Monday, July 31, 2006

One more reason to SayNoToPombo

If you did not have enough reasons to SayNoToPombo, let me give you another. Sunday, the LA Times started a series of reports on our Altered Oceans. This is multimedia, video, charts, etc. It takes a lot of bandwidth or a lot of time to appreciate. Still, this may be the oceanic equivalent of An Inconvenient Truth.

Pombo's Resources Committee has oversight responsibility for Fisheries and Oceans. What has he been doing? Making it easier to more heavily fish for anything and more difficult to protect what we have. Sound familiar. Look at the web site that they posted for the Magnuson-Stevens Act revision. It reads like a Pombo campaign site.

Here is what the National Environmental Trust says of Pombo's legislation:

If the Pombo-Frank bill becomes law, it will reversere more than a decade of significant conservation gains in fishery management.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Melange

The East Bay Express has an article out discussing the DCCC's support (or lack thereof) for Jerry McNerney entitled “Boxed Out: Jerry McNerney kicked ass in the primary, so where’s all the love from his party?

After the primary, insiders wondered what the D-triple-C would do in the general election with Filson out of the picture. Two weeks ago, they got their answer when the committee left McNerney off a list of so-called Red to Blue candidates the organization would be backing in the coming months in its effort to recapture the House. Lefty bloggers decried the snub…

Meanwhile, the Hollister Free Lance published an op-ed last week that was harshly critical of Richard Pombo:
I believe most of us want to emulate the conservation philosophy [Cong. John F.] Lacey and [Theodore] Roosevelt established with their historic law [1906 Antiquities Act]. America must protect its heritage - both natural and cultural - as a precious resource for its citizens. One of the greatest strengths we have as a nation is our wilderness and our surrounding oceans.

Unfortunately in recent years, that strength has come under threat by politicians in Washington who have developed pay-for-play relationships with oil, logging and mining interests. Some of our elected representatives - people in positions of great political power - believe the natural environment is wide open to commercial exploitation for short-term monetary and political gain.

These representatives have been corrupted by a system in which lobbyist dollars come before democracy. Unfortunately, one of these elected officials represents the South Valley.

District 11's Congressman Richard Pombo has become a traitor to his own Republican party's legacy of conservation.
And finally, the Center for Biodiversity posted a straightforward exposé of the dishonest arguments Richard Pombo uses in attacking the Endangered Species Act:
Last Sunday, July 16, the Sacramento Bee published an interview with Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA), Congress’s most bilious opponent of wildlife protections, in which Mr. Pombo said this: “For about 90 percent of the species [protected under the Endangered Species Act], at least part of their habitat is on private property.”

It is interesting and instructive to compare this quote to a very similar statement he made last year on the floor of the House when he rammed through his bill to gut wildlife protections in the Endangered Species Act. At that point, he said: “You guys talk big about wanting to protect habitat and protect species, but 90 percent of the habitat for endangered species is on private property.”
Apparently, Pombo is either so stupid that he doesn’t understand the difference between species and habitat — or he’s hoping we’re that stupid. This article is an elegant deconstruction of classic Richard Pombo bullshit — check it out.

Oh, and feel free to use this as an open thread.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Benigno Endorses McNerney

At today’s press conference to formally announce Pete McCloskey’s endorsement of Jerry McNerney, fellow Republican primary candidate Tom Benigno also appeared to offer his endorsement for McNerney:
"I have been a Republican all of my life," Benigno said. "But Richard Pombo and his leadership have lost touch with us and it's time for the corruption to end."

Jerry McNerney welcomed their support. "I want to thank both Pete and Tom," McNerney said. "I look forward to working with them to defeat Richard Pombo in the fall."

These endorsements from both of Pombo's primary opponents spell even more trouble for Pombo's slick negative campaign. "When you combine their support, McCloskey and Benigno received almost 40 percent of the Republican vote," said McNerney spokesperson Tor Michaels. "Pombo is in big trouble within his own party and we welcome those Republicans who believe it is time for people to take our government back."

Pombo Shoots The Bull, Part 2

On Saturday, I wrote about Richard Pombo’s participation in a buffalo hunt sponsored in 2004 by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. The main focus of the post was on the fate of the humble prairie dog and how the Rosebud Sioux were hoping to enlist the aid of Pombo in their efforts to rid themselves of ESA regulations that protect the prairie dog and, in the eyes of the tribe, diminish their ranching profits. To that end, the tribe hosted a fundraiser for Richard Pombo where hunters were invited to pay $5,000 to Pombo’s Rich PAC for the privilege of shooting a buffalo from the tribe’s herd. Not coincidentally, Richard Pombo, as chairman of the House Resources Committee, not only has oversight of all policy affecting federally-owned lands, but is responsible for heading up the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

What got me thinking about Pombo’s 2004 event was the recent news that a former deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, David Smith had resigned after an ethics probe where he, too, participated in a buffalo hunt sponsored by a group who had business before his federal agency. Here’s another section from the article I quoted earlier about Smith’s encounter with federal investigators:
Smith did not pay for the hunt, the taxidermy or the 20 pounds of bison meat he put in a cooler and gave to a relative until after investigators began inquiring about the kill, according to the document, which The Washington Post obtained this week through a Freedom of Information Act request. He eventually shelled out $3,170.54 to cover the costs.
Now, the similarities between these two hunting events are striking, with only one exception that I can see.

Pombo never paid for his buffalo.

He also never reported it as a gift on his 2004 Financial Disclosure Statement. And it might be safe to assume that since he never reported the gift, he also never paid taxes on it.

It seems pretty clear-cut here. According to statements filed with the FEC, on April 26, 2004, Rich PAC posted a $5,000 contribution from the Viejas Tribal Government, which acted as a co-sponsor for the April 19 hunt. That is the only donation Pombo’s PAC received that can, in any obvious way, be connected with the fundraiser, which according to an April 20, 2004, report in the Argus Leader was sparsely attended by paying guests. As far as PAC expenditures related to this event, the only potentially related expenditures consist of two $147 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Rapid City, South Dakota, that were posted on April 27, 2004.

One other thing about this buffalo hunt is pretty clear. Thanks to the advance publicity for the event, a $5,000 price tag to take a buffalo would seem to be well established. But there is no mention anywhere in the financial records of a $5,000 payment from Pombo or his Rich PAC for the privilege of killing a member of the tribe’s herd. If Pombo paid his way on this excursion, I’m not finding any record of it.

