Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stockton Earth Day Festival, April 30

Report from VPO:

Well, what a day it was! Spring was in the air, the sky was blue, the grass was green. Fresh winds were blowing, ahd the mood at the Stockton Earth Day Festival today was vibrant, upbeat and positive. There were many booths, with T-shirts, and renewable energy displays, and paintings, arts and crafts, music, and good food. And of course, the festival brought the pols out, with two of the candidates having tables and one walking around taking in the sights. If anything, the festival proved that the "grassroots" in the 11th District are active, working hard, and determined to beat Pombo in this election cycle.

Republican Pete McCloskey was there, with his "not-paid-for-by-your-tax-dollars" RV. His table saw a lot of activity and he spent his time there, as well as making several circuits of the festival to meet and greet. He also took time to talk to an investigative reporter from a national magazine.

Democrat Jerry McNerney's volunteers were there, notably Nicholas and a couple of others, and they also saw a flurry of activity (Jerry was not there). Of course, the good news of the day was that Jerry won the Democratic Pary endorsement, a major victory over his opponent, Steve Filson. That endorsement could well turn the tide in Jerry's favor and it is looking more and more likely that he could triumph June 6th.

Several people saw Steve Filson there, perusing the booths. He did not have a table or booth there, and he seemed to be attending the festival on his own. It must have been a conscious decision on his campaign's part not to set up a table. Whether that was due to staffing shortages, or other priorities, or whether Filson did not want to be associated with anything too green, it is hard to say. Perhaps one of his supporters or staff could lend some insight into the lack of Filson table at the festival. I looked for him to see what was up, but did not run into him.

During the festival, I had a chance to speak with many people, and not one was in favor of Pombo. Of course, this was an environmental event, which is not something his supporters would attend. But over 10,000 people did attend, many from the area, and I suspect not many of them are going to be Pombo voters.
All in all, it seems to me Pombo's support is weaker than the tally at the 2004 election indicates. I think the District is suffering from "Pombo fatigue", and if the right Dem can make a splash and present an agenda that motivates people, we could see Pombo's numbers whither. It seems the District is not so much FOR Pombo as much as they just have not been offered a compelling alternative yet.

Now, back to McCloskey. His campaign seems energized, active, and with a decent amount of funding. So that leaves room for speculation as to what he will do post-primary, if he loses to Pombo. Would he give it up at that point? Would he back the Dem energetically? Would he try an alternative, such as running as an Indepedent? It is really hard to say, and I have no idea, but I can see from today, that a lot of people are turned on and motivated by Pete, and that he attracts a lot of attention to this race. How best to use that post-primary, I am not smart enough politically to say. I can only say that I hope the energy and spirit of the McCloskey campaign continues until Pombo is defeated, one way or another.

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Elect - ability

Ok, here I go again. It seems to me that all of this discussion has really bought in to the Filson "I am electable" argument. It is all about who is electable and on what basis to they make that claim, grassroots vs. anointing from on high.

If you take away all of those claims and look at the issues, the one Democratic candidate who stands out as having a clear understanding of and an intelligent position on a wide range of issues is Steve Thomas. Were I member of PDA, that is who I would be working for. I'm not, so I will continue to talk about McCloskey, but I think you Democrats are missing something here, again. All I konw is that the more I hear of Thomas, the more attractive he seems.

Pombo Challenge

I guess I am in a writing mood. So, here is another. As you know, I told everyone before that I am supporting McCloskey's bid to unseat Pombo in the primary. So, here is what I am going to committ to and I challenge everyone else who reads this blog to do the same.

Between now and June 6, I will get 1 person per day in my precinct to agree to work for McCloskey and against Pombo. (I know that some of you will substititue McNerney or Filson or Thomas etc. for McCloskey).

I will also get 10 people each day to committ to voting for McCloskey in the primary. We don't have much time, as early voting starts May 8.

Who else will make such a committement?

If I do this, I will get over 350 voters for McCloskey. How many will you get?

Wes

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pombo in the dumb-ster

This is just a list of several items that I have come across this week and which illustrate once more what an inept congressman that we have.

1. Another blog site has given Pombo a look. This time, Political Cortex has recognized the Pombo has saved the world. Don't get me wrong, he did not intend that.
It turned out that what Richard Pombo did was so underhanded, and such a threat to our public lands, that someone did notice. That someone included the Wilderness Society, but Pombo didn't care about them. He'd been giving them the middle finger for years. It included Earthworks, but Pombo didn't care about them either. He thinks they're terrorists. That someone included Trout Unlimited, and Pombo didn't care about 100,000 mostly Republican hunters and fishermen who... wait a sec, what was that?

Trout Unlimited, the sportsmen's group (whose membership is two to one Republican) emailed its roughly 100,000 members and contacted regional editorial boards to spotlight the fight. News spread like wildfire--western sportsmen were outraged that public lands where they hunt and fish might be put on the auction block. Once they knew the stakes, local hook-and-bullet organizations held phone-bank days, organized letter-writing campaigns, and scheduled visits to regional Senate offices. A petition signed by 758 sportsmen's clubs affiliated with National Wildlife Federation, from the Great Falls Bowhunters Association to the Custer Rod and Gun Club, landed on elected officials' desks in Washington just weeks later. "These lands, so important to sportsmen and women, are open to every American, rich and poor alike," the letter read. "We believe it is wrong to put them up for mining companies and other commercial interests to buy at cut-rate prices."

So maybe Richard Pombo wasn't convinced, but fellow western senators were. Even that favorite go to guy on gambling, Conrad Burns, declared that Pombo's provisions were dead.


2. Pombo allowed the Tracy Rotary Club to hear a presentation from Pete McCloskey and actually had a reporter (Phil Hayworth) from the normally friendly Tracy Press there. When one of Pombo's supporters asked what was obviously a planted question, they got the response of a statesman.
"What would be your policy regarding Israel?” asked Benjamin Rose, another self-proclaimed Pombo supporter.

McCloskey said he didn’t subscribe to the philosophy of "Israel: right or wrong."

"We have not held Israel to the same standards as other allies," he said.

To strengthen his argument that he is a friend of Israel, McCloskey launched into a tale about the time he and Yasser Arafat were in a bunker somewhere beneath Beirut.

"That’s where I got him to sign United Nations Resolution 242, which recognized Israel’s right to exist", he said.
Now, I ask you if anyone can possibly immagine that Pombo has the stature to pull off something like that. It is inconceivable.

3. I have been reading "The Republican War on Science" by Chris C. Mooney. Mooney has, on several occasions, offered an incredulous i comment regarding Pombo. However, in his book, he offers an explanation as to why Newt Gingrich could talk about saving money by doing away with Congress's Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) and to replace that by having individual congressmen go directly to the soientists when they need information on which to base policy. The conundrum is that Newt has been a supporter of science. Mooney suggest that this is because Newt is smarter than your average congressman. He has a PhD (Ok in History) but keeps up to date on technology, in some ways, a conservative Al Gore. So, he understands it when scientists talk. What Newt did not get is that DeLay and Pombo are Dumb and Dumber. One was a pest exterminator and the other failed to complete college.

The result is that we have a congress, politicized to the extreme, who look for anything and anybody to support their intended action rather than basing their action of establised fact. Sounds like a Congressman that I know.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Defenders Canvass this Weekend


Keeping up the momentum from last week's RV tour, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, is hitting the streets of Stockton and Tracy this weekend.

We will continue to spread the word about Richard Pombo, his efforts to sell off national parks, his charging family vacations to the taxpayers, and his efforts to gut the Endangered Species Act For more info on Richard Pombo, please go to Pombo in their Pocket.

On Saturday, April 29, we will be canvassing in Stockton and in Tracy.

In Stockton, we will meet at the Starbucks in Sherwood Mall at 10:30am, 5350 Pacific Avenue.
From Hwy 5 take the March Lane exit and head east. Turn left on Pacific and Starbucks will be on your right side.

In Tracy, we will meet at noon in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express on Tracy Blvd, just north of Hwy. 205. From Hwy 205, take the Tracy Blvd Exit and you will see the Holiday Inn Express as you exit.

For more information, please email kkeefe@defenders.org. 202 285-4510 is our canvass-day phone number.

