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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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McNerney Campaigning at Taxpayer's Expense

Uploaded: Dec 23, 2009
This week I received two glossy, full-color fliers telling me about all of the good things Representative Jerry McNerney has been doing for the 11th Congressional District. One announced, "Congressman Jerry McNerney Delivering Results (underlined in red) for California Veterans." The other is titled, "Improving Health Care and Protecting Medicare." The brochures are loaded with photos of smiling people and McNerney shaking hands with several of them.

McNerney has been a good Representative for the 11th Congressional District and much of what these fliers say is true, or at least true from a Democratic perspective of what constitutes Improvements and Results! So what's wrong with McNerney keeping his constituents informed? Well the small print next to McNerney's Congressional address says "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."

So we have a Congressman sending glossy puff pieces about his good deeds mailed to us on our dime, what else is new? Yes I suppose they all do it. Even Republicans, who bellow about Democrats wasting taxpayer money, do it, and that's what's wrong with it.

Our House of Representatives is reelected every two years and Congressmen must start running almost the day after they are elected. So that's why we wind up with Congressmen campaigning at taxpayer's expense.

Last year McNerney ran a smear campaign against the Republican candidate, Dean Andal. TV ads screamed about an Andal Scandal, which makes a nice rhyme, but was completely bogus. Andal was never involved in any scandals and there was no proof that he committed malfeasance of any kind. McNerney didn't need to resort to those tactics to win, but political consultants and partisan politics has sunk to those levels, and now McNerney has too. He's getting a good education in Washington politics, and not for the better.

McNerney started out as a grassroots candidate. He first ran for Representative Richard Pombo's seat in the 11th Congressional District as a write-in candidate for the Democratic Primary. He was tenacious and made it onto the ballot as Pombo's Democratic challenger in 2004. Everyone except McNerney and a hand full of his supporters thought it was a hopeless quest. It was. Pombo was re-elected with nary a thought about McNerney.

McNerney came back again in 2006. This time he ran as a proper candidate in the Democratic primary, but the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed Steve Filson. The Committee thought Filson would have a better chance of defeating the all-powerful Pombo. McNerney didn't back down and he won the primary. So now the Democrats were stuck with him, but as his poll numbers got better and anti-Bush sentiment grew higher, and some scandals, both real and exaggerated, about Pombo were revealed, McNerney's chances started looking better and better. Then Democrats came out of the woodwork to support him. Even so his victory over Pombo by more than 13,000 votes was considered an upset.

McNerney went to Washington like Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," idealistic and wet behind the ears. Maybe Jimmy wasn't there long enough for his ears to dry, but McNerney is starting to get cozy with the kind of political behaviors that keep the same people in office year after year. That's too bad. Jimmy, tell McNerney to send press releases and black and white, tri-fold mailers about his good deeds and not glossy campaign literature at my (and your) expense.


Comments

Posted by Sandy, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm

McNerney wants to advertise all his (self-proclaimed) good deeds at our expense, you're right. But where was he when we wanted to talk to him and express our opinions about health care reform? Hiding somewhere in the trenches, I guess. If he doesn't want to know and represent his constituents' points of view, then all the glossy fliers in the world don't convince me that he's a good Representative for the 11th Congressional District. We should let him know that we don't appreciate the waste of our dime on his self-promotion. Blogs let us air our gripes and keep from exploding, but how can we express our disapproval where it'll do some good?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Sandy,

You asked, "But where was he when we wanted to talk to him and express our opinions about health care reform? Hiding somewhere in the trenches, I guess. If he doesn't want to know and represent his constituents' points of view,"

Actually he was at the Dougherty Valley library on 10/5, listening to his constituents' points of view. I wrote a story about it in the San Ramon Express. He held several Congress at your Corner meetings on the Health Care Bill throughout the district.

McNerney holds these in different parts of the 11th District on a monthly basis. You should contact his office in Pleasanton, 737-0727 or Stockton 209-476-8552 for more information on the next one. I don't remember Richard Pombo ever doing these.

Roz


Posted by David, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

If we could actually get someone in the Senate or the House to get this going we wouldn't have have the issues with this kind of waste in taxpayer money. Don't know McNerney well enough myself to comment on his supposed good deeds, but all of those in DC try to turn it into a lifetime career. That is just wrong.

Congressional Reform Act of 2010

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


2. No Tenure / No Pension:

A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, server your term(s), then go home and back to work.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


6. Congress looses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.

The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.


