Monday, January 31, 2005

 

Get Ready for Gut Wrenching Diplomacy

Digby said go read this article, The Market Shall Set You Free, by Robert Wright. And so I did. This part jumped out at me:
In the wake of John Kerry's defeat, Democrats have been searching for a new foreign policy vision. But Mr. Clinton laid down as solid a template for post-9/11 policy as you could expect from a pre-9/11 president.

First, fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction, which means, among other things, making arms inspections innovatively intrusive, as in the landmark Chemical Weapons Convention that President Clinton signed (and that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et. al., opposed). Second, pursue terrorist networks overtly and covertly (something Mr. Clinton did more aggressively than the pre-9/11 Bush administration). Third, make America liked and respected abroad (as opposed to, say, loathed and reviled). Fourth, seek lasting peace in the Middle East (something Mr. Bush keeps putting off until after the next war).

And finally, help the world mature into a comprehensive community of nations - bound by economic interdependence and a commitment to liberty, and cooperating in the global struggle against terrorism and in law enforcement generally.

But in pursuing that last goal, respect and harness the forces in your favor. Give history some guidance, but resist the flattering delusion that you're its pilot. Don't take military and economic weapons off the table, but appreciate how sparingly you can use them when the architect of history is on your side. Have a little faith.


It struck me that when Barbara Boxer challenged Condi's candidness she was leading the charge against an administration that does not trust its citizens with the truth, does not trust in international conventions, and does not really give a damn what the rest of the world thinks of us. Rather, this Aministration sees itself as the champion of liberty, maybe even liberty itself, so those who dare oppose them are opposing liberty and freedom incarnate. It is a neat trick, that.

Boxer had the right to ask Rice when did she know that there were conflicting intelligence reports on Iraq's nuclear capabilities. I know she had that right because I, along with 6.9 million voters, gave her that right.

Rice's conduct as one of the lead salespeople for the war does not bode well for us all, or the credibility that she will need to repair our relations with other countries. Maybe if she had counseled the President to let the inspections continue, or had resisted the Pentagon's proposals to launch the war before the Summer season began, she might have gained some diplomatic stature. Instead we got the diplomacy of George W. Bush's gut (an area that I am tempted to say Condi is familiar with). So now she will be the official organ for relaying her husb...er, the President's foreign policy.

On one hand, I can grasp their predilection to use military might in order to solve the Islamic Gordian Knot. I also understand their lack of faith in our culture as the force to spread democracy. Didn't they just start a culture war here at home during the last election?

Upate: edited for clarity

 

Play State of the Union Speech Buzzword Bingo

Worried about falling asleep while Bush drones on during his State of the Union Speech? Fortunately, the Buzzword Bingo folks have a solution: State of the Union Speech Buzzword Bingo.

 

The CondoGeneevva Conventions

Bad Reportage from Mr. Donald Asmussen of the S.F. Chronicle:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

(Reproduced by kind permission of D. Asmussen. More Bad Reporter here.)

 

What's Wrong With Democrats?

This witty column by Paul Glusman entitled A Modest Scheme To Get the Truth Out of Gonzales opens with an excellent illustration of what's wrong with most Democrats:
Unless U.S. senators have a collective spine transplant (our own Barbara Boxer is thankfully excluded from this group) they will soon confirm Alberto Gonzales as the United States Attorney General. I mention spinelessness because it seems to be the new Democratic policy to “work with” the Bush administration, no matter how outrageous its proposals are. For example, if the Bush administration were to suggest strip mining the entirety of Yosemite National Park (as they probably will) we can be sure that some—if not most—of the Democrats will decry that and, instead, propose that they only strip mine half of Yosemite. Then, when a bill sails through the congress providing that three-quarters of the park be strip mined, the Democrats will trumpet that they got the best deal they were capable of. After all, they wouldn’t want to offend any middle of the road potential voters.

Read the whole column. It's both insightful and entertaining.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

 

By Popular Demand

Some have wanted to know what Republicans are saying about Sen. Boxer. Below are some examples of the hardly-ever-right raising the level of the national discourse:

Bill O'Reilly
"I mean, this is a nut. All right? This is a nut we got in the Senate."

John Pitney "political scientist" and former Dick Cheney aide
"Airtime is her oxygen. For a politician who is a born opposer, this is prime time. Some members are bridge builders; ... others are bomb throwers."

Cinnamon Stillwell
"...the perpetual petulance of politicians such as Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, are actually treated seriously."

Rep. Darrel Issa (R - CA)
"I don't think attack dogs are ever useful."



 

Mad Kane Clarifies Her Previous "WMD's Period" Post

There's been quite a dustup over my post entitled Stop Practicing Law Without A License: "WMDs, Period" Revisited Yet Again in the comments section.

I posted my response to the comments as a comment to that post. But I felt it was important enough to publish here as a fresh post, as well. Here's the meat of it:
This is in response to your various comments:

1. First let me state that, as George says, my purpose isn't to stifle debate, but to persuade Democrats to "quit eating our own using right-wing spin points that have no basis in reality."

I think that it's great that we're talking about what Senator Boxer meant by "WMD's, period." I believe she meant that the Bush administration persuaded her colleagues that the imminent threat of "WMD's" rendered the Resolution necessary. But of course I'm no mind reader and welcome this discussion. And I would love for Senator Boxer to clarify exactly what she meant.

Again, I'm not trying to shut down this discussion, and I encourage dissent, discussion, and clarification. What I do discourage is spreading misinformation (however inadvertently). And I believe that misinterpreting the role of "whereas clauses" has that net effect.

2. My post was not meant to justify the War Resolution or to excuse the huge number of Democrats who voted for it. The Democrats who voted for it were Bush administration dupes and pawns. In many cases, they feared being perceived as weak on terrorism, a fear that the Bush administration skillfully manipulated.

The Democrats who voted for the Resolution fell for Bush administration scare tactics. They fell for Bush administration claims that Iraq posed an imminent threat from WMD's. They fell for Bush administration claims that Bush needed the Resolution in order to avoid war. They fell for Bush's promise to use war as a last resort. And they apparently deluded themselves into believing that Bush would comply with the Resolution and would not go to war unless the conditions of doing so set forth in Sections 1 through 4 were fulfilled.

Those conditions were not fulfilled and, in my opinion, Bush never intended to comply with the Resolution. And, based on Bush's deceitful track record, Democrats should have anticipated Bush's noncompliance with the Resolution and refused to vote for it.

Democrats who supported that Resolution should have known better and have much to apologize and atone for.

3. I did not mean to imply that any Democrats posting here are deliberately trying to discredit Senator Boxer. What I meant was that some of you are inadvertently discrediting her by misinterpreting the Resolution.

4. Again, the "whereas clauses" don't explain "the reason and the causation behind that particular vote." For the most part, Democrats supported the Resolution for the reasons I cite right above in item "2." The "whereas clauses" provide history and background, including a recitation of many long past events, and not, as Loyal Opposition asserts "reasons for going to war."

You don't go to war because of long past events. You got to war because of an imminent threat. And the so-called imminent threat was, of course, false Bush administration claims of WMDs.

5. Liberal Avenger asks me to provide some examples of the "sort of nonsense the right-wing blogosphere is spinning this into with regards to Boxer." I hadn't bookmarked them, but did a quick search and found these three: LGF, Reason and Revelation, and 4 Mile Creek.

6. If my post wasn't sufficiently clear, I apologize. I hope this clarifies my position.

 

Welcome Visitors from the Los Angeles Times!

Welcome visitors from the Los Angeles Times!

I'm referring to an excellent Los Angeles Times profile of Senator Boxer, not to be confused with the equally interesting AP Boxer profile which I wrote about yesterday.

 

Social Security, It's your money

One of the major battles our Democratic lawmakers are going to have to fight is over the Bush administration's plan to "reform" Social Security. Since the MSM has been hesitant to do so we must do our best to make sure the lies and deceptions are brought to the public's attention. The investment brokers have started their campaign and there is an example in the NYT this morning.
I have been paying into the Social Security system for over 50 years, paying in my money. Now we have investment brokers, who are the only ones who have anything to gain from privatization, saying "so what." In today's NYT one of those investment brokers, Steven Rattner, tells us that money really doesn't exist, it's just paper, an IOU.
That would have been less daunting had we saved the very substantial Social Security surpluses of the past two decades. Instead, we mostly spent them, particularly in the past four years, leaving behind a much-touted Social Security trust fund that is, in reality, a myth.

All that resides in the trust fund is a $1.5 trillion pile of IOUs from the federal government, obligations likely to be honored by increasing the national debt. In addition, according to the trustees, we would have to deposit an additional $3.7 trillion into the trust fund today to ensure solvency until 2078. Is that a crisis or just a problem?
I wonder how the Chinese, Japanese and Europeans who have been buying treasury bonds feel when they hear that their bonds are just myths, IOU's. Yes it's the same thing, that's my money that Bush has been giving away to his wealthy patrons while spending billions on a war that was wrong. There is a crisis all right, but it's not Social Security but the totally irresponsible policy of the George W. Bush administration. I'm sure that Mr. Rattner has pocketed some of my FICIA money in the last three years and now he not only doesn't want to pay it back he wants to get his hand even deeper into my pockets. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to let that happen.

