Monday, January 31, 2005

Go, Barbara, Go

"Well-behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thather

Sen. Barbara Boxer Steps Into Spotlight
Sun Jan 30,12:52 AM ET

Politics - AP
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record) has always spoken up, but the California Democrat seems to have gotten a lot louder lately. Her opposition to Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites)'s secretary of state nomination was so combative that it was parodied on Saturday Night Live. That came on the heels of her decision to sign onto a House member's complaint about Ohio voting problems, forcing Congress to debate them before certifying President Bush (news - web sites)'s re-election victory.
AP Photo
Slideshow: Senator Barbara Boxer

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 she's becoming a spokeswoman, or even a symbol, for voters who oppose the Iraq (news - web sites) war or feel shut out by the Bush administration. Maybe, with the Democratic Party at sea after November's election losses, some people sense a leadership void and are looking to her to fill it.
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.
"She seems to be assuming the position of being an outspoken voice for, as someone else said, the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," says Los Angeles Democratic strategist Darry Sragow, echoing a phrase adopted by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites).
"In the wake of the losses in November ... there is a vacuum, there's handwringing, there's self-reflection, and she seems to have pretty sure footing as a determined, committed spokesperson for the liberals in the party," Sragow says. "Part of the handwringing will be over whether that's a good thing or a bad thing."
Barely five feet tall, Boxer must stand on a box — which she sometimes refers to as "the Boxer Box" — to see over the podium at press conferences. Fond of gold jewelry and colorful, occasionally mismatched outfits, she's energetic and aggressive, given to dressing down government officials at hearings, especially when reporters are within earshot.
That rankles Republicans, who say she's more show horse than work horse in the Senate. But sometimes, she can make even fellow Democrats squirm.
In the ongoing Democratic debate about how to effectively oppose the Republicans, Boxer represents a solution not everyone can embrace: She simply opposes, often without bothering to compromise. To some, she's too extreme and risks alienating moderate voters without producing legislative results.
Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska, perhaps the most conservative Senate Democrat, is diplomatic in describing Boxer's role in the party: "You don't get a center if you don't get a left or right."
Sen. Mark Dayton (news, bio, voting record) of Minnesota, a fellow liberal who stood with Boxer in opposing Rice, criticized her on the Senate floor over her decision to bring the November election certification to a halt. He called it "seriously misguided."
But the combative qualities that turn some people off endear her to others.
"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."
For the record, Boxer says she has no interest in running for president. But she's gratified by the blogs and the Boxer for President bumper stickers selling for $3.95 on the Internet.

If she did ever want to try for president, she could point to some compelling evidence of electability.
In winning her third Senate term in November, Boxer was the nation's third-highest vote-getter, behind only Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (news - web sites). She squashed Republican opponent Bill Jones by 20 percentage points, scoring a bigger share of the electorate than Dianne Feinstein, the state's other Democratic senator, got in her last election.
Since she left the House to run for Senate, Republicans have targeted Boxer as too liberal for California. She had tough races in 1992, when she beat a conservative television commentator by 5 percentage points, and 1998, when she defeated a former state treasurer by 10.
Republicans talked tough about taking her on in 2004 as well, but in the end they hardly even tried. Jones, a social conservative and former California secretary of state, was endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites); but he ran a weak campaign and never raised enough money to air a single television commercial.
"It's impossible for my opponents to say, 'Well she just squeaked by, she doesn't really represent a lot of people, she's a fluke.'" Boxer says. "Which is what they said the first two times."
Since Boxer and Feinstein joined the Senate in 1992's Year of the Woman, Feinstein has been the more prominent. Although they have cooperated on initiatives and vote together more often than not, they do not have a close relationship and part ways on some issues, including the Iraq war and the Rice nomination.
Republicans say they can work with Feinstein. Her advice and endorsement are courted by Schwarzenegger and others on issues while Boxer, whom they generally despise, is left on the sidelines.
"I don't think attack dogs are ever useful," said Rep. Darrell Issa (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., who lost a 1998 GOP primary election for the chance to run against Boxer.
But lately it's been Boxer in the headlines, sought out by reporters from The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and parodied on SNL.
In the skit that aired Jan. 22, Boxer, as portrayed by actress Amy Poehler, used a series of props to interrogate Rice — among them a packet of baloney, a poster of the number zero (representing weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq), and a bar graph with one barely visible bar ("the truth") and another bar stretching the length of the chart ("what you say").
Boxer, who did arm herself with several enlarged maps and quotations during Rice's confirmation hearing, loved the skit. "They really nailed me," she says. "It was the funniest thing I've ever seen."
Leading the charge for the opposition isn't new for Boxer. As a Brooklyn newlywed, she once organized fellow apartment building tenants to petition for carpeting. As a House member in 1991, she led fellow congresswomen up the steps of the Senate to demand hearings into Anita Hill's sexual harassment claims against Clarence Thomas (news - web sites). She led recent opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (successfully), and against the ban on what opponents call partial birth abortion (unsuccessfully).
Some Republicans have suggested that Boxer should have accepted Bush's re-election victory as a sign of acceptance for his secretary of state nominee, and kept her mouth shut on the Rice nomination.
She's in no danger of doing that — on any issue.
"Bush got 60 million votes plus and Kerry got 57 million votes plus, so you can't say it isn't a sizable portion of the country that doesn't deserve to be heard," Boxer said. "They do deserve to be heard; and even if they are far left, they deserve to be heard."

