Posts Tagged ‘Tom Harkin’
MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The 727 landed in a dense fog. One year ago today, the ground war had begun.
One year ago, perhaps, yellow ribbons festooned the trees and telephone poles. Now the streetswere littered with leaflets from yesterday’s ACT-UP rally (“Read my lipstick – no new taxes on the rich!”); photos of people dead or dying from AIDS hung from bare branches.
The ground war of the First Primary had begun.Troops from the seven major campaigns skirmished up and down Elm Street. Solitarydark horse candidates (more than fifty on the ballot) sought to establish beachheads. Platoons of journalists and camera crews patrolled the perimeter.
But Manchester was not only a battlefield. It was also a small town before a big football game. Store windows and apartment buildings sported Homecoming-style banners (“Sununu for President – no more wimps!”). Pickup loads of beefy young Buchanan supporters careened through the business district, blasting their horns and chanting through bullhorns. Smug Kerrey volunteers planted themselves in front of the Merrimack Restaurant and cheered themselves hoarse. Kittycorner
to them was a well-coiffed Clinton crowd, waving signs and exchanging taunts with smaller knots of Cuomo and Harkin flagbearers who darted in and out of traffic. Occasionally a Nader mobile-home rolled through the streets, an enormous yellow write-in pencil mounted on its roof.
The crowds and the cacophony grew as Game Time neared. Warm weather on the day before the primary brought out hundreds more, as adrenaline-and-caffeine-crazed staffers croaked “Visibility!” to their workers, who surged out of their headquarters, jockeying for position on the best turf. At one point a beat-up van screeched to the curb and disgorged a dozen pumped-up twentysomethings brandishing Laughlin signs. They claimed the corner.
By nightfall of Primary Eve, Manchester had become a surreal blend of street theater, Mardi Gras, and Prom Night. Twenty-four hours later, the party would be over for Tom Harkin.
Was Harkin’s problem “the message or the messenger?” That’s how the major media posed the issue of Harkin’s failure to ignite Democratic primary voters.
Nothing was wrong with Harkin’s fundamental message. It was a simple amalgam of: 1) Jesse Jackson’s message in ’88; 2) some facts and theories lifted from Republican analyst Kevin Phillips’s book, “The Politics of Rich and Poor;” and 3) Harkin’s own instinctive populism.
The message, however, had two strikes against it. First, the primary schedule was less than ideal. New Hampshire, one of the most anti-government, antitax, anti-labor states in the nation (and the food’s not very good, either),is a terrible place to begin the Democratic primaries. Even one little industrial state with a minority population could have injected some momentum into Harkin’s campaign earlier in the process.
Equally problematic was the media’s aversion to openly class-based politics. “Class-resentment anger,” the Des Moines Register labeled Harkin’s rhetoric. The Wall Street Journal dismissed his attacks on Reaganomics as “classwarfare.” They just don’t get it. Class remains America’s dirty little secret, one which well-fed columnists from the finest schools are ill-equipped to explore.
Harkin’s strengths as a messenger were outweighed by two flaws. The decision to go negative in New Hampshire was a crucial mistake. His Iowa victory did give Harkin a bump going into New Hampshire, with tracking polls showing slowly but steadily inching ahead of Kerrey toward 15%.
Had Harkin been content to make a few comparisons” of his record with Kerrey’s, his upward trend probably would have continued. Instead, Harkin took shots at all of his competitors, thereby defusing the attack on Kerrey while increasing his own junkyard-dog image. What worked against Tom Tauke backfired in a larger field.
Harkin’s staff apparently realized that something had gone askew, because they hastily resurrected a softer ad featuring Harkin’s hearing-impaired brother.
The kind-and-gentle persona came too late for a knock-out of Kerrey, which was crucial to the long-range goal of a Harkin-vs.-Clinton showdown. Harkin’s hopes, and the struggle to define the Democratic Party in 1992, were finished.
