Saturday, January 16, 2010

California Progressive Caucus Slams Lynn Woolsey Support For Blue Dog Jane Harman


Did Marcy Winograd make that sign? Jane Harman sure didn't

A few days ago we mentioned that Lynn Woolsey, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had decided to do a fundraiser for Blue Dog Jane Harman. Harman, the wealthiest Democrat in the House, has supported Woolsey in the past and perhaps Woolsey felt that that overshadowed Harman's consistent support for the Bush agenda, especially all things related to war, but also including Bush's domestic priorities, like the bankruptcy bill that makes life almost unbearable for so many victims of medical and health insurance catastrophes. That doesn't make her a bad person; but it does make her a bad co-chair for the Progressive Caucus. She should resign from that.

Woolsey is also on the board of PDA and yesterday they publicly excoriated her for backing Harman. They pointed out that she was "conferring on the Harman campaign is something far more valuable than an appeal for financial donations (which, given her vast personal wealth, are hardly needed). Your title of Progressive Caucus Co-Chair will be useful to the Harman campaign as it labors to give Democratic primary voters the false impression that she can be called 'progressive' in any meaningful sense of the word."

Along those same lines, yesterday the California Progressive Caucus sent all their members the following letter:
Dear Progressive Caucus Members,

Last week, we received the unfortunate news that a stalwart ally of progressive Democrats everywhere has come out to give her support to one of the worst Blue Dogs in the House. Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Lynn Woolsey has decided to appear at a fundraiser for war hawk Jane Harman (CA 36) this Saturday, in a part of the district that last time turned out strongly for Marcy Winograd, a much loved and respected member of our own Progressive Caucus. Marcy is challenging Jane again and this time, the ‘powers that be’ have wasted no time in implementing a plan which includes character assassination on the one hand to whip up a McCarthy-like hysteria among a targeted demographic in the district, and a cynical divide and conquer strategy on the other, in an attempt to cut into the base of support that is apparent for Marcy. While we understand the politics of well, politics, what caught all of us off guard was the matter of degree to which the situation has so far transpired and most disappointingly, the way ‘one of our own’ obliged the Harman campaign without considering the consequences of her actions.

We have received quite a few emails asking us to respond as officers of the Caucus. We thank everyone for contacting us. This is indeed an important development that warrants a serious and thoughtful response. On behalf of the CDP’s Progressive Caucus Executive Board, the following letter has been sent to Congresswoman Woolsey. We hope you agree that it reflects the collective view of our Caucus membership.

Faithfully yours,

Karen Bernal
Chair, Progressive Caucus, CDP

And this is what they sent to Woolsey herself:
January 13, 2010

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
2263 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
1050 Northgate Drive, Suite 354
San Rafael, CA. 94903

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
1101 College Avenue, Suite 200
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Dear Congresswoman Woolsey,

We, the officers of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, are your constituents, both in your district, and throughout the rest of California. We are your friends, your ardent supporters through your long and distinguished career and consider ourselves your progressive colleagues in the California Democratic Party. We have worked for the same agenda inside the Democratic Party as you pushed for in Congress. We turned out and worked on the ground to defeat your primary opponent several years ago, motivated by a deep admiration for the leadership you have shown on many issues dear to Progressives, and we have been reliable campaign contributors along the way.

We write to express our strong disappointment in your decision to support the re-election campaign of Jane Harman, an undistinguished, scandal-ridden conservative, over Marcy Winograd, a true and longstanding progressive. We understand that Harman has recently moved slightly left in an attempt to keep her seat. After the election, however, we expect her to revert to her blue-dog ways and oppose much of your (and our) legislative agenda. Marcy, on the other hand, is a certain vote for the progressive legislation you and we have fought for: an end to two wars, Medicare for all, reform of the banking system, a civil liberties renaissance, etc. To us, it should be an easy moral as well as political choice: replace a blue-dog with another member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

While we do not relish having to write to you over this matter, we are more astonished to find ourselves in the position of having to express how damaging we feel your appearance at this event would be to the credibility and reputation of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the health of the progressive movement in the Democratic Party (which could be made either precarious or robust, depending on the actions of those representatives we deem most important, such as yourself), and all who would call themselves Progressive Democrats. Numerous articles have been written on the subject of the wandering soul of our Party as of late, and as progressives in the largest state party in the nation, we would hope you would recognize the context in which your actions will certainly be judged.

We know that you are committed to this fundraiser. If you won’t withdraw from that event, we ask that you appear at a similar event for Marcy Winograd in your district.

