Blue State Red State

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Rumsfeld Slammed Thrice

First it wasChuck Hagel (via Daily Kos:

"This defense secretary went to war without enough troops. He's dismissed outside advice, he's dismissed inside advice, and he's dismissed the advice of men and women who have been in the military 25 years."

Then it was John McCain (via Bull Moose):

"U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has 'no confidence' in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops."

Now it's retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (via Political Animal):

"I was very, very disappointed — no, let me put it stronger — I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense when he laid it all on the Army, as if he, as the secretary of defense, didn’t have anything to do with the Army and the Army was over there doing it themselves, screwing up."

Good job, Mr. Secretary.

Pennsylvania First? (And Other Notes On Primary Reform)

The primary election calendar, along with election reform in general, has received a lot of attention lately from reform-minded Democrats, especially those at Daily Kos and other websites. Now Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is looking into (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; via Daily Kos) the possibility of making his state's Presidential primary come earlier in the cycle. Excerpt:

"Gov. Ed Rendell thinks a populous state like Pennsylvania should be more of a player when it comes to picking the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates every four years.

"So he's assembling a 13-member elections task force to study whether to move the 2008 Pennsylvania primary election up to late January or early February -- much sooner than the traditional primary in late April or mid-May."

The way we choose our candidates for President really makes little sense. Neither Iowa nor New Hampshire has much analogous relation to the nation as a whole, yet they're basically entrusted with deciding national candidates. There's no easy solution, but one thing is clear: Iowa and New Hampshire's "first in the nation" status must be taken away.

Two of the most popular plans for overhauling the primary season seem to be:

  • The Regional Rotating Primary Plan (proposed by the National Assocation of Secretaries of State), which would have four regional groups of states vote in four different months, with the order of the regions rotating every four years.

  • The California Plan which would group random states together according to number of congressional districts into ten two-week intervals, the group with the least number of districts would vote first and the group with the most would vote last.

Either plan seems vastly superior to the current arrangement.

Tenet Gets A Medal

Why did President Bush present former CIA director George Tenet with a Presdiential Medal Of Freedom? According to Kevin Drum:

"The answer is obvious, isn't it? To keep him quiet. He's really a guy you'd rather have inside the tent than outside."

Don't Nuke The Filibuster

The confrontation over filibusters continues (Washington Post). Excerpts:

"'If [Republicans], for whatever reason, decide to [use the 'nuclear option' to thwart filibusters], it's not only wrong, they will rue the day they did it, because we will do whatever we can do to strike back,' incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said last week. 'I know procedures around here. And I know that there will still be Senate business conducted. But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up.'"

"Use of the nuclear option 'would make the Senate look like a banana republic . . . and cause us to try to shut it down in every way,' [NY Senator Chuck] Schumer said."

Spitzer: Reform Candidate

Here are some additional remarks made by Eliot Spitzer last week after announcing his candidacy for Governor of NYS:

"When I first decided to run for Attorney General, it was because I knew the potential of the office. I suspected that there was more that could be done for the people of this state through the office, that it could be a source of creativity and fairness and opportunity.

"At the time, a mentor, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, gave me simple advice: 'Surround yourself with good people. Follow the facts wherever they lead. Pursue justice without fear or favor. And the rest will take care of itself.'"

Every politician today is talking about reform, and it's very important. But reform isn't just about conference committees and consensus forecasts, it's about a government that recognizes and facilitates the strengths of the state and its people. But we're not doing that right now. Instead, it's business as usual in Albany with excessive partisanship and gridlock, with disengaged and distracted leadership. That must change."

"Two pillars, two themes, must run through our reconstruction of state government. Just as we sought accountability and responsibility in the private sector, so too we must demand it in government. Just as we sought to ensure access to opportunity in the past, so too we must do what we can to ensure access to opportunity once again. For too long, our state government has operated without either, and that must change.

"How do we do this? Well, a great New Yorker from another century, Alexander Hamilton, once said: 'Energy in the executive branch is the leading character in the definition of good government.'

"He's right. We sorely need to re-energize state government, make it smarter, more efficient, responsive, accountable and ethical. And I'm confident I'm up to that task. Anyone looking back over the last six years will see a record of steadfast determination to get things done, combined with real innovation. We've tackled complex structural problems head on and forged sweeping reforms. My pledge now is to fix what's broken in Albany, and I won't quit until the job is done."

A Consensus For Reform

Over the weekend, Ed Kilgore suggested that the Clintonian New Democrats and the Dean-supporting progressives need to realize that, at heart, they're both in favor of the same thing: Reform. Now, he argues, it is important for the two groups to jointly take on the GOP. Excerpt (emphasis added):

"There is, praise Jehovah, a growing consensus among Democrats that we have to become a 'reform' party in order to properly critique the ever-growing pig-sty in Washington that the GOP is wallowing in, and also in order to build trust with an electorate that still views the Democratic Party as representing government to voters rather than the other way around."

"A common acceptance of the imperative of being a reform party is a good start. And we ought to be able to agree on a few basic reform agenda items. The DLC has suggested election reform, political reform, budget reform, and tax reform as a start, and there's no particular reason I can think of that any Democrat, regardless of ideological background, should object to that agenda."

Perhaps the DLC would prefer to leave the question of lumping Dean and MoveOn "types" together for another time?

No Real Surprise From Kerik

The fact that Bernard Kerik's nomination for Secretary of Homeland Security fell apart is really no surprise. After all, he's always been a "colorful" character, to put it euphemistcally. This whole nanny story is a ridiculously ineffective cover for a personal and professional history that's meandered in and out of obviously shady territory over the years. Still, with the Bush Administration, it's hard to expect anyone much more qualified to now be nominated and at least Kerik was someone who, in theory at least, would have understood the necessity of protecting metropolitan areas. Of course, it is disheartening to discover that he never filled out a FBI questionnaire that would have allowed him, as NYC Police Commissioner, to receive "the most sensitive intelligence about the sources of the data" (NY Times) included in "classified information from the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. regarding security issues in New York."