Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Question #5 for Richard Pombo

My number one peeve about the current Congress is their shameful ethics. Never has it been more apparent that legislation is for sale.

Members are living lifestyles of the rich and famous, but not on their dime. They get it paid for by lobbyists who want something in return.

Neil Volz, who worked for Jack Abramoff, testified in court yesterday,

"When I was on Capitol Hill, I was given tickets to sporting events, concerts, free food, free meals," he testified. "In return, I gave preferential treatment to my lobbying buddies." After he left the Hill to join Abramoff, Volz said, he took on the role of doling out the favors and seeking special treatment. Source
– Washington Post

Question #5 for Richard Pombo
You received thousand dollars from Jack Abramoff and thousands more from his clients. Your staff were entertained on several occasions at Jack Abramoff’s skybox at the MCI Center.

After Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty, you donated the $7500 received directly from Abramoff to charity. Why did you not return the money that Abramoff instructed his clients to give you?

Surely, you must understand that voters don’t see much of a difference between what you received directly from Abramoff and what contributions Abramoff had directed to you.

And what about Jack Abramoff buddying up with your staff in the skybox all this time?

What did Jack get in return?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A "Hostile Takeover" of Centrism in CA-11?

David Sirota has a thoughtful analysis of the Lieberman/Lamont Senatorial race in Connecticut posted today on Daily Kos. His emphasis is on the political designations we assign to politicians today and how the semantics of the terms “moderate/centrist” and “liberal/extremist” have been co-opted by the Washington Establishment. I encourage you to read the entire post. If you’re anything like me and focused on the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo, you might easily find yourself mentally substituting “Filson” and “McNerney” for “Lieberman” and “Lamont.”

As Sirota has documented in his new book, Hostile Takeover,
Washington's definition of "centrism" is not just about promoting those who capitulate to Republicans, but more broadly, those who genuflect to the Establishment and support the hostile takeover of our government.

No matter how far out on the fringe of public opinion you may be, you are billed as a "centrist, a "moderate" or "in the mainstream" in our nation's capital if you serve as a mouthpiece for powerful interests who bathe politicians in cash, lend your support to these interests' pet causes, perpetuate their dishonest agendas, and keep telling the public that the Establishment's goals are the public's goals - even when polls clearly shows they are not. This paradigm is everywhere. Lieberman keeps getting fawned over as a "moderate"; out-of-touch, war-mongering Beltway pundits are being lauded as supposedly tough "moderates"; and corporate-funded think tanks pushing extremist economic and foreign policy agendas are applauded by pundits as "moderate" saviors. The propaganda is ubiquitous - and it goes the other way, too.

That's right, in Washington, you are labeled "liberal," "extremist" or "outside the mainstream" if you actually challenge power, debunk dishonest agendas with facts, and remind the public that the Beltway is deliberately ignoring what the vast majority of Americans want from their government. Moveon still gets slandered as supposedly out of the mainstream for its opposition to the war - even though polls show the public is just as vehemently opposed to the war. The netroots is constantly harangued by Beltway pundits as ultra "liberal" - even though the positions it supports in trying to get the Democratic Party to actually stand up for ordinary citizens is right in the center of public opinion data.

Washington, in short, deliberately tries to marginalize forces of change by slandering those forces as outside the "center." That propaganda system, not surprisingly, selects for people who refuse to challenge power. This explains why we have so many unspectacular, mealy-mouthed, power-fearing politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress (and also why there are more outspoken voices in statehouses where this propaganda system is less pronounced). But it also explains why there is so much anger at Washington brewing throughout the country. After so many years of Washington lying to people about what the "center" supposedly is, Americans are waking up. As a 2005 poll by the Feldman Group showed that a whopping 72 percent of Americans now "believe that elected officials in Washington do not see the nation's problems and opportunities in the same way they do."

That anger represents electoral opportunity for the political candidates like Ned Lamont and others who actually look at the data, reject the Beltway's B.S. and stand up for ordinary citizens. To be sure, doing that takes guts. Big Money interests have made an art out of eviscerating those who challenge them. [Emphasis added]
Gee, does this sound familiar to anyone? From day one, Steve Filson has trumpeted his “moderate/centrist” political stance, boasting of his ties to corporate diva Ellen Tauscher. Indeed, rather than introducing himself to local Democrats before announcing his candidacy, Filson flew back to Washington so that he could be vetted by Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, and the DLC/DCCC powers-that-be. Once the Beltway elite had given their stamp of approval, Filson swooped into town, cloaked in Congressional endorsements and proclaiming himself as the only “electable” candidate in the race because (a) his “moderate/centrist” political stance was the only position that would sell to the conservative voters of CA-11; and (b) he had the big-money support that would follow from being endorsed by the Washington Establishment.

As Filson’s story went, Jerry McNerney was a “fine man,” but (a) his “liberal/extremist” politics would never play in CA-11, with its 7% edge in Republican registration; and (b) he couldn’t raise the quantities of money from Washington PACs and lobbyists that would be necessary to win in a race against Pombo.

All these many months later, it’s refreshing to see Filson’s narrative exposed for the empty shell that it is.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The ethics issue

If Pombo wins this election, I would think that he should give a big round of thanks to two Democrats: Phil Angelides and Steve Westley, whose relentless negative ads has created the impression that what Pombo does is just par for the course with politicians in this day and age. The TV interviews that I saw seemed always to include at least one citizen saying that they wouldn't vote for either one of those two.

The challenge here is to make sure that everyone gets the fact that there really are alternatives, that being a politician does not mean that you are automatically corrupted, that honest politician is not an oxymoron.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Weekend Walks

Being only 10 days before election, I thought that I might get a feel for what is happening in Santa Clara County by walking around the down town during the Mushroom Mardi Gras. So here are a few disjointed observations.

On the way there, Pombo signs have begun to spring up. There were a number of them planted along the main road from 101 toward the Mushroom Mardi Gras parking. Every one of them had been placed directly in front of and obscuring a McCloskey sign. The sign wars have begun.

The Republican and Democratic Parties each had a booth with a lot of material on a lot of candidates. There was Pombo material and when I asked about McCloskey Material, I was directed to the Big Red RV that was NOT paid for with taxpayer money.

That RV was parked in the first parking space off Monterey Rd (the venue for the Mardi Gras) and it was very visible and easily accessible. Whoever parked it there did a good job.

Walking around, I only say buttons and t-shirts for McCloskey and McNerney. I also met Marty Cheek, a writer for the local newspapers over here (MH Times, Gilroy Dispach, Hollister Freelance). Marty told me that he thought Santa Clara County would go for Pete: two issues, ethics and environment.

Even the McNerney supporters were telling me that McNerney vs. McCloskey would be a win for everyone. But maybe that was only because I was wearing a McCloskey button.

Then, you may remember that Kevin posted the tepid endorsement of Pombo from the Modesto Bee. Today, they ran the following at the top of the Letters to the Editor page.

Pombo has failed to deliver

Last Updated: May 27, 2006, 08:05:32 AM PDT

About six months ago, in a letter to The Bee, I asked whether there could be a green Republican, or if the term was an oxymoron. In your endorsement of Richard Pombo, you seem to have answered that question for all of your readers.

You commented that "even a deeply flawed Pombo has more to offer the district than (Pete) McCloskey." Yet, you did not give a single reason why that should be so. Pombo consistently has told us (I live in the district) what he is doing on our behalf, and just as consistently failed to deliver. He has failed to deliver the appropriation for levee repair. He has failed to deliver (voting for HR 4437) the immigrant worker program that the Farm Bureau says is needed. He even has failed to deliver on reforming the Endangered Species Act, his No. 1 project. Why we should return a failure to Congress is something that I don't understand. Do we keep sending him back until he gets it right?

