Mark Levine (journalist)

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This article is about the liberal pundit, journalist, and candidate for Congress. For the conservative radio host, see Mark Levin.
For other people named Mark Levine or Mark Levin, see Mark Levine (disambiguation).
Mark Levine
Mark Levine and the Constitution.jpg
Mark Levine and the Constitution, 2014
Personal details
Born Mark Levine
Nashville, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Residence Alexandria, Virginia
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B.)
Université de Neuchâtel (Switzerland) (Fulbright)
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Journalist
Religion Jewish[1]

Mark Levine is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia's 8th Congressional District. A Constitutional lawyer, Levine served as Legislative Counsel to Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) from 2001 to 2003 and was one of the founders of the "Marriage Equality” movement. From 2003 until announcing his run for Congress in 2014, Levine was a nationally syndicated liberal talk show host and TV pundit.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Born in Nashville, Tennessee,[2] Levine earned an economics degree magna cum laude from Harvard University, was a Fulbright scholar in Switzerland, and obtained a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. Levine worked as a Nazi hunter, Jewish historian, and inner-city school teacher before becoming a trial attorney at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in Los Angeles, California.[3][4]

Murder of Levine's sister; Domestic violence victims' advocate[edit]

In 1996, Levine's sister Janet Levine March was murdered by her husband Perry March. In response, Levine drafted a Tennessee law to protect victims of domestic violence and their children.[5] The law passed unanimously. A commentator wrote:

Rather than dwelling on his own misery, Mark turned the vision derived from his family's very personal tragedy into a political action that would protect other women from suffering as his sister did.[6]

Levine flew to Mexico to track down his sister's killer and testified in court against him.[7] March was sentenced to 56 years in prison for murdering Janet and conspiring to kill Levine's parents.[8]

Gay-rights protester and founder of Marriage Equality Movement[edit]

In 1994, Levine helped organize a march on Hollywood and met personally with high-ranking studio executives to demand they depict gay and lesbian characters in a positive light.[9] A few years later, Will & Grace would become one of the first shows to do that.

In 1999, Levine was one of the four original founders of Marriage Equality California. He "barnstormed across California to oppose Proposition 22 and then arranged America's first public "mass-marriage" protest for gay and lesbian couples. This modest attempt on February 14, 2000 to marry at a Beverly Hills courthouse became the first of the "Valentine's Day Marriage Protests" that would later sweep the country. Levine writes he:

promised the police and court officials that we would not be violent in any way. And court officials, in turn, graciously agreed to waive the marriage license fee, since we all knew they would reject our attempts to get married. I remember it was a beautiful day, and a joyful one: We all smiled ear-to-ear knowing we were attempting something that was then impossible but which every one of us thought would eventually become possible.[10][11]

Later that year, Levine drafted the first law introduced in the United States to give lesbian and gay couples equal rights to straight couples at both the state and federal levels. Levine's law, introduced in California in February 2001 as AB 1338 by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, went further than Vermont's civil unions law which only protected same-sex couples at the state level. Levine says local and nationwide gay and lesbian organizations opposed Levine's marriage equality law at the time as too "radical" and "politically impossible" and forced Koretz to withdraw it. At the time Levine's bill was introduced, no same-sex couples could get married anywhere in the world. The bill was withdrawn and replaced with a law written by Lambda Legal that gave same-sex couples only hospital visitation and a few minor provisions instead of the thousands of rights Levine's bill sought to obtain.[12][13][14][15]

Although Levine's first legislation to help same-sex couples did not become law, his second attempt was a success. In 2009, Levine worked with Councilman Phil Mendelson to draft the District of Columbia's marriage equality law which passed 11-2 and then represented the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club pro bono in court to defeat the opponents of the new law who wanted to put it up for a referendum vote. Levine successfully argued in court that such a referendum would be a violation of D.C.'s Human Rights Act."[16]

Challenge to Bush v. Gore[edit]

In January 2001, Levine was hired by the Congressional Black Caucus to appeal the United States Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore to the United States Congress. At the joint session of Congress, when it came time to count Florida's electoral votes, the Congressional Black Caucus presented the legal challenge Levine had drafted. If the action had succeeded, it would have prevented George W. Bush from becoming President of the United States. The legal appeal was rejected, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several other House Members walked out in protest.[17][18]

In 2001, Levine called President Bush's selection by the Supreme Court to be President "illegitimate" and argued: "If we can't have the right to vote than how can we start thinking about anything else?"[19] Michael Moore has called Levine's explanation of the Bush v. Gore opinion[20] a "Simple Q&A that Every American Should Read" and "the best thing he's seen" on the issue.[21]