Please join us. You can make a difference!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Why Orwell Loves Richard Pombo

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund issued a press release today about Richard Pombo receiving an award from the Orwellian-named Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. The press release speaks for itself, but there is more information on this "award" at the Progressive 11th blog.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 24, 2006
Contact: William Lutz (202) 772-0269
Cindy Hoffman (202) 772-3255

Group Honoring Rep. Richard Pombo Revealed as
Exxon-Funded Industry Front Group

Climate Change Denial Among Sham-Science Group’s Agenda

Washington D.C. – The Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, which announced recently that they would be recognizing Richard Pombo for “his activism in reducing government regulations, taxation and spending” at the group’s annual dinner on Tuesday, April 25, is an industry front group more concerned with advancing the agenda of special interests than good science, according to research compiled by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

“It’s only appropriate that a group like the Annapolis Center would be honoring Rep. Pombo. They are both funded by big business, oil companies and other special interests and they both use manipulated science to gain support for bad policies,” commented Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

For instance, the Annapolis Center promotes several reports and articles on its web site that question the science behind climate change. In one such piece printed in the Washington Times in 2001, their President and Chairman, Harold M. Koenig, M.D., suggests, “If global warming occurs, sea level New Orleans might face a rising tide, but a farm belt extending further into northern latitudes could help us become much more agriculturally productive. We must review and understand both potential misfortune and opportunity.”

According to a 2004 Wall Street Journal article, the Annapolis Center has received 80 percent of its funding from the National Association of Manufacturers since 1997. Exxposeexxon.com and exxonsecrets.org report that Exxon-Mobil has donated millions to the Annapolis Center over the years based on figures gathered from the oil giant’s annual reports. The Annapolis Center’s conclusions and stance on global warming are clearly parroting their financial backers, as well as many of their board members, some of whom include executives or representatives from General Motors; SAIC, a research and engineering firm whose subsidiary Bechtel SAIC Company promoted the storage of radioactive waste under Yucca Mountain against the will of local Nevadans; and Rowan & Blewitt, a crisis-and-issue-management consulting firm that helps industries deal with self-made environmental disasters.

As in the past, Exxon-Mobil has also made large donations to Rep. Pombo’s campaign to help in his bid for re-election this year. For the 2006 election cycle alone he has received $508,031 in PAC contributions, $126,950 of that coming from energy and natural resource industries (www.opensecrets.org).

Last year the group honored Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), a staunch supporter of drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and along America’s coasts, and the 2004 honoree was Sen. James Inhofe, who has publicly denounced global warming as a hoax. Inhofe received the award for his "rational, science-based thinking and policy-making."

“Pombo has voted against clean energy and renewables and against increased fuel efficiency standards. And he is against any involvement with the Kyoto protocol. He rammed legislation through the house to gut the Endangered Species Act including creating new hurdles for the use of the best available science. He has repeatedly voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our fragile coastlines to harmful oil and gas drilling. All these positions mirror the position of the Annapolis Center. So I guess this award is just a way to say, ‘Thanks for the votes, we’ll be in touch,’” said Schlickeisen.

As a tribute to Earth Day, Congressman Pombo has even turned the House Resources government web page into a source of propaganda for the dirty industries that support him. View the site at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/earthday/index.htm.


###
The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund provides a powerful voice in Washington to Americans who value our conservation heritage. Through grassroots lobbying, issue advocacy and political campaigns, the Action Fund champions those laws and lawmakers that protect wildlife and wild places while working against those that do them harm. Visit our web page at www.defendersactionfund.org.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Targeting Pombo

A series of comments here, all in one post.

VPO is right. The focus has to be on Pombo, not on petty squabbling between Democrats. One more series like " Will The Real Steve Filson Staffer Please Stand Up?" and I think I will give up on this blog in spite of all the good it has done. It does not advance the cause, only adjusts egos.

In the past, I have suggested addressing fishing and hunting organizations to find other ways to attack Pombo. I think that the fishermen are pretty solidly against anything he does, esepecailly as they hold him at least partly responsible for the Klamath River Salmon disaster.

Here is another take on the hunters. I was provided with a reference to a story in USA Today about Hunters and our public lands. This is about Gordon Johnston, a 74 yr. old man, an ex County Supervisor who considers himself a "Hard-core, hard-ass Republican." So, this is not a partisan issue open only to progressive bloggers. This is right from the center of NRA country.
He (Johnston) has met with the U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal to lobby for keeping oil and gas rigs out of undeveloped forest areas. He worries that the energy development could harm the deer, elk and moose he hunts in the Wyoming Range south of the affluent resort town of Jackson.

"It saddens me. When you lose habitat, they're gone forever," he says about the animals.
He is talking about favorite policies of Richard Pombo and the Department of the Interior.

We need to be making the connection for our local hunters. I have sent letters to the editor of Field and Stream and other hunting publications. We all have to work on this one, because it cuts right to the heart of one strong Republican constituency.

Do you know how you are going to spend Earth Day? Pombo is going to a fundraiser sponsored by the Safari Club International, Golden Gate Chapter. If I knew which Snyders is hosting this, I would go there myself and protest what they are doing. The Safari Club is one of those groups that hold canned hunts, like the one where Chency shot his hunting partner. Why support Pombo? It is all about the ESA.

BTW, if anyone knows how to locate Snyders in Elk Grove, post it here. We need to let them know what a total affront this is to everything we want. We need to let the Safari Club know of all the things that Pombo does which they don't support. Even in the Klamath River case, the Safari Club would stand with the fisherman. But still they support Pombo with fundraisers and big donation.

They are also very secretive about who belongs to this private club, where they meet, etc. We need to break open this veil of secrecy and let everyone know what is going on.

And Babaloo, please get back to posts like "Sportsmen Tee off on Richard Pombo."

Will The Real Steve Filson Staffer Please Stand Up?

For several weeks now, frequent commenter $.02 has been hypothesizing that fellow commenter Rick is indeed Steve Filson’s campaign manager Rob Kellar. A few days ago, in an open thread discussing the first quarter FEC filings, $.02 stretched his wings a bit further by suggesting that commenter Some Other Guy might actually be Filson Finance Director Colin Bishopp, of these5janks notoriety. All this speculation took place in the wake of the following comment in that thread by Some Other Guy:

First, I'll start off with addressing the "overhead". This is a tough district to win - and, as was pointed out, a very large district. Filson was and is right to secure the services and knowledge of some political pros. However, while the money he is paying his consultants is right on, the money he is paying his staff is rather off (this is all based on my dicussions [sic] with a friend who works on campaigns, his past work has included the Dean campaign in Iowa). According to him, the only salary that makes sense is that of the Field Director. The Campaign Manager and Finance Director, especially because of their experience, i.e. lack of it (at least according to what I have heard), are WAY too high. Most Campaign Managers and Finance Directors in a primary, and with their lack of experience, are not paid near that amount. The only staffer who should be paid a high amount on the Filson campaign is the Field Director, since she is the one who comes into this with federal level campaign experience, contested primary experience, DCCC campaign experience, and so forth. Also, interesting to note that it is the woman with a family (despite having the most experience) that is paid the least. Additionally, I suppose that does tell us something about just where Filson puts "grassroots" in the scheme of things.

(I suppose I should note that I have been fed a lot of info about the Filson Field Director from my Dean campaign friend. He knows her and speaks incredibly highly of her abilities. He also mentioned that she was offered Finance Director and Campaign Manager positions, offering a lot more money, in other states but turned them down for family reasons. I suppose I should also note that I have heard nothing but negative comments about the Filson Campaign Manager and have heard that the DCCC is looking to replace him. Some of his own staff, some staff at the DNC, and some staff at the DCCC consider him to be a liability.)

All that being said, I think Filson has the best chance to win this thing. While all of you sit here and bash his lack of "grassroots", it is the Filson campaign, thanks to his underpaid and over-experienced Field Director that is out there RIGHT NOW and every other day and night calling and canvassing voters. I'm on the volunteer list for both campaigns (signed up for McNerney before I ever heard of Filson) and the Filson campaign is doing a hell of a lot more than the McNerney campaign. When it comes to voter contact, the Filson campaign seems to have McNerney beat. (And my Dean campaign friend says that McNerney should be afraid.)

On the issue of support from labor and Dem clubs.... Just what are the unions and Dem clubs doing for McNerney? From what I have heard, they are all focused on local stuff and won't lift a finger for this race until after the primary. Also, Filson has AFSCME - that's a big endsorement [sic]. And Filson's political endorsements (Congressman Miller, Congresswoman Lofgren) have been out there doing a lot of stuff for Filson. I don't know, maybe it's just me and what I've been seeing, but it seems like Filson is more the grassroots candidate than McNerney. But, I'm sure no one here would ever dare admit that or even admit to the fact that Filson is running a strong grassroots field program.