Wes Rolley, Morgan Hill


So, what did the rest of you find. Was anyone in Brentwood today?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interesting Politics

So much happening today it is hard to tell where to begin.

Pombo manages, in just a couple of days, to get yet another bill to drill in ANWR through the House. Of course, it will not make it in the Senate, again. Still, it allowed Pombo to turn out 3 press releases: introduce the bill, it is coming up for a vote today and it passed (225-201). I particularly like this quote from Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from NY, whose comments were featured in the SF Chronicle story this afternoon. Boehlert told Alaska's Don Young that had Congress passed improved auto fuel economy measures 11 years ago when they were considered, today "we would save far more oil than ANWR would produce."

I add this quote from Boehlert and the count for the vote, just to prove that this is not just Good Democrats vs. Bad Republicans but rather forward thinking legislators vs. opportunistic politicians.

Boehlert gave one Republican's view. Steve Filson had a similar view with a press release today that takes Pombo to task for failure to support CAFE statndards for gas mileage. He made exactly the same point.
If the United States Congress would implement the same efficiency standards California has in place today, the country would be using 13% less gas, saving 41,665,000 gallons every day, far more than we could ever extract from ANWR. (Full release not yet on his site.)

McCloskey and McNerney were both targeting Pombo on the questions related to his
connections to the Marianas, textile king Willy Tan and Jack, the money man, Abramoff. So far, the only comment from Pombo on this has been that McCloskey made this up "out of thin air." But both hammered him again today. (Neither have the press releases up on their site today.)

Jerry McNerney made a telling point that I have long wondered about.
"The result of this human exploitation is shocking: Forced abortions and forced prostitution," said McNerney. "Somehow, I don't think Pombo's constituents -- especially those with strong anti-abortion views -- want a Congressman whose actions directly contribute to forced abortions and forced prostitution."
These accusations against Tan Holding (were the current Governor of CNMI used to work) were part of the NPR story mentioned in my previous post on this. This is hardly thin air, though most of the local press has not touched this story, and John Upton of the Tracy Press allowed Pombo's consultant, Wayne Johnson, to get away with the "thin air" comment.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cheney "Met With Nearly Complete Silence"

Hat tip to Needlenose for
the Cheney/Pombo photo
This afternoon, the Los Angeles Times published its account of Vice President Dick Cheney’s fundraising trip through California on behalf of three Republican Congressional candidates, including Richard Pombo. It contained the following report from inside Stockton’s Fox/Bob Hope Theater last night:
Cheney stuck to his practiced role as administration cheerleader and stiletto-wielding partisan. He lauded the economy's performance under President Bush and said the country is a safer and stronger place thanks to Bush's "sound decisions" over the past five years. He called the administration's warrantless wiretapping program "absolutely vital in saving American lives."

And he all but accused Democrats of lending aid and comfort to terrorists, saying advocates of "a sudden withdrawal from Iraq are counseling the very kind of retreat that Osama bin Laden has been predicting and counting on."

The response was strikingly subdued, given the loyalties of his audiences. In Stockton, there were cheers and whoops as Cheney reeled off a tickertape of upbeat economic statistics. But his lengthy defense of the war in Iraq, his insistence "we are on the offense" and "have a clear plan for victory," was met with nearly complete silence.
So what are we to make of this stony response by the hard-core, big-buck Republican donors in CA-11?

Way back in October, Steve Filson addressed the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club and said, "It's about electability. If we wave the anti-war flag, we will lose. If we are too progressive, we will lose again." Now, there has been considerable debate since then, on this blog and elsewhere, over the question of whether Democrats in historically conservative-leaning districts should dare to call for either immediate or timed withdrawal from Iraq. Arguably, Filson has predicated his entire candidacy on his unwillingness to withdraw troops from Iraq until there is a “functional, inclusive, non-sectarian Iraqi government with an Iraqi military force able to quell domestic threats.” I mean, the ostensible raison d’etre for Ellen Tauscher, Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC to have inserted Filson into this race was the calculation that his “moderate/centrist” political views would appeal to conservative voters in CA-11. Since, in reality, just about the only substantive ideological daylight to be found between Steve Filson and Jerry McNerney is in their differing approaches to the Iraq War, we must assume that it is Filson’s refusal to “cut and run” that defines him as a “moderate."

But implicit in this debate has been the conventional wisdom that a majority Republican district encompassing a considerable portion of California’s Central Valley would be reluctant to support a candidate who was opposed to the continued indefinite presence of American troops in Iraq. Conventional wisdom has told Democrats that in order to win in a Republican-leaning district, we must camouflage our values. But what if the conventional wisdom is not just a little wrong, but a lot wrong?

Let me repeat this just for effect: “[Cheney’s] lengthy defense of the war in Iraq, his insistence ‘we are on the offense’ and ‘have a clear plan for victory,’ was met with nearly complete silence.” Silence from Republican supporters who had just paid $500 to be in the room with Cheney and Pombo. Now, if the Republican fat-cats are unhappy with the status quo in Iraq, where do you suppose the regular Republicans and the 15% Decline to States stand? Folks, it could be a whole new world out there, especially if Democrats find the courage to stand strong for their core beliefs and ideas instead of watering them down in the vague hope of broadening their appeal.

Question #4 for Richard Pombo

Here's a question that Pombo has never adequately explained. The Pombo camp's position - that they could have charged us for a jet trip, instead - is just plain arrogant. Not the kind of integrity, not the character, that you want in a representative.

Question #4
Not long ago you used taxpayer money for a family vacation in an RV to seven national parks. On your committee website you called it quote, "a family vacation".

When asked about it by reporters, you changed your story and called it a business trip. Yet, officials at two of the parks you claim to have visited say they never saw you.

If this was an official business trip, do you think it was appropriate to have taken your family along and paid for the RV with taxpayer money?

If it actually was a family vacation as you first claimed, don't you think you should reimburse the government and the tax payers for the rental of the RV?

4th of a five part series.

I'm adopting the new Dixie Chicks song Not Ready to Make Nice as my new theme song for the year.

Who in the world is Ricky (Ricardo?)


Hey, I was kidding when I suggested the Ricky was really Desi Arnaz come back to life. Then, someone sent me this image along with the claim that the guy in the white polo shirt is really a young Tom Benigno. Where or where will this lead?

Pombo's tripping on the Marianas

Someone (anonymous) from the Dump Doolittle site has posted a comment to my previous comments about Pombo and the Marianas. It deserves to come to the top level, because, according to this source, the DOJ has, for the first time, issued a subpoena for Pombo's records.

The is BIG, so follow along.

Yesterday, McCloskey stole the show from Pombo's fund raiser. He got better coverage on KGO that Pombo, who was shown walking along looking smug while Pete was willing to talk. Lisa Vorderbrueggen from the Contra Costa Times got a story out very quickly, "Cheney's visit lends support for Pombo."
Neither Pombo nor the vice president were as popular outside the theater, where several dozen protesters carried signs and chanted against the war and Pombo.

McCloskey took advantage of the media crush and delivered news interviews on the sidewalk as the crowd waited in vain for a glimpse of Cheney's first visit to Stockton.

The vice president used a back door.

"I can't imagine Cheney is helping Pombo's reputation," said McCloskey, who came out of retirement to run against the incumbent. "Cheney is less popular in California than Bush." (emphasis mine)


Still, no local reporter has picked up on the series of questions that McCloskey wanted to ask Pombo.

Questions to Congressman Richard Pombo:

1. When did you first become aware of the forced abortions, prostitution and exploitation of young women from the Philippines, China and other Pacific Rim nations in the Marianas Islands?

