Friday, August 11, 2006


In Search Of Congressman Pombo, Part Two

In part one, I was inspired to take up my on again, off again communication with Richard Pombo, my local Congressman. Since he hasn't been very responsive to my previous emails, aside from a form email thanking me for writing and telling me I can expect to hear a detailed response from the congressman shortly, I thought I would take the longer, slower approach. The short version: he voted against nineteen amendments that identified and required specific up or down votes on nineteen individual pieces of pork spending. The experiment: if I write one email at a time, about one vote at a time, by email seventeen or so, will I actually get more than a form letter response and a promise of a more detailed response later? Of course, I decided to undertake this bold mission the day before going on vacation for a week. Now that I'm back, and the election is getting closer, it's time to get started.

Andrew Roth at the Club For Growth made all this possible. He rounded up the nineteen amendments, and the votes of each member of the House on each one. In addition, he has invited interested bloggers to contact their representatives and ask why they support pork, or thank them for being against pork, depending on how they voted. Take part. Then tell Andrew what you're doing, because he has a big list of representatives, and his goal is to get at least one local blogger writing about each one. Andrew's contact info and details on the project are at the link above.

Whoever your representative is, man, woman, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Socialist, whatever, I encourage you to be involved. As a member of this society, you have an obligation to be an informed and involved citizen. At the very least, you should be voting, so if you haven't registered yet, get it done before the next election. At the very least, you should live Cameron's comment to Ferris and Sloane:
I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to defend it. Right or wrong, I'm going to defend it.

Enough of that; on to Pombo. Depending on my mood, I may or may not make an effort to individualize these emails to him. Can I really complain about the form letters he sends me when I'm pretty much sending him a form letter of my own? Then again, at this point, there is no guarantee than any human has read any of the individual emails I've sent him in the past. Whatever. Here's this week's letter. Feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions. Hopefully it's not too snotty:
Congressman Pombo,

One of the important issues Republicans stand for is responsible spending. In the last year or so, there has been a lot of discussion about "pork" spending. These are questionable spending projects that, while they may make the local representative look good, are not really necessary, are not necessarily good ideas, are not areas in which the government should be involved, and usually are tucked into larger bills to avoid scrutiny. The general feeling about pork is that it is an underhanded process that is not conducted with the transparency that everyone has a right to expect from their representatives.

I was hoping you could explain your vote on House Vote 190 - Dairy education in Iowa. When we have a deficit of any size, even as little as one dollar, is it really responsible for the national, United States Government to be spending money on something like this? I'll give you some free dairy education if you want to pass it on to Iowa: dairy products come from cows, and include milk, cheese, and butter. I suspect that that dairy education money is just going to enrich a local print shop that will make up a bunch of brochures with pretty cow pictures. Can you defend this vote, and the money it wastes? Help me understand the political process a bit here. Thank you for your time.

I guess the experiment requires that I let you know about the responses. Trust me; they'll start feeling really repetitive fairly quickly.

Actual Update: That didn't take long, did it:
Thank you for contacting me. This is an auto response confirming that I have received your e-mail. I appreciate the time you have taken to contact me.

Please be advised if you sent an e-mail with an attachment or forward from another source, due to security reasons, I am unable to open them. Please cut and paste and re-send the e-mail. If you would like to receive a reply to your letter via U.S. postal mail, please make sure you have included your CA 11th District address. Letters received by e-mail will be responded to the same way. You will receive a response pertaining to your comments and concerns shortly.

If you reside outside of California's 11th District, I urge you to contact your Representative. You can find contact information for your Representative at

For more information on legislation and links to other government
information, please visit

Of course, on July 30th, they told me I would "receive a response pertaining to your comments and concerns shortly" also. I never did. Since the replies to me so far are strictly automated, is it even worth it to include in my emails to Pombo a running total of emails to which I have been promised, but have not received, a "response pertaining to your comments and concerns?" Is it a Pombo strategy that emails are for losers and if a person is concerned enough, he'll step away from the keyboard and make a phone call? What is the heirarchy among emails, snail mail, phone calls, and in-person visits?
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