Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two recent articles

There were two recent articles by Don Walton in the Lincoln Journal Star that are worth a read.

The first is about the fund raiser for Hagel that Senate minority leader McConnell hosted (McConnell says Hagel's Iraq warnings were right).
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell lavished praise Friday on Sen. Chuck Hagel and said many of his warnings about the Iraq war have been validated.

“Many of the predictions Chuck Hagel made about the war came true,” the Kentucky senator said in a brief interview after his remarks at a fundraising reception.

“They have proven to be accurate.” Hagel’s views on the war “have not diminished his effectiveness,” McConnell said, and may, in fact, increase his effectiveness over time.
The second piece, "Don Walton: Maybe Hagel just being Nebraskan", notes the history of political independence in Nebraska politics and how Chuck Hagel fits that mold.

Green Cheese's take on Hagel

Here's a blog post that's worth a read: "Hagel for President? Not Unreasonable." over at Green Cheese.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Message from the Draft Hagel Movement

This message brought to you by the Draft Hagel 08 Movement:
What is the purpose of a draft movement?

To create a buzz, a groundswell of support, to influence a decision. We do not care which party the candidate desires to represent, only that he/she is the right person for the job. This is what we need to do. We cannot wait for a decision, and then jump into action. We need to be in action to influence a decision.

At this point in time, Senator Hagel is focused on his job as a US Senator, as he should be. While he thinks about a decision to run, it is the job of Draft Hagel 08 movement supporters to show him that the energy is out there to ensure that a decision to enter the Presidential race has the potential to be successful.

Looking at the direction and future of our country, it is hard to imagine that doing so could ever be considered a waste. Start a local group in your area. Have some type of political experience, or want to gain some? Contact us to be a regional or state coordinator. Whatever your commitment to the movement can be, make it vocal and let's go! At no other point in this country's history has it mattered more!

The Draft Hagel 08 Team

Today's WaPo article on Hagel

Today's Washington Post has an interesting article on Hagel: "Hagel as Hamlet -- or the Third Man?" by Dana Milbank. It's worth a read.
If Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel shows any more leg about an independent presidential candidacy, he risks a citation for indecent exposure.
I have to say, that's a catchy opening line. The author's analysis is that Hagel is leaning towards an independent bid for the White House.
Whatever his true intentions, his words yesterday pointed unmistakably toward an independent presidential run: too concerned to retire ("everywhere you look, we have huge problems"), too independent to remain Republican ("neither party is seen as an answer") and too disgusted with Congress ("this nonsense that we're consumed with here") to seek reelection next year.
We'll see what happens. Chuck Hagel has sought to lead the Republican party back to its roots, but that doesn't seem to be catching on right now.
The Senate was in need of some adult behavior -- and Hagel provided it in his lunchtime speech, where 100 people heard him speak for 40 minutes without notes. The early start to the presidential campaign "has paralyzed, locked down our ability to govern," he complained. "We must find some bipartisan consensus on Iraq and on the future, our security, and we can't wait for two years, a year and a half, for the next president to take office."

"Hagel Calls for Resignation of Attorney General Gonzales"

Chuck Hagel's Senate office released this statement yesterday:
Hagel Calls for Resignation of Attorney General Gonzales

May 16th, 2007 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today released the following statement calling for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that, as White House Counsel, Gonzales attempted to undermine Comey’s authority as the acting Attorney General and persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft to re-authorize a domestic surveillance program from his hospital bed.

“The American people deserve an Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of our country, whose honesty and capability are beyond question. Attorney General Gonzales can no longer meet this standard. He has failed this country. He has lost the moral authority to lead. Comey’s testimony yesterday brings to light the latest episode in a series of questionable actions by Attorney General Gonzales. It is another part of a pattern of flawed decision making by the Attorney General.

“America is a nation of laws. In the interest of the American people, Alberto Gonzales should resign now,” said Hagel.

"Lieberman, Hagel Call for Increase in Skilled Workers to Boost U.S. Economy"

Here's a press release issued Tuesday from the Senator's office:
Lieberman, Hagel Call for Increase in Skilled Workers to Boost U.S. Economy
Senators introduce the Skilled Worker Immigration and Fairness Act of 2007

May 15th, 2007 - Washington, D.C. - Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today introduced the Skilled Worker Immigration and Fairness Act of 2007 to ensure that America’s innovative industries can hire the workers they need to fuel US economic growth, and to better protect American workers. The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and George Voinovich (R-OH).