 

Boxer Never More in the Spotlight

This website, politicalwire.com, was brought to my attention. It mentions our site, as well as a couple of small anecdotes. One is about how many flowers Senator Boxer's office received after her contesting of the Ohio electors. It also had this little statement:

But Boxer says she has no higher ambition: "I would not run for president."
The AP runs a similar article, noting Boxer "has never been more in the spotlight."
We can make her change her mind, right?

 

Stop Practicing Law Without A License: "WMDs, Period" Revisited Yet Again

It was bad enough when right-wingers polluted the blogosphere by citing the "whereas clauses" of Joint Resolution 114 as proof that Senator Boxer was lying when she said it was "WMDs, period."

But now this insidious misunderstanding and distortion of the role of "whereas clauses" has infected the left blogosphere, and it needs to stop.

Too many people (some well meaning, some not so well meaning) are attempting legislative analysis without any legal background whatsoever.

While I no longer practice law, I did work as a lawyer for more than a dozen years -- long enough to know that the true power of legislation lies, not in the "whereas clause" section, but in the language that follows.

The purpose of "whereas clauses," be they in contracts between private individuals or in war resolutions, is to cite history and background. They do not empower action. They do not give people (or U.S. Presidents) any authority whatsoever.

And that's exactly where Loyal Opposition, in his good faith effort to reconcile the "WMDs, period" statement with the Resolution, has gone astray.

In this post Loyal Opposition says:
In the end, you vote on the bill as written, and it wasn't "WMDs, period." It was the "total picture", like Rice said. In addition to WMDs the resolution contains in black and white other reasons for going to war, including

1. brutal repression of the Iraqi civilian population
2. refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman
3. failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait
4. attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush...

But those and the rest of the "whereas clause" items he cites were not intended to set forth reasons to go to war. Their purpose was to state background and history. They did not just justify war or give the President any power to wage it. That isn't what "whereas clauses" do.

The meat of this Resolution is in Sections 1 through 4. And that's where you'll find President Bush's powers (and responsibilities) with respect to a (then potential) war against Iraq.

One can argue that our legislators were duped into signing that Resolution by false Bush Administration claims about imminent threats and insincere promises to exhaust diplomatic efforts before going to war.

One can argue that President Bush's war powers set forth in those sections were conditional and that those conditions were not fulfilled.

But please stop saying that the historical laundry list of wrongful Iraq actions were reasons to go to war. They were no such thing. And they certainly do not undermine Senator Boxer's credibility.


 

Loyal Opposition: "WMD, Period" Revisited

Loyal Opposition: "WMD, Period" Revisited

loyopp continues his discussion about Democratic support in the Senate for the House Joint Resolution authorizing war in Iraq...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

 

Senator Boxer Profiled By AP: Sen. Barbara Boxer Steps Into Spotlight

The AP's Erica Werner has written a very interesting profile of Senator Barbara Boxer. Here's a bit of it:
She's being touted on liberal blogs as the Democrats' best hope for president in 2008. Conservatives are excoriating her as in House Minority Leader Tom DeLay's phrase the leader of the "'X-Files' wing" of the Democratic Party.

But Boxer says she is just standing up for what she believes.

"I've always been this way," she says, "and I'm trying to figure out exactly why people suddenly find this to be interesting, you know. Somehow I have touched something inside people, and I have not ever had this happen before. The only thing I can think, after reading what people said, is a feeling that I'm asking the kind of questions and saying the kind of things that they are feeling."

...

Maybe it's not that Boxer's gotten louder but that other Democrats can barely be heard at all. At least, that's what some of her supporters are saying.

Whatever the explanation, Boxer, 64, has never been more in the spotlight. At a time when Republican dominance of Washington politics is nearly complete, a Marin County liberal who drives a hybrid car and opposes almost everything the GOP does has become a newly prominent face of the Democratic Party.


And I'm very proud to say that this blog got a mention, and I was quoted here:
"Democrats are so afraid of being criticized, or so afraid that they'll be accused of being too liberal, that they don't really act with the courage of their convictions. And then comes Barbara Boxer," says Madeleine Begun Kane, a writer from Queens, N.Y., who created a "President Boxer" blog. "She's been a shining light during an otherwise very depressing period."

 

Media Bias

So, MK posted below inquiring of all of us if we thought her level of "persnickity-ness" was warranted in regards to an article which stated that "...Boxer sneered in an e-mail appeal sent out Tuesday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee." I think her concern is understandable: "Sneer", in this context, is certainly pejorative.

I have a quick question, though. Almost all you will find on the right side of the blogosphere today is people decrying the Liberal Media for being pessimistic about the Iraqi elections today at best, and wishing for them to fail at worst. My question is this: If both the Right and the Left spend as much time as we seem to do lately decrying the bias of the media, isn't that indicative that the bias isn't slanted in one direction anymore?

I'm not pretending that there is no media bias, but that there are enough biased members of the media on both sides that it sort of ends up in a wash.

If this is the case, shouldn't we find some other stock complaint by which to discredit things we don't like from the media?

 

Open Letter to Senator Boxer.

Dear Senator Boxer;

I am writing in response to an article I read just now in the North County Times: It's been a year since your bill to restore the California Missions was passed.

I didn't know you'd submitted this bill, but after watching you stand up regarding the Ohio vote issues, your tenacious questioning of Dr. Rice's history of falsehoods, and your championing of what is truly moral in this country, I am not surprised. I applaud your efforts wholeheartedly, and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I grew up in California. I made many trips to various missions with my grandmother. I've seen the beautiful gardens, picnicked beneath fragrant pepper trees, marveled at the murals and decorative motifs painted on the white walls of the chapels. I've seen the fingerprints in the clay tiles used to roof these buildings, learned how they were shaped over the thighs of Native Americans to give them their tapered form.

I've felt sadness at seeing the ruins of the Soledad mission, felt the wind blowing through the abandoned site and the suffered a sense of longing at seeing the adobe-brick walls melted from rain.

I've run delightedly through a courtyard under flowering bougainvillea to a sparkling, musical fountain with glazed tiles lining the basin.

I also learned of the forced conversion of the Native Americans. Roger Williams said over a hundred years prior to the arrival of the Franciscan padres that forced conversion "stinks in God's nostrils". Even as a child the dichotomy of the beauty and serenity of the missions and the use of the tribes to build them caused me to pause in deep thought.

You're right. The missions are a very real part of Californian history. They should be preserved as jewels, and as testament to the work of the local Native Americans.

Letting them disintegrate would be akin to the demolition of the huge statues of Buddha in Afghanistan by the Taliban, or the looting of antiquities in Baghdad.

Thank you for the foresight to preserve these architectural treasures for future generations.

Sincerely,
Jean Dudley.

 

I Sneer At The Word "Sneer"

I was delighted to find the President Boxer blog mentioned in this Forward article about Senator Boxer and the Condi Rice hearings:
A blog, "President Boxer," touted her as a possible presidential candidate, while U.S. News & World Report dubbed her "the go-to politician for the big battles coming down the pike on abortion, the Supreme Court, and civil rights."
But is anyone besides me bothered by the use of the word "sneer" earlier in that article?
"The Republicans were expecting the Senate to confirm Dr. Rice with little debate and questioning from the Foreign Relations Committee," Boxer sneered in an e-mail appeal sent out Tuesday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They didn't count on me to ask the tough questions. What the Republicans don't realize is, no matter who is in charge in the White House, the role of Congress will always be to act as a check on the Executive branch of government. ... But we will need your help to hold them accountable in the ultimate public hearing: the next midterm elections in 2006."
Now perhaps I'm being overly picky, but the word "sneer" has a negative connotation which seems inappropriate to describe such a professional (albeit justifiably boastful) statement.

So, what say you? Am I being unduly persnickety here?


Friday, January 28, 2005

 

WMD's only, Take II

I'd like to add my two cents to what Liberal Avenger wrote about below.

It is an interesting question to consider just what Senator Boxer was talking about when she made her "WMD's only" comment. To be certain, as you can read in the link LA provided, the text that went before Congress to authorize the action listed far more than WMD's. I fear this comment by the Senator was her one real misstep politically.

However, it does warrant some examining. The Senator was questioning Dr. Rice on her role in publicly selling the war, not the reasons Congress approved it, and the method by which the Administration convinced the public WAS, virtually, "WMD only". Now we know there weren't any there, but just how much we knew then is unclear. Regardless if Congress was sold on this one thing only, the American people were. Is it possible the Senator brought up this issue so that it would be top of mind for the American people? If so, why?