That would mean the $5,000 buffalo was, indeed, a gift (albeit an unreported and untaxed one) from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to Congressman Richard Pombo, serving in his role as Chairman of the House Resources Committee and head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

So I’ll repeat my question from Saturday, phrasing it a little bit differently: If there are “rules banning federal officials from accepting gifts from people who are regulated by, or might do business with, their agency,” why has there been no federal investigation of this apparently unreported gift to Richard Pombo from the Rosebud Sioux?

Monday, July 24, 2006

McCloskey Endorses McNerney

The Associated Press reports that Pete McCloskey has endorsed Jerry McNerney in the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo:
McCloskey, 78, plans to urge Northern California voters who supported him in the state's June primary to vote for Pombo's Democratic opponent, wind engineer Jerry McNerney, in November.

McCloskey won 32 percent of the Republican primary vote June 6 to 62 percent for Pombo.

McNerney is "an honorable man that has not and will not seek to enrich himself and his family through his office," McCloskey said in an interview. […]

McCloskey and McNerney scheduled a press conference for Wednesday in Dublin, Calif., where McCloskey planned to make the endorsement formal.
From Pombo’s quarter came the expected sour grapes:
Throughout the primary, Pombo aides dismissed McCloskey as a Democratic Party tool. They said they weren't surprised by his endorsement of McNerney and that it wouldn't make any difference.

"He was a stalking horse for McNerney all along. Certainly nobody's going to be surprised," said Pombo consultant Wayne Johnson. "We feel very good about the fall race. "

But McNerney's campaign welcomed the development.

"Pete McCloskey almost got a third of the vote, and those are people who are moderate Republicans who are fed up with Richard pombo's corruption and his extreme positions on issues important to Americans," said McNerney's campaign manager, A.J. Carrillo.
It remains to be seen whether McCloskey will actively campaign on behalf of McNerney, but as many others, including McCloskey himself, have pointed out, it seems highly unlikely that those voters who supported McCloskey in June would be eager to rally behind Pombo in the general election. Clearly, Pombo is intent on attempting to minimize the importance of this endorsement, but there's just no good way to spin it when your opponent in the Republican primary endorses the Democrat in the race.

Can Tommy Bananas be far behind?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pombo Shoots The Bull

"For decades, the image of the buffalo has served as the official Interior Department seal. Last year, in a bill designed to protect buffalo at Yellowstone National Park, lawmakers wrote that 'more than any other animal, the American buffalo ... is a wildlife icon of the United States ....'" LINK

I came across this story, and thought I’d share it with SNTP readers. It’s the saga of one David Smith, who just resigned his federal position under, shall we say, a cloud (although the Justice Department has declined to prosecute him).
WASHINGTON -- The American bison, once hunted almost to extinction, is now so revered in the United States that its image graces the seal of the Interior Department, where it stands proudly in the shadow of mountains.

Still, a senior political appointee at the agency apparently thought the real thing might look better stuffed and mounted -- so he shot one.

David Smith, a hunter who until last Friday was deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, shot and killed a bison grazing at a friend's ranch in Texas in December 2004. He had the hoofs made into bookends and kept the skull, wrapped in taxidermy packaging, in the garage of his home.

He broke no laws by shooting the semi-domesticated animal in the head with a rifle from 50 yards away. But in a new report, Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney found Smith violated rules banning federal officials from accepting gifts from people who are regulated by, or might do business with, their agency.
So of course that made me think about another "mighty" Buffalo Hunter — Richard Pombo. A couple of years ago, Pombo participated in his own buffalo hunt, this one a fundraiser for his political action committee which was staged in his honor by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. The tribe opened their reservation and their herd to anyone who was willing to donate a hefty $5,000 to Pombo’s Rich-PAC. Those who wanted to come early were, as a bonus, invited to an extra day of prairie dog hunting.

Prairie dog hunting?

Aren’t those the cute little critters who are wait-listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act? Well, it turns out that the history of the prairie dog is strikingly similar to that of the buffalo. Once numbering in the millions, prairie dogs now stand on the brink of elimination. But rather than trying to prevent their extinction, ranchers are hoping to see this other symbol of the Great Plains disappear because of their belief that the prairie dogs lower their profits by competing with cattle for rangeland grasses.

But there are many reasons to work towards preserving prairie dogs:
With the near extermination of prairie dogs, the black footed ferret, the rarest mammal on this continent, is down to just a few pairs, most in the Conata Basin in the Badlands of South Dakota, where ranchers and politicians are doing their best to eliminate what prairie dogs remain.

Everything is there for a reason. The rattlesnake eats the prairie dog, the hawk eats the rattlesnake. Or, the ferret eats the prairie dog and is consumed by the swift fox, which is eaten by the coyote. And even though most of the remaining prairie dogs reside on public lands, a loud and persistent call to exterminate them continues.

Ranchers say the prairie dogs eat the grass intended for cattle. But just as the spotted owl wasn’t responsible for the loss of timber jobs, neither is the prairie dog responsible for harm to livestock. Researcher Dan Uresk of the US Forest Service in Rapid City, SD has produced numerous studies that show cattle gain weight faster in prairie dog towns than on rangeland…and he also found that the easiest way to attract prairie dogs…is to overgraze grasslands.

Thus, the need for the Endangered Species Act.
The Rosebud Sioux see it differently, and thus their offer to stage a prairie dog/buffalo hunt benefiting Richard Pombo:

U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo will hunt a Rosebud member's bison herd April 19 as part of a $5,000-per-person fund-raiser, the tribe announced. Pombo is chairman of the House Resources Committee, which oversees Native American affairs and environmental issues. [...]

Pombo is a leading advocate of revising the Endangered Species Act to take economic effects into account. The act is a possible impediment to Rosebud's efforts to control prairie dogs, which reduce the grazing value on as many as 50,000 acres there.

