To say the least, there were a few red faces in the U.S. Senate following news that 93 Senators had voted for a defense authorization bill that included a repeal of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which bans soldiers from engaging in either sodomy or bestiality. At least two GOP lawmakers admitted they were not aware of the existence of the provision in the bill they voted to approve.

 

Now that memoirs by the late Bob Novak, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and former President George Bush have all been published, we now know much more about the Valerie Plame case than we did before these individuals put what happened to paper. (Plame, if you'll remember, was a CIA agent whose identity was leaked to the press during a newsman's investigation into George W. Bush's explanation for going to war against Iraq.) Yet, the one book that still needs to be written is a memoir by Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the VP’s assistant, the only individual indicted by the Special Prosecutor looking into the leak and found guilty in this highly controversial case.

 

Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator and son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, single-handedly thwarted an amendment proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) drafted to advance Georgia’s application for NATO membership.

In recent months, Paul, the constitutionalist, libertarian-leaning Senator has underscored his Republican credentials, sponsoring a range of GOP-led legislation, including a jobs bill with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a bill that would prioritize smaller harbors for dredging work with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and with his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a bill that would repeal net neutrality.

But last week, Paul’s amicable collaboration with his Republican colleagues came to a halt, as he sparred with Sen. Rubio, a fellow Tea Party favorite, over a foreign policy proposal critics say could have dealt a terminal blow to U.S.-Russian relations. In a bipartisan effort, the amendment "called for the President to lead a diplomatic effort to get approval of Georgia’s Membership Action Plan during the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago," said a Rubio spokesman.

Most shifts in history do not come with easy-to-remember dates associated with them. I could not tell you exactly when the U.S. war with Mexico began, though that war gave flesh and blood and considerable real estate to the U.S. claim that our "Manifest Destiny" was to push on through our western frontier “from sea to shining sea” and eventually become a power in the Pacific, where we would come into conflict with imperial Japan at a place called Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Following the Pakistani government’s recent decision to shut down NATO supply lines into Afghanistan indefinitely, Russian officials upped the ante by subtly threatening to close off northern routes for the occupation if the U.S.-led military alliance refuses to back down on a proposed missile defense system in Europe. According to analysts, such a move by Russia at this point would either spark a new war or force a rapid withdrawal of supply-starved Western forces from the region.

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin was widely quoted last week as saying that if the military alliance refuses to offer a serious response to the Kremlin’s demands, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas." And the Russian government’s cooperation in the NATO occupation of Afghanistan could be one of those areas, he warned.

Supply routes through Pakistan for the Afghan war effort — which delivered about half of the alliance’s supplies — were completely sealed off late last month. The border closures came after NATO forces killed more than two dozen Pakistani military officers and soldiers in an attack inside Pakistan’s borders.

Two months after receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military bravery, former Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer finds himself in an intense battle with a potentially far more pernicious foe than the Afghan Taliban: a global defense and security contractor with ties to the U.S. military.

In late November Meyer filed a lawsuit against his former employer, the U.K.-based defense contractor BAE Systems, for what he charges is retaliation against him after he criticized the company’s pending sale of high-tech sniper scopes to the Pakistani military. According to the suit, after Meyer resigned from BAE in protest over the sale, the company effectively blocked his hiring by another company by claiming he had a drinking problem and was mentally unstable.

 

Egyptian voters delivered a powerful victory to Islamists and the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the first round of parliamentary elections, with hard-line Islamic parties winning around 65 percent of the vote. The news sparked widespread fears among Christians and others that Egypt could be plunged into tyranny once again while jeopardizing the security of neighboring Israel.

Official election results released on Sunday showed the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) garnering a sizeable lead with almost 37 percent of the vote. The more radical Salafi Muslim party Al Nour did far better than expected with close to 25 percent of the 10 million votes cast in the first of three rounds of elections.

The most significant secular party, the Egyptian Bloc, won less than 14 percent and came in third overall. But smaller moderate Islamic and secular parties performed poorly.

Questions are growing about what the new Egyptian government might look like after the first real elections in decades. It remains unclear whether the Brotherhood’s FJP will ally itself with the even more radical Islamist parties or form a coalition with liberal groups.
 

In the midst of allegations of police brutality and police aggression at the OWS protests, the U.S. Senate approved a bill that is said to “explicitly create a police state”: the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA, passed by a vote of 93 to 7, virtually stated that all of the United States may be considered a battlefield, and therefore the American military is permitted to indefinitely detain any American perceived to be a threat.

Several amendments were proposed by both Democrats and Republican Senators, which would have deleted the dangerous provisions that would allow the indefinite detention of American citizens. While most of those amendments were overwhelming voted down, a single compromise amendment was passed that was intended to quell fears that American citizens may be imprisoned indefinitely, though skeptics remain uncomfortable with the final outcome.

 

An interim Prime Minister with a socialist background was selected on November 27 after U.S.-backed Yemeni “President” Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down last week. But after months of chaos and turmoil by competing factions rocked the Arabian nation, violence has still not subsided.

Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters — socialists, Islamists, students, democracy advocates, and more — poured into the streets again in recent days, too. The demonstrators have refused to back down despite Saleh’s apparent departure from power.

At the top of the list of grievances: They want the tyrant and his minions to be prosecuted for corruption and the deadly crackdowns on protesters. At present, Saleh is supposed to leave power in peace — along with his assets plundered from the nation. Many of the people still demonstrating also believe the emerging "new" regime is too similar to the old U.S.-backed dictatorship.

Deadly fighting intensified over the weekend, just days after dictator Saleh signed a United Nations-backed deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreeing to completely hand over power in the coming weeks. The deal allows Saleh to officially resign once his “vice-president,” who has apparently taken charge, swears in a new government and passes legislation granting the despot and his cohorts immunity.
 

Republicans are amazing. It's possible they could lose the 2012 presidential election before 2011 is over. Really, they ought to rename that big river in Egypt (You know, “Duh Nile”) the Republican River. If you want to see an entire party in denial, with a few honorable and intelligent exceptions, look at virtually every Republican presidential hopeful but Ron Paul, the premier honorable and intelligent exception.

The others will talk about balancing the budget — though they believe the SuperCommittee should get that job done for them before any of them gets to the White House — but none, with the exception of Ron Paul, is in favor of cutting the military spending, euphemistically called the “defense budget.” Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made that emphatically clear when I spoke with him in New Hampshire on Sunday. The same Rick Santorum has on op ed piece in today's New Hampshire Union Leader calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

No cuts for our worldwide military empire and no tax increases, praise God, but do pass an amendment that will tell us we must balance the budget.

What a wonderful opportunity for the Democrats to tell the country that these allegedly pro-life Republicans really love bombs more than babies — more than old folks, too, whose votes will be up for grabs in 2012.

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