Senate Armed Services Committee

Carl Levin Of Michigan, A Giant In The Senate, Dies At 87!

Former Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, a true giant of the Senate, has passed away at age 87.

Levin had a distinguished 36 year career in the Senate from 1978 to 2014.

He was rated one of the top ten US Senators in a Time Magazine article in 2006.

He was the fourth longest serving incumbent at his retirement in 2015, and was the longest serving Senator in Michigan history.

He served alongside his Congressman brother Sander Levin, both of them outstanding Senators of the Jewish faith, and both had a great impact on Michigan and the nation.

Carl Levin was Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, and served alongside Republicans and worked well across the aisle with them, promoting civil dialogue.

He supported the revival of the auto industry, and supported efforts to address pollution and other environmental issues affecting the Great Lakes.

He promoted a crackdown on offshore tax havens, and was an advocate for stem cell research and gun control laws.

He gained respect for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy.

Levin came across as a “regular guy”, who was unassuming and unpretentious.

His kind will not be easily found in the future, as he was, in many ways, one of a kind.

Rest in Peace, Carl Levin, you will be well remembered in the annals of history!

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine A Great Choice For Vice President, And Possible Succession If Need Arises!

Hillary Clinton has made a great choice for Vice President, in selecting Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her partner to run the executive branch for the next four to eight years.

Tim Kaine comes from a crucial swing state, and would be the third Virginia leader to be Vice President, after Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler, who both became President. He is also the first Virginian to be on the Presidential election ballot, since Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916, not a native Virginian, however, as Governor of New Jersey.

Kaine would be the second Catholic Vice President after Joe Biden, with John F. Kennedy the only Catholic President.

Kaine is a steady, stable, pleasant, well liked political leader who has proved by his experience and interaction with other government leaders that he is well qualified to be President, if the emergency arises. He is also, like Joe Biden, well liked personally by Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives who have dealt with him.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are very comfortable together, and Kaine has a tolerant and mild temperament that engenders confidence.

Kaine has served as Richmond Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Senator, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his resume is very diverse and broad.

Kaine has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, crucial committees and experiences in an age of terrorism.

Kaine has the great advantage that he speaks fluent Spanish, a big plus for the Latino community, which is now one out of every six Americans.

If Kaine is elected, his replacement is appointed by Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, which would not be true had Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, or New Jersey Senator Cory Booker been selected.

Kaine was already on the short list for Vice President with Barack Obama in 2008, a sign that he is well regarded in Democratic circles.

Kaine went to the University of Missouri, Columbia as an undergraduate, and to Harvard Law School, so has excellent academic credentials.

Kaine’s Catholicism and Spanish language ability will help him in states including North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada, and his working class roots will help in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Tim Kaine can be criticized on the issue of free trade, and on supporting the Iran deal, but it will not have that much of an effect on the election, as this blogger sees it. He is certainly not “perfect”, but then no one is.

This blogger was correct when he said that Kaine was the front runner for Vice President, and that the history of the Democratic Party nominees for President choosing a US Senator for Vice President would be continued, all but 1972 and 1984.

This nomination also shows once again that Southerners are favored for Vice President now 9 times since 1944 onward in the Democratic Party, even though Tim Kaine is very different than most earlier Southern nominees for Vice President, much more progressive. Also, Southerners have been on the Presidential ticket at either end of the Democratic ballot in all elections since 1944, except 1968, 1972, 1984, 2008, and 2012, a total of 14 out of 19 times.

Tim Kaine will be an asset to Hillary Clinton, both during the campaign, and as an active Vice President in the mold of Walter Mondale, Al Gore, and Joe Biden!

Cheers To Former Senator Richard Lugar For Blistering Conservative Talk Radio As Out To Promote Discord For Monetary Gain!

Former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, one of the few “decent” Republicans left in the GOP, came out yesterday in condemnation of conservative talk radio and other right wing extremists as out to promote discord for monetary gain, in a speech at Duke University.

He also was critical of the attacks on Defense Secretary nominee, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, by right wing spokesmen, both in the Senate Armed Services Committee (including Ted Cruz of Texas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma), by former Vice President Dick Cheney, and by the usual right wing activists on Fox News Channel and talk radio.

Both Lugar and Hagel are a dying breed, conservative Republicans in a field of right wing loonies taking over the party, led by Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and others. One might not always agree with Lugar and Hagel on every vote, but one could have respect for their intelligence and fair mindedness, and willingness to “cross the aisle”!

It is good that Lugar, despite his defeat last year, is willing to speak up on principle about the extremist turn in his party, and how people are making money off of promoting hate and division!

ONLY when we have future Lugars and Hagels will the GOP rise again to the White House and Senate control, as the Tea Party Movement is the destruction of the party and its future!

Chuck Hagel Will Survive Rough Treatment Of John McCain And Other Republicans On Senate Armed Services Committee, And Be Confirmed As Secretary Of Defense!

Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel will survive his rough handling in the Senate Armed Services Committee and be confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense, despite the efforts of Arizona Senator John McCain, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, and newly minted Texas Senator Ted Cruz, to derail his nomination, more on vindictiveness than anything else. Here was a basically conservative Republican, who like Richard Lugar, had the nerve to be independent, and be willing to cross the aisle and work with Democrats, and even, in the case of Hagel, endorse Barack Obama in 2008.

Hagel is a man of principle, a man of courage and determination, a man of levelheadedness, a man who has served his country well during his years in the military, a man who has been a successful businessman which makes him able to handle the massive bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and a man who is able to deal with adversity as it already has visited him, with his two Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam, including his bravery in saving his own brother when both were wounded at the same time.

Hagel has a steadiness about him that will make him an outstanding Secretary of Defense, and his criticism of the “surge” in Iraq in 2007, which killed 1200 soldiers and wounded thousands others will stand the test of time, long after John McCain and his hawkishness, which calls for constant military intervention and invasion, is repudiated, as having been the wrong choice for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two “chicken hawks”, to make.

John McCain will be looked back upon as a man who, fortunately, we did not elect President of the United States, while we will look back upon Chuck Hagel’s service as Secretary of Defense under Barack Obama as one of the best cabinet choices ever made for the Pentagon, if not the best, since the agency was created in 1947!

John McCain, Robert Gates, And Gays In The Military!

Senator John McCain of Arizona, already criticized by his own wife and daughter, and coming across as an angry “old man” since his loss of the Presidency to Barack Obama, has lashed out at Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the report commissioned by the Defense Department on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military! 🙁

Showing disdain for Gates, an appointee as Defense Secretary by both Presidents Bush and Obama, McCain was rude and arrogant in his criticism of the survey of the military, although Gates gave back as good as he got! 🙁

Not only that, but three members of the committee, who had not indicated their view on the repeal of the policy–Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia, and Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Susan Collins of Maine–gave hints that they disagreed with McCain’s bitter attacks and criticism of Gates, and might support repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which would be crucial to possible action this month to end the policy!

At least two Republicans will be needed to overcome a filibuster and get the repeal accomplished, and finally end discrimination in the military and allow talented people, who have important skills, to contribute to the military defense of the United States!

Senator McCain is creating a record for himself in his later years in the Senate that will serve as an embarrassment for his historical reputation! 🙁

The Last Gasp Of Right Wing Homophobes: Outrageous And Deplorable!

Last night, the House of Representatives adopted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as part of a military spending bill, just hours after the Armed Services Committee in the Senate agreed to such an outcome by a vote of 16-12, including Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Final action by the Senate is expected within weeks.

With Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, having signed on, the end of this discriminatory policy is within reach, after the final military review due by December of this year!

At a moment when there should be rejoicing, however, Senator John McCain of Arizona is creating barriers after having promised to back the change IF the military apparatus went along with the change. He and others in the Republican party continue to create obstructionism on the issue. It is sad to see McCain give up all his principles and dignity in his struggle to keep his Senate seat in the upcoming Arizona primary in August against former Congressman J. D. Hayworth! 🙁

But in addition to McCain’s delay tactics, right wing homophobes are creating propaganda and myths to try to stall the change in military policy!

Among their tactics are to claim:
1. Homosexual assault will multiply, with soldiers being fondled and having oral sex done on them in their sleep!
2. HIV tainted blood will become a widespread crisis in the military!
3. Adolf Hitler had a gay military, which was more brutal and vicious than a straight army would have been!

These ideas and assertions are totally outrageous and deplorable! We are being told that straight soldiers will be so deeply asleep that they will be attacked without their knowledge! This assumes that gays are so aggressive that they will bother with straight soldiers who have no desire for sexual contact! Also, the facts are that all soldiers are regularly blood tested, and anyone trying to be a soldier who is HIV positive is not allowed to serve! Also, the idea that gays were part of a special group under Adolf Hitler belies the fact that gays were one of the three groups of people specifically labeled and marked for mass execution, along with Jews and gypsies, and were required to wear pink triangles to identify them!

It is time for these despicable assertions by people who claim to be for the “family” and to have “Christian values” to be totally repudiated as simply signs of hate and intolerance!

The Levins, Sander And Carl, And Congressional Power And Influence

The leave of absence of Congressman Charles Rangel as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee opens the door to Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan to become its new Chairman, after 28 years in the House.

At the same time, his younger brother, Carl Levin, has been Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee since 2007, and has been representing Michigan in the Senate for 32 years.

So the brothers Levin are in charge of committees dealing with all spending bills and military matters respectively, and that makes them brothers of tremendous power and influence on a level never seen in Congress in its history.

Both have excellent reputations and have served Michigan with distinction, with Carl Levin being the longest serving senator in the history of the state.

The country will be well served with both Levins committed to decent, honest leadership!