In the LoyOpp article, it is mentioned that one possible reason is that she was gearing up for a future Bush Impeachment proceeding. This is interesting and intriguing, but I find it unlikely, if only for the obvious minority party roadblocks. It seems much more likely to me that this is an attempt to keep the PR patterns of this administration in full view of the public. There are some parts of the Iraq story that we've forgotten. After the President's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, I wrote this:
We talk about the buildup to the war in Iraq, and often people mention the 17 words, or Weapons of Mass Destruction, but we, as a nation, seem to have forgotten one crucial moment. The President told Saddam Hussein that he had until a certain date to let weapons inspectors back into his country. He began to build up troops to add weight to his threat. And what did Saddam do? He let the inspectors in! The diplomacy worked. For the first time in 10 years, the country of Iraq had an international presence within its borders.

Now, facing the prospect of his successful diplomatic maneuver, did the President then trumpet his victory, and use the new found access into Iraq to begin the process of dismantling the supposed capability of weapon's programs? No. The President and his administration began a 4 month long process of discrediting the U.N. Inspectors, namely Hans Blix, as people with ulterior agendas and a history of inadequate performance.
This is the part that people forget. Diplomacy actually worked. Would it have achieved what we wanted? Perhaps not. But the military option would have still been in front of us, as well as several other diplomatic options. It was because of these actions that many Democrats felt we were rushing into war. At least for me, the Senator's speech served as a reminder of this.

So, the Senator reminded the American people of this in her speech on the Senate floor, but why? Lets quote the Senator herself, in her letter to the Kos community that MK linked to below:
Two weeks ago, who would have thought that Condoleezza Rice's nomination would allow us to have a full debate about our policy in Iraq? Who would have thought that we'd have the chance to truly expose all of the misstatements and misjudgments that led us into that conflict and continue to plague this Administration to this very day?
To be sure, this is the reason. By bringing these issues to bear in front of Dr. Rice herself during the hearings in front of the Foreign Relations Committee, she created an ACTUAL debate on the Iraq war, perhaps the first real one on the Senate floor. And in light of Sy Hersch's recent uncovering of covert operations in Iran, she has made it a lot more difficult for the Administration to repeat such a behavior.

Which, of course, is what has gotten the Righties up in arms. Senator Boxer has made things more difficult on the Administration. It's about time someone did.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

The Hacktacular Professor

John Pitney accused Sen. Boxer of being a bomb-thrower. Many news outlets, from Fox to CBS only identify him as an "expert" and a professor of governmental studies. From an interview in which the Christian Science Monitor identifies him only as a "politcial scientist" he talks about Sen. Boxer:
Airtime is her oxygen. For a politician who is a born opposer, this is prime time," says John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. "Some members are bridge builders; ... others are bomb throwers."


A small tutorial for the professor:
Sen. Boxer asked questions - the only person ducking was Dr. Rice.
Bush is the bomb thrower (e.g. the hospitals in Fallujah; water treatment plants in Iraq, etc.) Sen. Boxer was right about Iraq and WMD; Gov. Bush was wrong.

Extra points for Dr. Pitney: What warmonger did you work for in the early part of your career?

Does Dick Cheney ring a bell?




 

Senator Boxer Thanks The Blogosphere

You'll want to read Senator Boxer's thank you note to the "Daily Kos community, and the blogosphere as a whole."

 

WMD, only?

Loyal Opposition: Boxer on the Floor: Impeachment Rehearsal?

A question from the blogosphere for the Boxer crowd...

What exactly was Boxer talking about last week when she told Rice that the Congress authorized war based on "WMD, period?" Read Joint Resolution 114 (a copy is included in the post linked above). The resolution explicitly cites "the whole package" as cause. Are we missing something here?

It reminds me of a situation surrounding Kerry's rhetoric on voting for authorizing war.

As a resident of Massachusetts, I was infuriated with Kerry for voting to authorize war. I saw his vote as the spineless political posturing of somebody who was planning on running for president. I remember sending him a scathing letter to that effect the day he voted.

Towards the end of the presidential campaign, Kerry started saying that when he voted he did so in order to give Bush leverage ONLY - that his vote still meant that the inspectors were to complete their jobs, we would carry the issue through the UN, etc.

This didn't sit right with me... "No you didn't, Kerry. You voted to appease the Freedom Fry eaters."

But then right before the election there was a documentary on television (Frontline, perhaps?) that compared the careers of Kerry and Bush and they had a long clip of Kerry giving a press conference the day of the vote, in front of a large group of people (it wasn't delivered at 2:00AM to an empty Senate floor or otherwise phony) where he conscientiously spelled out that he was voting for this because of the WMDs, ONLY for Bush to have the additional leverage he needed to help move this process through the proper procedures at the UN. And I have to say - because while I gleefully cast my vote for Kerry in November I was never a very enthusiastic supporter of his - that this was the most open, straightforward and honest recitation of the reasons behind voting that I had heard to date. I was flying at half-mast when it was over, if you know what I mean.

I wonder if Boxer's statement ties in with this somehow... We were supposed to be voting to give Bush leverage in order to solve the WMD problem in Iraq, and look what became of it...

So, what do you think?

What exactly was Barbara talking about last week?


 

It's Not The Message!!!!

I don't often disagree with the wisdom of the Moose but today I have to. In today's post he says:
The Moose has also observed a certain cannibalistic tendency emerging on the left that is attempting to purge fellow Democrats who don't follow the party line. The latest example is the suggestion on some prominent lefty blogs to run a primary opponent against Senator Lieberman to punish him for his support for Rice's nomination and the war.

Here's some breaking news for the lefty Democrats - you should be adding to your numbers rather than decreasing them. Democrats must be about the politics of addition rather than subtraction. Democrats do not enjoy the luxury of driving centrists and even conservatives from their ranks.

Lefties may have their differences with Senator Lieberman, but he has loyally served the party as its vice presidential nominee and he is a deeply honorable and decent man. Don't succumb to the temptation to become just a mirror image of right wing Freepers. Left-wing cannibalism - an infantile disorder.
Under Clinton's DLC a move to the center by compromising the root values of the progressive movement has resulted in nothing but loses. The problem is not what our values are but an inablilty to show the majority of Americans that those are really their values too. We have let the Luntz/Rovian spin masters spin "liberals" into something evil even though public opinion polls consistently show that progressive/liberal values are supported by a majority. A better job of communication is what is needed, the message is for the most part just fine. We shouldn't try to convert the Flat Earthers, we can't but the Republicans are going to find it increasingly difficult to hang on to this 16th century coalition. We can convince a majority that we are on their side and the Bushites are not.

Now for Lieberman, the reality is Joe Lieberman may have a "D" after his name but he is every bit a "Neo-con" as Paul Wolfowitz or Richard Pearle, there is no place for him in the Democratic Party. Like KOS, I think every attempt should be made to replace Lieberman in the senate. Call it cannibalism if you want, but there are times that a purge is necessary. Joe must go; he has the wrong message and has and does support a policy that is losing support among the American people.

 

How About Some Press Courage, While We're At It?

With apologies to the feminist movement of the 1970s, in Bush politics, the "private" is the "personal."

I'm referring to the White House edict banning the press from using the until recently perfectly fine and even used by Bush term "private accounts."

Apparently, the phrase "private accounts" is far too scarily reminiscent of the term "privatization." So the press now has its marching orders: Replace it with "personal accounts," or else.

And to judge from yesterday's Bush press conference and other instances cited by Talking Points Memo, many media members are caving in to this demand.

I raise this issue to suggest that while we're holding Democrats up to the Boxer courage meter, we should do the same for the press. After all, they helped get us into this fine mess.

And a cowardly press will certainly keep hurting our cause, no matter how much tenacity and grit Democrats manage to muster.

So let's call upon journalists to be a bit braver. And to not be intimidated by the Frank Luntzian assertion that any press member who keeps using the old Bush term must be deemed biased against Bush's Social Security plan.

In the meantime, I dedicate this limerick to press-weenies everywhere:

Saying "private" account proves we're biased,
Charge the wingnuts in tones oh so pious.
Dub's retired that phrase.
It was merely a phase.
Must say "personal." Else they'll deep fry us.

 

Missed Opportunities...

I fear I'm having a bit of a one track narrative on this blog. But, as I so often do, I'm going to turn into that skid.

In my ongoing effort to point out strength in Democratic leaders (which I fear, will be unfortunately rare) and to illustrate when our leaders fail to point out the unbearable falseness of this administration (which I fear will be unfortunately common), I bring the first in what will be a new PB series by Dylan: Missed Opportunities.

Yesterday was the bloodiest day in the Iraqi war. Thirty-six American soldiers died yesterday, and the news of this came down just before the President was to hold his first press conference of his second term.

His manner? Jovial and self-congratulatory.

