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Excerpted from the Midnight Oil

What do you do when you are a Congressional candidate ... your Presidential candidate is campaigning on the basis of Potemkin Energy policies like drilling for an extra 100,000 barrels of oil a day starting a decade from now (when a Saudi announcement of an extra 500,000 barrels later this year did not move prices by any discernable amount) ... and a gas tax holiday ...

... especially when in the last contentious Ohio State highway funding fight, you as the Republican voted for Governor Taft's gas tax hike, and your Democratic opponent voted against it?

Simple: you lie.

Well, of course, this is a Republican candidate for Congress we are talking about here ... you don't lie yourself, you have an "independent group" with a name like Freedom's Watch lie for you.

As John Boccieri (D), running for OH-16, wrote last Thursday:

Why is Freedom’s Watch telling people to call me about a gas tax I opposed? Shouldn’t they be asking voters to call Kirk Schuring instead? And why are big-money Washington groups dumping cookie-cutter attacks on our district while Schuring himself hasn't said a word about his energy plans?

What is Freedom's Watch? A Trucker's organization? Nope:

Group founded to support Bush's surge in Iraq and encourage military action against Iran gearing up for November.

.. and so getting in the race against John Boccieri and in favor of Schuring is an indication that they think John Boccieri will be a force against continuing the war in Iraq indefinitely, while Schuring will be a force in favor of war and more war.


Why is a Pro-War Group Interested in Gas Taxes

At least this explains why Freedom's Watch is happy to lie about the gas tax record ... they don't care about gas taxes or transport funding as such, so they have no interest in rewarding state legislators that vote one way or the other on a transport bill.

Except, of course, the 2003 Ohio transport funding bill helped perpetuate a system of oil addiction, so a group dedicated to the proposition of War and More War in the Middle East really ought to care about it.

A 2003 Brooking's Report, Slanted Pavement, reports on Ohio's flawed transport funding, which shortchanges cities and suburbs in favor of rural areas. It also restricts state gas tax revenues to highway construction alone, so that gas tax funding cannot be used by localities to meet the local funding component to receive federal matching funds for dedicated transport corridors.

As the report noted:

These anti-urban biases arise from three principal sources. First, the formula for distributing revenues generated from the gas and vehicle registration taxes does not favor cities. To the contrary: Counties and townships receive these revenues in equal shares without regard to population size, numbers of vehicles, the amount of vehicle miles traveled, or which jurisdiction has responsibility for the roadway network. That means rural Harrison County, with a population of 15,000 receives the same level of funding from the county share as Cuyahoga County, home of 1.4 million urban residents. A second bias follows from the fact state highway funds are spent on interstate highways, state roads and highways only, which principally run through unincorporated areas, townships, and rural counties. This generally leaves municipalities responsible for maintaining their own roadways while rural counties benefit from greater state attention and state investment. Finally, Ohio restricts the use of gas tax revenues to highways only, which limits the ability of urban and suburban areas to invest in transit options or air quality improvements. That, too, tilts spending toward rural and suburban pavement.

Allowing gas taxes to be used on providing alternatives to road transport does not feed the oil addiction, and so it does not benefit the big developers that have been relying on large suburban tract, big box retail development, and office/industrial park development. Channeling all gas tax proceeds into road works, on the other hand, and giving a bias for rural areas over already developed areas, helps channel state funding to subsidize sprawl development.

The Ohio transport bill, which was an increase in the gas tax of $0.06 a gallon spread over three years, and an increase in registration, license and title transfer fees to shift the cost of the Highway Patrol off the gas tax, was just more of the same. So I am happy the John Boccieri (did I mention, now running for OH-16?) voted against it.

The solution to our transport mess is not, it goes without saying, more of what got us into the mess. We have to build an entirely new Energy Economy ... as John Boccieri has been calling for:

John believes that America's energy should come from Midwest innovation, not Middle East oil. In the same 10-15 years it would take to develop new sources of oil, we could invest in cutting-edge technologies and businesses right here in Ohio's 16th District that will lead to home-grown, affordable, renewable energy while creating high-paying local jobs and turning around our economy.

But even if I supported Taft's transport bill ... Freedom's Watch is using direct calling to spread lies about John Boccieri's voting record. And I am even more strongly opposed to that!


What Can We Do About It?

I have no idea what we can do about it, other than spreading the word. This is, of course, no a group that is restricted to OH-16, so this is an issue for anyone to pick up who is supporting an anti-Iraq War candidate ... we need to get Freedom's Watch tagged as a source of dirty tricks, so that when they start operating elsewhere, people are on the watch out and we catch the next lie they propagate.

So, spread the story around the blogosphere, that's one.

Two, three, four ... I dunno. You tell me. I want to get the word out to low-information voters in OH-16. The kind that might not be reading the blogs. So, how do we do that?

If someone can catch them in the act with a recording of the call where they tell the lie, we could put together a YouTube clip, and then put those on video CD's and hand them out ... that is something that will break out of the Silicon Cage that so much "online activism" gets trapped in.

Other than that, I'm soliciting ideas.

Midnight Oil - Read About It (1983)
...
You wouldn't read about it, read about it
One unjust ridiculous steal, ain't no doubt about it
You wouldn't read about it, read about it
Just another particular deal, there's no doubt about it

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:55 AM PDT.

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