Tom Harkin

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Tom Harkin


Tom Harkin is a far left Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing Iowa.

Background

Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 150) on November 19, 1939, the son of an Iowa coal miner father and a Slovenian immigrant mother. To this day, he still lives in the house in Cumming where he was born.

During his youth, he worked in a variety of jobs - on farms and construction sites, as a paper boy and at a Des Moines bottling plant.

After graduating from Dowling High School in Des Moines, he attended Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in government and economics.

Following graduation, Tom served in the Navy as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967. Later, he continued to fly in the Naval Reserves. He is an active member of American Legion Post 562 in Cumming and the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

In 1968, Tom Harkin married Ruth Raduenz, the daughter of a farmer and a school teacher from Minnesota.[1]

"Tiger cages"

Tom Harkin went to Washington in 1969 to join the staff of Iowa Congressman Neal Smith.[2]

In 1970, President Nixon sent a delegation of ten Congressmen to Viet Nam to investigate pacification. A part of their mandate included a visit to a prison in South Viet Nam as a way to be allowed to visit a prison where U.S. POWs were held in the North. .[3]

Don Luce's involvement

After a year at Cornell, Luce returned to Vietnam in 1969 as an investigative journalist for Cornell and for the United Methodist Church’s Vietnam Education Project (VEP). In this capacity he became affiliated with the World Council of Churches (WCC), an international religious body which had been infiltrated by Soviet intelligence through front groups such as the Prague-based Christian Peace Conference (CPC). Networking with other religious antiwar groups and with Thich Tri Quang’s follower Ngo Ba Thanh, Luce along with Stoltzfus and Fox joined a campaign to publicize allegations of torture against the South Vietnamese government, involving what were called “Tiger Cages”, allegedly located at Con Son Island Prison.

Luce’s public involvement in the Tiger Cages story was preceded by the more low-key involvement of his former IVS colleagues Stolzfus and Fox. Fox had also quit IVS after the 1968 Tet Offensive and was now working as a foreign correspondent for National Catholic Reporter, TIME, The New York Times, and Dispatch News Service International. Dispatch News, founded in 1968 by Berkeley grad student David Obst and freelance writer Michael Morrow, was the same news service that helped Seymour Hersh break the My Lai Massacre story in 1969. It was funded by Philip Stern, nephew of Soviet spy Alfred Stern and a financier and board member of the Marxist think tank the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Dispatch News also employed Soviet agent Wilfred Burchett. Luce’s Cornell associate Gary Porter later became Dispatch News’ Saigon bureau chief.

While Fox was working for Dispatch News, he also began courting and eventually married Vietnamese native Kim Hoa, who worked for the Saigon staff of the Committee of Responsibility (COR). This was a medical activist group founded in New York in 1966. Its Chairman was Herbert Needleman, a pediatrician and child psychologist associated with antiwar activist Benjamin Spock, later exposed for using faulty methodology to perpetrate junk-science claims about lead poisoning. Its Treasurer was Anne Peretz, a wealthy heiress married to Martin Peretz, who during that period worked with the antiwar magazine Ramparts and the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC).

While Fox’s wife worked for the Saigon staff of COR, Fox and Stoltzfus served as the Saigon staff of the US Study Team on Religious & Political Freedom in Vietnam. This was a human rights investigating body consisting primarily of a group of religious antiwar leaders that included Fox’s friend Robert Drinan, an associate of the VMC and soon to run for Congress in a 1970 campaign chaired by John Kerry. Also part of the team was Congressman John Conyers, Jr. The Study Team’s research was conducted in May-June 1969 and the results were presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 1970 by J. William Fulbright, leader of the antiwar lobby in the Senate. The Team’s report stated that “prison authorities denied the existence of ‘tiger cages’”, that “Team members were unable to elicit any more from the prison officials than that the ‘tiger cages’ were no longer in existence”, and that “Team members observed no brutality.” However an unidentified prisoner “speaking surreptitiously to the Team members said, in answer to a question, ‘Yes, the ‘tiger cages’ are here, behind Camp No. 2 and Camp No. 3. You looked in the wrong place.’”

To make this unsubstantiated hearsay sound more convincing, Luce started his own propaganda campaign. One of Luce’s former agriculture college students had been imprisoned at Con Son. Students protesting the imprisonment had written a report on conditions at the prison, which Luce and a Quaker friend translated and sent to hundreds of newspapers around the US. While Luce was preparing the report for distribution, he recruited Congressmen William Anderson and Augustus Hawkins and Congressional aide Tom Harkin to stray away from an official Congressional delegation to Saigon for a private fact-finding trip to Con Son in July 1970. Harkin forced his Vietnamese hosts to let him into the prison, violated security procedures by walking among the inmates, and shot some photos of prison cells with bars in the ceiling under catwalks, which shouting prisoners reportedly alleged were used for abusing inmates by dumping things from the ceiling. Luce’s factfinding team then went back to Saigon and collected abuse allegations from five former inmates who had been imprisoned as suspected Communists. The allegations collected by Luce’s team were disputed by officials who claimed the catwalks were used for observing inmates rather than for abuse. The US Agency for International Development’s Senior Advisor to the South Vietnamese Director of Corrections, Don Bordenkircher, would later extensively criticize the Luce team’s allegations, arguing, “The Tiger Cage story put out in 1970 stands as one of the most successful operations ever undertaken by Hanoi's Department of Psychological Warfare.” The majority of other Congressmen investigating the matter decided they did not find the Luce team’s allegations persuasive enough to include in their official report.

