Friday, November 21, 2008

Waxman takes over

The Clarion Content has long considered Representative Henry Waxman the kind of self-aggrandizing, self-promoting, a-hole Congressperson that makes us loathe the institution. The guy never met a hearing or a publicity opportunity that he didn't like, and didn't attempt to exploit to the fullest. (steroids, tobacco, the NFL Network...) He has long been in bed with the trial lawyers and promoters of the exploitation of tort law and the lawsuit. Waxman first came to our notice when he sided with the wealthy homeowners in his district helping squash the expansion of the Los Angeles city subway system. His efforts were ground in ugly racial politics rooted in his constituents' fear that expanding the subway might allow minorities easier access to their neighborhoods.

But while Congressman Waxman has been an awful grandstander, he has been on the right side of several big issues in the last few decades. (He has served in Congress for 33 years.) He was on the right side of defending and expanding the Clean Air Act more than once. He was one of the first to press evil Vice-President Dick Cheney to name the names of those advising him privately on energy policy. Waxman was also behind the official condemnation of the Bush II administration for the prejudicing and politicization of governmental science it sponsored. Congressman Waxman also help lead the push for the expansion of the availability of cheap generic drugs in America.

He is in the news, and the Clarion Content is forced to celebrate his triumph as the lesser of two evils. In a rare break from the seniority rules method of selecting Congressional Committee Chairpersons, Congressman Waxman wrested the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee from Michigan Representative John D. Dingell this week. Congressman Dingell, an a-hole of the first order, is literally married to a General Motors senior executive and former lobbyist, who is descended from the founding family of G.M. No surprise then, Dingell has been a total shill for the automakers for his whole career. He has on more than one occasion helped them fight off environmental regulation. He supported them strongly in their fight to stop gas mileage standards from being raised and to keep SUVs considered as trucks instead of cars. (Again, in an effort to ward off being forced to accept higher fuel efficiency standards.) He has also fought against demands that Detroit raise vehicle safety standards.

The Clarion Content is happy to see Dingell's head roll. He should retire. He has been in Congress far too long, like so many of these octogenarian power mongers. Dingell is as bad as any, having inherited his seat when his father died in office in 1955.

The Clarion's hope as that as the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Chairperson, Congressman Waxman, presses United States automakers to join the 21st century environmentally.

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