The messenger may have made another serious mistake by abandoning his stance as an outsider. Harkin’s claim of being “the only real Democrat in the race” was accurate in many respects, but it didn’t play well in an anti-establishment atmosphere. And Harkin’s style, epitomized by his beautifully-orchestrated announcement event on a farm in Winterset, began to reek of the Beltway. Neither Harkin nor Kerrey, flying firstclass with bloated entourages, could adjust quickly enough to the twists and turns of a national campaign. Yet, with little money and less than ten staffers, Jerry Brown (a quintessential insider) is still in the race.
Withdrawing from campaigns brings out the best in presidential hopefuls. Kerrey was far more lively and appealing during his exit remarks than he ever had been as a candidate. A trace of self-deprecating humor somehow found its wayinto Harkin’s withdrawal speech. The account of his campaign, Harkin joshed, should be called “Memoirs of an Invisible Man.” Both he and the crowd were startled by his halting attempt to poke fun at himself, but the joke was okay for a first try. A little more of that could go along way in ’96.
— Dave Leshtz campaigned for Sen.Harkin in New Hampshire in 1992.
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Brookside Park, Ames Iowa
On Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans are heading to Washington, D.C. to join the action urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. If you can’t make it to D.C., please join us for a solidarity rally in Ames.
We will meet at Brookside Park at 1pm. This is a family-friendly event. Please bring your families and tell your friends. There will be a 10 minute talk about why we owe it to our children to address climate change now, and there will be a petition to sign asking President Obama not to approve the pipeline. There will also be a letter for kids to sign. We hope to see you there!
Let’s hold President Obama to the promise he made during his inauguration speech: ” We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Weekend Legislative Forums
Iowa has a unique tradition of legislators meeting with the public during the weekends. This is a great opportunity for people to question the people who are making the laws. We encourage you to go because it is also a great opportunity for legislators to hear the views of their constituents.
The only list we could find is on the website for the Iowa Democratic senators. Where the senators appear, generally the representatives are there also. The full schedule is here listed by date and then alphabetically by senator’s last name:
There are many issues this year which need our input. I know that when we attend, there is a house full of Republicans. So please attend if you can just let them know you support him or her. – Dave Bradley
Scott County Democrats RED, WHITE AND BLUE BANQUET
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Expo Building • Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, Davenport, IA
5:30 pm cocktails – Russ Reyman Trio
6:30 Dinner & Program
Invited Guests Include
• Senator Tom Harkin
• Congressman Bruce Braley and
• Congressman Dave Loebsack
• Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
• Iowa Senator Mike Gronstal • Iowa Senator Jack Hatch
• Iowa Senator Rob Hogg
• Iowa Senator Jeff Danielson
• Iowa Democratic Chair, Representative Tyler Olson
• Candidate for Secretary of State Brad Anderson
The following guest opinion by Senator Tom Harkin appeared in the the Cedar Rapids Gazette Saturday.
When Mitt Romney named Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, he reminded Iowans of the choice we face in this election. One of the proposals in the extreme House Republican budget that Congressman Ryan crafted is its plan to end Medicare as we know it.
Romney and Ryan would raise seniors’ health costs by thousands of dollars while leaving millions of seniors across the country to the whims of insurance companies.
The Romney-Ryan plan would radically transform the program by giving seniors a voucher to buy coverage from a private insurance company or traditional Medicare — but the vouchers would not be enough to cover health costs.
Romney and Ryan will not tell us the value of the voucher — they have only been clear that they could charge seniors more if they stayed in the traditional Medicare. Nonpartisan economists say the 2012 Ryan budget could increase out-of-pocket costs for future seniors by almost $6,000.
Romney also has admitted that whatever the value of the vouchers, it would grow more slowly than health care costs.
And the Romney-Ryan plan would leave Medicare in a death spiral. Healthy seniors would opt for private insurance, leaving sick seniors in the existing Medicare program and driving up the costs even further.
Iowa seniors cannot afford these reckless plans. Today, 17 percent of the state’s residents rely on Medicare.
President Obama is strengthening Medicare by eliminating gaps in coverage and reducing the cost of prescription drugs. And according to Medicare’s actuaries, he’s extending Medicare’s solvency by eight years, from 2016 to 2024, by fighting fraud and abuse and getting rid of wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.