[Pombo spokesman Brian] Kennedy said Pombo would relish taking up the subject.
That’s just what the Tribe was hoping for when they offered to host the fundraiser:
Rosebud Tribe spokeswoman Rose Lafferty said the tribe was hosting Pombo largely to introduce him to issues affecting the reservation. But she also understood there were inevitable political overtones.[…]

"For us, it's not so much a campaign or fund raising as it is getting Chairman Pombo to come to our reservation," she said. "We hope he'll remember us when he gets back to Washington."
So how did it all turn out? Well, an April 20, 2004, article in the local paper, the Argus Leader, gave this version of the hunt:
[Tribal president Charles] Colombe and other tribal members took the opportunity to tell Pombo about problems on the Rosebud Indian Reservation such as underfunded health care, flaws in federal education law and prairie dogs.

And Pombo took the opportunity to hunt a bull from the tribe's buffalo herd, which ranges on about 10,000 acres of deeply rolling, pine-studded hills near the Little White River. […]

At a press agent's insistence, the tribe barred reporters from watching the hunt or the ceremony that followed. But observers said Pombo hit the bull with one shot from a 7-millimeter rifle from about 75 yards, and the bull ran a good distance before dying.
Just as a side note, what is it with these Republican politicians and their love of shooting semi-domesticated animals from close range?

Anyway, continuing on from the Argus article:
[Tribal member Russell] Eagle Bear also brought up the growing prairie dog population, which the tribe says reduces the value of its grazing land.

Pombo is a leading proponent of revising the Endangered Species Act, which protects a species dependent on the prairie dog, the black-footed ferret. Environmentalists have proposed the prairie dog itself for listing as endangered.

Pombo said he supports direct congressional appropriations to tribes for prairie dog and ferret management. Rosebud received $500,000 through that channel last year. He also said the prairie dog does not appear endangered in South Dakota.
Subsequently, as we all well know, Pombo pushed legislation through the House to destroy the Endangered Species Act. Looks like the Rosebud Sioux got their money’s worth.

The only question is if, as David Smith just learned, there are “rules banning federal officials from accepting gifts from people who are regulated by, or might do business with, their agency,” why has there been no federal investigation of this exchange of favors between Richard Pombo and the Rosebud Sioux?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Guest Post: Pombo at the San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner

This guest post is a report back from the San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner that happened last Friday. If you go to an event that relates to this race, feel free to write something up and send it to me. There’s a good chance I’ll put it up on SNTP.

Pombo at the San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner

By San Joaquin Nancy

This past Friday, our esteemed Congressman Richard Pombo was theMaster of Ceremonies at the San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner. This event was loaded with irony as some of thepeople honored and some of the topics discussed (immigration, education, and voting rights) Pombo voted against the community and in one notable vote (HR 4437) he was the only San Joaquin ValleyCongressman to do so (election year – can you spell wedge issue).

Rep. Pombo was apparently placed as the M.C. at the last minute (the program had been printed with a different M.C.). But hey it's an election year and Pombo has to make his yearly appearance. At this event of course he was wearing his "Latino" hat, seated at the front table with his entourage of campaign staff, but noticeably his wifewas not in attendance. At times Pombo seemed literally tied to chamber CEO, Mark Martinez.

At the event the new President of the chamber, Carol Ornelas talked about education and how important it was to their community and the need for access to affordable higher education. It was funny that she was mentioning this at the event, as Pombo voted to stick higher student loan rates on CD-11 residents with children in college, costing students and their parents tens of thousands of dollars more over the life of a typical student loan. How's that for making higher education more affordable.

The other notable irony at this event was the award that was given to the Businessman of the Year. This gentleman is the owner of the Cancún Mexican restaurant in Stockton. He immigrated here over 30 years ago and still has limited English. It was almost comical as here wasCongressman Pombo presenting this award and praising immigrants, just two days after voting for the amendment to rid the Voting Rights Act of bilingual ballots. This amendment (H.AMDT.1185) by Rep. King of Iowa went down 185-238. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Also of note, Jerry McNerney was in attendance and got a good reception from what I saw. He introduced himself to my table and at that time I noticed that to my immediate right, one of Pombo's district office constituent services aides was discretely snapping photos of McNerney. Seemed odd to me as this wasn't a political event per se, but I am sure she had somewhat sinister motives for snappingthe photos. I suspect the poor girl was probably instructed to get the photos for a mailer or a future TV commercial.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Blogosphere Day

Today is a very auspicious day. For those who don’t know, July 19 is Blogosphere Day. Bob Brigham, one of the granddaddies of the progressive netroots explains (hat tip Howie Klein):

On this day two years ago, Stephen Yellin used Act Blue to catapult -- and save -- Ginny Schrader's campaign in PA-08. The Beltway crowd and their targeting lists cared little for Ginny until the seat abruptly opened up. Ginny Schrader wasn't running because it a district she thought she could win, but because the district in the Philly suburbs was a critical district for Democrats to win the state and we needed to have a candidate. This 50 state perspective suddenly became relevant to the Beltway crowd when the seat opened up, but during the day that became known as Blogosphere Day the DCCC refused to say they would support Ginny. In fact, a good deal of the money raised was donated as a message to the DCCC to respect the fact that the voters in the district had voted for her to be the nominee and the will of the people should be respected instead of trying to bring in another fair weather friend candidate. It worked, the DCCC backed down and the netroots attention to the race forced the NRCC to spend twice as much money in the expensive media market as the DCCC -- money that otherwise would have been spent elsewhere.In 2005, Paul Hackett was running in another race that those in DC who only want to spend money on TV had written off. The District was overwhelmingly Republican, yet the NRCC had written a $5,000 check to Mean Jean Schmidt a month earlier, yet the only attention DC attention on our side seemed to be on the DCCC blog. But again, from within a few hours of the race opening up, blogs were following the campaign. There was a consensus that the race would be next to impossible to win, but would be a great way to test new ideas, especially the ground game. So July 19th -- exactly two weeks before the election -- was celebrated as Blogosphere Day 2005 and used to catapult the Hackett campaign (raising $100,504.47 from 1842 people by midnight). Hackett instantly became a contender, the DCCC wrote a $5,000 check the next day, and the following two weeks became the most intense netroots campaign effort that the world had ever seen. Blogosphere Day received a great deal of attention and became a netroots tradition.

Now I know this site has been suffering from a troll infestation. And I know that I haven’t been as active as I used to be. But this is still a blog goddamnit! And so let’s celebrate Blogosphere Day in style.