Posted by Steve, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Roz - for one, I don't believe anyone brought up Richard Pombo in this example and obviously you really like McNerney and that is fine. I don't care what political party you are for as that isn't the issue I see from this discussion, what I see is gross misuse of TAXPAYER money for his personal political gain. The Congressman also doesn't respond well to his constituents directly nor indirectly, unless they are donating to his campaign. This type of politics from anyone regardless of party is WRONG.

I too received this propaganda from his office and left a direct message for him on his Pleasanton office voicemail regarding my disgust with his misuse of taxpayer funds.

I agree with what David posted above, "Serving in Congress is an honor, NOT a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned CITIZEN legislators," so Mr. McNerney and all the rest of Congress, serve your term(s), then GO HOME and BACK TO WORK!


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 3, 2010 at 12:59 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Steve,

I wouldn't say I really like McNerney, but I liked his gumption in getting elected despite the odds, and I like what he's done for veterans.

As far as what the founding fathers wanted, that was 235 years ago. There were 13 individual states with their own governments, militias, religions, and power bases. The Federal government was small and weak. So of course they were citizen legislators. There wasn't much else to be in the legislature back then. It is vastly different now.

The problem, as I see it, isn't with McNerney or individual Representatives. It's with the political parties, which are in a continuous power struggle. The majority party, even if it is by only one seat, gains control over the House and the Committees. So of course they are constantly trying to hold onto the seats they have or knock the other guy out of one.

Citizen Legislators sound better than they work. Many of the problems we have with the California State legislature are a direct result of term limits. People who run the government need to be professionals. They have to know what they are doing. You wouldn't want your Doctor rotated out every 8 or 12 years? "Oh Dr. Smith has been at the hospital 12 years now. He's leaving to join Doctors without Borders. We'll be getting some new Interns in next week."

Instead of term limits, we need to break out of the two party system and give voters more choices. That's what I liked about McNerney. He started out as a Citizen candidate -- a write in, not supported by any political machine. It's too bad he couldn't stay that way.


Posted by David, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Roz,

While I would agree that the problem begins with the power struggles between the two parties, I cannot agree that term limits are the problems with CA State legislature. Most all in office in CA are looking at their political future within their party than the needs/will of the people.

Unfortunately the example you site of a Doctor vs. a polititian is flawed as running a business or government is very different than healthcare. Those who run are normally professional business people, educators, lawyers, etc... Staying in office as a permanent fixture does not resolve the issues as you mentioned yourself, they are too busy pandering to the parties and not working for the people. With your example, your Doctor would be a fool if he/she didn't refer you to someone else as the need arose.

Even today Mr. McNerney had another bit of propaganda sent out at the taxpayers expense. He titled it "Standing Up for Fiscal Responsibility and Fighting to Cut Taxes for California Families." Again, like the first, he is telling us how wonderful he is and the great job he is doing. Personally, I am an independent, so I don't pander to either party, but I do see what our elected officials accomplish. Thus I do not need the nice glossy propaganda that is attempting to get him re-elected.

Yes I admired Mr. McNerney and his original way of getting elected, and I also agree that its a shame he didn't stay that way. I think we are probable in agreement more than we are at odds! Happy New Year!


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

David,

I think we do agree on most things. You are right that my Doctor analogy doesn't work for political term limits. I was trying to be cute, but it didn't come off well.

The best form of term limits is for voters to vote out politicians who care more about their party loyalty than their constituents. One way would be to vote for independents, or for open primaries so more middle-of-the-road candidates can get elected.

Voters have to be more independent too, and vote for the candidate and not the party. Too many are manipulated by fear and fallacies spewed by political pundits of every stripe in the media. Term limits won't change that.

Roz


Posted by David, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

Hi Roz,

Yes, we do agree more than disagree and you are correct the best form of term limits is for voters to vote out politicians who are more interested in party than constituents. And, yes, voters need to stop voting for parties, sex or race too, what they should be voting for is the person and their abilities to do the job correctly.

However, term limits of twelve years provides plenty of time to get things accomplished and have a strong base for the future. The problem we have with the professional politician is that there is a large number that have earned a degree (lawyer, professional, educator, etc…) and began running for office without any real world experience in management or the profession they stated that they came from. Being a Senator/Congressman/politician doesn't provide that experience/knowledge to be an effective manager. In many respects running a town, city, county, state and country requires that business knowledge and that success, so we as a town, city, county, state and country can flourish without losing our livelihood, homes, etc. Additionally, that also includes controlling spending, taxes, etc… too.

The blank check that State and Federal government has been using for decades doesn't work and when a professional politician is more worried about their political future, they forget who they are supposed to work for, US.

Though the quote of who wrote it was incorrect the statement is factual:

'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.'