Bypassing his colleagues’ objections, Harkin called a press conference and denounced the official report as “a whitewash or a snow job”. He allowed Luce to provide some of his photographs for a pictorial essay in the July 17, 1970 issue of LIFE. Luce also supplied photographs to the underground paper Liberation News Service (LNS, supported by IPS) and wrote pieces on the subject for a British antiwar paper, the Manchester Guardian, as well as several Vietnamese newspapers. This led the government of South Vietnam to inform him that his press card would not be renewed.

No longer welcome in South Vietnam, Luce began telling his Tiger Cages story around the United States as he toured the country from 1971 to 1974 with what he called the Indochina Mobile Education Project. This involved Luce travelling by bus around the country and presenting visual aids designed to arouse opposition to the war and pressure Congress to cut off aid to South Vietnam.[4]

Political career

In 1972, Harkin and Ruth Raduenz graduated in the same class at Catholic University of America Law School in Washington, D.C. They returned to Iowa and settled in Ames. Tom worked with Polk County Legal Aid, assisting low-income Iowans who could not afford legal help. Raduenz won election as Story County Attorney, becoming the first female elected to this position.

In 1974, Tom Harkin was elected to Congress from Iowa's Fifth Congressional District. His "energetic, person-to-person campaign carried the day against an incumbent in a long-standing Republican district".

In 1984, after serving 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Harkin challenged an incumbent Senator and won. Iowans returned him to the Senate in 1990, 1996 and again in 2002. In November 2008, Tom made history by becoming the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate.[5]

SANE

In 1978 Tom Harkin served on the Board of Directors of SANE-"A Citizens' Organization for a Sane World".[6]

Nicaragua conference

The Communist Party USA controlled U.S. Peace Council organized a National Conference on Nicaragua in 1979, along with several other radical groups, to discuss a strategy to ensure that the Sandinistas took control.

Three Congressmen and two Senators lent support to this Conference: Ron Dellums, Tom Harkin, and Walter Fauntroy in the House and Mark Hatfield and Edward Kennedy in the Senate.[7]

The Chile letter

On August 1 1979 Thirty-five U.S. Congressmen signed a letter[8]to President Jimmy Carter demanding that private bank loans to Chile be barred unless the Chilean government chose to extradite three military officials, including the former director of the Chilean intelligence service. The three had been indicted for complicity in the assassination of marxist Unidad Popular government member and KGB agent Orlando Letelier and the killing of Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) staffer Ronni Moffitt in 1976.

In May 1978 the Chief Justice of the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the U.S. request for extradition.

Chief sponsor of the letter was Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who was joined by Congressmen John Burton (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI), Ron Dellums (D-CA), Berkley Bedell (D-IA), Richard Ottinger (D-NY), Fred Richmond (D-NY), Robert Drinan (D-MA), Leon Panetta (D-CA), Don Edwards (D-CA); Norman Mineta (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA}, Anthony Beileson (D-CA) George Brown (D-CA), Toby Moffett (D-CT), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Eugene Atkinson (D-PA), Michael Barnes (D-MD), David Bonior (D-MI), Adam Benjamin (D-IN), William Brodhead (D-MI), Robert Carr (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tom Downey (D-NY), Harold Hollenbeck (R-NJ), Pete Kostmayer (D-PA), Stewart McKinney (R-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) Richard Nolan (DFL-MN), Gerry Studds (D-MA), Bruce Vento (DFL-MN) and Howard Wolpe (D-MI).

The Harkin letter characterized the Chilean government as "an enemy of the American people" and urged the President to "take strong action against this terrorist government." The letter was released (9 A.M. on August 1 1979) at the same time a press statement from the Washington, DC, Chile Legislative Center of the National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, staffed by veterans of the Venceremos Brigade and the Communist Party USA, supported the Congressional letter and urged pressure so that the State Department does not accept a military trial of the three Chileans in Chile as a substitute for extradition and trial in the US.

Institute for Policy Studies connections

Chile trip

Because IPSer Saul Landau had deep ties in Chile, in 1975 he arranged a trip to the country for U.S. congressmen Tom Harkin, Toby Moffett and George Miller, who were looking into human rights violations under the Pinochet regime. [9]

Center for International Policy

In 1980, Congressman Harkin served on the Advisory Board of the Center for International Policy, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.[10]

IPS 20th Anniversary Committee

According to Information Digest[11]the Institute for Policy Studies celebrated its 20th anniversary with an April 5, 1983, reception at the National Building Museum attended by approximately 1,000 IPS staffers and former staff.

The Congressional IPS comittee members included Les Aspin {D. WI}, George Brown, Jr. (D.CA}, Philip Burton (D.CA), George Crockett (D-MI}, Ron Dellums (D.CA}, former Texas Congressman Robert Eckhardt, Don Edwards {D.CA}, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, Tom Harkin {D-IA}, Robert Kastenmeier (D. WI}, Chairman of the Subcomittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice, George Miller (D-CA}, Richard Ottinger {D-NY}, Leon Panetta (D-CA}, Henry Reuss (D.WI}, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Patricia Schroeder {D.CO}, John Seiberling (D.OH} and Ted Weiss {D.NY}.

IPS supporter

At an Institute for Policy Studies reception in 1984 Harkin said, "I want to thank the Institute for Policy Studies and the people who worked so hard....and have been in my office a lot."[12]

Nicaragua visit

HarkinKerryDanielOrtega.jpg

When the $14 million aid package for the contras came up in spring 1985, Congress initially voted it down. Many congressmen said that, besides the PACCA report, reports of human rights violations had influenced them. . .Just forty-eight hours before the vote, Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) traveled to Nicaragua. Their celebrated meetings with Sandinista junta leaders, which captured the headlines and helped sway Congress, were arranged by Peter Kornbluh, a fellow at Institute for Policy Studies. Within a week the Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega, flew to Moscow and secured $200 million in Soviet aid. Shocked and embarrassed, Congress reversed gears and granted $27 million in humanitarian aid to the contras. [13]

Promoting IPS propaganda

IPS often acts as the ideological center and hub of activism of the autonomous groups in the [pro-Sandinista "CISPES"] Latin network. For instance. . .in early 1985 IPS brought together various players in the Latin network to compile "the Reagan record of deceit and illegality on Central America." "In Contempt of Congress" was a mishmash of contradictory data and not particularly persuasive. But then it was not intended to persuade, but to confuse and sow distrust of the Reagan administration. As with the PACCA report, it got wide circulation in Congress. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) offered his praise for it and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called it "essential reading for every American who remembers Vietnam or Watergate." [14]

The Washington School

The Washington School, founded by the Institute for Policy Studies, in 1978, was an important means of influencing Congress and the Democratic Party. Courses on defense, foreign affairs, and domestic policies are taught there by IPS officers and staffers, and other American or foreign radical "experts." A large number of members of Congress and staffers have attended these schools. Several legislators have also taught there, including the following:

Interlink

By 1984, under the leadership of Brennon Jones, Interlink, the US affiliate of Inter Press Service had contracts servicing such prestigious media outlets as the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Wall Street Journal's Los Angeles bureau, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, the San Francisco Examiner, the Christian Science Monitor, the Long Island Newsday, CBS News, National Public Radio, Cable Network News, and Metromedia's Channel 5 in New York City.

Under a board of directors that included Peter Weiss of Institute for Policy Studies, Richard Falk of Princeton, Sen. Tom Harkin, Herbert Schiller of the University of California and ILET's academic committee, Steve Hayes of the American Field Service, and Dwain Epps of the World Council of Churches, Interlink developed far beyond merely providing an outlet for Inter Press in the United States.[16]

Dinges Book Party

On March 23, 2004, at Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave Washington, DC a Book Party for Institute for Policy Studies affiliate John Dinges, new book "The Condor Years: How Pinochet and his Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents" (The New Press 2004), was hosted by Senator Tom Harkin and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY), in conjunction with the Fund for Constitutional Government, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the National Security Archive.[17]

Take Back America Conferences

Tom Harkin was on the list of 153 speakers at the 2006 Take Back America conference, which was organized by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Democratic Socialists of America dominated Campaign for America's Future.[18]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Tom Harkin in his successful Senate run as candidate for Iowa.[19]

21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats is a political organization that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Senator Tom Harkin, Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and Congressman Lane Evans, 21st Century Democrats has helped elect progressive politicians such as U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".

The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.[20]

Harkin was endorsed by his own organization in 2002.

21st Century Democrats Youth Leadership Speaker

On July 28, 2010, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Elijah Cummings and former "Green Jobs Czar", Van Jones spoke about the future of American politics at the kick-off event for 21st Century Democrats' 2010 Youth Leadership Speaker Series. The event was sponsored by Representative John Lewis and Senator Tom Harkin.[21] 21st Century Democrats is led by one-time DSAer, Jim Scheibel.

Supporting "Veteran's fast for life"

Tom Harkin addresses the press conference

On September 1st, 1986, four veterans began a water-only "fast for life" on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. They wanted to to draw attention to, and to protest, President Reagan's "illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala."

Vfl080.jpg

The veterans were;

The veterans believed that the President's explicit policy of directing the contra terrorists in Nicaragua to commit wanton murder and destruction, enabled by appropriations passed by a majority of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, amounted to grotesque, unconscionable violent behavior in violation of both U.S. Constitutional and international law, and the egregious breach of the human rights of virtually all Nicaraguan citizens. The veterans believed that the President was clearly vulnerable to Constitutional impeachment, and that all members of the Senate and House of Representatives should have been subjected to criminal prosecution under international law as well, whether they were re-elected or not.

On October 7 several U.S Congressmen and Senators spoke at a press conference in support of the faster's cause. They included Senator Charles Mathias (R-MD), Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Don Edwards (D-CA), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Leon Panetta (D-CA), Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), David Bonior (D-MI), Lane Evans (D-Illinois), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).[22]

Russo Bill

In late 1991 Democratic Socialists of America member and National Council of Senior Citizens Board Member Earl Bourdon got presidential hopeful Senator Tom Harkin to sign the Russo singlepayer universal health care bill. . .while the TV news cameras were rolling![23]

Nuclear Y2K Symposium

Monday, March 8, 1999, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. a Nuclear Y2K Symposium, was held in Canon House Office Building, Caucus Room 345, Speakers: Dr. Helen Caldicott, Rep. Ed Markey, Sen. Tom Harkin, Bill Ulrich, David Lochbaum, Michio Kaku, Rock Cowles, Paul Gunter, Michael Murphy, Judith Johnsrud, Dan Plesch, Dr. Ted Taylor, Bruce Blair, Michael Kraig, Stephen Young, and others.[24]

Wellstone tribute

"Stand up, keep fighting," the refrain from a Wellstone campaign song, rocked Williams Arena in Minneapolis Oct. 29 2001, as more than 20,000 people packed a memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila Wellstone, daughter Marcia and three campaign staff members and crew who died in a plane crash Oct. 25.

Wellstone, 58, was in the final weeks of a tough battle to win a third term in the U.S. Senate. A former community organizer, he was professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., for 20 years before being elected to the Senate in 1990. Sheila Wellstone, 58, was a national advocate for victims of domestic violence.

In a moving tribute, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, "I loved him like a brother. [He] was one of those rare souls that so many saw as their best friend." But Harkin went on to say the remarkable spontaneous outpouring for Wellstone was a tribute to the "yearning for a politics that can put principle above the latest poll result."

"Now we must continue Paul's journey for justice in America," Harkin told the crowd. "Will you stand up and keep fighting for social and economic justice? Say yes!" The arena echoed "Yes" from the floor to the rafters.

Cheers greeted the arrival of a host of national political figures, including former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, Sens. Tom Daschle, Edward Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Hillary Clinton.

The biggest hurrahs went to former Vice President Walter Mondale who was expected to step in to replace Wellstone. Also present were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and other labor and progressive leaders.

As the memorial began, Clyde Bellecourt led a Native American Indian drum group, Thunder Nation, in a tribute to the Wellstones.

A group of retired LTV steelworkers rode three hours on a bus from the Iron Range, not far from where the Wellstone plane crashed. Wellstone had come "a dozen times at least" to help in their struggles for medical and prescription drug coverage. "We owe a lot to Paul Wellstone," David Trach, Aurora chapter president of Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, told the People's Weekly World.

At the memorial, Wellstone's friend Rick Kahn said, "We will not sit quiet. We will never settle for the quick deal that buys the quick headline but leaves for too many people behind. We will fight every one of his fights. We will achieve victories in Paul Wellstone's name." To the cheering crowd he repeated over and over, "Help us win this election for Paul Wellstone."

David Wellstone, Paul and Sheila's older son, ended his eulogy declaring, "We know what we got to do, and let's do it!" [25]

Labor support in 2002

The 46th convention of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, opened in Waterloo Iowa August 14, 2002 with a blistering attack on the policies of the Bush administration. It ended two days later with a plan of action aimed at electing worker-friendly candidates to Congress and the Iowa legislature, with a special emphasis on re-electing Sen. Tom Harkin.

Federation President Mark Smith told delegates they have the potential to accomplish that task. “But it won’t be easy,” he said.

The Iowa Federation of Labor intended build its Labor 2002 campaign around the goal of “80-80-70”: register 80 percent of the state’s 130,000 union members; get 80 percent of those registered to the polls on Nov. 5; and conduct an educational campaign between now and then that will persuade 70 percent of union households to cast their ballots for union-endorsed candidates.

Steve Rosenthal, AFL-CIO national political director, joined Smith in calling for renewed effort. “You’ve worked hard and been somewhat successful; now you have to work even harder in order to be even more successful this year,” he said, reminding the convention that Harkin is high on the right-wing hit-list. In addition to Harkin, the convention endorsed Tom Vilsack for re-election as governor and Leonard Boswell, the incumbent Democrat representing Iowa’s Third Congressional District.

According to Fred Gaboury, covering the event for the Communist Party USA's Peoples World;

Harkin is the only Iowa Democrat ever elected to the U.S. Senate for three consecutive terms. He is the chief author of the Americans With Disabilities Act and of the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.
Although he once supported NAFTA, he voted against the proposition when it cleared Congress this year.
During his congressional career Harkin opposed the Vietnam War, supported Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return to power in Haiti and was one of the staunchest opponents of the Gulf War, even going so far as to take then-President George Bush to court in an effort to prevent him from using force without congressional approval. The Iowa Senate race is one of several in which the White House played a decisive role in selecting the GOP candidate.

Other convention speakers included Sen. Harkin, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.[26]

Opposed Iraq War

Six of the eight U.S. Senators from the four upper Midwest states voted against the resolution to authorize force against Iraq, all of them Democrats or progressive Democrats: Mark Dayton and Paul Wellstone (Minn.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), and Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).

