Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pombo Violates The Hatch Act

The Hatch Act is a law that was originally enacted in 1939 to limit the participation of federal workers in political campaigns. To protect the public, it was decided that the interactions between politicians and government employees being paid with public tax dollars should be subjected to very strict and very specific laws.

In 1993, Congress amended the Hatch Act to make it less restrictive. Still, there are a solid set of rules and regulations that govern political interaction with government employees, especially when they are functioning in their paid positions and in a workplace setting.
Examples of activities prohibited by the preceding restrictions include the following: authorizing the use of a federal building or office as described above for campaign activities, such as town hall meetings, rallies, parades, speeches, fundraisers, press conferences, “photo ops” or meet and greets. […]

Federal agencies should ensure that candidates who visit their facilities to conduct official business do not engage in any political campaign or election activity during the visit.
The National Association of Letter Carriers puts the issue of campaign activities a little more succinctly at their website:
Bottom Line: Be off the clock, out of the uniform (and government vehicles), and away from the work place.
That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?

That’s why, when Richard Pombo and his campaign staff paid a visit to the Stockton Post Office yesterday, the postal employees were more than a little chagrined.
Congressman Richard Pombo came to the Stockton Post Office, 4245 West Lane today. He said he was there to thank the employees for their hard work in delivering the political mail and to be ready for more to come. After a couple of speakers, Congressman Pombo went around shaking hands. Some of the employees were upset with the fact he was campaigning on the workroom floor and they were a captive audience.

Also some things said by Dan Meyers, Customer Relations Coordinator, were inappropriate and offensive. When he asked an employee what she thought about Congressman Pombo’s appearance, she asked Mr. Meyers if it was proper to allow the Congressman to be in the post office while employees are on the clock. His response to her was, “What are they going to do, slap me on the wrists?” He asked another employee after seeing Congressman Pombo, if she was now going to vote Republican.
A formal complaint filed on behalf of the Stockton postal employees by Darol Stewart, President of the American Postal Workers Union, Stockton Local 320, made the following statement:
I believe this is a violation of the Hatch Act for the Congressman to be allowed on the workroom floor to campaign during business hours. I also believe it is coercion by Mr. Meyers, who is a staunch Republican and Postal Manager, to try to persuade employees to vote in his party, while all involved were in a pay status. These employees were forced to listen to the Congressman. They were then put into the uncomfortable position of shaking the Congressman’s hand while he was allowed to roam the workroom floor.

So this is how Richard Pombo upholds the laws of our country. Last May, in his lone appearance at a public forum with his Republican challengers, Pombo, scrambling to defend himself from charges that he has behaved unethically, stated:
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.
Apparently, that’s a lie; he has broken the rules and he has broken the law. But it’s okay. After all, “What are they going to do, slap me on the wrists?”

Citizens organize for real change

One of the common themes on this blog, especially in my posts, but as a thread through others, is the fact that our Congressional representatives have failed the district, voting time and again based on their personal pocketbook without regard for the effect it might have on the citizens. A perfect example is the way that every representative in the San Joaquin Valley voted to override the protective labeling provisions enacted into law by the people of California with Proposition 65.

One of the consequences of such "vote the contribution" legislative history is the fact that the citizens of this district have learned to take these issues into their own hands. A perfect example is the newly announced web site of a non-profit organization named Citizens for Community Health and Sustainability (CCHS).

CCHS is starting to connect the dots between political action and the quality of life in the 11th Congressional District. Consider the following paraphrased from their site:
  • Lack of economic development in the Stockton/Lodi MSA means too many people have to commute to work West of the Altamont.
  • Lack of an effecient transportation system means that workers spend unnecessarily long times away from both work and family as well as creating significant auto exhaust driven air pollution.
  • Air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley contributes to an extremely high asthma rate in childresn.
  • One-third of children with asthma in the San Joaquin Valley miss 1 or 2 days of school every month, leading to more than 800,000 absences a year and a loss of at least $26 million/year for Valley schools

And what has our Congressman been doing besides grandstanding just before elections? Nada.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Member For McNerney Team

Jerry McNerney’s campaign has a new spokesman. Tor Michaels, who joined the campaign after the June 6 primary, has departed and will be replaced by Rob Caughlan.

Caughlan, a champion surfer, has a long and impressive environmental resumé as a co-founder of Friends of the River, past president of the Surfriders Foundation, and board member of the Planning & Conservation League, Center for Marine Conservation, and Solar Cal Car. His professional profile outlines his previous experience in the communications field:
[Caughlan’s] speaking skills have been polished in a career that includes communications consulting and speech writing for more than 40 political candidates, including Leo Ryan, Dianne Feinstein, Alan Cranston, Pete McCloskey, Jay Rockefeller, and Jimmy Carter. He has often served as a spokesman for environmental causes and campaigns, appearing on more than 125 radio and television news, feature, and talk programs.
Most recently, Caughlan served as press secretary for Pete McCloskey in his primary run against Richard Pombo.

War Is Hell will be releasing a report this morning to publicize the costs of the Iraq War to California’s 11th District. A group of voters from CA-11 will be meeting at Richard Pombo’s San Ramon office to deliver a copy of the report to Pombo and ask him to comment on it.
Since the Iraq war began, Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) has joined Republicans in Congress to spend more than $300 billion on President Bush’s failed [Iraq] policy… The cost of the war to taxpayers in the 11th Congressional District is more than $974 million and counting.
$974 million from CA-11 alone. Think of the ways that money could have been spent in the district to improve the daily lives of its residents. Education. Healthcare. Transportation. Levee repair.

But that is only one, easily calculable, cost of the Iraq war. The human cost has weighed even more heavily on the people of Richard Pombo’s district than the loss of valuable financial resources. Think for a moment of the soldiers from the district who died in this war, the many more who have been severely wounded and maimed. Think of the two young men who, right now, are sitting in the brig at Camp Pendleton awaiting trial for war crimes.
[War’s] glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families ... It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
William Tecumseh Sherman
I don’t know much about these two young marines sitting alone at Camp Pendleton. I do know that they are accused of participating in the murder of an innocent civilian in Iraq. I know that they have proclaimed their innocence. I know that they have families and many good friends — Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, 23, in Manteca, and Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson, 22, in Tracy. I know that their families and friends see a boy who loved poetry and video games, a kid who ran track and taught himself to play the guitar, an all-around good guy who was a co-worker at the local movie theater, a son who fed the homeless in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. They refuse to believe that their sons, their best friends, could pull a man from his home, bind his hands and feet in duct tape, push him into a hole and shoot him multiple times at close range with an M-16.

