Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PCCC Poll of CA-36 - Supporters of Social Security and Medicare

Here's the poll that PCCC did which showed that a lot more people would prefer to tackle the deficit by reducing military spending that cutting Social Security or Medicare.

The PCCC's statement:


“This race is neck-and-neck among the top two contenders, Deb Bowen and Janice Hahn. Voters in this district overwhelmingly want a bold progressive candidate who is willing to crack down on Wall Street, embrace government investment in jobs, fight hard for Social Security and Medicare, and make government accountable to the people instead of the big corporations. The PCCC will continue our due diligence in this district in order to assess the most progressive, competent, and viable candidate.” -- Adam Green, PCCC co-founder

What is really important is that the PCCC did this poll now, before the candidates have staked out their positions. It's pretty well known among those outside of the beltway that people don't want to cut Social Security, but now the candidates in the 36th District have no excuse -- the district's voters have been polled and to the extent that they want to "tackle" the deficit, it's by cutting defense spending.

This sends the message to the candidates that it's good policy and good politics to be a solid supporter of Social Security and Medicare too. Money very well spent.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Ted Lieu - hopefully to be elected by 50% plus 1 tomorrow

There's been a fair amount of outreach, from what I can tell. I got a live caller to ask for a vote for Ted a couple weeks ago. More recently, I have received a call from the LACCCC leader to return my absentee ballot, a subsequent message on Sunday from another Dem (I don't remember who) saying if I hadn't returned my ballot yet, not to mail it. And I got a pro-equal rights for LGBT folks in support of Ted.

I regretfully didn't get myself set up for phone banking sooner. The online tool was really impressive; you could plow through numbers really quick, making the 60-70% of wrong #'s/no answers really easy to code and move on to the next. And mercifully, the text was short and sweet.

If Ted can get to the magic number tomorrow, then we can fill the seat and be only 2 short of 2/3 majority in State Senate.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

CA-36: Jane Harman Quits; Janice Hahn Hand-Picked Successor?

Just documenting a little bit that flew by too quick with the news of Harman stepping down to pursue a think-tank job. I put the part in the headline about the speculation that Janice Hahn is Jane Harman's preferred candidate, but there are others.

Per CalBuzz:
Janice Hahn – The L.A. City Council member was Harman’s guest at last month’s State of the Union address; the fact that she announced her candidacy and had endorsements lined up about 12 seconds after Harman publicly made it known she was leaving, leads to the surmise that she’s the favorite of the imperious departing incumbent.
- Garry South is working under-the-radar on her campaign as an unpaid advisor. Not exactly someone who inspires confidence in the judgment of anyone who wants advice from him. (Just a taste of why in case you're not familiar).

- Parke Skelton is Debra Bowen strategist.

Also, I think the last part of the post is important about why the unhappiness of Harman's leaving - because of the possibility that she waited until after the election to be able to control who would take over.

A final word: Harman has never been one of our favorite people, not least because of her overbearing air of wealthy entitlement, and we can’t help but suspect her think tank deal has been in the works for some time, given that her predecessor announced he was leaving last May. So we agree with Huffpost blogger Richard Grenell that G.I. Jane ought to pay the cost of the damn special election to succeed her. What better way to spend some of Sidney’s zillions?

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Dem Caucus Almost Unanimously Votes NO to Obama-GOP deal

I just watched Rachel Maddow who reported that there was a closed door House Democratic Caucus meeting and a voice vote was held on Obama's tax cut plan. There was just one voice in support of the tax cut deal (yes, only one out of the 220+ Democratic House members voiced support for the Obama-GOP tax deal).

And guess what, it wasn't Jane Harman. So, either she wasn't at the meeting, or she didn't speak up in favor of the tax deal she said on her website that she supports.

Here's the segment of the Rachel Maddow show with the coverage about the caucus vote. Start it at the 2:00 minute mark.