Sen. Wellstone, the only member of the Senate voting "Nay" who was facing election that fall, died in a plane crash just prior to the 2002 election; his seat was taken by Republican Norm Coleman. But Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, joined the war resistance a year later by voting against the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the Iraq War.[27]

FightingBobFest speaker

Tom Harkin at FighhtingBob 2009, with Democratic Socialists of America member Tim Carpenter

Tom Harkin has been a guest speaker at Wisconsin's annual progressive Fighting Bob Fest, in 2006, 2009.[28]

An almost "Progressive" Cabinet "nominee"

In September 2008, Chicago based socialist journal In These Times asked its editors and writers to suggest their top progressive choices for a potential Obama Cabinet.[29]

We asked that contributors weigh ideological and political considerations, with an eye toward recommending people who have both progressive credentials and at least an arguable chance at being appointed in an Obama White House.

This group of people would represent at once the most progressive, aggressive and practical Cabinet in contemporary history. Of course, it is by no means a definitive list. It is merely one proposal aimed at starting a longer discussion about the very concept of a progressive Cabinet—and why it will be important to a new administration, especially if that administration is serious about change.

David Moberg suggested Jim Hightower for Agriculture Secretary - he also spoke highly of Tom Harkin and Jon Tester:

Two current U.S. senators would make excellent secretaries of agriculture.
One is Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Harkin has been a committee chair and leader on agriculture issues, opposing deregulation and favoring supply management, conservation, antitrust actions and many progressive policies — only some of which he has managed to put into law.
The other is freshman Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), an organic farmer with a distinctive flat-top haircut. Tester is a populist who is sympathetic to environmental issues and critical of corporate globalization. He might push more comprehensive reform than Harkin would.
But here’s the problem: Both are needed in the Senate.

Luckily, Obama can call on Jim Hightower, who is best known for his crusading print and radio journalism and his pithy, punchy, populist proverbs — like his book title, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”

But the funny, feisty Hightower also knows his farm and food issues. As Texas Agriculture Commissioner from 1983 to 1990, he promoted organic agriculture, alternative crops (like wine grapes and native plants), direct international marketing by small farmers, strong pesticide control and comprehensive environmental management.
Hightower would be a cheerfully combative complement to Obama’s ultra-cool post-partisanship (although he may have been too post-partisan for some Democrats by supporting Ralph Nader in 2000).

If Obama ever needs a Cabinet member to attack the fat cats who keep the sweet stuff for themselves on the top shelf — out of reach for the little guy — he could send Hightower, who would perform the task with glee.

Wellstone Action

In 2009 Tom Harkin was listed as a member of the Advisory Board[30] of Wellstone Action, a Minnesota based organization based on the political legacy[31] of that state’s late ‘progressive” Senator Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund combine to form a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action's mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.

Fair Elections Now Act

In 2010 Senator Maria Cantwell signed on as a Senate co-sponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), S.752 - joining Senator Dick Durbin (original sponsor) and other Senate colleagues for a total of nine.

In the Senate, others were Sens. Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tom Harkin, John Kerry, and Arlen Specter. [32]

Sponsoring the EFCA

The lead Senate sponsor of the pro labor union Employee Free Choice Act, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, took over that role from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Harkin attempted to negotiate a compromise to get the 60 votes needed to pass the Act but in late 2009, ended up having to focus on health care, instead[33].

Planned Parenthood

Harkin received $6000 in lobbying funds from Planned Parenthood in 2008.

Staffer's trip to Cuba

Sen. Harkin sent Brian Ahlberg to Cuba for days in August 2009. The trip was courtesy of a $1,681.70 grant from the Institute for Policy Studies connected Center for Democracy in the Americas... "Attended tours and meetings to learn about the impact of U.S. policy toward Cuba" .[34]

(HELP) Committee

In September 2009, following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin became chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. [35]

Tom believes that to serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of Kennedy's life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Vietnam delegation

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is part of a Senate delegation that will travel to Vietnam July 2010.

The group will "look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities, and meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues and trade relations."

Other Senators on the Vietnam leg of the trip are: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon).[36]

More money for AO victims

While in Vietnam, Tom Harkin was interviewed by Tuoi Tre, of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who as a young US Congress staffer discovered the infamous “tiger cages” at the Saigon regime’s Con Dao island prison, talked with Tuoi Tre before he and three other American senators made a July 6 field trip to Da Nang, a hot-spot for Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Tuoi Tre: We’ve heard that you struggled for Vietnam-US relation normalization before 1995. . . .

Senator Tom Harkin: There were many difficulties over a long period of time. Many Americans didn’t want to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam because of the previous war, but President Bill Clinton made normalization and establishment of diplomatic ties with Vietnam a priority. Our first ambassador to Vietnam (Pete Peterson) was a former war prisoner in Vietnam. He likes and loves Vietnam and the Vietnamese people very much and exerted great effort for the bilateral relationship.

Many American didn’t want to set up ties with Vietnam but the Ambassador, a former war prisoner, talked positively about Vietnam and it had influence on many people.

