Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AP Goofed on Kirk Swearing In? Or Did It?...Let’s Not Be Namby Pamby Jackwagons: Earmarks Should Go!

                               How Did the Wire Service Goof?
      The answer came down…after a number of bloggers—including this one--raised the roof…that the Associated Press goofed about the amount of  time “paperwork” would take before Mark Kirk would be sworn in.   He will be sworn in in ample time to make the Lame Duck session.   That’s great but how did AP get it so wildly wrong in the first place?  Even to the extent of quoting a Illinois State Board of Elections expert in its story whose writer drew a wildly inaccurate  conclusion?  
       You don’t suppose, do you that--?.  Naw.  Would the Democrats try to get away with a calculated slowdown delay so as to keep Tombstone Roland voting pro-Squid?    They wouldn’t try that would they?   Of course not.   But I would like to hear from AP how it came to that conclusion.   
                              Jackwagons in Namby Pamby Land.
           It would be the height of cynicism…now that so many conservative newcomers denounced earmarks…for the Republican leadership in the next Congress to wink and let the concept glide by.  I have great admiration for Mitch McConnell but  he shouldn’t try to mislead the troops that earmarks don’t cost money but are just a device.
          Let this octogenarian retired lobbyist tell you how earmarks do…and McConnell knows this very well himself.   I’m a congressman from Illinois and I very much want to get a defense installation earmarked for my district.  So I go to the chairman of Defense appropriations and say this:  Mr. Chairman, what can I do to convince Appropriations to earmark this thing for my district? 
           He’d say:  Well, that’s a pretty tough sell.  Freddie from Cedar Rapids [a congressman in the  Chairman’s delegation] wants it and of course he has been a good friend. Very good friend.” 
         I’d say: “That’s too bad.  That thing could spell the difference next time up  [meaning the next election] between my coming back or not.”
        He’d respond: “Sorry if that’s so.  On the other hand, Fred has done pretty well by us [meaning being supportive on the House floor for extension of subsidies  the subcommittee chairman needs for farmers in his district].   We’re thinking of building a $2.1 billion addition to the Air Force training station in Iowa which will house 1,300 recruits which will mean quite a good deal to Cedar and the locality around there—you know, in terms of support services.  The Pentagon wanted to scrub the addition and instead build something in Mississippi but hell I told `em they’re better off building on to the facility in Iowa. It should stay in the midwest’s been my thinking.  Maybe…who knows….in Illinois.    Let me see what I can do.”
        Me: “If anything could be done, I’d be more than grateful.”
        He: More than grateful!  How long you been here? I got scads of guys who are more than grateful for stuff..”
       Me:  “I realize that, Mr. Chairman. Let me be more helpful if  I can.”
      He:   “Well, sure.  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s no quid pro quo in this stuff.   But I sure would appreciate…you’re on the Education committee, aren’t you?”
       Me:  “Sure am.”
       He:   “I’ve been tryin’ to get your Department [of Education] to work out a cooperative program involving audio visual with a series of community colleges in my district.  A pretty dinky thing--$50 million or so total.  Well,  a little bird in the Department tells me it’s been scrubbed by OMB.  Now I don’t want to go to them and beg—wouldn’t be ethical or proper, you know.  But—“
       Me: “…but if the suggestion comes from me--.”
       He:   “It’s got to be more than a suggestion,  Tom, you know. Somebody over at Education should go back to OMB and make the case.   It’s not for me to say anything.“
     Me:   “I know.  Let me see what I can do.”
      He:   “Fine.  And let me see what I can do.   No quid-pro-quo stuff you understand.”
      Me:   “Of course not.  I’m supposed to meet with the Secretary tomorrow anyhow and you can bet I’ll come down enthusiastic about audio visual in community colleges.”
      That’s a rough sketch of how earmarks grow government.  Backscratching and good-old-boy [girl] dickering amounts to multi-billions.
        If the GOP suddenly becomes a wuss on earmarks it’ll stir up cynicism and….horrors….folks will think we just brought it up as a campaign device!  

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