On the issue of this poll that was paid for in January. According to my Dean friend, that probably means the poll isn't yet done or was completed only recently. Polling is paid for up front, but then there is a lot of work to be done on the front end and back end before a campaign receives the polling results. So a payment in January should indicate a poll that is completed sometime in April (or so I've been told). In other words, let's not jump to any conclusions about this poll not showing good results for Filson and that's why no one has heard about it.

Sure, Filson didn't deliver what he had indicated he could deliver. But, from my understanding anyways, he still has raised more, at least at this point, than any other Democratic candidate vying for this same seat has.

So exactly who is Some Other Guy? Well, to assist SNTP readers, I’ve found a handy mathematical formula for determining the real identity of the Filson staffer posting in the Comments section.

A) Tabulate each gratuitous snotty remark Some Other Guy has made about the McNerney campaign over time (e.g., “Oh, and word on the street is that Howard Dean wants McNerney to drop out of this race”) and then multiply by 7.23. Then locate all the examples of blatant dissembling about DCCC involvement in Filson’s campaign (e.g., “Does anyone here actually know the extent of the DCCC's and DC hierarchy's involvement in the Filson campaign? Based on my past experiences with the DCCC, I'm guessing it is little to none”) and multiply by .7185. Add the totals for these two categories.

B) Locate each aggrandizing descriptor of Filson's field director in the comment quoted above, multiply the total by 13. Then locate each slashing criticism of any other Filson staffer and multiply that number by 16.5. Calculate the sum for these two categories and then divide by 39.357. Pay careful attention to this step; it is critical to your calculation.

C) Take all examples of lying about background material in order to maintain secrecy and/or build credentials, and cube that number. Then add 1,372 to your total for each occurrence of multiple examples in the same sentence (e.g., “[T]his is all based on my dicussions [sic] with a friend [cough] who works on campaigns, his [cough] past work has included the Dean [cough, Edwards] campaign in Iowa”). Finally, take the square root of your total.

Now, with your constants established, you are ready to apply my formula

Image hosting by Photobucket

and take the final steps to correctly determine the identity of the Filson staff member who is commenting here under the pseudonym Some Other Guy.

Now that you have solved for all the numerical values, simply translate them into binary code and feed that data into your Diebold Prestidigitator 3000™ tabulator and -- presto -- you will know the identity of the mystery Filson staffer with 99.99287% certainty. Happy sleuthing!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Candidate Forum Tonight

Just a reminder for Democrats in Contra Costa County that all three Democratic candidates in CD-11 will be appearing tonight at a forum sponsored by the Diablo Valley Democratic Club. If you still haven’t had a chance to hear Steve Filson, Jerry McNerney and Steve Thomas, well, you’ve got one more opportunity. The meeting starts at 7:00. 55 Eckley Lane in Walnut Creek.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

DCCC Open Thread

Thanks to an Anonymous tip earlier today, here's the info from today’s FEC filing:



From Matt’s third post on SNTP way back in October:

Dear Jim, Thank you for your comments regarding the 11th Congressional district in California. We fully support your desire to see Jerry McNerney win both the nomination and the seat, and hope you understand that our decision to highlight Steve Filson's candidacy on our Campaign for Change website was not meant in any way to be an exclusive endorsement. Our goal with the Candidates for Change section was to show to our supporters that we are working incredibly hard to recruit candidates to run this year, and to provide a sampling of the quality candidates who have already filed to run. This list was by no means meant to be either comprehensive or exclusive; the Democratic voters in the district will have the ultimate say in who the nominee will be to face the odorous Richard Pombo, and we will fully endorse whichever candidate wins the primary. In addition, we have not given any money to the Filson campaign, as that would obviously consitute [sic] an implicit endorsement. In the end though, I'm sure we all agree that the number one priority is unseating Pombo from his seat before he can destroy more pristine areas of natural beauty in our country and auction off our national parks to the highest corporate bidder. A spirited primary will certainly help us find the best candidate to do just that. Sincerely, DCCC Action Team

-E-mail from the DCCC to McNerney supporters

Feel free to express yourselves.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Help Young Democrats Take Back Congress

On Sunday, Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times wrote a piece about some of the various groups working to fight Richard Pombo. One the most exciting of these groups is the nascent youth movement to fight Pombo organized by the Action Caucus of the California Young Democrats. The Action Caucus is so exciting because it has succeeded in generating tremendous enthusiasm and energy while maintaining the strategic direction to funnel that energy into something with tremendous political potential. In essence they have succeeded in laying the groundwork for something that can be both socially rewarding and tremendously politically effective. Consequently, I expect an explosion of progressive youth activism in the coming months once the Action Caucus has completed the infrastructure that they are seeking to build.

I am excited to report that there is a fantastic opportunity for you to help the Action Caucus on April 25. I encourage all of you progressives to help them, no matter what side of the primary fight you are sympathetic to. The Action Caucus will not take sides in the primary, and all of their action until then in CA-11 will be directed at building the Democratic Party infrastructure in the district. Please take the time to read the following notice and please forward it to other people who might be interested.

I have also added the Action Caucus to the Say No to Pombo ActBlue page. I already see young organizers from Tracy and Stockton meeting with their peers from San Francisco, Oakland, and Lafayette. The Action Caucus is building the youth movement in the Bay Area. Please support them in any way you can. (I was just told that ActBlue directs money to an account that the Action Caucus just closed. So please donate here).

-------------------------------------------

LEFT ON 580: Help Young Democrats Take Back Congress!

Host: The Action Caucus of the California Young Democrats and State Senator John Burton

Location: Café du Nord
2170 Market St. at 15th St, San Francisco, CA

When: Tuesday, April 25, 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Join the Action Caucus and State Senator John Burton on April 25th at Café du Nord.

The Action Caucus of the California Young Democrats is getting ready to unseat right-wing Republican Congressman Richard Pombo. Here's how we're going to do it:

· Build an online ride board to make it easy for activists from all over Northern California to get to CD11.

· Organize Young Democrats chapters from the Bay Area and Sacramento to converge on CD11 and work together with local activists in a coordinated campaign.

· Register thousands of Democrats in CD11. An army of dedicated volunteers can tip the balance of registered voters to the left, and set the stage for the biggest Congressional upset in 2006.

Richard "Dick" Pombo is one of the most corrupt politicians in the country, and a fanatical opponent of environmental protections. His district is in the Bay Area's back yard, and he has never been so vulnerable.

· Pombo is California's largest recipient of funds from recently-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and has accepted over $5,000 from Tom Delay's PAC. The treasurer for recently- sentenced former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has also been treasurer of Pombo's PAC.

· Pombo has fought to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, drill in ANWR and off the California coast, and sell 15 national parks to private companies. As Chair of the House Resources Committee in a Republican Congress, Pombo has more power over environmental policy than any other U.S. Representative.

The suggested minimum donation is $100, but we will accept whatever you feel you can give. Please make checks payable to California Young Democrats.

Honorary Co-Chairs:
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Gavin Newsom

For more information see http://www.actioncaucus.org/

Consistent with federal law, Congresswoman Pelosi and Mayor Newsom are not soliciting donations to the California Young Democrats or Action Caucus in excess of $2,000 from individual donors, nor are they soliciting funds from corporations, labor organizations or foreign nationals.

To RSVP, go here. If this does not work, or if you have any questions about the event, you can send an e-mail to Nicole Rivera at nrivera@actioncaucus.org.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Revving up the RV on the Tax Day Tour


This is Kevin reporting on the road from the Pombo in their Pocket RV Tax Day Tour.

We are driving around in a RV that has signs all over that highlight Richard Pombo's family vacation, where he rented a RV, took his family on a tour of National Parks, and then had the gall to charge it to us taxpayers.

Nothing like a big visual aid to demonstrate how Richard Pombo is spending your tax dollars. I don't know about you, but I don't believe that hard-working Americans should have to foot the bill for Pombo's family to take a vacation.

The smart thing for Pombo to do, when this RV scandal hit the newspapers, would have been to apologize and return the money. Instead, Pombo apologists defend Pombo's family vacation by essentially saying that we are lucky he didn't charge us more. Pombo clearly has been running with the wrong crowd to get this sense of entitlement.

The first thing we learned on our drive to Lodi from Dublin, was that when you put a sign on your RV that says, "Honk if your tired of Richard Pombo wasting your tax money!", you better be prepared to hear some noise. People's reactions were great!

We pulled into downtown Lodi around 8:30am, distributed flyers, and got the thumbs up from people buying their morning coffee. From there we headed to Stockton, pulled in front of The Record and showed off our RV to reporters.

At 11 we cruised through downtown Tracy, passed out a bunch of flyers, and spoke to the Tracy Press. It is now 1pm, we are in downtown Pleasanton and another RV has just joined us. We will have ourselves a caravan as we meander our way down to Morgan Hill.

You will be glad to know that the Pombo in Their Pocket RV did not cost taxpayers one dime.

And, a big thank you to everyone who joined our door-to-door canvass on Saturday.

FEC Report Open Thread (Republican Side)

One key factor is that Pete McCloskey has raised more money from individual contributors than Pombo has. Of course, Pombo has all of the PAC money rolling in, corporate sponsorship, just like he wants to sell for our national partk.

I wonder if he has Annette on Commission like John Doolittle put his wife on commission. She get 15% of everything that rolls in to Dolittle. With that, Anenette could afford to buy her own RV.

Well, enough snide comments. The following is a press release today from McCloskey campaign. It shows exactly where the big contributions to Pombo came from. Gee, I wonder why Haliburton would support a Drill the ANWR Republican. It must mean that Pombo is in good with Cheney as well as DeLay. Oops, I said enough snide comments.

For From McCloskey for Congress:

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2006

Contact: Rob Caughlan, McCloskey for Congress
(650) 575-9448

McCloskey's Individual Contributions for First Quarter 2006 Top Pombo's

But Pombo Gets Huge Infusion of Special Interest Corporate PAC and Lobbyist Cash

Lodi, CA - Quarterly reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reveal that Republican congressional candidate Pete McCloskey raised more money from individual contributors than 7-term incumbent Congressman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. But Pombo far out-raised McCloskey in total contributions for the quarter ending March 31, because he received a huge influx of contributions from corporate, industry group, and other special interests represented by political action committees (PACs).

McCloskey, a former Bay Area Congressman, is challenging Pombo for the Republican nomination in the June 6 primary to represent California's 11th Congressional District.

"The campaign finance filings make it clear that Pete McCloskey will not be beholden to special interests," said McCloskey finance chairperson, Albert Schreck. "It is also quite clear that Congressman Pombo continues to rely on out-of-district wealthy special interest industry groups to finance his campaign in his desperate attempt to stay in power."

When McCloskey announced his intent to challenge Pombo for the Republican nomination for Congress on January 23, 2006, he stated he would not accept any special interest PAC contributions. Instead, he set a goal to raise $500,000 from small individual donors - ordinary citizens - to finance his campaign. These contributions are limited by federal law to a maximum of $2100 per person.

In its FEC filing, the McCloskey campaign reported that as of March 31, 2006, it had raised a little over $205,000 from 626 small individual donors. Many of these donors are former constituents of McCloskey's, from the time he represented the district that today includes the economic engine known as Silicon Valley. In contrast, Pombo raised approximately $163,000 from individual donors.

"We are on track to meet our fundraising goals for our campaign, and I'm very grateful to so many friends and former constituents for their generous financial support," McCloskey said. "I hope that by election day June 6, we will have reached our goal of raising $500,000 from small individual donors. It is time for ordinary citizens to take back their government from the special interests and the corrupt politicians they control."

"We can't outspend Congressman Pombo, but I'm hopeful that 11th District voters will recognize and support a candidate who is not beholden to Halliburton, Texas oil interests and Indian casino operators," McCloskey said.

The FEC disclosures show that Pombo has now raised over $1.4 million during the 2005-2006 election cycle, leaving him with over $1 million in cash-on-hand in his campaign war-chest. About half of the $326,000 in new money Pombo reported for the quarter came from special interest PACs and other Committees, and additional sums came from individuals employed as lobbyists.

Much of the PAC money came pouring into Pombo's coffers in the last few days of the quarter; more than $75,000 on March 30 and 31st alone. A substantial amount came from committees controlled by other Republican congressmen in the Tom DeLay wing of the party, such as Lamar Smith, Jim McCrery, Pete Sessions, and Henry Bonilla. The report suggests that DeLay Republican congressmen in "safe" districts are coming to Pombo's aid by handing him parts of their war-chests.

A key issue in the campaign of course, is how Mr. Pombo's votes continue to reflect the huge contributions he receives from powerful special interest groups. For example, among the top four industries contributing to Mr. Pombo's "Million Dollar Take" for the 2005-2006 cycle to date are: "Casinos/Gambling" ($160,447), "Leadership PACs" ($99,034), "Oil and Gas" ($92,200), and "Lawyers/Law Firms" ($71,298). (Data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the FEC.)

Mr. Pombo also receives substantial additional sums from mining interests, Indian tribes, electric utilities and others who regularly have business before the House Resources Committee, which he chairs.

"It is typical of Pombo to provide his "services" to those who give him campaign funds. Last fall he single-handedly inserted a provision in the Budget Reconciliation bill in November 2005, with neither committee discussion nor floor debate, calling for the sale of vast tracts of public land to private mining companies. This action closely followed a fundraiser for Pombo organized by mining industry lobbyist Duane Gibson, a former Counsel to the Resources Committee, who left to pursue more lucrative work on convicted criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s team," McCloskey said.

Abramoff, who has pled guilty to conspiracy to bribe members of Congress, has also showered Pombo with cash from himself and his many clients. TIME magazine reported that Pombo and John Doolittle are the two top California recipients of funds from Abramoff and his allies.

"It's no wonder," McCloskey noted, "that Pombo has been designated by one nonpartisan watchdog group, Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), as "One of The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Another watchdog group, Public Citizen, has named him one of its first six inductees to the "The Congressional Hall of Shame."

***********************************

Friday, April 14, 2006

FEC Report Open Thread

Mr. $.02 has pointed out that Steve Filson’s Q1 FEC report is now available online. As Mr. $.02 notes, Steve Filson fell well short of his promise to have $200,000 cash on hand by the end of Q1. Instead, it looks like Filson has about $125,750 COH (of which, about $6,000 is money in excess of contributions limits for the primary, meaning he can hold onto it for the general, but he cannot spend it until then). This despite the fact that Filson started the quarter with approximately $102,500 and despite the fact that he raised more this quarter than McNerney raised up to Q4 of last year. In other words, Filson raised a ton of money but ended spending most of it. It looks like the real culprit for Filson’s burn rate seems to be really high overhead costs, especially in terms of the money he pays his consultants

I should also note that Filson did pay a polling firm in New York $15,000 in early January. We never heard the results of said poll, so draw your own conclusions.

So far, none of the other candidates’ FEC filings are available. But we do know that Jerry McNerney raised at least $50,000 this quarter, which ought to mean that he’ll have somewhere between $100,000-$115,000 COH. So despite Filson absolutely killing McNerney in terms of money raised, it is very likely that Filson lost a lot of ground relative to McNerney in terms of COH.

I don’t have time to do a full analysis here, especially since none of the other FEC reports are available. Feel free to use the comment section as an open thread on these FEC numbers.

Update 7:10 PM:

I spoke to Jerry McNerney's Campaign Manager, AJ Carrillo, who told me that McNerney raised just shy of $65,000 and ended the quarter with around $81,000 COH. I'm not sure what they spent so much money on, but it sounds like they spent quite a bit on mailings.


In any event, if you account for the fact that Filson cannot spend around $6,100 of his money, then the ratio of McNerney's COH to Filson's has remained relatively steady from Q4 to Q1. Also, Carrillo pointed out that Filson has accumulated $35,500 in debt. We'll have to see how much debt McNerney has (Carrillo said it was minimal), but unless it's huge, McNerney will have enough money to get his message out. And unless something weird happens, Filson will not have the money to be able to have ads on the radio or television before the primary. So McNerney's ground game will have an elevated importance in this race that it wouldn't have had if Filson had been able to raise enough money to get on the air.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Richard Pombo Bamboozles Seniors

As some of you may know, Richard Pombo has been organizing “seminars” on Medicare Part D for seniors in his district. It’s bad enough that Pombo voted for the horrible Medicare Debacle bill. But the McNerney Campaign has exposed these “seminars” for what they really are: cynical marketing ploys on the part of a lobbying group with strong ties to Big Pharma and other sectors of the for-profit healthcare industry.

It is deeply unethical for Pombo to invite groups to “inform” seniors when these group have an obvious conflict of interest. I understand that Pombo wants to put lipstick on the Medicare Part D pig, but he should leave his attempts to bamboozle seniors for the campaign trail.