I don’t know if these young men are guilty or innocent. If they are innocent, then their country has betrayed them; and if they are guilty, their country has still betrayed them. Why? Because our leaders made a decision to enter this war of choice, to empower a bellicose and intransigent president, to continue on with no end in sight, knowing full well the terrible costs of war to all those who participate. Every student who ever sat through psych 101 knows about the Milgram experiment, knows that each of us is capable of deep, dark, horrible deeds. In the end it boils down to just one simple fact: war is hell. And yet our government continues to carelessly send our young people off to face its horrors. Before we ask our sons, our brothers, our friends, to sacrifice themselves at the altar of war, we have an abiding moral obligation to them to be certain that their suffering is absolutely and totally unavoidable. When we do anything less, we have betrayed them utterly and completely.
You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war to our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sunday On The Ranch With Jerry

Mike Eaton reports back from Sunday’s fundraiser at his ranch in Galt that there were 75 people in attendance and they raised nearly $8,000.

Thanks to all of you who came to yesterday's event or helped make it a success by sending in a contribution. I'm especially grateful to the musicians, those of you who contributed food, and the many of you who spread the word and helped build the crowd - confirming that yes, indeed, there is a progressive community in the heart of the valley!

Mike has more pictures posted here.

Stockton Record Editorial Board Smokes Crack

In an editorial last week, the Stockton Record trumpeted Richard Pombo’s proposed legislation prohibiting Indian tribes from reservation shopping. In a stunning display of either colossal stupidity or blinding dishonesty, they presented Pombo’s position in the following manner:
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has introduced his own legislation on Indian gaming at the national level. His House bill would curb so-called reservation shopping by preventing Indian tribes from acquiring property separate from land they own.

Amending the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, it would stop the practice of distant tribes in remote locales buying up land in urban centers to build gambling facilities.

Tribal leaders aren't happy with Pombo's bill.

The legislation contradicts accusations that Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, is influenced by tribal gaming groups because of campaign contributions.
The editorial goes on to crow about how this supposed willingness to act against the interests of his contributors will play well politically for Pombo by — I don’t know, demonstrating some sort of integrity?

The only problem with that analysis is that apparently the editors of the Stockton Record don’t bother to read the news. If they had bestirred themselves to pay any sort of attention to the Abramoff scandal, they would realize that the Indian tribes paying the big bucks to Abramoff and the Congressional representatives that he associated with (Pombo) were the ones who already had casinos near urban areas. They have been lobbying Pombo to protect their monopolies and to shut out impoverished tribes that have been unable to open casinos because they lack appropriate land holdings.

In naming Richard Pombo one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress last fall, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) offered this explanation:
As chairman of the House Resources Committee, Rep. Pombo is responsible for tribal related legislation. As a result, Indian tribes have invested increasingly in Rep. Pombo’s political campaigns. From the creation of Rich PAC, Rep. Pombo’s leadership political action committee, in June 2003 through the end of May 2004, the PAC received $76,500 from tribes and more from individual tribal members and representatives. So far this year, 15 tribes have contributed a total of $71,000 to Rich PAC. This accounts for three out of every four dollars raised by the PAC since January. In total, Rep. Pombo’s campaign and leadership committees have collected $221,000 from tribes since 1999.

The tribal contributions have often coincided with House Resource Committee hearings on Indian issues. For example, to prevent the Menominee tribe from buying land in Kenosha, Wisconsin for an off–reservation casino, the Potawatomi, which enjoyed a monopoly on off reservation casinos with its Milwaukee gambling hall, gave nearly $6,000 to Rep. Pombo’s campaign. A spokesperson for the Potawatomi explained that they supported Rep. Pombo’s proposal to make it more difficult for other tribes to open off-reservation casinos in the future.
Check out this list of Indian tribal donors for the 2006 campaign cycle. As a group, they’ve donated $87,400 to Richard Pombo to date. Try this simple exercise. Take the name of any one tribe at random and google it along with “casino.” In almost every case, you will find that the tribe making the donation already has a casino, and is contributing to bought-and-paid-for Pombo to protect their monopoly.

And all the Stockton Record can find to say is “The legislation contradicts accusations that Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, is influenced by tribal gaming groups because of campaign contributions.

I wonder, could they be charged with an EUI — editorializing under the influence?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Have You Had Enough?

Here’s more of Howie K’s song “Time to Throw the Rascals Out.” A Coleen Rowley (MN-02) supporter put together this video version:

In a fine demonstration of progressive activism, the person who created this clip has appended this notation to the video: “Made for easy re-editing by other Congressional Campaigns. Contact me if you'd like the video files to do a re-edit.”

Are there any McNerney supporters out there willing and able to tailor this to Richard Pombo?

How Low Can Richard Pombo Go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that mean the Grossmans will vote for Pombo?

No. They aren’t ready to go that far.

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

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

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

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Friday Melange... Sunday Version

Last Thursday, Richard Pombo appeared at a luncheon in Manteca with local business backers. The group of ordinary constituents who have called on Pombo to explain himself were there to demand some answers:

On Friday, the Progressive 11th blog called out Richard Pombo on his use of Congressional franking privileges to send out a series of mailers to his constituents that look suspiciously like campaign material. While technically falling within legal guidelines, these taxpayer-financed brochures certainly challenge ethical standards. Of course, Richard Pombo has demonstrated time and again that he has no understanding of the distinction between unethical behavior and illegal behavior:
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."
Friday was a busy day. Jerry McNerney held a fundraiser in Orinda that was attended by Rep. George Miller and Sen. Barbara Boxer. Kid Oakland was there to help prepare for the event and was inspired to write a diary for Daily Kos that was a tribute to volunteers for progressive causes everywhere. He also shared this photograph of the event:

At the same time on Friday, Richard Pombo was attending a fundraiser outside of Stockton that featured an appearance by Rep. John Boehner, the GOP House Majority Leader. Byron Roberts, one of the group of citizens from CA-11 who have asked Pombo to explain himself, joined in at the rally/protest that was planned for the event. He gave SNTP the following report:
Here's several bits about yesterday’s protest. On the positive side, about 20 demonstrators showed up, well dressed, they carried a variety of very appropriate signs, predominately "Pombo Caught Red Handed", and large red sponge hands to wave saying the same. There were no costumes, no street theater, and interestingly enough, a lot of passerby's blowing their horns in support, and giving thumbs up for the protest. Another interesting observation. For a major fundraiser with Pombo and Boehner both present, I didn't count that many cars driving into the Mega Estate of the sponsor. Perhaps 25 to 30, if that many. It was a very proper, well behaved group of protesters. The only negative side I experienced was the lack of numbers that showed up. The organizer had hoped for 75 to a hundred and only about 20 total showed. We have got to get more street support for these kinds of events, if we want to show a sense of force behind these events. Overall, it went quite well.
Yesterday, Howie K of Down With Tyranny hosted a live blogging interview with Jerry McNerney on firedoglake. Jerry did a great job fielding questions. Check it out.

