Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Speculation By Thee And Me On Hagel

David Atkins at Hullabaloo is on to something, even if he's not aware of it.  He wrote yesterday about James Dobson, the psychologist who is founder and president of the theologically and politically conservative Focus on the Family based in Colorado Springs.  

Dobson recently issued a message to supporters in which he lamented the outcome of the 2012 elections, citing "four shocking components of the Democrats' 2012 platform," which included, in his view, planks pertaining to abortion, same-sex marriage, God, and the location of the capital of Israel.  Charging they constitute "a kind of spiritual warfare that has not been seen before in American politics," Dobson noted that January is "Sanctity of Life" month and ended with the inevitable request for money for his organization.

Decrying Atkins' effort "to keep persecuted minorities in their place," Atkins remarked "Of course, those victories are easier won: two gay people getting married threatens a lot of bigots and powerful religious organizations, but the real big money boys don't care much so long as they keep getting their tax cuts. Still, it's important to celebrate where celebrations are due."

Enter Chuck Hagel.  Although most of the opposition to the former Nebraska Senator centers on a record deemed by critics as insufficiently hostile to the Iranian regime and insufficiently supportive of Israel, there is some concern expressed (sincerely or otherwise) to Hagel's remark in 1994 about David Hormel, whom then-President Clinton was considering as ambassador to Luxembourg.

Hormel, who eventually was given a recess appointment to the post, was opposed by the Nebraskan, who considered him "aggressively gay."    In response, the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP group supporting gay rights, took out an ad in the Washington Post citing not only that remark but also Hagel's support in 1996 for the Defense of Marriage Act, reaction in 2005 to a ruling by a federal judge pertaining to Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage, and opposition in 1999 to repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  They conclude Hagel's recent apology for his remark about Hormel is "too little, too late."

The Log Cabin Republicans, however, have refused to disclose the source of their funding. Glen Greenwald, who is gay (not irrelevant given the topic), an attorney (also not irrelevant), and whose column in The Guardian is called On Security And Liberty (typically emphasizing the latter) suspects neocons of "cynically exploit(ing) liberal causes to generate progressive support for their militaristic agenda.   He explains

As a result, I posed several questions to LCR about the funding and motive behind this ad. In response, the group's Executive Director, R. Clark Cooper, confirmed that LCR did not pay for the ad out of its existing funds. Rather, he said, the ad campaign "is being funded by a number of donors". But he not only refused to identify any of those donors, but also has thus far refused to say whether those "donors" are from the self-proclaimed "pro-Israel" community and/or are first-time donors to LCR: in other words, whether these donors are simply exploiting gay issues and the LCR to advance an entirely unrelated agenda as a means of attacking Hagel.

Of course, much of the funding for the ad may have come from supporters of Israel as a Jewish state and other neo-conservatives.concerned about the influence- however limited it may be in a Defense Secretary- that a Secretary Hagel might have on U.S. foreign policy.  But Atkins' comment that "the real big money boys don't care much so long as they keep getting their tax cuts" is both a recognition of the influence of big money on politics and the priorities of the individuals and groups which can afford to place a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post.

The Supreme Court in March rule on California's prohibition of  same-sex marriage. Opposition to the ban, which was approved by voters in 2008, is led by David Boies... and Theodore Olson.  That's the Theodore Olson who bested Boies when the U.S. Supreme Court installed George W. Bush when they decided not every vote should count.  And the Theodore Olson whose nomination for Solicitor General by that same George W. Bush was rightly opposed by Democrats

because of his prominent role in a shadowy multimillion-dollar effort to find damaging information about Bill Clinton. He was narrowly confirmed and went on to become the government's chief advocate in the Supreme Court. In that role, he defended, among other things, the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies, though internally he warned — accurately, as it turned out — that some of those policies would not win approval from the Supreme Court.

Last month, as a private lawyer, he argued his 57th Supreme Court case. His clients have been varied, and on occasion he has argued contrary positions. In 2003, as the government's lawyer, he successfully defended the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, disproving reformers' suspicions that he might pull his punches. Then, last year, representing the other side, he persuaded the court to eviscerate much of the same law.

Olson, it is generally believed, is an unlikely supporter of the right of all individuals to marry anyone they wish regardless of gender.  Or maybe not.  Follow the money.  See where it leads, perhaps beyond the world of foreign policy hawks, fierce opponents of the regime in Tehran and supporters of that in Tel Aviv.  It may lead to some of the most powerful economic interests in the U.S.A., among them individuals and groups which are coincidentally, or otherwise, determined to prop up the American economic structure highlighted by a growing gap between rich and poor and declining socio-economic mobility.

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