To start off, let’s look at the main player (or should I say front group?) Medicare Today. Here is what a report they commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said about Medicare Today (emphasis mine):

Medicare Today is a broad-based partnership of organizations representing seniors, patients, health care groups, employers, and others. The mission of this nonpartisan partnership is to educate and inform Medicare beneficiaries and the public at large on the benefits provided through The Medicare Prescription, Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) and about how millions of seniors will benefit from the new Medicare law. Together, the group is conducting a comprehensive outreach program to reach seniors through a grassroots, person-to-person approach, explaining the Medicare drug benefit and other new Medicare features with clarity and objectivity. Medicare Today is administered by the Healthcare Leadership Council, located in Washington, D.C. (Page 2).

In other words, the sole purpose of this group is to market the MMA to the public. The group has no other purpose, and is instead an astroturf operation run by the Healthcare Leadership Council. Of course, it’s important to know what the HLC is all about in order to assess Medicare Today.

Here is what HLC said about themselves in a statement they made to the FDA (emphasis mine):

The Healthcare Leadership Council is unique in that it represents all sectors of the health care industry that would be affected by the FDA’s bar coding regulation, including hospitals and hospital systems, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical and medical-surgical distributors, and medical device manufacturers.

A quick check of Source Watch shows that in 2005, the funding came from their membership, which included:
  1. Abbott Laboratories

  2. Amgen

  3. Ascension Health Care

  4. Baxter International

  5. Baylor Health Care System

  6. Cleveland Clinic

  7. Eli Lilly & Company

  8. Fisher Scientific International

  9. GlaxoSmithKline

  10. Johnson & Johnson

  11. Mayo Clinic

  12. Merck & Company

  13. Pfizer
    So this is hardly an independent or disinterested group. Rather, it chock full of groups with a financial interest in keeping Pombo in office.

    HLC also seems to share an office (1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 550 South, Washington, DC 20004) with the Alliance to Improve Medicare, whose membership is an interesting assortment of big business and the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

    What this all tells us is that Richard Pombo has no interest in providing high-quality, objective information to his constituents. Instead, he voted for a law so complicated that many of its purported beneficiaries cannot make heads or tails of it. And when faced with this fact, he uses the opportunity to bring in a group that lobbied for the law in the first place to tell Pombo’s confused and disheartened constituents how great the law is. It’s absolutely repulsive to me.

    Furthermore, what really bothers me is how badly the press has been covering this. Instead of doing any sort of research, the media in the district has been credulously repeating Pombo’s line about these meetings.

    In fact, the Tracy Press actually condemned McNerney today for seeking to educate the voters of the district about Richard Pombo’s attempt to bamboozle them. The Tracy Press editorial board writes:

    BARB: To the McNerney for Congress campaign for its plans to host a counter-informational health care seminar adjacent to a Medicare Part D meeting for seniors that's sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo's office. This morning's dueling events in northern Stockton will confuse citizens who seek more details on the federal prescription drug program. It is an improper time and location for Jerry McNerney, a Democratic candidate for Pombo's 11th House District seat, to chastise the congressman's nonpartisan effort, which McNerney claims is being fronted by the pharmaceutical industry.

    Nonpartisan effort? Excuse me, Richard Pombo is finally being confronted with anger at his consistent practice of voting in favor of the interests of his campaign donors instead of the interests of his constituents. And so he gets an astroturf marketing group to lobby his angry constituents in favor of the Medicare Debacle bill? Pombo is not doing his constituents any favor, Medicare Today and the rest of the Big Pharma shills are doing Richard Pombo a favor. And that ought to be obvious to anyone who spends any amount of time looking at this situation. Furthermore, I think it is deeply disturbing that the editorial board would be so quick to condemn McNerney even before they have heard the evidence in this matter.

    Lastly, I want to highlight the role of the McNerney Campaign in exposing this because the local press has been only too happy to take Pombo at his word about these events. And were it not for the McNerney Campaign, none of this information would have gotten out.

    For example, the following is typical of the announcements that ran in the press about these events:

    TRACY — Confused about Medicare Part D? Not to worry, you're not alone and a series of counseling events have been scheduled to help clear things up.

    A Medicare Enrollment Event and Senior Health Fair is being held at the Lolly Hansen Senior Center, 375 E. Ninth St., today from noon to 3 p.m. The event is free to the public.

    Seniors and others eligible for Medicare have only until May 15 to sign up for the Medicare Drug Plan and those who do not enroll or miss the window, may face penalties and will not be able to enroll again until November.

    Congressman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is sponsoring several seminars throughout his district, and more could be added, a spokeswoman said.

    "Seniors should never go without prescriptions they need and must know we are here to help," Pombo said in prepared statement. "Every senior is eligible to enroll in this program, however to take advantage of this opportunity they must sign-up."

    A seminar is scheduled for 10 a.m., April 10 in Stockton at O'Connor Woods, 3400 Wagner Heights Road, and another is scheduled for 10 a.m., April 29in San Ramon at the San Ramon Senior Center, 9300 Alcosta Blvd.

    All attendees are encouraged to bring their Medicare card, a list of prescription drugs they currently take, and any paperwork sent by Medicare, Social Security or personal health plans that concern Medicare Part D.

    For more information about the upcoming events, call (510) 271-0640, ext. 106.
    "This event is a rare opportunity for seniors to obtain one-on-one counseling and information from experts on the new Medicare Drug Plans," said Dan Cohen, Northern California field director for Medicare Today.

    "In less than an hour, seniors can get all the necessary information, receive individual help and even enroll in a new plan, saving them hundreds of dollars a year on prescription drugs."

    It’s enough to make you sick.

    Action Alert: Pay It Back Pombo

    Here is some info about Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund’s anti-Pombo activities during the coming week. It was sent to me by Kevin Keefe, who hasn’t gotten around to blogging about it yet.  I figure I’d save him the trouble.

    -Matt  
    ----------------------  

    The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is getting revved up to spread the word about Richard Pombo throughout CA-11. This week’s theme will be Pay it Back Pombo.

    Rep. Richard Pombo, America’s #1 Wildlife Villain, used your taxpayer dollars to rent an RV to take his family on a vacation to some of our nation’s most scenic national parks -- national parks like the ones Pombo has since proposed selling off to the highest bidder! His vacation, your moneyOn Saturday, April 15 we will be leafletting door-to-door in Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon. We will meet at 10:30am at the San Ramon Public Library.

    On Monday, April 17 we will get into the Pay it Back Pombo RV and do a rolling press conference with stops throughout the district. We will stop in every county in CA-11. Join us at a stop near you, or join the caravan for the whole district tour.

    Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund needs your participation in order to be effective. But all of this means nothing, without your involvement. The more of you that come out and take action, the stronger our voice will be.Please come join us on April 15, on April 17, and many more times between now and November. To RSVP for the canvass email kkeefe@urbandare.com or call me at 202 285-4510.For more information on Richard Pombo and on Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, please go to www.Pombointheirpocket.org.

    You can make a difference!

    Kevin Keefe


    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Democratic Candidates on the Bankruptcy Bill

    Brian of the CA-11 blog wants to make more information available about the policy positions of the Democratic candidates running against Richard Pombo. To that end, Brian asked Steve Filson a series of questions about the Bankruptcy Bill and posted Filson’s answers on his site. Since then I have asked the other Democratic candidates to answer the questions, and have now received responses from Jerry McNerney and Steve Thomas. I am posting their responses, along with Steve Filson’s responses (with Brian’s blessing) so that their answers can be compared side-by-side. I am posting this without commentary, and I have not edited or altered the responses in any way. Consider this a Public Service Announcement from your friends in the anti-Pombo blogosphere. And keep an eye out for more of these types of posts. Brian and I have discussed doing this again.


    1. Some see the Bankruptcy Bill as a prime example of how Congress has completely turned its back on working families. Do you think that's true?

    Steve Filson: Yes. I believe the vote to pass The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) is a perfect example of lobbyists with big checks getting exactly what they wanted while working families and small business owners were ignored.

    Jerry McNerney: Yes, I agree. The Bankruptcy Law is a sellout to credit card companies, just as the Energy Law of 2005 was a sellout to the oil and gas companies, and the Medicare Part D was a sellout to the pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, the Congress often operates as a tool for corporations. This has to do with how federal election campaigns are financed. It takes purchased media to win elections and purchased media is getting explosively more expensive as the competition for that media grows. In order to afford this purchased media, politicians are forced to raise more and more money, and the groups that can afford to give the largest donations have sway with the federal government. Since corporations are strictly about profits, they are naturally the ones that can afford to purchase federal laws. Until we move toward public financing of federal election campaigns, this trend will continue to grow.