Tuoi Tre: Are you going to visit Da Nang because it’s a dioxin hot-spot?

Harkin: That’s my concern. We Americans conducted a chemical war which perhaps didn’t directly aim to humans but it turned out spraying Agent Orange defoliant can cause prolonged effects on people. My colleagues in the Senate have agreed to allocate funds each year to clean up hot-spots in Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Hue. We’re trying to increase that amount.

Tuoi Tre: But besides dioxin hot-spots, we still have 3-4 million AO victims!

Harkin: I know. That will be the next step. I think we will have to do something for victims. We know dioxin persists in the food chain and affects humans. It is a fact that in the US, the Department of Veterans has compensated AO victims who suffer from cancers, blood cancer, Parkinsons, etc., around 15 diseases believed related to their exposure to AO, but not for any cases of disability.

The thing I want to do is to help victims in Vietnam who suffer from AO-related diseases (those recognized in the US) obtain compensation as American victims. The fund for Vietnamese AO victims is now around $3 million a year. We are tryng to raise it to $20-30 million a year. The Ford Foundation is working well in this area.[37]

Financial Transactions Tax

In November 2011, two U.S. lawmakers introducde measures to impose a transaction tax on financial firms that resembles a proposal released by the European Union.

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, and Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, introduced the bills in their respective chambers.

A "Briefing On Financial Transaction Taxes" was held.

Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Peter DeFazio, Congressional Populist Caucus

Friday, October 21 st 10:30am – 12:00pm

U.S. Capitol Building S-115

Presented by:

Americans for Financial Reform, AFL-CIO, Institute for Policy Studies, The Center for Media and Democracy, and The Center for Economic and Policy Research

Featuring…

John Fullerton – Former Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Co. and Founder and President of the Capital Institute

Frédéric Doré – Minister Counselor, Deputy Chief of Mission at the French Embassy to the United States

Damon Silvers – Director of Policy and Special Counsel, AFL-CIO

Dean Baker – Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Moderator — Lisa Donner - Executive Director, Americans for Financial Reform[38]

A small tax on financial transactions would raise tens of billions of dollars a year and curb dangerous high speed trading. Support for a transaction tax is growing in the US and around the world. The European Union recently proposed a tax of 10 cents per $100 of securities transactions, and 10 cents per $1,000 of derivatives transactions. France and Germany have already endorsed this proposal. The European Union forecasts that this tiny tax will raise some $70 billion annually.

Progressive jobs plan

In January 2012, Senate Labor Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced he would roll out an extensive package of legislation within the next few weeks - everything from infrastructure improvements to parts of the Employee Free Choice Act - to try to rebuild the middle class.

Declaring, "We need a percolate-up economy, not a trickle-down economy," the veteran lawmaker outlined his Rebuild America Act to the Communications Workers' legislative-political conference on Feb. 1.

"It is the function of government to help create good jobs," Harkin emphasized.

Harkin got rousing cheers, and several standing ovations, from the hundreds of unionists who packed a large meeting room at Washington's unionized Omni Shoreham Hotel. But the reception he'll get on Capitol Hill will be much cooler.

That's because the House's ruling Republicans oppose almost anything to help workers. Harkin admitted their opposition, blaming the Tea Party's influence. And even if Harkin could get his proposals out of his committee, the Senate GOP would talk them to death via a filibuster on the floor.

Harkin recognized that obstruction, too: He praised CWA's stand to kill the filibuster, and promised to renew that fight at the start of the 113th Congress in 2013. "That's the first thing we've got to do," he vowed.

Had it not been for the Republican Scott Brown's win in a Massachusetts special Senate election, "we would have had enough votes to pass part of EFCA," by overcoming a GOP filibuster against labor's top cause, Harkin stated. Besides EFCA, to help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing drives and in bargaining first contracts, his legislation includes:

• Investing in infrastructure and manufacturing. "We're driving on Eisenhower's highways," he said, referring to the Interstate Highway System. "And our kids are going to Roosevelt's schools," referring to buildings erected during the New Deal. Meanwhile competing nations - he cited China - "are investing in infrastructure while we're falling behind." Harkin did not put a dollar figure on his infrastructure and factory investments.

• Redoing job training curricula in the nation's schools, with federal prodding, to train students for jobs in expanding occupations. Harkin indicated businesses would be partners in that effort, by working with colleges, universities, and secondary schools on what jobs are open and what skills they need.

•"Empowering workers, which means raising the minimum wage," and indexing it to inflation afterwards. It also calls for "expanding access to overtime pay," reversing a Bush-era ruling defining millions of workers as professionals ineligible for overtime.

• Legislate improvements to retirement security, particularly "rebuilding the defined benefits pension system," available to less than one-fifth of the workforce. Now, he said, two-fifths of all workers have 401(k) accounts, troubled by the stock market, and with not enough to retire upon. The rest have nothing but Social Security.

"And it means ensuring that all workers have the right to organize, and that employers will face real penalties for violating the workers' rights to form unions," Harkin declared, to a big roar.