2. Why have you done nothing to investigate and address the Marianas' problems with forced abortions as described to the Senate by Secretary of Interior Babbitt in l998?

3. Have you ever discussed the Marianas situation with any of the men (Jack Abramoff, Neil Volz and Tony Rudy) who have now pled guilty of bribing or conspiring to bribe Members of Congress?

4. Were you ever asked by Mr. Abramoff or former majority leader Tom DeLay to hold up or block the passage of any legislation which would apply US labor and immigration laws to the Marianas? Have you ever assisted in helping to secure "earmarks" for any project in the Marianas?

5. Have you ever discussed the Marianas or Indian gaming issues with Kevin Ring?

6. Can you explain why you have declined to hold investigative hearings about Jack Abramoff's lobbying efforts with respect to Indian gaming or the forced abortions, prostitution and exploitation of women in the Marianas?

7. Do you feel that your constituents are entitled to full and fair answers to the foregoing questions, particularly prior to an election in which you seek to retain your seat in Congress?

8. Why did you vote for the rule excluding from a "yes" or "no" vote on the Shays Amendment providing for an independent House ethics agency?


But dengre, writing on Pombo and the Marianas at Daily Kos, has more information than we could possible gather ourselves.

Add this to the fact that, though the local press has not gone forward with this story, it made NPR this morning. This is interesting, as the allegations of forced abortions and prostitution that were in McCloskey's questions are validated in the NPR interview with Chris Geslin, a preacher who says that he was "drawn in" by one time DeLay staffer, Ed Buckham.

Will the religious leaders of this district take this to the pulpit Sunday?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sierra Club fighting Pombo

I am not a member of the Sierra Club, but I received the following tonight, forwarded from a member and it is about Pombo, so here is a copy. The author is:

Carl Zichella, Regional Staff Director, Sierra Club

Dear Club Member:

The Club has encouraged its members to help with the McCloskey for Congress campaign.

Pete's name may be familiar to some of you. For those of you who don't know him, he was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in 1967 and was re-elected seven times representing the San Francisco Peninsula area. He became known as the conscience of his party, opposing President Nixon on the Vietnam War, championing environmental legislation and co-chairing the first Earth Day in 1979 with the late Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Pete was an original author of the first Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, and has spent decades helping landowners (including many in your congressional district) comply with the law through his private practice as a highly respected attorney. He has served his country both in times of war and peace. As a U.S. Marine Pete received two Purple Hearts and the nation's second highest military honor, the Navy Cross for valor. Since 1994 Pete has watched with growing alarm as the GOP abandoned its conservation heritage and slid onto ethically questionable ground. The recent corruption scandals regarding the conduct of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo convinced Pete that both his party and his country were in trouble and with his experience he could contribute to getting them both back on the right track.

In contrast, his opponent, Richard Pombo, has made a career of political partisanship, questionable ethics, and adamant opposition to environmental protection. He arrived in Congress in 1992 with his top priority being to kill the ESA. He told a Senate Committee that his family was constrained in developing their property because of protections for the San Joaquin kit fox, which was flatly false. He has been responsible for efforts to sell off National Parks such as the Eugene O'Neill Historic site, and has publicly advocated selling off federal public lands in California. He has proposed legislation that undermines coastal protections, making it easier to place oil and gas rigs off our coasts by unraveling the bipartisan 30 year-old drilling moratorium. If that weren't enough, Pombo was also named one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress by the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Congress.

A new short film (around three minutes) about Pete's career has recently been produced. It is narrated by Paul Newman. Please watch the film to learn more about Pete and why we support him. You will need Quick Time to view the film, but you can obtain it for free from the iTunes website.

Thank you for your consideration. If you would like to help with the campaign, please reply to me and I will plug you in. It's time we retire Richard Pombo -- remember, California's primary is June 6!


Pombo must just love it. All of those far out, radical fringe, environmental extremists are joining in. I remember when Carl Pope said on his blog that he though Pombo had mellowed. As Babaloo posted today, not much.

More hits on Pombo

Pombo is in town, trying to pick the cash off of Cheney's coat tails. It is a good time for everyone to be on the attack.

First, McCloskey scheduled a press conference in Stockton for this afternoon. The notice went around early this AM. I hope that the main players were there, because the meat of the subject could be the makings of a Pulitzer.

Then, Tom Benigno released the recordings of a spot announcement he is getting on KSTN, hammering Pombo on ethics.

For those who care to participate in the Republican Primary, today is the last day to register / re-register. It looks like things are going to get rough down on the ranch.

Update: 9:30 PM. I watched Mark Matthews on KGO-TV (ABC-7, San Francisco) tonight. He had coverage of Stockton on the 6:00 news as almost the lead story. He showed McCloskey's strategically located mobile HQ and a clip of a comment from Pete. Then, he made the point that Pombo refused a request for an interview. Maybe it is because Pete had given the reporters some embarassing questions to ask.

The last time they were that close, it sounds like Pombo came off the worse for the encounter, bruised a bit but not beaten.

The Sacramento Bee called Pete a "blast from the past." That may be, but Pete is the kind of Republican I was when I was young and it is still where we all should be. I know a lot of "progressives" hate Condeleeza Rice, but I still remember her standing up at the convention in San Diego and telling everyone that it was the Republican Party that was registering black voters in the South. That is the party I joined once and then left. Pete stayed on and is still fighting to recapture that level of integrity.

Modesto Bee Stings Pombo

You have to check out the Modesto Bee's endorsement of Pombo in the Republican primary.

I guarantee it's one clip he won't be passing out.

It begins with:


With his close ties to disgraced Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, contributions from clients of admitted criminal Jack Abramoff, and his off-the-wall plan to sell national parks, Richard Pombo looks to be ripe for defeat in the 11th Congressional District.
And the Bee hints it may endorse another candidate in the general election:


It could be a different story in November. Then, a well-financed Democrat with distinctly differing views will present a clearer alternative. Then, Pombo will have to explain why 15 American Indian tribes, all with business before his House committee and some represented by Abramoff, have been so generous to him; why he has voted to protect oil companies' royalties and increase their profits; why he worked so hard to protect DeLay's power, and why he wanted to sell off pieces of 15 national parks.
I never thought I would get off track of my 5 questions for Richard Pombo series, to post excerpts from a Pombo endorsement.

Of course, the Bee brings up a few good questions, too.

I'll get back on track tomorrow.

Join Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund in going door-to-door to talk about Richard Pombo on Saturday, May 27, 10:00 AM and Sunday, May 28, 10:00 AM. Meet at the Defenders’ new campaign office in Pleasanton at 555 Peters Avenue. Contact Ed Yoon at Defenders to get involved.

Pombo, Oil Shale, and Ethanol

The Stockton Record’s Hank Shaw has a good article up today about how richly the oil energy companies have rewarded Richard Pombo for being their lapdog in Congress. One of the interesting things about the article, besides quantifying in print how deeply Pombo is in the pocket of Big Oil, is that the article discusses Pombo’s quixotic focus on oil shale to meet America’s energy needs. This is juxtaposed to Pombo’s rather passionless support for ethanol as a fuel. And this juxtaposition brings into stark relief how misplaced Pombo’s priorities are.

Here is how Hank Shaw begins the article (emphasis mine):
SACRAMENTO - In the 31/2 years since Rep. Richard Pombo became chairman of the House Resources Committee, he has emerged as one of the Congress' loudest cheerleaders for expanding domestic energy supplies.

Pombo's efforts have been rewarded.

Eleven cents of every dollar Pombo, R-Tracy, has collected for his re-election campaign has come from the oil and energy industry, a Record analysis has found.

That's more than $212,000, and more is expected when a new set of federal campaign-finance reports becomes public this week.