    Steve Thomas: Absolutely! This is a bill written by the credit card lobby and shopped around until they found a Republican sponsor. Once you understand that corporations are let off the hook in a bankruptcy, while citizen's are made to pay every dime back, no matter the reason for the bankruptcy, this bill can only be viewed as obscene. Corporations can shred their pension obligations, break their contracts and still give their executives gold plated bonuses, pensions and parachutes while screwing the workers. They get a pretty sweet fresh start. Fully half of non-corporate bankruptcies are people who have medical insurance, but not enough for something catastrophic. My step father had colorectal cancer and ended up putting somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000 on his credit cards to save his life. My mother is refinancing their house to pay this, while she survives on social security. Another 25% of bankruptcies are women head of households, going through a divorce or job loss. The people who go crazy with the cards buying things they can't afford are a much smaller percentage than is generally perceived. Individuals will spend years or decades paying it all back. No fresh start there. Don't forget that the credit card companies send out huge volumes of low interest rate offers. After you're a customer, due to something called universal default, if you're late paying almost any bill, your interest rate goes to the maximum. Need I say the rates are usery? The ability to charge unlimited interest rates was a gift to them from Ronald Reagan. Think about that, the next time you see one of his "hero" movies. It's no wonder Americans have a negative savings rate, how do you put money away when you're an indentured servant to a credit card company, paying them 30% interest?

    2. The Bankruptcy Bill garnered bi-partisan support, including vigorous support from Ellen Tauscher (D-Alamo). Do you think it was a mistake for some Democrats to support this Bill?

    Steve Filson: I think it was a mistake for Democrats and Republicans to support the bill. While I have the utmost respect for Congresswoman Tauscher and the work she does for the 10th Congressional district, I disagree with her on this issue.

    Jerry McNerney: If the Democratic Party wishes to represent the interests of the people of this country, then this it was a tragic mistake. It is often heard that there is no real difference between the two major political parties of this country, and this is an illustration of that claim.

    Steve Thomas: In my view, it was a huge mistake for any Democrat to support this bill. When we win back the House, I sincerely hope they redeem themselves when a more consumer friendly do-over of this bill gets written. If I'm elected, I'll sponsor it. A question that should be asked about Tauscher is how much did their lobbyists give her, or did she do it for free?

    3. How do you view the Bankruptcy Bill's relationship to other issues like Health Care Reform or Campaign Finance Reform?

    Steve Filson: I believe these issues are related because they demonstrate how Congress can be held hostage on issues important to the American people by very small groups of powerful special interests.

    There should be an honest and open debate in this country about how we get health care for all Americans. But that debate can’t happen when the only ones in the room benefit from obscene administrative costs at the expense of coverage.

    There should be an honest and open debate in this country on campaign finance reform and free speech. But the debate is being stifled by powerful media interests benefiting from the outrageous prices charged to candidates so they can get their message to voters.

    Money can narrow the conversation about how best to address the issues we all face and can suppress the best ideas that can move American forward.

    Jerry McNerney: There is a strong relationship between the Bankruptcy Law and the inability to address Health Care as discussed in the answer to the first question. Elected representatives are not able to represent the interests of their districts because they are forced to take large sums of money from groups that no not have the interests of the districts in mind. Our nation needs public financing of federal election campaigns if we are to be able to address the many difficult and challenging problems that face our nation today.

    Steve Thomas: It's one more example of how corporate lobbying money purchases the legislative agenda. If I recall correctly, lobbyists spend $200 million a month and they outnumber legislators something like 43 to 1. Lobby reform won't solve this, we need full public financing of campaigns. That is the only way to get the corporate check writers out of the process. You need to send someone like me to Washington, because I really don't care about ever being rich. I can't be bought. My spiritual values far out weigh filthy lucre.

    4. What impacts do you think the Bankruptcy Bill will have right here in the CA-11 District?

    Steve Filson: The impacts will be widely felt.Small business will be punished by the complicated rules surrounding business formations that need to co-mingle personal and business assets.

    Consumers and new students will suffer because the law does not address the aggressive marketing of high interest, high fee credit cards to new graduates and low-income workers. The majority of bankruptcies are not caused by one’s “moral failings” but have their origin in catastrophic events and medical emergencies. The law strips away the financial second chance Americans deserve.

    Perhaps most depressing is the effect this law will have on active duty troops and Reserve and National Guard members. In 1999, a General Accounting Office study analyzed bankruptcy filings and determined that 16,000 active-duty service members had filed for bankruptcy during the course of the last year. In addition, a 2002 Pentagon study found that 1/3 of military families experience a significant drop in income when a member was deployed, and for Reserve and National Guard members this figure rose to 40%. The men and woman who defend this country must have better.

    Since the bankruptcy law became effective, the Republican majority in Congress continues to block any exceptions to the bankruptcy law for service men and woman as well as victims of last season’s terrible hurricanes. These are times when Congress should side with working families and the men and women who defend our nation.

    Jerry McNerney: The impact will be on individuals and small businesses of the district, mostly on people who do not have the ability to be heard. CD11 already contains one of the most economically depressed regions of the country, worse even than Appalachia. The impact will be to widen the gap between the poor and the wealthy.

    The top two categories of people that file for bankruptcy are divorced females and people who suffer catastrophic medical costs due to injury or illness. These groups are certainly represented in our nation and our district.

    More specifically though, San Joaquin County has over 12,000 families on waiting lists for affordable housing, and the population will double over the next 20 to 30 years. California has over 7 million uninsured, and these people are at great risk of financial ruin. And, we must also mention that large numbers of families of National Guard members called to the tragic and unnecessary war in Iraq also face bankruptcy. In fact Tracy has the highest KIA rate per capita in California and one of the highest enlistment rates per capita. Pombo’s support of this bill puts these families that give our country so much in great financial risk. It’s time to start building a new economy in the region not tearing away at the safety net that helps so many people in our district and our nation.

    Steve Thomas: This is earthquake country. If we have a big one in the wrong place, just for starters we can lose the delta levees. That will wreck the water supply in that we'll have salt water at least half way to Stockton. This could cause a major disruption in the economy in the district for months and probably push a lot of people and small businesses into bankruptcy. It gets worse if we have a bridge fall down or lose the Sacramento levees. Now you have to remember, the Democrats added two amendments to this bill before Hurricane Katrina. One was to exempt victims of natural disasters, the other was to exempt vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for just one lousy, stinking year. The Republicans, including Richard Pombo, voted those down on a party line vote.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Anti-Pombo Radio Begins in Earnest

    Here is the script of, and press release for, the new Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Pombo in Their Pocket radio ad, which start airing in the district today. It is the first in what will be a series of ads taking Pombo to task for various misdeeds.

    You can listen to the ad in Mp3 form by clicking here and you can see Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund’s documentation for the claims in the ad (in PDF format) here.

    Enjoy.
    -------

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cindy Hoffman (202)772-3255
    April 06, 2006


    DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE ACTION FUND POUNCES ON POMBO
    WITH NEW RADIO ADS

    Organization releases new ads decrying Rep. Richard Pombo’s (R-CA) effort to sell off national parks and do the bidding of special interests

    Washington, D.C. – Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund today released the first in a month long series of radio ads targeting Rep. Richard Pombo for his anti-environmental legislation and strong ties to special interest groups. This media buy will run in Stockton, the heart of the congressman’s district.

    The 60 second advertisement, titled “Open Season,” criticizes Pombo’s efforts to sell 15 national parks, park naming rights and thousands of acres of public land to the mining industry. The ad says in part, “Pombo even wanted the National Park Service to raise millions of dollars by selling naming rights to the highest bidder. Imagine tourist attractions in Yosemite being renamed after Exxon or Chevron.”

    Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund launched its campaign in response to numerous anti-environmental proposals from Rep. Pombo, including bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act, sell off our country’s national parks, and make it easy for irresponsible developers and special interests including oil and gas, timber and mining to gain unrestricted access to some of America’s last havens for wildlife.

    “What Pombo has been trying to do totally undermines the obligation we have to preserve our wildlife and public lands for future generations,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. “He has put some of America’s most significant historical sites up for auction to his special interest cronies. Even the Bay area’s very own Eugene O’Neill National Historic site was included on his list of places he thought were expendable. Rep. Pombo isn’t thinking about natural or historical significance, the good of the national parks, or even his constituents, he’s thinking about his big corporate campaign contributors.”

