Destroying Chuck Hagel

01 February 2013 |permalink | email article

President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense came under bizarre attack from conservative Republicans at his Senate confirmation, notably from his old friend, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is still smoldering about their break over the Iraq war. Hagel, 66, a former senator from Nebraska, and a decorated Vietnam veteran who would be the first former enlisted soldier to be secretary of defense. He was attacked by Sen. Lindsey Graham on being intimated by the Israeli-Jewish lobby; Sen. Deb Fisher for extreme views and being “too far left from this administration;” and Sen. Ted Cruz from giving an interview to Al Jazeera in 2009. Hagel was savaged in his exchange with McCain, close friends when both served in the Senator until Hagel’s views on the Iraq war caused a split in 2008. McCain demanded to know whether Hagel was right or wrong in opposing the serge in American armed forces when he was in the Senate. Hagel’s views frequently echoed the policies of the departing defense secretary Leon E. Panetta and at several points used identical phrasing.

Bill Maher Responds

The liberal comic blasted tea partier Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), taking the freshman senator to task for attacking Chuck Hagel and John Kerry—whom Maher noted won their medals before Cruz was even born. His take on Cruz: He is the newly minted, teabag-endorsed, junior senator from Texas. He questioned why Cruz was doing “eye-rolls” at Kerry and Hagel after being in the Senate for a month.

Public Corruption

The Los Angeles Times has published an internal memo from Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca saying he will no longer accept campaign contributions from department employees. Baca said other sheriff’s managers who hold outside elected office would be barred from making employment decisions affecting employees who have donated to their campaigns. The sheriff’s memo said that “Nothing less than the public’s trust is at stake.” Baca and his second in command, Paul Tanaka, who is also mayor of Gardena, have over the years accepted thousands of dollars in contributions from department employees. His predecessor, the highly respected late Sherman Block, would never have tolerated such a practice before since Baca took office 13 years ago. A 2006 Times analysis, according to a report last year found that of the sheriff’s managers who gave to Baca, 73% received promotions, while those who did not contribute, 26% received promotions. This is a corrupt practice which the Board of Supervisors must investigate and condemn.

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