12 March 2007

Where is the sacrifice, oh Congress?

We have heard time and again, for years about the 'lack of sacrifice by America' in the ongoing conflict to confront terrorism. Indeed, there has been much talk about this from Congress, and the hot air has been blowing from it with such notables as this:

Fox News, FNS with Chris Wallace, 26 NOV 2006.

Chris Wallace:Congressman, in fact, contrary to what you've been saying, isn't the volunteer army better educated and more well-to-do than the general population? [This in refernce to a
Heritage Foundation study on the US Armed Forces]

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): Of course not. I want to make it abundantly clear that I have been advocating a draft ever since the president has been talking about war, and none of this comes within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.

But I want to make it abundantly clear, if there's anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment.

If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

So anyone who supports the war and is against everyone sharing in the sacrifice is being hypocritical about the whole thing. The record is clear, and once we are able to get hearings on this, everyone will see what they already know, and that is that those who have the least opportunities at this age find themselves in the military, as I did when I was 18 years old.
And when he was 18 the fight was in Korea against an expansionist Communist regime that was then pushed back by the Chinese. Yes, this modern conflict is so much like that, isn't it? A superpower proxy stand-off with hordes of soldiers itching to flood the Iraqi borders and the US having to send men into the meatgrinder of ground combat. But even worse is the abysmal ignorance of Mr. Rangel on the true state of the troops, recruitment and capability of those volunteering for military service. Indeed, the equipment and type of warfare have so changed that having a high-school degree and the bare skills to even get by in this world are no longer enough to get a place in uniform. Overall the Armed Forces are better educated, better informed, and have a higher skill base than the US population as a whole. Mr. Rangel wishes to continue the draft mantra of the 1960's in which the poor were picked up disproportionately to those with higher income due to draft deferments. But that military is gone from this planet and the one we have today does not represent those patrician ideals of 'shared sacrifice'.

Conscription and the draft have been the exception for the United States, not the rule, and the history of volunteer citizen soldiers goes all the way back to 1775. Apparently Mr. Rangle likes the idea of putting young people at work to the behest of Congress, and that is pointedly *not* how America does things.

Now this is not the first time that Mr. Rangel tried to get such legislation going and he has had other backers as seen in this post by The California Aggie on 2 JUN 2004:
Discussion arose last year when, in January 2003, Senator Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) introduced the Universal National Service Act to both the House and the Senate. The bill would reinstate the military draft requiring both men and women aged 18 to 26 to perform either military or civilian service.
And this from The Badger Herald (06 OCT 2004) on the outcome of Mr. Rangel's quixotic dream of draftiness:
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to defeat a bill calling for the restoration of the military draft Tuesday.

By a 402-2 vote, the House shot down HR 163, otherwise known as the Universal National Service Act of 2003. The bill, introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, in January 2003, would have required all U.S. citizens aged 18 to 25, including women, to serve two years of military or civilian service.
Yes, all of two, whole votes for the draft in the House of Representatives.

But this is not an old story, as Bruce Chapman at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer points out, 27 OCT 2004:
Military conscription was abolished more than 30 years ago by Richard Nixon (yes, that's right) after a six-year campaign by Republicans to replace draftees with volunteers attracted to service by decent pay and better living conditions. I know, because my book, "The Wrong Man in Uniform," in 1967, helped launch a movement for reform that borrowed heavily on the ideas of economist Milton Friedman and was led in Congress by a young Illinoisan named Donald Rumsfeld.

Fighting on the other side of the issue were Democrats led by none other than Ted Kennedy. President Johnson's administration had resisted draft reform and Kennedy and company wanted to retain conscription and make it more universal. Since only a small share of each age cohort of young men was needed to serve in the armed forces, Republicans sought to enlist that share with positive incentives while the Democrats proposed to draft everybody for "National Service," a new kind of conscription that could be fulfilled in the military, but also in various government-assigned jobs.
Here is the main worry about the Democratic view of 'sacrifice': they prefer to conscript people so as to use them as a Congressionally mandated workforce. That is plain: involuntary servitude under Congress. Apparently that is something that the Democrats forget to tell us about 'shared sacrifice': we do the sacrificing and they decide who gets the shares.

Mr. Chapman then goes on, looking at the politics of 2004:
President Bush, like his father, has supported voluntary service, too, even with government funds, but nothing like the scope and cost envisioned by such liberals as Kennedy, and now John Kerry. Candidate Kerry wants to enlist a half million people in his plan, many doing "service" for indirect pay, such as schooling grants, that taxpaying citizens perform now, or could perform if compensated.