    The ad concludes by pointing out that Pombo was named one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and urges listeners to visit www.PomboInTheirPocket.org, a site launched by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund to expose Richard Pombo’s ties to the special interests.

    Listen to the ad at www.pombointheirpocket.org.


    THE SCRIPT

    ANNCR: “Open season on our national parks”

    That’s how the Los Angeles Times described Congressman Richard Pombo’s proposal to sell off 15 of America’s national parks.

    Pombo even wanted the National Park Service to raise millions of dollars by selling naming rights to the highest bidder.

    Imagine tourist attractions in Yosemite being renamed after Exxon or Chevron.

    It’s a scheme The Sacramento Bee called, “dim… and slimy.”

    …and it gets worse.

    Pombo has taken over 500 thousand dollars from oil and gas companies and big developers.

    He even sponsored legislation to sell hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to the mining industry at bargain prices… after lobbyists pushing the legislation threw him a fancy fundraiser.

    No wonder a watchdog group called Richard Pombo one of the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress.

    Go to Pombo-In-Their-Pocket.org and tell Richard Pombo, America’s heritage is not for sale.

    Paid for by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

    Hold the Phone

    The following is a letter by Mat Atkins, an active member of the San Ramon Democratic Club, in response to this post by Babaloo. I am posting it as I received it, without alteration.
    -Matt

    HOLD THE PHONE – a letter to Babaloo & Matt

    Babaloo has taken some pretty serious swipes at the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club… without having all of the facts. Here is the sentence that I take umbrage with:

    But the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club is chartered by the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee and, as such, is an adjunct of the Democratic Party supposedly dedicated to building the party’s base throughout the county.

    The SRVDC is IN FACT dedicated to building the party’s base. We are out registering Democratic voters almost every weekend. We are working now to expand this effort and register voters in more locations (currently we are at the Danville farmer’s market). The club has an active effort to grow roots deep into the precincts of San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo. Lately this effort has involved getting DEMOCRATS to register as permanent absentee voters. Democrats, not republicans and not even decline-to-state voters.

    Our programs committee (chaired by none other than Peggy Rubin) sets up the speakers for our club meetings. We have recently had every Democratic candidate for congress from the 11th congressional district speak to our club. We have also heard from Margee Ensign. Our last meeting featured a speaker who helped pioneer the clean money effort in California. The meeting prior to that we had Christine Pelosi talk about her role as the Chair of the state Democratic Party platform committee. Her committee took input from our club’s own platform committee. Guess who led that effort, Peggy Rubin.

    That is some of what our club and what Peggy has done to further the cause of the Democratic Party in our county. I am disappointed that you cast aspersions at the SRVDC for allowing other voices to be heard. Yes, we have invited Pete McCloskey to come speak to our club (along with Steve Thomas). The SRVDC has NOT asked anyone to re-register as a Decline-To-State voter. And as a club, we will not. Will Pete ask people to do that? Probably. Each of the Democratic candidates has asked people to support him when he has had the floor. So?

    A little about my personal view; I will not be re-registering myself, but let me help you understand the logic. And I have to say it doesn’t strike me as “abandoning our party”. It’s called hedging your bets. My greatest desire in this race is that we elect a Democrat to represent this district. However, if we can’t have a Democrat wouldn’t McCloskey be better than Pombo. Why not try and help McCloskey get the nomination and then work to defeat him in November? Not providing support to one of the Democratic candidates in the primary is not the same as abandoning the party. We will have a single Democratic nominee in June whether I vote for one or not. And I’m pretty sure I will do whatever I can to help that nominee get elected in November.


    Mat Atkins

    No Business Like Show Business

    I have made the contention that politics is all show business these days. Well, there is a bit more to it than that, but the "show" is a major component. I want to point out an article by Carmine Gallo in Business Week about how Steve Jobs keeps Apple exciting and in the news. I think the Dem candidates could take a huge lesson from this. They need to be SELLING themselves to the public, and they have to understand marketing and how to excite and interest the voter. So perhaps I should change my thesis to "politics is all marketing".

    How to Wow 'Em Like Steve Jobs

    Read this article. It is also interesting to note that the author, Carmine Gallo, is from Pleasanton. www.carminegallo.com.

    I strongly suggest the Dems spend some money and hire this guy or someone like him. They certainly need the pizzazz. McNerney especially has a great message and good ideas, but he needs to add "Steve Jobs" style excitement to his presentations. In other words, less PhD, more Hollywood.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    What's Wrong With Democrats For McCloskey

    As you probably know, this site’s VPO has endorsed Pete McCloskey in CD-11 and suggested that Democrats re-register for the primary as Decline To State so that they can pull a Republican ballot and vote early and often against Richard Pombo. In this spirit, he recently forwarded an email to the VotePomboOut group which was authored by Peggy Rubin of the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club extolling Pete McCloskey’s virtues. Now, it’s a free country and VPO has the right to register and vote his conscience. But the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club is chartered by the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee and, as such, is an adjunct of the Democratic Party supposedly dedicated to building the party’s base throughout the county.

    So why does it matter if Democrats in CD-11 support a movement to switch registration just for the primary? Well, for one reason, it’s important to note that many progressive activists within the Democratic Party have seen the Congressional race in CD-11 as an opportunity to capitalize on widespread disgust with Richard Pombo and have dedicated themselves to expanding and solidifying a more unified infrastructure for the party, especially in areas such as San Joaquin County where Democrats have historically been weak. True, Pombo is terrible, but so are many, many other less notorious Republicans in the Central Valley. And without a viable Democratic Party presence in the Valley, the Republicans will continue to rule the roost. So it’s more than a little disheartening to see some people, instead of working to build a strong and vibrant Democratic Party in CD-11, decide that the solution is to abandon the party in support of a charismatic cult of personality.

    Peggy Rubin put it this way:

    In the 11th Congressional District, common sense tells the majority of voters that in order for Richard Pombo to be ousted from the House of Representatives, Moderate Republicans, Democrats, Independents, “Decline to Staters”, Environmentalists, et al, are going to have to forget the things that divide us and unite at the voting booths this year. One of the most exciting, and important voices preaching the gospel of “Hands across the aisle” is that of Pete McCloskey. Former congressman, attorney, and moderate Republican, Pete said at the Peace Rally in Walnut Creek last Saturday, “I came out of retirement to get Pombo out of office.”

    I was inspired by that, and comments from my friend Margee Ensign, who is also a friend of McCloskey, inspired to invite the Honorable Pete McCloskey to be our speaker at the April 27th meeting of the SRVDC. McCloskey is enthusiastic about this effort to “reach across the aisle,” and join forces to take Pombo off the November ballot.

    I’m writing to you now to get you, I hope, to invite your uncommitted friends, and the moderate Republicans you know, to set aside the date of April 27th for a historic event in this valley – a Republican candidate for office addressing a Democratic meeting. […]

    Margee Ensign will come from Stockton and will urge others to join us. Do what you can to remind everyone that when we Americans face a challenge that affects us all, or our beloved land, we can and do set aside partisan differences to work together.


    Well. I’ve seen Pete McCloskey speak on enough occasions to know that he WILL make his pitch at the meeting of the SRVDC for Democrats to re-register so that they can support his candidacy. In an interview with the Tracy Press, McCloskey made his agenda clear:

    In the meantime, he thinks he’s got a strategy to beat Pombo. First, he’ll get out the word that Democrats and independents can still switch parties and vote him in.

    “It’s called ‘decline to state,’ and it means that people who are registered Democrat or independent can still switch and register to vote in the Republican primary,” explained volunteer Tim Aden, a graduate student at the University of the Pacific.[…]

    “We think we can get independents and Democrats to understand that Pombo is out of touch with voters in this community,” McCloskey said. […]

    “I’d do anything for Pete McCloskey,” said volunteer Celeste Gore-Schreck, a first-cousin of former presidential candidate Al Gore. “He’s my kind of politics. This is the only time I’ve ever stepped out of party lines.”

    McCloskey is hoping that others in the 11th District will follow suit and cross party lines, at least until after the Primary Election on June 6.

    And you'd better believe that there are people who hate Pombo so much that they will happily relinquish their rights and responsibilities as Democrats to choose the candidate that their Democratic Party will put forward to challenge Pombo in November.