Finally, this afternoon, from 4:00-7:00 there’s another McNerney fundraiser, this one at the Galt home of Mike Eaton and Charity Kenyon. State Sen. Mike Machado and Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo will be attending to show their support for Jerry. It’s not to late to join in the fun.

Friday, August 25, 2006

"It's Time To Throw Pombo Out"

Howie K over at Down With Tyranny just sent out an email talking about his ideas for a song that he’s produced. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Howie, he is a retired record company executive who has devoted himself tirelessly to taking back Congress in 2006. You can learn more about Howie and his activism in this Kid Oakland piece.

Anyway, Howie has been one of Jerry McNerney’s staunchest supporters, and he has an idea for a way that he can help out in the CA-11 race. I’ll let him explain it in his own words.
A couple months ago I was able to get Rickie Lee Jones and a couple of the guys from the Squirrel Nut Zippers do write and record a song. I want to tell you about it but please give it a listen first; it's only 2:45.

We're doing our best to get it on the radio so people start to get familiar with it and we've offered it for free download on MySpace and in 2 weeks it will be available for free on all the big digital services. The goal, though-- and why you've gotten this e-mail from me-- is a little more involved. We've made 30 second radio spots out of the song. For targeted districts, with particularly terrible incumbents and particularly excellent challengers (like Jerry McNerney taking on Dirty Dick Pombo in Northern California and Victoria Wulsin taking on Mean Jean Schmidt in Ohio) we've replaced the line "it's time to throw the rascals out" with "it's time to throw Pombo out" or "it's time to throw Mean Jean out."

The districts we're targeting are not in New York City or L.A. or Chicago or Boston or other expensive media markets. Many are in remote rural districts, what we call "dollar a holla" media markets. A very little bit of money can go a relatively long way. Our hope is to get our ads up on the radio during October. I'm trying to raise $250,000.

We all give in our own way and I'm not saying this way is better than any other way. But if you can spare some money for this, I promise you it will be used well. And, like I said, even a small contribution helps. The easiest way to donate to our Blue America PAC is to do it online through ActBlue. It's the second box, right under Mike Acuri-- Blue America PAC. If you don't like giving like that you can send a check to Blue America PAC, PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

If you want to read more about the song, I did a blog about it here.
So give the song a listen, and if you’d like to help Howie get it on the air in CA-11, go to his ActBlue page and show him some love.

[Update: I forgot to mention that Howie will be doing a live-blogging interview with Jerry McNerney as part of his ongoing series over at firedoglake tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. I know he'd appreciate it if you showed up with questions for Jerry.]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pombo: GOP Incumbent In Danger

Charlie Cook, in his Cook Political Report for August 23, tells us that Richard Pombo is in trouble.
GOP INCUMBENTS IN DANGER: Rep. Barbara Cubin’s weak showing in yesterday’s Republican primary for Wyoming’s At-large seat highlights a significant weak spot for House Republicans: the considerable number of incumbents in safe Republican districts who are struggling. Other seats in danger include Reps. Richard Pombo (CA-11), Jean Schmidt (OH-02), Don Sherwood (PA-10), Randy Kuhl (NY-29) and Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04).

Polls taken for Democratic candidates Angie Paccione (CO-04), Eric Massa (NY-29), and Victoria Wulsin (OH-02) have shown the Democrat in a statistical dead heat with their GOP opponent. A poll taken in early May for the Defenders of Wildlife in CA-11 showed Pombo running behind Democratic engineer Jerry McNerney by four points (42 percent to 46 percent). An April poll taken for Democrat Chris Carney in PA-10, showed Rep. Sherwood ahead, but under 50 percent - 49 percent to 40 percent. No Republican polling has been released in these districts.
That last sentence cuts to the chase. With all the money Richard Pombo has raised from his corporate backers, we know he’s got the money to do the polling. And we all know that if the news were good, he’d be trumpeting the results all over the district. So the only real question is just how bad his numbers are.

In the meantime, the Pombo campaign is sounding a little desperate in their efforts to round up volunteers. We know their precinct walking program got off to a poor start. And check out this latest email soliciting volunteers: “We are open every day from 10 AM until 8 PM (sometimes much later).”

Do you smell a little fear there?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Richard Pombo, Candidate for Congress

Just like yesterday, this picture doesn’t need too many words.

This is a reminder that today is the last day to cast your vote for Jerry McNerney in the DCCC’s “Candidate for Change” contest. They apparently have their own reasons, but they didn’t see fit to include Jerry’s name among “some of our hardest-working, most progressive campaigns who have shown they can win.”

But… they also left a blank space for write-in nominations. Go to their website and write in “Jerry McNerney (CA-11).” Then email the link to your friends, your family, anyone you can think of, and ask them to do the same thing. Be the change you want to see in the world. Oh, and feel free to tell the DCCC exactly how you feel.

You can use this as an open thread.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jerry McNerney, Candidate for Congress

I don't think this picture needs too many words.

Democrats: Stop, Think, Walk

So there’s going to be this rally/protest on Friday evening at a fundraiser being held for Richard Pombo. The fundraiser will take place at a farm outside Stockton, and Pombo has arranged for a special guest, House Majority Leader John Boehner (OH-08), to be present. Now, normally I’m a big fan of these types of protests — here’s a photo from another action undertaken by the same group (Tri-Valley Democrats, using materials) that does a great job of making an important point. That’s Congressman Pombo’s government-leased Lincoln Town Car with signs and giant red hands that say “Richard Pombo — Caught Red-Handed.” They’ve coordinated the right message with the right target and the right delivery. Terrific!

[CORRECTION: The "Caught Red-Handed" protest was staged by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund; Tri-Valley Dems merely posted the pictures on their website.]

