Friday, May 13, 2005

Fort Monmouth Recommended For Closure

Rather than try to get my head around every base closure recommendation just announced by the Department of Defense, let me just deal specifically with one base that isn't too far from where I live: Fort Monmouth. Unlike some other Democrats, I'm not going to slam the Bush administration and the Republican-run House and Senate for daring to streamline the military. It's something that needs to be done, but is never accomplished because of the political minefield it becomes. Mind you, I'm not saying that every base on the list should be closed. Some of them undoubtedly should be. And I'm in no position to say which should go and which should stay. However, there seems to be a pretty compelling case for keeping Fort Monmouth.

During Congressional hearings on the 9/11 Commission Report last year, Commissioner John F. Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, highlighted the importance of Fort Monmouth to Homeland Security. Central Jersey Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone issued Lehman's comments in a press release:

"Because one of the real lacks today is in the connectivity among the fireman, policeman, and first responders and between them and as it escalates up through the FEMA, through the National Guard which are going to be needed to respond in potential attacks in the future on up into the military," Republican Commissioner Lehman began.

"This is something where the Department of Defense has tremendous expertise, has procurement, has technology, has R&D. Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, the head of the Army Signal Corps is just outside of New York. So this is something that should be I think a Defense Department responsibility to provide that kind of support to the first responders in the high target high-risk cities like New York," Lehman concluded.
Fort Monmouth is home to the FEMA auxiliary command center that goes into action in the event a terrorist attack or national emergency threatens the FEMA center in New York. New Jersey also plans to locate a similar auxiliary command center at the fort.

Last April, Pallone and Holt met with state counter-terrorism officials on how Fort Monmouth's capabilities and technologies can assist New Jersey in the area of homeland security. Fort Monmouth is currently in the design phase of providing homeland security work for the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, the New York Metropolitan Authority and the National Guard Bureau. The agencies are looking to utilize the fort's state-of-the-art communications center and its ideal location to better coordinate homeland security efforts around the state and region.
It also should be mentioned that Fort Monmouth is the home of CECOM, Communications-Electronics Command, which was ideally situated to immediately transfer emergency equipment to New York and Washington on September 11. While I'm sure that closing Fort Monmouth would not mean an end to CECOM -- which will of course be relocated -- I cannot understand the justification for closing a base that is so vitally important to the defense of a region that has been targeted by every one of America's enemies throughout history. We're not talking about a relic of a base here, designed to defend against old enemies with obsolete weaponry. We're talking about a base on the cutting edge of military technology and research and defense, right in the heart of the vital Northeast.

I'm not claiming that the closing of Fort Monmouth is political, owing to the fact that New Jersey is solid blue territory. I've seen a lot of that and I'm not 100% sure I buy it. After all, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota is on the chopping block even though Republican Senator John Thune campaigned against Tom Daschle claiming that only he, as a Republican close to the President, could save the base from closure. I'm just saying that the closure of Fort Monmouth is in no one's best interest, and I'm be holding out hope that the ultimate decision makers in Washington come to the same conclusion.

posted by Scott | 5/13/2005 | |

Hillary Clinton's Not-So-Secret Admirer

Who woulda' thunk it? Hillary and Newt. Newt and Hillary. Ten years ago, if you predicted that they'd be all buddy-buddy, talking productively about reforming health care, you'd have been laughed out of the room. While I'm not expecting Newt to endorse Hillary in 2008 -- in fact, they very well could wind up running against each other -- he is doing a lot to bolster her reputation as a moderate.

"I know it's a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix," she said. "But the speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way we see the problem."

For his part, Mr. Gingrich, who helped lead the impeachment fight against President Bill Clinton, called Mrs. Clinton "very practical" and "very smart and very hard working," adding, "I have been very struck working with her."
Beyond the issue of health care, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gingrich have forged a relatively close relationship working on a panel the Pentagon created to come up with ways to improve the nation's military readiness, according to people close to them.

Mr. Gingrich says he has been struck by how pro-defense Mrs. Clinton has turned out to be at a time when other Democrats have criticized President Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq. He chalked that up to her experience in the White House, where her husband, as commander in chief, had to deal with grave national security matters.

"Unlike most members of the legislature, she has been in the White House," he said. "She's been consistently solid on the need to do the right thing on national defense."