So - hopefully I can find out if Jane Harman was there at the meeting. If she was, then this is significant. That would mean that she's unwilling to speak in favor of the Obama-GOP deal even though she's already said publicly she's for it.

That would be a very good sign, as it may mean she's movable off her stated position. I'll be calling again.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Jane Harman: Supporting Obama-GOP "Compromise" Deal

Jane Harman is on board with Obama's attempted fait-accompli with Republicans.

From her website:
December 7, 2010 2:16 PM

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Jane Harman (CA-36) today issued the following statement on the tax cuts package announced yesterday by President Obama:

“While there are some elements of the plan that I deeply dislike, I embrace the tax cuts package announced yesterday by President Obama. The 13-month extension of unemployment insurance is particularly important.

Simply put, if Democrats and Republicans are going to work together – and I believe that was the message sent by the American people in November – then we have to start working together.

“I oppose extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, and have voted against them three times, most recently last week. It is simply wrong to provide such a break given the deficit implications and while millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table. In a perfect world, I would strike this provision from the package.

But politics is about the art of the possible, and it’s important for Democrats to give the President the room to compromise. Voters clearly expect some bipartisan and bicameral cooperation – and it needs to start now.
First off, I italicized several parts of that statement where she's scolding Democrats to let Obama compromise and that in the name of bipartisanship they must accept a deal that includes: 1) Everything on the Republicans' wish list: Continued tax cuts for incomes above $250K, Estate tax reduced even further to 35% to further shift wealth to the uber-rich, defunding Social Security through a payroll tax cut. 2) wants to feed him, which comes from letting Republicans tell him what they will give him (nothing). Keep in

OK, let's look at what it is she's hanging her hat on to support this. From Calculated Risk Blog: 1) Unemployment benefits extension. Sounds good. But this is not what it appears:
Just to be clear, the "extension of the unemployment benefits" is an extension of the qualifying dates for the various tiers of benefits, and not additional weeks of benefits. There is no additional help for the so-called "99ers".

Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) comes in four tiers:
Tier I is for 20 additional weeks;
Tier II is for up to 14 weeks;
Tier III is for up to 13 weeks;
Tier IV is for up to 6 weeks.

As an example, if a worker was receiving Tier I benefits, they will be able to move to Tier II benefits with this proposed extension. Without the extension of the qualifying dates, workers would not be able to move to the next tier. [...] To repeat: this extension doesn't add additional weeks of benefits; it keeps the above structure in place for an additional 13 months.
So those who've maxed out don't get any additional unemployment and are left to fend for themselves. This is being sold as if it takes care of everyone - it doesn't.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jane Harman: Against the Tax Cuts for Rich, No Statement on Social Security

Right now, it's possible Democrats could prevent a $700 billion giveaway to the rich. It won't happen though, unless Democrats have a united front in Congress to oppose it. So I called my Congresswoman, Jane Harman, and asked what her position was. There was an immediate response from the person who answered the phone at the DC Office: She's in favor of Obama's middle class tax cut plan and against passing a tax cut for income above $250K (aka the millionaire bailout). That's the Democratic position at this point, so Harman being public in support for that plan was a good sign. (The $4 Trillion in deficit spending on the tax cuts for the middle class would be better spent on infrastructure and green energy which would create jobs, but at least it wouldn't include the extra $700 billion in cuts for the very top earners.)

I called the same day to ask about what Harman thought of the plans being bandied about within DC to cut benefits for Social Security, and they said she's made no public statement about where she stands. These plans many would cut benefits by increasing the retirement age or change the annual adjustment formula so benefits grow slower.

The facts on Social Security are clear - it doesn't contribute one dime to the deficit, and it's able to pay 100% of benefits due for more than 25 years, and then pay 3/4 of benefits if nothing gets changed to the program. But people who are determined to gut social security are lying over and over to convince people it's in crisis so that they cut benefits.

