Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bush has moved onto Iran; we must get ahead of him

Right now we're seeing serious efforts to oppose increasing troops in Iraq. Tomorrow, MoveOn's Virtual March on Washington will flood the Senate with hundreds of thousands (hopefully a million plus) petition signatures and phone calls to urge them to oppose the escalation.

I'll be calling Boxer and Feinstein early tomorrow, and I recommend you do too.

However, the administration is way past the troop "surge", and is on to something else much worse than that.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - [from the AP] Citing Iranian involvement with Iraqi militias and Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration has shifted to offense in its confrontation with Iran — building up the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf and promising more aggressive moves against Iranian operatives in Iraq and Lebanon

Recall that these guys have already admitted this is their modus operandi:
The [Bush] aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' (Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush, NYT Magazine 10/17/2004, by Ron Suskind)

We can't wait to oppose an attack on Iran until it's already a done deal. Jim Webb has kept up with the Admin on this and is pushing back in an effective way. Thank goodness for him. But Democrats in congress including Jane Harman need to also start making a stink about the falseness of how, all of a sudden, Iran is doing all these bad things in Iraq. This should be noted every time the issue comes up.

The admin's all-too-convenient claims about Iran need to be examined closely and de-bunked before they get laundered through the right wing's media outlets and become accepted facts.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Listen -- you can already hear the drumbeat

War with Iran - just in the past couple days I can sense the buildup happening.

Bush and Co. are now blaming Iran for the death and destruction which the administration has caused and continues to cause in Iraq. I guess you could say it's a Presidential Two-Fer: Bush gets political cover for the Iraq quagmire and a handy pretext for attacking Iran.

Just take a look at what Bush said at the State of the Union last week (emphasis my own):

In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah -- a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.
Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government.
In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
In other words, if it weren't for Iran, things in Iraq would be going just fine, and more importantly, Iran is behind the terrorists. This repetitive language is no mistake -- it's part of the war-marketing.

And they're more determined than ever to close their ears to diplomatic efforts. On Monday the administration refused to consider a UN proposal intended to make an opening for diplomatic discussions.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States appeared to rule out on Monday a proposal by the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency aimed at helping the West and Iran avert a rush to war over Tehran's nuclear program.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, has proposed a "timeout" in the confrontation between Tehran and the U.N. Security Council under which Iranian nuclear work and U.N. sanctions on Tehran would be simultaneously suspended.

But acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said a December 23 council resolution specified that the sanctions could be suspended only after Iran fully and verifiably suspended its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Those pre-conditions are designed to torpedo any talks with Iran.

I also realized today how fast things have been moving with a Bush attack on Iran when I saw that Josh Marshall (not someone prone to speculating wildly)
saying this:
As the saying goes, if it didn't exist, you'd have to invent it.

So with that in mind, let's do a little prospective journalism. When the bogus 'Iran incident' happens that becomes the predicate for a military attack on Iran, what will it look like? Let's try to sketch it out in advance. Will it be a real incident in Iraq for which the Iranians are blamed? Or will it be a complete bogus incident, something that never happened, that they're blamed for?

And now there's even a "secret dossier" the White House has supposedly got that shows "detailed and possibly damning specific evidence linking the Iranian government to efforts to destabilize Iraq", according to - don't be surprised - Fox News.

In case you're wondering why I'm writing about Iran (given that DailyKos, TalkingPointsMemo, Atrios and others have got this covered much better than me) it's because we appear to be going down the same road as Iraq -- same bogus arguments and all.

Jane Harman's unskeptical acceptance of the administration's claims about Iraq and her low threshold for attacking that country are not merely academic -- they're directly related to efforts to start a war with Iran.

Let's hope that this time, Rep. Harman will provide leadership in working to prevent a war rather than to start one.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Will this Stiffen the Spine of Congress?

There's a lot of non-binding resolutions out there, but the real battle will come when the so-called emergency appropriations bill comes along in a few weeks. That's when Congress can put filibuster- and veto-proof restrictions on this war that Bush and war-supporters will have to agree to in order to get any more funding for the rest of this fiscal year.

