October 26, 2007

Voters Should Veto Earmarksand Earmarkers

by Donald G. Mashburn

Voters should not forget – ever! – the shameless earmarking perpetrated by most members of Congress who treat taxpayer dollars like their own “found money.” Voters should then act by simply refusing to vote for any member of Congress that’s for earmarks, or against regulations to control, disclose or eliminate them.

Only a few in Congress take a principled, unhypocritical stand against earmarks, the blatant pork barrel raiding that allows members of Congress to funnel our money into projects and boondoggles in their home districts and states. The most outspoken opponent of pork barrel earmarks is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, who has become quite unpopular with the Big Spenders in D.C.

Coburn and his allies have identified many, usually local, out-and-out pork projects that don’t deserve to be funded by our tax dollars. These big bits of bacon have specific beneficiaries that are helpful to members of Congress in getting reelected.

Coburn has said, “Even at a whopping $47 billion, the pork barrel earmarks are only the most outrageous example of runaway federal spending.” No one could argue with the senator’s assessment, once they look at some of those “outrageous” examples.

Things like $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for music education. Why, in the name of common sense, should taxpayers from all over this great land be paying for rock and roll education in Cleveland – or anywhere?

Then there’s the $450,000 for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, for “educational outreach” using baseball. Now I like baseball. I played the game; I coached the game. But tapping the public till for baseball “educational outreach” is a form of robbery made legal by the pork pushers in Congress.

Then there are smaller chunks of pork, like $25,000 for a Nevada school district to develop a curriculum to study mariachi music. Mariachi music? Why not folk music in Virginia, polka music in Wisconsin, or western swing in Oklahoma and Texas?

Congress doesn’t forget its own when doling out the pork, as seen by the $3,000,000 for a fitness facility for staff employees of the House of Representatives. Why are government employees not responsible for their own fitness and recreation like the rest of us?

Some earmarks from earlier pork binges stick in my mind. I recall money being earmarked for an “art appreciation museum” in Arkansas for a town with a population of six thousand! Substantial sums (about $2,000,000, as I recal1) to teach children tennis in Florida, money for a municipal swimming pool in a southern state, and funds for sidewalks and streetlights in small New England cities.

The things nearly all the projects, big and small, have in common are they get federal funds for items that benefit only local citizens, they aren’t critical to the nation’s safety or well-being, and they rightly should be funded by local taxpayers, not all taxpayers nationwide.

The earmark pork problem has spread so that even those claiming to be conservatives get in on the raiding of the treasury. Some even defend earmarks. Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK, recently told an Oklahoma audience that earmarks were “prudent public investments.” Cole often has railed against wasteful federal spending, but he’s willing to tout earmarks when he brings home the bacon to the locals in his district.

Cole has some big-name company. Recently, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) took Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, to task for her efforts to gain $1 million for a Woodstock museum to commemorate that orgy of the flower children. One might properly demand, “Why would a U.S. senator want to raid the national treasury for funds to preserve the memory of an event of which most of the participants have no clear recollection?”

The only answer seems to be: that’s just the nature of the pork-barrel raiders.

These tax-and-spend types in Congress won’t change, so the only solution is for the voters to change them, by voting them out of office.

Clinton Funny Money Again
by Bob Parks

One thing people who support Hillary Clinton for President need to remember: she and her husband got away with a lot of things during their eight years in the White House. People as arrogant as the Clintons believe that since they got away with it before, they can get away with it again.

The story, “Big Source of Clinton's Cash Is an Unlikely Address,” out of Daly City, Calif., by Brody Mullins, shows how it’s done:

“One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport. Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Avenue as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.”

That total ranks the house with residences in Greenwich, Conn., and Manhattan's Upper East Side among the top donors to the Democratic presidential front-runner over the past two years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of donations listed with the Federal Election Commission.

Like in the nineties, you'll see that the people donating this money do not have the means to make these kinds of generous donations. Many of those involved in previous scandals, if you remember, pleaded the Fifth, and some fled the country so they didn't have to testify when the jig was up.

Do the names John Huang, Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, Pauline Kanchanalak, James Riady, and the Buddhist monks bring back memories?

So, big money is rolling in to Hillary and Democrats today through the Paws from … somewhere.

There is this affliction called "Clinton fatigue." Reminding people of those good old days will mean we are "haters" and "racists," as the donors are Asian. That was the primary defense back then.

Looks more like deja vu all over again than anything else.

Bob Parks is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc.