Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bad News for Frank LoBiondo in the NY-23 Special Election

Today's withdrawal by Dede Scozzafava in the NY23 special election to Congress is an important milestone. In her statement, she says "It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support." It's a polite way of noting that the far-right conservatives -- mostly outside the district -- have successfully purged her for perceived disloyalty to conservatism.

This must be a very unwelcome development for Frank LoBiondo. To be sure, he's "pro-life" and part of the Gingrich's Revolutionary Class of 1994, so he has right-wing credentials she doesn't. But his occasional moderate votes are increasingly unwelcome to conservatives both inside and outside of Congress. His vote in favor of the energy bill earned him attacks nationwide by outraged conservatives. There's many who would love to get rid of him.

Now, LoBiondo, unlike Scozzafava, has lots of money and the advantage of incumbency. It's now possible to imagine a successful challenge to him, but it's extremely unlikely. But today we see one more step down a road along which moderate Republicanism is extinguished.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Offshore Drilling there but not here

I noticed "That's My Congress calling our Frank LoBiondo for trying to ban offshore drilling, but only near New Jersey:

Last year, LoBiondo voted in favor of H.R. 6899, the ironically-entitled Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (the legislation helped to promote risky sources of energy from which American consumers need protection). That legislation effectively lifted the moratorium on offshore drilling for oil in American waters.

This year, however, LoBiondo is the primary sponsor of H.R. 2439, a bill that would forbid new offshore drilling for oil - but only in the waters belonging to LoBiondo’s home state of New Jersey.

Whoever wrote it went to on to make an interesting point:

With H.R. 2439, Representative LoBiondo and his colleagues have fallen prey to a cynical divide-and-conquer strategy devised by lobbyists for big oil companies. First, these lobbyists convinced members of Congress to vote in favor of expanded offshore drilling - but with the idea that Representatives could create special protections for their own states, letting other states take all the risks. Now that the barriers to new drilling have been taken down, members of state delegations to the House of Representatives have put together legislation that would ban offshore drilling, but only in their own states. Each little state-based coalition lacks the votes it needs for its own bill, with a state-against-state dynamic, and so the coastline in every state remains vulnerable the oil spills that inevitably come as a result of increased drilling.

I'd add, though, that there's no particular reason to think LoBiondo or anyone else is sincere when introducing such a local bill. More likely it is just posturing, so he can point to the bill when criticized. Of course I have no idea what's in his heart.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Did Frank LoBiondo Have a Conservative Radio Host Fired?

This is an interesting dispute. Conservative Seth Grossman claims Frank Lobiondo had him fired:

Last July I got tired of hosting a two-way talk program every weekday afternoon on an Ocean City radio station. So I started a new one-hour program Saturday mornings on 92.1 FM WVLT in Vineland. Then I set up a second one-hour program for Friday afternoons on an Atlantic County station.

I agreed to pay the full market rate, and signed up more than enough sponsors. Both I and the station made public announcements, and I even appeared twice as a guest host in advance... But talk radio is very important to local Republican politicians like Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson...

My daily radio program messed things up for both of them. I told the details of how LoBiondo voted to blackmail President Bush into using union contractors for Katrina relief home repairs, end secret ballots for union elections, and waste billions around the country to get beach erosion money down here. I told how LoBiondo was one of only eight Republicans who voted for big new taxes on coal, gas, and oil – while banning offshore drilling for cheap oil...

Seth Grossman continued to press his claims in Shore News:

Last month I asked, “Cui bono?” (who benefits) to find out who “persuaded” the owners of an Atlantic County radio station to cancel my one-hour-a-week program before it even began. I then concluded that Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson benefited the most, had the means, and were most likely the culprits.

After I wrote that, Dennis Levinson wrote a letter that was published in this paper disputing much of what I wrote – but not my main point: that he had used his public office to kick me off the air. By describing me and my column as “purposely misleading … mean spirited … vindictive … dead wrong,” etc., he seemed to confirm it.

Since my program was cancelled, Levinson has been a “guest” on that same radio station more than many regular hosts. His message is this: Wise, honest and caring Republican Dennis Levinson is there to help every senior (even one who needs loan guarantees to buy bankrupt department stores), veteran, union member, friend of the environment, etc. who comes to him; but the high taxes and expensive regulations that go with this kind of politics are caused by others – like those big-spending, corrupt Democrats in Washington, Trenton, and Atlantic City!

Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo plays the same game. And it works. Levinson has been county executive or freeholder for 20 years. LoBiondo has been in Congress for 15 years. When LoBiondo broke his 12-year term limit pledge in 2006, Levinson was the first to publicly praise him for it. Would politicians stay in power this long if more media outlets were like this newspaper and gave all views a chance to be heard?

Reader Mike Conte of Ventor wrote in too:

Mr. Grossman’s recent editorial, "Cui bono," Latin for "Who benefits?" suggests the county executive and Congressmen LoBiondo had a hand in getting his conservative talk-radio program pulled off the air for fear that it would continue to expose their liberal agendas.

Curiously, Levinson does not deny the accusation, but his response appears somewhat disingenuous.

Now, I like the pro-union vote that Conte criticizes and some of the ones Grossman criticizes, and I certainly don't want to listen to Grossman's show, but this is not good if true.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

LoBiondo Quotes

Today's Sunbeam describes a Salem County Chamber of Commerce visit to Frank LoBiondo. The quotes I found interesting:

On Afghanistan LoBiondo said the situation there is "very troubling" to him. He visited the U.S. troops in the war zone in April and again in August and found "a great deterioration" of the situation in the country.

That doesn't sound good but I don't know what he wants to do. Does he want an escalation? Doe he want to pull out? I hope LoBiondo says more on this critical matter.

On the climate change (cap and trade) bill he said:

On energy LoBiondo said he broke ranks with most Republicans and voted for the climate change bill known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act because it included a component which promotes nuclear energy.

He said in terms of jobs and investment, nuclear power has been important to New Jersey, especially Salem County, thus the reason for his vote.

That's a perfectly legitimate reason, but not at all what he said in June.

Now, you'll remember he opposed the bailout and the stimulus when you read this:

On the economic collapse he said, "we still don't know what caused the problem to begin with. They ought to make the regulators we have now do their jobs."

The congressman said the actions of the big banks have caused the problem where credit remains so tight and the fallout has been hurting the strong, smaller banks.

"We're in a situation where community banks have been bloodied because of what Wall Street did."

Local banks have been the main opposition to strong reform so this is actually a pretty strong statement of opposition. It's a dismaying to read that LoBiondo basically is going to say existing regulations are good enough and it's all just a mystery what happened. Hello, look around.

He also said he favors health care reform, just not the actual health care reform under consideration. Well, who can blame him for trying to replay 1993-1994? Just the 44,000+ people who will die this year due to lack of insurance while politicians drag their feet.