Social Security is colossally popular:
The reason that Social Security is called “the third rail of politics” is because touching it is political death. The new Lake Research Poll for Social Security Works again proves this classic piece of wisdom. The poll found an overwhelming 82 percent of likely midterm voters oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the federal deficit. Across the political spectrum, Democrats (83%), Republicans (82%), and Independents (78%) are effectively all equally opposed to cuts.

Framing cuts to Social Security benefits as a way to make the trust fund solvent doesn’t make them popular. A solid super-majority of 67 percent of likely voters oppose cutting benefits to make the program solvent long term. Similarly, the poll found that 69 percent of voters opposed raising the retirement age to 69 as a means toward making Social Security solvent.
Given the program's popularity, there's absolutely no downside to making a stink to defend it. So Harman's silence is worrisome.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Henry Waxman Pokes All Progressives In Eye With Condemnation of Wingrad and Support for Harman

Waxman's attack on Winograd about Israel is outrageous.

And his plea in this letter for giving "maximum support" to Harman and noting that he's giving the max through his federal campaign and PAC is just so offensive - she doesn't need the money, and, presuming we're living in a world where progressive Waxman supporters don't have unlimited funds to contribute to campaigns, he's asking them to divert the available money they would have otherwise given to the progressive causes and candidates they support it in order to donate it to civil-liberies destroying, war-supporting, estate-tax (aka "brat tax")-destroying Blue Dog Jane Harman.

It's sad to see blind support for likudnik policy in Israel and incumbency protection trumping progressive policy from somebody who people put forward as a progressive champion.

No one says Waxman has to put his neck on the line for Marcy, or even a well-funded/more established progressive in the district who would be a more formidable match for Harman, but he should just not get involved in races that are between Democrats.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Progressives in Congress Never Get What They Want Cause They Do Stuff Like This

Friday, December 25, 2009

How to judge performance of Democrats in the House of Representatives?

Some great analysis from Nate Silver.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Needs to Be Done to Make Progressive Change

How do progressives accomplish change? Not by looking for politician saviors, that's for sure.

Anyone with limited resources who wants to make changes for the good would do best to conserve them for use only on efforts such as those advocated in the article. As I'm tempted to simply give $ to favored political candidates, I am highlighting this here as a reminder to me that campaign donations are not very effective at making progressive change.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Harman - seeking counsel of neocon uberhawks; What's new?

Why it is bad to have Harman in Congress. No matter how wrong they get things, she'll always listen to the neocons.
WASHINGTON - As intellectual architects of the controversial “surge’’ strategy in Iraq in 2007, military scholars Frederick and Kimberly Kagan have been frequent targets of the left, derided as “warmongers’’ and “cheerleaders’’ of the neoconservative ideology that advocates a muscular foreign policy to spread American values.

Now, with a new administration in power, the influential husband-and-wife team has emerged again, this time at the center of the debate over whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The pair, both former instructors at West Point, were on the advisory panel that helped General Stanley A. McChrystal, the US commander, form his classified assessment to President Obama calling for more troops. And they have publicly been talking up their own view that 40,000 to 45,000 additional troops are needed to bolster the counterinsurgency mission.
Some Democratic lawmakers remain wary of being associated publicly with a couple that the American Conservative magazine recently called “superhawks.’’ An associate of Kimberly Kagan requested that the Democratic members of Congress the Kagans have recently briefed - including Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin of Michigan, Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, and Congresswoman Jane Harman of California - not be identified because they may not want their constituencies to know the Kagans are advising them.
Just a quick reminder of who Fred Kagan is. He's a fake "scholar" with the fake think-tank American Enterprise Institute who's been one of the biggest and most influential neocon war cheerleaders around. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com had this to say about him:
Other than Bill Kristol and Fred's brother, war cheerleader Robert Kagan, nobody has been more wrong about more things with regard to Iraq than supreme war theorist Fred Kagan. He's also deemed by the establishment media and the Bush administration to be the most respectable and knowledgeable expert on Iraq. Within that depressing contradiction lies most of the answers as to why we have destroyed that country and will continue to do so indefinitely.
How could anybody really take advice from somebody like him after all that's happened?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Harman on Tape: Pledging No Vote on Health Reform Bill Lacking Public Pledge

Wouldn't it be great if we could manage to talk to our legislators person to person to hear their position on an issue directly?