ObamaCare is already benefiting Iowa’s seniors. Last year, more than 42,000 Iowans on Medicare saved about $600 each on prescription drug costs. Nearly three in four seniors received free preventive care.
Romney and Ryan would revoke all of those benefits. They would strip away protections against waste, and give insurance companies more taxpayer money while undermining the earned health security of Iowa’s seniors. According to the Congressional Budget Office and staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the repeal bill passed by the House on July 11 also increases the deficit by $109 billion over 2013-2022.
The bottom line: The president will protect Medicare, while Romney and Ryan would end it as we know it. That fundamental difference makes the choice this November just as clear.
Diplomacy with Iran, ‘we can’t afford another war,’ a key focus
DES MOINES – (Catholic Peace Ministry news services, courtesy of JJ Weiss) A delegation that included Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines consulted with Senator Tom Harkin Sunday in an attempt to avert war with Iran and express concerns about the future of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
The eight organizations included the Catholic Peace Ministry and Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran who lobbied for direct talks with Iran.
Other members of the delegation included Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee, Chet Guinn of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace, Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Yashar Vasef of the United Nations Association of Iowa, Sherry Hutchison of the Quaker Valley Friends Meeting, Maggie Rawland of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Tony Johnson.
Robert Williams of Indianola, instrumental setting up the meeting, was unable to attend because of his health; Harkin had kind words for Williams and his persistent presence for peace. Senator Harkin opened the proceedings by showing support for the work done by the groups sitting at the table.
Mayor Frank Cownie said we have needs, for example “68 bridges that need to be repaired in Des Moines alone. “We have crumbling infrastructure, a local flood situation, and no funds yet we’re not cutting dollars off the Pentagon budget, Cownie said. “We continue to speak of more war…..It’s a fear-based mentality driving this we have to shake off.”
Harkin expressed reservations taking a strong stand on Iran as opposed to his “restoring the middle class” initiatives and the assembled argued our disfunction was a result of our state of perpetual war if you read history. Harkin did acknowledge “sure” when asked if we have a permanent war economy and agreed our military bases overseas were excessive.
The opening statement was made by Kathleen McQuillen of AFSC.
“We want you to start speaking publicly for diplomacy with Iran. We also do not want you to sign Senate Resolution 380 which expresses the will of some Senators to go to war with Iran,” said McQuillen.
Chet Guinn asked Harkin to work with us setting up a public forum to discuss U.S. foreign and domestic policy because his voice was respected locally.
AFSC also brought the concerns of its ongoing work to build peace for Israelis and Palestinians by expressing alarm that the President increased military aid to Israel better spent in our cities here.
Shifting again to Iran, the Catholic Peace Ministry reiterated its position of direct diplomacy as Obama called for when running for president. Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility expressed the environmental concerns of another war and also that in his work that when parties are in danger of the most egregious conflict is exactly the time to sit down and talk.”
“That is one thing that I have learned in my profession,” Dr. Drake said.
Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace credited Harkin with speaking against the Vietnam War and in the 1980s about human rights abuses we supported in Central America but gave an impassioned appeal to speak now, that his and other voices in the Senate have been largely silent.
“We feel a sense of urgency, Flaherty said. “A war can break out even if it’s not intended and once it starts it’s hard to stop a war.” Just because talks will take place between multiple parties and Iran next May the rhetoric hasn’t lessened.
Flaherty late addressed Harkin’s statement that he does not have a bully pulpit on foreign policy.
“We think that you do, Senator, and President Obama needs support from Democrats in the Senate as he is being pushed on this issue on several fronts, most of them negative, especially the Prime Minister of Israel.”
Harkin said he refused to attend the speech by Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress and would be interested in traveling to Iran but his own government disallowed congressional travel at this time.
McQuillen went further on U.S. policy in Southwest Asia by asking Harkin to stop taking campaign contributions from organizations that support Israel’s occupation,” McQuillen said, citing the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Harkin stated organizations can support him for a variety of reasons so McQuillen said she would provide more information.
McQuillen noted Harkin’s work on human rights so the same could be afforded to the Palestinians, the only people said to have “the right to self-determination” meaning having a legal right to a country without having one.