"I've planted the flag of freedom," he said.

Where, oh where are our leaders willing to take the President to task not just for the actions of his administration but for the cavalier attitude by which he brags of success even in the face of failure? Why won't anyone stand up and speak to the President's detachment from reality?

The President and his right-wing drones are true-believers, and when they are faced with REALITIES, they paint it with flowers and furry animals and say "what about the schools that have been built?"

They've been built on the same ground as the flag of liberty has been planted in, and on the same ground where American blood has been spilt.

 

Marginalization and Its Discontents

The current L.A. Weekly has a couple of punchy commentaries on the Boxer-Rice dustup. Judith Lewis, working from the assumption that "To impugn [Rice's] integrity should have been uncontroversial," called Boxer's office to ask why the senator didn't come right out and use the word "lie." The answer she got sheds some light on the process by which our Republican betters "have silenced dissent among the people they can't fire: not by fairly disputing their views, but by pretending to sneer at their bad-mannered ways - by branding them 'obstructionist' and 'unconstructive'":
Even by the accounts of people inclined to hate her, Senator Barbara Boxer delivered a fierce argument on January 18 against Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of state. But if all the news you caught the next morning was in the headlines on National Public Radio, you wouldn't have known that. In the distilled world of audio broadcast, the only reference to the Rice-Boxer exchange was a 10-second clip, with Rice telling Boxer, "I would ask you to refrain from impugning my integrity," and Boxer responding, "I'm not" . . . . It represented Boxer at her worst, Woman at her worst, and whatever else Boxer had accomplished earlier in the day, what millions of listeners took away was this: Scrappy Boxer had launched a scud that landed inert at her opponent's pedicured feet.

That the text and context of Boxer's speech in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that day was much, much different was something you'd only find out had you stayed glued to CNN or C-SPAN during the hearing, or flipped channels after Morning Edition and heard the highlights of the day's dissent on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! In the longer version, Boxer had asked Rice for "a candid discussion," to account for discrepancies between her words and the president's, her words and her other words, her words and the facts as documented in reports by Charles Duelfer and the 9/11 commission. Such an accounting would have required Rice to admit that many of the administration's reasons for invading Iraq were bunk. Rice would never do this, of course - she reaffirms repeatedly that Bush and she speak with one voice - and Boxer knew it. And so Boxer's request that Rice account for these discrepancies served only one purpose: To establish for the committee, and for the world, that Rice is a liar. In other words, to impugn her integrity.

As well it deserved to be impugned: In the words of Hans Blix, "It took much twisted evidence, including a forged uranium contract, to conjure up a revived Iraqi nuclear threat, even one that was somewhat distant," and yet there was Rice in the run-up to the war, talking about mushroom clouds. Or as returned-to the-chambers Senator John Kerry observed in the January 18 hearing, despite Rice's justification for the war as a pre-emptive attack on a country readying WMD, U.S. troops had not even bothered to guard a large cache of ammunition that was later used against them . . . .

As the Senate wrapped up its last full day of debate on the matter this week, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama took the floor to gripe in an exasperated drawl how "inappropriate" it was that "those people on the ‘hard left' had to express all their views"; Senator John Cornyn of Texas shook his head and called last week's grilling and the day's questions "a crying shame." Neither man addressed any of the the very real questions their fellow senators on both sides of the aisle had raised about the integrity of the well-coifed woman destined to be our next secretary of state - the woman who played piano at 3, who never missed an opportunity to remind the committee of her cultural superiority ("You'll provoke me to respond in Russian," she told Dodd when he welcomed her to the committee in Spanish), and yet could not bring herself to categorically condemn the practice of interrogating a human prisoner by forcing him into a tank of water until he panics on the verge of drowning. That, and not the responsible expression of political speech in the Senate chamber, for which no one should apologize, is the more horrifying, crying shame.
And Nation columnist David Corn (whose own website we are pleased to recommend) could not help but notice that one senator from California politely declined to mention the phony case for war or its disastrous consequences, devoting her remarks instead to the pianistic virtuosity Ms. Rice displayed at the age of three. In fact, Dianne Feinstein "spoke more about what Rice did at Stanford - Feinstein's alma mater - than what she had done at the White House these past four years":
On one morning, in one Capitol Hill hearing room, two senators from one state displayed starkly different approaches to handling the powerful of Washington. The occasion was the confirmation hearing of Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's pick to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state. Senator Barbara Boxer confronted her; Senator Dianne Feinstein coddled her. The respective performances of California's two U.S. senators - both Democrats - illuminated a divide in Washington. There are those in town who participate in and preside over the clubby atmosphere of a Washington establishment that fosters a we're-all-honorable-men-and-women conceit. And there are those who realize that governments don't make bad policies, people do, and that such officials - especially when they engage in dishonest policymaking - do not deserve respect or hors d'oeuvres . . . .

{A}fter all, what's wrong with impugning the credibility of someone who you believe misled the nation into war? If a legislator holds such a belief, isn't it his or her responsibility to pursue the matter? On Fox News, Feinstein was asked if Boxer went too far. "I'm not going to comment on that," she said. "Each one of us, you know, marches to the sound of our own drummer. And each one of us has strong feelings on various issues from time to time, and sometimes all the time." This is indeed a difference. Feinstein was listening to a drumbeat (perhaps the rhythm of the Stanford fight song). Boxer was creating a drumbeat. Democrats ought to be able to figure out who set the better example.

 

Give That Woman a Pair of Great-Dane-Sized Neuticles!

Rude Pundit: “Not Quite Balls, But Not Quite an Empty Sack.”



Other Senators deserving Great Dane-sized Neuticles are Barbara Boxer, who kept up the fight she started in the hearing committee, saying, “[T]his issue of torture is one that matters. It matters to me for many reasons. The first is it is about our humanity. It is about our humanity. Second is that it is about our soldiers, who may find themselves in captivity and in a circumstance where they might well get treated the way we are treating people we capture. That is why the protective words here and living up to our treaties or obligations of our Constitution and international treaties are so important. It is not some vague academic discussion; it is very serious.”



Rude Pundit linked to a temporary thomas.gov query for Boxer’s statement. The link was broken, so I will provide a link to the PDF version of Boxer’s statement in the Congressional Record.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 

Dianne Feinstein....War Profiteer

It's no surprise that Dianne Feinstein has joined the Joe Lieberman wing of the Democratic Party. Steve Soto at The Left Coaster reports that a company owned by her husband, Richard Blum, received an Army contract worth up to $600 million in April 2003. It should be no surprise that she supported Condiliar Rice. The Republicans have their RINO's (Republicans in Name Only) and the Democrats have their DINO's (Democrats in Name Only). My Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, also voted for the Rice confirmation and I just sent off an e-mail telling him that next time around I would be looking for a candidate with Democratic convictions to support.

 

I meant she holds the whole Senate together - you know, like nuts and bolts

Media Matters owns Bill O'Reilly. The latest example:
FOX News host Bill O'Reilly denied calling Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) a "nut" and promised to play a clip on the air to verify his denial. In fact, he did indeed call Boxer a "nut" on his January 19 radio program, as Media Matters for America documented. He also denied his frequent practice of applying labels like "nut," "loon," and other disparaging names to political opponents, though Media Matters has documented O'Reilly's long history of this rhetorical practice.

...

BROWN: You did it last week. You did it last week on -- with Barbara Boxer. You called her a "nut." You called the voters who voted for her "loony." Is that not true?

O'REILLY: That's not true. I mean, what I do is I say, "there are loony left-wing people" or "this is nuts," but I never say "She's a nut" or "This person is a loon."

...

[Jan. 19]O'REILLY: And, she sponsored a bill to have jet airlines be equipped with missile defense systems. [laugh] It didn't pass because -- so look. I mean, this is a nut. All right? This is a nut we got in the Senate.


I think O'Reilly may actually be delusional. And I'll admit to calling him that if asked.

By the way - that missile defense system? A little expensive, perhaps, but not exactly out of left field. And Bill O'Reilly has expressed unhappiness with Democrats refusing to fund airline security in the past.

(Hat tip to Atrios, although since he works for Media Matters, it's kind of redundant.)

 

Clue Delivery for Alex!

Jean, darling, you know I *love* it when you go all pedantic, but I think it's going to take a bit more bluntness to get the message across to Alex.

*ahem*

Alex, poopsie-kins, pay close attention. *This* is shrill:
*deep breath*

"SCREEEEEEE...

EEEEEEEEE...

EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"



*This* is hysterical:

*SOB!* *SNIFFLE!* *WAIL!* *STOMP!* *POUT*

Now, be sure to study, there will be a test. I'll be grading with the Clue-by-four.

Cluella Fey
"I am *so* not kidding about the Clue-By-Four"

 

Perceptions, portrayals and a bit of etymology thrown in.

Commenter "Alex" refers to Barbara Boxer's "rhetoric" as "shrill (and) hysterical".

