Tag Archives: Jane Harman

Can Bush Do Whatever He Wants? Jane Harman 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 years 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.

(crossposted from my blog that mostly covers Jane Harman, From the Fever Swamp)

CA-36: Harman hoping to leave Congress?

In the Washington Post, Lois Romano gossips her way through a piece on the rivalry between Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi, and Harman’s residual anger over being passed over as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.  But there’s a little nugget in there:

She has lamented that Congress has lost its luster for her and that she is hoping for a job in a Democratic administration, according to a friend. “She’s obsessed,” the source said. “It’s been hard for her not to take it personally, but it’s over.”

I don’t know if this means that Harman won’t seek re-election: she likely wants to be in some official position of power.  But she’d leap at the chance to join a Democratic Administration and vacate her Congressional seat, setting up a special election.  Progressives obviously have a strong infrastructure in this district: Marcy Winograd received nearly 40% of the vote in a primary challenge.  Perhaps there won’t be a need for any more primary fights.

It also begs the question of whether Harman is really the best choice for what would almost certainly be an intelligence-related post under a Democratic President.

Blog Roundup 12/18/06

I just got back from vacation, and boy has it been hopping around here!  I’m still trying to work out some kinks in the Blog Roundup System, but hopefully we’ll get a team together to bring a daily blog roundup online soon.  Until then, perhaps you can satiate your appetite for the bloggy goodness over the flip.

Teasers: Leno/Migden is a go, Is centrism a hoax?, Phil’s back, non-white flight?, and some stuff on primary challenges.  Plus, as always, more!

  • The possible ’08 Leno/Migden primary is getting a bit crazy.  Tim Redmond, of the Bay Guardian, has been blogging consistently about the race. First there was the poll.  Then Tim tracks the fallout. Now, it’s official (yeah, that URL is strange, but no, Leno is not challenging Newsom).  Leno announced that he would run against Migden to the Harvey Milk LGBT Club.  This is a term-limits inspired battle, where both candidates will end up fighting a two-front battle.  The progressive core of SF Dem politics will be split fairly evenly, and the more moderate (by SF standards) Marin county Dems might end up selecting the nominee.
  • Frank Russo, as always, has some great analysis.  First, he tackles the budget. Rumors are flying that the new budget will seek to reverse aid to California’s neediest citizens by cutting spending on poverty programs.  Steve Maviglio also questions the wisdom of such a move. Of course, Arnold is in a very precarious position.  He ran on an anti-tax pledge, but promised new spending programs.  Meanwhile we have a $5b (at least) structural deficit with no solution or plan from the Governor.  So, where does he go? Yup, back to Arnold 2.0…he attacks the poor.  Of course, this is all somewhat speculation, Schwarzenegger’s budget will be released around Jan. 10 following the State of the State speech.
  • Frank’s got one last bit of 2006 election wrap-up, this one points to the SoS race for some patterns.
  • The cat’s out of the bag…four years early.  Phil Angelides wants another shot at it in 2010.
  • Hannah-Beth Jackson   pokes holes in the Arnold as a centrist meme.  yeah
  • Over at dKos, leftilicious (ooh…nice handle) has the scoop on Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel’s decision to declare a moratorium on lethal injections in California.  Personally, I think that the fallibility of humans and our justice system should require the end of the death penalty.  However, that being said, if you are going to kill people, at least the state-sanctioned murder should be pain-free.  But, at some point, we will realize, like the rest of the Western world, that executions serve nobody.  Blood lust only begets more blood lust.

  •   Don’t think the primary challenges are limited to Tauscher.  Jane Harman was the subject of a pretty fierce challenge from a political novice, Marcy Winograd.  However, there are rumblings of another challenge in 08.  Harman in 06 carried much of the same baggage as Tauscher carries today.  Harman repented and attempted to cozy up to the grassroots.  Winograd still took 36%, and there’s still strong antipathy towards Harman.  Of course, her very public spat with the Speaker to be didn’t help things.

  •   BradBlog  has Riverside Supe Jeff Stone saying that he doesn’t think anybody could hack Sequioa’s machines…he even offered 1000-to-1 odds.  Pretty sweet deal.   A Finnish computer scientist likes those odds and would like to take a crack.