In the discussion Harkin used the word “occupation” — as does both the governments of Israel and the U.S. — though it is not uncommon for national media, including the New York Times and National Public Radio, to use the phrase “disputed territories.”
Yashar Vasef spoke as an Iranian-American who was concerned about the support of many people in positions of power in the United States to both support the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, and attempt to take the organization of the list of terrorist organizations.
Vasef asked Harkin to bring this support to the attention of more people on the Hill as it certainly appears to be outside of U.S. law to support such an organization.
Journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, and both the New York Times and BBC have reported that both the previous administration and members of the current Congress have supported the activities of MEK, including the assassination of Iranian scientists.
“This covert war is already going on and few people know about the MEK so that is one of the reasons why I am here today though I do not support the Iranian regime’s efforts to aquire nuclear power.” Vasef said.
The meeting ended with a discussion of a public forum in Iowa and the delegation will remain together until this is accomplished so the larger citizenry can engage the present and future of this civilization.
For more information:
email@example.com or find ‘Catholic Peace Ministry’ on Facebook
CPM, 4211 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312 (telephone 515 255 8114)
Final note: During the discussion the voices of WILPF are also noted: Sherry Hutchison stated her concern the term ‘war on terror’ was in perpetuity and Maggie Rawland that corporations had bought Congress so we as citizens are disenfranchised, especially after Citizens United
(WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM) firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for contacting me about U.S. relations with Iran. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns on these important matters.
I am deeply concerned about the possibility that Iran may obtain nuclear weapons, which would pose a serious threat to the United States and to the peace and stability of the Middle East. In November 2011, a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that Iran had not fully disclosed its nuclear activities and that while many of the identified capabilities developed by Iran “have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons.”
The point of the current U.S. policy towards Iran, which I support, is not to goad the Iranian regime into conflict, but to bring it back to the negotiating table. On December 1, 2011, I voted for an amendment to S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, that imposed sanctions on the financial sector of Iran and gave the President waiver authority to decide not to deploy such sanctions in certain instances. This amendment was agreed to in a unanimous 100-0 vote. I ultimately voted against S. 1867 because of my concerns regarding the bill’s impact on civil liberties. However, this legislation still passed the Senate and similar legislation, including the sanctions against Iran, passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011.
Let me be clear that I strongly feel that sanctions are the alternative to military action, not a prelude to it. Many American and international security experts believe that a military strike against Iran would be ill-advised. Such a strike would not likely disable Iran’s nuclear program, and it could also have other severe consequences, such as possibly igniting a broader regional war. Because of this, I still believe the ultimate resolution of these issues can and should come from diplomatic action. This is the course of action that has been pursued by the Obama Administration, which, with its partners in the United Nations, European Union, and Iran’s own neighbors in the Persian Gulf, has directly attempted to engage the Iranian regime since it took office in 2009.
It is my hope that effective, multi-lateral sanctions can tip the balance and that Iran will allow open access to the IAEA and honestly engage with the U.S. and international community over its efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities.
Again, thank you for reaching out to me on these important matters. I will be sure to keep your views in mind as developments in Iran and the Middle East continue. Please do not hesitate to keep in contact with me or my staff on this issue or any other that concerns you.
United States Senator
~ Tom Harkin is the junior Senator from Iowa. Check out his website here.
The request was delivered to Harkin’s staff in a climate of growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, where public officials, including the current and former Secretaries of Defense, the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other military and public officials from the United States and Iran, warn against the catastrophe of war.
“We are disappointed Senator Harkin would join the 100-0 vote on Jan. 4 to put sanctions on Iran that (some) liken to an act of war,” said Weiss.
He directed his comments to Tom Buttry, a member of Harkin’s Washington, D.C. staff, who spoke via teleconference; and Jule Reynolds, a staff person in the Des Moines office.
Weiss queried, “in fact, (the sanctions) bill was so bad the Obama Administration was opposed, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; ramping up tensions between two countries is more important to Democrats than the position their own President is taking?”
