You Can Call It ‘The Other White Meat,’ It’s Still Pork

As you may (or may not) know, the original meaning of earmark is identification mark on the ear of a domestic animal and
it’s no surprise that the domestic animal most  earmarked is a pig, one
of only two producers of pork in the entire world.

Pork in politics.

The Quicker Picker Upper, The Other White Meat,
if there’s not a cool name for a dull product, then it doesn’t exist in
America. Even among the hot-button issues, metaphor rules. Rape has
become non-consensual sex, the hungry have very low food security and crooked politicians are ethically deprived. You gotta love it.
Thus Robert Novak’s column of a few days ago, Earmark Subterfuge, caught my eye because each word in the two-word title is so careful. I’m not a great fan of Novak, but he had some interesting things to say.
As you may (or may not) know, the original meaning of earmark is identification mark on the ear of a domestic animal and
it’s no surprise that the domestic animal most  earmarked is a pig, one
of only two producers of pork in the entire world. Subterfuge, Novak
uses in its current and only meaning, something intended to misrepresent the true nature of an activity.

With that in mind, away we go!
Your and my Congress has evidently been at it again, misrepresenting the true nature of what’s actually happening
behind all those closed doors. Flinging open the curtains, we’ve caught
the newly elected crooks and liars stickied all over with the very
activity they decried on their way to flim-flamming the electorate.
Novak writes;

As part of “Sunshine Week,”
meant to promote transparent government, the Office of Management and
Budget was supposed to release a comprehensive database last Monday
revealing the number and cost of earmarks since 2005. It did not. Word
on Capitol Hill was that OMB was muzzled by the White House for fear of
offending powerful congressional appropriators.
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee staffs under
Democratic control are privately asking individual senators for earmark
requests, without much transparency. That would seem to make a sham of
the pledge by Appropriations Chairman Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va) to “place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place.”

Bob Byrd has been a long time in the Senate saddle. But he cut his teeth these past 48 years in that august body by bringin’ home the pork for West Virginia. It’s not all Bob’s fault, no matter that he has become known as the King of Pork.
The comparison between politics and making sausage is relevant—neither is pretty to watch, but the market penetration of the finished product is awesome.
The interesting thing about earmarks is that the ‘bridge to nowhere’ in Alaska is only a bad idea if you don’t live in Alaska. Replacing the old route 47 bridge outside of town is an absolute necessity if that bridge is outside your (or my) town.
Not only that, but it’s what we sent our Senator and
Representative to Washington for and they’ve taken their damn time
about getting it done, even so.

Director Rob Portman, a former member of the House Republican
leadership, is a firm opponent of earmarks. On Jan. 25, he signed a
memorandum for heads of departments on the collection of information
about earmarks. It set forth a rigid timeline to culminate in the
posting on March 12 of all these data on the
“public Internet.” What would be revealed would be a rare exposure of the murky world of congressional pork.

just as OMB was preparing to put out the information, it sent word to
Capitol Hill that — over the agency’s protests — the data were being
kept under wraps by the White House to appease the appropriators. With
Congress in the midst of the budget process, President Bush’s team did
not want to stir up the Hill.

With unerring accuracy, George W. Bush has once again shot himself in the foot. This, from the Washington Examiner;

White House courier delivering the supplemental proposal to Congress
had hardly left the Capitol grounds before House Democrats began
meeting in secret to pork it up. They stuffed the Iraq supplemental
with more than $20 billion worth of pork, some designed to buy votes
for the measure but all of it done behind closed doors.
As a result, the measure has been stuffed with such essential defense measures as:

  • $74 million for peanut storage
  • $25 million for spinach growers
  • $100 million for citrus growers
  • $16 million to build new office space for the House of Representatives
  • $60 million for Indian tribes and fishermen affected by declining salmon populations in the Northwest
  • $50 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Hill Power Plant
  • $120 million for the shrimp and menhaden industries
  • $283 million for extending the small dairy farm income loss contract program

It would seem, that if Bush truly wanted this supplemental spending
bill for the coming year’s fiasco in Iraq, he’d have turned Rob Portman
loose to spotlight whoever is being bought off to vote for Pelosi’s
version of the bill. No buy-off, no passage of the Pelosi version. No
passage and he gets his bill as he asked for it, along with credit for
earing back the earmarks.
From the president’s State of the Union speech;

special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour,
when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks
grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion.

“Even worse,
over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and
Senate. They are dropped into committee reports that are not even part
of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn’t vote them into law. I
didn’t sign them into law. Yet, they’re treated as if they have the
force of law.”

We’ll just ignore the irony about things signed into law.
Nancy Pelosi and her crew were swept into office because of voter outrage over the Iraq war and earmarks. Hardly two months in office and a $20 billion hog has just been strung up by the Democrats.
And it’s no one’s fault.
Nancy’s retreat from those embarrassing campaign promises is said to be because of her feeling that the greater good is served by getting this get-out-of-Iraq bill passed. Bush’s clamp-down on Rob Portman was said to be muzzled by the White House for fear of offending powerful congressional appropriators.

  • Payment for votes, so the greater good will be served.
  • $21 billion in earmarks for fear of offending.

Hey, Nancy–the greater good is supposed to include 300
million Americans as well as 150,000 troops. And George, the
Republicans aren’t in trouble because they offended 435 Representatives
and 100 Senators. They’re in the doghouse for offending those 300
million fellow citizens you speak to every Saturday.
Ah, the sound of truly bi-partisan politics—it’s no longer a Republican exclusive, now both hogs have their heads in the trough.
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