Thursday, February 13, 2014

Obama's Big Misstep With Michael Boggs


Can NARAL save America from Michael Boggs?

Shenna Bellows is a brilliant, independent-minded and dedicated progressive running for the Maine Senate seat current occupied by Susan Collins ®. This morning we were talking about President Obama's shocking nomination of a right-wing ideologue from Georgia to the federal bench, Michael Boggs. I can't imagine Bellows ever voting to confirm someone like Boggs, regardless of what president-- and from which party-- nominates him. "Effective coalition building," she told me, "should never mean compromising our most important values. Too often, bipartisanship has meant capitulation on women's rights and civil rights to the most extreme right-wing elements of the Republican party, and that's exactly what has happened with the Boggs nomination. When it comes to lifetime appointments to the judiciary, I will never waiver in standing up for the constitutional freedoms of all Americans."

Our friends at NARAL alerted us to the problem last week and Jennifer Bendery broke it open nationally for HuffPo yesterday. Obama isn't scoring any points with women's rights groups, civil rights leaders, progressive organizations or even independent-minded Members of Congress with his nomination of Boggs, a former radical right state legislator, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. NARAL has alerted this members and allies that Boggs voted to "channel funds to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and make a parental consent law even more extreme… We’re disappointed that pro-choice President Obama nominated someone who doesn’t share our pro-choice values. We agree with the president on a lot of things, but not this pick. Speak out now and call on your senators to oppose a nominee who can’t be trusted with our rights."
Boggs has already come under fire from civil rights icons Joseph Lowery and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)-- both of whom were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama-- for a vote Boggs took in opposition to removing the Confederate insignia from Georgia's flag. They teamed up with Georgia's Democratic congressional lawmakers in December to urge Obama to rescind Boggs' nomination and start the process over.

Lowery, for one, was so baffled by the president's choice that he said it must have been a staff error. "I think [Obama] must have left it to somebody else," Lowery told HuffPost last month. "It was a mistake."

As if that isn't enough pushback from his base, Obama may also have to contend with anger from LGBT rights groups over Boggs' past vote against same-sex marriage.

"There's no question that he has a number of very troublesome positions," said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. "We are closely examining his record. Typically, we don't develop a position until after there's a hearing."

…Boggs appears so out-of-step with Obama's past nominees because he is part of an all-or-nothing package of six judicial nominees agreed to by the president and Georgia's two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, months ago. Obama made some pretty big concessions: Four of the six nominees are GOP picks, and just one of the six is African American -- a lack of diversity that Georgia Democrats argue doesn't reflect the population those judges will oversee.
DFA is one of several progressive groups generally supportive of Obama's nominees that is balking at this one. Spokesman Neil Sroka: "It's downright appalling that the Obama administration would give in to right-wing obstruction and nominate ... an anti-choice, anti-equality candidate for the federal bench. Putting forward a right-wing candidate that would make George W. Bush think twice for a lifetime judicial appointment isn't horse-trading; it's caving on core progressive values, period… We'll most likely be supportive of opposition efforts in any way we can."

Boggs, currently a member of the Georgia Court of Appeals, can be accurately described as an anti-choice fanatic who worked diligently to take away the rights of women to make their own reproductive health decisions, even when pregnancies were the result of rape and/or incest. The fact that he's also a racist and a virulent homophobe makes him an odd choice for Democrats… or does it?

Just look at the candidates the DCCC has recruited too run for Congress. Steve Israel, steeped in personal corruption and an "ex"-Blue Dog from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, has gone out of his way to find and fund conservative candidates and disadvantage progressives at every opportunity. We've written many times about anti-Choice, fake Democrats that the DCCC is funding, Jerry Cannon (MI) and Jennifer Garrison (OH) being two of the worst. Back in 2009, when Garrison was trying to win the Democratic nomination for Ohio Secretary of State, NARAL help defeat her with this e-mail:
Last week, Jennifer Garrison, a Democrat from Marietta, officially entered the race for Ohio’s Secretary of State. Jennifer Garrison currently serves in the Ohio House of Representatives and has a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Rep. Garrison showed just how extreme her anti-choice position is when she filled out the 2008 candidate questionnaire for Ohio Right to Life, saying she would:
support legislation in Ohio to outlaw abortion (with only an exception to save a woman’s life),

support legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception, and

support state funding for so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that lie to women about the risks of abortion and never refer patients for abortion or birth control services.
Representative Garrison does not share our values.
Someone who does is a lifelong progressive Democrat, Marianne Williamson, who seems to have decided the "progressive" was more important to her than the "Democrat." She reregistered as an independent and is running for Congress in the seat Henry Waxman is giving up (CA-33-- Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Venice, Redondo Beach, Calabasas). She pointed to Boggs' nomination as exactly the kind of DC deal-making that has confirmed her decision to run as an independent in the same way Bernie Sanders has. "It's imperative," she told me this morning, "that our reproductive rights be protected, and  I'm very disappointed that the President would choose to nominate a judge who does not honor a woman's right to choose. While the President has stated repeatedly that he honors Roe v. Wade, clearly the back room wrangling and deal-making in Washington led him to nominate an anti-choice candidate. I look forward to being an independent Congresswoman who has only my constituents, and not party bosses, to contend with in deciding my votes."

In another context entirely, Marianne Williamson released a statement about women's involvement in politics. I thought it belonged in this post. I certainly points out the difference between progressive values-driven women like herself and careerist shills like Garrison. Marianne: "We need to move beyond a conversation that simply focuses on getting more women into office, or even getting more women voting. We need to be stressing what true feminine values would mean in a political context, and what extraordinary power the women of America could be wielding on behalf of our society."

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At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What in the hell is wrong with the PRESIDENT?


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