General Discontent

Senator Feinstein Joins Call for Rumsfeld to Resign

President George Bush sorely needs “a new team and a new strategy” to achieve his administration’s stated goal of creating a functioning government in Iraq, Senator Dianne Feinstein said, joining a chorus of retired U.S. Army generals who have called for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in recent weeks. Addressing several hundred Central Coast business leaders and government officials gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel, Feinstein said Rumsfeld’s most grievous error was “a misguided policy of de-Baathification, which went beyond those who committed criminal acts and essentially gutted the management and supervision” of the entire nation. “How long,” she asked rhetorically, “can [Iraq] go without a government?” If a unified government cannot be acheived, she said, the next option to consider is the partitioning of Iraq into three nations.

Feinstein said she favored a diplomatic approach to Iran’s development of enriched uranium, explaining that the trouble with preemptive military solutions was that the U.S. was “extraordinarily weak” in terms of intelligence gathering in the Middle East. Making matters worse, said Feinstein, preemptive attacks in the Middle East result in adversaries who believe they are safe from attack only if they possess nuclear weapons. Feinstein criticized the administration for contemplating the use of so-called “bunker busters,” 100-kiloton nuclear bombs that she said could not, according to the laws of physics, penetrate deep enough beneath rock to avoid spewing radiation that would kill hundreds of thousands of people. The U.S. must build international alliances and engage Iran diplomatically, according to Feinstein. “You have to talk to people,” she said. “You have to try.”

Feinstein, a moderate Democrat, is often mentioned by name when antiwar progressives talk about the failure of Democrats to distinguish themselves from Republicans. Feinstein said that long ago she decided to “govern from the center,” choosing the best from both progressive and conservative agendas. On Tuesday, though, she seemed to play up her leftward leanings, warming up the crowd by citing her more recent environmental accomplishments, including a recent expansion of Gaviota State Park, through the acquisition of coastal and river habitats in Ventura County. She pledged to resist attempts to open the ocean floor to more oil drilling. On the subject of global warming, Feinstein said evidence that humans are causing higher temperatures is “indisputable; it is real,” adding that she was finalizing a bill to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400 metric tons per year via a “cap-and-trade” policy at home and abroad, notably in India and China. She would offer economic incentives for farmers to change tilling practices to reduce greenhouse gases.

Mindful of the calendar, Feinstein also took on income taxes. Relying on charts to explain that roughly 60 percent of the money the federal government spends is not controllable because it’s spent on entitlements and interest on the federal debt, Feinstein said that the squeeze is then put on either defense spending or domestic programs. She called for taxing the rich, listing herself among them. “Millionaires are receiving an average annual tax cut of $103,000,” she said, “while funding is reduced for food stamps and budgets for police departments are cut.”

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