I'm not sure if that's his genuine perception, or if it's a portrayal. I didn't find her speech before the senate floor even the slightest bit shrill. Just to be sure, here's the definition of "shrill":
1. High-pitched and piercing in tone or sound: the shrill wail of a siren.
2. Producing a sharp, high-pitched tone or sound: a shrill fife.
3. Sharp or keen to the senses; harshly vivid: shrill colors.

I honestly thought Senator Boxer's tone was measured and modulated to carry well. She never raised her voice, and the pitch was a comfortable level to listen to. I'd advise "Alex" to go and listen again. That's being generous, because I don't think he listened at all. Oh, he may have heard, but he didn't let it sink in, didn't think about what was being said.

I do know this; "shrill" is almost always used to describe women, not men.

*eyebrow up*

Continuing along those lines, let's take a close look at "hysterical".

From "hysteria":

1. Behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic.
2. A mental disorder characterized by emotional excitability and sometimes by amnesia or a physical deficit, such as paralysis, or a sensory deficit, without an organic cause.

I'm completely baffled. Senator Boxer was controlled, on point, and clearly fearless in being the first person to stand up to Condi's record of falsehoods. She showed no signs of excitation, her memory of Condi's very words was precise and accurate, and she seemed to be in full possession of her wits.

I think "Alex's" use of the word hysterical becomes a bit clearer when we remember that hysteria is related to hysterectomy.

At one time, it was common to remove the uterus as a cure for hysteria. This is a word that also has a very feminine connotation.

Is "Alex" being sexist? Without more input from him, I can't say for sure. But he's using words with an established history of sexism.

Her points were valid. They were well documented. They were presented in a clear, restrained and straightforward manner. But to some folks, any woman speaking truth to power is automatically shrill and hysterical, not matter how right she is.

 

Hello, my minions!

*Moi* is so terribly proud to meet such an auguste body of well-clued people such as yourselves!
*beam!*

It is my happy duty to deputize each and every one of you as Clue-Delivery Associates. Line forms to the right LEFT to receive your ceremonial Mallets of Understanding. As I said to my very dear Babs herself, these are NOT to be used for intimidation or torture. They are for display only.

Go forth, my minions, and deliver clues to the clueless regarding the magnificent work being done by Senator Boxer!

Now, where *has* that silly Chives gotten to, I need a margarita...

Cluella Fey

 

To make the introductions

Hello, I'm Jean Dudley.

I write my own blog, but when I saw this one listed on Buzzflash, I felt an immediate simpatico with the concept. With Mad Kane's kind permission, I will be contributing here occasionally. I'll try not to be too gushing in my admiration. I'm very proud of Senator Boxer, and would be delighted beyond measure if she would run for the office of President in 2008. Are you listening, Senator?

If nothing else, she has a full plate in the Senate--it's been pointed out that she is our new conscience, and I thank the gods she is standing up to Condi Rice.

Watching her speak yesterday on C-Span, I was struck by her incredible presence. She cut through the rhetoric, asked important questions, pointed out the obvious falsehoods, distortion of facts, and evasiveness of Dr. Rice. Her manner was one of honest confusion, confusion over Dr. Rice's evasions. She showed genuine concern, worry over what sort of person was being confirmed.

She didn't cave to the "why are we wasting time debating this when we know she's going to be confirmed" line. She presented her concerns for exactly what they are, valid, important and pertinent to the situation.

She never resorted to ad hominem attacks on Dr. Rice.

Readers, take the time to write to Senator Boxer. You can fill out a webform here. Yes, it asks you for your name, address and phone number. I truly recommend providing that information because it's time to stand up and be counted as American citizens who hold our leaders accountable. Considering Barbara Boxer's bravery on the senate floor, can we do no less?

 

Public Weakening

Oliver Willis brings to our attention this from John Cole:
What is so disgusting about Boxer's behavior is that they have no intention nor ability of blocking her nomination. They just want to weaken her so they can score points against this administration and the majority party in general.

Thanks guys- publicly weakening our representative to the world for nothing other than partisan gain.
...and then Willis points out that there have been a number of occasions in the past 10 years that the Republicans have done precisely the same thing.

Here is the difference, I think. While Clinton certainly had his own demons, and he caused many of his own problems, the Republicans had it in mind to find something they could take him down with, and they sprung. Their motivation was simply to "get" the guy they didn't like and to trample him (perhaps one could phrase it as "weakening") for the sole purpose of scoring points for their side (one might phrase it as "partisan gain").

Boxer and the Senate Dems who stood up today have had a different purpose in mind. They have been asked, through the course of their Constitutional duties, for advice and consent on the President's nominations. Due to the inconsistencies in the past four years by Dr. Rice (which our friends on the Right want to argue, but it boggles the mind how, when faced with the evidence of quotes during the run-up to the war that directly contradict themselves, they can maintain these arguments in good conscience), and her evasiveness before the Foreign Relations committee, a few Senate Dems felt compelled to, at risk to their reputations, advise against the nominee.

Boxer spoke to the relevance of this debate today:
President Bush in his Inaugural Address talked about bringing freedom to countries that don't have it. He didn't specify how. Now, the Non-Governmental Organization Freedom House estimates there are 49 countries in the world that are not free. The group believes there's another 54 countries that are considered only "partly free," and I worry about sending more troops on more missions based on hyped up rhetoric. That's why these questions are so important.
These proceedings were relevant because of the record of the past and the uncertainty of what future actions this administration may take. If those on the Right find it inconvenient to address a nominee's past record as a means of attempting to determine what they might do in the future, then it is only because they must realize, deep down, there are troublesome issues at hand.

If this weakens the nominee, it is only because they aren't used to someone on this side of the fence standing up and being strong.

 

Boxer Rebellion Spreads

John Nichols of the The Nation writes about the Boxer effect (knocking some sense into Dems) in his column The Online Beat:
Give Barbara Boxer credit for sparking the most engaged debate that the Senate has yet seen over the Bush administration lies that led the United States into the quagmire that is Iraq.

Boxer, the California Democrat who has been increasingly vocal in her objections to the Bush administration's reign of error and excess, seized the opening provided by President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State to try and force a necessary discussion about the misstatements, misconceptions and misdeeds that Rice and others in the administration used to make the "case" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, to the surprise even of some war foes, she got it.

Yes, of course, Rice's confirmation was certain to be confirmed. In a Senate where the balance is now tipped 55-45 toward a Republican caucus that for the most part puts party loyalty above duty to country, and where there are still too many Democrats who continue to preach the failed "can't-we-all-just-get-along" mantra that has relegated the party to minority status, there was never any chance that the national security advisor's record of failure and deception would prevent her from taking change of the State Department.

But Rice's road to Foggy Bottom proved to be far rockier than had been expected. Tuesday's Senate debate on her nomination was one of the most charged that the chamber has seen in recent years, and while Rice survived, she did not finish the day unscathed. Senator after senator rose to recall what Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, described as Rice's "false reasons" for going to war, and to charge, as Kennedy did, that had Rice told the truth "it might have changed the course of history."

Though he and others were eloquent in their critique of Rice on Tuesday, the person who changed the course of history with regard to the debate over the Bush administration's nominee for Secretary of State was not Kennedy, nor West Virginia's Robert Byrd, nor any of the other more senior senators who ripped Rice. Rather, it was Barbara Boxer, the diligent if not always prominent senator from the Golden State.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole article. But for those who never click through I wouln't want you to miss this powerful conclusion on senatorial duties by the venerable Senator Byrd. So here it is:

Byrd was right to assert that the Senate's constitutionally dictated "advice and consent" duty "is not a function of pomp and circumstance" and that senators must never "acquiesce mutely to the nomination of one of the most important members of the President's Cabinet."

He was equally right to recognize the critical role that Boxer played in assuring that so many Democratic senators recognized their responsibility to assume that the consideration of Rice's nomination was something more that "a ceremonial exercise."


(All emphases are mine)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

 

Kerry's Wife Says "No New Campaign"

What she said.

Sen. John Kerry "may want to consider running for president again in 2008. But his wife, local ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry... has made it clear she won't sit still for another campaign," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Kerry let us down by not fighting for himself. He doesn't deserve a do-over.

(Quote and link pilfered from Political Wire.)

 

Instead They Should Be Lionizing Her for Making False Statements About the War

A quick question about the outburst by Sen. George Allen (R-VA) on the Senate floor earlier today (as recounted here by Tim Grieve of Salon's War Room):
Virginia Sen. George Allen said his Democratic colleagues should "be careful" when criticizing Rice for making false statements about the war in Iraq lest they "diminish Dr. Rice's credibility in capitals around the world." Allen explained that Rice's "detractors can do a great disservice to this country, a great disservice by playing too hard a partisan game."
In what "capitals around the world" is Ms. Rice still presumed to have any credibility?