Will Jane Harman and the rest of congress (Republicans too) have the toughness to stand up for the military personnel who're paying the price for no good reason and for the rest of America? After the political posturing to go "on record" as opposing Bush's plan is over, will these folks actually use the real tools at Congress' disposal to do the right thing for this country?

Hopefully the latest Newsweek poll gets rid of some of their qualms that they'll suffer from right-wing accusations that they're somehow endangering the troops by forcing an end to this war:
The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.

Public fatigue over the war in the Iraq is not reflected solely in the president’s numbers, however. Congress is criticized by nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans for not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration’s conduct of the war. Even a third (31 percent) of rank-and-file Republicans say the previous Congress, controlled by their party, didn’t do enough to challenge the administration on the war.

The Democratic leadership will need to really step up and take decisive action. Is it going to get the 100% support of all Democrats? No, and frankly, if it did, it would be so watered down as to accomplish nothing.

Jane Harman isn't part of the leadership, but she's got influence, and is not shy to grabbing the spotlight on national security issues. When she speaks up, it should be to help the effort to reassert Congress' role as a co-equal branch of government, not to re-emphasize Bush's bogus arguments.

Her going on MSNBC and not being ready to say clearly that Congress has the authority to make appropriations decisions on funding the war was a real step backwards. Even worse, her statement about whether Congress has the power to reduce Iraq war funding --
I think there are constitutional issues. He is the Commander in Chief. Ah, Congress did vote for a resolution to authorize the action in Iraq.

-- actually suggested it didn't have the power, and she's not provided any clarification since.

Since the "real action" on the supplemental appropriations bill isn't going to have for a couple weeks at least (so I hear), Rep. Harman should have ample time to correct her misleading statement at the very least.

That's really not asking for too much, is it?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why This Troop Escalation Will Work

Speaker Pelosi today discovered why Bush's current troop increase will succeed where previous ones have failed:

Bush remembered this time to tell the troops they have to be successful.

Doesn't that just inspire confidence?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Harman & Blue Dogs Plan and the Murtha Resolution

Sadly, the more I learn, the more stupid I feel for not being more skeptical of this Blue Dog proposal. It was made just a couple days after John Murtha reintroduced his resolution that plainly shows the failure that has already occurred in Iraq and terminates deployment of US forces in Iraq. While not setting a timetable for the redeployment, it's quite definitive that Congress is stopping the authorization to make war.

Here's the full text:

To redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq.

Whereas Congress and the American people have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to `promote the emergence of a democratic government';

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U.S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U.S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $471 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 3,026 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency;

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 91 percent of Sunni Iraqis and 74 percent of Shiite Iraqis want the U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 61 percent of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified; and

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Sec. 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Sec. 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

Now here's some coverage on what the Blue Dogs are doing:
A group of forty-four "fiscally conservative" Democrats will not call for an end to America's military involvement in Iraq, RAW STORY has learned. Instead, the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats will introduce legislation this week focusing on accountability for money the White House wants to spend on the nearly four year long Iraq War.

In a press conference last Friday, Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat who was formerly the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, announced a bill she would sponsor this week on behalf of the Blue Dog Democrats: "Providing for Operation Iraqi Freedom Cost Accountability." The provisions of the bill focus on Congressional oversight of the funds used to pay for operations in Iraq.

The Blue Dogs will not speak out as a group on whether or not to call for an end to the Iraq war. "They will not draft a resolution or course regarding the troops other than one of support for our soldiers in harm's way," said Jon Niven, Communications Director for Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), who co-chairs the caucus.

OK, so they won't as a group draft a resolution on ending the war themselves - but will they as a group oppose one submitted by somebody else, like Murtha? Will Dems voters in their districts set them straight so they won't block it

No matter the case, if Harman fights against this reasonable resolution to end the Iraq war, then she'll be in real trouble in this district. I doubt people will be fooled by her proposals for long...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blue Dog Coalition Proposal on Iraq Budgeting

I called Harman's office to see if Jane Harman's still undecided on taking meaningful action to counter Bush's escalation of the Iraq war. I was told by Harman’s office to look to the Blue Dog Coalition website for information about an announcement about the Iraq War earlier today (Harman's a Blue Dog).