That being said, I’m more than a little skeptical about the plans being made for this Friday evening:
Join fellow anti-Pombo Activist [sic] for some Street Theatre and Media Grabbing Activities near the fundraiser. We invite you to join us with signs, costumes and entertainment.
Uh-oh. Street theatre in rural Stockton? Oh, it gets worse. Here’s the list of costume ideas:
  • Endangered species - condor, polar bear, fish
  • Abramoff with a suitcase full of money
  • Snorkel and fins - levee danger
  • Surfers protest probable oil spills - bring your surf board [sic]
Not content to stop there, the organizers are encouraging participants to call the media and send in photographs of themselves in their costumes.

So great. Richard Pombo hasn’t played the “Democrats are just a bunch of Berkeley radical/enviro/extremists” theme effectively enough — now Democrats need to show up with a rag-tag group dressed in condor outfits, snorkels & fins, and surfboards to prove to every resident of the Central Valley that we’re certifiably insane? Just how hard is it to figure out what the press angle is going to be for this event? How hard is it to figure out how those images of wacky Democrats will be used by Richard Pombo?

One of the most difficult obstacles Democrats face in CA-11 is reassuring voters that our candidates can be trusted to show responsible leadership in these difficult times, that we have credible plans and we have the skills and courage to execute our vision for making America a stronger and better country. Trying to convey that message while dressed as a fish is damn near impossible.

While it may be mildly entertaining and serve to release some pent-up Democratic angst, this “street theatre/media grabbing” is incredibly counterproductive to the hard work that committed Democratic activists are putting into Jerry McNerney’s campaign day in and day out: walking precincts, registering voters, phone banking and the like. If all the people who were planning on donning their polar bear outfits and heading to Stockton Friday evening just stopped, thought for a second, and instead decided to go walk a precinct, I guarantee you we'd be a lot closer to victory in November.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pombo Transforms Himself Into Mr. Transportation

Richard Pombo spent last week focused on his new passion: the traffic woes of his district. Now that he’s in a remarkably tight race to hold onto his House seat, suddenly he’s “Mr. Transportation.” You may recall that last month I wrote about Richard Pombo’s lack of interest in working to provide solutions to the nightmares faced by commuters living in CA-11.
The 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.
But now that it's August and he realizes that only 35% of the voters in his district have indicated they would be willing to vote for him in November, he’s decided that it might be a good idea to pretend to be interested in their problems for the next 78 days. So meet the new Richard Pombo:
Incidentally, Pombo’s pollsters clearly have gotten through to him about issues his constituents care about with the November election looming. We quoted him as saying it’s [transportation] the top issue.

The U.S. mail last week delivered an official mailing from his congressional office that was all about transportation and funding. His pet project, doing necessary reforms to the Endangered Species Act, wasn’t mentioned.
Speaking of that mailer, the folks over at Nobody Could Have Predicted provided this copy of the flyer:

Funny, isn’t it, how much it resembles a piece of campaign literature. Of course, Richard Pombo has never been bashful about abusing his franking privileges and letting the taxpayers pick up the tab for overtly political mailings. But I digress.

On the heels of this mass mailing, Pombo scheduled a dog-and-pony show last Thursday where he brought out the Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino to meet with local officials and witness first-hand the gridlocked traffic on I-580/I-205 (now, according to the SF Chron, the second and third worst commutes in the Bay Area). But the local reporters weren’t as impressed as Pombo might have hoped with his recent conversion to traffic detail. Lisa Vorderbrueggen had this to say:
GOP Rep. Richard Pombo's tour Thursday with Acting U.S. Transportation Secretary Maria Cino and regional transportation leaders carried the distinct scent of politics.

Pombo, who faces Democrat Jerry McNerney in November, touted a four-point I-580 congestion relief platform that not only calls for new highways but offers strategies not often associated with Republicans: Higher investment in mass transit and carpool lanes.

"I was pretty shocked to hear him say it out loud," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, also a Republican. "He even said the word 'taxes,' when he talked about how the counties are taxing themselves for transportation projects."

McNerney, a Pleasanton energy engineer, offered a more pointed observation.

"If I was in Pombo's shoes, I would try to make myself look like transportation is my priority, too," he said. "But he's been in office for almost 14 years, and we haven't seen much from him."
Well, isn’t that the truth. Pombo’s mailer touted his accomplishments — the fact that he brought $75 million in federal transportation earmarks to the district in the 2005 Transportation Bill. However, nearly 1/3 of that $75 million went to fund the now infamous studies for building “Pombo’s Folly,” two brand-new freeways that would cost billions to build and, just coincidentally, would turn Pombo family agricultural land into prime commercial real estate.

Whenever you hear a claim like that — “I brought $75 million in transportation funding to the district” — don’t you kind of wonder what the REAL story is? In the case of the 2005 Transportation Bill, the Associated Press broke down the data, rating each California county by the number of federal dollars it actually received and then extrapolating a per capita spending rate and ranking the counties in order. Number one was Kern County, with $727 million; number two was San Francisco, with $314 million. San Joaquin County was a lowly 32nd out of 58 counties; Alameda was 33rd. Considering that they are represented by one of the most powerful men in Congress, one who, if he cared enough to show up, sits on the House Transportation Committee, that is a pretty poor showing. That’s why it’s simultaneously shocking and sad that Richard Pombo is out there desperately running as “Mr. Transportation.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Richard Pombo is George Bush's Lapdog

Over on Daily Kos last month, arubyan wrote this diary about a campaign video that he/she created and posted on YouTube. He came up with a generic formula where individual Democratic candidates could be dropped into the same narrative, and the McNerney/Pombo race was the specific example that he used. I’ll let him explain his theory in his own words:
I did this video on my own because I wanted to illustrate a simple formula that I've been preaching about for weeks:
  1. Bush = Bad
  2. Republican Incumbent = Bush
  3. Therefore...
  4. Republican Incumbent = Bad.
  5. Had Enough?
  6. Vote for Change, Vote Democratic, Vote for McNerney
Now, when I read that diary and watched the video, I was pretty deeply impressed.

So fast forward six weeks. On Thursday, I read this post by the folks at MyDD. A couple of weeks after releasing the MyDD/Courage Campaign polling data from Francine Busby’s CA-50 race in June, MyDD was back with an in-depth analysis of the information and what Democrats can learn from that election that can be applied to Congressional races across the country. I’m pretty sure the lessons aren’t exactly what you expected; nevertheless, they resonate strongly.