But always lurking in the background for liberals has been the idea of getting "service" out of everybody and the full awareness that that will entail coercion in the form of conscription someday. Democrats are the main backers of comprehensive national service proposals in Congress and two Democrats, Charles Rangel and Jim McDermott, were the sponsors of the bills on the draft that the House voted down recently.
Such lovely folks, these Democrats on 'shared sacrifice' and 'National Service'. That worry about coercion by the Federal Government to force people into labor for it is not only anti-democratic (small "d" as in democracy) but counter to the ethos of America. Only under extreme National threat has conscription and the draft been used and then repealed as fast as possible as the liberty and freedom of the individual is put at extreme risk by a Government that has an unwilling workforce that can work for little or, as John Kerry wanted it, NO pay.

That is not 'shared sacrifice'. That is involuntary servitude and the threat of coercion makes it slavery. And then we have the true calamity as seen by Rep. John Murth (D-PA) in a 17 NOV 2005 press release:
"I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden."
So, where the hell WAS Mr. Murtha on actually making sure these things are FUNDED? Here is the problem with the 'shared sacrifice' vision: the Democratic Party wants FREE service from the Citizens of the US to do as it likes and is unwilling to PAY for the things that actually protect the Nation and ensure that wounded soldiers have decent and proper medical care. Mr. Murtha says that he has been to Walter Reed "almost every week". So he has had PERSONAL and DIRECT experiences of the conditions there and has done ZERO about it. Remember, that is what Congress gets to do: set the budget and ensure that the National obligations are met.

Because it is Congress that must do the mobilizing of Industry. It is Congress that must ensure that stores and replacements are there for the Armed Forces. And, most pointedly, it is Congress that must ensure the funding of the VA hospitals so that good and decent treatment is available to those who have voluntarily sacrificed their lives and well-being for the Nation. Volunteers do that and Congress, from both Parties, is unwilling to back that to the hilt and ensure that the Armed Forces gets all that it needs when fighting a war authorized by Congress.

The question must come up, then, of the seriousness of Congress to actually do its job. Volunteers are there because they WANT to be there to defend the Nation. They are not coerced into it and, although the pay is quite minimal, it is present along with health care for the soldiers and their families. But the type and level of that service, the minuscule pay and the entire level of inattention paid to the Volunteers defending America points to their inability to even do their jobs for *that*. The entire rucus over Walter Reed came to light NOT from Rep. Murtha, but from a disreputable rag known as the Washington Post. The Army Times gives better and more in-depth coverage of the problems seen and why they are there, and the answers to that may start at the Administration but end at Congress.

Because, even though the House Republicans were in charge of things, we did have one Democrat on the scene that visited WRAMC almost weekly: Rep. John Murtha. Remember him? And with such an august member, as many House Democrats have said about him, being Johnny-on-the-spot at WRAMC which is ground-zero for the scandal, just where was HIS oversight of this? Congress does get the entire budgetary outlay, and saying that the Administration has 'mislaid priorities' when it is Congress that sets the funding for these things is totally out of line with the responsibilities set by the Constitution. The President executes the budget, but Congress puts the budget forward with all of ITS priorities funded how THEY want them to be funded and they have complete and final oversight of that funding. The disposition and spending of funds is wholly under Congressional authority and power and placing the blame on the Executive when you have an individual at the very site of the problem in question is not only disingenuous it is disgusting.

Now for some fun to see what *was* being funded by Congress. From the 2005 Congressional Pig Book on p. 34 (p.36 in the .pdf file):
$22,553,000 for projects in the state of Senate appropriator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the districts of House Interior Appropriations subcommittee members John Peterson (R-Pa.) and Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), and the districts of House appropriators John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), including: $11,059,000 for the Gettysburg National Military Park; $1,085,000 for the Kinzua Wolf Run Marina at Allegheny National Forest; $300,000 for Washington and Jefferson College historic buildings; $250,000 to increase tourism at Allegheny National Forest; $250,000 for Troy High School; $200,000 for the Harmony Engine Company Firehouse; $100,000 for the State Theatre; and $49,000 for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
I am sure that $22.5 million dollars could have gone a long way towards getting rid of mold in WRAMC and in cleaning the place up, in general. But that would have required deciding between pork in the Dept. of the Interior or funding VA hospitals to meet the needs of wounded soldiers and veterans. I know, a very tough decision, that. But, since this was in an area of Mr. Murtha's interest, he could have told these other Congresscritters that this pork should have gone towards funding WRAMC and cleaning it up. So sad that he didn't.

