Saturday, November 19, 2005

Disgusting Tracy Press Editorial (Take Action)

The Tracy Press, Richard Pombo’s hometown newspaper, just published an appalling editorial that simply regurgitates Pombo’s bullshit.  Although I respect Nick Juliano, the Tracy Press’s reporter on the CA-11 beat, the editor of the TP has clearly gone off the deep end.

Look how the editorial begins:

N.Y Times editorial misrepresents Pombo

A New York Times editorial on Halloween eve took issue with House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, a conservative Republican who has represented Tracy for 13 years in Congress. In “Pombo Time,” the editorial board of what in many circles is regarded as the nation’s newspaper of record, concludes, “Mr. Pombo’s only idea, and it is a terrible one, is to treat this nation the way he treats his Congressional [sic] district, as if it were ripe for exploitation.”

As his hometown paper, we are obligated to respond to this and other inaccuracies in the editorial.

First of all, it’s deeply disingenuous to treat the Times quote as an inaccuracy. It’s not as if the Times said Pombo represented Modesto or something else that is patently a matter of fact.  Rather, the editor of the TP is taking issue with the opinions of the Times editors.  If the TP wants to have a pissing match with the Times, so be it.  But the editor should not present this as a simple disagreement over matters of fact, especially since the TP editor does not even have his facts straight.

The editorial continues:

The Times opines that Pombo has had a hard time staying out of the news lately. What the editorial doesn’t say is that the accusations about Pombo’s career in Washington are by biased political and special interest groups that in a concerted effort want to damage his re-election chances.

Now let’s look at what the Times actually wrote:

Richard Pombo has had a hard time keeping himself out of the news lately. In late September, a watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Mr. Pombo, a seven-term House member from California, one of the 13 most corrupt politicians in Congress. Three weeks later the Center for Public Integrity accused him of taking junkets paid for by the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources - the kind of organization, heavy with corporate donors, in which the word "conservation" is a wink to the wise. And last week the League of Conservation Voters accused him of selling out to a long list of corporate interests.

What’s important to note is that both of the first two groups listed by the Times have faulted Democrats as well as Republicans.  I’m sure the LCV has as well, but we see that the TP editor has summarily dismissed the accusation of any environmental group in a way that parrots Pombo’s talking points almost verbatim (emphasis mine):  

Upsetting to the Times is that after many attempts, Pombo has been able to move reforms to the 32-year-old Endangered Species Act through the House with bipartisan support. Just the idea that the Holy Grail of the environmental movement might be tweaked to protect our nation’s wildlife has infuriated environmental organizations that are filled with lawyers seeking to profit by taking our government to court. They cannot acknowledge that the ratio of failures to successes of the Endangered Species Act is 100 to 1. And neither does the Times.

Left un-discussed by the TP is the Times’ discussion of Pombo’s effort to sell off National Parks and privatize all sorts of federal land.  Of course, when you’re cherry-picking quotes to provide a slanted, ideological defense, you should only focus on the issues that allow you to fully smear the opposition.        

But it gets even better.  Not only do we get a despicable repetition of Pombo’s smear of environmental groups, we are also treated to one of the oldest Pombo canards in the book.  Here’s the TP (emphasis mine):

For the record, Pombo, then a first-term Tracy City Council member, was a victim of a government taking of property, and he was elected to Congress on local issues, not because of gerrymandering. His 11th District was drawn in 1991 by three special masters appointed by the state Supreme Court because the politicians in Sacramento could not reach an agreement on reapportionment.

It’s hard to know which lie the TP editor is swallowing here (there are two possibilities), but it’s clear that they are both lies.  The East Bay Express laid them both to rest in an article about Pombo.  From the Express (emphasis mine):

During his early years on Capitol Hill, Pombo added to his Western persona by developing a reputation for telling tall tales. In his 1996 book with conservative writer Joseph Farah, This Land Is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property, Pombo told an apparently fanciful tale about how he got into politics, implying that a family run-in with the East Bay Regional Park District in the 1980s first prompted him to run for office. Agency spokesmen later said Pombo wasn't telling the truth. He had alleged that the park district sought "an abandoned railroad right-of-way as a recreational trail through the property of two dozen local ranchers and that of my family." He also complained that the park district had sought to block construction of homes to protect the "viewshed" of the trails "without any compensation whatsoever." Park district spokesmen later pointed out that the district had no interest in the Pombos' Altamont property because it was beyond the district's boundaries at the time, and that it was actually seeking railroad right-of-ways in Niles Canyon, at least twenty miles away.

