Let's hear it for earmarks

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Every now and then, something happens that reminds us what suckers the news media can be. The most recent example is earmarks. The news media generally lionize the politicians who rail against earmarks, the term used to describe how Senators and members of the House of Representatives win government funds for pet projects in their states without going through the normal legislative process.

Senator John McCain, coming off a recent 16-month run as a maverick committed to comforting the comfortable, has decided to return to his previous vocation of protecting the country from government waste and abuse.

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McCain's Nuts, Feingold and Ryan Following

Sen. John McCain is like a man on the Titanic complaining to the bartender that there's not enough vodka in his drink as outside the iceberg approaches.

Reads a fundraising e-mail from McCain complaining about "pork" in a big spending bill (now blocked by Republicans threatening a filibuster in the U.S. Senate) as McCain seeks reelection in 2010:

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Blumenauer Stands Up to McCain on Solar Energy

Danny Glover (no, not that one) has the run down:

The Arizona Republican posted his first anti-pork list under the Twitter name @SenJohnMcCain late last week, calling attention to projects like $650,000 for beaver management and $1.7 million for pig odor research. He brought the Top 10 list “back by popular demand” the first two days of this week. The project in the No. 1 slot today: “$951,500 for the Oregon Solar Highway.”

That dishonor didn’t sit well with Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose home state stands to benefit from the earmark. Tweeting as @repblumenauer, he mocked McCain.

McCain wasn’t familiar with a Blackberry [during the 2008 presidential campaign], right?” tweeted Blumenauer, who quickly issued a press release celebrating earmarks for Oregon when the House passed its version of the spending bill last week. “How’s he supposed to understand a solar highway utilizing right-of-way to generate solar power?”

McCain is known for a fiery temper, but he’s obviously got nothing on Blumenauer.

Blumenauer, by the way, also had this to tweet about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal last week after Jindal delivered the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s address to Congress: “Jindal is weird. I can’t believe Jindal. Such a sad contrast with President. Doesn’t even look or sound good, to say nothing about content.”

Does the Senator from Arizona, a state that presumably has quite a bit of interest in solar energy, really think it's a bad idea for the federal government to be involved in the use of solar energy to power lights and signage on federal highways? The conservative blogs attacking Earl Blumenauer (for whom I used to consult), saying that Oregon should be paying for such projects, not the nation as a whole. But shouldn't it be the federal government paying for projects related to federal highways (and, by the way, this is the first such project in the nation -- a pilot program)? Or do the right wingers want to go back to a period before Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was in office, before the federal government made its major foray into funding and building our national highway system?

But even getting beyond the specifics of this particular item, the fact of the matter is that the American public doesn't care about earmarks -- regardless of what Beltway insiders, not the least of which John McCain, thinks. Earmarks make up a miniscule proportion of expenditures, and don't significantly increase the budget. Rather, they shift decision making power on certain projects from the executive to the legislative branch, which isn't necessarily the worst or most nonsensical thing as Congress is elected to legislate on matters like funding of programs.

Regardless, good to see that not everyone is cowering to McCain's bluster.

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McCain/McConnell/Boehner LOVE Obama's Iraq plan

In 2006, we elected a Democratic Congress, so that Pelosi and Reid would end the war in Iraq.

In 2008, the Democrats nominated and elected the "anti war" candidate who pledged to end the war in Iraq, withdraw our troops, and use the money now spent in Iraq to fund his domestic agenda.
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics /AP/story/925995.html

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A Crisis is Only a Crisis?

     When is a crisis a crisis? Obviously in the Republican mindset it is whenever they decide it is. It is not based on evidence, facts, or the threat level as evidenced by the Iraq War. It is not based on the magnitude or the suffering involved as evidenced by Hurricane Katrina. It is not based on expert predictions or historical facts as evidenced by the current economic conditions. In what has to be the most bizarre strategy in the history of politics the Republicans have chosen to hope for economic disaster. That's right, with the rest of the country and the world hoping that the Obama administration will succeed in turning the economic crisis around the Republicans have staked out the strategy and the position of gloom and doom. Not only have they expressed hope that this will occur which is bad enough, but they are also in the process of orchestrating our economy's complete demise through their inaction or obstinacy.

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