Not to stop there, however, we come to this on p. 34 (36 in .pdf) from the Interior budget:
$114,660,000 added in conference for 544 projects, or 17.7 percent of total Labor/HHS pork, in the state of Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the districts of House Labor/HHS Appropriations subcommittee members John Peterson (R-Pa.) and Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), and the districts of House appropriators John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), including: $27,551,000 for 89 hospitals and health centers; $17,513,000 for 75 college and university programs; $2,565,000 for 33 abstinence education programs; $950,000 for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia to develop educational programs focusing on hands-on learning experiences (the museum has received $5,195,000 since fiscal 2001); $350,000 for the Inner Harmony Foundation and Wellness Center ($250,000 for the Wellness Center in Clarks Summit for a community health program, and $100,000 for the Foundation in Scranton for curriculum development. The Wellness Center offers classes such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga, and “cultivates awareness and empowers individuals”); $100,000 for the Pennsylvania Hunting & Fishing Museum in Warren to develop curriculum for conservation education; and $50,000 for the Philadelphia Foundation for a Sports and Entertainment Career Expo to expose high school students to career opportunities in the sports industry.
Almost $115 million and not one penny of it for WRAMC, body armor, armored HUMVEES, replacements, stores, and equipment for the US Armed Forces. And while I don't deny that Pennsylvania may need its own hospitals and health centers better funded, perhaps they could look towards their own resources and not have to get it on the sly via pork? As in, bring up the subject locally and let folks know that during a war Federal money needs to be put forth to supply and equip the troops and it is best if the folks at home learned to look after themselves. You know? Sacrifice?

Let us not stop there, however, and see what the Transportation bill got added to it on p.49 (51):
$122,730,000 for projects in the state of Senate Transportation/Treasury Appropriations subcommittee member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and the districts of House appropriators John Peterson (R-Pa.), Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), John Murtha (D-Pa.), and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), including: $10,000,000 for the Schuylkill Valley MetroRail in Philadelphia (which has received $45,500,000 since fiscal 1999); $6,000,000 for the Ardmore Transit Center; $4,000,000 for the 26th Street extension at the Philadelphia Naval Business Center; $3,000,000 for improvements to Route 412 in Bethlehem; $2,500,000 for the AltaVista Business Park entrance; $2,000,000 for the Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project; $1,000,000 for the American Parkway Project; $750,000 for a downtown signalization project in Mechanicsburg; $600,000 for the Hopwood Village Streetscape Project; and $350,000 for the Muhlenberg Township Route 222 Corridor Initiative. The initiative would revitalize downtown Muhlenberg by creating "a boulevard-style street design" and "streetscape amenities to promote walk ability."
Why there you have it! MetroRail, which should be a wholly local concern, places far higher than Walter Reed Army Medical Center, body armor, helmets, armored HUMVEES, new tanks, new aircraft, bullets, and such simple things as ensuring that there is some oversight into the whole thing to make sure it runs well. Yes, $123 million for mere transportation projects in PA that should be completely the concern of PA residents and *not* the concern of Congress. But that $45.5 million since 1999 could have done so much good in ensuring that VA hospitals had been kept up to standards, staffed properly, and have proper medical attention paid to wounded soldiers and caring for veterans. In total this Gang of 5 for PA has rounded up over $250 million in one year ALONE for purely pork projects that are of local concern only. In total PA, all on its lonesome got $359,872,931 as seen on p.67 (69) which only places it 34th on the list of most pork infested States in the Union.