The Blue Dog Dems website is currently under construction, so I doubt it’ll show up there. I googled “blue-dog iraq” and there's nothing official I can find, just what’s been leaked so far to the Christian Broadcast Network (”Exclusive: Blue Dogs Take Stand on Iraq") and the DC local Fox affiliate (This isn't any momentous proposal of course, but of all the outlets to give this story to, why would they pick these guys?)

Anyways, from the articles:

According to sources on Capitol Hill the Blue Dogs want to see some fiscal responsibility when it comes to the war. The resolution is expected to focus on accountability and oversight. The growing group of moderate Democrats want to send a message to President Bush. Their message: the free ride is over, no blank check anymore from Congress.

To take the stand two-thirds of the group had to agree on the policy sand and vote on it before bringing it before the public and Congress.

Politically, the 44 members uniting on the issue is enough to get the President's attention because of the sheer power of their number of votes. Their united vote could tie up funding bills in Congress.

Another effort in the House was announced Friday, coming from the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats. One portion of the group's plan focuses on limiting the president's budget authority through more scrutiny. Bush's preference for funding has been through the "emergency supplemental" process, which is outside the normal budget process. Members said the resolution will be introduced next week.

"Most of the costs of the Korean and Vietnam wars were on budget. The ongoing Iraq war costs must be too," said Blue Dog member Rep. Jane Harman of California.

What about this year's supplemental request? Are they going to take it at face value? Will they prove unwilling to chop it down when the administration fails to provide information to determine if it's really needed?

Bush knows that any real threats congress will make against the administration for refusing to disclose information are entirely empty, so they are essentially relying on him to give up this information out of the goodness of his heart. Fat chance.

Same thing goes for their oversight hearings they appear to think is some panacea.

And don't think for a second that Republicans in Congress or Bush will ever propose programs to cut in the budget to fund Iraq War costs. They will simply say the war funding is necessary and force Democrats to defund the war if they dare.

Is this Blue Dog plan an elaborate scheme to try to wind down the war without ever being accused of being "against the troops"? If so that's really sad because 1) their plan won't help stop this war and 2) they will be accused of being anti-troops if they oppose Bush, no matter what they do.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Harman Gets Intel Subcommittee Chair; Will She Turn Screws on Secret Service?

Jane Harman gets her consolation prize:
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., was named Thursday to head the intelligence subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security.

The appointment marks a comeback of sorts for Harman, who was passed over by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for the top job on the intelligence committee, a post she had expected to get when the Democrats took power.

The Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment oversees domestic intelligence issues, threat assessments and oversight of the Secret Service, among other issues.

Oversight of the Secret Service? Really? Well, in that case,

Madam Chair, I request you do something about this:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.

The Bush administration did not reveal the existence of the memorandum of understanding until last fall.

The White House is using it to deal with a legal problem on a separate front, a ruling by a federal judge ordering the production of Secret Service logs identifying visitors to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Secret Service is not a political organ of the administration, and their collusion with the White House on hiding information the public has a right to know about needs to be stopped.

It's Not Just Bush - Most Republicans in Fantasy World

It's old news that Bush is delusional about the situation in Iraq, with it always making progress. But it sure is incredible how most Republicans live in Bush's fantasy world, even after four years of this war.

Today's LA Times has results from a nationwide poll on Iraq that show Republicans just not grasping the reality:

* 72% of them approve (46% strongly approve) of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq

* 64% say U.S. troops should stay in Iraq "as long as it takes" instead of leaving

* 73% approve of the escalation

Needless to say the Democrats have quite the opposite view. And Independents on most questions are close to where Democrats are. The fact that two-thirds to three-quarters of Republicans can't see past partisanship for the good of the nation is a damn shame.

With their support, Bush can continue on. Bush deserves blame, but the fact is most Republicans do too for blindly supporting him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Response from DC

I spoke with Jane Harman's staff on Tuesday to get clarification on two issues:

- the 'constitutionality' issue of Congress using its power of the purse to prevent a buildup of forces

- Harman's apparent willingness to vote for an Iraq emergency supplemental she says is wrong

I did not succeed in getting anything directly in response to my questions. According to the person I spoke with, any on the record response would need to be cleared first by the congresswoman herself. However, in each case I got pointed to a portion of items Harman has written recently that I was told addressed my questions.