And they got me thinking again about arubyan’s video. I believe he instinctively nailed it. Now, six weeks later, along comes the polling data to support him. Don't you just love it when your gut feelings are totally validated?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Six Ways To Help Jerry This Weekend

This announcement just arrived from the folks at Project BlueBridge, and I wanted to pass it on. There are just a head-spinning number of ways this weekend to Say No To Pombo. Wow!
The McNerney campaign is launching 5 canvasses from 3 locations this Saturday. This is the first in an all out blitz of CD11. Canvassers will be leaving from Stockton, Tracy and Dublin. The walk times have been scheduled to reach the maximum number of “at-homes” so your efforts will produce the maximum results. Canvassers will be registering and ID-ing voters and getting Jerry’s name out.

If you’ve joined us before…come on back. If you haven’t jumped in yet…now is the time to start. Last week just one person registered 12 voters and talked 2 sets of voters to register at their new homes so their vote could help oust Pombo. Just think what 20 people can do. Please click on the link below and follow the instructions for RSVPing. You might also include your location and whether you can host a carpool.

Jerry McNerney’s Weblog

Going forward, the campaign is planning canvassing from each of the 3 locations every weekend until the election. Head on out there and stay tuned for PBB carpools.

Saturdays 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm (as daylight permits)
Sundays – 4pm to 8pm

The sixth way to help
Join The Defenders of Wildlife Saturday canvass which occurs weekly until the election. They are targeting a crucial group of voters – “Decline to States” and Republicans. The goals are to persuade voters to vote for McNerney or at least not to vote for Pombo, one of the 13 of most corrupt members of Congress per a non-partisan watchdog group. BlueBridge will be sponsoring other canvassing events with the Defenders of Wildlife, or, to sign on directly to help the Defenders in Pleasanton this (or any) Saturday, contact Ed Yoon at or (925) 249-1615

Jerry also needs phone bankers Friday the 18th and Monday the 21st:

The McNerney campaign needs phone-bankers tomorrow (Friday) from 10-5 and Monday from 10-8 in their Dublin office to call prospective donors about attending an upcoming fundraiser in Orinda sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer. We would be calling people who have already received an invitation and will be leaving messages on answering machines.

The fundraiser is next Friday, August 25, from 5 – 7 pm at the Orinda Masonic Center, 9 Altarinda Road.

If you can help support this event by phone-banking, please call (925) 833-0643 and let the campaign know. The Dublin office is at 6250 Village Parkway (but don't use Mapquest). The campaign can pick you up at the Dublin BART station.
Okay. So I’m not sure exactly how they counted to six, but hey, I’m game. If you’ve been wondering what you can do to help defeat Pombo, problem solved!

Friday Melange

The DCCC has announced an online contest to name their “Candidate for Change.” They have provided a list of Congressional candidates which includes their special choices from the “Red to Blue” program. Though they have omitted Jerry McNerney’s name from this list, they have provided a box at the bottom where people can write in their preferred candidate.

So what are you waiting for? Get on over there and write in “Jerry McNerney (CA-11).” Then pass on the link to a bunch of your friends — let’s go viral on them!

Meanwhile, for your end-of-the-week entertainment, we have a couple of videos for your enjoyment. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has produced two new commercials focusing on Richard Pombo and his misuse of taxpayer funds to rent an RV for a family vacation. The first one is titled “The Office.”

The second commercial is in the same vein and is called “The Principal.”

You can use this as an open thread.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why won't he answer a simple question?

The Pombo campaign is making a big deal out of McNerney's changing some answers to questons posed at Project Vote Smart. The press is having a field day with this, especially Lisa Vorderbrueggen in the Contra Costa Times. The picture is not flattering.

However, Lisa also shared the reply to this from Pete McCloskey, one time Republican Primary opponent of Richard Pombo. She says that "I thought readers would be interested in the letter, although the text probably doesn't do justice to McCloskey's subtle and clever use of sarcasm." I fully agree with her on that. However, I wish that she had given it the prominence of her orginal column. As is, stuck away in her blog and not in print as the column is, it might be missed and that would be a loss for all.

McCloskey's question is truly a very fundamental one for this election. Why does Pombo not answer the same set of questions? Doe he not have a position without asking his employers? (Just don't think that the voters in this district are his real employers. We only pay a fraction of his salary.)

This is really a pattern for our Congressman. Lisa was the moderator of a panel on the election jointly sponsored by the Contra Costa Times and the League of Women Voters. It just took place without Pombo and one of his handlers claimed that the format was "too much like a debate." When a group of his constituents visited his office and faxed a request to meet with him to get answers to some other questions, he again refused. Do you begin to see a pattern here?

He believes in the mushroom theory of voter education. Keep them in the dark and once in a while open the door and shovel in some BS. (Gee I bet Rocky would have had a ball with that opening.)

Porky Pombo

In a recent press release regarding the decision by BP to shut down its Prudhoe Bay oil pipeline, Richard Pombo’s House Resources Committee hastened to spin out a story placing the blame for the shutdown and subsequent oil supply disruption at the feet of ANWR and Coastal drilling critics. Quoting Pombo, the statement made the following claim:
“[O]utdated federal laws have red-taped this country into dangerous supply-shortage vulnerabilities and many in Congress have willfully and repeatedly refused to do anything about it. This disruption is yet another stark reminder that America needs more American energy.”
Well, no, it’s not anything of the sort. It is, in fact, a stark reminder that we need to work to develop new, cleaner energy sources and conserve the resources that we have — and an even starker reminder that despite the much-ballyhooed improvements in pipeline technology, sending oil through 800+ miles of pipe is still fraught with peril.

The Prudhoe Bay pipeline was shut down because it was so severely corroded that it was unsafe to use — and has been for a long time, according to the Alaska Wilderness League:
The Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have caused an average of 504 spills annually on the North Slope since 1996, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC). There were 4,532 spills between 1996 and 2004 totaling more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances including diesel, crude oil, and hydraulic oil. [...]

Drilling for oil is a dirty business, and simply cannot be done without adversely impacting the environment. As long as drilling in the arctic has occurred, oil companies have promised to keep it clean and then broken those promises.
So Richard Pombo's solution to the problem is MORE pipelines in the Arctic. Makes perfect sense to me. Anything to keep the oil profits of his corporate masters up in the stratosphere.

But apparently, I’m not the only one to find Pombo’s argument ludicrous. You should check out this column by Daryl Lease, of the Sarasota Herald Tribune in Florida. He wrote a spoof the other day on a BP telemarketing ploy to raise money to fix their pipeline by letting people adopt a “pig” (the sensors used to check pipelines for leaks).
"At the moment, I have several pigs available for you to adopt. Let's see now: I have 'Hummer' -- he's a utility pig. Big, hulking fellow. And I have a precocious little smart pig named 'Pombo.' "

"As in -- "

"Yes, sir. He's named in honor of Sen. Richard Pombo, the California Republican who's been a major supporter of our industry."