Pombo's campaign featured his efforts to increase oil shale production on the invitation to a fund-raiser headlined by Vice President Dick Cheney scheduled for today; Cheney's former employer, Halliburton Co., is one of the world's leading energy-services corporations.

Now we have known for awhile that Pombo has received a significant amount of money from energy interests. Most notably, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has run the Pombo in Their Pocket campaign to educate all and sundry about how well-funded Pombo is by various environmentally rapacious industries. But Shaw has focused his analysis on Pombo’s current re-election campaign. And I have to admit that I was startled by how much Pombo has received from the oil and energy industry even though I knew they were heavily funding him.

Furthermore, the fact that this analysis comes from the Stockton Record, a paper with a large distribution in San Joaquin Valley, and from a source that cannot be demonized as a tool of the Democrats, means that it ought to be accepted as factual even by people who are not apt to listen to anything Defenders has to say.

But I think the article gets more interesting when you look at the way Shaw contrasts Pombo’s support for oil shale with his less enthusiastic support for ethanol.

Shaw writes:
The journey into the oil fields has been unusual for Pombo, a rancher who previously had been best-known for his quest to overhaul the Endangered Species Act.

After all, hunters and ranchers in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado now use much of the land rich in oil shale that Pombo has helped create incentives to extract.

And while Pombo supports increased use of ethanol - one of U.S. agriculture's primary goals - he is not considered a player in ethanol politics.

[…]

It is in ethanol that Pombo's critics say the seven-term incumbent has abandoned his agricultural roots. A fuel containing 15 percent ethanol sold in the Midwest is running about 40 cents a gallon cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline, and the cost to outfit a new car to burn this fuel cleanly adds only about $100 to its price.

By focusing on oil, Pombo's critics say he's looking backward.

"This should be a natural for him," said energy expert Daniel Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley. "He's fighting some of the older battles."

Kammen says the barriers toward widespread ethanol use - Brazil has become almost self-sufficient with ethanol derived from sugar cane - are "ridiculously low."

Pombo says ethanol is not the sole answer to U.S. energy problems.

"Reliance (solely) on oil or ethanol is short-sighted," he said. "Neither one is the answer. It has to be a balance."

More controversial is Pombo's eagerness to tap the 1,000-foot-thick shale deposits beneath several Western states. Oil shale is notoriously tough to extract, and existing methods amount to strip mining that leaves mountains of toxic, desiccated shale leaching poisons into the groundwater.

Hunting groups such as the Colorado Mule Deer Association cite a study - commissioned by the oil industry - that shows drilling harms mule deer and pronghorn antelope herds.

Shell Oil has managed a less-nasty method, but it's not clear that experiment can be replicated on a commercial scale. It is this type of extraction Pombo says he supports; he notes that no company could win federal approval for doing it the old way, thanks to environmental law.

A Shell subsidiary recently won one of the new shale leases under a program Pombo helped create, and Shell lobbyist Jack Belcher helped organize an industry fund-raiser for Pombo in Houston last month.

Belcher worked for Pombo until 2004.
Now just on a prima facie level, we ought to recognize the juxtaposition that Shaw makes. On one side is a pursuit of ethanol that is technologically feasible (if Brazil can do it, so can we), that would benefit farmers, and that would appreciably bring down the price of gas. On the other hand is oil shale, which is experimental, which will by all accounts (we’ll get more into this later) hurt the environment and thereby piss off the hook and bullet crowd, but which is supported by Pombo’s big campaign contributors. It kind of makes you wonder why he’d be pursuing the latter much more vigorously than the former.

Now the tension of this juxtaposition is only heightened when we consider exactly how ridiculous this “less-nasty method” of oil shale extraction is.

Here is an excerpt from one of the best takedowns of oil shale that I have read. It was originally printed as an Op-Ed piece in the Denver Post.
In truth, oil shale presents a paradox. If these rocks are, as some claim, the richest fossil fuel resource on Earth, why has it been so difficult to unlock them?

The primary explanation is that oil shale is a lousy fuel. Compared to the coal that launched the Industrial Revolution or the oil that sustains the world today, oil shale is the dregs. Coal seams a few feet thick are worth mining because coal contains lots of energy. If coal is good, oil is even better. And oil shale? Per pound, it contains one-tenth the energy of crude oil, one-sixth that of coal.

Searching for appropriate analogies, we enter the realm of Weight Watchers. Oil shale is said to be "rich" when a ton yields 30 gallons of oil. An equal weight of granola contains three times more energy. America's "vast," "immense" deposits of shale have the energy density of a baked potato. Oil shale has one-third the energy density of Cap'n Crunch, but no one is counting on the Quaker Oats Company to become a major energy producer soon.

Historically, oil shale has been mined, crushed and roasted in large kilns, or "retorts." The slag, swollen in volume and contaminated with arsenic, must then be disposed. The process is so costly, laborious and polluting that global output has never exceeded 25,000 barrels a day, compared to 84 million barrels of conventional oil production.

In the last 150 years, humans have used 1 trillion barrels of conventional oil. The second trillion will be consumed in the next 30 years. Given projected demand for fuel, Royal/ Dutch Shell has been experimenting with a new way to produce shale oil, a way that is, at first glance, more promising.
Now we get to see what Shell’s plan really amounts to. And we see why it’s ludicrous for Pombo to support it over something clearly more feasible like investing in ethanol or (gasp) actually requiring better fuel efficiency in the cars we drive. (The emphasis in what follows is all mine).
The plan is audacious. Shell proposes to heat a 1,000-foot-thick section of shale to 700 degrees, then keep it that hot for three years. Beam me up, Scotty, but first share some details. Imagine a 100-acre production plot. Inside that area, the company would drill as many as 1,000 wells. Next, long electric heaters would be inserted in preparation for a multi-year bake. It's a high-stakes gamble, but if it works, a 6-mile-by- 6-mile area could, over the coming century, produce 20 billion barrels, roughly equal to remaining reserves in the lower 48 states.

Although Shell's method avoids the need to mine shale, it requires a mind-boggling amount of electricity. To produce 100,000 barrels per day, the company would need to construct the largest power plant in Colorado history. Costing about $3 billion, it would consume 5 million tons of coal each year, producing 10 million tons of greenhouse gases. (The company's annual electric bill would be about $500 million.) To double production, you'd need two power plants. One million barrels a day would require 10 new power plants, five new coal mines. And 10 million barrels a day, as proposed by some, would necessitate 100 power plants.

How soon will we know whether Shell's technology is economic? The company plans to do more experiments, before making a final decision by 2010. If it pulls the trigger, it would be at least three or four years before the first oil would flow, perhaps at a rate of 10,000 barrels a day. That's less than one-tenth of 1 percent of current U.S. consumption. But if it turns out that Shell needs more energy to produce a barrel of oil than a barrel contains, bets are off. That's the equivalent of burning the furniture to keep the house warm. Energy is the original currency; electricity its most valuable form. Using coal-fired electricity to wring oil out of rocks is like feeding steak to the dog and eating his Alpo.

In a ham-and-egg breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. With half the world's oil shale resources located here, our region is committed. Another recent report by the RAND Corp. warned that if oil shale developers "overstress the environmental carrying capacity of the area, we may never see more than a few hundred thousand barrels per day of production." Amen.

Large-scale development of the kind proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy and Pombo would be a disaster. The DOE casually dedicates all of western Colorado's surplus water to oil shale, proposes enormous open-pit mines 2,000 feet deep, and advocates retorting up to 6 billion tons of shale each year. That's twice the tonnage of all coal mined in the U.S. and China. This is not a vision, it is a nightmare.

