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left turn only... dispatches from the progressive underground

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Memo to Marta,
Filed under: General, Politics, Futuring, Progressive, Left Turn Only, Democrats, Society
Posted by: riozen @ 2:45 pm

Memo to Marta,

Marta, after I posted on Facebook the following status update: ”Marta Evry posted this recently. Riddled with misstatements (Marcy Winograd never reached out to CDP delegates and Jane did?) and fantastical assertions (Jane Harman is a Progressive?) two facts remain crystal clear = Jane Harman and her husband Seymour are WAR Profiteers & Blue Dog Democrats like Harman and Loretta Sanchez are shills for Corporate Plutocrats… Your thoughts? VOTE WINOGRAD! Marta’s post > ” You commented: ”Brad, please point out where you believe I was factually incorrect. Not where you just have a difference if opinion, but demonstrable facts. Thank you.”

First, let me recognize your personal integrity in having the courage to comment on my posts, knowing that you and I are on opposite sides of this campaign. Now, as to the points that you made in the article and following it, here is my reply.

The second chapter in my book, Left Turn Only: Dispatches From The Progressive Underground, is entitled, “The Politics Of Capitulation.” In it, I analyze and rebut the DLC core arguments, which you have once again put up as a reason to discredit the Progressive Movement and Marcy Winograd by employing “Crony’s Triangulating Fog.” The Blue Dog reasoning posits that if a Democrat is a Liberal on a few Social issues, such as a woman’s reproductive civil rights, then they are as entitled as any other Democrat to proclaim themselves a Progressive. It goes further to state that gradual incrementalism, which Dr. King warned us against over 40 years ago, is in fact the best way to achieve results. Clinton/DLC/Blue Dog theorists, notably Bill Clinton, Elaine Kamarck, William Galston, Harold Ford Jr. and Al Frum, call this the “Third Way.” They have always believed that Pro-Crony Capitalism is the price we must pay as Democrats to win and stay in office. They label it “pragmatism.” Your argument in favor of Jane Harman goes right down that line including your mocking refutation of “you’d better be as pure as the Dalai Lama in a snowdrift” retort regarding your perceived hypocrisy by those on the Left with Big Ideas. That comes under the fantastical assertions I mentioned. We have heard this argument for over 20 years now and it is an artful but discredited dodge.

As you know, the core principle of the Progressive Movement is “PEACE.” Progressives call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq,
Afghanistan and the more than 700 bases in over 100 countries around the world, currently occupied by American Armed Forces as well as end to the Drug War. We demand an end to the doctrine of “Preemptive War.” “Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Peace is the center of our movement. It is the center of Winograd’s campaign. This is the opposite of everything Jane Harman has stood for, voted for and profited from her entire Congressional career. Harman has been Pro-War, Pro-Preemptive War, Pro-Torture, Pro-Wire Tapping, and Pro-Military Spending etc. We all know her record. For this alone she is not an acceptable politician to Progressives - anymore than any other Blue Dog or Republican. We are very serious on this point. It is not a minor detail. It is the central argument against Harman’s candidacy and for Winograd’s. It is a glaring misstatement of the facts for you to suggest that Progressives should overlook this paramount issue when they consider Jane Harman’s qualifications. I believe that the minor improvements in her stances in recent times, which you list, are mainly because of Winograd’s campaigns.

Again, as you know, our other core issues include Single Payer Healthcare. Harman’s support for the feeble watered-down so-called “Public Option” was a typical DLC/Blue Dog distraction aimed at keeping the Crony Casino careening along. I could go on but the point is this: Progressives demand Change, Big Ideas and Bold Action now. It is not a question of purity but of purpose. If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. You are not alone in calling for incremental change; Many Democrats are dancing to that siren song as well. Even Progressives are capable of being co-opted into playing along if it suits their career plans. Why? Because the rigged rules and by-laws of an Incumbents Only Party prescribe compromise if you want to advance up the ladder. Finest example - Obama is the Compromiser In Chief. But I digress. Claiming that Harman would move us forward on the Progressive agenda more than Winograd is another huge misstatement and fantastical assertion. In fact, Harman is only moving on it because of Winograd.

Furthermore, on the “fantastical assertions” argument you try to get us to believe that because Winograd has invested in the American infrastructure as well as Harman, including some disreputable corporations, that Winograd and Harman are wallowing in the same mud. (I am curious as to why you didn’t compare and contrast Harman’s holdings as you enumerated Winograd’s.) Would it then not follow that we all use gasoline and are as corrupt as BP? We all use electricity generated by Coal and Nuclear power plants and are as corrupt as Duke Energy? Yes, all Americans are complicit in the uneven distribution of goods, services and use of resources on this planet. However, to say that it is all so relative and Winograd is as Harman is in all things is ludicrous but typical of the Third Way politics of distraction.

You support Harman due to your passion for her principles I hope and not blind antipathy to Winograd. Remember this though; Seymour Harman is a War Profiteer. That is a fact. Jane Harman aided and abetted that profiteering by her votes on the Intelligence committees and on the floor of the House for over 20 years. I am sure that she is having a change of heart today because the chickens have come home to roost. Winograd is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Harman’s conscience. Such is life. I am among many who cannot support that Imperial America - Always at War that Jane Harman is still beating the drum for. I applaud Winograd for giving the voters of the 36th CD a Peace alternative.

I never questioned your “factual accuracy” Marta but since you brought it up - Your facts are correct from a DLC/Blue Dog point of view but not a Progressive POV. They are right out of the Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel - Barack Obama playbook. They are not a Progressive case for Jane Harman. They are clever but contemptuous of activism, protest, dissent and the duties of citizenship to stand up, show up and speak up when the government is oppressive and misguided as Marcy Winograd and her supporters are currently doing. So be it.

Maybe one day we can work together on Democratic Party organizing. That would be good. I look forward to it.


Brad Parker
June 2010

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