"And your industry has been most generous to him."

"He's a visionary, sir. I don't know if you've heard, but he says this little Prudhoe leak demonstrates the need for us to diversify our domestic oil supply and begin drilling elsewhere."

"Like in the Gulf of Mexico."

"Exactly! And Alaska, too! We want to spread the oil around, you know?"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pombo's Big Precinct Walking Kick-Off

This past Saturday, on a beautiful morning at the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station, Richard Pombo's campaign held their first precinct walk of the general election. They had a whole two people show up: Anne Volz and another unidentified staffer. They put up their "Pombo" sign at 10:00 and then waited in her black SUV. They waited there until 10:45, and then, after ZERO volunteers showed up, they packed up their campaign sign and headed home.

(Apologies for the poor picture quality — our secret agent had to use a camera phone. The arrow indicates the Pombo yard sign fastened to a tree.)

So, ouch.

Frankly, it seems to me that this lack of enthusiasm is not too surprising. After all, can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to have to go door-to-door explaining to people how your candidate voted to destroy the Endangered Species Act, to sell off our National Parks, and to bring oil drilling back to our American coastlines?

Or maybe you could tell them all about Pombo's great plans to export our jobs to Mexico. And if that failed to persuade them, you could always let them know about how he has supported forced prostitution and forced abortions for garment workers in the Marianas Islands.

Of course, you could always fall back on explaining to them how Pombo accepted over $50,000 from Jack Abramoff and the Indian tribes he represented and is currently listed by CREW as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress.

You see how it could get a little discouraging.

Now, I realize that Pombo has gotten huge financial contributions from developers and the big oil, mining and timber interests; but it seems like none of those CEOs are ready to get out and walk precincts for their sock puppet.

When Pombo opened his campaign office in Stockton on July 22, reports are that only 12-15 people even bothered to show up. So can Pombo win a campaign with money alone and no conservative grassroots support? His incredibly sleazy activities seem to have made it harder and harder for him to generate any enthusiasm among his Republican constituents.

But maybe none of this is really news. Maybe that’s why Richard Pombo was out there back in June trying to hire 60 college students at $10/hour as full-time precinct walkers.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pombo Makes A Giant Sucking Noise

Kudos to Malcontent over at Oakland’s Drinking Liberally blog for noticing this story about the NAFTA Super Corridor way back in June:

Supercargo ships, carrying goods made by cheap labor in the Far East and China, will unload in the Mexican port at Lazaro Cardenas, eliminating the need to use costly union longshoremen workers in Los Angeles or Long Beach. Rather than transporting the containers by trucks from the West Coast, using Teamster drivers, or on rail, with the assistance of railroad labor in the United Transportation Union, the containers will be loaded onto Mexican non-union railroads at Lazaro Cardenas. At Monterrey, Mexico, the containers will then be loaded onto Mexican non-union semi-trailer trucks that will cross the border at Laredo, Texas, to begin their journey north along the Trans-Texas Corridor, the first leg of the planned continental NAFTA Super Corridor. […]

The whole point is to move cargo fast, using cheap, below union-wage scale Mexican workers to move the containers from Asia into the heart of the USA.
The implementation of a NAFTA super highway has stealthily been underway for quite a while now. The plans call for widening the I-35 corridor in Texas to a point where it’s four football fields wide to accommodate not only the widened highway but expanded railway and pipeline operations. The Mexican port city of Monterrey will handle incoming (and outgoing) Asian cargo destined for truck transport; the other port city of Lazaro Cardenas will become the rail terminus for Asian imports (and exports).

Meanwhile, American rail companies are busily acquiring foreign railroad rights, so that they can participate in outsourcing railroad jobs. This, according to the same story:
Kansas City Southern, or KCS, has just completed putting together what is being called ''The NAFTA Railroad.'' On Jan. 1, 2005, KCS took control of The Texas Mexican Railway Company and the U.S. portion of the International Bridge in Laredo, Texas.

Then in April 2005, KCS purchased the controlling interests in Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, which KCS promptly renamed the Kansas City Southern de Mexico, or KCSM.
The railroads will operate in much the same way as the trucking industry. In the Mexican port cities, the cargo will be loaded onto trucks or rail, which will then be “certified” safe for border crossing. Both the trains and the trucks will barely slow down to pass across the Texas/Mexico border, not stopping until they reach Kansas City.

Once these goods reach the new “port” of Kansas City, they will either clear a Mexican customs office (the first foreign customs office EVER to be located within the US) and be transferred to American trucks for shipment to the Eastern or Western US; or, if they are headed for Canada, the Mexican drivers will be waved all the way through to our northern border.

The first stages of this highway (known as the Trans-Texas Corridor or TTC) are currently at the center of a tremendous controversy in the State of Texas. The widening of I-35 from a regular freeway into this “super corridor” will require the condemnation through eminent domain of some 584,000 acres and newly create some 4,000 miles of toll roads.

But what are the costs to other Americans and, closer to home, Californians for this vast scheme to steal American jobs and lower the cost of business for multinational corporations? Well, look again at that map. Do you see where the action ISN’T? Close to home, the ports of Oakland and Stockton can expect to see their business, along with their good union jobs, disappear. Truckers and railroad workers throughout California will see their business drop precipitously.

So… guess who, as a member of the House Transportation Committee (currently on leave to pursue "more important issues"), has voted for over $500 million in federal earmarks to build the NAFTA Super Highway?

Heh. So much for border security. So much for property rights. So much for American jobs.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Holding Richard Pombo Accountable

Byron Roberts is a Stockton resident and CA-11 voter who has been compelled to speak out this summer about his Congressman, Richard Pombo. SNTP readers were first introduced to Byron by Delta in his post Joining the Chorus. Delta told the story of how Byron carefully gathered information so that he could write a letter to the Tracy Press which was published on July 31.

At around the same time, Byron was also involved in sending a letter to Richard Pombo asking him to appear at a town hall meeting to explain himself to the voters of CA-11. This is Byron on the phone in Richard Pombo’s district office, speaking with his chief scheduler in Washington, DC.

When his group’s request was dismissed by Pombo’s Congressional spokesman as a “political stunt,” Byron again wrote a letter to the Tracy Press, this one expressing his dismay that Pombo would refuse to meet with his constituents to address their legitimate concerns and wondering out loud why Pombo is afraid to meet with them.

