So here is the President, nominating Ahmadinnerjacket's right-hand-man & the Irish mafia guy to head up our national security team:
The New York Times report, by Mark Landler, is here.
Tom Hamburger & Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post: "The nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon has set in motion a highly unusual campaign-style brawl over a Cabinet post long considered above politics. Supporters and opponents are raising money and building political organizations in anticipation of a grueling and contentious Senate confirmation process." CW: every day in every way, right-wing obstructionism is unprecedented. Continually topping one's own outlandish audacity can't be easy. Maybe this is the Trumpification of the GOP.
Dana Milbank: "For the president, who has too often shied from forceful leadership, the Hagel nomination was a welcome sign that he is willing to pick a fight in his second term. And Hagel is worth fighting for." CW: of course it wasn't the President who picked the fight.
Hagel Is Not a "Real" Republican. Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Hagel seems to be the right choice. And that's what disturbs the most outspoken Hagel-resisters. These resisters ... fear that Hagel will cut the military budget. They fear that he'll roll over if Iran builds a nuclear weapon. They fear that he's too reluctant to use military force generally. And they fear he doesn't much like Israel; the extremists on this point claim he's anti-Semitic.... What Republicans seem to fear most is that by appointing Hagel as secretary of defense, Obama can claim a false bipartisanship in his national-security team."
CW: what Kaplan is getting at is an aspect of the Republican purity test: if you get along with Obama, you aren't a real Republican. That is the real reason, for instance, that Boehner stamped his feet & walked out on Obama, never to return again. If he could agree with Obama on anything, then the crazoids in his caucus would assume he was a secret Democrat. (Yes, of course there's some racism in there, but remember how Republicans treated pasty-white Bill Clinton.)
David Sirota, writing in Salon, zeroes in on military spending: Hagel's "critics focus on his stances on Israel and Iran. They're really afraid he'd slash budgets and weapons systems." The loudmouths see Hagel "as a threat to the lucrative business of permanent war -- a business whose profit margins, employment footprint across America, campaign contributions and think-tank underwriting make it, by far, the most powerful pillar of that power structure."
Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News: "President Barack Obama's anticipated nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary shows how the polarization of Obama's second term might differ from that of his first. His first term was polarizing despite Obama's efforts. His second could be polarizing because of them.... Unless opponents [of Hagel's nomination] can restrict the debate on Hagel to his views -- real or imagined -- on Israel, they risk litigating the disastrous [Bush] policies that Hagel rejected and his most vociferous critics embraced."
We Were for Him before We Were against Him. Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "As Republicans plan their opposition strategy on Chuck Hagel's anticipated nomination as the next secretary of defense, Democrats are digging up and circulating examples of top GOP senators saying nice things about their former colleague in the past." Kapur includes some choice quotes. Were you lying then, Senator, or are you lying now? Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...
... Here's another flashback from Hayes Brown of Think Progress: Bill Kristol, who is now leading the neocon attack on Hagel, touted Hagel for vice president in 2000, & accused Hagel's detractors of running a smear campaign.
Hagel talks to Don Walton of the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star.
I hope a few of you will read David Brooks' response to Hagel's nomination. It is unintentionally hilarious. In his column today, Brooks explains that Obama picked Hagel because -- Medicare costs are out of control. Really.
Scott Shane & Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times list some issues being raised by left & right (and nonideological) about John Brennan's qualifications & his past activities & positions. CW: could Brennan skate through confirmation hearings because all the Hagel noise?
Michael Cohen of the Guardian: Mitch "McConnell is a man who appears to be very concerned about how the government spends its money – so concerned, it seems, that he wants someone else to tackle it. According to the Republican narrative, though, President Obama is exclusively responsible for this untenable situation -- and not the Congress that passed all those spending bills, or the last president 'whose name shall not be spoken'." But McConnell wants Obama to do the cutting because polls show Americans don't want most programs cut. "Obama should say that he will entertain a discussion about reducing the federal deficit via more spending cuts -- just as soon as Republicans lay out in fine detail exactly the cuts they'd like to make, with specific programs and policies they would like to enact....Once, they've laid out their cuts, then serious negotiations can occur." ...
... Here's a ferinstance: Dave Weigel of Slate: for Republicans "to criticize Democrats over the restored payroll tax is to slam them for something Republicans wanted. It's beautiful, sometimes, the lack of responsibility that comes with diminished powers."
CW: there seems to be a growing consensus among the tea-leaf readers (see Greg Sargent here) that the Republican leadership is bluffing about taking the Treasury hostage over the debt-ceiling. That might be, but what will Boehner do to get a "yea" vote through the House? Will he muscle his caucus? That takes some tea party-leaf reading. Or will he cooperate with House Democrats? If he means to get a debt limit increase, he'll have to do one or the other.
Jon Cohen & Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "In [a] new [Washington Post-ABC News] survey, conducted after the House followed up a Senate vote by passing the [tax-&-spending] measure, 53 percent of voters say they approve of the way Obama handled the matter, while 40 percent disapprove. The overall tally is clearly negative for Boehner's performance: 30 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval."
Bobby Cervantes of Politico: "Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Barack Obama from minting [trillion-dollar platinum] coins." CW: good thinking, Greg. I'm pretty sure Barack Obama will sign your bill & give you a commemorative pen, too.
David Firestone of the New York Times: "... default is very different and much worse [than just shutting down a few national parks or not cutting the grass on the Washington Mall], and only one political party is interested in making it happen."
