The Partisan Wars of 2012 continue with spinmeisters attempting to prove something appalling and awful is happening. It's just business as usual but hit the heavy drama button and let's all pretend otherwise. Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) writes
about US Senator Rand Paul's decision to bring Senate business to a halt over two amendments: " One amendment would withhold all U.S. aid to Pakistan until the Pakistani government releases Shakil Afridi, the doctor who worked with the CIA to help positively identify Osama bin Laden. Afridi was sentenced in June to 33 years in jail for treason. The second would prohibit aid to Libya and Egypt until anyone involved in this week's attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts was arrested and transferred to U.S. custody." Both would appear to be serious issues based on the White House's remarks. The issue of Shakil Afridi would, for example, fit right into the fireworks Joe Biden was shooting off at the DNC just last week -- he aided the US, he allowed them to find the cornerstone of Barack's re-election campaign, so clearly he is owed. As for Libya and Egypt, again, Joe's fireworks.
Maybe certain politicians should watch their own rhetoric unless they don't expect to be believed? Joe probably gave the second best speech at the convention (Bill Clinton gave the best speech -- my opinion). Words have meaning. It's difficult to see how the White House can argue that Rand Paul's
advocating for something off the charts since Barack just declared Egypt wasn't an ally. Mike noted
NBC News' chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel expressing disbelief over the remarks
Richard Engel: For the President to come out and say well, he's not exactly sure if
Egypt is an ally any more but it's not an enemy? That is a significant
change in the perspective of Washington toward this country -- the
biggest country in the Arab world. It makes one wonder: "Well, was it
worth it? Was it worth supporting the Arab Spring, supporting the
demonstrations here in Tahrir Square, when now, in Tahrir Square, there
are clashes going on behind me right in front of the US embassy?"
Considering Barack's dramatic remarks, it's hard to argue that the US shouldn't be re-assessing its relationship with Egypt. (That doesn't mean they do or don't change the relationship, it means they re-asses to figure out where things stand and where they want them to go.)
Paul's stance means that nothing moves forward currently. Rogin feels the need to mention Richard S. Beecroft's nomination to be US Ambassador to Iraq. Considering that it was just announced Monday evening and that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has already scheduled a confirmation hearing (next Tuesday), how is Beecroft's nomination effected?
Because if Paul's amendments aren't voted on, he'll stop all votes including any this month which might include a vote on Beecroft's nomination?
It's September. No one expects major accomplishments from either house in September during an election year. They're all marking time. A third of the members of the Senate will spend October campaigning for re-election in their home states (all of the House seats are up for grabs). I'm not sure what Rand Paul is supposedly delaying. If the concern is over the empty post of US Ambassador to Iraq, well the administration should have done a better job vetting and never nominated Brett McGurk. Married and sleeping with another married person in Iraq while working for the US government in Iraq? It doesn't matter that he married Gina Chon eventually (after both their divorces -- it does matter that she allowed him to vet her copy, which is why her paper fired her), it matters that he had a reputation for disrespecting marriage in Iraq which meant that any Iraqi woman visiting the US embassy was going to be suspect which really matters in a country that practices so-called 'honor' killings. They never should have nominated him. His prior behavior in Iraq would have made his appointment an insult to the host country.
There should be an ambassador to Iraq. But no one forced the White House to nominate the insulting Brett McGurk and no one forced the White House to wait so long to name a new nominee after McGurk's name was withdrawn. I remember the Attorney General nominations of 1993. That was rough and Republicans were determined to defeat the nominees. Plural. Bill Clinton nominated Zoe Baird for the post. Her nomination was derailed and she withdrew her name January 22, 1993. Clinton goes on to announce a new nominee: Kima Wood. Kimba Wood withdraws her name February 5, 1993. Clinton then nominated Janet Reno who was confirmed March 11, 1993 on a 98 to zero vote in the Senate. January 20, 1993, Bill Clinton was sworn in as President of the United States. March 11th, Reno -- his third nominee -- was confirmed as Attorney General. That's moving quickly.
By contrast? June 18th McGurk's name is withdrawn
. Late September 10th word leaks out that Beecroft is Barack's new nominee and it's made official with an announcement September 11th
. In less than two months, President Bill Clinton names 3 different nominees for Attorney General and gets one confirmed. Eight days shy of three months after McGurk's name is withdrawn, President Barack Obama is finally able to find someone to nominate for the post (Beecroft, the person who's been doing the work all that time). If Senate Dems want to whine that Paul's creating a delay on that nomination, Barack's the one who created the delay and dragged his feet.
The average time between confirmation hearings and a vote is said to be ten days. That would be September 28th and that's awfully close to when senators facing re-election battles have tor return home. That was also foot dragging by the administration which should have planned it much better.
Not foot dragging by Senator John Kerry. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he pretty much immediately scheduled the hearing. The nomination announcement was made on Tuesday, Kerry scheduled the hearing yesterday
. (And Tuesday, the Senate's not officially in session.)