Recently, Byron has been in touch with SNTP and has requested that we print his July 31 letter in its entirety. So without further ado, here is Byron’s letter:
I noticed that on July 11, Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy, and his Republican cronies in Congress stopped Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage. American workers are struggling to make ends meet. What Pombo voted for ensures millions of Americans will remain in poverty. Why is it that a country with the most productive workforce in the world can't give poor, working-class citizens a few dollars an hour more for their hard work, but can afford to give a tax break of $42,000 to those making a million dollars or more.

How can Pombo call himself a conservative when he cuts taxes while the federal deficit is at an all-time high? How can he consider himself a Christian when he denies working people who need help, yet reward the ultra-rich?

Meanwhile, President Bush's war on terror is a miserable failure. His regime spies on its citizens. The Republicans support his failed foreign policies. He vetoes the stem-cell research bill even though the majority of Americans overwhelmingly supports such research. Our borders are unprotected, so that rich industrial patrons of the Republican Party have access to cheap labor. The Republicans want to make outrageous tax breaks to the super-rich permanent, while our great-grandchildren will be paying off the Republican's largest budget deficit in the history of our country.

This corrupt president and Republican Congress can spend $300 billion on Iraq, yet our infrastructure is falling apart.

One has to wonder if the battered working people of America will have the courage to change the direction of the nation on Election Day or will they continue to believe the Republican hyperbole about how they are going to put a stop to gay marriage and abortion yet again?

-- Byron Roberts, Stockton
I sincerely hope that we’ll all be hearing more from Byron. I also hope that other residents of CA-11 who are unhappy with their Congressman, Richard Pombo, will follow Byron’s example and speak out. This is still a democracy, and politicians like Richard Pombo need to understand that ultimately they must answer to their constituents, not the special interests.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fool Efficiency

Babaloo's post below slams Pombo on his tight allegiance to the auto and oil industries, or more accurately, to their campaign dollars. I never quite understood why Pombo has voted against every attempt in Congress to raise the vehicle fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, but now I am starting to see it in a different light. Let me explain:

Pombo portrays a stunning lack of intelligence, reasoning, and common decency by seeking to keep our cars, SUVs, and trucks inefficiently burning fuel, while at the same time, he pushes for more and more drilling in remote wilderness areas and offshore. He mouths all this jingoistic junk about "independence" from foreign oil and keeping America "secure", but his actions do anything but that.

If Pombo was truly concerned about his constituents (hint: he's not), his first action on energy would be to demand higher fuel efficiency standards. But he is doing the exact opposite of that, as if there is something virtuous about low mileage vehicles. As if it is an intrusive "liberal" plot to undermine America to seek to use gasoline and other fuels more efficiently.

How did it get to this point? Well, one factor is that American automakers are adamantly opposed to raising the standards because of the costs to their businesses. This is a remarkably short-sighted approach. Already, Toyota and Honda are eating GM and Ford's lunch by pushing aggressively into hybrid cars and better performing engines.

Perhaps the issue is not so much retooling their factories, but retooling their thinking. There is an old American myth about boundless resources and unencumbered wealth. That the land was too big and contained too much for anyone ever to have a need to scale back. That there was no need for compromise or accommodation, as we all could grab our own piece of land and live whatever way we wanted. With the land so big and expansive, the myth goes, there is no need to ever temper your desires and vision.

Raising fuel efficiency goes against this myth as it is an acknowledgement that there are limits, that efficient use is necessary, that wastefulness has serious consequences. That yes, we do need to temper our consumption, that we do need to accommodate and be considerate.

It is a recognition that "Power" is not necessarily brute strength, but instead the graceful and efficient use of energy. As the cliches say, water is much more fluid than rocks, yet it wears down mountains. The solid oak tree is blown over in a storm, yet the pliant willow bends and survives. The point is it is a much more subtle and mature understanding of power as a force that "goes with the flow" versus ramrodding over everything.

And we see this in the fuel debate -- Pombo supporters are generally ones entranced with this "brute force" power: the off-roads, the snowmobilers, the jet skiers, the NASCAR crowd, the ones with big hulking SUVs with "W '04" stickers on them. This is in opposition to hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, sailboats, etc., that rely on human or wind power, not fossil fuels.

This thinking also extends into foreign policy - the "let's nuke 'em", "turn the Middle East into glass", rather than diplomatic solutions. This type of policy maybe feels more potent and more "macho", but it is actually less effective, if even effective at all. One recent example is the uncovering of the plot to use liquid explosives to blow up planes. That was discovered by good detective work, not by brute force, not by a war. Meanwhile, we watch as Iraq turns into utter chaos, as Israel's invasion of Lebanon produces more terrorists, and as Afghanistan goes back to the war/drug lords and the Taliban rises again.

Looked at this way, it would be anathema for Pombo and his crowd to support better fuel efficiency. It starts to make sense why he would advocate such extreme measures as ruining wilderness areas, our coastlines, Western mountains, and just about anywhere else in a desperate search to come up with more oil, rather promote even the most basic of efficiency improvements. It is not just out and out stupidity on his part, it is that his whole view on life is based on an archaic, unrealistic, and dangerously deluded myth of the American West.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Richard Pombo: Fighting To Protect You From Good Gas Mileage

Many Americans have wondered why, when faced with rapidly diminishing oil supplies and global warming caused by burning fossil fuels, Congressional Republicans have so steadfastly refused to raise the fuel standards imposed on the auto industry. Some have callously suggested that huge campaign donations and PAC contributions by Big Oil might have led our representatives to not necessarily act in our best interests.

According to Richard Pombo, though, his refusal to support higher gas mileage requirements for new cars stems from his deep concern for the safety of his constituents. You see, apparently, increased fuel efficiency would be DEADLIER THAN VIETNAM. This, from his 2002 Earth Day “Facts & Myths” message:
Myth: To reduce American reliance upon foreign oil, we need to conserve resources by increasing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on automobile manufacturers.

Fact: Increasing CAFE standards not only restricts consumer choice, but it also leads to unnecessary traffic deaths. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) predicts new standards would raise sticker costs between $500 and $2,500 per vehicle. More important, the NAS also estimates that 2,000 additional deaths per year can already be attributed to the downsizing of automobiles forced on by CAFE standards. That's almost 50,000 deaths to date - nearly the number of lives lost in Vietnam. Moving to smaller, lighter vehicles in the 1970s and early 1980s, the NAS concluded, resulted in "an additional 13,000 to 26,000 incapacitating injuries and 97,000 to 195,000 total injuries in 1993" alone.
Just meditate on that for a moment. Richard Pombo believes that we should waste our finite oil reserves, spend $3-4 per gallon for gas, fight unending oil wars in the Middle East, and turn our planet into an uninhabitable wasteland due to global warming so that bad drivers will be less likely to kill themselves.