Americans love panaceas. We want thinner thighs in 30 days, a pill to cure baldness, an ultrasonic carburetor that will double our mileage. A magic wand would be nice, because the nation faces serious energy challenges. Since domestic oil production peaked 30 years ago, the need for energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy has been obvious. Instead, like an addict on a binge, we continue to pursue a policy of "strength through exhaustion." Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before improving our woeful vehicle efficiency is one example of this brain-dead approach.

What contribution can oil shale make to energy security? Producing 100,000 barrels per day of shale oil does not violate the laws of physics. But the nation currently consumes that much oil every seven minutes. Improving the efficiency of our automobiles by 2 miles per gallon would save 10 times as much fuel, saving consumers $100 billion at the pump. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that cars, trucks and SUVs that get 30, 40 or 50 miles per gallon are doable. An aggressive national commitment to fuel efficiency is not optional, it's inevitable. In time, a more efficient fleet could save 20 times as much petroleum as oil shale is likely to ever provide.

All hype aside, oil shale is the poorest of the fossil fuels, containing far less energy than crude oil, much less even than hog manure, peat moss or Cap'n Crunch. A meager amount of energy, tightly bound up in an enormous volume of rock, oil shale seems destined to remain an elusive bonanza, the petroleum equivalent of fool's gold.

There is a certain latent potential in all of this information. Pombo has tried to foster the image that he’s a friend to farmers and ranchers. But oil shale seems like a boondoggle that will only benefit rich oil companies like Shell at great costs (both in real terms and in opportunity costs) to farmers and ranchers. You could make the case that he’s not specifically harming the farmers and ranchers in CA-11, since there are no oil shale deposits in the district and since corn-based ethanol will largely benefit corn growers in the Midwest. But the truth is that everyone’s hurting because of high fuel costs, including all of the residents of CA-11. In any event, he’s certainly showing no fidelity to those he claims to identify with, especially when compared to how faithful Pombo is to the interests of Big Oil. And you would think that someone who wears a Stetson so prominently would be interested in a process that produces energy as well as a byproduct that can be used as animal feed. Instead, he’d rather focus on oil shale production, which would require turning vast swaths of land into what amounts to a giant toaster. Apparently when it comes to energy production, Pombo is in a very literal way all hat and no cattle. I guess you don’t need any cattle when you have friends like these.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Break Out Your Orange Hunting Vest

A group of Stockton activists led by Margee Ensign and John Morearty will be leading a protest tomorrow at Vice President Dick Cheney’s Stockton fundraiser for Richard Pombo. The appearance is slated for Monday, May 22, 4:30 p.m. at the Fox/Bob Hope Theater (Main Street @ San Joaquin Street) in downtown Stockton. You can join the protest either on foot or in a vehicle.

They are asking people to WALK OR DRIVE AROUND DOWNTOWN WITH PROTEST SIGNS.

There are different protest options available for your convenience:

From 3:00 p.m. onward, you can gather near the Victory Park fire station. If you will be protesting in your vehicle, organizers will help you decorate your car. They will have signs and tape. If you will be protesting on foot, you can get signs at the park or make your own. DO NOT PUT YOUR SIGN ON A WOODEN STICK. If you do, police will confiscate it.
Park downtown. There is meter parking on south Center St. and north El Dorado, just across from the Civic Auditorium/City Hall/public library, around Martin Luther King Plaza; 25 cents an hour, ten hours. There is also a new parking garage just south of Channel St., 1/2 block north of Weber; enter on Hunter or San Joaquin Streets.

We suggest the following walking loop, for maximum visibility:
In front of the Fox, turn left/north on San Joaquin one block to Weber, turn left/west one block to Hunter, turn right/north a block and a half to the Cinema plaza, turn left/west through the plaza, turn left/south on El Dorado two blocks to the pedestrian mall south of the Bank of America, turn left/east through the Hunter Square fountain plaza and you are in front of the Fox again.

While walking, Do not obstruct pedestrian traffic. We have the legal right to walk peacefully with signs, not blocking other foot traffic!

After the walking and driving, about six o'clock, we'll gather for coffee, soda, beer and Tales of War and Peace at the Casa Flores, on the corner of Weber and Hunter streets. They also have good and inexpensive Mexican food.
Oh, and there will be a dress code. All participants are encouraged to wear orange (hunting vests preferred) in honor of “Scattershot” Cheney.

Pounding Pombo

We only have a short time left before this primary is all over. So let's get with it. There has been a lot of humor and effort here in trying to decide if Ricky is really Robert Kellar (he assures me that it is not). If as much effort had gone in to getting the word out to a wider audience about how really, really bad Pombo is, we might not be worring about what is going to happen this election.

It is really hard to get the media attention that your ideas deserve. I write a lot of letters to editors. Most do not get published. I do have some confidence that they add to the weight of opinion and help shape some editorial thinking about whether or not there is a real story here.

For example the press reacted quickly to the natural story of McCloskey, the defender of the ESA vs. Pombo, the wrecker of the ESA. They loved it. Clean, clear distinctions and easy to explain. Just get each to give you a nice quote, end of task.

But that is not really the end of the task, you have to keep score. How do you do that? How about a local, media sponsored poll? Polls cost money and the quasi polls that Newpapers run, asking people to respond with a few clicks, are notoriously erroneous. So, you keep score by looking up the Federal Elections Filings on money raised. Pombo's ahead. Big deal. Filson vs. McNerney, a more interesting case but definitely back page except on SayNoToPombo. However, that focus has left Steve Thomas on the outside of the story also.

Meanwhile, Tom Benigno, who does have some ideas and who does have a longer history of opposing Pombo than anyone else involved, is written out of the story: perennial candidate, no funding, no natural conflict like the ESA. We should be glad he is in this horse race. I have a feeling that there were two kinds of votes that he received before: I like "Tom Benigno" and 'anybody but Pombo". He will still get some of the former votes, but most of the latter will probably go to McCloskey. However, every vote that does not go to Pombo is a good vote in my opinion. So, hang in there, Tom.

As for myself, I chided Robert Kellar over the Filson PR on Pombo's ties to big oil. I still think that this was disengenuous to claim credit, as everyone has been pounding Pombo on this. However, Robert did send me a copy of Filson's February 16 PR.

Rep. Pombo on Wednesday, according to the New York Times, demanded various documents from the Department of the Interior to investigate oil and gas royalty relief he has supported in the past.

“Congressman Pombo has spent his career creating tax breaks and loopholes for the oil and gas industry,” noted Filson. “Unfortunately for the people of the 11th Congressional district, Mr. Pombo is again diverting valuable committee resources for purely political purposes.”


He has been at it longer than I gave him credit for. This is the way that Pombo needs to be treated, with the understanding that every single statement that Pombo makes in public is designed for maximum political effect. Ever action on the floor is designed to help someone.

Now, I just had note from PomboRR that has a good idea for pounding Pombo. Historically, Pombo has turned Memorial Day into a time to take credit for doing so much for our Veterans. This year, we should not allow him to get away with that. When push comes to shove and the veterans need votes, Pombo is off on vacation. Let me remind that Pomobwatch carried this in a two part installment: Veterans Shortchanged and Veterans Shortchanged Part II.

So, forget about who Ricky is. Maybe it is Desi Arnaz back to life. The real questions is whether we define how veterans are treated this Memorial Day, or does Pombo. It is is Pombo, then there are young bodies, some headed for their second or third tour in Iraq, for whom I feel very sorry. I can't imagine a real veteran like McCloskey (Silver Star, Navy Cross) or Filson, or any of the other candidates running against Pombo, who would have voted in such a two-faced, shameful manner.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Telling the truth

It is crunch time for all campaigns and that generally means it is time to role out the negative ads. In some ways, this entire blog has been dedicated to negative commentary on Richard Pombo, almost all of it justly deserved. The most recent, and effectively worded, as Kevin's posting of very targeted questions about Pombo. The one's on his connections to big oil seem to be having an effect, if only to make Pombo change some votes just so he can say that he was "not affected by contributions."