On the constitutionality issue, I was pointed to the following language from Jane Harman's latest Huffington Post piece:

We need to start redeploying our troops out of Iraq now, something I've been saying for over six months. Last summer was the last chance for the military mission to succeed. It didn't. So I am supporting H. Res. 41, introduced by my Massachusetts colleague Marty Meehan, expressing disapproval of the President's policy. And I am reviewing proposals to limit or end funding for additional military personnel in Iraq.

That's the same squishy language Harman's used before. She could at least refute the falsehood that Congress can't prohibit funding for a troop buildup. Harman will be a drag on the effort to stop this war so long as she stays in undecided mode and says things like this:

Mitchell: Congresswoman, you've talked about more oversight, but Joe Biden said on Meet the Press that constitutionally, Congress doesn't have the power to do what Ted Kennedy and Ed Markey and others are suggesting - cutting off the funds. Do you agree with that or not?

Harman: Well, I think we have to look at that. Uh, I think there are constitutional issues. He is the Commander in Chief. Ah, Congress did vote for a resolution to authorize the action in Iraq. I supported it at the time based on what turned out to be wrong intelligence, and I was wrong.

And now that we've got to put the brakes on rushing to war with Iran, Harman's "the intelligence turned out to be wrong, I was wrong" formulation has got to go, too. With Bush pushing Iran as the next big threat, Harman shouldn't be giving him a free pass for manipulating and fabricating intelligence. Yes, it means she needs to take more responsibility for her role in OK'ing a war based on claims that were lacking intelligence support at the time, but that's critical if she's to stop it from happening again.

On the supplemental, the issue should be placed in context of the budget schedule. The current budget for the fiscal year through September has almost no money for the Iraq War; Republicans designed it that way to force the war costs to be off-budget. Last year's supplemental funded operations through February (or something like that). Thus, there is no money, officially at least, in place for the rest of the fiscal year. And so, to ensure there's funding for the next six months, Harman says congress will have to OK the forthcoming 2007 supplemental.

No one in Congress wants to deprive our brave military men and women of the protective gear or equipment they need, or to fail to fund their safe exit from Iraq. That is why the 2007 supplemental appropriation is likely to pass -- and finding spending to cut in the 2007 budget to offset theses costs will be hopeless. But the marker can be set down for future funding. No more "emergency" supplementals, Mr. President.

Future funding for the war in Iraq must be on-budget, so Congress and the public can see the trade-offs and finally have a chance to "share" what is sacrificed.

While it may be true that budget tricks are forcing Congress into approving this supplemental, I don't think her framing of this could be worse. Of course no one in Congress wants to deprive troops of protective gear or a safe exit -- so why the heck is she even mentioning it? Please ditch the unnecessarily defensive posture.

Doing so distracts from the person who's put the troops at unwarranted risk from day one of this war: George Bush. He's denied the troops the protective equipment they've needed even though he's gotten every last cent he's asked for from Congress for the last four years. Money is not the issue, it's a matter of priorities. And for Bush, soldiers don't get top billing.

And she says the supplemental is likely to pass -- but is she talking about the version Bush wants or a downsized version with conditions and restrictions that congressional Democrats will want. This supplemental could be a tool to getting closer to the end of the war. Will Harman be too timid to touch it for fear of being accused of being anti-troops? We shall see.

[I edited this post to better explain Harman's rationale for saying the 2007 supplemental will be approved. I agree that congress' hand is essentially forced - if there's no money in the regular 2007 budget money for the rest of the fiscal year they must approve money for that time. In all reality, though, Bush has padded the last supplemental to fund war operations status quo for many additional months and he's likely to pad this request for much more than 6 months of costs, so let's hope the request gets taken with a grain of salt.]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Discussion Over at Daily Kos

I cross-posted my post below to Daily Kos and there were a lot of interesting comments. Take a look over there if you're interested in others' reactions.

