Monday, August 28, 2006

How Low Can Richard Pombo Go?

I’ve debated about whether to post on this topic because the whole thing just seems remarkably foolish to me. But I think this is an issue that’s not going to go away on its own and needs to be addressed head-on in the CA-11 race. Tom Benigno referred to it yesterday in the comments section:
[A]s for the Tracy Press, they keep directing attention to Ben Rose and his issue with Pete [McCloskey] being an Anti-Semite. Tell Mr. Rose to write to his Congressman and waste his time. McCloskey is not his Congressman. The papers should be directing that attention to McNerney and Pombo race. Wake up folks.
By now, many of you are used to Mr. Benigno’s comments on this blog; you know that sometimes they can be a little inscrutable.

Well, this particular story goes back to the Republican primary. In that race, Richard Pombo ran against Pete McCloskey not on the issues or his record, but on an unfortunate appearance that McCloskey made in front of a convention of the Institute for Historical Review held in May of 2000 and McCloskey’s alleged comments at that meeting. Now, the IHR is a group of holocaust deniers, and they are a singularly nasty piece of work. Should Pete McCloskey have even made an appearance at their convention? Probably not. But the reports of his statement (“I don’t know if you’re right or wrong”) at this meeting have been widely misrepresented throughout the media. Mark Hertsgaard of The Nation analyzed footage of McCloskey’s appearance before the IHR and had this to say:
McCloskey did speak at the 2000 IHR convention, but he appears not to have said what Rafael Medoff and others allege, apparently basing their charge on an IHR newsletter report. But when I viewed a videotape of McCloskey's speech, I found no such wording. He told the delegates, "I may not agree with you about everything I've heard today," before he reiterated a core point of his speech -- that the right for anyone to question what is said about the past is basic to freedom of thought in America. "I may not agree with you" is very different from "I don't know if you're right or wrong." McCloskey also devoted much of his speech to describing how Jews had long been discriminated against in the United States and abroad.
Okay. Right about now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the Pombo/McNerney race in the general election. Well, Richard Pombo is at it again. He is so desperate to undermine Jerry McNerney’s surging candidacy that he has embarked on a whisper campaign that Jerry McNerney is somehow an anti-Semite. Call it guilt by association. Here’s how the allegation works: “Pete McCloskey is an anti-Semite; Pete McCloskey endorsed Jerry McNerney; ergo, Jerry McNerney is an anti-Semite.”

Obviously, there is a logical fallacy at work here. Try inserting this language into the formula above: “Pete McCloskey is 78 years old; Pete McCloskey endorsed Jerry McNerney; ergo, Jerry McNerney is 78 years old.” You can see the problem. So you might wonder what the pay-off is for Richard Pombo in promoting such a complete non sequitur. Well, try reading Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s blogpost on this from last week:
It’s the underside of the McCloskey-McNerney alliance […]

[F]or Democrats Michael Grossman and his wife, Deborah, the former congressman’s [McCloskey’s] actions speak louder than his words.

Their only remaining question is this: What to do about McNerney?

Deborah has volunteered in the past for McNerney’s campaign but the couple says they can’t vote for him unless he publicly denounces McCloskey’s Middle East politics.

“I want to hear it from McNerney that he will not be influenced by McCloskey’s views on this subject,” Michael said during a telephone interview at his home today.

And they have friends who agree, people who voted for President George Bush in 2002 rather than Democratic candidate John Kerry because they felt Bush more strongly supported Israel.

Does that mean the Grossmans will vote for Pombo?

No. They aren’t ready to go that far.

But they may skip McNerney and cast no vote at all.
Now, this campaign of innuendo and guilt by association is being waged mostly under the radar, in letters to the editor in the Contra Costa Times and a series of letters and articles published in the Tracy Press. But the pot is obviously being stirred by a cadre of Pombo supporters who are acting in concert to try to smear Jerry McNerney.

Here are the facts: Richard Pombo quite simply cannot run on his record in CA-11. So he’s happy to try to sling mud at Jerry McNerney in any way possible. If that means making up slurs out of thin air, well, he’s not proud. After all, I guess almost anything would be better for Richard Pombo than actually having to stand up and explain himself to his constituents.

[UPDATE, Wednesday, 8/30: When that Über-Republican mouthpiece, the Flash Report, starts pushing this meme, you know that there is an organized campaign by Pombo to swiftboat McNerney. Pushback, anyone?]


Blogger VPO said...