While Kerry gets praise for that, that's about all he gets praise for. He tells Rogin:
Make no mistake: Our
embassy in Baghdad is one of our most important and what happens there is key
to our bilateral relationship and our work in the Middle East. By all accounts,
Steve Beecroft is a highly capable career Foreign Service
officer who has ambassadorial experience, and it is in America's best interest
to get him on the ground as quickly as possible.
You know what, John, I agree with your sentiment. And that's why -- check the archives -- in June and July and August I was calling for Barack to nominate someone. I was noting that Iraq needed an ambassador. Barack waited eight days shy of three months. And then he picked the guy who was already doing the job -- the most obvious choice in the world (and the easiest). After delaying a nomination for nearly three months, the White House and its surrogates (that would be Kerry) are on shaky ground when they whine about Rand Paul possibly causing a delay.
Rogin also quotes Harry Reid who has quickly become the bitch of the Senate. Like a tired drag queen attempting Joan Collins
, Reid declared, "I
just think my friend from Kentucky maybe should have run for secretary of state
rather than the Senate." To be honest, I don't mind bitchy. I do mind poorly crafted bitchy.
He whined on the Senate floor yesterday about the potential delay
(but strangely avoided Rand Paul as he went after Mitch McConnell). He wasn't concerned with the nomination of Beecroft, he was talking about a delay in the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012. The bill was introduced by Bill Nelson and co-sponsored by Patty Murray. We support the bill and have noted it many times here. If it's so important to Harry Reid, maybe it should have come up a lot sooner. In other words, if this bill that Harry Reid is now whining about -- whining that it could be delayed -- was so important, maybe they shouldn't have waited until July 24th to introduce a bill
? According to the White House blog, to a blog post by Matt Compton
, Barack gave a speech on the need for a veterans jobs corps act February 3rd. Who was draffing their feet? Who was delaying? February 3rd, Barack's calling for one and no Democrat in the Senate bothers to pick up the ball until July 24th?
The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Pacifica Evening News, Susan's On the Edge, and The Diane Rehm Show -- updated last night and this morning:
Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and since we're talking about the Veterans Jobs Corps Act in this entry, let's note this from her office:
Contact: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, September 12,
Senator Murray Discusses Veterans
Jobs Corps Bill
Bill would help train and hire
veterans as police officers, firefighters, and at our national and state parks
Watch video of
Senator Murray’s speech HERE.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Wednesday, September
12th, Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Veterans’ Affairs, spoke on the Senate floor on the Veterans Jobs Corps
legislation currently being considered by the Senate. The Veterans Jobs Corps
bill will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans including
helping to hire police officers, firefighters and other first responders. It
will also help train and hire veterans to help restore and protect our national,
state, and tribal forests, our parks, our coastal areas, wildlife refuges, and
VA cemeteries. The Veterans Jobs Corps bill contains ideas from both sides of
the aisle and is fully paid for with bipartisan spending offsets.
“This is a
bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using
proven job training programs from across the country,” Senator Murray said. “It is a bill that is paid for with offsets that both
Republicans and Democrats have supported. And it is a bill unquestionably
represents ideas from both sides of the aisle - including from the Chairman and
Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. There is no reason now
that Republicans should not join us in passing this bill, and passing it
excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:
working on veterans issues in the Senate for nearly two decades. And in all that
time, under Democratic and Republican controlled Senates, under Administrations
of both parties, and in times of war and peace, if there was one issue that I’ve
seen that rises above the day-to-day bomb throwing that often characterizes
debate here - it’s been the care and benefits for our veterans.”
“This is a
bill that includes both Republican and Democratic ideas. This is a bill that
will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using proven
job training programs from across the country.”
“It is a
bill that is paid for with offsets that both Republicans and Democrats have
supported. And it is a bill unquestionably represents ideas from both sides of
the aisle - including from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee. There is no reason now that Republicans should not
join us in passing this bill, and passing it quickly.”
“I am urging
Republicans to join us in rising above politics – like we have done time and
again for our veterans – to ignore the calendar – and the never-ending chatter
about who’s up and who’s down. Let’s send a message to our veterans this week
that they come first. And that we intend to keep up our commitment to their
text of Senator Murray’s speech:
President, I want to first join with the many Senators today who have strongly
condemned the violent attacks against the men and women serving bravely in our
murders in Libya are a reminder of the dangers these public servants take on
everyday - and the courage they show in furthering our diplomatic goals all
across the globe.
“We are all
grateful to them.
thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the
other victims of this attack.
I stand, as we all do, with the President in supporting efforts to secure those
who continue to serve us abroad.
President, I’ve come to the floor today to respond to statements made here
earlier that are completely inaccurate about the bill that we are currently
“And that run
counter to this body’s long-held tradition of acting in a bipartisan way for our
I’d like to respond to the baseless and frankly, offensive charges that the
Senator from Oklahoma made insinuating that supporters of this bill don’t
‘really care about veterans’ and that this bill ‘isn’t about
President, I’ve been working on veterans issues in the Senate for nearly two
“And in all
that time: under Democratic and Republican controlled Senates, under
Administrations of both parties, and in times of war and peace,
“If there was
one issue that I’ve seen that rises above the day-to-day bomb throwing that
often characterizes debate here - it’s been the care and benefits for our
certainly disagree about policy -- of course.