I will try again to get clarification from Jane Harman's office on whether she sides with the Bush/Biden view of congressional authority or the John Murtha view. I asked the question to her DC office on Wednesday - as well as a question to find out whether she'd vote against the next emergency supplementals for Iraq that she says should be put "on budget" - and was promised a call back, but I haven't gotten any reply.

Can Bush Do Whatever He Wants? Jane Doesn't Know

As today's article in the LA Times "Bush insists Congress can't halt Iraq buildup"demonstrates, Bush is not going to sit on his hands while Congress considers whether it's going to do anything to prevent him from escalating the Iraq occupation without its authority. The strategy is pretty clear that they are getting the troops in place in Iraq without approval and then will dare Congress to de-fund real live troops who are "on the ground". They may even drop the bogus claim that Congress hasn't the authority to stop the president because they won't need it anymore.

They're just aiming to achieve a fait accompli to make it an "anti-troops" decision not to fund the escalation.

Time is of the essence to head the administration off at the pass. No time to waste.

Enter Jane Harman -- this is from her interview with Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday last week (Jan 10). (I've transcribed it myself).

Mitchell: What's the point of a symbolic vote against [the increase of the troops in Iraq] - either you are going to cut off money for the troops or - shouldn't you just go along with what the President wants?

Harman: Well, um, you know, I think there are constitutional issues about what he can do in his capacity as Commander in Chief, but we write the checks and it is high time for Congress to do the oversight necessary to do the oversight necessary and have the materials to do the oversight necessary and I believe we are going to do that. One of the ideas I've been floating is to put all the additional war costs on budget - no more supplemental spending [...] this is no longer an emergency under the definition of an emergency.

OK, that wasn't exactly an answer to the question put to her. If she's going to have any impact, she's got to cut off the funding - is she willing to do that, Mitchell asks. In her answer, she raises the issue of Bush's constitutional powers as commander in chief. That is not a good sign! As she should have known, it is well within the powers of the Congress to prevent funding from going for an increase of troops - and there's multiple precedents of past Congresses doing exactly that.

Mitchell tried again --
Mitchell: Congresswoman, you've talked about more oversight, but Joe Biden said on Meet the Press that constitutionally, Congress doesn't have the power to do what Ted Kennedy and Ed Markey and others are suggesting - cutting off the funds. Do you agree with that or not?

Harman: Well, I think we have to look at that. Uh, I think there are constitutional issues. He is the Commander in Chief. Ah, Congress did vote for a resolution to authorize the action in Iraq. I supported it at the time based on what turned out to be wrong intelligence, and I was wrong. But there have to be levers now, four yearas into this, to gain - to regain - Congress' traction as an independent branch of government and I believe we will find out what these levers are.

An ignorant or disingenuous Democrat asserts the fallacy that Bush has the right to make war however he wants and Congress must fund it, something that is pretty clearly wrong, and Jane Harman - definitely not a newbie to Congress - has no idea that that's false!? And she has no clue what "levers of traction" Congress has to check the president's power? With a president who's been asserting unchecked power going on five plus years, it's pretty pathetic she's only now getting around to figuring out what power congress has to check his power.

Pretty soon, Bush will get what he wants because he'll "change the reality" while unprepared and unsure congressmen and women like Jane Harman dither, and by that time the threat of anti-troop/anti-American demagoguery will make it all but certain congress won't act - even if, by that time, they've realized they do have the authority to deny Bush's escalation.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Finding Info About & Coverage of Jane Harman

I don't think it's a stretch to say that if you want to be informed about how Jane Harman is representing you in Congress, that you need to actively seek this information out.

You are not going to hear about what Jane is saying, how she's voting, what others are reporting about her, etc. just by reading the LA Times and listening to the news on the radio. That's sad, but not too surprising.

But you also won't get informed by reading Jane Harman's website either. In this day and age, that should be the ultimate resource for consituents - but it's been an afterthought for Harman, as far as I can tell.

If you go to her press section on her website to see her latest editorials and her latest speeches, you'll see how big the gaps are. Now that they're doing some updating, it's even worse, because you get the idea it's comprehensive, when it's not.

Another thing you can't tell from her website is an easy way to see how she's voting in comparison to the Democratic caucus and/or Dem leadership.