Wow, with all the real dirt on Pombo -- a whole barnyard full of scandals, a vigorously anti-environmental agenda, shady fundraisers, close association with indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and indicted corrupt representative Tom DeLay, huge payments to his wife and brother, not to mention the poor quality of air and water in SJ County, transportation issues, immigration, farming, energy, all Lisa V can find to write about is something Pete McCloskey might or might not have said 6 years ago, and McCloskey is not even the candidate!

No wonder Pombo keeps getting elected, when we have "political reporters" who are nothing more than gossip columnists. What we need are journalists willing to investigate and take risks and dig for the facts, not just call a few friends and twitter on like high school kids about bullshit like this.

9:11 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Delta said...

If turn about is fair play, then we should ask why Richard Pombo continues to work with Wayne Johnson. Johnson has been Pombo's campaign consultant since 1992. They have a long time together and Pombo should know all about Johnson.

What does Johnson do when there is no campaign to consult with? For one thing, he is a director of World Net Daily, the outlet for the far from mainstream views of Joseph Farah. You know Farah, the guy who really wrote Pombo's book, This Land is Our Land.

Farah, it seems, advocated a sort of death penalty for adulturers. Now, I don't condone adultry but, the death penalty? Come on. In a 2003 editorial on his World Net Daily, Farah was commenting on the case of Clara Harris, the Houston, TX lady who ran over her philandering husband with the family Mercedes, and then did it a few more times for good measure. While a number of spouses might have had such fleeting thoughts, Harris acted on them. And Farah was advocating her release. Farah says: "If I were on that jury, I would find Clara Harris not guilty. After she was sprung, I'd give her a medal. She did the world a favor. She may have acted emotionally. She may be sorry for what she has done. But, frankly, she did the right thing. That creep deserved what he got."

Now, that is about as worthy of publication as was the story on McCloskey, but what is the chance that anyone will touch it?

9:43 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

You are right, Delta. There are much closer ties between Pombo, his co-author and WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah, and his campaign manager and WorldNetDaily directory Wayne Johnson than anything between McNerney and McCloskey. All McCloskey did is endorse McNerney -- he has no say in the campaign and McNerney does not subscribe to McCloskey's views on many things.

However, the Pombo-Farah-Johnson-WorldNet linkage is much tighter. They agree on many things.

More to come soon on what Pombo and WorldNet believe in, but I have to echo Delta -- where is Lisa and the other reporters on this side of things? Has Lisa ever read Pombo's "book", This Land is Our Land?

McNerney has nothing to do with McCloskey's beef with the Jewish lobby's influence and what McCloskey might have said 6 yearas ago. That is McCloskey's trip.

But Pombo is a wholehearted believer in the far right, and dangerous, views of Farah and WorldNet. That is much, much more relevant than McCloskey.

10:09 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

What troubles me about this story is that it would not spread without media complicity. I see the Tracy Press as being the main conduit for this tripe, but clearly the Contra Costa Times is pretty happy to pile on. It's scandalous that the TP publishes these letters from Pombo insiders as though they were innocent public commentary. But the reality is that these two papers represent about 1/2 of the print media in the district.

I have held off writing about this so far, but I don't think we can simply bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it's not going on. And since it is clearly having an impact on a certain segment of the voters in CA-11, we need to find a way to counter Pombo's bullshit.

It would be nice to see the McNerney campaign come out swinging on the swiftboating of their candidate. In the meantime, perhaps part of the solution is for the residents of CA-11 to put pressure on their print media to tell the real story of this race: that in 14 years, Pombo has accomplished almost nothing to benefit his constituents, that he is so desperate to turn the spotlight off of his dismal record that he will stoop this low to smear his opponent.

10:25 AM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

I started to write something this morning in regards to LV's statements about my writing being a mysterious. The word used was INSCRUTABLE meaning mysterious or scrutinizing. I think it was because I write about Ben Rose a Tracy activist who continually writes about Pet Mc Closkey and Petes stand on Isral. I think Rose should go ask his Congressman Pombo about that question, and stop waisting good space on a story that has been going on for 3,000 years. Concentrate on the Mc Nerney and Pombo race.

Tom Benigno

2:51 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Delta said...

My last comment for Benjamin Rose:

4:09 PM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She wrote they voted for Bush over Kerry in 2002?

3:37 PM, August 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most people know I'm a big believer in opposition research. When I want to find out what the...other side of the aisle [is] thinking, the FlashReport always provides good (and free) insight."

- Garry South, Democratic Strategist and Senior Advisor to the Westly for Governor Campaign

5:47 PM, August 30, 2006  

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