The easiest case in in the House Appropriations for the Department of the Interior. An ammendement to this bill was offered by Rep. Putnam (FL-12). We know that Florida would be as affected by off shore drilling as is California. The ammendment to block the use of funds for drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf passed by a vote of 217 - 203 and our friend Pombo was listed as NV (Not voting.). Similarly, on an ammendment that was going against the oil companies anyway, they prohibited oil and gas leases that were not a current market rices. While Pombo suported this in the Resources Committee, he voted against it on the floor, siding with N. Pelosi.

Actually, the question of how big oil is spending its mone has now gone from Pombo to the California gubernatorial campaign, with Angelides accusing Westley of making money from petro stock, and Westly firing back that Andiledes had taken nearly $500 K in contributions from big oil. I guess that the mud that is flying is drilling mud.

Still, looking at the overall record, the late campaign flip flop, (oh, I hate to use that phrase...but it is appropriate) by Pombo shows that we are getting to him and in a big way. We need to keep up the pressure and to call him on it. If we keep it up, he may even learn to love the ESA, because he has been in Congress so long that he does not remember how to run a ranch anyway.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Upcoming Ways to Fight Pombo

Here are some upcoming ways you can help fight Pombo. The first item is a non-partisan voter registration event focusing on Latinos in Tracy, led by Clean Water Fund and Working Assets. Although it is non-partisan, it’s likely that an increase in Latino registration in the district will translate into a net gain in votes for Pombo’s opponents. The second item is a series of canvasses led by Defenders of Wildlife. As always, if you need a ride to the district, or if you are driving to the district and you can give other anti-Pombo activists a lift, be sure to make use of the Left on 580 website.

Saturday May 20
This Saturday, join Clean Water Fund for a final big push to register eligible voters in Tracy. Our organizing will be concentrated on the Latino community which is often over-looked in our current political climate. We will be canvassing neighborhoods, community centers, and outside of local establishments in large effort to educate voters and show that democracy can work…when we all participate. Environmental justice and having clean water should be a right that we all enjoy.

We’ll meet for a quick training and orientation at Dr. Powers park in Tracy at 10:00 (coffee and snacks will be provided). We will then organize from 11-3:00 and help to register our fellow Californians.

Car pools will leave San Francisco (Clean Water Fund office at 111 New Montgomery street) at 9:00 AM sharp, and Berkeley/Oakland (Berkeley Bowl parking lot, near the corner of Adeline & Russell streets) at 9:15 AM sharp. Please note in the comments box on the next page if you need or can offer a ride.

It will be a fun day for all, so bring family and friends out for the day. Make sure to dress for a warm, sunny day and don’t forget…having clean water is always a good thing. Call Brett, our Outreach Director in the Central Valley, or e-mail (phone and email below) for any questions and we will see everyone on Saturday!

Contacts
Brett Richer Canvass Director, Clean Water Fund
209-552-6769 work
209-552-6769 mobile
Tracy, CA 95376
Will reply to questions within 1 day.

Will EastonManager, Working Assets
415-369-2000 work



Saturday May 27, Sunday May 28, and Thursday June 1

Canvassing to Say NO to Pombo


You don’t like Congressman Richard Pombo because:
1. Pombo is one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington according to non-partisan government watchdog groups.
2. Pombo is in the pocket of oil, chemical, mining and real estate industries, serving the interests of Big Money at the expense of ordinary Americans.
3. Pombo is the Wildlife Villain #1 who has vowed to gut the Endangered Species Act and other eco-friendly and pro-conservation policies.
4. And hundreds of other reasons.

Well then join the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund to go door-to-door with door-hangers and talk with voters about why they should dump Pombo!

When: Saturday, May 27, 10:00 AM and
Sunday, May 28, 10:00 AM
Thursday, June 1, 5:00 PM

Where: Meet at the Defenders’ new campaign office in Pleasanton!
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund
555 Peters Avenue, Suite 105
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Who: YOU and others committed to Pombo’s defeat

Contact:Ed Yoon, Campaign Manager, CA-11
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund
E-mail: EdYoon77@Gmail.com
Office: (925) 249-1615 (activated on 5/19)
Cell: (213) 503-5455

Pombo perpetuates another ESA lie

Tip of the hat to the Progressive 11th Blog for finding this Adwatch review of a Pombo campaign ad. Turns out to be another ESA lie from Pombo. Last week, it was about a mythic Elderberry bush that blocked levee repairs causing a flood that killed three people. That proved to be a Pombo fantasy. Now it is about a small bird, the California Gnatcatcher, stopping the mighty U.S. Marines from properly training for combat. (The gnatcatcher lives in coastal scrub from southern California down into Baja and is listed as threatened due to loss of habitat along the coast.)

You would have to be pretty naive to believe anything Pombo says on endangered species, or the environment in general, for that matter. That's because he is not aiming for the truth; his goal is to raise a furor of righteousness about the ESA. Pombo carefully composes these messages based on distortions, half-truths, and outright lies with the main purpose of riling up his base and promoting his extreme far-right "property rights" agenda. Unfortunately, his hard-core believers take this junk as gospel. They are not ones to let facts get in the way of a good story, which Matt has pointed out is a saying from Pombo's grandmother.

From AdWatch on the latest Pombo campaign ad: Incumbent Seeking Re-Election To House

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In this Adwatch, the focus is on an ad by Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy, who is running for re-election in next month's primary. The ad claims Pombo saved lives of U.S. Marines by taking a stand on the gnatcatcher.

To find out if that was true, KCRA 3 took a closer look.

The ad was shown to three local experts who were asked to grade it on how truthful it is, how relevant it is to the issues about which voters care, how much substance and real information the ad contains -- as opposed to fluff and image -- and how likely it is to be effective with voters at this point in the campaign.

Barbara O'Connor is a public communications professor at Sacramento State University. Steve Swatt is a political analyst and former political reporter. Bob Waste teaches public policy at Sacramento State University.

The ad begins with a dire claim about the Marine Corps' combat training grounds at Camp Pendleton in southern California. The ad states, "When bureaucrats were closing 57 percent of Camp Pendleton because of the gnatcatcher, the Marine Corps testified that training would be seriously compromised."

KCRA 3's adwatchers said the first question many viewers will probably asked is, "Because of what?"

The gnatcatcher is a tiny bird that lives in the sage brush of Southern California. The federal government has labeled the bird as threatened.

In the late 1990s, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service considered declaring parts of Camp Pendleton as critical habitat for the gnatcatcher. But KCRA 3's adwatchers have a problem with how this describes that move as "closing" parts of the base.

Swatt said the government's effort does not mean that part of the base was actually closed. It just meant that the military has to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding efforts to protect the gnatcatcher.

So for truthfulness, this ad gets a C-.

Next, adwatchers looked at how relevant the ad was to issues voters care about. Waste said the ad is relevant because voters care about war preparedness. For relevance, the ad receive a grade of B.

Next, adwatchers looked at substance. O'Connor said the ad gives the illusion of substance, complete with flip charts and somebody giving a briefing.

At this point, the adwatchers focused on the ad's claim that Pombo supposedly solved the gnatcatcher issue. Pombo claims to have kept the training grounds open and that the move saved the lives of troops.

In 2003, Pombo wrote legislation exempting all military bases from critical habitat designations. But according to documents, three year's before Pombo's legislation the Fish and Wildlife Service already decided to exclude Camp Pendleton from this critical habitat decision.