Our ActBlue page has been responsible for roughly 25% of Jerry McNerney’s fundraising through ActBlue. (I’m including the General Election Fund since the money went to McNerney). Collectively, we’ve raised $6,680.22 through this site. That means that we’ve given McNerney more money than most PACs. That’s an awesome figure. And it’s especially awesome when this amount came from no more than 59 donors. This compares to the $3,025.06 from 92 donors raised by the combined ActBlue page of Crooks and Liars, Fire Dog Lake, and Down with Tyranny. We’ve even raised over half as much as the Combined Netroots page has raised from McNerney. Most of these sites get as much traffic in an hour as we get in a month. So the dedication of readers of this site is amazing.

Of course, we know that Pombo is flush with cash. He has six times as much cash on hand as McNerney, and he’ll easily raise a lot more (even if he has to cancel one of his fundraisers for the sake of appearances).

So go to the Say No to Pombo ActBlue page and make a contribution today.

I hope we can hit $7,000 by the end of the day. That’s just $319.88. If we do, I’ll donate another $50 to the McNerney campaign.

Friends Like These

I’ve been thinking about those FEC numbers for a few days now, namely the numbers for Jerry McNerney and Steve Filson. All during the primary, we heard how Filson had the support of the DCCC and the Washington Establishment and how their financial backing would transform his campaign into a juggernaut that would roll over any merely mortal candidate.

That’s why I find it interesting to note that at the quarter's end, McNerney had raised $448,648 in net contributions and Filson had raised $425,795. Now, of course, I realize that we can’t ignore the three weeks between the primary and the end of the quarter. Obviously, McNerney raised quite a bit of money during that period of time, and Filson raised none, rather than vice versa; so had Filson won, the numbers would skew back in his favor.

But still… they just weren’t that far apart. McNerney’s people-powered campaign didn’t just express itself through volunteerism; the grassroots went toe to toe with the moneyed interests of the Democratic political establishment.

There is one area, though, where McNerney’s campaign didn’t live up to the DCCC’s financial standards. It didn’t cost Jerry McNerney a small personal fortune.

Steve Filson, on the other hand, came out of his campaign considerably poorer than he entered it. His FEC statement lists a total campaign debt of $56,357. Of that total, $45,000 represents money that Filson lent his campaign -- $15,000 before the primary, and $30,000 to pay off other debts since the primary. That leaves his campaign still owing $11,357. It’s safe to assume that Filson will never be repaid for the money he has loaned to his campaign. Actually, he should consider himself lucky.

Elaine Shaw, the Democratic nominee in 2002, who was also actively supported by the DCCC, had to refinance her house and still carries $266,447 in campaign debt, all in loans that she made to her campaign, none of which are likely to ever be repaid.

I certainly see lines that can be drawn and inferences that can be made in looking at these figures, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Enough Already

Okay, folks. This is it, the place where the rubber hits the road. No more recipes. And no more stupid, one-liner troll attacks. From here on out, they will be deleted.

For those of you who have wondered, “What is it with the whole recipe thing,” it is a tradition that evolved over at dailyKos. Their Scoop format, where readers are able to rate comments, has allowed the community to police the website; once a comment receives a certain number of troll ratings, it disappears. dKos diaries, however, presented a little thornier problem, since there was no ability to downrate them. Out of that dilemma was born the Kos recipe strategy: When a troll diary is posted, people respond by posting recipes, thereby simultaneously expressing their disapproval and depriving the troll of the ability to create any real discord.

Obviously, given our use of the Blogger format, we are constrained from using ratings to regulate our comments section, and our anonymous trolls seem to think it is insanely clever to post endless Portuguese recipes and comments like "Jerry McNerney is a L-O-S-E-R." It has gotten tedious.

As for myself, when I see comments that say “L-O-S-E-R” or propose a Portuguese "treat" laden with pork and lard, I just think of one thing:

Hat tip to SFBrianCL over at Calitics for the fine illustration of porcine corruption.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

FEC Filings & Open Thread

The quarterly FEC reports are finally up.

First, Richard Pombo:

His net 2nd quarter contributions were $545,099, bringing the total for this campaign cycle to $2,205,017. Pombo has taken in a lot of money, but he’s also spent a lot of money. His 2nd quarter expenditures were $408,206, and his total for the cycle have been $1,418,949. As of June 30, Pombo had $939,096 cash on hand, with $100,401 in debt.

So he effectively starts the 3rd quarter with $839,000 COH.

Now to Jerry McNerney:

His 2nd quarter net contributions came to $217,737, raising his campaign cycle total to $448,648. His 2nd quarter expenditures were $137,318, with a total to date of $312,943. As of June 30, McNerney had $151,672 cash on hand, with $47,144 in debt.

McNerney’s effective COH at the beginning of Q3 stands at $104,000.

There are, to me at least, two really compelling aspects to McNerney’s filing. One is that for this quarter, he collected $43,435 — or 20% of his total — from small donors who contributed under $200 (compared to $14,070 — or 2.5% of his total — for Pombo). The second item of interest is the strong financial support being generated by the netroots: in addition to $3,000 from Democracy For America (Grassroots All-Star contest), $5,000 from the Progressive Patriot PAC (Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriot contest), and $5,000 from the Forward Together PAC (Mark Warner’s MapChangers contest), the Netroots Candidate endorsement just five days before the quarter’s end netted approximately $11,000 (IIRC), and Say No To Pombo’s ActBlue page accounted for approximately $3,000 in this quarter.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mr. McNerney Went to Washington

Wednesday evening Jerry McNerney held a fundraiser in Washington, DC at the Cosi Restaurant. In the days leading up to the event, there were rumblings in various sectors questioning the wisdom of many aspects of this event. Some critics wondered why McNerney would bother to do a simple meet-and-greet outside of the CA-11 region; some criticized the low $25 donation; some even criticized the venue. Some encompassed all three: “There is absolutely no point in a low-donor fundraiser in DC. But hey, maybe that's their thing - it's just so crazy, illogical, and irrational that it works. Yep, could be. Now, if this event was being publicized properly and at a better place, it could perhaps turn into something (though, still not something actually worthwhile).”