“We can fight
with all our hearts for what we think is right.
never have I seen accusations that one party or one group wasn’t fighting for
what they believed to be right for our veterans - the way the Senator from
Oklahoma did a short while ago.
“In fact, the
accusations leveled by the Senator from Oklahoma was the single biggest
departure from the spirit of cooperation around veterans issues I’ve seen in my
time in the Senate.
“So I’d like to
set the record straight about the steps this bill takes to put veterans back to
“And in doing
so, I’m not going to question the motives or the degree to which those who may
oppose this legislation care for our veterans
Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – I see Republican’s
commitment every day.
“I won’t level
allegations designed to make our veterans political pawns.
certainly won’t mislead anyone about what we have set out to do.
because honestly, I believe that our veterans deserve far better.
“What they and
the American people deserve is the truth.
“And the truth
is that caring for our veterans - and helping to provide them with the training
they need to find jobs when they return home - is a cost of the wars we have
fought for the last decade.
“The truth is
that less than 1% of U.S. citizens serve and sacrifice for the well being of the
“And the truth
is that what the Senator from Oklahoma calls a charade is actually an effort to
give those veterans as many avenues as possible to find work.
“It’s an effort
to give them the economic security and self-esteem that only a job can provide
and that is so essential to their return home.
understand that it has taken some in the Senate a long time to come to grips
with the fact that our fiscal commitment to those who wear the uniform doesn’t
end the day that they are discharged.
truth is, it’s not enough to give our veterans a pat on the back for their
military service, we have to also give them a helping hand into the job market.
“And as the
jobs report released last month reminded us, we have over 720,000 unemployed
veterans across the nation – including over 225,000 veterans who have served
since September 11th.
what the Senator from Oklahoma may have said, this bill makes resources
available to all of them.
that is exactly why we brought this bill forward.
need right now is an ‘all hands on deck, all of the above’ strategy.
this is a bill that includes both Republican and Democratic ideas.
“This is a
bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using
proven job training programs from across the country.
instance, it increases grants under the COPS and SAFER programs that we have
seen work to train and hire qualified veterans as police officers, firefighters
and other first responders.
“All at a
time when 85 percent of law enforcement agencies were forced to reduce their
budget in the past year.
“And at a
time when we face a $10 billion maintenance backlog for our public lands - this
bill will also help train and hire veterans to: restore and protect our
national, state, and tribal forests, our parks, and other public lands.
training and hiring our veterans has never been, and should never be, an effort
that divides us – we also included a host of Republicans ideas in this bill.
a bill from Senator Toomey that gives veterans increased access to computers and
internet tools to find jobs in in-demand areas in their community.
a bill sponsored by Senator Boozman that will increase transition assistance
programs for eligible veterans and their spouses.
included a very important provision from Senators on both sides of the aisle
that will help force states to consider the military experience of our veterans
when they issue licenses and certifications.
figured that this comprehensive, bipartisan approach would certainly be enough
to gain Republican support – even if it did come as we were inching closer to an
the course of the last 48 hours or so we’ve heard that Republicans – including
Senator Burr, the Ranking member on my Committee – had an alternative version of
the bill that Republicans wanted to push instead.
includes a system to have states certify military experience for job skills and
helps veterans get hired into the federal workforce, among a number of other
appeared for a moment like that this late alternative could derail what I
believe can be and should be a bipartisan effort.
we are committed to making this a bipartisan effort.
of showing our veterans more gridlock and partisanship here is what we’ve done.
I said before this must be an “all of the above approach,” we have added every
one of the provisions in Senator Burr’s alternative to our bill and now have an
even more bipartisan, more inclusive bill: on the floor, right now, awaiting
“It is a bill that is paid for with offsets
that both Republicans and Democrats have supported.
“And it is a
bill unquestionably represents ideas from both sides of the aisle - including
from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs
“There is no
reason now that Republicans should not join us in passing this bill, and passing
Madam President, this doesn’t have to be an either, or situation.
party has the magic bullet to this problem, so we have to open as many proven
opportunities to employment as we can.
are watching and waiting.
tired of excuses, and they certainly have no stomach for the kind of political
posturing we saw earlier today that comes only at their expense.
“Now, I know
that some Republicans have pointed to the calendar as the reason for their
opposition to this bill.
honestly, I wish it wasn’t September and we didn’t have to deal with silly
season here in Washington D.C.
know who could care less about what month it is or how many days out from an
election we are: the nearly one million unemployed veterans looking for work.
concerns are: What jobs are available in my community? What training programs
can I take advantage of? What’s being done to honor my two or three tours
“This is a
bill that offers them new resources to answer those questions.
“This is a
bill that will help them serve their communities, help them provide for their
hope that with the change we have to add Senator Burr’s alternative to the
overall bill, we have overcome the last hurdle before passage.
“And I am
urging Republicans to join us in rising above politics – like we have done time
and again for our veterans – to ignore the calendar – and the never-ending
chatter about who’s up and who’s down.
a message to our veterans this week that they come first.
“And that we
intend to keep up our commitment to their service.
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S.
Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com
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