Now for some real fun in the Veteran's Administration/Housing and Urban Development budget! Yes, let us take a look at the most dripping fat put into that bill pp. 54-66 (56-68):
$61,429,250 for projects in the state of Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), including: $4,296,600 for the Vandalia Heritage Foundation, Inc. (which happened to be created by Rep. Mollohan); $2,037,000 for Glenville State College for the construction of a new campus community center and the planning and design of a new science center; $1,250,000 for the McDowell County Commission for infrastructure and site development at Indian Ridge Industrial Park; $750,000 for Beckley for downtown revitalization; $657,000 for the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation in Lewisburg for facilities construction; $97,000 for the Strand Theatre Preservation Society in Moundsville for theatre renovations; $97,000 for the Tyler County Commission for facilities construction and renovations; and $72,750 for the Wetzel County 4-H Camp in Martinsville for facilities renovation and buildout.
Remember that the folks packing the pork into this bill are the ones RESPONSIBLE for the budgetary outlay for Walter Reed Army Medical Center. But I am sure that *any* foundation made by any member of Congress is well worth $4.3 million and that extra things like paying doctors and surgeons at WRAMC is far below that. During wartime.
$40,769,750 for projects in the state of Senate VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and the districts of House appropriators Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Robert Cramer (D-Ala.), including: $9,000,000 for the Marshall Space Flight Center; $3,500,000 for the Little River Canyon Field School; $500,000 for the state of Alabama for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (NASA); $200,000 for construction of the Rainesville Agricenter; $200,000 for Mobile for renovations to the Saegner Theater; $150,000 for the Princess Theater for Performing Arts in Decatur for facilities renovations; $150,000 for Guntersville for the Old Rock School Whole Backstage Theater; and $97,000 for the 1856 Memphis and Charleston Railroad Freight Depot in Huntsville for repairs and renovations.
Yes you can get money to renovate an old freight depot, but not get money for Veteran's Hospitals, amazing, isn't it? Even theaters get preference, it appears. And if Marshall Space Flight Center needs some upgrading or bells and whistles, why that is always before fighting a mere war now, isn't it?
$40,665,000 for projects in the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-N.Y.), including: $12,000,000 for continued clean water improvements to Onondaga Lake; $7,000,000 for the Environmental Systems Center of Excellence at Syracuse University; $4,000,000 for a new science center at St. Bonaventure University (Rep. Walsh’s alma mater, whose primary academic concentrations are education and theology); $1,500,000 for Onondaga County’s Metropolitan Water Board to determine the feasibility of bringing naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga and Oswego County; $150,000 for Syracuse for building renovations and stabilization at the Mitzpah Tower facility (according to the Syracuse City Eagle, "The renovated structure would have 100 rooms, facilities for conferences and a business center. The existing symphony hall will be renovated into a ballroom for weddings, corporate functions or dinner theater and an on-premises gym would be contracted out to a known gym facility. A four-star restaurant with an upscale lounge and billiard room would also be built"); and $75,000 for Onondaga County for the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.
Do note, all of that is due to Rep. James Walsh. Nearly $41 million for his own pet projects, and rewarding schools and making sure that purely civilian and local structures for private use were renovated. And a four-star restaurant added in. My, oh my, what dining facilities could WRAMC have gotten with that!
$27,850,000 for projects in the state of Senate VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and the district of House appropriator Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), including: $3,000,000 for the Chesapeake Information Based Aeronautics Consortium; $1,750,000 for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for photonics research; $500,000 for St. Mary’s County for the acquisition and redevelopment of Lexington Manor; $300,000 for Baltimore for the relocation of the Center Garage; $72,750 for the Enterprise Foundation in Annapolis for a feasibility study; and $72,750 for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation for construction of a stadium in Aberdeen. When the stadium is completed, it will be a replica of Camden Yards in Baltimore in order to give kids a feel for playing in the major leagues. The foundation boasts that for $60, each donor can have bricks engraved with their name placed in the stadium. Appropriate recognition of the largest contribution would be to have 1,212 bricks engraved with "A Gift from the American Taxpayer."
I want my bricks back as they need to be thrown through some windows. But what is money doing going to a "Information Based Aeronautics Consortium"? Are they going to lay out new aircraft for the DoD? Perhaps a next-generation A-10? Maybe a new transport helicopter? Look at JP Aerospace to get a new orbital communication system up for the USAF? Or just get nice little benefits from their patrons in Congress? Send those bricks back to Congress, air delivery for defenestration.
$27,112,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.), including: $2,300,000 for the University of Missouri at Rolla for the Aerospace Propulsion Particulate Emissions Reduction Program; $1,000,000 for the Missouri Pork Producers Federation for developing technology and creation of an innoventor process to decrease the environmental impacts of animal waste by conversion into energy sources; $1,000,000 for the St. Louis Science Center Visitor Center; $1,000,000 for St. Joseph for construction associated with the St. Joseph Community Riverfront Redevelopment Project; $500,000 for the Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute at Southwest Missouri State University; and $250,000 for Greene County for developing a natural history museum in Springfield.
Aerospace Propulsion Particulate Emissions Reduction Program? Jet exhaust reduction? Ok, for just 1% of that I will give you a hint: cleaner fuels and better filters. Too bad that Mr. Kit Bond decided to waste money on examining aircraft pollution when lead filled skies around helicopters and aircraft needs to be addressed. That can be a suddenly fatal case of lead poisoning in combat.
$20,440,000 for projects in the state of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), including: $3,000,000 for the University of Alaska for weather and ocean research; $1,300,000 for the Denali Commission for economic development in remote native and rural villages; $900,000 for Ketchikan for costs associated with the construction of the Tongass Coast Aquarium; $525,000 for the Bering Straits Native Corporation in Nome for the Cape Nome Quarry upgrade; $500,000 for the Kincaid Park Training Center in Anchorage for costs associated with construction; $375,000 for regional haze monitoring; $350,000 for the Community Association of Hyder for costs associated with the construction of a high speed water plant; $150,000 for the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage for expansions and renovations; and $150,000 for Friends of Eagle River Nature Center, Inc. for costs associated with the construction of a community visitors center.
Its the 'Bridge to Nowhere Man'! All of those splendid projects that are pure and utterly local affairs not needing one red cent of Federal monies. I mean we have the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration to already DO this sort of thing for the big porker, and putting this in as a Congressionally Directed Action reduces the amount of manpower NOAA has left as it has to oversee and manage the contract that would go with this. Congress does not increase budgets to cover its pork, so vital missions get strained and often lack resources to cover the dripping bacon grease slid into Agencies. But that last is really beyond belief. No money, whatsoever, should be spent by the Federal Government for a Nature Center's visitor center. That is just absurd.
$18,440,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate appropriator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), including: $4,000,000 for the Stennis Space Center’s commercial technology program; $1,000,000 for the B.B. King Museum Foundation in Indianola; $1,000,000 for the National
Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi; $800,000 for Jackson for the remediation and renovation of the historic King Edward Hotel; $750,000 for Lafayette County for restoration of the Lafayette County Courthouse in Waynesboro; $300,000 for Holly Springs for the North Memphis Street Redevelopment Project; $250,000 for Jackson State University for the Lynch Street Development Corridor Redevelopment Project; $250,000 for Grenada for Taylor Hall renovation; and $250,000 for Pascagoula for public library repairs.
Why yes, Sen. Cochrane, I am sure that the B. B. King Museum is a wonder to behold. Perhaps they should rely on patrons to fund it? And I suppose that he needs tony hotel rooms for his lobbyists and patrons at the King Edward Hotel when they are in the area to visit... and public libraries *always* rate above Veteran's facilities, I would gather.
$12,546,250 for projects in the state of Senate VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and the district of House appropriator Tom Latham (R-Iowa), including: $1,000,000 for Iowa State University for the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation; $750,000 for the University of Northern Iowa for the GeoTREE project; $500,000 for Davenport for the Westside Diversion Tunnel; $300,000 for Council Bluffs for downtown revitalization; $250,000 for Waterloo for costs acquisition of the Cedar Valley TechWorks Facility; $250,000 for the Center for Environmental Citizenship at Luther College in Decorah; $250,000 for Bettendorf for the River's Edge Redevelopment Project; $200,000 for Fort Dodge for the Lincoln Neighborhood Initiative; and $150,000 for Storm Lake for construction of Storm Lake Destination Park.
Center for Nondestructive Evaluation? Look, sniff, smell and feel, I guess. No matter what you do, it is still pork. And that when a lot of soldiers are being put into a Destructive Evaluation environment. This next one has a priceless quote, and remember how Congresscritters are always talking about the ballooning defeceit:
$13,550,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), including: $3,000,000 for the Inland Northwest Space Alliance for the FreeFlyer Program; $1,500,000 for Montana State University in Bozeman for the Center for Studying Life in Extreme Environments; $750,000 for the University of Montana in Missoula for the National Space Privatization Program; and $300,000 for the Story Mansion in Bozeman for historical renovations and improvements. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a task force appointed to evaluate the preservation of Story Mansion suggested that the best use of the land would be to sell it to a private developer. The newspaper reported, "What the task force recommended was putting the property out to bid to attracting buyers who will use the mansion as an inn. The task force also said that, if possible, the city should consider buyers who will use the land for a single-family home or sell it to Montana State University…. [T]he task force's first recommendation would be to sell the building to MSU. At the moment, the university lacks funds because of a tight budget."
