Tuesday, March 07, 2006



Perhaps you've wondered why DWT, a blog with team members based in L.A., NYC, upstate New York and South Central Florida, seems so concerned about California's 11th District and the hope of replacing Richard Pombo. It goes beyond my rather tenuous personal connection to the area. Having lived in the Bay Area for over a decade, one of my closest friends, Jimmy, has a brother, Bill, who lives in Stockton. (Bill designed my very first business card back in 1980.) True, Pombo is widely recognized as being one of the dozen most corrupt men in the entire U.S. Congress (and believe me, in this DeLay-Hastert-Boehner-Blunt organized Congress, to be that high up on the scale of corruption is saying a lot!). But even in my own state of California, when it just comes to corruption and pure sleaze, Pombo gets a run for his money-- well, our money actually-- from mega grab-and-run experts like John Doolittle, Jerry Lewis, Duncan Hunter and from more garden variety crooked pols like Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrbacher and Ken Calvert.

But Pombo's got something more going for him than being more corrupt than Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Pombo, with the worst environmental record I've ever encountered, is the only congressman who ever thought a good way of cutting taxes for multimillionsaires would be to sell off our forestland to loggers and our national parks to developers. And since he's the head of the House Resources Committee and rakes in untold (so far) amounts of bribes from these commercial interests to push their selfish agendas, he has done and threatens to do a lot more, damage.

When I want a good dose of "everything wrong that is known about Pombo to date," a good place to go is the non-partisan Vote Pombo Out, although Pombo Watch and CA-11 both also do excellent jobs and so does Progressive 11th. They've got all the dirty on what is probably the dirtiest poll this side of Tom DeLay.

But when it comes to what must be done to clean up the district and move the 11th CD out of the Dark Ages politically, I usally turn to the always lively and thoughtful SAY NO TO POMBO. Just today one of the team members there, Babaloo, wrote an incisive diary about why it is important to work hard for the grassroots progressive in the primary contest, Jerry McNerney, a position, I agree with completely.
"I was a McNerney supporter in 2004... But I have also never maintained that McNerney was the greatest thing since sliced bread. As a candidate, he has many flaws: his presentation is wooden; he is often inarticulate. But he was willing to challenge Pombo and the Democratic Party establishment when no one else would, even going so far as to take out an additional mortgage on his house, because he believed that the people of CD-11 deserved a choice on their ballot when they went out to vote in November.

Ah, but what a difference a year makes. Suddenly, in 2005, when it became apparent that Pombo’s outrageous environmental stances and clear pattern of corruption had made him an attractive target in the 2006 election, the Democratic Party sat up and took notice of CD-11. But they just couldn’t let that upstart McNerney be their candidate; he was too much like that uncool kid who dared to crash the cool kids’ party.

And that’s the crux of it. It wasn’t that McNerney had lost in 2004; it was that he and his supporters had challenged the top-down hierarchy in Washington, DC. You see, they don’t want average citizens getting all uppity and taking politics into their own hands; you have to realize that at a certain level, the sole function of the parties, both Republican and Democratic, is to hold tightly to entrenched power.

So it was no accident that Steve Filson, supporter and protégé of Ellen Tauscher-- Blue Dog Democrat, member of the DLC, and diva of corporate cronyism-- was parachuted into CD-11 as the 'favored' candidate of the DC establishment. And it’s no accident that incumbent Democrats from all over the Bay Area rushed in to prop him up with their endorsements as the PACs made their donations. It was a stick in the eye aimed at the progressive grass-roots. A message writ loud and clear: 'Go home. We’re in charge here. This is OUR party.'"

Yep... another case of the Inside-the-Beltway power elite trying to screw over the grassroots and progressives. Filson doesn't sound like the worst candidate Rahm Emanuel and his crew have tried to anoint, but, basically, he's too tepid, too corporatist and his message far too uninspiring to beat a powerful old pro like Pombo. If people want to vote for real change, for a clean break from all that Bush and Pombo have come to symbolize, Jerry McNerney is the man who will inspire voters to turn out.

And McNerney isn't just some run-of-the-mill politician looking for a meal ticket. He's a man with a vision, something you can't say about too many congressmen, let alone congressional candidates. McNerney is a renewable energy engineer with a progressive vision to both clean up one of the most polluted areas in the country and to create good-paying jobs in one of California’s poorest districts (poorer than Appalachia) by turning CD-11 into a center for development of the renewable energy industry.

Today DWT is officially endorsing Jerry McNerney and creating an ACT BLUE Page to help him raise money. And he does need that help. Emanuel and Tauscher are calling in favors from their patrons to help them do to McNerney what the Democratic power elite did to Paul Hackett in Ohio. A river of small contributions will go along way making sure the Democrat with the best chance of winning, and the best shot at making a real difference to people in the 11th CD and in America, will win in the primary and go on to help retire "Pombo.


After yesterday's Pombo-slam, DWT received a super-secretive report from deep inside the Pombo camp. I didn't run it last night because I had to confirm the veracity of the sender, which I did today. The seemingly disgruntled Pombo associate told me he has a long relationship with Pombo and his family going back decades and that he went to school with Pombo in Tracy back when Tracy was just a hick town full of Portuguese ranchers. The associate, we'll call him Mr. Z, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican with no ideological bones to pick with his old friend, for whom he seems to feel a great deal of disdain.

Much of what he says is already public record but it is interesting coming from a once-close and longtime associate. For example, he states categorically that "Pombo is a bit of a dim bulb who got elected largely from the clout of one of his uncles who is a big wheel in the Tracy/Central Valley area (farming & real estate interests, big time). And now he's mixed up with this Abramoff crook and all kinds of lobbyist shenanigans that cross the bounds of legality-- and he doesn't even make any bones about taking the guy's money!" OK, no real news there.

But Mr. Z goes on to say that Pombo is a tool of his family and their widespread business interests and that he has "no brains and no common sense. He basically sees nothing wrong with paving over the Central Valley to line the pockets of his family and their business associates. They run a little kingdom up here with no cares for the peons, just an eye for enriching themselves." This certainly jibes with everything that has come out about Pombo's activities since taking office.


At 9:10 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

This is getting to be an expensive habit, but I guess I'm getting into that "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" mode, and maybe it makes a difference seeing the ghost of a path out of the jungle. Anyway, I kicked in my tiny share for McNerney.

I guess we also have to steel ourselves to not necessarily winning each of these battles. At least Henry Cuellar knows he was in a fight.


At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, uncle.

I like McCloskey so much (dyed-in-the-wool democrat though I be) that I was gonna take a hands-off view of the Democratic primary, but you talked me out of it. I just put Jerry on my "Just say no to Spoilers" ActBlue page, and moved him up to the top in the space vacated this morning by Christine Cegelis.

I hope you don't mind, but I quoted you liberally in the adjacent blurb box.



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