(Wait -- Warsaw. We forgot Warsaw!)

 

SNL sketch

I saw this on saturday, and I was hoping someone would have it. Click here to watch the SNL send-up on the hearings last week.

 

Boxer vs. Rice - This time it's personal!

Ok, except Dr. Rice won't be in the room.... but whatever.. Senator Boxer's turn to speak will be coming up fairly soon. C-SPAN 2 has listed her after Sens. Byrd and Hagel.

I will update if we get a better estimate of the time.

UPDATE: I guess I'm sort of liveblogging this (don't hold me to ACTUAL updates)... but I wanted to mention something that Senator Byrd just said that relates to what we've seen here, that being the intensity of the LGF neighborhood to attack Senator Boxer for grandstanding in a proceeding that is largely ceremonial. Take it away Robert...
The vote that the Senate will conduct tomorrow is not simply a formality to approve of a nominee's educational achievement or level of expertise. I do not subscribe to the notion that the Senate must confirm a President's nominees barring criminality or lack of experience. The Constitution... enjoins Senators to use their judgment when considering nominations. I am particularly dismayed to by accusations... and that I have read... that Senate Democrats, by insisting on having an opportunity to debate the nomination of Dr. Rice have somehow been engaged in nothing more substantial than "petty politics." Or partisan delaying tactics. Nothing... Nothing.. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Senate's role of advice and consent to Presidential nominations is not a ceremonial exercise... (Holds up a pocket copy of the Constitution)... Not a ceremonial exercise. Here's the proof. Here's the record. Here's the document that requires more than just a ceremonial exercise.
Simple and effective.
2:47 PM CST: Sen. George Allen:
I ask my colleagues to be careful. Be careful in your criticism. People can say whatever they want, and they'll say something, and I'll say that doesn't make sense, here's a more logical approach, and that sort of banter and back and forth is fine. But in the criticism and statements... and also trying to divide opinion on the nomination of Dr. Rice, be careful not to be diminishing her credibility in the eyes of those in capitals around the world. Detractors... detractors can do this country a great disservice by playing too hard a partisan game.
The old tried and true GOP strategy: When all of your other strategies have been exhausted, tell people they are unpatriotic if they are against the President.

2:52 PM CST: Here goes our girl!

2:57 PM CST: Senator Boxer:
And I want to make a special comment to the White House Chief of Staff, who called members of the Senate "petty" for seeking time to speak out on this particular nomination. I think it's important to note that the White House Chief of Staff does a great job for the President, but he does not run the United State's Senate. And I know that he finds the Constitutional requirement of "advice and consent" perhaps a nuisance, and others have as well in the White House, be they Republicans or Democrats. It IS the system of government that we've inherited from our founders and, as we go around the world hoping to bring freedom and liberty to people, we better make sure we get it right here.

3:08 PM CST: Boxer's "Condi's Contradicting Quote Board." Isn't this called a flip-flop?

3:42 PM CST: Well, I think that was effective. Our LGF friends who've populated the comments the past couple of days are going to call it moonbatty, but I don't know how you could call that presentation flighty or hysterical. It was analytical, concise, and it laid out an effective case against Rice's nomination. I'm glad she did it, because if she hadn't, there wouldn't have been another Democrat with enough teeth to do it.

I'll try to have a full transcript up later tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2005

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Next Conscience

She may scare hell out of the thank-you-sir-I'd-like-another wing of the Democratic Party, but US News & World Report has one thing exactly right: for progressives, Boxer is rapidly becoming "the go-to politician for the big battles coming down the pike on abortion, the Supreme Court, and civil rights." Elsewhere, an S.F. Chronicle profile by Zachary Coile, "Where Feinstein Woos, Boxer Wallops," presents the contrast in styles between the two Senators from California as emblematic of the choices facing the Democratic Party in a GOP-dominated Congress. And those choices will be tough: in the current climate Boxer's embrace of mainstream liberal principles makes her a dangerous radical, and most of her colleagues will be understandably reluctant to abandon the tried-and-true accommodationist timidity that paid such dividends in the '02 and '04 elections:
The senators' approaches to Rice illustrated the fundamental issue for Democrats in Congress: Should they try to block Bush's nominees and as much of his agenda as they can over the next four years -- at the risk of being labeled obstructionists? Or should they work with the White House and Republicans in Congress in hopes of shaping policies that reflect their views? . . . .

"It's very similar to the debate that was going on within the Republican Party when Republicans were out of power," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College and a former research director for the Republican National Committee. "Should they be responsible partners in government or should they be bomb throwers?

"I think Democrats are more likely to be confrontational, especially because they don't have control of any branch of government. It's much easier to play the role of the opposition when you don't have formal authority."

No one in the Senate has epitomized the term "bomb thrower" better than Boxer.

The diminutive 64-year-old former stockbroker and Marin County supervisor gained national attention during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings when she led a group of female House members up the Senate steps to back Anita Hill's claims of sexual harassment. She also played a key role in pressuring Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood to resign in 1995 over charges he groped female Senate staffers.

Boxer drew international headlines earlier this month when she delayed Bush's formal re-election for nearly four hours to protest election day irregularities in Ohio and elsewhere. The move was applauded by liberal activists, but she was derided as a leader of the "X-Files" wing of the Democratic Party by Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

Boxer's confrontation of Rice spurred Capitol speculation that she was trying to assume the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's role as the conscience of the Senate.
See also Dean, Howard; Frost, Martin; DNC.

 

The post where I talk about how the conservative blogosphere is attempting to define Barbara Boxer and, therefore, the debate... again.

I think we'd all agree that, when it comes to blogospherical dominance, the conservatives have the upperhand right now. A quick Technorati search for Barbara Boxer reveals how they are trying to define Senator Boxer. At the time of this search, 7 of the first 10 results at the time I'm writing this made comments smearing her:
...blazenly ignorant...
...a blithering idiot and world class crybaby...
...pursued a curious line of attack...
...California Moonbat...
...got a little punch drunk...
...made her inane comments... (Hugh Hewitt on CNN)
...Whiner, Whiner, Whiner...
I don't have much else to say about this, but the Republicans are all crying foul because someone dared to question Rice strongly, and are attempting to discredit her by calling her a moonbat or a whiner at best and an hysterical woman at worst.

All I'm saying is, there better not have been any tough questioning of Clinton cabinet appointees by Republicans, or are they the only ones who are allowed such latitude?

 

Woe To The Foes Of Barb Boxer

When I launched President Boxer this past Wednesday, some people were surprised. Cause let's face it -- I'm better known for my political song parodies and poems, than I am for more serious fare.

Anyway, I'd hate to disappoint those looking for something lighter. So I dashed off a limerick to start our first full week:

Woe to the foes of Barb Boxer.
They shouldn't even try to outfox her.
She's bright and she's tough.
She won't take any guff.
How I pity the wingnut who knocks her.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

 

Next Verse, Same as the First...

Hi everyone. I'm Dylan, and I'm a fan of Senator Barbara Boxer.

First of all, I want to thank Mad Kane for letting me contribute, and to explain why I wanted to get involved. I wrote today about my growing dissatisfaction with the toothless manner by which our party continues to go about its business, without any regard about how we can use the issues to shape the debate. Instead, we allow the Republicans to come to us with their issues and their ideology while we stand back, stomp our feet and cross our arms and we bask in our intellectual superiority, at the cost of the real issues.

Over the past two years, there have been two Democrats who have thwarted these established behaviors, and done what they think are right on a regular basis: Howard Dean and Barbara Boxer.

Over the past month, Sen. Boxer has established herself as THE one person within our government who we can count on to stand-up, even if it is by herself, and speak to the issues that are important to all of us. When she has done this, SHE has shaped the debate.

I know I'm not saying anything new that hasn't already been said in the week long life of this blog. I'm just happy that such a place exists, and happy to be a part of it.

 

More Work For Barbara Boxer

It appears you don't need any judicial experience to be a judge as far as Bush is concerned but having been a paid lobbyist and lawyer to the coal and cattle industries helps. Glenn Scherer explains in Courting Disaster.
William G. Myers III is George W. Bush's choice for a lifetime position on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court's jurisdiction covers three-quarters of all federal lands, in nine Western states where contentious battles rage over energy, mining, timber and grazing.