MSU wants to get a Mansion and the Citizens of the United States get to pay for its renovation! Isn't that so sweet? Let us hope that MSU is not one of those Universities with spiraling out of control tuition costs, because one would begin to wonder just where that money is going. This list does go on...and on...
$9,525,000 for projects in the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Anne Northup (R-Ky.), including: $1,000,000 for the Olmstead Parks Conservancy in Louisville to correct riverbank erosion in Chickasaw Park; $675,000 for the YMCA of Greater Louisville for renovations to the Chestnut Street facility; $150,000 for the Trinity Family Life Center of Louisville for facilities construction of a multi purpose center; and $100,000 for the Dream Foundation, Inc. in Louisville for playground construction.
When people ask you why places like NOLA are so messed up, part of the answer lies in the pork funding for projects that have little to do with sound civil engineering and much to do with Congressional funds. Next up one of the Gang of 5 from PA makes another appearance to snag yet more money for PA:
$8,100,000 added by the Senate for projects in the state of Senate appropriator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), including: $1,500,000 for the Three Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program in Allegheny County; $300,000 for Bucknell University in Lewisburg for the Lewisburg Downtown Theater rehabilitation; $250,000 for Lancaster for the rehabilitation and renovation of the Lancaster Central Market; $250,000 for Erie for site preparation and redevelopment of the vacant and blighted Koehler Brewery Building; $250,000 for the Allegheny West Foundation for the Budd Plant Rehabilitation Project; $250,000 for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry for the acquisition and redevelopment of the historic Irem Temple (the project also received $250,000 last year. According to Sen. Specter’s November 17, 2003 press release, "The Susquehanna River Landing project is designed to refurbish the historic Irem Temple Mosque, turning it into an interactive cultural center while joining downtown Wilkes-Barre to the riverfront through the creation of a public area at the waterfront….This project seeks to invigorate the downtown Wilkes-Barre area, bringing in new jobs and enhancing the economic development efforts taking place to revitalize the downtown area. Senator Specter was instrumental in obtaining a $250,000 grant as startup money for the project for fiscal year 2004"); and $200,000 for the Borough of Lewiston for the rehabilitation and renovation of the Lewiston Municipal Building.
A Wet Weather Demonstration Program? Rainy days program? Ok, here is the deal: it rains in PA. Deal with it in PA. We have a National Weather Service to tell you when storms are coming. Now as to the Mosque, just what, pray tell, is an 'interactive cultural center' for a waterfront area doing in the VA/HUD budget? And why isn't that money going to something useful for the Federal Government?
$6,837,750 added by the House for projects in the district of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.), including: $850,000 for St. Petersburg for facilities renovation and expansion of the Florida Museum of Fine Arts; $850,000 for the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; $850,000 for Dunedin for facilities construction and renovation of the city community center; $575,000 for St. Petersburg for the Tangerine Avenue Community Development Project; $547,750 for St. Petersburg for the restoration and rehabilitation of the Jordan School; $375,000 for Treasure Island for the community development project; $280,000 for St. Petersburg for facilities construction and renovation for the Mid-Pinellas Science Center; $280,000 for St. Petersburg for Dome Industrial Park facilities renovation and construction; $280,000 for St. Petersburg for facilities construction and improvement at Bartlett Park; and $200,000 for Largo for Central Park facilities improvement.
A Florida Museum of Fine Arts rates above WRAMC. Got that? And funding a Salvador Dali Museum is just surreal.
$6,417,000 added by the House for projects in the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), including: $1,700,000 for the University of Toledo Turbine Institute; $1,000,000 for Sandusky for wastewater infrastructure improvements; $1,000,000 for Ottawa County for water infrastructure improvements; $650,000 for the University of Toledo for the Lake Erie Center; $630,500 for Toledo for the Erie Street Market for facilities construction; $242,500 for Toledo for building construction and streetscape improvements along Detroit Avenue; and $97,000 for Toledo for economic development planning for the Reynolds Road Green Corridor Project.
Wastewater infrastructure? Sewage treatment plants and sewer lines, something I had always gathered was something done by State and Municiple governments.
$5,942,500 for projects in the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), including: $542,500 for Bartonville for storm water improvements in Broadmoor Heights; $275,000 for the Lakeview Regional Museum in Peoria for facilities construction and renovation of a new building; $275,000 for PeoriaNEXT for facilities construction and renovation of the Innovation Center business incubator; $275,000 for the Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria for facilities construction and renovation of a new Africa exhibit; $250,000 for Illinois College in Jacksonville for facilities construction and renovation of Whipple Hall; and $100,000 for Peoria for