The bill would increase the annual allotment of H-1B visas, which provide American employers with access to highly educated foreign professionals in “specialty occupations” (those requiring at least a U.S. bachelor's degree or equivalent education and work experience). Despite dramatic changes to the US economy in the past 17 years, the H-1B cap remains at its 1990 limit of 65,000 per year (an additional 20,000 visas are available for foreign nationals holding US graduate degrees). As a result, thousands of U.S. high-tech jobs today remain unfilled.

“To remain competitive, American companies need access to highly educated individuals,” Lieberman said. “But today’s system makes it difficult for innovative employers to recruit and retain highly educated talent, which puts the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage globally. As part of comprehensive immigration reform, we must address this crisis to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation. At the same time, we must strengthen the H-1B program to ensure that American workers are protected.”

“The severe shortage of H-1B visas is a nation-wide problem, and Nebraska is directly affected. The demand in underserved communities throughout Nebraska for these highly qualified individuals, such as doctors and nurses in rural areas, far out number the supply. This legislation is important to helping keep America competitive in the 21st Century workplace,” Hagel said.

“Keeping America’s economy strong depends on having enough skilled workers,” said Cantwell. “That means making sure education and training opportunities are affordable and accessible, but it also means getting help from the world’s best and brightest when there are skill shortages. With so many high-tech companies in the Pacific Northwest, we need an H-1B visa process that meets employer demands as well as prevents fraud and abuse. This proposal strikes a balance on the H-1B visa program, which is key to investing in our future and keeping America competitive.”

The Lieberman-Hagel bill would increase the cap to 115,000 in 2007 and would add a flexible adjustment mechanism that would enable to cap to rise as high as 180,000, depending on market conditions (this ceiling would still be less than the 195,000 limit in 2001-2003). Additionally, the bill would exempt from the cap foreign nationals who hold a US graduate degree; a non-US graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or math; or a US medical specialty certification.

Currently, foreign nationals count for 56% of all engineering master's degrees and 65% of engineering Ph.D. degrees awarded by Connecticut universities. In Nebraska, the percentages are 37% and 72%, respectively.

In raising the H-1B cap, the bill would also create meaningful and reasonable reforms to prevent visa fraud and abuse. The bill includes provisions that would:

• Prohibit employers from advertising jobs as exclusively open to H-1B visa holders.

• Provide that employers with 50 employees cannot have more than half of their workforce on H-1B visas.

• Remove unnecessary restrictions on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to investigate H-1B compliance.

• Authorize DOL to hire an additional 200 employees to administer, oversee, investigate and enforce the H-1B program.

• Raise the H-1B petition fee by $500, to pay for enhanced enforcement and ensure the program pays for itself.

• Authorize reasonable improvements to coordination among DOL, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS).

The bill also allows the most highly qualified green card applicants to immigrate without being subject to artificial caps. Immediate families of employment based immigrants will no longer count against the worker caps.

The Lieberman-Hagel bill enjoys support from a wide-range of businesses technology groups, including Microsoft Corporation and Compete America, a coalition of corporations, educators, research institutions and trade associations committed to assuring that US employers have the ability to hire and retain the world’s best talent.

“The nation continues to witness a dramatic decline in the number of native born computer science graduates,” said Jack Krumholtz, Managing Director of Federal Government Affairs for Microsoft Corp. “As a result, technology companies like Microsoft rely on the H-1B visa and employment-based green card programs to deliver an adequate supply of highly qualified employees to help maintain our competitive position. That can only be achieved through immediate reform of these programs to ensure they are meeting the needs of our economy. We commend Senators Lieberman, Hagel, Cantwell and Voinovich for their leadership in addressing this critical problem, and urge the Senate to adopt these measures and pass expeditiously comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

“The Skilled Worker Immigration and Fairness Act would provide crucial reforms to the H-1B visa and EB green card processes that U.S. companies urgently need,” stated Robert Hoffman, Vice President for Government and Public Affairs at Oracle and Co-Chair of Compete America. “Senators Lieberman and Hagel should be commended for taking a leading role on an issue that is so important to America’s continued innovation leadership and economic strength.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Senator Hagel Receives Patriot Award from Boy Scouts of America"

Chuck Hagel has been given an award by the Boy Scouts of America. Here's the news from Southwest Nebraska News:
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has received the Patriot “Good Scout” Award for 2007 from the Boys Scouts of America. The award is presented each year to one senator or congressman who displays patriotism and an allegiance to the scouting spirit.