The Employee Free Choice Act, which never made it out of Harkin's committee in the Democratic-run 111th Congress, (he couldn't line up 60 votes to overcome the filibuster threat) imposed larger fines for employer labor law-breaking. It also formally legalized card check recognition of unions, cut down on time available for employers' delays and mandated binding arbitration of first contracts if the two sides could not agree to a pact after a set time (usually 120 days).

Employers must be "forced to negotiate in good faith," Harkin said, recalling - again - how young hotshot financers bought the Delavan, Iowa, engine plant where his late brother, who was disabled, worked. They broke the United Auto Workers at the plant via a lockout and "striker replacements." Harkin's brother, at age 54, had to take a job "as a janitor cleaning latrines" and "never recovered" from the shock.

Harkin was not specific on how he would rebuild the pensions. He also proposes to strengthen Social Security "so its benefits would be a greater replacement share" of a worker's pre-retirement income, but again did not say how.

Other measures:

• Enact family-friendly legislation. One measure would mandate seven days of paid sick leave for full-time workers in all but the smallest companies. The U.S. is one of the few nations worldwide without paid sick leave. Harkin and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., are the prime congressional sponsors of paid sick leave legislation.

• Pay for his legislative package by a financial transactions tax, a key cause of the National Nurses Union and - at the legislative conference - the Communications Workers. The tax, of three cents per $100 in transactions, would bring in $350 billion over a decade and force Wall Street to help pay for repairing the damage it caused through the Great Recession. "Even the chief of Vanguard Investments" favors the tax, Harkin said.

"You feed the tree at the roots," he concluded. "That's the fight to restore the middle class."[39]

Plan revealed

Senate Labor Committee Chairman Thomas Harkin, D-Iowa, unveiled Mar. 29 2012, a new "Rebuild America Act" to "get the economy working for workers again."

The bill drew immediate praise from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. But with a crowded calendar, intense partisan gridlock in Congress and an implacably labor-hostile House GOP majority, it is not expected to go anywhere in the 112th Congress.

Harkin's bill "represents a sweeping and inspirational vision of how we can rebuild our economy on stronger foundations," Trumka said. The veteran lawmaker's plan "would foster shared prosperity by putting America back to work, rebuilding our infrastructure, repairing our safety net, and insisting that shared sacrifice start at the top -- with Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans."

In a prior speech, Harkin said his legislation would include pieces of the Employee Free Choice Act, labor's top legislative priority at the start of the 111th Congress and the Obama administration in 2009. That measure, to level the playing field between workers and bosses in organizing and bargaining, was halted by a GOP filibuster threat - backed by a multimillion-dollar Chamber of Commerce scare campaign.

The senator "understands strong and vibrant unions are essential to creating the good, middle class jobs that can support a family and build a strong economy," Trumka said. "It is no accident that economic inequality has skyrocketed and upward mobility for working people has diminished as unions have been under siege."

He also praised Harkin's provisions to revive manufacturing, an increase in Social Security benefits, a plan to raise the minimum wage and for restoring overtime pay rights for millions of workers who lost them under the GOP Bush government. And Harkin's bill would "clamp down on rampant speculation on Wall Street," Trumka said.

"While too many in Congress spend their time focusing on handouts and tax cuts

for the 1 percent who broke our economy, the Rebuild America Act rightly focuses on making our economy work for the 99 percent who have so far picked up the tab for the crash of 2008 and the Great Recession," Trumka concluded.[40]

"Strengthen Social Security" bill

Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill. March 2013, to "strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that everyone else already pays". It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep Peter DeFazio. [41]

Wall Street speculators bill

Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill on March 2, 2013, to tax Wall Street speculators (S 410). A companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (HR 880). "Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street," said Sanders. "This bill will reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the job-creating productive economy, and significantly reduce the deficit," with an estimated $352 billion over 10 years.[42]

Cuba visits

Cuba is a "poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours," the Iowa Democrat said to reporters January 2013, . "Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It's interesting—their public health system is quite remarkable."

Harkin, who made a 186-mile trek over the course of three days, also cited low infection rates in Cuban hospitals and the country's success in reducing smoking among citizens through public health campaigns.

Harkin has been to Cuba before. In 2003, he visited and called on Cuba to release 75 dissidents there.[43]

Books With Tom Harkin Mentioned in Them

Harkin has escaped major scrutiny for his far-left, pro-communist activities in the mainstream media, but several conservative books have small, but often detailed sections on these activities. These sources include:

  • "Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies", S. Steven Powell, Green Hill, 1987, esp. about Harkin's active support for the marxist Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua (along with John Kerry
  • "The Revolution Lobby", Allan C. Brownfeld and J. Michael Waller, Council for Inter-American Security (CIS) and the Inter-American Security Education Institute, 1985. Significant information about Harkin's red record/activities.
  • "THe Real Secret War: Sandinista Political Warfare and its Effects on Congress", L. Francis Bouchey, J. Michael Waller, and Steven Baldwin, CIS, 1987.
  • "Betrayal In Vietnam", Prof. Louis A. Fanning, Arlington House, 1976. The earliest book devoted to the efforts of the Hanoi Lobby from the outside, and anti-Vietnam congressmen and women on the inside, and how they betrayed our allies in Southeast Asia by cutting off military aid, an act which ensured a communist victory, and its resulting bloodbath in So. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

News Articles about Tom Harkin

The following is a compendium list of newspaper (print and on-line) articles about Tom Harkin for further reference use by KW readers, journalists, researchers, etc. Some of the information provided in many of these articles cannot be found in the mainstream press, which is why they were included here.