It was, in fact, during one of the defense panel's meetings in Norfolk that Mr. Gingrich suggested to her that they join efforts to push legislation on an area of mutual concern: the need to spur greater online exchanges of medical information among patients, doctors, health insurers and other medical experts. That, in turn, led to the press conference that both attended this week.
If Hillary is going to make a run for the Democratic nomination in 2008, which many expect her to do, these quotes from Newt Gingrich are going to go a long way in helping her make the case that she's capable of reaching out to people at all ends of the political spectrum -- something I think voters will be quite hungry for by the time the Bush regime comes to a close. I just never thought I'd see the day when a positive quote from Newt was used in an ad for a Democratic candidate.

posted by Scott | 5/13/2005 | |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pat Buchanan: Crazy As Ever

Pat Buchanan has ignited considerable controversy over his column defending President Bush's comments that World War II was not necessarily worth the price we paid, since America didn't immediately pivot from fighting the Germans to going to war with the Soviets. Bush is clearly getting off the hook for this one because the American media just doesn't think he's smart enough to consider what he's actually saying. But Buchanan's a different story, with a long history of flirting with Holocaust denial and Nazi apology.

But more than just adding my voice to the outrage chorus, let me point out that Buchanan's column is more than vile and hateful. How anyone can question whether or not World War II was worth it without considering the countless lives saved by the liberation of the death camps is completely beyond me.

But the column is also incredibly stupid. I know, that probably goes without saying. But for all the criticism I've seen, none of it has addressed the fundamental wrongness of his conclusions.

If Hitler refused to stop after Czechoslovakia, why does Buchanan think he would have stopped at Poland? Buchanan also contends that Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia because the Sudetenland rightfully belonged with Germany, but he only invaded France because Britain had declared war on Germany. The obvious question here, which Buchanan of course does not address is how Alsace-Lorraine fits into all of this. Both the Sudetenland and Alsace and Lorraine were ethnically German. By his own logic, shouldn't Buchanan assume that Hitler would have invaded France for the exact same reason he invaded Czechoslovakia?

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the whole column is Buchanan's need to defend Hitler. "Where Hitler killed his millions, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and Castro murdered their tens of millions." What in the hell is the point of that? They were all bad, Pat.

"If [the intent of the West] was to keep Hitler out of Western Europe, why declare war on him and draw him into Western Europe?" What he's saying here is that Hitler didn't have designs on conquering all of Europe. This makes me wonder what Buchanan thinks Hitler was doing sending the Luftwaffe to Guernica in 1937. I also wonder why he thinks Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Buchanan can't possibly blame the invasion of the Baltics on Soviet provocation. So I guess Pat's trying to say that Hitler only needed a little Lebensraum -- not too much.


posted by Scott | 5/12/2005 | |

Democratic Governors More Popular In Red States

Well, I'll be damned.

According to SurveyUSA's most recent gubernatorial approval numbers, for all we hear about Democrats being so out of touch with 'mainstream Americans', Democratic governors are doing just fine in red states. For Republican governors, however, the reverse does not necessarily hold true. As you can see from the table above, there are 12 Democratic governors of states that voted for George W. Bush in 2004. By contrast, there are only 9 Republican governors of states that voted for John Kerry. While every one of the Democratic red state governors has an approval rating of 50% or higher, only 5 of the 9 Republican blue state governors can say the same.

What does this all mean? I'm not completely sure, but I have a few thoughts. For starters, I think it proves John Kerry's theory that he could win the White House even if he ignored the entire South and much of the Midwest and the Great Plains not only wrong, but somewhat stupid. The popularity of Democratic governors like Freudenthal and Schweitzer in Wyoming and Montana tells us that rugged prairie populism is still alive and well in the still somewhat wild West. And for all the things that are wrong with Kansas (and Oklahoma), Sebelius and Henry are having no trouble hanging in. As for West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, and Iowa, states that are not quite so traditionally red, it seems that Kerry's narrow focus on Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania was misguided. A fifty-state strategy would have been a much smarter, if more grueling, approach.

These numbers, coupled with the plummeting approval ratings for Congress, also indicate that Democrats could make up some long lost ground in next year's midterm elections. This should be especially true if each state's Democratic organization runs its operations as if it's an independent entity, allied with, but not run by the Democratic National Committee.

Whatever relevance this data holds for the last presidential race, the upcoming 2006 midterms, and the next presidential race in 2008, the most important lesson to be learned is that the Democratic Party name is still far from poisonous, no matter what the far-right noise machine says.

posted by Scott | 5/12/2005 | |
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