Well, the event went off swimmingly, and the folks at DC Drinking Liberally checked in with the following report:
On a muggy, occasionally rainy DC night, about 70 people gathered in an upstairs room at Così coffee shop and bar to show their support for Jerry McNerney, the Democrat who’s running against Richard Pombo, the House’s foremost enemy of the environment (I announced the event earlier). Among the crowd were:
  • members of DC for Democracy and DC Drinking Liberally
  • a director of the Sierra Club
  • Ian Fried and Campbell Tyler of Blue Catapult, who presented Jerry with a check
  • staff from the Humane Society
  • the general counsel of a large California tech company, who maxed out on his contribution for Jerry
  • students from area universities
  • Helen McCloskey, wife of Pete McCloskey, the Republican who challenged Pombo in the primary
  • Hill staffers
  • Jerry’s son, Michael, a lieutenant in the Air Force
  • Jerry’s brother, John, from Connecticut
  • political organizer Christine Pelosi
  • Christine’s mother, Nancy (whom you may have heard of)
  • Rep. George Miller (D-CA-7)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9)
  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6)
  • other Democratic members of Congress

Notice some of the people who apparently weren’t there: Rahm Emanuel, Ellen Tauscher, Steny Hoyer? Whew! Suddenly my world makes sense again.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

DCCC Snubs Jerry McNerney

It probably won’t surprise any of Jerry McNerney’s loyal supporters to find out that Rahm Emanuel has taken his toys and gone home. The DCCC just announced that it is expanding its “Red to Blue” campaign. McNerney's name is conspicuous in its absence.
The committee newly identified 13 House candidates as waging competitive campaigns and deserving of additional political and financial support from the party leading up to the November elections.

These additions were the latest installment of the 2006 “Red to Blue” program established in February by the DCCC, which is trying to orchestrate the net gain of at least 15 seats needed to erase the Republicans’ current House majority.
Jerry McNerney’s courageous campaign against Richard Pombo apparently doesn’t qualify as “deserving of additional political and financial support,” despite the fact that a poll commissioned by Defenders of Wildlife two months ago showed McNerney beating Pombo by 46-42.

Frankly, I think he's better off without them.

Back in April, following the announcement of the original 22 candidates selected for inclusion in “Red to Blue,” Adam Nagourney of the New York Times wrote an article profiling Rahm Emanuel, head of the DCCC, and Charles Schumer, head of the DSCC. In his piece, Nagourney focused on the fact that both Emanuel and Schumer are hands-on control freaks who micro-manage every aspect of the campaigns that they are supporting.
Mr. Emanuel calls 40 Democratic candidates every weekend, demanding to know what they have done for him lately.

"He calls me on my cellphone just to see where I'm going," said Lois Murphy, a lawyer from the Philadelphia suburbs who is challenging Representative Jim Gerlach.

Mr. Emanuel is paternal and approving when his candidates meet his standards for raising money or zinging an opponent. He is withering when they do not. Mr. Emanuel is legendary in Washington for ceasing communications with those who have displeased him (which presumably is preferable to the time he sent a dead fish to a Democratic pollster whose work he found lacking).

"I said to every challenger, between now and March 31, besides having X dollars cash on hands, they have to have three proactive policy things that they have announced," Mr. Emanuel said. "I want to see clips. Otherwise you're not part of my red-to-blue program, O.K.?"
Charles Schumer simply takes over the control of his candidates’ campaigns — I can only assume that Emanuel operates the DCCC under the same constraints:
"We'll give you money, but you have to hire a campaign manager, a finance director and a communications director who we approve," Mr. Schumer said. "They have to toe the line."
Great guys. As we well know, once Emanuel had selected Steve Filson as his candidate in CA-11, he went all out to promote him, even taking the highly unusual step of endorsing him and including him in the initial round of candidates supported by the Red to Blue program — all during a contested primary.

Matt wrote about it at the time in his post King Rahm the Infallible:
And the saddest thing is that now that Steve Filson has been admitted to the Red to Blue program, the DCCC will almost certainly start funneling money to him. Not content to simply support him unofficially, the DCCC is now going to entangle itself in the inner-workings of a Democratic primary in CA-11. We’ll have to see how much the DCCC doles out in candidate welfare, but Emanuel seems intent to hitch Filson’s broken wagon of a campaign to the DCCC’s horses and drag him across the finish line.
Well, we all know how that turned out. In today’s announcement, Congressional Quarterly pointed out the obvious:
Inclusion on the Red to Blue list has not always translated to success at the ballot box, however. Two of the 22 original candidate inductees, both California Democrats, lost to other contenders in June 6 primaries.

Steve Filson, an airline pilot, was the DCCC-backed candidate to take on Rep. Richard W. Pombo in California’s 11th District, but he badly lost the Democratic primary to 2004 nominee Jerry McNerney, an executive of a wind turbine company.
After McNerney’s primary victory, the NRCC crowed about Emanuel’s miscalculation:
The DCCC and Rahm Emanuel were dealt a major embarrassment last night when a highly touted candidate of theirs, airline pilot Steve Filson, was trounced in the CA-11 primary by '04 nominee Jerry McNerney.
Now, you tell me. How well could this have possibly sat with a guy who’s in the habit of sending dead fish to those who displease him?

So there shouldn’t be any surprise in CA-11 that Emanuel snubbed McNerney. Indeed, there should be a giant sigh of relief that “Rahmbo” has taken his overbearing and meddlesome patronage elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ButtaPombO Smells Up Duh American Flag Wit His B.O.

The following is a guest post by Rocky Balboa:

Yo All Youse Guys in Duh Inner Circle - And Delta, Jenny, and Pretty Goil too. Its Rocky, and I ain't jest blottin I'm dealin. What a feelin I tell you, you know, when yer doin it for duh foist time. Its like I been tryin to tell duh friggin REPUBLICANSPY, if you sit back and loin from duh pros like Rocky, and follow duh rules of dis blot like Rocky, mebbe sum day you'll get to be a dealer - like Rocky. Butt no, dis guy is jest too friggin dumB.

