Clinton's State Department

The New York Times is reporting that Senator Clinton if confirmed as the nation's 67th Secretary of State will seek "to build a more powerful State Department, with a bigger budget, high-profile special envoys to trouble spots and an expanded role in dealing with global economic issues at a time of crisis." A more robust State Department is certainly a welcomed change and the idea of special envoys is also a good one because it engages dialogue above normal channels but it is concerning that Clinton's State Department may be expanding into a domain traditionally held by the US Treasury Secretary. To a degree, some clarification of the role Mrs. Clinton is hoping to carve out is required.

Mrs. Clinton's push for a more vigorous economic team, one of her advisers said, stems from her conviction that the State Department needs to play a part in the recovery from the global financial crisis. Economic issues also underpin some of the most important diplomatic relationships, notably with China.

In recent years, the Treasury Department, led by Henry M. Paulson Jr., has dominated policy toward China. Mr. Paulson leads a "strategic economic dialogue" with China that involves several agencies. It is not yet clear who will pick up that role in the Obama administration, although Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is frequently mentioned as a possibility.

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Media Matters Gets Help from Clinton, Carville

Media Matters is one of the most important cogs in the progressive movement today, one without which progressives and Democrats would not likely have had the successes they have had in recent years. The pushback against misinformation, whether from conservatives or from lazy or ill-informed reporters, has done a great deal to ensure that all sides are heard in the public discourse, not just the most shrill on the right. It's for that reason that it's so good to see the organization receiving some big institutional support.

Democratic strategist James Carville, using Secretary of State nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mail list, sent out an e-mail Friday trying to recruit supporters and donations for Media Matters for America, the liberal media watchdog group.

With the subject line "It's happening again," Carville compares the scandal of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and his relationship to President-elect Obama to the scandals that followed the Clintons into office and proved a distraction througout both of President Clinton's terms.

Carville wrote that the Clintons "hadn't even unpacked their boxes before the right-wing noise machine started hyping phony scandals and inventing gossip."

"Too many in the media played a key role in spreading these smears, forgetting their responsibility as journalists and repeating fiction as fact," Carville wrote. "Now it's happening again. The same far-right fanatics and those in the media who disseminate their attacks far and wide are trying to derail the new Democratic administration before it's even gotten off the ground. They spread gossip and suggest scandal where there is none, all in the interest of generating controversy instead of communicating the facts."

Hillary Clinton has been a supporter of Media Matters from some time, and went so far as to tout her support for the organization while trying to court the netroots at the 2007 Yearly Kos convention. Using her immense email list to raise money for Media Matters -- in a way, I might add, that she might not be able to in the future as Secretary of State -- is an important continuation of this support, and will help sustain the organization so that it can help protect both the incoming Obama administration as well as the Democratic Congress from the type of multimillion dollar disinformation effort we are likely to see in the coming months and years.

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You'd think they'd give up going after the Clintons already

Every time they insist the Clintons release financial records, over and above what they expect anyone else to release - - complete tax returns, charitable donations, foundation records, etc. - - all they prove is that the Clintons are amazingly successful, and have done nothing wrong. ny-usclin195970481dec19,0,2622682.story

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NY-Sen: Caroline's "Listening Tour" Not Going So Well

I seem to recall Hillary's listening tour back in 2000 going a lot more smoothly than this.

In her first visit to Buffalo and upstate since trying to clear the field by clearing her throat on a phone call to the governor, Kennedy went on a “listening tour” by listening first to political insiders in private meetings.

You can’t get any more “seasoned” than that.

No average Western New Yorkers expressing kitchen table concerns. Not much of a give-and-take with pesky reporters asking questions that working stiffs might want answers to. Instead, it’s mostly private sit-downs with political pooh-bahs, just like a veteran insider.

It’s that kind of seasoning that has cooked our goose as a region. [...]

If she really wants to know upstate, she could adapt the model of the senator she wants to work with and the one she wants to replace. Both Chuck Schumer and Clinton made a point of visiting every county in the state. Kennedy could make a point of visiting every one of the 939 cities, counties, towns, villages, school districts and other assorted taxing entities in Erie County.

The Buffalo News is not alone in the resistance they're expressing to the idea of a legacy appointment. Hillary made a credible case that she deserved her seat on her own merits, not to mention the fact that at least people had a sense of what Hillary Clinton had done. Caroline doesn't really have the opportunity to do that since this is an appointment but I guess it's admirable that she's trying, although, not well.

But is it all for naught? Has Patterson made up his mind to appoint someone else entirely? Charlie Rangel seems to think so, and apparently it's a dude.

AFAEL PI ROMAN: Lastly, I know you talked to Governor Patterson about the replacement for Senator Clinton, I was wondering if you have any favorites among the candidates that are being discussed?

CONGESSMAN RANGEL: Well the governor has already made up his mind and he shared it with me, and I support that he's going to select the best possible candidate that he can.

RAFAEL PI ROMAN: When are we going to find that out?

CONGESSMAN RANGEL: When he selects him.

Update [2008-12-18 18:19:41 by Todd Beeton]:On second thought, she did get the coveted Sharpton endorsement:

After speaking to Kennedy, Sharpton released a statement saying he disagreed with those who say she isn't qualified to be U.S. senator.

He said he had invited her to dine wtih him at Sylvia's this week, reminding her that he took Obama there during his campaign "so it's a good luck stop since he did all right."

Yep, there she is listening to the every day average folks...

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To renew or not renew -- there should be no question

After years of abuse and waste, and over two years after a brutal shooting in which 17 Iraqis were killed, the State Department has finally decided to cut Blackwater off. An advisory panel, convened by Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, recommended that Blackwater's multi-million dollar contract to protect U.S. officials in Iraq not be renewed.

Talk about too little, too late. Of course their contract should not be renewed. They've led the way in ruining our nation's reputation with their brutal and barbaric acts in Iraq, while simultaneously raking in over $320 million -- a contract which is paid for by the American people's tax dollars. We've essentially paid them to make the rest of the world hate us.

Of course, the State Department can only recommend that the contract not be renewed. The real decision lies in our new administration, specifically with soon-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Seems pretty simple, right? They've been bad kids, so take their toys away.

Not so fast.

The decision is not so easy for Hillary Clinton. Despite the fact that the advisory panel is releasing a report that makes recommendations on how to effectively replace Blackwater in Iraq, there are some who would rather maintain an unhealthy dependence on these contractors and will argue that there is no viable replacement.

Of course the most obvious answer to this problem is to get out of Iraq as quickly as is reasonable and safe -- if we're not there, we don't need protecting.

Our international reputation has taken a hit over the last eight years. Hillary Clinton can take a major leap toward restoring that reputation in her first days as Secretary of State by announcing that she will follow the recommendation of the panel and not renew Blackwater's contract in Iraq. Let her know that you want her to do just that here.

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