Protecting the value of his family's property has been a recurrent theme for Pombo. In 1994, he told a Senate committee that his family ranch had been devalued after it was declared a critical habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox. When questioned, he and his staff later acknowledged that the claim was untrue, but said the problem still applied to other Central Valley ranchers. But that wasn't true either. At the time, the federal government had yet to declare any critical habitat for the fox.

Not content to have shilled enough for Pombo, the TP then goes out of its way to heap praise upon Pombo, who becomes some sort of heroic warrior for Conservatism:

The Times is correct that Pombo is pure in his ideology and tough in combat. Conservatism is his strength, and his colleagues praise his work ethic. The Conference Steering Committee of 10 Republicans that appointed him Resources Committee chairman in 2003 recognized this, not just House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

So we’re supposed to think Pombo is great because ethically-challenged Tom Delay and his hand-picked group of cronies love Pombo to pieces?  Forgive me for not buying this bill of goods.

The TP then finishes in a shameful display of ridiculousness:

The Times should be honest. It doesn’t like Pombo because of his positions on energy exploration, sale of public lands for mineral rights and, of course, the Endangered Species Act. It’s easy to see why the editorial was published just days before an expected vote on oil drilling on a sliver of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It gave political cover for naysayers who have exploited The New York Times.

What this misses is that it’s entirely reasonable to dislike Pombo’s positions on “energy exploration” (i.e. drilling, the environment be damned), the “sale of public lands for mineral rights” (i.e. privatizing public lands, including land in and close to National Parks), and “the Endangered Species Act” (i.e. removing the critical habitat species need to survive).  In fact, not only the New York Times, but also the Stockton Record, the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle have all taken positions against Pombo for similar reasons.  

This whole editorial is a disgusting display of blatant, partisan favoritism.  I guess I should get used to the editorial page of the TP functioning as a quasi-official propaganda mill for Pombo.  If this is how they’ve operated during the last decade and a half, it’s no wonder that Pombo has so thoroughly bamboozled his voters.

I am left appalled and nauseous.  Please write a letter to the Tracy Press about this outrage:

Tracy PressLetters to EditorTracy PressP.O. Box 419Tracy, CA 95378-0419Phone: (209) 835-3030Fax: (209) 835-0655Email:



Blogger VPO said...

I sent this letter to Cheri Matthews, editor of Tracy Press. It is too long for a letter to editor, but I wanted her to hear this.



That Pombo Editorial was embarassing. I think you can do much better. Here are my comments as posted to various newsgroups and blogs. The comments are a bit harsh, but you really put out a unfairly syncophantic, biased editorial. Please, Pombo is BAD NEWS, not a good hometown boy:

You say:

"biased political and special interest groups" -- hello? We are REAL people in his district who are outraged by his actions. We live here and have to deal with the consequences of his attacks on the environment. Call me a "special interest" that likes to breathe clean air and drink clean water and have some natural areas to go camping in the summer. Wow, does that ever sound biased and political, now doesn't? The TP is echoing Pombo's meme that any oppostion is environmental groups looking to scare people for fund raising purposes. But those of us a VPO are raising a stink about Pombo, and there is no fund raising involved at all. We are not environmentalists, liberals, or any kind of advocacy group. We are something that it seems Pombo and TP can't quite understand: we are "citizens" - ordinary people who live and work here and who are concerned about our quality of life.

Here is outright lie: "For the record, Pombo, then a first-term Tracy City Council member, was a victim of a government taking of property". I challenge the TP editors to come up with the evidence for this. Pombo's kit fox story is a well-documented lie, see: I could not find any other circumstance where Pombo's land "was a victim of a government taking." That claim "of a taking" is utter nonsense.