    But let’s talk for a minute about what’s at stake in the other races in the Democratic primary. Of course, there’s the Gubernatorial race at the top of the State ticket with what promises to be a nail-biter between Phil Angelides and Steve Westly. At the Lieutenant Governor level, we have Democrats Liz Figueroa, Jackie Speier, and John Garamendi vying for the same spot. Then there’s the race for Secretary of State, an office that is critically important if you’re even a little worried about the integrity of our entire voting process. And with vacancies at Attorney General, Treasurer, State Controller, Insurance Commissioner, and even the State Board of Equalization, it is vital to nominate strong Democrats who can go on to win these important offices in November.

    Then there’s the State Legislature. SD-10 (Pleasanton and Sunol) has a hotly contested three-way race between Ellen Corbett, John Dutra and Johan Klehs. AD-10 (Lodi and a portion of Stockton) has two Democrats, Jim Cook and Kevin Tate, running; AD-17 (Tracy and a portion of Stockton) has a two-way race between Cathleen Gagliani and William Sweet; AD-18 (Dublin and part of Pleasanton) has a real scorcher with the race between Mary Hayashi and Bill McCammon; and AD-20 (Sunol and part of Pleasanton) has a race between Alberto Torrico and Ken Nishimura. Democratic candidates are running unopposed in the primary in SD-14 (Lodi, Linden, and Escalon), AD-15 (Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Danville, San Ramon and part of Stockton), AD-26 (Manteca, Escalon, Ripon, Linden, and a portion of Stockton) and AD-27 (Morgan Hill).

    So to re-cap, in the November general election the Democratic Party in CD-11 will not have just one candidate running for Congress, but candidates for virtually every position in our State government, from the entire executive branch down through two State Senators and seven State Assembly members. At a time when we desperately need to unite and build a party that can offer strong support to its chosen candidates, how could you possibly claim to be Democratic leader and simultaneously encourage Democrats to abandon their party?

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    The California Democratic Party Endorsement

    This weekend was an opportunity for Steve Filson to demonstrate that he has any sort of substantial support within the district. Specifically, a caucus of various representatives from the Democratic Party voted on whether to place a candidate on the consent calendar for endorsement by the California Democratic Party at their convention at the end of this month. Even though state Senator Mike Machado and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren both called the eligible voters on Steve Filson’s behalf, he came away with a paltry showing. Once again, we have evidence that Steve Filson’s main constituency are elected officials, many of whom don’t even live in the district. Meanwhile, Jerry McNerney made a very strong showing.

    The Process

    To begin with, let me explain the process so that the relevance of this vote can be understood. Each election year the California Democratic Party (CDP) is asked by candidates to make an endorsement in partisan races across the state. This endorsement takes on a special importance for partisan races with contested primaries. But, because of the divisive nature of primary battles, the CDP has a process that ensures that all stakeholders in the party get a chance to vote (through their representatives) on the endorsement, and that an endorsement of a non-incumbent is made only when supermajorities of the eligible voters want to give the endorsement to that particular candidate.

    This weekend was the first of two opportunities for a candidate to get on the consent calendar for the CDP endorsement on Sunday, April 30. A consent calendar is a list of uncontroversial motions that are dealt with en masse. Thus it is usually difficult to get on a consent calendar and fairly easy for those who oppose a motion to take it off the consent calendar. Specifically, for a candidate to be put on the consent calendar at the pre-endorsement meeting this weekend, the candidate had to receive 70% or more of the votes cast. And even if the candidate met the 70% threshold, any five delegates from the district to the Democratic State Central Committee (the body that meets during the CDP convention) can take that candidate off the consent calendar by challenging the placement in writing.

    For those races in which one candidate received at least 50% but less than 70% at the pre-endorsement meeting this weekend, and for those candidates who received 70% or more but whose placement on the consent calendar was challenged by five members of the DSCC, there is another opportunity to be placed on the consent calendar at the convention itself. (If no candidate in a given race received at least 50% this weekend, no endorsement will be made for that race).

    And at the convention, the threshold to be placed on the consent calendar is lowered to 60% for non-incumbents (or 50% for incumbents) of voting delegates who live in the district. (I should note for the sake of accuracy that some delegates don’t attend the convention and they proxy their vote to someone who would otherwise not be a delegate, but in that case the proxy voter is counted as if he or she were the delegate whose proxy vote he or she holds).

    If someone is placed on the consent calendar at the convention it is virtually impossible to remove them barring some huge problem with the candidate (e.g. they are a follower of Lyndon LaRouche or something similar). So if a candidate in this race meets that 60% threshold at the convention, they will get the endorsement of the state party, which is obviously huge.

    What Happened on Saturday

    On Saturday, Jerry McNerney received 27 of the 39 votes cast, with Steve Filson receiving 10 and two people voting “no endorsement.” Consequently, McNerney received 69.2% of the vote to Steve Filson’s 25.6%. (Steve Thomas either didn’t seek the endorsement or nobody voted for him).

    Now it is important to note that the universe of eligible voters on Saturday was greater than the universe of eligible voters at the convention. On Saturday all delegates to the DSCC living in the district, all members of the Democratic County Central Committees who live in the district (some of whom are also delegates to the DSCC), as could a small number of representatives from the Democratic Clubs, were eligible to vote. At the convention, only the DSCC members will have a vote. But the vote on Saturday was public, so it ought to be possible to figure out who voted for whom and see what’s going to happen at the convention.

    Still, it’s likely that at least five of those ten voters for Filson are members of the DSCC. So even though McNerney fell one vote shy of the 70% threshold, it is still likely that had he received that extra vote, he would have been removed from the consent calendar by a challenge from DSCC members and essentially put in the same place he is now. And if Filson could not find five members of the DSCC to support him now, he’s not going to stop McNerney from getting the endorsement at the convention. So I consider the simple fact that McNerney received 69% of the vote to speak volumes about the level of support for him within the district.

    This is especially true because Zoe Lofgren and Mike Machado personally called eligible voters to get them to vote “no endorsement.” They clearly knew that Steve Filson would not hit the 70% threshold and almost certainly wanted to see neither McNerney nor Filson receive 50% of the vote on Saturday, which would have ended the endorsement process and would have prevented anything from happening at the convention. So the votes that McNerney got came from people who are solid supporters and not inclined to bow to the pressure of the electeds. (I should also mention that the two “no endorsement” votes came from members of the San Ramon club, and I suspect that the votes reflect a lingering desire for Margee Ensign to still be in the race/the same dissatisfaction with McNerney and Filson that led to Ensign getting so much support in the first place. I say this because neither Machado nor Lofgren represents San Ramon, so it’s unlikely that a) they called these voters or b) that these voters would be especially swayed by these types of calls).

    Conversely, the fact that Steve Filson only received ten votes speaks volumes about how little he has expanded his base of support within the district. For all of his bluster about a growing campaign, he has really failed to demonstrate any sort of strength in the district. I mean, 25.6% is a really horrible showing. Think about it. If it were not for the two “no endorsement” voters who could have simply abstained, Jerry McNerney would have been placed on the consent calendar. Thus, Filson only managed to block McNerney on the basis of a functional coalition between people who support Filson and people who don’t support anyone. And remember, this was for a 70% threshold, which is a very high bar.

    What’s Going to Happen Now?

    As I said, above, all of this will be resolved at the CDP convention at the end of the month. Right now I cannot handicap the chance that McNerney will get the endorsement, although it’s pretty clear that Steve Filson won’t get the endorsement unless something drastic changes. I need to see who voted for whom on Saturday, and on what basis each voter was eligible to vote (i.e. whether they were eligible because they are a club rep, a DSCC delegate, or a county committee member). Also, not everyone who was eligible to vote on Saturday did vote. So it’s possible that there are some DSCC delegates who didn’t vote on Saturday but who will be able to vote at the convention. Again, I need to see a list of who voted for whom, and who didn’t vote.

    Still on a prima facie level, it looks like McNerney has an excellent shot to win the endorsement of the CDP, especially since I have heard (but I need to verify) that McNerney did especially well among DSCC delegates. I certainly know (and know of) a lot more delegates for McNerney than I know for Filson. Regardless, I think the fact that Filson’s best hope is to prevent McNerney from getting the endorsement shows that he’s in a really weak position. Yet again, for all of his rhetoric, when given the opportunity to demonstrate his “strength,” Steve Filson has failed to deliver the goods.

    (By the way, I was prompted to write this post by this diary at Calitics, which is a great community blog covering California politics).