'A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

'The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage'

I am not saying this is a Democrat or Republican thing, but I do feel that the combination of the two in how they spend so much time being professional politicians, that they are running us quickly to number eight in the list and unfortunately there are many in our society that look at what the government should provide them as opposed to working for it.

David


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

David,

The Fatal Sequence fallacy that you outline does not follow any facts in American History. So let's look at each claim as related to Democracy as practiced from the Revolutionary era on. Incidentally the American political system isn't a Democracy but a Republic, a distinction I shall make down the list.

'A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

The initial reasons for breaking away from England were financial. The Colonists didn't like having their tax money going across the ocean to England without their input on how to spend it, which was called, "Taxation without representation." So in fact the start of the Revolution was precisely the reasons you give for the demise of Democracy. Dictatorships happen when people perceive threats to their financial or physical security and want strong control from government to protect them.

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

The only people who were in bondage in the America Colonies were slaves and indentured servants. When the Colonies were part of England, Colonists were never in bondage. The American Colonies were too far away and insignificant for England to care much about them.

The real reason for breaking away from Britain, as stated above, was economic not spiritual. Each Colony had its own state religion, mainly a form of Protestantism. Many of the "Founding Fathers" who protested control over the Colonies by England were Deists or Unitarians. Almost all of them were Masons, which is a non-denominational, spiritual organization.

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

There was great courage by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, because they were charged with treason in England. There was no courage demonstrated by the vandals who dressed as Indians to disguise their identities while destroying private property by throwing imported tea into Boston harbor to protest having to pay tax on it. It wasn't the government of King George III that was hurt by the Boston Tea Party. It was the tea merchants.

3. From courage to liberty;

There was great courage by those who fought in the Revolution to free themselves from English rule. However, there wasn't much democracy after the Revolution. Only landed white men could vote. Voters elected representatives based on the population of each state. Slave states were allowed to count their slave populations, which incidentally were real people in REAL bondage, as 4/5 person for the sake of increasing their representation, even though the slaves were not allowed to vote. In fact free men of color, women, and white men without property were not able to vote either. The political divide in the early 1800's was about as bad as it is today, with Federalists trying to keep the riff-raff from voting and Jeffersonian Republicans trying to expand the vote to more people.

4. From liberty to abundance;

The Southern states had a lot of abundance built on an agrarian economy maintained by real people in real bondage. The North was shifting to a manufacturing economy, maintained by low paid day laborers. Those people didn't have a vote and didn't have any abundance. The Civil War changed that, and expanded the vote, and opportunities for abundance, to a lot more people.

5. From abundance to complacency;

During the great depression the government instituted social programs to keep people from starving, freezing, or committing suicide. There were a lot of objections to programs like Social Security and make-work programs sponsored by the government that built damns, highways, national parks, and other necessary infrastructure, and later Medicare in the 1960's so old people wouldn't die for lack of medical attention. Voting expanded among immigrants who became American citizens.

6. From complacency to apathy;

I see a lot of apathy in San Ramon because this city is well-run and the voter turnout is low. The city invests in parks, community centers, recreational activities, sports, landscaping, libraries, and the arts. Maybe we should stop spending money on these things to perk up the electorate.

7. From apathy to dependence;

There was no apathy in the last Presidential election. Maybe you opposed Obama, but the groundswell of support and optimism for his candidacy even caught me up in it. The millions of people with tears of joy at his inauguration, and those who were and still are angry and fearful about his election are anything but apathetic.

I'm disappointed with what he's been doing so far. I feel that government spending has gone overboard with propping up banks and auto companies. I benefited from the Clunker program last summer. I traded my 1996 Ford Ranger for a 2009 Focus. Despite the complaints about slow processing of paperwork, that boosted the auto industry more than the handouts. I bought Ford stock at $2 a share and it $10 now. GM stock is still under a buck.

8. From dependence back into bondage'

Except for slaves and indentured servants, Americans were never in bondage. The government supports some valuable social programs that most people benefit from, but are not dependent on. We are not moving toward dictatorship in any way, and these kinds of scare tactics are what bring dictators to power.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

David,

To go back to your first list, I agree with all of them except possibly term limits (and I'm leaning towards them too).

You are right about stripping Congressional Representatives of their government perks, like pensions, and health care, and pay raises. They will go to work as corporate or political lobbyists when they leave, for bigger bucks than thy can get in a pension.

You mention voiding contracts with Congressmen, which I suppose refers to the Republican's Contract with America in 1994. Congressmen elected on that Contract have not lived up to most of the provisions they promised. So it appears to have been voided already.