** E. J. Graff of the American Prospect: "Sexual assault is a form of brutalization based, quite simply, on the idea that women have no place in the world except the place that a man assigns them -- and that men should be free to patrol women's lives, threatening them if they dare step into view.... 'Rape culture,' as young feminists now call this..., lives anywhere that has a 'traditional' vision of women's sexuality.... In that vision, women's bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure.... In this 'traditional' vision of sexuality, it's not rape if you've already had sex, ever -- except if you're married and another man violates his property.... I can only hope that the response to the attack in India includes outrage at congressional Republicans' astounding refusal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act...." ...
... Novelist Sohaila Abdulali in a New York Times op-ed: "We have spent generations constructing elaborate systems of patriarchy, caste and social and sexual inequality that allow abuse to flourish.... We need to shelve all the gibberish about honor and virtue and did-she-lead-him-on and could-he-help-himself. We need to put responsibility where it lies: on men who violate women, and on all of us who let them get away with it while we point accusing fingers at their victims." ...
... Roxana Hegeman of the AP: "A federal judge has ruled that a trial is needed to determine whether a Kansas law restricting private health insurance coverage for abortions poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking to end their pregnancies. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Monday rejected a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri for a favorable ruling in their legal challenge of the law."
Ben Protess & Michael de la Merced of the New York Times: "Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group Inc. has been running a nationwide advertising campaign with the tagline 'Thank you America.' Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders. The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government...." CW question: -- for audacity, does this beat the guy who murders his parents, then pleads for mercy on the grounds he is an orphan?
Julia Preston of the New York Times: "The Obama administration spent nearly $18 billion on immigration enforcement last year, significantly more than its spending on all the other major federal law enforcement agencies combined."
Julie Pace of the AP: "Facing an end-of-the-month deadline, the Obama administration is calling gun owner groups, victims' organizations and representatives from the video-game industry to the White House this week for discussions on potential policy proposals for curbing gun violence." ...
... Yeah, good luck with that ...
... Obama has been anti-gun rights along, he was just waiting for his second term to push this stuff. Unfortunately, Sandy Hook timed pretty perfectly with the start of this second term. This nutball really handed this one to the Obama administration and gave the Obama administration a chance to take the gloves off. -- Dave Workman, prominent gun rights advocate, expressing concern for gun violence victims ...
... Workman holds prominent positions in sponsors of the first Gun Appreciation Day. Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: "A political ad agency is putting together the first ever Gun Appreciation Day" on January 19, two days before the inauguration and a little over a month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School." CW: because of legal impediments in some sissy states, the organizations have scrapped their earlier plans for a national "Bring Your Gun to Work Day."
... Bob Christie & Brian Skoloff of the AP: "Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured. Giffords and Mark Kelly wrote in an op-ed published in USA Today that their Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative would help raise money to support greater gun control efforts." The USA Today op-ed is here. The Americans for Responsible Solutions Website is here.
Adam Estes of the Atlantic: "Alex Jones, the conservative radio talk show host who created the 'Deport Piers Morgan' petition..., straight up lost it on Monday night. Appearing on Piers Morgan's CNN show to talk about the petition and, consequentially, gun control, Jones quickly went from enthusiastic to out-of-control in the first two minutes of the interview, and he wouldn't even stop talking or pointing his finger as Morgan was closing out the segment almost 15 minutes later." ...
... You can watch the "debate" here. I didn't. ...
... The White House responds to all petitions that cross the threshold and we will respond to this one. In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the freedom of expression is a bedrock principle in our society. -- Jay Carney, White House press secretary
Eric Schmitt & David Sanger of the New York Times: In late November, "the combination of a public warning by Mr. Obama and more sharply worded private messages sent to the Syrian leader and his military commanders through Russia and others, including Iraq, Turkey and possibly Jordan, stopped the [Syrian government's] chemical mixing and the bomb preparation. A week later Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the worst fears were over -- for the time being. But concern remains that Mr. Assad could now use the weapons produced that week at any moment."
Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post: "President Obama has picked Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month. It is believed to be the first time a woman, and a layperson rather than a clergy member, has been chosen to deliver what may be America's most prominent public prayer."
New York Times: "2012, the year of a surreal March heat wave, a severe drought in the corn belt and a massive storm that caused broad devastation in the mid-Atlantic states, turns out to have been the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States."
New York Times: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, pushing New York to become the first state to enact major new gun laws in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., plans on Wednesday to propose one of the country's most restrictive bans on assault weapons."
Politico: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will likely testify Jan. 22 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the deadly U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, the panel's top Republican said Tuesday."
Reuters: "Bank of America Corp is looking to sell collection rights on at least another $100 billion of mortgages after announcing similar deals for more than $300 billion on Monday. Any sale would be the latest example of a big bank deciding that collecting mortgage payments on some loans is too costly, and the cost of capitalizing the business was too high given new capital rules. Banks have been unloading these assets for years."
AP: "The description of [James] Holmes after the [Aurora theater] attack, given by police detective Craig Appel [during a preliminary hearing], seemed to undercut prosecutors' attempts to show Holmes as methodical, spending two months to assemble his arsenal."
New York Times: "New signs of deprivation plaguing Syria's war-ravaged civilians emerged on Tuesday, with the United Nations saying it is unable to feed a million hungry residents in combat zones and aid agencies reporting an outbreak of violence in a large refugee camp in Jordan, where a winter storm felled tents and left many frustrated inhabitants shivering in a cold rain."
Washington Post: "President Hugo Chavez, who has not been seen publicly in a month since undergoing a complex cancer surgery in Cuba, will not be back in Venezuela on Thursday to be sworn in for a fourth term, his government announced Tuesday."
AP: "Two years after a hostage video and photographs of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson raised the possibility that the missing American was being held by terrorists, U.S. officials now see the government of Iran behind the images, intelligence officials told The Associated Press. Levinson, a private investigator, disappeared in 2007 on the Iranian island of Kish. The Iranian government has repeatedly denied knowing anything about his disappearance...."