Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jane Harman's Deception Blows Up In Her Face Again

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It's hard to see the numbers on my house because there's a gigantic rhododendron growing down the side of the wall covering the address. I don't care; I hope no one bothers me. But these days everyone knows it's my house because there's a great big "Jobs Not Wars" Marcy Winograd sign out front.

Marcy's was the very first campaign endorsed by Blue America this year, and so far 817 netroots donors have contributed to her through Blue America '10, Bad Dogs and our Sending The Democrats A Message page. To us her race is iconic-- a way of holding a faithless corporate shill accountable and replacing her with someone we expect to be as vital to progressive politics as past Blue America endorsees Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards (our greatest hits).

Marcy e-mailed me after the California Democratic Party convention to let me know what happened there. The video above pertains to her run-in with Harman, described in her e-mail:
It happened unexpectedly at the Progressive Caucus meeting at the California Democratic Party convention when a panel was convened to discuss the fate of our nation. I spoke, then left, then got a cell phone call: "Get back here. Jane Harman just arrived." I ran back downstairs, returned to the crowded room, and quietly sat down, unbeknownst to Jane, just three bodies down from her on the panel. I waited for her to finish her thought, then jumped in. Jane stuck around for about 15 minutes, but when talk turned to the Middle East she made a break for the door and disappeared. [The second part of the video shows] what went down before she fled. I had been clamoring for a debate with Harman for four years, but she always refused, even when a rabbi offered his 800-seat sanctuary for the venue.
 
Instead, Harman just spreads her money around-- she and Darrell Issa are the two wealthiest members of the House-- and hopes that will buy her enough loyalty from enough places to allow her to keep her seat. She even got a somewhat addled leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to endorse her, something that ruined the poor woman's standing in the progressive community forever. And Harman has used that endorsement to try to mislead progressives into thinking she's changed her wicked ways. 

Rebecca Griffin is the Political Director of Peace Action West, another organization dedicated to peace that has been appalled by Harman and is eager to help replace her with Marcy Winograd. Rebecca was especially incensed because Harman tried to deceive California voters into thinking Peace Action supports her. She sent me this post for DWT.
Harman Tries To Use Peace Action To Bolster Flimsy Progressive Record

Facing a tenacious primary challenge from progressive Marcy Winograd, Jane Harman (CA-36), who once described herself as “the best Republican in the Democratic Party,” has been frantically trying to burnish her progressive credentials. This dynamic was on full display at the California Democratic Party Convention, where Winograd successfully gathered the necessary signatures to pull Harman’s pre-endorsement and force a vote on the floor of the convention. In an attempt to appeal to the party base, Harman published a glossy brochure touting her progressive record, leading with a photo of her with progressive antiwar leader Rep. Lynn Woolsey. The entire document is clearly designed to push a narrative that Winograd’s challenge is unnecessary because Harman is already so progressive. You can download a (roughly scanned) pdf of the brochure here

The part that caught my eye is the table of lawmaker ratings in her pamphlet that misleadingly includes a rating of 82 from Peace Action. It’s an odd record to campaign on in 2010, since the 82 rating comes from votes that occurred in 2007 (pdf). So what’s her most recent score? A whopping 50 percent. As staunch supporters of Marcy Winograd’s campaign to unseat Harman, we want to make sure voters in her district are getting the whole story. 

At best, Rep. Harman, a member of the conservative Blue Dog caucus that has notoriously watered down progressive initiatives,  has been a fair-weather liberal. Her pro-war record has made foreign policy one of the major points of contention with progressives. The 82 rating in 2007 came after Harman had been hammered for years for her early support of the war in Iraq, and it was politically safer for her to vote in favor of a timeline for withdrawal and speak out against the surge. Notably, she voted that year against a resolution that would have prohibited funding for military action against Iran without prior congressional approval, a sign that she has not learned important lessons about congressional oversight from the war in Iraq. 

It’s true that in recent months Rep. Harman has been expressing skepticism about the war in Afghanistan, and for that she should be commended. [Talk is cheap, and Harman is a notorious liar, widely considered the least dependable member of Congress when it comes to her word-- Editor.] But a glance at her record still makes it abundantly clear that people who want a reliable, progressive voice for peace in Congress should vote for Marcy Winograd. 

Her reckless and hawkish voting record doesn’t end with Iraq. Since the Harman campaign published their brochure, The Hill (the source for the lawmaker rating tables) has updated their website to reflect Harman’s latest score on her voting record. After eight years of the Bush administration’s disastrous foreign policy, Harman delivered voters hungry for change an abysmal record for a so-called progressive. Harman voted in favor of dangerous unilateral sanctions on Iran that won’t change the Iranian regime’s behavior and are likely to backfire and hurt the Iranian people who are fighting for their democratic rights. She supported a resolution condemning the even-handed report on the invasion of Gaza by Zionist and renowned human rights investigator Richard Goldstone. She voted to spend billions of dollars on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when there was little sign that the military-dominated approach in Afghanistan would net any positive results for US and Afghan security. 

But the voting record only tells part of the story. Jane Harman was a cheerleader for invading Iraq when the American people needed politicians who were willing to ask the hard questions and call foul on the Bush administration’s reckless drive to war. There were plenty of politicians-- and ordinary Americans-- who didn’t need years of hindsight to realize that was a mistake. 

Perhaps most chilling has been her fear-mongering and aggressive rhetoric on Iran. At last year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, Harman encouraged the fomenting of ethnic tension in Iran to destabilize the regime (she later apologized after being slammed by the Iranian-American community). She called for a “limited window” of engagement, and if that was unsuccessful, military action should be on the table. This is a recipe for war. Nobody expects a short attempt at diplomatic engagement with an arbitrary deadline to address decades of tension between the US and Iran. Harman’s support for harsh sanctions, saber-rattling and keeping military action on the table are a disaster waiting to happen. 

Then there is the story of Rep. Harman’s defense of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, full of screenplay-ready ironic plot twists. Rep. Harman was a champion for warrantless wiretapping, going so far as to encourage the New York Times to suppress the story before the 2004 election—a time when that news could have had a serious impact on Bush’s reelection campaign. Then in 2009 the story broke that her phone was wiretapped, and she was caught in a shady conversation with a suspected Israeli agent. Suddenly, she was opposed to wiretapping. Caught on tape, she was overheard telling the suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage charges against two former officials for AIPAC, in exchange for their help in securing the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. At the end of the discussion, she reportedly said, “This conversation doesn’t exist.” At the time of the phone call, the FBI had enough information to warrant an investigation, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales quashed the investigation because he needed Harman’s help defending the warrantless wiretapping program.
 
Voters should not be fooled by attempts to put a progressive sheen on a hawkish foreign policy record. People in the 36th Congressional District who want a true progressive foreign policy leader who will speak out against unnecessary wars before they start, will oppose wasting billions of dollars on military pork, and will vote with progressives 100 percent of the time on issues of war and peace should choose Marcy Winograd on June 8th. Click here to donate to Marcy’s campaign.

Oh, and by the way, no one's ever seen this clip before today:

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6 Comments:

At 1:38 AM, Blogger Philip Steir said...

Excellent post. Harmen is a fraud!

 
At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

That's Harman, not Harmen. And she's not a fraud, she's a slick Beltway operator who will do anything to remain there with all the power and money that implies. So what's new? Question is whether Winograd's truth and outreach can trump Harman's cash. My uneducated guess is no; in the US, disinterest in anything but bread and circuses translates into believing the loudest political voice, and that belongs to the best-heeled insider. But as always, I truly hope I'm wrong.

 
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