The Oldest Story There Is

These are the last two paragraphs of today's review of the book mentioned below that appears in It was written by Rebecca Traister. You can get a free pass to Salon every day by watching an add which is a bit annoying but you don't have to look at the thing for very long. I love how Traister sees through the fact that this girl just feels so horrible about herself and trying so hard to make it stop. Been there, still suffer with it. Trying to stop.

"But in her tale there lies a larger pattern. Throughout "Smashed," Zailckas periodically lays off the hooch, then starts drinking again. It's a favorite syndrome for women. We quit eating, quit drinking, quit smoking. We quit talking to toxic friends, quit being sluts, quit being prudes. There is power in self-abnegation, deprivation, in foot-stamping "Nos!" But we're always falling off our wagons: drinking too much and loving immoderately, handing control to people and substances that make us feel bad about ourselves, until once again, we clamp down and punish ourselves for having given in. It's a cycle that marks and damages almost all of us, whatever our chosen poison.

Booze happens to be the skeleton on which Zailckas has hung her narrative. She insists it wasn't just a convenient way to sell her book, and I believe her. But if you boiled the alcohol off of "Smashed," you would have a story of a girl struggling with the fact that she feels terrible about herself and her place in the world. The oldest story there is. "

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Winona & Me

It was such a great line. The one at the end of the movie Heathers, "I want cool guys like you out of my life." There are lots of great lines in the flick but that one did resonate with quite a few of us chicks who have had a tendency to fall for one or two bad boys (some of us having been bad girls ourselves). 2002 wasn't such a hot year for me and it wasn't a particularly great one for Ms. Ryder either from what I've read.

I was just checking out today's headlines thinking I wouldn't be too disappointed if acting as a Peterpan didn't garner one a major acting achievement but I'm guessing that Mr. Johnny will be getting the nod this year. Popularity and marketing are what the AA's are all about. I'm not sure if this wasn't ever really the case. Oh well, I hope Winona is better. If we ever cross paths we'd no doubt have quite a bit to talk about.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Nothing Like Science

Given the fact that I truly have never had too much faith that anything had much to do with me, I was speculating about the reason my profile views count went up from time to time. Now recently, I have discovered that I few more old pals read this silly thing from time to time (Thanks, Brun) but mostly I think it's random as are most things. I decided to try a new experiment which seems to be working. I'm using the Meg White as rock star thing again. I got rid of the age and location identifiers on my blogger profile and sure enough those view hits keep on going UP, UP, UP.

There I go, science works again. It didn't have anything to do with me ( as far as I can tell). That groovy drummer chick is scammin' my scene. Or am I scammin' hers?

BTW, I still don't know how to link to other sites so that's why I'm not using that method at present.

It looks like the UN finally has officially recognized the Holocaust. If life were a little more glorious, I'd feel like dancing but I guess that's a pretty dubious thing to dance about, no?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Whoops & So on

I guess that was ABC News that named bloggers the people of the year. I swear the harder I try to get some stuff just right the farther off the mark I actually get. It's pretty silly.

Yesterday was my father's birthday, the first since he died. I didn't even realize how much it was affecting me until I started to write about him and picked up the phone to call my sister and, then, my mother. I have this tendency to underestimate these things. Well, I think I either under or over estimate them. I'm not too good at having much perspective on my own "stuff". Left to my own devices I would be like that dude who was on "This American Life" (Public Radio International) yesterday morning on WSUI in Iowa City who had convinced himself that kidnapping Frank Sinatra, Jr. was both a logical and beneficent solution to dealing with his financial and life crises. He had a mighty fine plan and was convinced he was hearing the voice of God himself (maybe it was all part of the plan, who knows?). It was an hysterical segment. The theme was something about having "back up" plans. Ha, there's that word again. Anyway, I'm sure you can archive TAL and then do an audio tream if you have the technical capacity.