So, the adwatchers said the scene in the ad of Camp Pendleton Marines being told they couldn't train because of the gnatcatcher could never have happened.

Waste said the ad is a substantial misrepresentation by a member of Congress who should know better.

For substance, the ad got a grade of C.

On the issue of effectiveness, ad watchers said playing on voters' sense of patriotism will tap into their emotions. For effectiveness, this earned the ad a grade of B+.

In summary, here are the ratings:
Truthfulness: C-
Relevance: B
Substance: C
Effectiveness: B+

Question #3 for Richard Pombo

Richard Pombo's efforts to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, his proposals to sell off national parks, and his plans to open up thousands of acres of parkland to mining and oil interests demonstrate a wanton recklessness with our national treasures.

We need to protect the great outdoors for future generations through sound conservation and continued access. And, more selfishly, for my own continued enjoyment.

Question #3
Your many efforts to weaken our conservation and wildlife protection laws have drawn criticism from all across the country.

The San Francisco Chronicle called you the dark knight of the environment.
The Sacramento Bee referred to your proposals as "dim and slimy."
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund named you Congress's Wildlife Villain of the Year.
The Humane Society called you Congress's Leading Opponent of Animal Welfare.

When they see that your campaign contributions come heavily from groups opposed to our conservation and wildlife protection laws, why should voters believe you are not in the pocket of those contributors?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Question #2 for Richard Pombo

One of the biggest problems with the current Congress is that legislation appears to be for sale. Big oil companies seem to be getting pretty good ROI (Return on Investment) for their contributions. And remember, a part of every contribution, goes into Pombo's pocket.

Question #2
Just a few weeks ago, as Californians were paying over $3.00 a gallon for gas, you flew to Houston for a fundraiser with oil industry executives. The oil companies that have contributed over $200,000 to your campaign are making billions of dollars in profits, yet, you voted to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to those same companies and let them off the hook for polluting California. Why should voters not believe that you are in the pocket of BIG OIL?

Just whose interests, Mr. Pombo, are you looking out for?

Part 2 of a 5 part series.

PS Will work for gas.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Question #1 for Richard Pombo

I am still waiting for the press covering Pombo to do their job and make Richard Pombo answer some lingering questions. Since they aren't getting it done, we need to start pushing these questions out there.

Question #1

Over the last several years, you have paid your wife and brother over $450,000 in campaign funds; you rent a luxury Lincoln for yourself with funds from your congressional office budget; and you take a yearly vacation to Reno paid for by special interests.

Especially outrageous are the campaign payments to your wife since you have a joint checking account. The effect of this is that a piece of every special-interest campaign check you get from corporations such as Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, Anadarko Petroleum, finds its way into your pocket.

In essence, you are being paid by the very special interests you regulate. How do you justify this personal self-dealing and appearance of outright corruption to the voters of your district?

This is the first in a series of five.

Pombo in their Pocket now has our Pleasanton office up and running with Ed Yoon as campaign manager. The office number is 925 249-1626 and Ed's email is eyoon@defenders.org.

Pombo: I Am Not A Crook

Today it might be useful to take a trip in the Way Back Machine to last October, when Matt wrote a terrific post called On Pombo’s Bullshit. In that piece, Matt referred to one of Pombo’s favorite stories about his family ethos:
I have a Portuguese grandmother who used to say, "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
Well, the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Pombo family.

Richard Pombo is at it again on the issue of ethics. Under attack by not only his Democratic opponents, Jerry McNerney, Steve Filson and Steve Thomas, but also fending off charges of unethical behavior by his Republican challengers, Pete McCloskey and Tom Benigno, here’s how Pombo responded at Monday evening’s candidate forum in Tracy.
Pombo vigorously defended his record and his integrity to the audience of several hundred people, which appeared roughly split between his supporters and McCloskey’s. Pombo’s wife, Annette, and his three school-age children sat prominently in the front row […]

As for allegations that he has behaved unethically, Pombo delivered a passionate and deliberate statement: “To my family, to my friends and my neighbors, and to my kids, I have never broken any rules in the House of Representatives. I have never broken any laws. All I have done is fight for what is right.”
Wow, that really tugs on the heartstrings. Too bad it’s bullshit.

Notice how the challenge to his ethical behavior remains completely unanswered? Here’s the definition of “unethical”:
adj 1: not conforming to approved standards of social or professional behavior; "unethical business practices" [ant: ethical] 2: not adhering to ethical or moral principles; "base and unpatriotic motives"; "a base, degrading way of life"; "cheating is dishonorable"; "they considered colonialism immoral"; "unethical practices in handling public funds"
And Pombo’s response? A careful parsing of words.
I have never broken any rules in the House of Representatives. I have never broken any laws.
To purposefully conflate unethical behavior with criminal behavior is bullshit of the highest order. Pombo may not have broken any laws, but his behavior while in Congress has been clearly unethical. By changing the subject from ethics to legal technicalities, Pombo gives the appearance of having refuted his critics but has, in fact, completely dodged the accusations against him.

Just as an example, last month The Association of Fundraising Professionals publicly assailed the ethics of Rep. John Doolittle, saying
[His] practice of paying a 15 percent fundraising commission to a company owned by his wife violates the ethical standards of the industry. […]

Another professional organization, the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, similarly regards commission-based fundraising as unethical, according to the organization's Web site.

"Contracts providing for a contingent fee, a commission, or a fee based on percentage of funds raised are prohibited," it says.
Now, Richard Pombo’s wife, Annette, who sat gazing adoringly at her husband from the front row Monday evening, also works as a fundraiser for her husband and has, like Julie Doolittle, engaged in the unethical practice of commission-based fundraising. You can listen to this radio interview where Richard Pombo freely admits that he and his wife engaged in this practice. Just as a point of reference, over the last two years Annette Pombo has received $85,275 from her husband’s campaign coffers. And yet when questioned about the ethics of his wife collecting a percentage of donations made to his campaign, Pombo’s response was, of course, that he and his wife are not doing anything illegal.

Too bad Richard Pombo’s grandmother never taught the family that “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Petulant Pombo Performs Poorly at Tracy Press candidate night

Notes from May 15 Tracy Press forum for the Republican primary, with Pombo, McCloskey, and Tom Benigno in attendance:

Put it this way: If someone walked in off the street, and knew nothing about the race, he would not walk away convinced that Pombo should be re-elected. Pombo is going on the "rah-rah, hometown boy" support he has had for many years in Tracy, but I don't see him convincing any new voters with a performance like he gave last night. There were no new ideas or programs for the district. There were no calls for solutions to the district's problems, no leadership on how to improve transportation, air quality, housing affordability, or education, no programs to fight crime, no bold initiatives, nothing that would inspire someone to vote for him.

There sat Pombo, looking tired, a bit worn out, a bit bothered by the whole thing. The word that came to my mind was "petulant". "Petulant Pombo" -- irritated, annoyed. Putting up with the forum, but with a look like "why can't I be at a fundraiser right now, where everyone praises me and gives me money? I have been in Congress over 13 years, why do I still have to put with stuff like this? Why do I have to bother campaigning?"

Both McCloskey and Benigno slammed him on ethical lapses and his ties to indicted members of Congress (Tom DeLay), to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the whole Republican "culture of corruption". Pombo responded with an irritable defense of his ethics, in an "I am not a crook"-style speech.

Pombo's remarks also included frequent reminders that he grew up in Tracy and that he was fighting for what he believed in (without mentioning that those beliefs are far out of the mainstream). His family was there as were many of his local supporters. They cheered him when he spoke or when he made digs at McCloskey. Surprisingly, there were also a good number of McCloskey supporters who cheered when McCloskey spoke. The Pombo supporters were louder, but McCloskey's were not far behind.