Unlike most judicial nominees, Myers has never been a judge. Instead, his qualifications include decades as a paid lobbyist and lawyer to the coal and cattle industries. In his recent position as the Bush Interior Department's chief attorney, Myers tried to give away valuable federal lands to a mining company and imperiled Native American sacred sites. "His nomination is the epitome of the anti-environmental tilt of so many of President Bush's nominees," says Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
But one rejection is not enough for George W. Bush.
Democrats aggressively blocked Myers' appointment with a filibuster in 2004. So when his nomination lapsed at the end of this past congressional session, many legal experts assumed it was dead, along with the nominations of nine other judicial candidates that were blocked by Senate Democrats for their extremist ideology, industry ties and/or ethical problems. But on Dec. 23, while Americans were distracted by the holidays, the president gave his corporate backers (especially those in the energy and mining industries) a Christmas present: He announced his intent to renominate seven of the filibustered candidates, including Myers. (The other three were given the option of being renominated, but withdrew themselves from consideration.)
Lower Court nominations are as critical as Supreme Court nominations.
....Bush's nominations to the lower federal courts are as crucial to the environment. While the Supreme Court takes on less than 100 cases per year, the circuit (or appellate) courts hear more than 40,000 appeals annually and set most legal precedents that become the law of the land.

There are currently 37 federal judicial openings, with 15 of those on the circuit courts of appeal. For the environment, some of the key open judgeships include three vacancies on the District of Columbia Circuit (the court that hears most environmental cases involving executive-branch regulatory agencies such as the Interior Department, the U.S. EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers), as well as seven vacancies on the West's 9th Circuit.

"In many ways, the courts are more important than either Congress or the executive-branch agencies," says Patrick Parenteau, professor of environmental law and director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Vermont Law School. "Congress may enact the laws, but it does so in very broad, sweeping terms. It is the courts that interpret, apply, and enforce the statutes." Without the courts, such landmark legislation as the Clean Air and Water Acts could have been stillborn, he says. "If you don't have courts and judges willing to take a strong stand, those laws never take effect on the ground. They don't change how things are done. The courts give teeth to environmental laws."
It is a long detailed piece and you can read the rest here.
This is where we are going to really need the likes of Barbara Boxer. Send a message to your Senators, my country is not to be given away or sold.

 

Wolcott on the Lonely Like Boxer on Rice

James Wolcott has this to say:
Why is Barbara Boxer out there all alone asking the tough questions about Condi Rice's snail trail of deceit and fearmongering? She has the audacity to act as if the Senate actually has some traditional advise-and-consent role to play and for her pains is caricatured as a shrieking harridan on Saturday Night Live and a witch on talk radio. Boxer was terrific today on CNN, refusing to back down and reiterating her questions and objections regarding Rice with emphatic clarity while Sen Lugar mumble-mumbled some pathetic excuse-making about how Rice didn't deliberately mislead the country re Iraq's WMDs, she just did the best she could under the circumstances. (read the rest)

To tell the truth, I think the confirmation of Secretatay of State is almost irrelevant since all our foreign relations are currently being run out of the Pentagon. Still, I think Boxer needs to throw these punches. Maybe it'll knock some sense into those who are paying attention...

 

Boxer on Blitzer

Quickie, probably mistake-filled transcript:

BOXER: "I gave Dr. Rice many opportunities to address specific issues - I had the quotes on the board there. And I showed her what she said - the aluminum tubes, for example...could only be used for nuclear weapons. And it is very clear that that wasn't so, and she should have known that at the time, and she refused to answer it, she said I was impugning her integrity. You know, it's a very good debating technique. You know, I've been in this debating business for quite awhile, and when you don't know what to say about something, you just attack the person who's asking the question...She has not corrected the record, and I worry about someone who had a chance to correct the record and didn't do so."

And shorter Lugar:

"She did the best that she could."

Frankly, I think lying about the issues Boxer accused her of lying about is less damning, job qualifications-wise, than just not knowing.

BOXER: "Let me say again...Martin Luther King said, 'Our lives begin to end when we stop talking about things that matter.' And what matters to my people in California - because we've lost 25% of those who died in Iraq - the things that matter include this war. I have quotes that she made on your show Wolf, and other shows, because although she was an adviser to the President, she went out to sell this war to the American people, and she said things that were flat out not true..."

Shorter Wolf: What about the smoking gun-mushroom cloud statement?

BOXER: "I think that she frightened every American, and that was the point. And this is very interesting and she had not response to this at all. Later she went on...NewsHour on PBS and was asked, did you exaggerate this, and she said 'Look, no one ever said Saddam would have a nuclear weapon within a year, no one ever said that' and it turns out, nine months before, George Bush said that, and after she made the comment that no one ever said that, she said it again, that [Saddam would have a weapon in a year.] This is not good."

Okay, that's enough transcribing. She also does a little exposing of Bush's PNAC-Neocon language in the inaugural speech. "I didn't get the point of it."

She did make one slight misstep, I felt. She called HW Bush "daddy Bush", and then backpedaled and said she had great respect for him. This is the kind of thing that the righties love to jump on, and it takes away from a serious discussion. Overall, though, I felt she did quite well.

 

"Like Two Fighters Trying to Figure Out What's Next"

Political columnists Andrew Matier and Philip Ross talk with Barbara Boxer about the Ohio challenge, the Rice hearings, and the pugilistic stylings of Republicans and Democrats in this morning's S.F. Chronicle. The Senator shrugs off a question about her newfound visibility, claiming she's only doing what the people of California "hired me to do, which is get out there and really make a case. I did it against Enron, against toxic waste and against John Ashcroft. I think my colleagues pretty much expect it." Highlights:
M&R: And now you were the most visible challenger to Condoleezza Rice's appointment as secretary of state. There are those who think you're being asked to lead these charges because you're a woman and just safely re-elected.

Boxer: Let me put it this way -- did someone ask me to be the point person or anything? The answer is absolutely no. I'm doing these things because I promised the people I would fight for them.

M&R: Well, you certainly provided great theater when Rice accused you of getting personal. Were you surprised that, of all the questioners, you were the one she shot back at?

Boxer: No. I was trying to get her to explain why she said the things she did. Instead of answering my points about aluminum tubes, about the supposed links between Iraq and terrorists, she just pulled the oldest trick in the book, saying, "How dare you do this to me?"

She's a very good debater.

 

Doctor Feelgood

President Bush kept having red blotchy rashes breaking out on this face that stumped all the White House physicians. Finally they called in a exclusive dermatology specialist. After a thorough examination, he offered the President this cure:

"Take this red pill in the morning with breakfast. Then this green pill in the . afternoon. Before going to bed take this purple one and very importantly rub some fresh feces on the the rash. It's best if they're you own."

With some doubts Bush followed the prescription, despite it being in the middle of his campaign. Within 3 days he is cured and there were no more rashes.

So he called the specialist and asked, "What was it you gave me for this miracle cure."

The doctor explained, "The red pill was a mild laxative. The green pill was to increase your circulation, and purple one was to promote healthy skin growth."

"But what about rubbing my crap on my face?" asked the President.

"Well," explained the doctor, "I'm just a Democrat!"

 

Loyal Opposition: Sen. Boxer v. Dr. Rice: A Question of Racism?

Loyal Opposition: Sen. Boxer v. Dr. Rice: A Question of Racism?

Another of my daily "must read" blogs is Loyal Opposition, a blog that describes itself as "Promoting the Moral Values of the Democratic Party: Tolerance, Justice, Compassion, Community."

Yesterday, Loyopp blogged about a Colbert King piece in the Post accusing President Boxer of racism in her questioning of Condi during the hearings last week. It's an asinine accusation, of course, but it made it into print.

Take a minute to pay Loyopp a visit and while you're at it, check out the rest of his blog. He brings a unique set of qualifications to the table and is always a pleasure to read.

 

Must See TV

President Boxer will appear on CNN's Late Edition today at noon.

And, on a side note, John "Salvador Option" Negroponte is also on Late Edition - not to mention Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week. That's right, he's hitting the quintella! Should be interesting...

 

A Male Legislator Handicap?

In an otherwise excellent column which lauds Senator Boxer and is quite critical of Condi Rice and the Bush administration, David Nyhan makes one troublesome comment:

While her fellow Democrats held her coat, she [Boxer] let fly with scorching challenges to Bush's policies and Rice's rationalizations. Male politicians are severely handicapped when it comes to challenging women in public, whether in a political debate or during a highly charged congressional hearing. Everyone remembers what happened to some of the men who grilled Anita Hill during the bloody and unedifying Clarence Thomas hearings.

I'm troubled by that "severely handicapped" comment because:
1. I don't believe it's true; and
2. It provides a handy excuse for male legislators who do a poor job questioning high level administration officials who happen to be female.

As for the Anita Hill hearing, some of Hill's male questioners looked bad, not because they were grilling a woman in a tough manner, but because they were in many instances obnoxious and off base.

Asking tough, probing questions of a high level female like Rice (who's done an abysmal job and is looking for a promotion) is hardly analogous to what went on during the Anita Hill hearing.

Male legislators should be up to the task of grilling Rice. And if they fail at it, they shouldn't be able to use the "men look bad when they're mean to women" excuse.

UPDATE: I am very sorry to say that this was David Nyhan's final column. He died on January 23, apparently of a heart attack, shortly after shoveling snow. He was a great columnist, and his death is a huge loss. Rest in peace, Mr. Nyhan.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

Double-oh Democrats

j a c k *: The Boxer Rebellion...

