Waterboarding, Food-Stamp heat for DiFi

Any U.S. Senator will get unhappy visitors now and again, but Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has had a tough couple of days.

Everyone knew she would take heat for announcing Friday that she’ll give former judge Michael Mukasey a crucial Democratic vote in the Judiciary Committee for his confirmation as Attorney General. (Read her rationale for the vote here.) Sure enough, CodePink protestors went to Feinstein’s home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights on Sunday with a simulated waterboarding device so people could try it out and decide for themselves whether or not the interrogation technique amounts to torture. Several Democrats including Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., refused to support Mukasey’s confirmation after he wouldn’t definitively say during his confirmation hearings that waterboarding is torture.

Feinstein was in D.C. on Sunday… and so were other CODEPINK activists (including co-founder Medea Benjamin of San Francisco) who enacted a live waterboarding demonstration for Feinstein as she entered CNN’s studios there:

At about 4 p.m. today, children ages 2 to 16 will arrive at Feinstein’s San Francisco office (as well as the Los Angeles office of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.) to invite the Senators to their homes to experience Thanksgiving on $1 a meal — the amount most Food Stamp recipients can afford.

Sent by the California Association of Food Banks, the kids are urging lawmakers to support full funding for the Food Stamp program in the 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419), which reaches the Senate floor today and will set the program’s budget for the next five years. Though the Senate recently made a move to increase funding for the Food Stamp program by $1 billion over 5 years, neither of California’s Senators have guaranteed that they would vote “yes” on a funding increase. About 2 million Californians, or about 5.5 percent of the state’s population, rely on Food Stamps; about 80 percent of those households include children.

The kids will bring home-baked pumpkin “pie charts” depicting the percentage of a modest Thanksgiving meal that the current average Food Stamp benefit of $1.09 per person per meal can purchase (8.9%). Although the minimum monthly benefit has remained frozen at just $10 since the Food Stamp program’s inception in 1977, the price of a Thanksgiving meal for a California family of four has risen by more than 300 percent.

At least the activists aren’t planning to waterboard the kids in her office’s lobby.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.