Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guess Who Found Time to Vote to Condemn

MoveOn for their ad? Yep, Jane Harman. OK, so maybe they couldn't stop the Republicans from forcing a vote on this bogus bill, but they certainly had time to craft their response in explaining a No vote.

Listen to Bill Clinton's response. That's not so hard, now is it?

This cowering in fear by Congressional Dems when they have the upper hand is just so unseemly.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jane Harman Speaks Out on Republican Fear Mongering,

But she still is OK with giving them what they want. I saw her on Olbermann tonight and was quite happy to see her say, essentially, that the Republicans were hyping a terrorist threat against the capitol to force through their bad spy bill. She'll say the truth there, but why the heck doesn't that inform her decision when it comes to what to do. She even acknowledged that the administration has been and will continue to break the law to spy if it wants to, so even if there were a gap in intelligence that had to be fixed, it's not like Bush wouldn't just go ahead and break the law to spy as usual.

Either Keith didn't know or was just too polite to ask her - especially given what she just said - why she's leading the charge among Democrats to give retroactive immunity to the telco's for breaking the law and allowing Bush to spy on Americans without any warrants? And why is she so anxious to do away with the requirement to show probable cause for each person that gets spied on and doing "basket" warrants that make it easy to target who you want?

Keith had just minutes before gotten all over the White House for arguing on the one hand that telco's had done nothing wrong while arguing retroactive immunity was needed for them on the other. Do bad he couldn't put that to Harman.

I guess it doesn't fit into the narrative of her speaking out, which actually is useful to defeating the changes that Harman is actually advocating.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Harman Pre-Emptively Negotiates Away Our Constitional Rights

UPDATE: The Democratic bill, I should have noted, also would also have damaged FISA. However, what Harman advocates would make things worse and tie up Congress to no end.

Jane Harman is fast out of the box on the "FISA fix" she wants to pass. She now has laid out her thinking in an article in Politico.

It starts good -- here's my summary of her points:
Republicans conducted a "well-orchestrated campaign" to talk up an imminent attack in the US, specifically a attack in the Capitol. This despite the fact the DC attack was discredited.

Republicans falsely claimed that FISA did not allow foreign-to-foreign communications by terrorism suspects. As part of this effort, the Dir. of National Intelligence lied about this directly to key Senate and House committee members and leadership.

There was a more responsible narrower effort offered by Democrats which would have solved the problems with FISA. The good news is that the over-broad law sunsets in six months.
OK, good so far. Dems were tricked into voting away Americans' constitutional rights, she suggesting.

Surely, then, Harman's going to say that the Congress should simply bring up for a vote and pass the responsible Democratic bill it was tricked out of passing in the first place, right? (She doesn't mention this, but this bill was actually negotiated to satisfaction with DNI McConnell before Bush and Republicans reneged)

Surely Harman would use the sunset provision to turn the heat on Republicans and Bush, right?

Sadly, no.

Harman instead advocates that Democrats should saddle themselves with the obligation of crafting a new bill that must get the Aye votes from at least 15(!!) Republican Senators and 55(!!!) Republican Representatives to overcome a likely Presidential veto.
Now comes the challenge: to craft a FISA law that enjoys overwhelming support and replaces the “blank check to Gonzo” that Congress provided just weeks ago. Can the White House be persuaded to negotiate a new law? Not if the wedge politics it played last month persist. But I believe Congress could be persuaded to [negotiate a new law] — and to pass it with veto-proof majorities in the House and the Senate.
The Democrats’ challenge on FISA is to move promptly to a proposal we and enough Republicans can support, so that the White House, with or without Rove, cannot jam another wedge between us.

So Harman really thinks that by placing Democrats under the gun (remember, it's our responsibility to pass this, not theirs) that Republicans are going to do anything but delay on this to ensure it becomes another last minute crisis? Who's she kidding? And in any case, when you have only a handful of Republicans outside of the Bush Rubber-Stamper Club, this endeavor would be impossible anyway.

But in Jane Harman's mind, this is achievable because Republicans in Congress never meant any harm, despite their votes for the bill. Only the president and bogeyman Karl are worthy of blame here, not the lockstep support of Republicans in congress who passed this bill in the first place.
During the debate on FISA, numbers of Republicans expressed discomfort with the broad new grant of authority in the McConnell bill. [Ed: Yes, they shrieked in horror as they voted Aye on the bill]

As long as “foreign intelligence” is the standard, virtually any communications are fair game — the only limits being post-action audits in which the executive branch essentially polices itself. In other words, many Republicans now worry that they gave away the Fourth Amendment, a bulwark against the “big government” they so detest.

Really, I'm so glad that Jane Harman can share with us the thoughts of these troubled Republicans. They really are for the constitution after all and never meant to take away our civil liberties. It's bipartisan to assume the best about members of the other party even when they vote the worst, right?

Then we hear from Harman that Democrats would have been playing into Republicans hands had they not let this bill pass.
The Democrats’ challenge on FISA is to move promptly to a proposal we and enough Republicans can support, so that the White House, with or without Rove, cannot jam another wedge between us. Clearly, it was Rove’s intent to make the recent vote on FISA grist for negative campaign ads in the 2008 cycle, but Democrats denied him that ammo.
Ha Ha Karl, you thought we would defend the Constitution and defeat this bill, but we didn't. Tricked you!

And then we get to Jane Harman's proposal for this new bill she wants. Amazingly, her proposed bill, freely offered after due consideration on her part, manages to shred the Constitution even worse than the bill Republicans forced down Democrats throats under duress, through lies, betrayal and false threats of imminent terorist attacks on the Capitol! Quite an accomplishment, I must say.

Here's a summary of what Harman thinks the bill should have in it...