the Southern Gateway Revitalization Project.
Yes, yet more local projects that the Federal government is picking up the tab on. So generous of Congress to do this during a conflict that they have signed off on.
$775,000 for the Biltmore Hotel in the district of Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R-Fla.). The hotel’s owners recently completed a $40 million, 10-year renovation and rooms are $350 per night. The Biltmore’s website boasts, "Coming Spring of 2005, The Biltmore will introduce a brand new, 12,000 sq. ft. destination Spa on the seventh floor of the hotel. Featuring spectacular views of surrounding Coral Gables, the Biltmore Spa will offer a luxurious and sophisticated setting for state-of-the-art treatments and services. Treatments will also be available in the hotel’s soon-to be refurbished, private poolside cabanas." This earmark was part of a program that was supposed to fund projects to provide economic opportunity in areas of the country with populations with low or moderate incomes. There is nothing low or moderate about Coral Gables’ per capita income of $46,000, which is 19.6 percent greater than the national average of $37,000.
You can't have your paying lobbyists and fundraisers stay in a shabby hotel now, can you? And I am sure that in comparison to the rest of the town, the owners of the Biltmore *are* poor.
$280,000 added by the House for the National Orange Show (NOS) in the district of House appropriator Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.). According to its website, "The NOS Events Center is the Inland Empire's premier source of end-to-end event solutions. Since 1911, the Events Center has provided a variety of innovative event solutions. Enabled by its renowned customer service coupled with the versatility of the facility, the Events Center has the capability of handling crowds in excess of 60,000 to create any event the customer has in mind. From concerts to car races and conventions to satellite wagering...from weddings to banquets and tradeshows to craft fairs...the National Orange Show Festival and the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition...if you've got the event, we've got the place." The website also boasts, "The NOS Events Center is the number one venue in the Inland Empire for public and private events. The Events Center has held such memorable and diverse events ranging from concerts including the Rolling Stones, No Doubt, Reba McIntyre, and the Temptations to Dub Car Shows, and private banquets." What about something "innovative" like charging more to your customers and less to taxpayers?
Sarcasm in the original! Tell you what, let them charge customers more and the Federal Government can get WRAMC up to snuff. No? Obviously not.
$250,000 added by the Senate for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. to support community programs. Such programs include songwriting sessions where "songwriters perform in an intimate setting that encourages audience questions and interaction. Visitors can also learn about the instruments that make country music sound country. Musicians play their instruments, share information on the instrument's history and answer questions." Congress is fiddling around with our tax dollars while the country music industry itself is doing quite well. According to sales figures released on January 5, 2005, by Nielsen SoundScan (a service that monitors retail record purchases), there were nearly 78 million country albums sold in 2004, a jump of 13 percent over the 69 million sold in 2003.
Again pointed commentary in the original. Money given away for songs, literally. Now just some simple line items to cut down on verbiage:
$250,000 added by the House for the North Creek Ski Bowl in the district of House appropriator John Sweeney (R-N.Y.).

$150,000 added in conference for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus, Ga. in the district of House VA/HUD Appropriations subcommittee member Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.).

$100,000 added by the House at the request of House appropriator John Peterson (R-Pa.) for the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center Museum.

$100,000 added by the House for the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, N.C. for facilities construction.

$70,000 added by the House for the Paper Industry Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis. in the district of Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.).
Yes, your money that should be going to help the VA is going to Coca-Cola, Paper Industry Hall of Fame, looking to create snow in New York ski resorts and greatly expand what was supposed to be a simple display of the remains of the Monitor into a full fledged museum. Why that is not being handed to the US Navy is beyond me, as they know how to do this sort of thing in a top-notch way.

I will make a deal with Congress: Eliminate all pork, fully fund the Armed Forces and new weapons programs, devote all the money normally going to pork to do so and spend not one penny on pork projects. How about a bit of demonstrating some 'sacrifice' where it counts?

In Congress they are willing to sacrifice the Armed Forces upon their table of
hypocrisy but not *money*.

And that tells me all I need to know about their priorities.

How about some "Leadership" from Congress and demonstrating that "sharing the burden" means Congress FIRST?

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