Tags: Term | Limits | 'Nuclear | Option | ' | 'Millions | More

Term Limits, 'Nuclear Option,' 'Millions More,' Leaking Secrets

Tuesday, 10 May 2005 12:00 AM

The jackals who are nipping at Tony Blair's heels for his support of the Iraq war would have us believe that Blair's recent electoral victory, albeit with a smaller majority, was a personal defeat. Ridiculous.

Winning by one vote in a hotly contested election is a victory nonetheless. With a Labour majority of 66 seats, Blair still reigns in the House of Commons.

Many in the American media described President Bush's re-election victory last year as a loss or a close call when, in fact, it was substantial. With increases in Republican seats in both houses of Congress and an increase in his popular vote, as well as greater support among blacks, Hispanics, Jews and women, Bush showed great strength at the polls.

To those who opposed me in any of my four races for mayor, let me immodestly remind them of the election results. In 1977, in a four-way race for mayor, I received 50 percent of the vote. In 1981, with the endorsement of both the Democratic and Republican parties, I got 75 percent and, in 1985, I received 78 percent. I ran for an unprecedented fourth term and got 42 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, before being defeated by David Dinkins.

In 1993, when Dinkins and Giuliani were again running against one another, and many people urged me to run again, I responded with "No, the people threw me out, and now the people must be punished."

My advice to all politicians is be sure that you leave office before people get tired of you. I think three terms – 12 years – for any office should be enough. The 12-year limitation should apply to the Congress and the New York Legislature as well. That limitation will have to be self-imposed by individual incumbents, since term limits have not been enacted.

When the so-called "nuclear option" for ending judicial filibusters in the U.S. Senate is presented for a vote, I hope it passes. Although I believe in debate and, where requested by the opposition, extended debate, we are entitled to an ultimate vote, allowing a majority to work its will.

The filibuster was used by Republicans to prevent parts of Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, intended to save the country economically, and it was used by Southern Democrats to prevent civil rights legislation from being voted on, such as a federal anti-lynching law and voting rights act for blacks.

Today, it is liberal Democrats who are the primary defenders of the filibuster and are seeking to use it – in an apparently unprecedented way – to stop votes on the appointment of federal judges. Chuck Schumer, senator from New York, is leading the pack of senators opposing the elimination of the filibuster.

The proposal to protect extended debate for presidential nominees of federal judges, with a reduced number of votes needed as the debate progresses and dropping with the passage of time until only 51 are required – as opposed to the current rule of 60 votes to invoke cloture – makes sense to me.

The philosophy of the elected president, whether Democrat or Republican, should prevail, if his own party can produce a majority.

Why is it that Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other respected black leaders believe it is acceptable to include anti-Semitic, anti-white speakers such as Reverend Louis Farrakhan and the leader of the New Black Panther Party, Malek Shabazz, in events such as the Millions More Movement, a march scheduled for next October in Washington, D.C.?

The New York Sun reported that Shabazz's "organization has been described as a ‘violently anti-Semitic' hate group by a legal watchdog project, the Southern Poverty Law Center." Yet those same black leaders would rightfully be indignant and outraged were white leaders to include in their political programs racist whites such as David Duke. To allow different standards in behavior based on race is unacceptable and patronizing.

Columnist Robert Novak blew the cover of a CIA agent, after allegedly receiving the information from White House operatives in violation of the law. An investigation was opened, which is still on-going, to determine the names of the government officials who leaked that information.

The government has subpoenaed two reporters who may know the names of the leakers and are threatening the reporters with contempt and jail if they decline to provide the information. That case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide the extent of a reporter's right to keep sources confidential.

This past week, The New York Times published the conclusions of a secret report prepared by the Pentagon on the readiness of the military to defend the country, given the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Times article reports, "The concentration of American troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan limits the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, the military's highest ranking officer reported to Congress on Monday. The officer, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress in a classified report that major combat operations elsewhere in the world, should they be necessary, would probably be more protracted and produce higher American and foreign civilian casualties because of the commitment of Pentagon resources in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The Times also reported, "A half dozen Pentagon civilian and military officials were discussing the outlines of the report on Monday as it was being officially delivered to Congress; one government official provided a copy to The New York Times. The officials who discussed the assessment demanded anonymity because it is a classified document."

The release of this classified document to those not lawfully cleared to see it is at least as dangerous to public safety as the release of the CIA agent's name in the earlier matter. The Times, in referring to how it received the document, is throwing down a gauntlet. Will the government meet that challenge? If Pentagon officials can violate with impunity their obligations to safeguard such highly classified information, when and where will it end?


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The jackals who are nipping at Tony Blair's heels for his support of the Iraq war would have us believe that Blair's recent electoral victory, albeit with a smaller majority, was a personal defeat.Ridiculous. Winning by one vote in a hotly contested election is a victory...
Tuesday, 10 May 2005 12:00 AM
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