I've been hoping to get through to Harman to really hear from her what she's actually prepared to do to make a difference in getting the American people the public health option that she has written so strongly in favor of. Since she didn't have any town hall meetings, I didn't get the chance.

My question was pretty basic: Are you pledging to vote against any health care reform bill that lacks a robust public option - both in the House bill any reconciled bill? All my calls get the same thing - she's released no statement.

Thankfully, Mike Stark from Firedoglake's been in DC asking this very question of legislators, and got Harman to answer. He did it two months ago, and I don't know how I missed it.

Starting at about 4:00 she answers the question:
I did make a commitment to vote against a bill that didn't have a strong public option in it. What I'm saying now is I don't have second thoughts about that statement but we're going to get more refinement in the next few days so that that statement will have much more meaning.
That's a pledge in my book - she clearly agrees during the conversation about what strong public option actually is, what they are intended to do - foster real competition and bring prices down, and that co-ops is not part of her definition. And says she's already committed to vote against a bill that doesn't have a strong public option. Whatever refinement she talked about never happened, but wouldn't have changed the dynamic about her committing to vote against a bill w/o the PO.

What this commitment means - to the extent that word has gotten around she's made it - is that it strengthens the hand of those fighting for the public option because it says to Rahm, Steny and friends that progressives and other PO supporters like Jane Harman, will not be rolled this time.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Winograd Campaign activity

I was glad to see the Winograd campaign website and a Facebook page are now up and decently fleshed out. It's a good sign.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Jane Harman Could Have Done

What could Jane have done to blow the whistle on the illegal torture program she was told about by the Bush administration?

It looks like she could have done quite a lot more than simply write the weak letter that she did.


Friday, May 15, 2009

"Off Budget" War Spending: Harman vs. Harman

Jane Harman explained quite clearly in 2007 how wrong it was to be budgeting quite predictable war funds outside of the normal budget process. In a post titled simply enough "Put the Iraq War on Budget", Jane Harman was clear on her thinking:
We have already spent at least $400 billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But only about 9 percent of those funds were approved through the normal appropriations process.

The rest was passed in "Emergency Supplemental" appropriation bills not subject to budget caps or the normal congressional oversight process. These supplementals - because their numbers do not appear on the budgetary bottom line - allow the White House to pretend it is maintaining a semblance of fiscal discipline. But our deficits are already spiraling out of control and there is no way to bring the budget into balance without taking the staggering war costs into account.

The Bush Administration has claimed emergency spending is necessary because the costs of a protracted war on terror are not known. Nonsense. Both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars were almost entirely financed through the regular appropriations process - not emergency supplementals.

The White House will soon ask for over $100 billion in new emergency war spending, Adjusted for inflation, that is more than we spent in 1968, the most expensive year of the war in Vietnam. And the lion's share of that funding was done through the regular process.

There must be no more blank checks for this President, and I predict this will be the last "emergency" supplemental in the new Democrat-controlled Congress.
This week we saw a repeat of almost the exact same situation: The administration asking for just shy of $100 billion for war spending, without any restrictions (aka a blank check).

Given her clear statement she'd never again approve non-emergency war spending outside of the normal budget process, you'd think it would be easy to predict what Jane Harman would follow her own admonition and vote No when faced with the exact same situation this week. It turns out, she voted Yes.

So, simply using Harman's own criteria about "off budget" war funding, her consistent votes in favor of it show that she supports:
- purposely mischaracterizing war funding to avoid having to budget for it;
- making our deficits which are already "spiraling out of control" get even worse;
- making the Federal budget impossible to balance by refusing to take the staggering war costs into account.

