By EMMA BROWN
Along with a long list of strong women (and a few men) from the Golden State, DiFi is reshaping the post-Bush political debate in Washington—and that’s not all good, according to the Economist. Californians are as far to the left as Southern Republicans were to the right, says the Economist, endangering the delicate coalition that elected President Obama.
Taking cues from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the magazine that shuns bylines writes in its Feb. 26 issue that, “The Californication of the Democratic party carries all sorts of risks. The most obvious is that California has the most dysfunctional politics in the country.”
Ouch. And San Francisco, says the magazine that doesn’t love us, is “a combination of a playground for the ultra-rich and a sewer for the underclass, with the middle classes priced out of the market.”
Looking back at Bush
DiFi announced today that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs, will conduct a year-long investigation into the CIA’s handling of suspected terrorists during the Bush era.
“The purpose is to review the program and to shape detention and interrogation policies in the future,” said Feinstein in a joint statement with committee vice chairman Kit Bond.
It’s not clear whether any testimony or subsequent reports will be made public.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, DiFi will also have a chance to hear testimony from Karl Rove and Harriet Miers about the alleged politicization of the Justice Department under Bush. The hearings will be private, but transcripts will be released to the public.
DiFi’s looking for assurance, too, that Obama will reverse Bush’s tradition of secrecy.
When attorney Dawn Johnsen, the president’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, came before the Judiciary Committee last week for a confirmation hearing, Feinstein pressed her to say whether she would release more than 40 secret memos about the legal issues surrounding counterterrorism. (One such memo that has been made public is the infamous “torture memo” describing the legal argument in favor of using torture during interrogations.)
Johnsen, a longtime critic of Bush’s secrecy, said she would try to release them quickly, but that delays may be necessary if sensitive information needs to be redacted. DiFi was unsatisfied, calling Johnsen’s reply “vague and imprecise.”
In an uncharacteristic screwup of international proportions, DiFi accidentally let slip during an Intelligence Committee hearing that American anti-militant drones are being flown out of Pakistani bases, endangering American military at those bases and potentially destabilizing Pakistan’s elected government.
There are no statements on Feinstein’s website about the embarrassing bellyflop. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Her spokesman, Phil LaVelle, later said she was referring to a “front-page Washington Post story in March.” But she made no reference to news reports in her remarks. Pakistan has since denied Ms. Feinstein’s account, but former U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that it was accurate, lamenting the fact she stated it publicly. “It was a big mistake on her part,” said one.
A thousand times I’m sorry
A month and a half ago, hundreds of inaugural ticket holders stuck for hours in D.C.’s now-famous “purple tunnel of doom” due to poorly coordinated security efforts made the best of their sad situation. Now, DiFi is trying to make amends. Purple ticket holders received a whole package of goodies, including photographs of the president and first lady and an official apology from Dianne herself.
Representation … and rifles
The Senate passed the DC Voting Rights Act last week, giving the left-leaning capital city a seat in the House of Representatives for the first time. The bill will also give right-leaning Utah a new seat, expanding the House permanently by two members to 437.
But the victory for DC representation activists was bittersweet. The bill came with a controversial amendment (sponsored by Nevada Senator John Ensign) that would, according to the The Washington Post,
gut the District’s new gun law entirely, eliminate the city’s firearms registration system, legalize assault weapons and allow D.C. residents to buy guns in Maryland and Virginia without D.C. government oversight. And to further twist the knife in the city’s back, the amendment prohibits the D.C. Council from enacting any gun restrictions.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty denounced the amendment, as did Feinstein, a staunch gun-control supporter.
“It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible, it will lead to more violence,” charged Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). She said that approval of the amendment would be “the first step to removing all common-sense gun regulation all over this land.”
Now the House is mulling the bill.
Feinstein voted in favor of confirming California Rep. Hilda Solis as secretary of labor. Solis was confirmed on an 80-17 vote.
She voted against Ensign’s anti-gun-control amendment to the DC Voting Rights Act; the amendment passed, however, 62-36. She voted in favor of the Act, which passed on a 61-37 vote.