WASHINGTON, March 7, 2013 (11:00 am) — The sequester continues, with no official meetings on the budget cuts planned until next week. Although on the surface the inability of government to make any sort of compromise bodes poorly for the next four years, behind the scenes, there may be hope. It appears that both the Obama Administration and Congress have come to the realization that stalemate is no way to run the country, and four years is a long time to butt heads.
Yesterday, President Obama had lunch with Paul Ryan and Representative Chris Van Hollen in hopes of making headway on the budget deal. House Speaker John Boehner applauded the moves, noting the President is not “going around” him, but working to recreate positive ties with Republicans.
In Congress, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) is working with Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, to hammer out an agreement before the continuing resolution runs out on March 27.
Could it be that the government is finally starting to work together? Maybe, and while those are all positive signs, there are also indications of dissent. Obama remains set on his goal to increase the debt ceiling, and Boehner reiterated yesterday any increase of the debt ceiling must have matching spending cuts. The coordination, it seems, may be short lived.
After much discussion, debate and even a Rand Paul filibuster, the Senate approved John Brennan to head the CIA yesterday. Senators on both sides of the house have expressed unease about the drone program to some degree, but ultimately confirmed Brennan.
For the CIA, Brennan may be a positive, as he brings years of intelligence experience to the job. CIA insiders say they are looking forward to Brennan’s arrival, as much because they are unhappy with Michael J. Morell, as because of hopes Brennan will revitalize the Agency.
The negatives are that Brennan has become extremely political since leaving the CIA. That could be a positive for the Agency as well, as it might increase the Agency’s influence on the Administration. On the other hand, questions about that pesky drone program remain unanswered.
By the way, speaking as, the drone program is not an intelligence officer’s best friend. Hard to question terrorist suspects and glean intelligence from them after they’re dead.
The Conservative Political Action Committee meets in Washington next week, and DC is involved in a conservative love-fest as it prepares for the arrival of Republican bigwigs. Unfortunately, controversy is stalking the event. First, organizers failed to invite Governor Chris Christie, the most popular Republican governor, to the event.
Now the liberal media is pushing the idea that the American Conservative Union, which founded CPAC, is racist. Some of the CPAC speakers, it claims, are “white nationalists,” including Peter Brimelow. CPAC organizers note they did not invite the speakers, who are part of specific panels, and counter that they also did not bar gay rights groups from the event.
Controversy aside, CPAC is extremely important for the Republican Party every year, and this year, party loyalists are looking for hints on how the party plans to move forward from here. 2016 is just around the corner.
North Korea yesterday threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the United States, and earlier this week said it was cancelling the armistice treaty that ended the Korean War. The threat comes after a North Korean video showed several US cities in flames.
While North Korea likely lacks the technology to hit the United States with a warhead, and is famous for making such bellicose statements, it still doesn’t make Americans feel warm and fuzzy about President Kim Jung Un.
North Korea does have nuclear capability and broke international prohibitions by launching a nuclear test in February.
Despite high profile media coverage of Dennis Rodman’s trip to the closed country, North Korea is not an ally of the United States and continues to use brinksmanship to try to force concessions.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that Kim could attack a target in South Korea or disputed territories to show his military muscle and gain popularity points at home.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.