  •   Blogging Bayport Alameda has an interesting take on flight from public schools, especially as it relates to the Asian-American community.
  • Rep. Jane Harman Faces Her Constituents

    Last week, The Courage Campaign sent out an e-mail announcing a screening of Robert Greenwald's Iraq For Sale. The screening was to be held in Culver City on Wednesday, would be hosted by Rep. Jane Harman (CA-36) and feature a Q&A panel that included Harman and our chair, Rick Jacobs, who is also a co-executive producer of the film. Moments after it went out I got an instant message from a friend:

    Is Jane Harman part of the Courage Campaign?

    I responded:

    Not really. We're spreading the word about the screening because Rick's on the panel.



    The hostility that came through the IM screen was palpable and he is hardly alone in his contempt. After all, as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Harman oversaw the severe intelligence failure that led to the invasion of Iraq.

    More over the flip…

    Glenn Greenwald reminds us of some of her more egregious past statements:

    "There's a strong intelligence case that Iraq has not destroyed its weapons of mass destruction and is building the capability to use them," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House intelligence committee. "There's a growing al Qaeda presence in Iraq, and I think the case can be made that there is a growing affiliation" between Baghdad and terrorist groups.

    Not only that, she was right there alongside her Republican colleagues in support of Bush's warrantless wiretapping program:

    Some key Democrats even defend it. Says California's Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."

    So it's no wonder that one of Nancy Pelosi's first decisions as Speaker-elect was to pass up Harman for chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee. It was announced today that her pick is Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas.

    In the Q&A after the film, Harman was evasive on the question of whether she would win the chairmanship:

    That's a decision of speaker-elect Pelosi. She'll be announcing her decision shortly.

    But there was something in her face…you could tell she already knew the bad news. You could tell she was pained by her past decisions and actually wanted to make them right, and not just because Marcy Winograd's primary challenge may be fiercer next time around; it wasn't all about self-preservation. Harman was using this screening to confront her constituents face to face, to try to make amends. Considering the hostility that was present in that room that night, rivaling that of my friend's, it struck me as pretty brave actually.

    After Harman half-addressed the issue of the chairmanship, the local assemblyman moderating the Q&A suggested that we "move on" and indeed tried to switch topics but the audience would have none of it, one gentleman in particular.

    How can we move on, we have 140,000 of our kids over there, almost 3,000 have died. You expect their families to just move on!?

    Harman looked pained. She spoke:

    Look, the intelligence was wrong. I was wrong.

    The gentleman, clearly moved by rage, no grand public speaker he, went on:

    I knew the intelligence was cooked. I knew there was not reason to go to war. How did I know that and you didn't!?

    Harman responded.

    Well, my husband agreed with you. I was wrong, you were right. Congratulations.

    Now on paper, that may look snarky but the way she delivered it, somehow it wasn't. It was sincere, not that the guy was looking for congratulations, but her apology, her admission that she was wrong and the humilty with which she admitted he was right seemed to go a long way to ease the tension in the room and to heal some of the anger toward Harman.

    In addition to apologizing, Harman expressed her commitment to not making the same mistakes again.

    I don't buy the intelligence on Iran and no one is going to be able to convince the Congress otherwise, as long as I'm there.

    She also acknowledged she was wrong on the warrantless wiretapping program.

    The world has changed since 9/11. That doesn't mean we have to change. Our challenge is to keep true to ourselves. It is our challenge to protect our citizens without abridging our laws and constitution. That may mean new laws consistent with our constitution and values.


    I will work to force the White House to bring the warrantless wiretapping program under FISA. If the government can't prove cause, then they can't listen. Period.

    And as talk returned to the topic of Iraq For Sale, Harman called for accountability.

    I agree about accountability and transparency in Congress…Democrats have been shut out from our oversight role for six years on party-line votes.

    As for the specific issue the film raises about the Bush administration's privatization of the war in Iraq:

    Congress can and should outlaw sole-source contracting; and criminal liabillity for the private contractors is not off the table at this point.

