Friday, July 15, 2005



Does this sound vaguely familiar? Attach yourself to the most venal, most vicious powerbroker around and serve him slavishly. As he tramples the opposition and amasses more and more power, you benefit massively for your loyalty to the Dark Side. This pretty much describes the relationship between California far right extremist Richard Pombo and Tom DeLay. And it has allowed a slimey and uncharismatic Pombo to make himself over into a congressional powerhouse. DeLay rewarded his faithful protégé with the ultra lucrative chairmanship-- over the heads of 5 more senior Republicans-- of the House Resources Committee. Pombo, charged with protecting the rights of Indian Tribes has been able to PREVENT any investigations into DeLay's and Jack Abramoff's shady dealings and millions of dollars in rip-offs (while Pombo accepts bribe money from Abramoff). And Pombo has been able to continuously legislate in favor of oil, gas, pesticide, agri-business and other extractive and exploitive industries and polluters. Pombo has one of the worst environmental records in Congress, not an easy achievement in this particular Congress. After former New Jersey Republican Governor Christine Whitman grew disgusted with the Bush Regime's blatant predatory attacks on the environment she resigned as head of the EPA (Environmental Protect Agency, a Cabinet position). As Bush proved himself to be the absolute worst enemy of the environment of any president in living memory, Whitman wrote a book called IT'S MY PARTY TOO. She was clearly referring to Pombo and his repulsive ilk when she wrote that "to cede the battle for environmental protection to the anti-regulatory ideologues is to ignore our obligation as stewards of the environment for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren."

But Pombo has turned his ideological fanaticism into a very profitable part of the DeLay pay-to-play racket in Congress, enriching himself and his family, as well as his cronies, by selling his votes and enacting legislation in exchange for campaign donations, junkets, and other gifts. In fact Pombo has tranferred something like 25% of his campaign donations over the past couple of years to his wife and his brother-- over $250,000 in 2003 and 2004 alone! That's the kind of operation that makes Randy "Duke" Cunningham look like a small-time piker. I mean how many presidential pardons did "Duke" actually sell and how many houses and boats can one man pass along at inflated prices as a way of sucking up bribes? The Pombo-DeLay game, on the other hand, has no ceiling. You hustle "contributions" from the industries you are charged with overseeing, you let the industries' paid representatives write the actual legislation, or at least the parts pertaining to them, and then you skirt election laws by turning over large parts of those donations/bribes/blackmail to your wife and brother. Forgetting about Rove for a moment, can you think of anything more unethical?

How has Richard Pombo served the voters of California's 11th Congressional District (Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Ripon, due east of San Francisco)? Well he's been working hard to overturn the Endangered Species Act, restart commercial whaling (which doesn't mean much in his landlocked district), allow for intensive logging of our national forests, gut the Clear Air and Clean Water acts, overturn bans on highly toxic pesticides (which is an issue among the Central Valley residents he supposedly represents), and, predictably, allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile his campaign coffers are overflowing with contributions from every sort of right-wing and Big Business special interest-- especially Agribusiness, Oil & Gas, Logging, Mining, the Chemical Industry, Casinos, and Big Tobacco. Pombo hates regulating Big Business and Big Business loves Richard Pombo. And if all this love insures that one day he'll die a very very rich man... well, who's to stand in the way of love?

This past April the L.A. Times pointed out the kind of filial love Pombo has for his parents when they reported that "Aides to California Rep. Richard W. Pombo pressed officials of the U.S. Department of the Interior last year to suspend environmental guidelines opposed by the wind-power industry without disclosing that Pombo's family had a substantial financial stake in wind energy. The guidelines, issued in 2003, seek to reduce the number of birds killed by the spinning blades of wind turbines, such as those that flank the Altamont Pass east of Oakland.
Pombo (R-Tracy), heads the House committee that oversees the Interior Department. His parents own a 300-acre ranch in the Altamont Pass and have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their land over the last 17 years — much more than the family gets from cattle on that land." Is that a loving son or what? I mean would you risk breaking the law to further enrich your parents like that? Oh, but don't think Pombo is all about love. Get him-- or DeLay-- angry and he'll show the other side of his nature. Pombo viciously killed the widely supported (non-partisan) Long Island Sound Stewardship Act last year in retaliation against a Connecticut Republican viewed as not loyal to DeLay. Pombo turned his fury against Chris Shays for leading a group that voted against protecting Delay's leadership in the face of Delay's possible indictment for campaign financing abuses. Pombo used his power as Chairman of the House Resources Committee to bury the bill, even after it passed UNANIMOUSLY in the Senate, to punish Shays (one of the sponsors); and the hell with sound Sound stewardship; Pombo hates that crap anyway. It's great "Duke" Cunningham won't be running again and it's great that he's likley to spend a good amount of time in prison but America is in grave danger as long as monsters like Richard Pombo are still prowling-- and despoiling-- the land.



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