seeking to join the "most transparent administration in history." 

Senator Lindsey Graham wrote a letter to Hagel asking him to grant Senate staffers access to his archives as well as transcripts to his speeches arranged by the Washington Speakers Bureau. Given what has been uncovered about Hagel since his confirmation hearing, senators would be more than justified in continuing to filibuster his nomination until they have had time to thoroughly examine his archives and speech transcripts. 

If you would like to share your views on Hagel's nomination with your senators, you can reach them at 202-224-3121

Sequester Fearmongering 

Last week I quoted Rush Limbaugh and agreed with him about the administration's hysterical statements when it comes to the potential impact of the sequester cuts. But maybe we are missing the point. What if this White House intends to make these modest cuts in the worst possible places so that they inflict the greatest amount of pain on average Americans? It is entirely possible that the worst may in fact happen. 

Barack Obama is president and head of the executive branch of government. His administration controls how the cuts will be enforced. Rather than furloughing bureaucrats at desk jobs, they could decide to cut TSA agents at the nation's busiest airports in order to make delays as horrific as possible. Under those circumstances congressional conservatives might panic after hearing from an outraged American public. 

The sequester was signed into law in 2011. The White House knew this was coming. The House of Representatives has have twice passed legislation to mitigate the sequester's impact with more targeted cuts. But the Senate refused to vote on it and President Obama threatened to veto it. So make no mistake, my friends. Whatever happens and however it happens -- this administration owns the sequester. 

But I believe House leaders have missed an opportunity in not using the past year to call more attention to this fact. They could have called department heads to Capitol Hill for oversight hearings on the sequester. The first question asked could have been, "When did the White House send you a memo asking to identify the waste, fat, duplicative programs, etc., that could be cut to minimize the impact of sequestration?"

Members of Congress should be demanding to know what the administration has been doing for the past year to avoid any "catastrophic" effects. This could have been going on for the last several months in order to build a case that the administration is not interested in cutting waste and is trying to make the sequester as painful and disruptive for the American people as possible. 

By the way, even with the sequester's "draconian cuts," the government will still spend $15 billion more in 2013 than it did in 2012. And here's one more thing to consider: The Congressional Research Service reported last month that in fiscal year 2011, the Obama Administration made more than $115 billion in improper government payments, i.e., "payments made in an incorrect amount, payments that should not have been made at all, or payments made to an ineligible recipient or for an ineligible purpose." That $115 billion came out of your pocket! So don't fall for overhyped rhetoric about the sequester. 

The Intolerant Left-Wing Media 

Conservatives have railed against left-wing media bias for years. It's one thing for someone like Rush Limbaugh to criticize Big Media as biased. But it is far more damning when another liberal blasts the left-wing media for being intolerant. So consider this recent comment by liberal columnist and commentator Juan Williams, who was fired by National Public Radio in 2010: 

"I always thought it was the Archie Bunkers of the world, the right-wingers of world, who were more resistant and more closed-minded about hearing the other side. In fact, what I have learned is, in a very painful way -- and I can open this shirt and show you the scars and the knife wounds -- is that it is big media institutions who are identifiably more liberal to left-leaning who will shut you down, stab you and kill you, fire you, if they perceive that you are not telling the story in the way that they want it told."