That means that it's not just Marcy Winograd who's criticizing Harman over her support of irresponsible and progligate war spending - the person that Harman sees when she looks in the mirror is too!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

War Funding in Supplemental - Will Harman Support It?

She said no more blank checks before, yet here we go again.

What's Harman going to do?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Changing the 2/3 Rules

On the Secretary of State website, info about initiative petitions that are currently circulating show 2 that deal with the 2/3 rule. Or, to be clear, one (08-0022) deals with reducing the 2/3 rule to 55% for passing budgets, and one (08-0023) deals with reducing the 2/3 rule to 55% for both passing budgets and for increasing taxes (except property taxes).

It seems pointless to deal with the 2/3 budget rule without the 2/3 taxes rule. Here's why: We are staring at a structural deficit of $20 billion, so even if we had the ability to pass a budget with 55% (or even 50%), it wouldn't matter if we couldn't pass the revenue increases necessary to fund it. If Republicans retain their legislative veto over tax increases, then they control the budget - even if a budget can pass with 50% of votes. They will ensure that it's not funded.

As to the politics of what to put in the initiative: Anti-government forces are going to purposely conflate the two issues so that there may be little benefit to only dealing with the "less controversial" 2/3 budget rule. (In fact, I hear they are already doing this.) Why go running scared from these guys? No matter what you do to appease them, it will never stop them from unleashing their worst on you. Nothing to be gained.

As to the right threshold - 50%, 55% or something else, I say base it on principle and change it to majority rule. Picking some arbitrary number between 50% and 67% (such as 55% in this case) makes the change explicitly political (eliminating the Republican veto). This would seem to undermine efforts to make these changes be about budget reform, instead of partisan warfare. Also, trying to establish a different (albeit lower) supermajority for these votes would acknowledge that there should be some supermajority bar to raising taxes (without a corresponding requirement for lowering them I might add). These types of votes need to be taken off the pedestal that Republican anti-government types have put them on.

I won't let perfect be the enemy of the good, so if 55% is going to be what we have to get behind, I suspect I can deal with it. However, I think not addressing the 2/3 tax increase rule is counterproductive, and I just can't see myself supporting such an effort.


Friday, May 08, 2009

CA-36 News: Winograd Challenging Harman; John Amato Might Too

[cross-posted at Calitics]

Via the website Activist Los Angeles comes the announcement that Marcy Winograd will be challenging Jane Harman for the Democratic nomination in the 36th District.

Winograd Challenges Harman – Campaign Kick-Off in Venice
May 7, 2009 by Admin1
Mon., May 11, 4 pm

Join Marcy Winograd and supporters at the Venice Pier as they kick off the Winograd for Congress 2010 campaign to unseat incumbent Jane Harman in the 36th congressional district.

Assembled at the Venice Pier, near the northern end of the district, Winograd for Congress will launch a year-long campaign involving listening tours and grassroots precinct organizing.

“I am challenging Jane Harman because the 36th district deserves a representative who stands for integrity, commitment, and leadership,” says Winograd. “Jane Harman got caught with her hand in the cookie jar – trading favors with a foreign lobby group in order to advance her own political agenda. That’s not leadership; that’s corruption,” says Winograd, adding, “Harman’s apparent willingness to campaign for warrantless wiretapping in order to avoid an FBI investigation reflects a disregard for the Constitution and Americans’ right to privacy.”

Winograd is founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2006, in less than three months of campaigning, Winograd garnered almost 38% of the vote in the June primary challenge to Harman. Daniel Ellsberg, Gore Vidal, Dolores Huerta, and Susan Sarandon all supported Winograd’s challenge.

