Monday Night Mash-Up


If you happened to watch any of the MSNBC shows today or listened to progressive talk radio, chances are you heard a lot about the new book Game Change, about the 2008 presidential election.

Tonight, on my Air America radio show, I won’t be talking about the book. But I will discredit one of the authors.

In October of 2007, before we knew exactly who would be in the running for the presidency, Mark Halperin of Time magazine wrote a book called The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President, which he presented as an unbiased look at the seven people who he thought stood the best chance of running and winning.

At the time, I was hosting the morning show on what was then Miami’s progressive talk station, 940 WINZ (which, unfortunately, no longer exists). Halperin joined me on the air to discuss his book. Although it started off on a cordial note, I soon called him out on some of the items that I perceived to be quite partisan.

So, tonight, we’ll listen to some of that interview, so you can hear why I don’t consider Halperin to be a very credible source and therefore take what he’s written in this book with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Also on tonight’s show, a follow-up to a segment from Friday night with Coleen Rowley. I invited Coleen on the show to talk about the plight of whistleblowers, as she’s lived it. Coleen was named one of three “Whistleblower Persons of the Year” by Time magazine in 2002 for her role in exposing the problems in the FBI’s prosecution of 9-11.

On Friday afternoon, the latest of our nation’s high profile whistleblowers started a 40-month federal prison term. Brad Birkenfeld was a “mid-level banker with an undistinguished history,” according to a 60 Minutes piece on him last week, with UBS bank in Switzerland. When his conscience got the best of him and he went to the feds with information on 19,000 Americans defrauding the US government by keeping their money tax-free in Swiss banks, he became probably one of the most important whistleblowers ever.

When I wondered why he was going to jail when no one else associated with this case would, neither Coleen nor I knew the answer. Tonight, I’ll be joined by Steve Kohn, Birkenfeld’s attorney and executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center.

And finally, the cries in favor of ending the filibuster in the Senate are getting louder! Tonight, I’ll speak with Jonathan Tasini, candidate for the US Senate from New York, who has also just launched a petition to kill the filibuster.

One final note for tonight…. I’ve been speaking out on behalf of progressive organizations who are actively supporting progressive candidates, with the key word being PROGRESSIVE. So, imagine my surprise when I read that Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, co-chair of the Congressional PROGRESSIVE Caucus was endorsing and headlining a fundraiser for BLUE DOG Jane Harmon!

I sent a note today to Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America, asking for their response, as Lynn Woosley is also on the PDA board of directors. The response was this letter that will be delivered to Rep. Woosley next week. Please read and, if you agree, click here to sign on!

Dear Lynn,

In recent days, ever since the announcement of your scheduled appearance as the headliner at the January 16 fund-raising event in Venice for Rep. Harman, we have been hearing about it from many PDA activists and other progressives in California and around the country. The tone and emphasis of the responses vary, but the overwhelming gist is clear: The progressive base is upset about your scheduled involvement and hopes that you will withdraw from this event.

As an organization, Progressive Democrats of America joins in that request.

Given your longstanding and exemplary leadership on a wide range of peace and justice issues, it would be counterproductive to aid Rep. Harman?s re-election efforts. Her pro-war record is well known, having voted most recently to spend billions to continue the occupation of Iraq and escalate in Afghanistan. Her October 2002 vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq was in stark contrast to the “no” votes by most House Democrats. Harman has an equally appalling record on civil liberties, having lobbied the New York Times to suppress the story about Bush’s wiretaps on the eve of the 2004 election, then going on television to defend the illegal wiretaps. In addition, she voted for the bankruptcy bill, then more recently voted against mortgage relief in bankruptcy court, despite the fact that several thousand of her constituents are facing foreclosure. On the health care front, she recently voted against fast-tracking affordable generic medications for patients with breast cancer, brain tumors, Parkinson’s and rare diseases.

Fortunately, Rep. Harman faces a strong primary challenge from someone who exemplifies the idealistic commitments and progressive values that have been central to your work in Congress. Marcy Winograd?s decades of dedication to working for economic equity, social justice, civil liberties and peace offer a sharp contrast to the incumbent in California?s 36th district. Unlike the incumbent, Winograd will represent the public interest, not Wall Street or war profiteers.

As Marcy Winograd said in the speech that kicked off her current campaign: “Jane Harman took us to war without taking a second look at the National Intelligence Estimate, which highlighted and boxed analysts? doubts about the fictitious weapons of mass destruction. Jane Harman not only took us to war, but continued to waste our taxpayer dollars on supplemental budgets that hid the true cost of the war by not including the price tag in the Defense Department budget.”

The reason that we have Rep. Donna Edwards in the House today as a stalwart advocate for peace and justice is precisely because of her successful primary campaign that unseated a non-progressive Democratic incumbent. Surely such victories are in the interests of all progressives.

This is a painful letter for us to sign, particularly because of our longtime admiration and deep respect for you. But we hope you’ll agree that progressive principles must prevail among friends. We urge you to withdraw from the fund-raising event for Rep. Harman?s campaign.

We look forward to your response.

Peace and justice,

Tim Carpenter
National Director, Progressive Democrats of America

Mimi Kennedy
Advisory Board Chair, Progressive Democrats of America

Donna Smith
Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign Co-chair

Norman Solomon
Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare NOT Warfare Campaign Co-chair

Nicole Sandler
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