Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Speaking Truth to Power

Our wonderful Babs has done it again. Read the letter for yourself and send her a note of thanks!
(A PDF version of this letter is available here)
A special shout-out to The Daily Sandwich for this delicious bit-o-news! Thanks, Matt!

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C StreetNW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:
According to reports in today's Washington Post, you have told senior members
of your staff that you do not want "any information coming out of the department that
could adversely affect the nomination" of John Bolton to be U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations. I hope this report is untrue.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to issue an instruction to your department
stating that they will cooperate with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's bipartisan
investigation of John Bolton.

I am sure you are aware that Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the
President is to appoint Ambassadors "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate."
As such, the Senate is fully vested with the authority to investigate executive nominations
to ensure that they are qualified in terms of experience, temperament, and conduct. In
addition, paragraph 1 of Rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate authorizes
Committees "to require by subpoena or otherwise the attendance of such witnesses and
the production of such correspondence, books, papers, and documents." The Supreme
Court has upheld this authority, calling it, "an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the
legislative function."

If you have, in fact, instructed your staff or any other employee of the federal
government not to cooperate with this important investigation, I urge you to act
immediately to reverse such course.

I look forward to your immediate favorable response.

Sincerely,
(signed) Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

The Reptile Brain

Barbara's recent widespread notoriety came about as a result of her tough, smart confirmation hearing questioning.

This is a cross-post of something I posted at my blog... An example of how ruthless Republicans are about eating their own:

Move America Forward:

Transcript of an ad targetting Senator Voinovich for expressing reservations about confirming Bolton for Ambassador to the UN:
[dinner sound effects/cutlery]

Wife: Honey, were you watching C-SPAN today? Did you hear how disloyal Senator Voinovich was to Republicans and President Bush? Voinovich stood with the Democrats and refused to vote for John Bolton, the man President Bush has chosen to fight for the United States at the UN

Husband: No, I was streaming it on the Internet at the office, but from what I could tell, Senator Voinovich played hookey from the hearings?

Wife: Yeah that’s right. He’s missed most of the Bolton confirmation hearings, but then shows up at the last minute and stabs the President and Republicans right in the back.

Husband: That’s ridiculous – the United Nations needs reform, we need someone who will stand up for the United States and fight the UN’s corruption and anti-Americanism.

Wife: Shame on Senator Voinovich. After the Democrats smeared Condoleeza Rice for Secretary of State and Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, how could Voinovich side with the Democrats in smearing John Bolton?

Husband: It seems like Senator Voinovich has become a traitor to the Republican Party.

Wife: Enough’s enough. I’m logging on to Move America Forward dot com to register my protest with Senator Voinovich’s office.

Husband: What was that site? Move America Forward dot com ?

Wife: Yep, Move America Forward dot com
You get that, folks?

If you don't do as you are told, you are disloyal, you are shirking responsibility, you are backstabbing President Bush and the Republican Party. You are a traitor.

There is only the party. You are with us or you are against us.

[The Liberal Avenger]

Saturday, April 16, 2005

 

Boxer on Real Time

I had even tuned into Maher's show. I missed the guest list so I had no idea she was going to be on and there was Bill throwing Bobo softball after softball so I changed the channel believing that Bill was going for the Dennis Miller vote. It turns out he had Sen. Boxer on. I think Bill got annoyed - she was getting bigger laughs than he was.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 

Senator Kerry Demands An Accounting

Okay, so Senator Kerry didn't take a timely, strong stand for vote accounting, and that was a big disappointment. On the other hand, I was pleased to see him demanding that the Small Business Administration account for money spent on (read "wasted on") Bush's Social Security tour.
Kerry wrote to the SBA after learning that it is one of several federal agencies that has tapped its budget to fund the travel of high-level employees as part of President Bush's "60 Stops in 60 Days" tour to promote his Social Security proposals. SBA officials have already traveled to California, Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia as part of the tour.

In the letter, Kerry expressed concern that the SBA was using resources to garner support for the President's Social Security ideas potentially to the detriment of other SBA programs suffering from a lack of funding. Kerry requested a full account of the SBA's spending and travel related to the President's Social Security tour.
I hope similar demands are made of the other agencies who are wasting scarce resources on Bush's 60 day ego trip. For that's what it's become at this point -- a lost cause that Bush's (and Rove's) ego won't let Bush turn his back on.

How much better it would be if Bush were to simply declare victory and focus on what he does best -- vacationing. He could announce that his tour's over because he's reformed Social Security, and who'd question it? Our lapdog press would publish reports of his Social Security reform success and marginalize anybody who pointed out that he actually didn't do anything but spend a lot of money. Rush Limbaugh & Co would bray about Bush's accomplishment, the public would sigh a breath of relief, and we could focus on all the other damage the Bush administration's been doing for the last few years.

 

Senator Boxer Gets Results

Congratulations to Senator Boxer! As Jean Dudley pointed out a few days ago Senator Boxer took a stand against the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study, or CHEERS, calling it "appalling, unethical and immoral," and urging EPA Administrator nominee Stephen Johnson to "Pull the plug tomorrow."

And pull the plug he did. The Senator herself summarizes this episode in an email to her constituents:
Dear Friend:

Last week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public
Works, on which I serve, considered the nomination of Stephen
Johnson to become Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency. I wanted to tell you about the hearing and the
important result of that hearing.

Stephen Johnson is a career EPA employee who has headed its
pesticide program for the past four years. Under his watch,
EPA began a program called “CHEERS” -- or the Children's
Environmental Exposure Research Study. This program enlisted
families who use pesticides in their homes to sign up to
videotape their infants in order to document the side effects
of pesticide exposure. For their participation, families
received $970 each, a camcorder and clothing for their child.
The American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade
group, provided a portion of funding for this study.

In my tenure in the U.S. Senate, I have seldom heard of a more
callous program than CHEERS. We ask EPA to protect us and our
children from environmental hazards -- not pay parents to
record, in a completely unscientific manner, the exposure of
their own children to pesticides.

During his hearing, I asked Mr. Johnson if he had cancelled the
program. He said that it had been “suspended.” Suspension of
this program was not enough. Along with Senator Bill Nelson
(D-FL), I announced my intent to hold up Mr. Johnson’s
nomination, believing that the well-being of children was
reason enough to stop his nomination. The following day, EPA
announced that CHEERS had been cancelled.

Our Constitution provides that the Senate shall provide both
advice and consent on the nomination of presidential
appointments. These are both serious by their very nature.
You can count on me to continue to ask hard questions and
demand accountability by nominees. If you have any questions
about this or any other matter, please be sure to contact me.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Thursday, April 07, 2005

 

Boxer calls foul on EPA/American Chemical Co study of children and pesticides

The good folks over at Think Progress alert us to the continuation of Barbara Boxer's fight against appointees who have their own agendas.

Take a look at TP's article, and then go read the NY Times article they refer to. Registration is required at the NYT site, and once again, I recommend using bugmenot.com to get in without registering.

It seems that Stephen L. Johnson, Bush's appointee to head the EPA, has been working closely with the American Chemical Company to pay low-income (read African-American and Hispanic) families to videotape their children crawling about their pesticide-infested homes, and to answer health questionnaires. They get $970 over two years, and they get to keep the video cameras they use.

Boxer called the program (Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study, or CHEERS) "appalling, unethical and immoral," and urged Mr. Johnson to "Pull the plug tomorrow".

Once again, Ms. Boxer stands up for those who have no voice, speaks truth to power, and calls for a stop to the abuse of taxpayer money and the victimization of the poor.

I applaud her bravery.

 

Global Gag Rule

Though Senator Boxer didn't speak today, she had some pretty loud actions. With some Bipartisan support from Sen. Olympia Snow, they passed an amendment which would end the horrible global gag rule.

There is a greater than zero chance that it will be defeated later on down the road, but it is nice to see it happen, nonetheless.

 

Pelosi and DeFazio, fighting back

Sorry for my absense... Hopefully I can be a bit more attentive in the future.

But I saw a couple examples of some good Democratic fight that I wanted to highlight. First, Nancy Pelosi had a few choice words for our President:
So where does he borrow? He borrows from the Chinese. He borrows from the Japanese. He borrows from the trust fund. And what he is saying now to the American worker: "We will honor our debt to the Chinese and the Japanese, but we are treating you differently. We are not honoring our debt to you." These are funds that workers and their employers put in the account to have a trust fund to cover any shortfall that would be there to cover their retirement benefits. And this President is openly declaring that he has no intention of paying the trust fund back what he has taken from it.
And Congressman DeFazio had some of his own:
But the President did say today something extraordinary, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and suggested something unconscionable. The President said, ``There is no trust fund.'' And then he went on to suggest that our Nation might not honor its debt to Social Security. This is what the President said does not exist.
[...]
Are we going to repay the Chinese but not the Social Security Trust Fund? Are we going to repay President Bush, he happens to have some U.S. Treasury Bonds in his personal portfolio, but not the Social Security Trust Fund? Are we going to repay other wealthy investors around the world and in the U.S., but not the Social Security Trust Fund? We are going to selectively default on our debt.

Suggesting something like that, if the bond markets believed the President, the dollar would drop to near zero tomorrow, and there would be an economic catastrophe, but they do not believe him. They know this is just politics and rhetoric on his part. There is no intention of the Government of the United States defaulting on its debt.
Bush's statements seem to be more and more indicative that the Republican plan for Social Security is about phasing it out, not saving it. Here's hoping that Pelosi and DeFazio aren't the only one's who'll blast them for that.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

 

Telling Truckee the Truth About Bush's Social Security Plans

Boxer was talking to seniors in the Sierras:
United States Sen. Barbara Boxer had sharp criticism for the White House’s Social Security plans in a visit to the Truckee Senior Center on Friday.
Before a packed room, Boxer said President George Bush’s privatization plans for Social Security amounted to going from a “guaranteed benefit to a guaranteed gamble.”

Boxer has been one of the most vocal opponents the Administration's attempt privatize Social Security which add trillions of dollars of debt to an already enormous deficit.
Allowing workers to invest their Social Security in the stock market would add trillions of dollars of debt to the nation, cripple the current national retirement system, and put money in the pockets of Wall Street investors, Boxer said.
Senior citizens at the meeting, who admitted the future of Social Security was on their minds, said the senator’s appearance was welcome.
“It’s a bad deal,” said Al Gammell, of privatization plans for Social Security. Boxer’s talk helped answer some questions he had.
Joyce Scribner, said her concerns over the future of social security are not overwhelming, but she enjoyed Boxer’s take on the subject.
“I feel Social Security is pretty secure,” said Scribner. “I have faith in people like Barbara Boxer.”

As long as we have fighters like Boxer on our side it will be easier to keep the faith...

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