Overall, my impression is that Richard Pombo is vulnerable. He is besieged by ethical questions and in a defensive mode. The right candidate running the right campaign through the summer and fall has a real chance of beating him. The district seems to be feeling "Pombo fatigue" and asking itself if there might be someone else they could vote for.

I mean, not everyone in the 11th District went to high school with him or knows his extended family. Those who didn't seem to be having a hard time finding reasons to support someone who has proved himself corrupt, unethical, and hellbent on rewarding his corporate contributors while overturning all of our environmental protections.

Articles on forum:
Trivalley Herald
Contra Costa Times
Stockton Record
Associated Press story
Tracy Press

Monday, May 15, 2006

Take the Marine Sanctuaries Seriously

A tip o' the hat to VPO for calling the Marine Sanctuaries isssue to everyone's attention. However, I was not surprised that only a few made comments even though Deirdre on the vpo email list saw the potential in fund raising and I know that y'all are glad to see anything that we can use.

Just to show you that the media considers this important news, let me reference a couple of additional stories:

KXTV headlines their story: Environmentalists Attack Pombo's Marine Sanctuary Bill but makes the point that...
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy and chair of the House Natural Resources is proposing significant changes to the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Pombo's HR 5018 would replace the definition of "overfished" stock to diminished stock and set less stringent timelines to replenish depleted species. The bill would remove the discretion marine sanctuary managers have to extablish rules for the waters they manage.


Then, insiderbayarea.com (Ang Newspapers) carried a similar story today, headlined Pombo bill would change control of fish sanctuaries. Again, they define the issue:
At its core, the dispute centers on what role sanctuaries play. Fishermen want access to the protected waters; environmentalists prefer to see the 13 national sanctuaries preserved as natural hatcheries that replenish ocean stocks.


Once again, as more people are beginning to realize, Pombo supports the interests of his commercial backers rather than the public.

Maybe it is time to return a few favors. Some of Pombo's $$ backing, including the trips on which he did not pay income taxes, were bankrolled by owners of Darden Reataurants. That Darden Restaurants operates "nearly 1,400 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Seasons 52 restaurants in North America..." Why would Pombo want to increase fishing? It is time to start a boycott of those two restaurant chains.

Here is what the Center for Public Integrity had to say about it.
The Pombo trips involved a subsidiary of IFCNR called the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union, which the foundation formed several years ago, according to IFCNR President Emeritus Stephen Boynton. Pombo was chairman of SUPU from its formation in 2000 until this past July. He was replaced as chairman of the group by Rep. Dennis Rehberg, a Republican from Montana.



When Pombo spoke up for increased whaling, it was for the benefit of Darden Restaurants. When he tries to open Marine Sanctuaries for commercial fishing, it is for the Red Lobster.

I have telling you all that fishing is a real issue and that fishers are a constituency that should not like Pombo. Just ask the Fish Sniffer.

What Have You Done, Mr. Pombo?

In an interview published in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle Richard Pombo assessed the Republican Party’s chances in the November election.
[T]here is a broad consensus that Republicans, facing their most dire electoral landscape in a generation, must boast of further accomplishments if they are to have a credible chance of retaining their majority in November.

"We have to produce," said Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, whose district extends into the East Bay, making him the only GOP House member with Bay Area constituents.

"What have we done on energy that produces more energy? What have we done on immigration that solves the immigration problem? What did we do on the deficit when we let spending get out of control and we ran up the deficit?" Pombo asked.
Damn straight. What have you done, Mr. Pombo?

Oh, wait, I actually do remember one outstanding Pombo energy plan. And attempting to turn illegal immigrants into felons –- wow, hold onto your hats, that’s a winning solution. And for my personal favorite, “What did we do on the deficit when we let spending get out of control and we ran up the deficit,” I can only echo Mr. Pombo in my disbelief. What the hell were you doing?

Sadly for Richard Pombo, it’s his Democratic opponent, Jerry McNerney, who seems to have the good answers.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Marine Sanctuaries under attack by Pombo

This Maui News editorial raises the alarm that a Pombo bill threatens marine sanctuaries. Let me explain:

Marine Sanctuaries are regulated under the National Marine Sanctuaries act. NOAA develops regulations "on a case by case basis, with input from fishery management councils and user groups, to meet the goals and objectives of individual national marine sanctuaries"

Commercial fishing is regulated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This Act manages all U.S. fisheries, with the exception of the fisheries located within the boundaries of national marine sanctuaries (because, obviously, those are SANCTUARIES and need special regulations).

Now, in a bill Pombo has introduced (H.R. 5018), there is a provision that would require that "any regulation proposed under the sanctuaries act for the conservation and management of fish or essential fish habitat to be consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act". The Maui News editorial accurately states that this "would gut the National Marine Sanctuaries Act".

Why even have a sanctuary if it cannot have rules that permit it to be protected and treated differently than all the rest of the ocean? It is like having a National Park, but the forests must be regulating according to timber harvesting rules of the U.S. Forest Service, not as protected National Park land. How long would trees of Yosemite or Sequoia last when treated like that?

This guy just loves to wreck any and all environmental laws, with an obsession bordering on psychotic. And of course, he gives it the Orwellian name of "American Fisheries Management and Marine Life Enhancement Act". As soon as you hear that title, you know the fish are in deep trouble. "Block the road to the beach, Pombo is coming!"

How much longer is this cretin going to be in office?

More links:

Ocean Conservancy
National Environmental Trust

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What we always knew: Pombo lies.

Well, maybe not lies. At best it is bullshit. This theme comes up again and again. PomboWatch has another take on the subtle way of doing it, called stacking the deck.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson sent out a press release where they give Pombo the credit of calling him a liar... Liars know the difference between truth and not truth, bullshitters don't care. Their headline: "It's Endangered Species Day, Pombo must be lying."
While the rest of the country is celebrating Endangered Species Day at the bipartisan invitation of the U.S. Senate, Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) is busy sending out press releases attacking the Endangered Species Act. The press has repeatedly caught Pombo lying about endangered species. Whether it's killer elderberry beetles, rampaging kit foxes, insidious manatees, or fierce flower-loving flies, Mr. Pombo just can't talk about endangered species without lying.

Just remember these words of truth from one of those "radical members of the environmental industry" as Pombo love to label them. Oh, I foget, he lies. Maybe it should be those "visionary environmental workers for a better world."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Weekend Schedule

I really wish that this election cycle were over so I can work on my other blog.

I was just wondering what everyone was doing this weekend to let Dick Pombo have a little more family time. I know what McCloskey is doing, but not the other candidates. I guess this is an invitation for everyone to chime in.

WHY WAIT TIL NOVEMBER? HELP US VOTE POMBO OUT ON JUNE 6TH!

COME JOIN US THIS SATURDAY MAY 13 AND WALK A PRECINCT NEAR YOU FOR PETE McCLOSKEY!

We have four locations where you can meet up with other volunteers to walk precincts for Pete McCloskey this Saturday, May 13. Please meet at l0:00 A.M. sharp, and you will be met by the respective town/area coordinators who will have precinct folders, maps, campaign literature and voter registration forms.

l) Morgan Hill: 2nd and Monterey Streets, at the Book Store which is on the north west corner. It's directly across the street from the Good Life Coffee Shop

2) San Ramon: Albertsons on Crow Canyon Road, San Ramon

3) Pleasanton: Amador High School parking lot, Pleasanton

4) Stockton: 9 South El Dorado (park in lot of office building Stockton.

If none of these locations are close enough to you, or if you want to work in a different town within the llth Congressional District, please contact:
volunteer@petemccloskey.com
or call Laura at (650) 917-1715