Happy MLK, Jr. Day. Keep the dream alive.

Love, Meg

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mid-Winter Manners

Here's Your Sneak Preview, Gentle and Not-So-Gentle Readers
and hey, babies, we are ABC News' People of the Year!!!

Dear Meg,

I was at a book signing a few weeks ago and talked briefly with this very stunning woman. I never believed in such things before but when I saw her I felt as if it were love at first sight. Should I contact her? Do you believe in such things? I thought I'd given up on this stuff.


My Dear Alberta,

I certainly believe in love at first bite which can be a bit painful and require a few stitches, not to mention an outlandish hospital bill, so I suppose love at first sight is a distinct possibility. An old friend of mine who met the woman of his dreams a few years back while facilitating a writing workshop for Gulf War Veterans told me when he first heard her he felt like he had been struck upside the head, as if by a frying pan. Both were in their mid 40's at the time and now seem to be living happily ever after so, in fact, maybe good things do come to people who wait. So, yes, go ahead and contact this "stunning" woman. What have you got to lose? Valentine's Day is just around the corner and it is as good a time as any to tempt the wheels of fate be they finicky, fickle or, perhaps, absolutely fabulous. As long as you understand that even the best of people can let you down in small and sometimes extremely major ways (yikes, sometimes they even die!), you are set to handle whatever response you receive.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you, Alberta. I pretend to be a cynical girl but the truth is, I'm one of the last of the true romantics. If this woman says yes to you, bring her flowers and candy and be sure not to just talk AT her. Good manners require that you be a good and responsive listener. Happy "V" day and good luck.



Dear Meg,

My job requires that I travel quite frequently. Lately I've noticed a real decline in common courtesy and what I would call basic decency of my fellow journeyman, most notably on airplanes. Do you have any tips or advice on how I can deal with overly snarly and incredibly selfish people? I'd really appreciate your help. Thanks.


My Dear Carlos,

Wow is this ever a hot topic. More and more airlines are fighting for survival by dropping fares, attempting to pack in more seating and cutting back on labor. As this is happening, all of us who fly the once friendlier skies are beginning to fray around the edges. I wish I could say I were an exception but this would be untrue. The important thing to remember is that we are all, for the most part, in the same boat. Okay, it is a boat that is often cruising at an altitude of about 30,000 feet but if the saying fits use or abuse it (wink). I'll share an experience I had a few weeks ago with you, Carlos, in hopes that it is of some help.

I was flying home from visiting my mother in California and found myself stuck in one of those cattle car seats that affords one about 1.3 cm of leg room. Usually, I get to the airport early and request emergency row seating as thay have extra stretch room. I'm a tall woman and tend to be Johnny-on-the-Spot in a crisis so I'm good as an emergency aisle seatee. Why just recently I had to resist the urge to attend an auction that was putting an old ambulance up for bid even though a part of me was convinced the thing was, in fact, my dream car. Anyway, I did not arrive at the airport in time to secure my desired crises-are-us arrangements and was wedged in with the rest of my fellow sufferers.

As soon as the captain announced it was okay to unfasten our seatbelts, the guy seated directly ahead of me immediately reclined his "chair." Actually, he did not recline it, he jettisoned it. I was tired, had a headache and was offended by his cluelessness. I wanted to scream at him or kick the back of the seat that was now in my lap. Instead I counted to 10 and took a couple of deep breaths. I realized that there was a good chance he did not know that modern rules of travel etiquette suggest when one is flying coach, it is considered good form to ask the person seated behind you whether or not they would be inconvenienced if you choose to recline your seat back for the remainder of the flight.

After collecting myself, I choose to accept the inevitable discomfort of the situation and be grateful that I was able to travel at all. This is to say that my best advice is to be a good example. Making yourself aware of what the most courteous and respectful behaviour is and doing it almost always pays off in the long run. It seems to me you are doing a good job of this already, Carlos. It has been my sad experience that some folks are so clueless and self-centered they are not even aware of the fact that others are being behaving badly, least of all themselves. Keeping fighting the good fight -- in a non-confrontational manner that is.