Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

It's Pork Pie Time!

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 07:24:00 AM


Saturday... pre-dawn. The nation rests up for the last three day push to the election. Somewhere out on the campaign trail, even Condi Rice has furled her leathery wings about her and hangs upside down, motionless in the basement of a motel. While you sip your first cup of weekend coffee and consider your final election choices, let's take a look at how the stewards of the nation's purse have been spending your money this year.

(Information courtesy of Maxim online, but I'm afraid you need to be a subscriber to their print issue to access it.) Some of the highlights and lowlights:

$6.9 Billion for the Army's Comanche helicopter. But it was worth it, wasn't it? Just look at them. How majestic they seem as a fleet of Comanches swoop overhead, poised to strike devastation upon our... what's that? You've never seen a Comanche? That's because the program was finally scrapped this year without producing so much as a single usable chopper. Incidentally, that rang up another $2 Billion in cancellation fees to contractors.

How about another $15 Billion to go to Boston's "Big Dig" project? Even the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository only sucked up $9 Billion this year, making Boston's public works project the most expensive hole in the ground ever dug. Who says Kerry and Kennedy can't bring home the bacon?

$835 Million went to construct a single amphibious assault ship which the Pentagon never asked for. It's probably just a coincidence that the money was asked for by Trent Lott and the boondoggle of a ship was built at a Mississippi shipyard within sight of Lott's home.

Here's a nice item. $3.5 Million of your tax dinero took a trip down south to Alabama to refurbish the Vulcan Monument. No, that has nothing to do with Spock. It's a depiction of the Roman god of fire and metalworking.

$1 Million went to nearby South Carolina to pay for "Oyster Recovery." When contacted and asked exactly what that means, a representative of the South Carolina State Department said, "I have no idea. Where did you read that?"

I know you were curious about your good friends and staunch defenders of the republic over at Halliburton. How did they make out this year? You'll spend fewer sleepless nights worrying about their survival when you find out that they rang up $6.46 Billion in Federal cash for their troop support efforts in Iraq. This included:
  • $45 cases of soda
  • $85,000 oil filters
  • $100 per bag of laundry
Meanwhile, a new private earns only $13,248 a year, but he gets an extra $225 a month for taking fire in combat!

Feel better? Let's move on.

$9.1 Billion was spent on the "Star Wars" missile defense system, bringing it's two decade total to $90 Billion. This cash is getting flushed into a missile program designed to defend us against the no longer extant Soviet Union's flocks of ICBMs. Today, if we were attacked by another military superpower, it would most likely come in the form of submarine launched, lower trajectory missiles. The greatest threat, of course, is an unexpected terrorist attack on a single target. The missile system will do nothing for either of these scenarios.

Who did the best job of rounding up your cash and herding it back to their home states? It doesn't break down by party lines, if that's what you're thinking. Everyone has been trying to get their porcine little noses shoved into the barrel and run off squealing with your money.

Our winner for 2004... Alaska's Republican Ted Stevens. He sits on the appropriations committee and piled up $524 Million for various local pork funded pet projects, the most of anyone in Congress. This, by the way, is the same guy who recently suggested that New York City cops and firemen give up their overtime pay as a "wartime sacrifice." What a sweetheart.

Coming in second, but not far behind, we find Hawaii's Democrat Daniel Inouye, who snuck away with $494 Million in pork. What does one do with that kind of money in such a small set of islands? Among other things, he rang up $2.3 Million on brown snake control and another half million to "monitor pineapple and papaya crops." I was unable to obtain information for you on where you sign up to be a papaya monitor, but the benefits are out of this world.

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, made a valiant effort in the final stretch and wins the Most Unusual Pork Request Award for 2004. Specter asked for, and received, $90,000 of your tax money to have a study of fruit flies conducted in France. Excuse us, Mr. Senator, but... fruit flies in France? "You don't want to study fruit flies in Pennsylvania, where they might get into our apple crops."

The Lifetime Pork Achievement Award goes to Robert Byrd, Democrat from West Virginia. This year he set a milestone that may stand forever, becoming the first congressman in history to bring home a total of over $1 Billion in pork for his home state. (To be fair to Mr. Byrd, he's been there since the Kennedy administration, so he's had plenty of time to stack up the cash.) His chief fascination seems to be with roads, having arranged for the construction of more than 37,000 miles of federally funded roadways in West Virginia during his tenure. Who knew the state was that big?

Other top pork wagon pushers for this year are Republicans Jim Gibbons of Nevada ($225,000 to fix a swimming pool) and Terry Everett of Alabama ($202,500 for the National Peanut Festival.) For the Democrats, additional top honors go to South Carolina's Fritz Hollings (who wrangled $16 Million for the Hollings Marine Laboratory) and Anthony Williams, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., who grabbed up $181 Million in Federal funds for a city with a population of only 563,000.

Just warms the cockles of your little hearts, doesn't it? Now let's all get out there on Tuesday and vote these guys back into office so they can belly up to the feed trough again next year.