Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to CA-37 Special Election

I kind of got away from this race to replace the deceased Juanita Millender-McDonald in the safe-Dem 37th district once it came down to Richardson and Oropeza and McDonald. I was getting a little excited about the possibility of Gerrie Schipske entering the race - but then she backed out. She'd seemed to be not just a strong progressive, but also a viable strong progressive.

Anyways, dday over at Calitics listened to the latest debate and provided a summary of it.

A few items of note:

Oropeza sounded stupidly hawkish on Iran, Richardson had times where she wasn't communicating well, and the moderator did pretty poor at asking questions that would help show differences between these Democrats.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Strong Pro-Environment Message to John Dingell and Boucher

This letter sent by Henry Waxman and cosigned by eleven other Democrats on the energy committee sent a signal that they mean business on enacting a green energy bill. The pre-emption provision has definitely got to be dropped - but the letter also identifies another harmful measure in the draft bill that's got to go: subsidies to coal-based liquid fuels. It also urges good provisions to be added.

Even somebody like the odious Al Wynn signed this letter.

It sure would have been nice to see Jane Harman as a signatory on that letter. She wasn't one - why the heck not?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Harman Opposes Effort to Pre-Empt California's Energy Policy Indepenence"

That's the headline to the press release on her website dated June 7th.
[...] [Harman said:]“I oppose any legislation that includes such a provision and will introduce an amendment to strike this provision from the Committee bill.”

A bipartisan group of Governors across the country oppose federal efforts to preempt states’ ability to set energy standards. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and seven other governors wrote yesterday that “states are at the forefront of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our nation’s dependency on carbon-based fuels. . . . Congress must preserve states’ ability to fight greenhouse gas emissions now.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said Harman. “It will take a partnership between federal and state governments to implement bold change. This preemption provision destroys that partnership.”

I had thought I'd checked her site for announcements on this issue (it might not have been online yet?), and when I called on Monday to ask about why she was saying Pelosi wouldn't have her vote for an alternative bill that didn't have the pre-emption provision in it - if it came to that - nobody referred me to that press release.

Anyways, there's a bit of a mixed signal going on here with her statement to the Sac Bee and in her press release. Perhaps things were in motion where she was on the issue and/or the Sac Bee interpreted things a little far. Both of these items happended at about the same time: The press release is dated June 7th, and the article from the Sacramento Bee is dated June 8th.

The article has Harman saying Pelosi wouldn't have her vote on an energy bill crafted outside the committee, while her very clear statement saying "Congress must preserve states’ ability to fight greenhouse gas emissions now" suggests that all cards are on the table for her, if you assume she believes an energy bill needs to be passed.

Looking ahead, it seems likely that the amendment will fail and the bill that comes out of the committee will still have the pre-emption provision. Meaning that the only way an energy bill will get done that doesn't pre-empt California's energy policy will be if it is drafted outside of Dingell's committee.

If the anti-environmental leadership of this energy committee -- Dingell and Boucher -- know that they've got a bunch of Democratic reps who:

1) will only vote for a bill that comes out of their committee, and
2) believe getting energy bill done is necessary,

then they will be emboldened in forcing the issue on this provision. They will see an end-game where they can get their bill passed because they'll be "the only game in town".

Hopefully Harman will walk back from her statement to the Sac Bee and give notice to those guys that she won't be one of those Democrats -- that is, that she's not taking "any options" off the table to get a good bill done.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

California's Attempts to Regulate CO2 To Be Torpedoed with Jane Harman's Help?

Per the Sacramento Bee:
The debate over legislation to curb global warming opened Thursday in the House, where one of the biggest battles will be whether to sacrifice California's landmark law to institute a national standard.

The opening salvos came at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy and air quality panel, which released last week a draft bill that is heavy on development of new fuels but weak on reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, which most scientists believe are the leading cause of global warming.

The most controversial feature of the draft measure is the pre-emption of California's tough new law to lower emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Pelosi's working around the committee:
The regional divisions over global warming legislation were an early frustration to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Realizing that Dingell and the energy committee were likely to be a problem on enacting anything like the California law, Pelosi created a separate global warming panel headed by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
But there are a bunch of Democrats on the committee who are apparently going to let California's law get nixed because they don't want their committee to be pre-empted.
But there may be enough votes to pass such a bill out of the energy committee. Waxman wrote a letter to committee leaders chastising the bill Thursday, and it was signed by 11 other committee Democrats. But together those 12 critics don't add up to even half the full committee's Democrats, and represent only about a quarter of the 57-member committee.

Committee approval of the bill could present Pelosi with a huge political dilemma.

Even fellow California Democrat Jane Harman of Venice, who supports retention of California's law, said she opposes any legislative maneuvering that would constitute an "end run" around the committee -- a signal to Pelosi that she will not have Harman's vote for an alternative global warming package coming out of the Markey panel or the House Rules Committee that the speaker controls.
Harman's all big on her phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs, but she'll let Dingell stop California from taking the real lead on global warming? You've got to be kidding me. If she cares about the future of our environment, she'll accept Pelosi's offense of going around the committee as a necessary move for the greater good.

I hope this isn't about getting back at Pelosi for giving Intel Chair to someone else. Not with our environment in the balance.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

J.Harman's Words to Klein on Iraq - Why They Matter

As I discussed in my previous diary:
Jane Harman, despite not telling her constituents publicly before the vote, was going to vote FOR the Iraq supplemental up until the last minute. She'd voted Yes on a supplemental with timelines before. This one was the blank-check version that Bush wanted.

She voted against it in the end and put out a press release that said the argument that this vote was about sending the troops the armor and equipment they need "rubbish".

But the truth is she was for it until practically the very last minute, and she herself equated not voting for the supplemental to not giving the troops the armor they need.

And, to top it all off, even after having voted No, she said she hadn't changed her thinking on that.

Joe Klein's subsequent post leaves no doubt that Harman said what he reported her to say, because he goes on the attack against bloggers by citing them for doubting him on that point. Like his earlier posts, this post of his is disingenuous and deceitful in a lot of ways, but not on this point. Harman did give Klein the quote he says she did.

Klein's essentially saying: the fact that Jane Harman's words sound so outrageous and untrue given the way she voted is not my fault, it's hers.

Remember, Jane Harman accuses people voting against the bill as so uncaring for troops that they would not give them the armor they need to protect themselves from frakking IED's. And then she voted against the bill herself.

But that's not the worst of it. The situation isn't that she realized she was buying into pro-administration talking points and came to her senses at the last minute. That would be bad enough to have to admit that what you believed a few minutes ago is wrong, because people would use it as ammunition to attack the position you now support. That's not what happened here - she didn't "see the light" at the last minute. Exactly the opposite, in fact. She did what her anti-war constituents wanted; she didn't change her mind.

Even after her No vote and her press release that called such thinking "manipulation" and "rubbish", she said she still stood behind what she said to Klein [that no vote = denying troops armor]. I surmise that she must reconcile herself to how her thinking clashes with her vote by looking to the fact that the bill was going to pass despite her voting no. (There's no way she thought that her vote would actually cause troops to go without armor - nobody could live with themselves if they held that belief and voted No.)

Thus she has the luxury of having it both ways -- letting her vote and press release say one thing, and having her statements to Klein assert the exact opposite.

But why does what she say matter, you may ask, when she voted the right way on the supplemental and even on the rules for debate that could have scuttled the bill. The reason what she says matters is that it prolongs the war, despite her votes in this case

The fact is that a supplemental putting real restrictions still would have been needed to be passed through the House and the Senate even if this blank-check was torpedoed by the rules of debate, and there simply weren't the votes in the Senate to keep trying.

To change that, the terms of the debate themselves needed (and still need) to change. There never will be the votes to end this occupation so long as putting restrictions on funding = cutting funds for the troops.

And Harman isn't just not speaking out to counter that argument, she's legitimizing these talking pointsto this very day to "concerned liberals" like Joe Klein who make the most of them to beat down Democrats. The "facts" Klein makes up to support his view - like saying Obama and Clinton changed their vote on the supplemental for example - are not going to be damaging (other than to Klein's reputation as a journalist) over the long run. But when he's got a real Democrat - especially a high profile Democrat on military matters - endorsing his "Dems are irresponsible" narrative with her actual (not made up) words, then Klein gets the "proof" that this narrative is truthful. And that's a lot harder to overcome.

And because Harman can't bring herself to renounce this thinking even after voting No on the supplemental, then she's delaying the end of our occupation of Iraq instead of helping it to happen - no matter her No votes in this case.

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