See, in our world, there are such things as FACTS. We deal in the "reality based community" because we live in the "reality based community", not in Washington, D.C., feted and hosted by rich lobbyists and corporate interests, like Pombo and the rest of the corrupt Repubicans.

"pure in his ideology" - -but the ideology is anything but "pure". I guess you could say that the Soviets were "pure in their ideology" also. "Pure" in their radical, extremist policies. The TP praises Pombo for being pure in ideology of destructive exploitation of the environment and corrupt campaign fund-raising. How foolish can they be!

"Conservatism is his strength" -- but it is also his weakness, as it blinds him to the concerns of others.

"his colleagues praise his work ethic." Yes, and I hear the Captain of the Titanic was hard-working also.

"The Conference Steering Committee of 10 Republicans that appointed him Resources Committee chairman in 2003 recognized this, not just House Majority Leader Tom DeLay." Yes, and I am SURE that Tom DeLay had NO influence over the 10 on the steering committee. What a ridiculous statement by the TP -- 10 of DeLay's lackeys appoint Pombo over 5 more senior Republicans and that somehow shows Pombo deserves the post. What they "recognized" is that a total corporate shill like Pombo could bring in mega-bucks from the lobbyists and help their campaigns.

I have several other problems with the TP editorial:

1. Why does the TP feel they need to defend Pombo? Is he the star of the football team or something? He is a representative, and the local press should remain skeptical of his performance and treat him to scrutiny, not feel "obligated" to defend him. What kind of editor grovels at his feet like this? This only shows what a "small town" paper the Tracy Press is -- a booster of a corrupt Congressman, but "hey, he's our corrupt hometown boy, so we will rally to his defense". Is this the "Pombo Press"? Does Pombo own Tracy, such that there is no daylight between what the editors believe and that BS Pombo puts out?

I hate to break it to you, but there are many, many people in this District who would do a much better job of representing our interests in Congress. Pombo is expendable, just another politician, not a hometown hero. How about showing concern for the people of the district rather than "poor Mr. Pombo"?

Please, Tracy Press editors -- you embarrass yourselves writing such blatantly syncophantic nonsense.

2. If the TP feels the need to rally to his defense, how about pointing out ONE GOOD THING he has done for this district. I am having trouble finding anything much he has done to improve the quality of life and the well-being of the citizens of this district after 14 years in Congress. If you are going to come to his defense, how come there is no list of his accomplishments and how much he has done to help the district? Maybe because there is no such list.

The air quality is some of the worst in the country, the poverty rate is high, the transportation system is sorely lacking, there are few high-end jobs -- and Pombo is the TP's hero because he has been ideologically pure in his fanatic drive to overturn our environmental laws and sell off our national park and forest lands to mining companies? The district's school system is well below standard, the farms are sprayed with highly toxic pesticides, support for poor people is cut, but the TP praises Pombo for his "conservatism" that drives him to send drilling rigs into wilderness areas and offshore, that pushes him to call for the resumption of commerical whaling and the hunting of endangered elephants for their ivory?

What an embarrassing, juvenile, inept editorial! Hey, editors, people with REAL concerns and REAL lives live in this district, and we want better quality of life, not more hunting of whales and elephants, not the sell off of our favorite camping, hunting and fishing spots, not "reform" of the Endangered Species Act that actually guts it. Not only are we opposed to Pombo's "hard work" on these things, they also DO NOTHING FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE DISTRICT!

Scott Restivo

8:47 AM, November 20, 2005  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

The time has come for the Tracy Press to stop supporting Richard Pombo. He has done little for the 11th district over his 13 years while in office. This time he will be voted out of office, the voters know he must go this time. The future for the Central Valley is at stake.We must overcome this negative information that Pombo brings to the 11th District and to the United States Congress. Especially to the voters who trusted him to do the right thing.

5:20 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

We need to bring the truth to the public, about what really between Pombo and Abramoff. Records indicate that bags of money were transfered between the two. Word has it that even the city of Tracy has used some of this money. This is serious stuff, next thing we know the Feds will take over our city.

5:31 PM, February 22, 2006  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home