Every blogger has their core collection of "daily read" blogs without which the day's musings would seem empty. j a c k * (or "Jack Asterisk") is one of mine. The asterisk points to the fact that Jack is a "champion of reason, rationality and science," and indeed he is. Try him - I think you'll like him.

This morning jack* writes to us about "Double-Oh Democrats" - the new sort of Democrats we need for our new political circumstances and new century:
Like the cold-war operatives of the same name, double-oh Democrats would think fast and react quickly, identifying and rapidly exploiting small weaknesses in their opponent's position. They would attack without hesitation or remorse, fearlessly belaying any argument with overwhelming rhetorical force, and then pause only briefly to make cutting quips over a fallen legislator or slain pundit. They would take offense at bad policy and the ferocity of their words would match their outrage. They would call a lie a lie. They would move smoothly through the halls of power, quietly gathering intelligence on GOP plans, making alliances when necessary but being willing to abandon them when the greater needs arises. They would never give the opposition cover or succor, and expect none in return. And they would tell the truth -- the ugly and rude truth -- about the enemy.
Jack* recognizes that Boxer is heading in this direction, "a bold but uncertain mutation in the Democratic genome." He goes on to say that our duty is to make visible our support for her and her admirable behavior in the face of Condi's obfuscation and lies.
Not necessarily because we think that any particular action made a real difference this time, but to send a signal through the whole Democratic ecosystem that we support these kinds of actions. These are strategies we'll vote for. Those who adopt these strategies will have our support. Votes and dollars are what it's about. If more Democrats see that stepping out, being willing to defend what is right even if you get laughed at, makes the voters at home happy, more will do it
Read Jack's piece, and while you're at it, read some more of what he has to say. You may find yourself coming back for more tomorrow.


 

I'm sorry, she's still a liar

Colbert I. King a columnist I usually respect takes exception to Barbara Boxer's attack on Condi Rice and completely misses the point. In Why the Crass Remarks About Rice? he wonders why Boxer said
"I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war.
His point being that Rice truly believed in the cause and was not just a parrot. I'm sorry but it doesn't really matter if she is firmly assimilated into the Borg Hive of this administration, she still lied and mislead the American people.

A "woman of color":
Dorothy Height, chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, who wrote in a letter to The Post this week: "Despite the challenges she will face, Ms. Rice's appointment is a time for women of color to smile."
I'm sorry but "women of color" should be hanging their heads in shame that the first of their kind to reach such a pinnacle of power is an incompetent misguided liar. Any attempt by the black community to defend her qualifies as racism.
Mr. Colbert objected to her caricature as a parrot. That's all there is in the Bush administration's hive.
Cross posted at Running Scared.

 

Boxer Opponents Into Submission

I praise the great Senator Barbara Boxer!
No timid Tom Daschle, she takes the hard knocks. Her
Courageous assault on election fraud rocks. Her
Strong questions to Condi just blew off my socks. Her
Good looks in her sixties... she's still quite the fox. Her...

Look, they don't call me the Yellow Doggerel Democrat for nothing; I could go on like that for quite a while. Fortunately, I won't, because there are more important things to discuss.

I am a liberal and a Democrat. Those two aspects are not as inseparable in the public mind, even the Democratic mind, as they once were, say, 50 years ago. I want to see those attributes, "liberal" and "Democrat," reconnected. I want to see Democrats stand their ground on the liberal issues that were once their signature. I want them to exhibit courage in the face of administration browbeating. I want them to put up an incredible fight when the franchise is in danger, or the validity of an election is in question. I want them... I want them to act like Barbara Boxer.

Look: it's early days, and I have no idea whom I'll support for president in 2008. But since it's early days, I'll back the most visible symbol of courageous liberalism in the Democratic Party today: Barbara Boxer.

You gotta problem wit' that? Watch yer mouth; or I'll start rhyming again...

Steve Bates
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat

Friday, January 21, 2005

 

The Boxer of My Choice is in My Corner

Barbara Boxer was my County Supervisor where I grew up and went to High School. That was before Marin County became famous for "Peacock Feathers and Hot Tubs." That was before a bunch of very rich idiots moved there from inclement climes and harsh winters back east and raised property values so much, us natives couldn't afford to live there anymore.

She's a liberal of the kind that means keeping an eye out for the little guy. That's why I'm happy she has recently taken Center Stage:
The first week of the session, Boxer led the Senate challenge over certification of the Ohio presidential vote, citing irregularities.

In the end, it was she alone standing against certification, with 74 of her colleagues - including Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and 33 other Democrats - favoring the count.

And last week, Boxer was all over Condoleezza Rice at her confirmation hearing to be President Bush's new secretary of state. Boxer all but called Rice a liar over her statements leading up to the war in Iraq as Bush's national security adviser.

Repeatedly, Rice appealed to Boxer to turn down the attacks.

"We can have this discussion in any way that you would like," Rice said. "But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity."

Boxer never relented, and she and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrats' nominee against Bush in November, cast the only votes against sending Rice's nomination to the Senate floor.

Boxer said in an interview last week that she is not the new diva of demagoguery.

"I was just doing my job, like I've always done it before," she said.

Not only does she understand what it means to have a pair of big of brass ones, she can become the voice of the opposition we all desire; she has support from her kind of people - us Democrats that don't believe in carrying water for the Administration.
"There is a sense among a lot of Democrats that it is very important not to give Bush a free ride, at any point," she said.

In the interview, Boxer said she doesn't believe her November election margin changes anything, except to give her another Senate term that, as it happens, won't end until two years after Bush is out of office.

"I don't believe in mandates," she said.

"But what I do believe in is keeping promises to the people," she said. "I told them election night - and I didn't know how prophetic this was - that if I had to stand alone, I will do it. I am not afraid."

Go Barbara, we're behind you! And, oh, did I mention that with 6.9 million votes she received the most votes any senator in any state has ever received.

 

Roaming The Boxer Bloggerhood

Welcome to the first edition of Roaming The Boxer Bloggerhood. (In the spirit of my good pal Skippy, yes I coined that term.)

Lots of bloggers have been commenting on the job Senator Boxer did on Condi Rice. Here's just a sampling:

Justin Raimondo, who comments that he rarely agrees with Senator Boxer, says "Senator Barbara Boxer made me proud to be a Californian when she pretty much called Condi a liar at the Senate hearing."

Another Californian, Robert at Virtual Soapbox proclaims with four-letter-word-laced delight that "Boxer KO's Condi."

And Susan over at one of my favorite blogs Suburban Guerrilla says "God Bless Barbara Boxer" in a very amusing post. (When it comes to fantasizing, Susan makes me look like a piker.)

Next we have two fine Boxer related posts from Brilliant At Breakfast. This one presents some (pardon the expression) blow by blow commentary which begins "THIS Is What An Opposition Party Looks Like." (A very small opposition party, I might add.)

And in this post Brilliant At Breakfast kindly links to this blog and contrasts Barbara Boxer with Barack Obama.

Finally, there's the terrific Liberal Oasis which presents a must-read essay about how Senator Boxer might use her now raised profile to have a greater impact. Here's a bit of it:

For example, it’s one thing if she votes “No” on Alberto Gonzales and Condi Rice.

It’s another if she follows up with a string of media interviews explaining that if Democrats were in charge, we would never nominate candidates that hurt our efforts to fight terror by sullying our credibility or condoning torture.

That way, her vote is not mere naysaying, but an action that shapes the public’s view of liberal principles.

Basically, Boxer could play a role akin to the SAKAL (Strategist and Ass-Kicker At-Large) role that LiberalOasis envisioned for Howard Dean if he passed on DNC Chair.

Someone that has the freedom to independently push the envelope on messages and tactics, so when they get traction, the rest of the party will be compelled to follow suit.


Update: As I mentioned yesterday, Senator Boxer is scheduled to appear tonight (Friday) on the Majority Report. She's listed first, but I don't know if that's based on time or prestige. To be safe, I'd start listening at 7 PM Eastern. Oh, and Bill Scher of the Liberal Oasis (quoted above) is on too. Sounds like a boffo show!

 

Not Afraid To Stand Alone

"She said on election night that she was not going to be afraid to stand alone," said David Sandretti, her chief spokesman. She did. I thank her for it. She didn't have to stand alone on the next vote. Former Presidential Candidate John Kerry voted with her against "Mushroom Cloud" Rice.

From the linked article:
Boxer has been source of political frustration for California Republicans, who have been unable to knock her off despite her liberal voting record and her prominent role as a legislative leader on protecting abortion rights. She rolled up a 20 percentage point win in November over the Republican challenger, Bill Jones, and accumulated just under 7 million votes, the highest total ever for a senator.
A Democrat who is resoundingly successful and isn't trying to be Republican-Lite. How long before other Democrats notice her winning formula?


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