Anyways, youse all know dat ButtaPombO and Team ButtWipe are stinkin up dis blot, all of Stockton, dere underwear, and mebbe even dere friggin birkenstocks wit dere smelly feet fer all I know. Butt I'll bet youse didn't know dat ButtaPombO is also stinkin up duh American flag - wit his B.O. And so is Annette. Youse want proof? Check out dis photo Rocky got from a friggin CIA agent:

Now dis photo wuz taken in 1994 after ButtaPombO wun his foist re-election. He hadn't yet fattened up on Jack-off's dough, and Annette hadn't yet invested in Clorox. Butt you can still recognize his ugly mug.

Anyways, duh point is dat now dis corrupt hypocrite - who ain't never soived his country - is runnin around tryin to say dat consecratin our flag should be a crime. Well puttin B.O. on our flag would be illegal unner any of dese proposed laws as Rocky unnerstands it, and in Pombo's case it should be a Capitol crime on accounta duh fact dat he's on Capitol Hill. Duh Fool on Duh Hill.

Now it also ain't escaped Rocky neither dat duh sign on duh wall behind him dat sez "SELF SERVICE" is exactly what dis guy is up to in Washington. Am I right about dis or what? He is all about soivin hisself, and Jack-off, and anywun else dat ponies up duh friggin cash to buy his vote.

Yo REPUBLICANSPY - now Rocky has you on the friggin ropes wit dis punch. One more shot from me or Mr VPO and you is outta here, and maybe it won't smell so bad in Stockton. Gettin rid of ButtaPombO and Team ButtWipe is duh fastest way to clean up duh dirty smelly air, if youse ask me. Puttin B.O. on duh American flag is friggin disgusting.

Yo Adrian! It's Rocky. I love you honey! Yo Mr BeanO - keep loinin, mebbe you can becum a dealer sum day. And to Matt and all my friends in duh Inner Circle, I jest wanna say tanks fer teachin me duh ways of blottin, and I hope you'll let Rocky deal anudder hand sumday.

Rocky out. But he's finally "in" too.

[Update by babaloo: If you've been following the comments, here's a picture of Abbie Hoffman being arrested in 1968 for wearing a flag shirt, just like Richard and Annette Pombo (oh, except for the being arrested part).]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Save the Delta

The following is not a political meeting, but what they will do has great political overtones. The more people who are involved in this process, the fewer people who will even think of voting for our favrite congressman.

Dear Friends:
Here are the logistical details for tomorrow's Restore the Delta Meeting. Please arrive at the Redwood Room at University of the Pacific at 5:45 p.m. to register. The Redwood Room is located on the second floor of the McCaffrey Center. Below you will find a link for a map and driving directions.

Best regards,
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta

If you are driving to Stockton, here are travel time estimates. In Stockon on Interstate 5, there are nine Stockton exits.

1. Use the direct route by taking the March Lane exit rather than the Pershing Avenue Exit, which is marked on I5 as an exit for the university.
If you are driving...
Then exit at March Lane and turn...
south on I-5 left at the bottom of the March Lane exit and go under the overpass.
north on I-5 right at the bottom of the March Lane exit, away from the overpass.

2. Drive east on March Lane for approximately 1.5 miles to Pacific Avenue. Turn right.

3. Drive south on Pacific Avenue about 1 mile. You will see the most prominent building on campus, Burns Tower, as you cross a bridge.

4. After the bridge, turn right at the next stoplight onto the campus.

5. Turn right again and park in front of Burns Tower. Go inside the tower to get a free visitor's parking pass, campus map, and any other help you need.

In fact, this effort may get more converts that all of the overt political actions we talk about.

Besides, you didn't think Delta would pass on this, did you?

Night of the Living Pombo

Do you remember those old zombie movies? Well, I think Richard Pombo has been channeling his inner zombie. It’s pretty easy to conjure up the image of him walking out of a field, eyes glazed over, coming to gnaw on the flesh of the Endangered Species Act. Relentless and single-minded in his purpose — nothing else matters. Just grab the Endangered Species Act and rip it apart with his teeth.

Meanwhile, the residents of CA-11 face REAL problems. According to Vision 2030, the Draft Regional Transportation Plan for San Joaquin County, the population of northern San Joaquin County is predicted to rise from 630,000 in 2005 to 1.1 million by 2030. Concomitantly, the plan predicts that the number of jobs in the County will rise from 207,000 in 2005 to 289,000 by 2030.

So okay, let’s do the math. 500,000 additional people in the next 25 years — 80,000 additional jobs. Not promising.

The solution envisioned by the Vision 2030 team assembled by the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) is transportation, and lots of it. Utilizing additional buses, rail, road expansion, and even bike paths, SJCOG’s plan foresees sending hundreds of thousands more people out of the region to find work. To accommodate this growing army of commuters, Vision 2030 estimates the price tag for needed transportation projects in San Joaquin County will top out at $8 billion over the next 25 years.

So it’s good to know that in last month’s federal transportation bill, Richard Pombo was able to bring a whopping $2.5 million to the San Joaquin County portion of CA-11 for Fiscal Year ’07. Gee, only $7.997 billion left to go.

Herein lies the problem: Richard Pombo is not doing his job. As a matter of fact, he has taken a leave of absence. You see, it’s all a matter of priorities. Richard Pombo doesn’t care about traffic — unless he can route it through his family’s property and drive up their land values; otherwise, it leaves him cold. Here’s an excerpt from a SF Chronicle interview which Pombo has proudly posted on his House Resources Committee website:
Rep. Richard Pombo, sitting in a sunny conference room at his district office in San Ramon, listens to Danville officials plead their case for more federal money for transportation projects and a new veterans memorial.

Pombo, a Republican from Tracy who's served in the House since 1993, hears dozens of similar requests every time he's back in his district. He is polite and says he'll lean on his GOP allies to help Danville, but can't guarantee every request will be met.

But when Danville mayor Newell Arnerich complains that his city and other Bay Area communities could face millions of dollars in costs to meet stringent federal environmental rules for storm water runoff, Pombo springs into action.

"If it needs a change in federal law," he said during the meeting earlier this year, "we'll have to take a look at how we can make that happen."
All that talk about transportation projects and infrastructure and funding is just soooo boring when there are environmental laws to be struck down. In fact, that nasty transportation stuff can really get in your way when all you really want to do is devote your full energies to gutting the Endangered Species Act, selling off vast tracts of National Park and National Forest lands at fire sale prices, and drilling for oil both in Alaska and off America’s coastlines.