Congress should craft a bill that:

*provides "narrowly drawn" retroactive immunity to telcos from liability to illegally turning over phone records without a warrant (something not even the 'over-broad' Republican bill provides);

*preserves prospective immunity for telcos but requires a warrant from a judge (see note below)

*requires it to be made clear that the bill doesn't authorize indiscriminate data mining; and,

*requires that the Fourth Amendment still apply to all Americans

Note: An important note on the prospective immunity being forced to have a judge's warrant: Harman undermines that requirement by allowing warrants to be issued for very broad surveillance objectives instead of actual surveillance targets which would give the telcos "the clarity and legal certainty they desire", as Harman puts it, in turning over requested documents.

Isn't there any higher priority that giving immunity retroactively to companies who conspired illegally with our government to spy on us?


Complication for Partition Advocates: Iraqis Don't Want It

Joe Biden, Jane Harman, and other partition advocates have something difficult to contend with: their recommended 'solution' for Iraqis is not one they want.

A strong majority of 62% of Iraqis believe Iraq should remain a centralized state with its capital in Baghdad.

How to continue to support partition when the folks you're doing it do don't want it?

Monday, September 10, 2007

"I am someone who supports an ongoing mission in Iraq"

And I think many Democrats in Congress — I’m certainly one of them — don’t want us to leave Iraq. We want to change the mission in Iraq. Change the combat mission to a training mission and a counter-insurgency mission.

That's what Jane Harman had to say in April. There's a videotaped interview at the link, so you can hear her say it herself.

Does Jane Harman still believe that changing the mission will make a difference? Even Republicans are starting to get wise there's nothing good we can accomplish - when will she wake up?

Worried about ethnic cleansing and sectarian warfare? You've already got it. Worried about a massive refugee crisis? You've already got one.

How can we clean up the place, as Jane Harman so badly wants to keep us there to do, when every day we make things worse?

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

CA-36:Cook Partisan Voting Index of D +11

I don't think I ever highlighted this fundamental statistic for CA-36. Perhaps I didn't realize there was such an index at the time of the Winograd challenge to Harman. But it's a very important statistic because it measures how safely Democratic or not a Congressional District is. The D +11 for CA-36 means this district is extremely lopsided Democratic. And here's what it's about:

The Cook Partisan Voting Index is a "measure of how strongly an American congressional district leans toward one political party compared to the nation as a whole", and it's measured as follows:
The index for each congressional district is derived by averaging the presidential election results in that district from the prior two elections, then comparing them to how the nation voted as a whole. The index indicates the more successful political party and how many percentage points higher than the national average for that party.

So, the PVI D +11 for this district (CA-36) shows that the Democratic pres. candidate received an average 11 percentage points more votes than the national average in the last two presidential elections. No doubt about it.

The reason I'd been researching this for CA-36 is that I had just gotten done reading about a great progressive candidate, Mark Pera, who is challenging a Bush Dog Democrat, Dan Lipinski in Illinois. And while I think having Lipinski in there is horrible, I'd prefer him to a Republican.

But a quick check of the PVI for the district,D +11.3, told me all I needed to know -- this district is super-safe Democratic. So I plunked some cash down for him without any qualms. If you want more and better Democrats, I recommend you do too!

By the way, the table from the diary referenced above has the PVI for all Bush Dogs, so this table should be an immediate reference when the issue of "the wisdom" of supporting a primary challenge of Bush Dog.

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Jane Harman - positionless on Iraq Supplemental?

After searching for press releases, articles, or other mentions on the web about where she stands on the $200B Iraqi occupation request that Bush wants, and I still come up empty.

As I mentioned last week, all I got when I called was the phone-answerer reading off a two-sentence response which said she's for timelines.

This is not some obscure issue that only a few constituents care about. Sure, if no one was dying, we weren't spending billions per week, and we weren't harming our national security interests through this policy, I guess there wouldn't be a problem not knowing what she thinks.

But instead we are talking about the #1 issue in this country. We deserve to know where our representatives stand.

Representative Harman, I anxiously await your position on providing more money for this disastrous occupation.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Being too hard on Harman

Perhaps I shouldn't be getting on Harman's case for being silent on Bush's request to fund his endless war -- she could simply be emulating the two frontrunners for the Democratic nomination. Copying what the head of the presidential candidate pack is doing couldn't be a bad thing, right?

Clinton and Obama were totally silent until the last minute of voting on the last supplemental when the bill's outcome was already decided, and they have yet to say a peep to date on Bush's next $200 billion. So Harman is just taking their lead.

...It's only unserious candidates like Edwards or Dodd who stick their necks out with a clear position against blank checks for endless war before voting actually occurs and others haven't decided what to do yet. How silly can you be! Putting pressure on fellow legislators and/or making it easier to take your position by going first -- all that is for losers. No wonder these guys aren't the 'frontrunners'...

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Whither Jane Harman on the Next $200 Billion for Occupation of Iraq?

The key issue for every member in Congress is whether they will provide any money for military operations in Iraq without requiring them to go for safe redeployment out of Iraq. A phone call to Harman earlier this week gave me an answer that she was for timelines on this supplemental $50 Billion, but he didn't know if the same applied to the $150 billion.

So I tried the website. Nothing on Iraq in her press release section. However, she proudly displays photos, one of her standing behind Bush crony Michael Chertoff and another giving a briefing for the Blue Dogs.

I'm sorry, but that group is the reason why the Democratic leadership couldn't get through the current year's supplemental funding bill without dropping withdrawal timelines (one which Harman was going to go along with until the very last minute). Sometimes she breaks from going along with what they do, such as giving up our civil liberties on warrantless surveillance, but nonetheless she's a proud member.