Dr. David Drake, of Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented a letter written by Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility. Dr. Drake, who speaks on Iowa Public Radio about health issues, and has traveled to Iran, said two countries surrounding Iran, Israel and Pakistan, possess nuclear weapons and Iran might feel threatened. Physicians in his organization believe the U.S. should concentrate on healing the environment and the needs of humanity, instead of starting another war, he said.
Other organizations represented at the meeting included Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), The Strategic Arms Control PAC (STARPAC), The Methodist Federation for Social Action, the Plymouth Congregational Peace and Social Justice Committee, Veterans for Peace Chapter #163, the Des Moines Catholic Worker and the Quaker Friends Meeting.
Eloise Cranke noted segments of the Methodist Church considered war as incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus, and both Mark Rosenbury and Bob Brammer, long-time supporters of Harkin who have seen him do the right thing regarding Iran, asked him to do so in this crucial time.
Tom Buttry defended the Senator’s Jan. 4 vote, saying Harkin opposed war with Iran. The Iowa constituents said that is not enough.
“We are stuck between Republican presidential candidates calling for bombing Iran and Democrats who are more than ambivalent, but enabling,” Weiss countered. “We fear that a shooting war could take place without any formal declaration from either country and then, I guess, Harkin can deliver his statement of opposition.”
No matter what has taken place between the two parties for the past several decades (since the 1979 Islamic Revolution), Carolyn Uhlenhake-Walker of WILPF said that the time is now for diplomacy.
Retired Drake University Professor and author Ismael Hossein-Zadeh, a native of Iran, noted that sanctions would hurt the people of Iran and are not beneficial to U.S. commerce. This was a similar argument made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in their opposition to sanctions voted on in the Senate on Jan. 4. Hossein-Zadeh said he had to apologize for his voice shaking but that this was dear to his heart because he cared about the people of both countries.
Buttry concluded the meeting by promising he would carry the messages to Senator Tom Harkin. The delegation asked for a letter in the newspaper, an amendment on a Defense Appropriations bill or another public venue asking for diplomacy with Iran.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, who was out of town, said he supported the delegation’s call for diplomacy.
~To learn more about Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran, contact Jeffrey Weiss via email here.
We received this message from Iowa’s U.S. Senator Tom Harkin today. Both of Iowa’s senators and the 5 Iowa U.S. Representatives, Boswell, Braley, Loebsack, King and Latham, voted against the recently passed deficit reduction bill proving that President Obama is right - bipartisan common ground is possible.
The most urgent problem facing America is the jobs deficit.
These are perilous times for our nation. Two years ago, extreme voices on the right used town hall forums to shout down their opponents. Now they are threatening to shut down our government. They see compromise as a dirty word, and hostage-taking as a legitimate means to get their way.
Worst of all, they are using these tactics to pursue policies that are destroying the middle class and making income inequality even worse. They are demanding that we slash funding for programs that undergird the middle class – everything from education to Medicare to Social Security – as well as essential funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor. Yet they fanatically oppose even one dollar of shared sacrifice from the most privileged people in our society.
My greatest fear for the future is that Americans will come to accept an ever greater gap between the top and the bottom, with no middle class. I voted against the debt-ceiling deal because I see it as another devastating blow to ordinary working Americans.
Too many progressives are responding to the current onslaught by losing heart and hope. Some seem to think that if we shift to the right and appease the hostage-takers, things will be OK. This is dangerously naïve and wrong. This is the time for us to stand firm, to speak up for our values and principles. If we do, I am convinced that the great majority of Americans – who have no use for the Tea Party extremists – will stand with us.
The most urgent problem facing America isn’t the budget deficit, it is the jobs deficit and the growing gap between the rich and the rest of America. We need to force a debate on the issues that really matter: Are we going to rescue the middle class and preserve the safety net? Are we going to have policies that put 25 million underemployed Americans back to work?
The middle class is the backbone of this country, and we need activists and leaders with the backbone to defend it. This means investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure – creating a world-class workforce. And it means restoring a level playing field, with fair taxation, vibrant unions, and a strong ladder of opportunity to give every American access to the middle class.
Over the years, I’ve encountered plenty of bullies. They run amok, leaving a path of destruction, until decent people summon the courage to fight back. That’s the challenge before progressives today. Friends, it’s time to fight back!