But what, exactly, are CA-11’s residents concerned about in their everyday lives? Well, an article in last fall’s Pleasanton Weekly had this to say:
"Transportation is the No. 1 issue wherever he goes in his extensive district," said Nicole Taylor Philbin, Pombo's press secretary.
So what is Richard Pombo doing about it?
Pombo is currently on leave from the Transportation Committee, Philbin said, while serving as the chairman of the House Resources Committee […]

Philbin said a priority for Pombo as chairman of the Resources Committee is to protect property owners by revamping the Endangered Species Act.
So Pombo, who is actually a member of the powerful House Transportation Committee and thus uniquely positioned to bring vital federal transportation dollars to his district, has taken a leave of absence so that he can focus all his energies on his work at the House Resources Committee. Of course, the fact that he just happens to be raking in ungodly amounts of money from mining, timber and big oil for his campaign is just a side benefit to his passion for eviscerating environmental laws.

And as to his constituents’ traffic woes? Sorry. Pombo is focused on his main priority — how to best devour the ESA.

”Zombies, man. They creep me out.”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pombo's $90 Million Confidence Game

Yesterday I started off by saying, “Richard Pombo is a world-class lying hypocrite.” Well, I’ve had some time to reflect on that statement, and in retrospect, I may have been too kind.

If you were paying attention to the 2004 Congressional race between Richard Pombo and Jerry McNerney, you might recall that with incredibly auspicious timing, about one week before the November 2 election, Pombo joined together with Dianne Feinstein to pass a massive $395 million CalFed water bill that was widely trumpeted as a remarkable bi-partisan solution to all of California’s water woes. Among the many supposed benefits of this water bill was the authorization for $90 million to reconstruct the Delta’s crumbling levees. Here is an excerpt from the AP story about the bill that was run at the time:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush signed a landmark California water bill, committing $395 million to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that feeds the nation's most productive farm land and provides drinking water to 22 million Californians.

The bill reauthorizes the California Federal Bay-Delta Program, earmarking funding for studying new storage projects, reconstructing levees, restoring ecosystems and other needs.

Bush's signature on the bill late Monday came after six years of debate and negotiations. Attempts in past years to pass versions of the bill with much larger price tags repeatedly failed, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, shepherded it through the House and Senate in recent weeks.

The legislation authorizes feasibility studies for several major new storage projects and includes $90 million for reconstructing levees.
Sounds pretty straightforward. Now, if you're anything like me, back in 2004 you might have read that article and thought to yourself, “Well, at least Pombo finally managed to use his vast power as House Resources Committee Chairman to actually benefit his own district.” Boy, would we both have been wrong.

You see, that bill only “authorized” $90 million for reconstructing levees. Unfortunately, what it did not include was the appropriation for the $90 million to actually FUND levee repair. It was a magic trick, a sleight of hand in Pombo’s confidence game. A way to say, “Hey, look at all I’m doing” while, in effect, doing absolutely nothing. A year later, after the wake-up call of Hurricane Katrina, Pombo and Feinstein were motivated to revisit their levee reconstruction project. Last fall, Richard Pombo postured as the concerned Congressman eager to take care of his district:
“In addition to the human tragedies, a massive flood could devastate our agricultural economy the same way Katrina decimated one of America's largest and most important sources of energy,” Representative Pombo said. “I hope this terrible tragedy never happens again anywhere, but we must be prepared for anything. Maintaining and strengthening our levee system has to be a top priority for all Californians, and rest assured, Senator Feinstein and I will make sure the work gets done."
In a letter they sent at that time to Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, Commanding General of the Army Corps of Engineers, Pombo and Feinstein pointed out the similarities between the Delta and Katrina-ravaged Louisiana:
This disaster is also a wake-up call for Californians. For years, we have known about the severe flood risks we face, but like Louisiana have been unable to find the funding to do the necessary repairs.

One of our most vulnerable points is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. U.C. Davis Professor Jeffrey Mount has estimated that if we don’t take effective action, there is a 2-in-3 chance that a major storm or earthquake will cause widespread levee collapse in the next 50 years.

In other words, if we don’t address this problem, we may suffer the same fate as Louisiana -- it’s just a matter of time. A massive Delta levee failure could severely harm the area’s farms, its rapidly growing towns, and the majority of the State’s water supply, which passes through the Delta.

To address this problem in the short-term, we sponsored CALFED legislation enacted last year that authorized $90 million to repair the most vulnerable of Delta levees. We understand that so far you have identified 200 miles of the levees that are priorities to repair.

Can you tell us what else the Army Corps of Engineers has done so far to identify or address problems with Delta levees? If we were able to fund the $90 million authorization, how much of the problem would that address?
Did you catch that -- "IF we were able to fund the $90 million authorization"?

Sadly, it’s nothing more than political three-card Monte -- while you thought you were watching closely, the Congressman masterfully switched the cards. But don’t expect Richard Pombo to admit that almost two years later, there is not and never was $90 million for levee reconstruction. And don’t expect him to actually go to bat for the citizens of his district and get real honest-to-goodness funding for levee repair; he’s way too busy trying to hide the true state of affairs from his constituents.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pombo Tries To Cover Up Flood Danger In CA-11

Richard Pombo is a world-class lying hypocrite.

The following quote is taken from Pombo’s website and dated October 20, 2005:
Congressman Richard W. Pombo (CA-11) issued the following statement following today’s hearing: "Sacramento and the Delta are some of the most flood-prone areas in the Nation. It's important that we learn from our experts and from breaks that have resulted from decayed levees across the country as we look to protect our region from flooding. There's a time for talk and there's a time for action. The time to act is now."
Strong words from Richard Pombo. He reiterated his call for action on May 2, 2006:
Our Delta communities deserve real results, not just endless talk. If the Bay-Delta levees fail, human lives will be threatened and a significant percentage of California 's freshwater will be ruined," Pombo continued. "The time for action is now.”
Okay. Do you see a theme here? No time for talk. We need action. Now.

Funny, that.

You see, just a couple weeks ago, Richard Pombo led 17 other California representatives in asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay its scheduled October release of a new, updated set of flood maps which, according to the Stockton Record, ”could send shock waves through their constituencies just weeks before the November election.”

