Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dishonor and Disgrace

When the annals of human loathsomeness are written, the number and size of the volumes on Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) will challenge the structural integrity of several large bookcases. It's not easy to stand out as as a beacon of corruption among the current crop of Republican House members, but Pombo manages it effortlessly. He inaugurated his career in the House with the shameless lie that the federal government had declared his land "critical habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox," thereby stripping it of its value. In fact, no land in California had ever received such a designation, and Pombo later admitted "I personally have not been directly affected by it [the Endangered Species Act] in, in my own, in my own property or the ranches that we have." For some odd reason, lying his ass off before a U.S. Senate subcommittee didn't harm Pombo's standing with area Republicans, who have re-elected him repeatedly.

As most readers probably know, Pombo's latest scheme is to "solve" the deficit problem - a good deal of which he and his cronies caused through an unprecedented orgy of spending and stealing - by selling off millions of acres of public land at cut-rate prices. Hark to his cold inexorable logic:

"In some states primarily owned by the federal government, it's important that more of that land become private property," he told the Post.
Important to whom? Grist offers some insight:
Pombo's mining-reform proposal would not require buyers to prove that mineral resources exist beneath the property they want to purchase, nor that they use the land for mining. "As written, purchasing the land need only facilitate 'sustainable economic development,'" Rahall said on the House floor earlier this month. "Since the term is not defined, 'sustainable economic development' could include condominium construction, ski resorts, gaming casinos, name it." And since the land would be privately owned and no longer under federal jurisdiction, it would be immune to environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act or public input on development plans.
The Sacramento Bee notes a particularly appalling aspect of this "grotesque notion [that] has slithered full-grown from the dim recesses of Rep. Richard Pombo's brain":
Pombo's bill would instruct the secretary of the interior to remove Theodore Roosevelt Island from the national park system and "make it available for immediate sale for purposes of commercial and residential development." Talk about adding insult to injury.
One result of Pombo's plan will be foreign ownership of large chunks of American soil. According to the Environmental Working Group:
Six of the top 10 claimholders in the U.S. are foreign-owned companies. These claimholders could privatize their land under Pombo's legislation. Almost a million acres of land in the three states currently owned by U.S. citizens could be transferred to foreign ownership under the Pombo scheme.
There are few senators who more richly deserve to be sent packing (preferably for relocation to a maximum security federal prison). Fortunately, displeasure with Pombo's corruption is increasing among moderate conservatives like Pete McCloskey, who formed the Revolt of the Elders Coalition specifically to educate the public about the malfeasance of Pombo and other "DeLay Republicans." McCloskey's current opinion piece in the Tracy Press is a fine piece of invective:
The Revolt of the Elders Coalition is an initiative organized by older Republicans who have served in Congress or in the executive branch and are deeply concerned about the present Republican leadership in the House. Our purpose is to educate the public about the DeLay Republicans, whom we believe have not only abandoned traditional Republican values, but also have dishonored and disgraced the party with their unethical conduct....

[A]s we began to look more carefully at the legislation and tactics employed by DeLay and his close allies in the House leadership, it became clear that not only had they set aside the covenants of the Contract with America that had brought the Republicans a House majority in 1994, but they also were deliberately abandoning traditional Republican principles dating back to Teddy Roosevelt and held by recent leaders as diverse as Barry Goldwater, Elliot Richardson and George H.W. Bush. These include fiscal responsibility with the goal of balanced budgets, progressive taxation, environmental protection, freedom of individual choices, limited powers of the federal government, paper-verification of voting results, judicial independence, prohibition of torture of prisoners and separation of church and state.
McCloskey was one of the co-authors of the Endangered Species Act, co-chaired the first Earth Day in 1970, and currently runs an organic orchard. His goal is to unseat Pombo in 2006; given the current schisms in the House, the public's increasing unwillingness to compromise on environmental protection, and the shifting demographics of Pombo's district, I suspect McCloskey and his cohorts stand a good chance of casting this dangerous, gibbering waste of skin into the outer darkness where he belongs, either by defeating him outright, or by splitting the GOP vote and leaving a clear field for a Democratic candidate.


Anonymous said...

We can hope.

Engineer-Poet said...

Kate, fix your blog URL.  There is no "www" in it (gets a 404 error).

isabelita said...

I have long had a waking nightmare about the Republican Barbarians usurping national parklands and turning them into gated communities honeycombed with golf courses. The Grand Tetons would become the Grand Cheney Golf Resort and Retirement Community. Looks as if they are indeed intent on this, and worde.