"CITATION - THe Truth About Con Son Island (not correct title), Rep. Philip Crane (R-Ill), "Human Events" weekly, June or July, 1970, in rebuttal to the lies of Don Luce and Tom Harkin about the prison site on Con Son Island, So. Vietnam, that appeared in Life Magazine and leftist magazines. Template:CITATION

"The Bark of Tom Harkin", Lowell Ponte, September 16, 2004, www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID-15094. A very good overview article on Harkin's political history, as well as his far-left activities, including his "stolen valor" fake claim to being a Vietnam veteran (which would be a felony when the "Stolen Valor Act" was passed by Congress). Also includes some of his false claims about the so-called "tiger cages" of Con Son Island, So. Vietnam.

Staff

The following are past and present staff:[44]

External links

References

  1. Official Senate bio, accessed Aug. 1, 2011
  2. Official Senate bio, accessed Aug. 1, 2011
  3. [http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/resources/torture/luce.html, Historians Against the War, The Tiger Cages of Viet Nam By Don Luce]
  4. [http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1660323/posts. FreeRepublic, Posted on Wednesday, 5 July 2006 8:02:34 a.m. by Fedora Goodfellow’s Bedfellows, Who’s in Bed with the Washington Post]
  5. Official Senate bio, accessed Aug. 1, 2011
  6. SANE letterhead May, 1978
  7. Communisis in the Democratic party, page 67
  8. Information Digest August 10 1979 p 244
  9. LA Times, 'Fidel' filmmaker Saul Landau dies at 77 September 11, 2013|By Daniel Miller
  10. Center for International Policy letterhead, April 11, 1980
  11. Information Digest April l5, 1983 p77-79
  12. Communists in the Democratic party, page 72
  13. [From Chapter 14 of S. Steven Powell, "Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies"Pages 226-227:]
  14. [From Chapter 14 of S. Steven Powell, "Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies"Pages 226-227:]
  15. Communists in the Democratic party, page 73
  16. Covert Cadre, S. Stephen Powell, page 142
  17. John Dinges, Speaking Engagements, Events and Media Appearances 2004
  18. Take Back America 2006 - Agenda & Speakers (accessed on May 14, 2010)
  19. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  20. 21st Century Democrats FaceBook page, accessed Dec. 21, 2010
  21. 21st Century Democrats: 2010 Youth Leadership Speaker Series (accessed on Feb. 9, 2011)
  22. [1] Ivan's Place , Veterans Fast for Life for Peace in Central America, accessed June 2, 2010
  23. DEMOCRATIC LEFT 47 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 1991, page 47
  24. Calendar * History * Protests * Current Events * Vigil * Nuclear Y2K Symposium
  25. PWW, Nov. 2.2002, page 1
  26. PW, Iowa labor maps Election 2002 fight, by: Fred Gaboury August 23 2002, page 16
  27. [ http://milwaukee.indymedia.org/en/2005/04/203117.shtml, correction, http://watchdogmilwaukee.com, 01.04.2005 14:43], indymedia]
  28. FBF Speakers page, accessed Dec. 28, 2012
  29. In These Times, 22 to KnowOur Picks for an Obama Cabinet, By In These Times Editors and Contributors, September 26, 2008
  30. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/board-directors
  31. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/our-mission-goals
  32. WashBlog, Free Speech for People moves forward in Washington State, By chadlupkes, Thu Feb 04, 2010
  33. http://www.peoplesworld.org/2009-the-year-labor-started-turning-its-hopes-into-reality/
  34. Legistorm: Center for Democracy in the Americas - Sponsor of Congressional Travel (accessed on August 30, 2010)
  35. Official Senate bio, accessed Aug. 1, 2011
  36. Minn Post.Al Franken to visit Vietnam with Senate group, then head to Laos, By Joe Kimball | 07/01/10
  37. Harkin vows to seek more help for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims, Posted by vavanew on May 16, 2013
  38. for Financial Reform pressrelease
  39. PW, Worker-friendly senator to unveil jobs plan, by: Mark Gruenberg , February 2 2012
  40. PW, Senator unveils pro-labor Rebuild America Act, by: John Wojcik, March 30 2012
  41. CPUSA website, Avenues of Fightback: Political Report to the NC, by: Joelle Fishman, March 12 2013
  42. CPUSA website, Avenues of Fightback: Political Report to the NC, by: Joelle Fishman, March 12 2013
  43. National Journal, Sen. Tom Harkin Visits Cuba, Is Pretty Impressed With Its Public Health System, By Elahe IzadiJanuary 29, 2014
  44. http://www.legistorm.com/member/48/Sen_Tom_Harkin_IA.html. Accessed 12/08/2011