Here’s how the Tracy Press summed up the story:
Many people living along California's 1,600-mile levee system are living in a flood plain, but government maps often don't designate the area as such.

But new federal flood insurance maps coming out in October could put many more businesses and homes in the designated flood plain, forcing cities to spend millions on repairing local levees and homeowners to spend roughly $1,200 a year on mandatory flood insurance.

A group of California lawmakers led by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is hoping to stall the release of the new maps -- some think at least until the November election.

"This information is critical and must be calculated correctly," Pombo said. He, along with 17 other California congressional representatives, signed a letter to FEMA Director David Paulison asking him to postpone the release of the new maps.

"The current timelines are unrealistic to achieve that goal," Pombo said. "Coordination and outreach plans must be put into place."
I see. In other words, no need for hasty action here; let’s talk about it for a really long time -- at least through November, maybe forever. All that business about “Our Delta communities deserve real results, not just endless talk” -- urm, didn’t really so much mean it.

Because, you see, if the residents of CA-11 suddenly found out that they were going to have to pay $1,200 per year for flood insurance, they might wonder what the hell their Congressional representative has been doing in Washington for the last 14 years. I mean, besides raking in huge contributions from developers who are now fretting that they won’t be able to sell their houses once buyers realize they’re located in federally-designated flood plains.

In an editorial captioned ”Delaying Release of FEMA Maps Would Help Politicians, Not Communities at Risk”, the Sacramento Bee didn’t pull any punches last Sunday:
Much has changed since these [old] maps were drawn. In some watersheds, the spread of pavement has increased runoff downstream to other communities. Scientists have learned more about the frequency of West Coast storms. Engineers have discovered problems with levees, which provide protection for tens of thousands of homes in the Valley.

The problem is that new maps frighten local officials, such as those in Lathrop who are planning new homes in suspect areas. They alarm the mortgage industry and certain development interests, who have purchased and optioned cheap land in flood plains that could be affected by FEMA remapping.

Given the money at stake, it's highly suspicious that U.S. Reps. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and other lawmakers are urging FEMA to delay the release of preliminary maps.
Gee, do you think this could have anything to do with the $63,500 in campaign contributions that Richard Pombo has collected from the real estate/construction industries? Isn’t it time for voters to elect a Congressman whose priority is protecting the actual citizens of CA-11 instead of himself and his big-buck developer pals?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Independence from Oil-industry Shill Pombo

Pombo keeps pumping out the rhetoric about "energy independence" and getting off "foreign oil". His push is for "independence" from foreign oil, not from oil itself. This is an important distinction. His policies promote the continued inefficient use of oil, with the preference that it be American oil we are wasting. Pombo seeks to develop as many American sources of petroleum as possible, the environment, conservation, efficient-use, alternatives, and social issues be damned.

For instance, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-NY, offered an amendment to Pombo's bill to drill for offshore oil that tied it to increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles. This amendment was shot down and never made it into the final bill. Pombo is just not interested in more efficient use of oil, and has voted against every attempt to increase fuel efficiency in cars and trucks. What kind of insanity is it to push hard to drill for every drop of oil, but not to seek to use that oil efficiently? How hollow his rhetoric about "security" and "independence" sound when his only concern is drill, drill, drill.

Pombo is taking an incredibly foolhardy and dangerous approach. Not only do fossil fuels contribute to global warming (which Pombo blithely ignores), oil production is a messy and toxic enterprise. Pombo puts out the oil industry propaganda about the safety of new drilling techniques, etc., which sounds amazingly similar to what they said about the Alaskan oil industry just before the Exxon Valdez. Pombo talks about using "only 2,000 acres" in the Arctic Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, but a closer look shows that figure is grossly and deceptively underestimated. For example, the estimate only counts where an oil platform actually touches the ground, similar to claiming that a 6' x 6' table only takes up the space where its legs touch the floor. That turns a 36 sq. ft table into 0.11 sq. ft. These are the kinds of twisted figures that come from Pombo and the pro-industry, propaganda-spewing Resources Committee under his guidance.

Pombo's "energy independence" is also not a realistic goal. See this article from USA Today, for example. The whole article is worth reading, as it has production and consumption charts, and also discusses the kinds of realistic solutions that politicians carefully avoid mentioning. This was written during the 2004 presidential campaign:
Energy independence may be a pipe dream
By Tom Kenworthy, USA TODAY, Posted 10/24/2004
The presidential candidates are touting their plans to reduce the USA's reliance on foreign energy sources. Are the campaign promises simply running on empty?
Simply put, many energy executives don't believe America can free itself from dependence on foreign oil.

"We do not have the resource base to be energy independent," Exxon Mobil Corp. chairman Lee Raymond said in a recent speech. "We simply cannot avoid significant reliance on oil and gas from the Middle East."

Someone forgot to tell that to President Bush and John Kerry.

As have legions of politicians before them, both Bush and Kerry are holding out the promise of loosening the grip that foreign oil producers have on the USA. Kerry talks of independence, Bush talks of more domestic reliance.

"Together, we'll make an America that is energy independent," Kerry said last spring in Seattle.

And Bush, earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio, sang a similar tune: "To make sure our economy remains strong and people can find work in America, we must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy."

Energy experts dismiss such talk as little more than empty campaign promises that are not backed up with tough policy changes needed to make a significant difference.

"You need to understand that when they discuss energy independence it's a rhetorical gimmick," says Paul Roberts, the author of the book The End of Oil.

"It sounds good, but the truth is there is no such thing as energy independence for a country that uses as much oil as we do in the United States," Roberts adds. "They've been saying it since Nixon's time. You have to say it. It's like mom and apple pie."

That phrase "rhetorical gimmick" pretty much explains Pombo. His talk of "energy independence" is politically expedient, but completely hollow. It may sound good to his supporters, who somehow think the goal of using "American-only oil" in the vast quantities we do (21 million barrels per day) is both attainable and desirable. But Pombo's talk also satisfies another clientele of his, the large pool of oil and energy industry campaign contributers, who hold fundraisers for their loyal and reliable shill in Congress. They like a return for their money, and they don't get it from "conservation" and "efficiency" -- they get it from Pombo's bills that reward them with new drilling territory, concessions, subsidies, reduced or eliminated environmental review, and little public oversight.

Those companies sure know where to invest their dollars!