    Ironically, of course, Pelosi's passing over of Harman for chair of the Intelligence committee was the first sign that she is serious about holding members of Congress accountable for their votes and actions too; Democrats as well as Republicans. I don't know that Harman had that in mind, necessarily, however.

    At the end of the Q&A session, having heard a repentant Congresswoman Harman, Rick Jacobs captured the feel of the room in his closing remarks:

    Yes, mistakes have been made and I appreciate what I'm hearing Congresswoman Harman say about accountability. Voters had their chance to hold her accountable in June and again in November and they chose to re-elect her overwhelmingly.

    It was a more eloquent way of saying "move on" and it came at a point when the room was ready to hear it. Even Harman's most vocal detractor seemed on board.

    It was really a pretty fascinating thing to witness, this mea culpa from a Congresswoman, clearly an attempt at redemption. And what's even more fascinating is the language she used: "accountability," "values," "oversight."

    Sound familiar?

    As someone said at an election protection event earlier this year as they introduced Marcy Winograd, Harman's people-powered primary challenger:

    Winograd kept Jane Harman honest.

    And so did we. And in the process we made her a better member of Congress, just in time to actually make a difference in the majority.

    So after witnessing Harman squirm as she faced those she actually works for face to face, I came to realize that maybe a Congressman Harman put through the ringer, made to account for her decisions and made to face her constituents would ultimately be a positive. Sure it would be great to have Congresswoman Winograd added to the Progressive Caucus as opposed to Harman's membership in the New Democrat Coalition, but here we have an avowed moderate speaking to progressives using the language of progressives. Because she's seen what happens if she doesn't.

    That's where our power lies.

    Odds and Ends 11/21

    Another day comes and goes.  Lou Correa is officially the victor, and with that, the California elections in 2006 are officially over. Thank goodness.  That dragged on for quite a while, huh? Ok, today’s news teasers: Marc Cooper and Harry Reid, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California GOP, and Latino voters, CCPOA pay hikes, Harman and Pelosi, and Sacto’s message to the NBA.  And some other stuff…

  • Marc Cooper is agitating against Harry Reid already, mostly on solid grounds.  On Nov. 17, Marc questioned Reid’s support of a quick go-ahead for Robert Gates as SecDef, and on Nov. 19 Mark was none too pleased about Reid’s call for an additional $75 Billion for Iraq. However, he does seem overly agitated about a still-nascent majority.
  • The feud between Harman and Pelosi – does it matter? Personally, I’d prefer they stuck with seniority, it creates less opportunity for corruption. But, if you want some background on the dispute, check out that article. It tells you probably a bit more than you’d ever want to know about the roots of the dispute.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger got about 39% of the Latino vote.  Exactly why he got that number is not exactly clear, but certainly don’t read it as a great gain for the GOP in California.  In other races, McClintock only garnered 23% and Pooch only got 21%.  These numbers are more representative of the far-Right GOP can expect in the future, especially if they pursue their agenda against immigrants.  The GOP chose the anti-immigrant bandwagon, now sit there and be quiet. Arnold apologized about his MinuteMen comments, and as much as I think it was insincere, people accepted that, and he endorsed the moderate Senate immigration bill also helped.  Certainly McClintock and his ilk will have more difficulties trying to sway Latino voters.
  • The CCPOA won their members a 3% pay hike. More money for prisons, but still no answers.
  • More Indian casinos in Richmond? It could happen, but the stumbling point appears to be whether they can show connection with the land.  Back to history class folks…
  • Sacramento and Seattle told the NBA to back off, Dan Weintraub has some suggestions. He’s more polite than me.  My opinion: Learn how to balance a freaking budget.
  • My first pug, which my parents got when I was in high school, just died.  He had cancer and it was his time. He was a venerable 14 years, and was quite simply, a great dog.  He was sweet and playful, and I will miss him.  Pugsley’s the fawn one, the black one is my pug, Popeye.
    Pugsley and Popeye Pugsley, 1992-2006
  • California Blog Roundup, 6/2/06

    Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. I’m having a hard time keeping up: more people are writing as the election approaches. Teasers: Angelides, Westly, Schwarzenegger, Bowen, Paid-For Pombo, Francine Busby, Winograd v. Harman, Props 81 and 82, Jerry Lewis / CA-41, discussion of various reforms,immigration, and recent legislative actions.