And he expects us to believe that the $200,000 he’s collected from Big Oil just for his 2006 campaign hasn’t influenced his actions at all.

Of course, it’s probably just a coincidence that the language in Pombo’s “Fact” assertion is lifted directly from talking points provided by the National Center for Public Policy Research, Amy Ridenour’s front group for the energy industry which receives significant funding from Exxon Mobil.

Forget Richard Pombo (R-Tracy).

It’s really Richard Pombo (R-Exxon).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

the kid oakland challenge

Early yesterday evening, kid oakland posted a new diary on Daily Kos. Like most of his diaries, this one shot immediately to the “Recommended List.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with k/o’s work, I strongly suggest that you check out his kid oakland blog, in particular his oft-quoted essay We All Live In Richard Pombo’s District.

k/o started off last night’s diary, logically enough, at the beginning:
At some point early last fall I got an email from a Berkeley grad who wanted to invite me to a Drinking Liberally event here in Oakland.

I went. I drank. I was liberal. And, in the process, I met Matt.
Friendship ensued.
Matt and I… discussed the incredibly underused power of local blogs, we talked about how blogging might impact the 2006 Congressional races. Par for the course, eh? Well, then something really interesting happened...

Matt went and did something about it.

Matt just didn't found a blog. That would have been simple enough. People do that every .0005 seconds it seems.

Matt started a blog with the sole purpose of defeating Congressman Richard Pombo in California's 11th Congressional District. More than that, Matt got others involved, as well: folks like babaloo, VPO and Delta who volunteered to write and to attend events. The blog these activist bloggers collaborated on, SayNotoPombo, has become, in my mind, a model for the interaction between netroots and grassroots activism on the local scale.
Aw, shucks.

Anyway, go check out the diary — it’s a well-deserved salute to Matt and his vision in creating this blog, and it’s also a call to arms to progressive activists throughout the country to get busy and start covering their local races. The Lamont/Lieberman race presented a compelling display of the power that this medium holds to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and opinions and to ultimately help shape the events of the day. Let’s all make sure that we, as progressives, utilize that power to its utmost in this fall’s election. The more you, dear readers (yes, YOU), participate, the richer and more collaborative the experience becomes for all of us. Never forget — we have the power.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pombo Fiddles While We Burn

During last month’s record-breaking heatwave, the Tracy Press gave this report of conditions in CA-11:
Roads are melting, people and dairy cows are dying and animal carcasses are piling up.

It sounds like the apocalypse, but it’s happening right now as record temperatures of 114 degrees baked San Joaquin County and the Central Valley on Monday. […]

“We’ve heard that the rendering plants are overloaded with cows that have died from the heat,” said Ron Baldwin of the county Department of Emergency Services. […]

“[Dead] cattle aren’t being picked up,” said dairy rancher and county Supervisor Leroy Ornellas. “With this heat, in 12 hours, they’re like balloons and they’re going to explode. You’ve got to act quickly.” […]

At least two people died in Stockton over the weekend as temperatures soared to 115 degrees. Three people died from heat-related causes over the weekend in Lodi, a Lodi Memorial Hospital spokeswoman said Monday. Sutter Tracy Community Hospital reported an increase of heat-related admissions.
Dairy farmers and senior citizens weren’t the only ones feeling the pain:
Central Valley farmers were assessing damage to their crops and livestock. Growers of peaches, plums, nectarines and walnuts were especially hurt, said Rosanna Westmoreland, a spokeswoman for the California Farm Bureau.

"This is definitely going to be one of those years we're going to remember," said Paul Wenger, a Stanislaus County farmer who said thousands of his walnut and almond trees suffered sun damage and even died in the heat.
Unfortunately, it looks like that week of intense heat is going to become the new “normal.” The California EPA has conducted a long-term study of global warming at the request of Gov. Schwarzenegger and released its results last week. The report predicts the following scenario for Californians:
California will become significantly hotter and drier by the end of the century, causing severe air pollution, a drop in the water supply, the melting of 90 percent of the Sierra snowpack and up to six times more heat-related deaths in major urban centers, according to a sweeping study compiled with help from respected scientists around the country.

The weather -- up to 10.5 degrees warmer by 2100 -- would make last month's heat wave look average. If industrial and vehicle emissions continue unabated, there could be up to 100 more days a year when temperatures hit 90 degrees or above in Los Angeles and 95 degrees or above in Sacramento, the report states. Both cities have about 20 days of such extreme heat now.
Richard Pombo’s response was to stick his fingers in his ears and say, “La-la-la-la-la — I can’t hear you.”

Actually, what he said, through his spokesman, is this:
Meanwhile, House Resources Committee spokesman Brian Kennedy noted that the panel's chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, is a ‘'skeptic'' when it comes to global warming.

‘‘I think there is a consensus that the earth is in a warming trend, but there is no consensus whatsoever in the minds of the Congress as to what the correlation is'' to greenhouse gas emissions, Kennedy said.
That’s a variation on the same tired argument that Richard Pombo has used for his entire 14 years in Congress, that scientific opinion is split on the issue. The simple truth is that a handful of scientists have whored themselves out to the energy industry so that the industry and the corrupt politicians on their payrolls can keep up the sham that global warming is somehow in question.
"It's false balance, and it's lazy," said Tom Yulsman, co-director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

After writing about the issue for years and carefully examining the evidence, he's convinced the naysayers are simply pushing an economic and political agenda to avoid making any dramatic changes.

"By sticking to the 'global warming: yes or no' debate, you can paralyze us," he said. "Until you guys figure it out, we're not going to take any action."
That has been Richard Pombo’s MO for his entire political career, and that’s exactly the strategy that he will pursue if he’s re-elected. Republican House members know who pays their bills:
Continued Republican House and Senate majorities would likely mean more of the same on climate. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he would oppose global warming mandates if Republicans control the 110th Congress. “I think the information is not adequate yet for us to do anything meaningful,” he said.
Right now, our future lies in the hands of men like Blunt and Pombo. Voters in CA-11 and throughout America have the power to change our course, to acknowledge the problem and work toward real and practical solutions. But if Pombo is returned to Congress in November, we’d all better get used to those melting freeways and exploding cows.