I've put in the blogroll section on the right links for Daily Kos, MyDD, and Calitics that are set to bring you posts from those respective sites that have a "Jane Harman" tag. (Take a look over to the right and you'll find them). Certainly, it won't pick up all blog posts on those sites that relate to Jane Harman, but I would think it fair to say that posts on those sites that directly relate to her would be tagged under her name. I have done the same thing for the tag "CA-36" on those sites, so it'll pick up items relevant to the district, if not directly Jane Harman.

Jane Harman has also been posting a lot on Huffington Post, so I've set up a link to give all posts that she's put up over there.

Concerning how Harman has voted, and how her votes line up with the Democratic position, you can see the Washington Post's tracking sheet here. (So far, her record is perfect - but then again, isn't every Democrat in the House so far? Damn, I love being able to say that!)

These search links can be a very handy research tool and they'll always be there for your use. I kept up to date on the Lieberman/Lamont race by using the search links set up at LamontBlog.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Jane Harman Still Identifies with the War

She says she made a mistake in supporting the war, but her take on Iraq seems to indicate that she's still identifying with too much to see it for the situation FUBAR it is. From her latest at Huffington Post...

She still groups herself (and perhaps all Americans) with the Administration on Iraq:

We've attempted surges in Iraq four times in the last two years.

We have a moral obligation to make Iraq a safer place - we created a failed state when we removed Saddam - but we will not achieve that by the use of our military

Then, we learn from Harman that all this time, we haven't been occupying Iraq - that's just an inaccurate 'perception':
In fact, I believe that by continuing to occupy Iraq (and that's the perception even though it has a democratically elected government) we make it harder for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country...

She can't bring herself to see us as occupiers because she hasn't come to terms with her support of those actions.

And, while we have strong words from her...
There is no way to achieve success in Iraq using military force.

We've attempted surges in Iraq four times in the last two years. None of them worked.

Last summer was the last chance for the military mission to succeed. It didn't.

...she isn't ready to do things that will end this war. She boasts of supporting a toothless resolution expressing disapproval of the President's policy, but is merely uncertain about using Congress’ clear authority to prevent funding of an escalation. I’m not holding my breath that she’ll be deciding on that anytime soon.

And most distressing is that after all this time, Harman's still comfortable with having Bush and Co. being the ones to implement what should be done in Iraq, and believes that we can still actually make much of a difference with our presence there.

I'd love for Harman to prove me wrong by, for example, becoming a co-sponsor of H.R. 353, the Markey-Kennedy bill. That bill would prevent the President from spending another taxpayer dollar to increase troop levels in Iraq without the consent of Congress.

We shall see..

On De-Funding, and Stopping Bush's Budget Tricks

I called Harman's DC office yesterday morning and asked two questions:

1. During her interview with Andrea Mitchell, Rep. Harman said there were constitutional issues about Bush being the Commander in Chief -- and seemed to imply that Congress couldn't set limits on sending additional troops. Was she aware of the numerous precedents of this very thing being done by Congress in the past? And, given that Congress - per these precedents - has the authority to disallow funds from a troop escalation, does she support the Markey bill (which matches the Kennedy bill in the House)?

2. Rep. Harman has argued that war costs should be put back on-budget, and made a pretty darn good case, IMO. She predicts in her article at Huff. Post that Bush's forthcoming off-budget 'emergency supplemental' will be the last one. Does that mean that she'll vote for it even though she thinks this is wrong to do?

I was told I would have someone call me back to give me an answer. Haven't gotten any response yet.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Jane Harman's MSNBC Appearance Today

Jane Harman appeared on MSNBC for a few minutes this morning with Andrea Mitchell. I'll post a transcript as soon I can find it (or type it out). Basically, she was non-committal on what actions should be taken to counter Bush's escalation.

Today's Dose

I will try to get as much of Harman’s public statements, interviews, speeches, and press releases covered here as possible. It’s a little surprising that Harman’s site has not really been a resource of information about the things the Congresswoman is saying, however, I hope to see that change. Today’s belated posting of the Huffington Post piece she did last week on her House site is a start.