Winograd’s 2010 campaign has received early endorsements from 36th district notables, such as Mitch Ward, Mayor Pro Tem of Manhattan Beach; Carl Clark, Vice-President of the Redondo Beach School Board; David Greene, President of the San Pedro Democratic Club; Julian Burger, President of Progressive Democrats – Wilmington/Harbor Area; Mickey Oskey, Pres of Westside Progressives and Nativo Lopez, President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), which has thousands of members in the harbor area.

Winograd’s platform calls for redirecting expenditures on war and occupation to address human needs for jobs, Medicare for All, education and housing. “We need a massive green jobs program, a new New Deal,” says Winograd, “and incentives for cities to mediate foreclosure disputes in order to allow homeowners to modify their loans. It is a time of crisis but also of opportunity as we look at ways to strengthen local economies and reinvest in our communities.”

Winograd teaches English at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles.

The 36th congressional district includes: parts of West LA, Venice, Westchester, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Wilmington, Harbor
City and San Pedro.

If she can afford to get a professional campaign in place, then she can probably go far. Even without a really polished campaign, she got 38% with a campaign that was only 3 months long. With a well-coordinated and planned campaign, she could probably do a lot better. The initial signs, though, are that we're not there yet.

Winograd's website is currently not much more than an appeal for donations, and her recent diary on Daily Kos about Harman was to impulsive. Just check out the comments - it's really bad optics to have the candidate's spouse be the one doing most of the push back against the critics. If you aren't saying things that are going to have others defend you when you get criticized, maybe it's best not to be posting diaries like that...

Not to mention, if you're having a kick off for your campaign, it would be a good idea to get the word out - and not leave it to other folks to spread the word who might not be 100% supportive (Such as myself. I supported Winograd in 2006, but at this point I'm not picking a candidate and will call things as I see them.) The campaign kick off event is on Monday afternoon, and as far as I can tell from Google, there have been no postings elsewhere on the web (news articles or blog posts) aside from the one I posted above. That sounds strange.

There was an article yesterday in Politico about the possible challenge in which Winograd got a good quote though:

“I think what’s important is that Jane Harman’s charade of being a protector of the Constitution should be challenged and exposed,” said Winograd, who received 38 percent of the vote to Harman’s 62 percent in 2006.

There's also some sounds coming from local musician and blogger John Amato of Crooks and Liars that he might run as well. He says:

But back home in her Southern California-based district, liberal activists who have never truly embraced Harman are just getting started. Several of them, most notably Marcy Winograd, who heads up Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, and John Amato, who writes for the popular Crooks and Liars blog, are now making moves to challenge Harman in the Democratic primary, and the recent controversy will be at the heart of their message.

The wiretapping story “has been very, very damaging to her because it highlights what people most distrust about politicians in general: personal gain taking precedence over the voters they are supposed to be representing,” Amato told POLITICO in an e-mail.

Politico also checked in with another local to get the lay of the land:

David Dayen, a California activist who writes for the liberal blog Calitics, said he expects progressive organizations to ramp up their efforts against Harman in the weeks ahead.

“I don’t get the sense that in May, the year before this primary is happening, there is going to be a lot of clamoring over Harman, but I do think you’re starting to see progressive groups get involved,” said Dayen.

I agree with Dave's assessment. We have a lot more time this cycle, and thanks to Winograd in 2006, it's been proven that there's a real constituency among 36th CD Democrats for a real Democrat.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hypocrite, Thy Name is Jane Harman


And in this case, the wiretap wasn't even illegal.

One quote from the Washington Post article:
"I will not quit on this until I am absolutely sure this can never happen to anyone else," Harman told the AIPAC audience
Apparently, the "this" she refers to is the outrage that the government didn't warn her that she was being caught on a legal wiretap before she engaged in unethical (and perhaps illegal) behavior. How could they do such a thing!?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Talk of a Primary Challenge of Harman Heats Up

Marcy Winograd, the 2006 primary challenger, opens up an exploratory committee and John Amato, proprietor of Crooks and Liars.com and professional musician, indicates interest.

Good post from David Dayen (dday) about the news.