William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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TOUGH STUFF COMING – AT 9:38 A.M. ET:  "Sequestration" is coming.  That's the process wherein automatic cuts in the federal budget, aimed mostly at the Pentagon, will go into effect unless Congress enacts a new budgetary plan.  The effect on national security could be catastrophic.  From the Washington Guardian:

The Navy's top officer has devised a stark plan to impose $4 billion in spending cuts threatened by the debt reduction process known as sequestration, warning that Middle East surveillance flights would be cut in half, ballistic missile patrols substantially reduced and civilian employees furloughed for up to 22 days, the Washington Guardian has learned.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of Naval Operations, issued the eight-page memo in response to a Pentagon request that all military services prepare plans to deal with the growing possibilities that the military would be funded by Congress at levels below their 2013 budget requests and then face massive budget cuts under sequestration as early as March 1.

Hoping to pressure Congress to avoid such a scenario, Pentagon officials warn the sequestration cuts would leave the military services with a hollow fighting force unable to carry out its current mission.

Sequestration would "diminish our readiness, and damage America's leading security role in the world," Pentagon press secretary George Little told the Washington Guardian. Added Lt. Cmdr Chris Servello, spokesman for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will "make us less able to do what our nation requires of us and we will be less ready to respond to the unpredictability in the Middle East or for that matter, globally."

COMMENT:  The sad fact is that most Americans, and most members of the Washington media, just don't care.  The sense of urgency that existed after 9-11-2001 has faded away.  The governing Democratic Party is run by a faction that is actually suspicious of national defense. 

And we face dramatically escalating foreign challenges in the coming months.  Just as sequestration comes into effect, unless stopped, we will face potentially wrenching decisions involving Iran.  Not a time to show weakness, unless weakness is what some people want.

February 4, 2013