Sincerely, and hopefully,

Karen Bernal, Chair, AD 5, CD 5
Mal Burnstein, NoCal Vice-Chair, AD 14, CD 9
Ahjamu Makalani, SoCal Vice-Chair, AD 61, CD 43
Dotty LeMieux, Secretary, AD 6, CD 6
Ralph Miller, Treasurer, AD 6, CD 6
Jeffrey Killeen, Parliamentarian, AD 27, CD 14
Mayme Hubert, Officer-at-Large, AD 6, CD 6
Dr. Bill Honigman, Officer-at-Large, AD 73, CD 48
J Brian Washman, Officer-at-Large, AD 4, CD 4

Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party
24 Riverpebble Ct
Sacramento CA 95833

In a few hours Blue America will officially endorse Marcy Winograd for the congressional seat representing CA-36 and she will join us a at 10AM (PT)> I hope you can come too. Meanwhile, please consider donating to Marcy's campaign.

Marcy has been slandered by Harman supporters who like to whisper about some anti-Israel plot. Listen to Marcy in her own words about the Middle East:

UPDATE: Anti-War Movement Dismayed By Woolsey's Betrayal

David Swanson author of Daybreak: Undoing the
Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union
and founder of After Downing Street reflected-- very powerfully-- on Woolsey's sell-out to Jane Harman yesterday.
Jane Harman has never seen a war she didn't like or a crime by anyone important that she couldn't excuse. When caught on a warrantless wiretap by the Bush-Cheney gang conspiring with representatives of the Israeli government against her own, Harman chose to allow herself to be blackmailed. She pressured the New York Times to keep the story of warrantless spying programs secret until Bush could get into a second term as president. Harman's loyalty is not to the wishes of her constituents, not to the political fate of her party (the Democrats) and not to her country. In other words she's a model congress member.

Lynn Woolsey, another Democratic congress member, from Northern California, sometimes-- in fact more than almost anyone else-- votes against her party's leadership but with her constituents and the majority of Americans. She votes for peace, justice, decency, and good governance. But just about the only thing she does is vote right. And all of her good votes are countered by someone like Jane Harman, who always votes the worst way she can manage. 

I like Lynn Woolsey. She has good intentions. She's spoken at peace rallies. She and I have spoken together at the same peace rallies. I've made a website to raise money for her. But I spoke up in her district last week, and her constituents cheered when I denounced what she was planning to do in Los Angeles.

A crowd of people was protesting yesterday outside a fundraiser for Harman, according to the report I got from my friend, Ray McGovern. And they were progressive activists, the same people who usually cheer for Woolsey when they see her. Now they were protesting her action, and she had to run the gauntlet to enter the event. According to Ray, Congresswoman Woolsey kept her eyes on the ground and gave the appearance of a criminal being paraded before the cameras after being convicted of some highly embarrassing crime. When she passed by him, Ray said "I am very disappointed in you, Lynn," but she wouldn’t look at him. When she reached the door, Woolsey raised her fist in triumph, as if to say "I made it through you nonviolent peacenik riff-raff, hurrah!"

It was an accomplishment not much less significant than any of Woolsey's accomplishments as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). 

Several caucuses in Congress behave as caucuses. The Blue Dog Caucus, for example, has been known to tell the congressional leadership that its members will vote against a piece of legislation unless it is made worse in certain specified ways. And so it is. These other caucuses are taken seriously and have an impact because they don't just say things. They do things. They threaten to vote No if they don't get their way, and they follow through. The CPC has never ever ever done that. As a result it is universally ignored, despite being the largest so-called caucus in Congress.

...What more would I have Lynn Woolsey and every other so-called progressive member of Congress do? I would have them do what you or I would do if we were there: publicly commit to voting No on war money ahead of time, publicly and privately lobby and pressure colleagues and leadership to do the same, vote No on the procedural votes that allow the policy votes, quit monkeying around with bills that express displeasure or which will never pass the Senate and be signed into law, and focus instead relentlessly and uncompromisingly on blocking the funding in the House. An all-out peace advocate would not raise money for Jane Harman, but would instead publicly shame Jane Harman's funders and call for a criminal investigation of both Harman and her blackmailers. 

An all-out peace advocate in Congress would be exactly like... well, exactly like Marcy Winograd.  Marcy is a brilliant, outspoken, hardworking, and principled activist citizen challenging Jane Harman in an electoral primary and scaring her into whatever pressure it is she put on Lynn Woolsey that brought her down to Los Angeles to provide "progressive" cover. If Lynn Woolsey wanted progressive change, rather than merely progressive branding and imagery, she would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Marcy Winograd. Fortunately, I get the impression that a great many Angelenos and Americans are principled, decent, and sophisticated enough to support Woolsey when she does right and oppose her when she does wrong, and to overwhelm her misplaced advocacy with our support, donations, and volunteer time for the woman who will be the leader of the fight for the people's views against the corporate agenda in the 112th Congress, Marcy Winograd.

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At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Exactly why is Woolsey the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus? I understand her positions qualify her as a progressive, but every time I've seen her interviewed she comes across as unfocused, unskilled, and unfit for public showing. If the image the progressive caucus seeks is of a very nice person, I suppose she will do. If they want to get it spread around that they actually hold views and mean to act on them, somebody else should be selected who can do the PR.


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