“It is an honor to receive this award from an organization that has helped shape the character and patriotism of generations of young men. The lessons I learned in scouting have served me well throughout my life. The dedication of the Boy Scouts to patriotism and hard work honors the best of America,” Hagel said.

Hagel was both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout growing up in Nebraska. Hagel was also the 2001 recipient of the Patriot “Good Scout” Award.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Independent Bid?

Since Chuck Hagel's appearance on Face the Nation Sunday there has been a great deal of discussion of whether or not he should run as an Independent or as a Republican.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Please share them in the comments.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hagel on Face the Nation

Chuck Hagel was on Face the Nation yesterday morning, and you can read about it or watch it from the CBS News website. Check out the video.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Video of Hagel - Asia Soceity

This is from the Asia Society, May 5th 2007

Thanks to Alex for pointing out the video.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Press Release: "Hagel Introduces Veterans and Survivors Employment and Training Act"

Here is a press release issued last week from the Senate office of Chuck Hagel:
Hagel Introduces Veterans and Survivors Employment and Training Act

May 3rd, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Jack Reed (D-RI) today introduced the “Veterans and Survivors Employment and Training Act of 2007.” This legislation would make school more affordable to veterans, survivors, and dependents pursuing an education in high tech fields. The bill would expand the education programs that are eligible for accelerated payments under the Montgomery GI Bill, and provide the benefit to recipients of the Survivors’ and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (SDEAP).

“America’s service men and women make tremendous sacrifices in service to our country. As policymakers, we have an obligation to ensure they have the resources they need to pursue their education. This legislation will make it easier for veterans, and the families of veterans killed or permanently disabled in service to our country, to afford higher education and expand the much needed high tech workforce in our country,” Hagel said.

Under current law, individuals eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill qualify for accelerated payments of their education benefit if they are pursuing two or four year programs in life or physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, science technology, computer specialties and management. The accelerated payment option is currently not available to individuals eligible under SDEAP.

This bill would provide 60% of the benefit for each semester in a single lump sum at the beginning of that eligible semester for veterans, survivors, and dependents pursuing an education in approved fields. Further, this bill would:

· Expand the programs eligible for accelerated payments; and,

· Extend the same eligibility for the accelerated payments to recipients of SDEAP as recipients of the GI bill.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Monday's Novak Article

Robert Novak had a piece out yesterday, "Hagel's Stand." It is well worth the read. Here are some excerpts:

Hagel certainly is no peace-now zealot. "We're not going to precipitously pull out," he told me. "We have [national] interests in Iraq." While he asserted that "we can't get out by the end of the year," he called for "pulling some of our guys out -- not all of them, but you've got to get them out of [Baghdad] at least, get them out of the middle of civil war." If not, Hagel said, "then the prospects of the Republican Party are very dim next year."

What about claims by proponents of the Iraqi intervention that failure to stop the terrorists in Iraq will open the door to them in the American homeland?

"That's nonsense," Hagel replied. "I've never believed that. That's the same kind of rhetoric and thinking that neocons used to get us into this mess and everything that [Donald] Rumsfeld, [Paul] Wolfowitz, [Richard] Perle, [Douglas] Feith and the vice president all said. Nothing turned out the way they said it would."

It is "nonsense," Hagel said, because "Iraq is not embroiled in a terrorist war today." Hagel, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cited "national intelligence" attributing "maybe 10 percent" of the insurgency and violence to al-Qaeda. Indeed, he described Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as opposed to al-Qaeda: "They don't like the terrorists. What's happened in Anbar province is the tribes are finally starting to connect with us because al-Qaeda started killing some of their leadership and threatening their people. So the tribes now are at war with al-Qaeda."


These judgments come from someone credited with rebuilding Nebraska's Republican Party and who has earned a lifetime conservative voting rating of 85.2 percent from the American Conservative Union. Hagel represents millions of Republicans who are repelled by the Democrats' personal assault on President Bush but are deeply unhappy about his course in Iraq.