    Statewide Races

    Paid-For Pombo / CA-11

    Busby / CA-50

    Winograd / Harman / CA-36

    • This Paul Rosenberg diary at MyDD re Marcy Winograd’s endorsement by another Democratic Club and the ensuing discussion are interesting. I’ll keep pressing Paul to crosspost his stuff.
    • The BradBlog interviews Marcy Winograd. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of stuff in there about election reform and voting machines, but also a lot of other topics, so don’t be afraid to go read it.
    • Alicia of Last Left Before Hooterville spent a night phone-banking for Marcy Winograd, and feels really good about it.

    Other Electoral


    • Tom Hilton of If I Ran the Zoo says yes to both Prop 81 and Prop 82.
    • Hannah-Beth Jackson at Speak Out CA runs through some of the groups opposing Prop 82. There are a startling number of pro-big-bidness groups involved. Why would they care? Prop 82 levies a tax on the personal income of very few people. Oh, wait. That’s right — those people are likely to be big-bidness executives. Funny that.
    • Beep takes the Next Ten state budget challenge and finds that she probably can’t support Prop 82, because she’d rather use the tax imposed for other things. Well, fair enough, but Beep, there is nothing else on offer today, nor is there likely to be in the foreseeable future. The anti-government groups who prevent any kind of sensible fiscal policy have seen to that.



    Legislative Action


    Winograd and Harman duke it out

    UPDATE: Corrected an error about Harman’s endorsement.

    Listen up folks.  This is a real race.  Really.  I’m not kidding.  Well, not mostly…Winograd has supporters, and CA-36 is a pretty liberal seat.

    Manhattan Beach Mayor Mitch Ward, a perennial Jane Harman supporter, remembers precisely when he decided the longtime South Bay congresswoman no longer deserved his backing.

    He was watching NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Feb. 12 when he heard the influential Democrat defend the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program.

    “She failed her constituents when she failed to realize the U.S. Constitution is in place for a purpose; she failed us by not recognizing the illegal wiretapping of this administration had gone too far,” Ward said. (Dailybreeze.com 5/26)

    As far as I know there aren’t any real polls, but Winograd says that she’s seen some of Harman’s polling that they are close.

    Few give her any real chance of unseating Harman, although Winograd claims with a straight face that Washington sources are telling her Harman’s own polls show the pair running neck and neck.

    Winograd blocked an early endorsement of Harman, but failed to block the endorsment at the Democratic Convention in April.
    I definitely prefer Winograd’s policies, but how much money is that worth?  Is it worth the $208,000 that she has raised so far?  I don’t know.  Anybody have an opinion on it?

    Also: check out this LA Weekly article.

    California Blog Roundup, 5/24/06

    Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers:Angelides, Westly and Schwarzenegger of course, Debra Bowen, Doolittle, Pombo, Filson, Harman, Winograd, immigration, a long list of other interesting items.

    Statewide Races

    15% Doolittle / CA-04

    Paid-For Pombo / CA-11

    Harman v. Winograd / CA-36



    Marcy Winograd?

    So, I’ve been assuming that Jane Harman will have no problem with the Democratic primary for CA-36.  But it appears that Marcy Winograd is giving Harman some initial trouble:

    In what must be a shock to the California Democratic Party, Progressive Democrat of Los Angeles President Marcy Winograd BLOCKED six-term incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman from receiving the California Democratic Party’s endorsement at this weekend’s delegate caucus in Harbor City. Winograd won 35% of the 104-delegate vote, enough to prevent Harman from picking up an early 36th congressional district endorsement prior to the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento later this month. At that time another vote will be taken with a delegate pool purged of many grassroots activists.

    The vote to block Harman’s endorsement was not the first upset for the incumbent Congresswoman and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Both United Teachers of Los Angeles and the California Federation of Teachers voted to reject their political action committee’s recommendation to endorse Harman. Additionally, the Progressive Democrats of Wilmington, who had previously endorsed Harman, rescinded their endorsement and endorsed Winograd.

    More info from those in SoCal?