Roz


Posted by David, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm

First and foremost I never stated that the quote I brought up has occurred completely within the United States. However, it is not a fallacy as history has seen it happen more than once. But I will fully admit that it is in history far before the USA being founded.

However as a Son of the American Revolution, I take aim at the statement calling the men of the Boston Tea Party "vandals". The act of what they did was one of courage as well, unless you feel it important to rewrite history. Secondly, the colonists were in a type of bondage under a monarchy as bondage does not necessarily require slavery. Were the German people, of WWII (not including nor discounting the Jewish citizens) not in bondage under Adolf Hitler as a dictator, though he was elected he was truly a dictator. As mentioned bondage doesn't necessarily require slavery or indentured servants to occur.

Yes, I agree we are a republic first but we are also a democratic form of government and you admitted yourself that people have a habit of voting for those who will give them the most from the government. I would love to see healthcare that we wouldn't have to worry about insurance or fees, but I also do not wish to pay 46% income tax to accomplish that either.

I also fully understand the reasoning for FDR's New Deal, how it worked and what it accomplished and as far as Social Security is concerned, by the time I retire (if I can possibly afford to do so) it is highly doubtful that it will be there in a fashion that will enable me to survive. I watched my Grandmother scrimp and save all her life, yet by the time she couldn't work any longer (in her 80's by the way) she barely had enough from SSI to keep her at the poverty level. Likewise I am watching the same occur with my parents as with all they lost over the last few years with the economy. I am now spending my life's savings helping them (as it should be) so they don't have to worry financially either, and I can only hope to be able o earn enough back to not to need my children supporting myself or my wife.

I too voted for Obama and am now sorry that I did as I got caught up in the "yes we can" optimism, but I also didn't see a better option at the time either. But a great number of people now claim to have voted for the first Black American President instead of the better candidate. Quite honestly, I feel that Hillary Clinton may have done a far better job than what has occurred thus far.

I also do not feel that we are even at steps 7 or 8 but more along the lines of 5 or 6 as I agree we have a lot of apathy in SRV due to how well the city has been run over the years. Additionally, I have been in the Valley since 1969 and grew up here, schooled here and have my career here and I remember when San Ramon didn't have much to it except for fields full of cows, much like Pleasanton was at the time too. I really wish we can get more people "perked" up in the electorate and maybe we do need to back off a bit on spending, but it is important that the people see what could happen if they just remain apathetic.

However, what I posted wasn't a scare tactic, actually President Reagan used the quote in a speech that he attributed to Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor who lived in the 1700s, the origin of the material may be attributed to Alexander Tytler, or even Arnold Toynbee, or Lord Thomas Macaulay. Whoever can lay claim to the study of democracies that had existed until that time had remarkable conclusions.

Does this not sound familiar! We've gone from being overtaxed subjects of King George of England, to a new republic that accepted any religious faith, to a wonderful new country with a brilliant constitution, to being the richest country in the world, to today over 50% of the voters are apathetic to politics, to where a major portion of Americans are literally demanding government benefits, to eventually losing all of our freedoms (just read some sections of the Patriot Act). Many people now believe that we are now at the "apathy to dependence" phase of the professor's theory with over 30% of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

Let us not forget that during the 2004 presidential election, the candidates collectively amassed a war chest of over $2 billion. We know that the individuals, carpetbaggers, organizations and corporations don't make these donations out of the goodness in their hearts. That's when we, the citizens, get to take it on the chin in the form of government contracts and special legislation/bills that are decreed to reward these people for their excessive contributions.

Needless to say it still appears that we agree more than we disagree with the overall resolution is the voters actually vote.


Posted by David, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Roz, I was too busy typing to see your last reply and thank you for taking a closer look.

The "contract" isn't as much in a literal sense (with the supposed "Contract with America") but more in a figurative sense as those in office have this "contract" regarding all the perks after office too. Including their "private" retirement program, health care beyond office, etc...

Thanks again and have a great night!

David


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

David,

I misinterpreted your second message because that quote has been used by the current "Tea Party" movement, which is why I called the Boston Tea Party activists vandals. I still believe that dressing as Indians to hide their identities did not demonstrate courage, but I'll leave it at that.

I've been studying the Revolutionary period because there was a legend in my family that we are descendants of Revolutionary War hero Benjamin Nones. After doing a lot of genealogical research, I can't find any connection between the Nones family and my Grandmother's Nanes family.

I've corresponded with one of Nones' real descendants, Dr. Joseph (Joel) Andrews in Massachusetts. He's written some articles for the Sons of the American Revolution magazine and a book on Lexington and Concord that you can find on Amazon.com.

Roz



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