Legislative Counsel to Barney Frank[edit]

Mark Levine and Barney Frank

In January 2001, Levine moved from California to Alexandria, Virginia to serve three years as chief legislative counsel to Barney Frank, a high-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Financial Services Committees. In that capacity Levine says he learned how Washington really works: from the way bills become law to political negotiations, spin, administration secrets, and dangerous lapses in American security.[22] While working for Frank, Levine used bipartisan back channels to ensure that LGBT 9/11 survivors were treated equally in distributions from the victims compensation fund. He also personally persuaded Hillary Rodham Clinton to withdraw her endorsement from President Bush's faith-based initiative, which would have allowed the federal government to discriminate on the basis of religion. Levine credits his one-on-one conversation with Clinton as what "killed" the initiative.[23]

Talk-radio host and investigative journalist[edit]

Levine in 2003

In 2003, Levine began hosting the radio show Mark Levine's Inside Scoop on Washington on WAGE in Leesburg, Virginia and began in 2005 his local Fairfax County, Virginia television show The Inside Scoop. Until quitting radio to begin his run for Congress, Levine was heard locally on WPFW (89.3 FM) Pacifica Radio and WPWC (1480 AM) and syndicated in more than 60 markets nationwide. Levine has also hosted The AM Alternative, co-hosted The Raucous Caucus and News Views, and served as a weekly guest host of The Leslie Marshall Show. Levine was the only non-African-American host on XM/Sirius The Power.[24] From July to December 2007, Levine hosted the television show The American Dream on Press TV, until, he says, Press TV tried to censor him.[25][26]

Levine also has served as an investigative journalist, doing stories uncovering spies at the FBI[27] and spreading the word in 2006 about the national government monitoring the telephone calls of the vast majority of ordinary American citizens.[28] Levine has broken national stories such as "Why the FBI Squelched an Investigation of a Post-9/11 Meeting Between White Supremacist and Islamic Extremists"[29] and the rape, torture, and abuse of American teenagers in lockup boot camps, wilderness camps, and reform schools.[30] Levine often follows up his investigative stories with legislative action. For example, he worked with Congressman George Miller (D-CA) to craft legislation to protect American teenagers from this institutional abuse.[31]

Since 2009, Levine has frequently appeared as a pundit on FOX News, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox Business, RT, CNN Headline News, and many other television stations locally, nationally, and worldwide.[32] Levine is well known and occasionally mocked for keeping a Constitution in his pocket when he debates on air.[33]

Candidate for US Congress[edit]

Levine speaking in Alexandria, 2014

On February 18, 2014, Levine became one of ten candidates entering the June 10, 2014 Democratic primary to succeed retiring Representative Jim Moran. Levine will be third on the ballot.[34]

Levine said he would distinguish himself from the other candidates by being “an aggressive progressive who doesn’t just cast one out of 435 votes.” With his media savvy, Levine said, “we can go over the heads of the Republican Party to the American people.”[35]

In their rating of the candidates in the race, BlueVirginia.us gave Levine its highest rating of A/A- .

Over the years, Mark Levine has been a tenacious, effective fighter against right wingnuts and for progressive values. Also worth pointing out is that Levine - unlike most of the other candidates running for this seat - has been focused on a wide range of national issues (as opposed to specific niches of national policy, or a focus on state/local issues) for many years. Basically, this guy is a disciple of Rep. Barney Frank (Levine calls Frank his "mentor") and would be very much in Frank's mold. So, basically, if you like Barney Frank, you're also likely to be a Mark Levine fan.[36]

In an interview with ArlingtonNow.com, Levine was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe there’s a single federal issue of any importance that I haven’t dealt with.”[37]

In the first candidate debate held on April 12, 2014, Levine criticized Don Beyer's 2005 championing of former Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay's proposal to replace the progressive income tax and estate tax with a national sales tax which would significantly raise taxes on middle class and working-class people to, in Beyer's words "improve capital formation" of "wealthy individuals and businesses."[38] Levine's challenge to Beyer was one of the few "direct disagreements" in the forum.[39]

Philosophy[edit]

Levine has described himself as an "aggressive progressive,",[40] "someone who goes out and strives to achieve the impossible and sometimes succeeds.".[41] He was quoted by CNN.com in 2001 as basing his political philosophy on the Jewish principle of tikkun olam:

We have to do our duty...."If I see something that I think is unjust I just want to change it.