Here’s what I came across at the Wikipedia page for Harman today. It’s a Harman quote from a December interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

I am not angry. It [the selection for House Intel Committee Chairperson] was her choice. Obviously, I had hoped to stay. I thought I'd earned it and that it had been promised. But I think Silvestre Reyes is an excellent choice. He has my support. I'm going to stay in the game on these issues. Here I am, Wolf. But I also think that her majority is created by moderates and conservatives who won in Republican seats who talk tough and smart on security issues. And I will help them stay in Congress and help keep our majority in 2008.
Emphasis added

Other exchanges with Harman from the same CNN appearance (all bolding is added by me):

BLITZER: .. Is it time, right now, for the U.S. to cut its losses and simply pull out of Iraq?

HARMAN: It's time to change the strategy. And the ISG report lays out a good baseline to change that strategy.

I'm from California, Wolf. And I think we had an earthquake on November 7 when the Republicans were removed from power over the Iraq and corruption issues.

There were two aftershocks. The first one was Rumsfeld leaving. And the second is this report. The fact that it's being shot at from the right and the left shows me that it's pretty sound.

Not every detail is sound. It leaves out energy independence. And I think it fails to notice that the reality on the ground is a partitioning of the country, which I think is OK. But it is time to change our strategy. "Stay the course" is dead.

About partitioning, later on she says that “what’s happening on the ground is partition. And that’s what the Iraqi’s seem to be wanting”. Voluntary partitioning? I can’t imagine those who are partitioned at gunpoint or under threat of rape or death are thinking too much about what they want.

And don’t you love that if people across the spectrum criticize something, then that must mean it’s good.

BLITZER: But you're willing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, combat forces, for at least another year, whatever the cost, whatever the consequences?

HARMAN: No. I insist that we change the strategy. The report says we should embed troops and start moving our troops out. It doesn't set a firm timetable, except to say, in '08, they should be substantially out. Maybe that timetable should be shorter.

I don't know that I have enough information to say what it is. But I do know that the military mission to have large amounts of troops in Iraq to secure the country has failed and we have to change that strategy now.

OK, so Harman’s on board for maybe substantially moving our troops out earlier than 2008. No link handy, but I know that the drawdown the report called for when specific numbers were finally discussed would have pretty been modest (we’d still have 100,000 there) because the embedded forces would need protection. Was she not aware of this at the time?

Now that they're going to share the oil equitably -- or that's what they said yesterday -- I think that's a very healthy sign that this may be their choice for how to move...

Does she expect the Shia to come right out and admit they intend to give nothing to the Sunni, who control the oil-less middle section of the country? Giving any weight to statements like these is pretty gullible. Take off the rose-colored glasses please.


Harman issued press releases in favor of HR 1 to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations, and releases announcing her return to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Harman on Emergency Supplementals for Iraq

Jane had another blog post up at Huffington Post a couple days ago (is she going to do this on a regular basis, I wonder?). She quite rightly decries the fact that Bush has funded most of the Iraq War costs outside of the normal budgeting process, and that their excuse for doing so is totally without merit.

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.

So, now that Bush is going to do the same thing again to fund the war for another year, Jane is going to put a stop to it, right? Not exactly.

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.

Did you get that? Per Jane, no more blank checks,after this one

I'd like to hear a little more why it is, if this cheating of the budget process is such a bad thing to do (which, as one of the younger generation who'll be faced with paying off the debt it racks up, I agree it is), that she doesn't want to actually put a stop to it now. (I wonder if Pay As You Go budget rules would even apply to emergency supplemental spending. I bet not.)

I am crossing my fingers that there's a reason for letting him get away with this trick yet again other than that Jane's afraid of being portrayed as against the military. Because this war will never end if Democrats are that cowardly.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Harman May Get Chair of Intel Subcommittee

For the Department of Homeland Security. (Link)

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Centrist Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., denied the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, may get an intelligence gavel yet, according to CQ.

The publication, citing unnamed congressional aides, reported this week that Harman is in the running to chair the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.

That gavel 'is by no means as important as the full committee chairmanship that Harman was denied by (Speaker-elect Rep Nancy) Pelosi, a fellow Californian with whom she has differed both personally and politically,' reported CQ.