The CNN reporter described Levine as

Seemingly armed with enough zeal to give changing the world a decent shot all by himself.[42]

Levine's campaign website is http://LevineforCongress.com.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nashville native Mark Levine running for Congress in Virginia".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ "Nashville native Mark Levine running for Congress in Virginia".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NwZG_wmiaZUJ:www.colorado.edu/cwa/bios.html%3Fid%3D654%26year%3D2007+mark+levine+conference+on+world+affairs&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us.
  4. ^ Trickey, Helyn. "Mr. Levine Goes to Washington". 
  5. ^ "Nashville native Mark Levine running for Congress in Virginia".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/11202/aggressive-progressive-mark-levine-speaks-publicly-for-1st-time-about-sisters-murder
  7. ^ An Unfinished Canvas: A True Story of Love, Family, and Murder in Nashville, by Michael Glasgow, Phyllis Gobbel, Chapters 20 and 42, http://books.google.com/books?id=v8PwdOJdb_cC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false
  8. ^ http://nashvillepost.com/news/2006/9/6/perry_march_sentenced
  9. ^ Levine, Mark. "Vindication for the Long Fight for Marriage Equality". 
  10. ^ http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/11304/mark-levine-is-a-pioneer-in-the-marriage-equality-movement
  11. ^ Levine, Mark. "Vindication for the Long Fight for Marriage Equality". 
  12. ^ ftp://www.lhc.ca.gov/pub/01-02/bill/asm/ab_1301-1350/ab_1338_bill_20010223_introduced.html
  13. ^ Levine, Mark. "How Far We Have Come". 
  14. ^ http://ajud.assembly.ca.gov/sites/ajud.assembly.ca.gov/files/reports/1001%20backgroundpaper.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/851ecwxh.asp
  16. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/27/AR2009052703433.html?sid=ST2009042801406. See also compendium of articles cited in http://marklevinetalk.com/im-in-a-slew-of-newspapers-for-my-work-on-marriage-equality-in-dc/
  17. ^ Footage of this protest begins Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 911. http://edition.cnn.com/2001/CAREER/trends/01/09/staffer/index.html
  18. ^ Mark Levine, Congressional Challenge To Presidential Electors (Filed in Joint Section of Congress to Count Electoral Votes for President, January 2001), http://www.mediasense.com/itsnotover/congressbrief/index.htm
  19. ^ Trickey, Helyn. "Mr. Levine Goes to Washington". 
  20. ^ "The 'Gore Exception': A Layman's Guide to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Bush v. Gore", http://www.mediasense.com/itsnotover/SupremeCourt-QA2.htm
  21. ^ http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mikes-letter/a-simple-qa-that-every-american-should-read
  22. ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NwZG_wmiaZUJ:www.colorado.edu/cwa/bios.html%3Fid%3D654%26year%3D2007+mark+levine+conference+on+world+affairs&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
  23. ^ http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/11202/aggressive-progressive-mark-levine-speaks-publicly-for-1st-time-about-sisters-murder
  24. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/about/
  25. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/?p=781
  26. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/?p=848
  27. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/spies-at-the-fbi/
  28. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/bush-is-spying-on-all-of-us/
  29. ^ http://www.alternet.org/story/141161/why_the_fbi_squelched_an_investigation_of_a_post-9_11_meeting_between_white_supremacist_and_islamic_extremists
  30. ^ http://marklevinetalk.com/stop-institutional-child-abuse/
  31. ^ http://www.democracyforamerica.com/campaigns/3226-mark-levine-for-congress-the-aggressive-progressive
  32. ^ http://radioinsidescoop.com/about; http://bobcarson13.podOmatic.com/entry/2010-06-28T19_08_21-07_00
  33. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ5aJD64Eao; http://marklevinetalk.com/mark-on-fox-2/
  34. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/ballot-order-set-in-virginia-8th-district-congressional-primary/2014/04/02/b7669716-ba80-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html
  35. ^ Pershing, Ben. "Derek Hyra, Mark Levine entering Democratic field to replace Rep. James P. Moran in House". The Washington Post. 
  36. ^ Feld, Lowell. "Applying My 8 Criteria to the 8th CD Candidates: Mark Levine". 
  37. ^ Rothstein, Ethan. "Talk Radio Host Running For Moran’s Seat". Arlington Now. 
  38. ^ http://www.autonews.com/article/20050523/SUB/505230747/delay-floats-u.s.-sales-tax-to-dealers
  39. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/12/dem-congressional-candidate-beyer-we-need-to-ban-super-pacs/
  40. ^ http://LevineforCongress.com
  41. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4PELtgEVxQ
  42. ^ Trickey, Helyn. "Mr. Levine Goes to Washington". 

External links[edit]