Another example of what is still wrong with Congress

Kraaze, if I want to rebuild the deck on my house and it’s gonna cost me $5,000, would it be ok if I just paid half and dinged you and some other taxpayers for the other half?

Cool, thanks.

Depends, how historical is your deck? I bet you can tell some stories of epic barbecues, so who knows maybe you do deserve some public money ;-)

Let’s circle around to the historic preservation purposes part of that argument again since it seems to be getting glossed over. On the one hand, I personally think that spending public money on historical preservation is a waste of public money. On the other hand, many other people feel it’s a routine and unexceptionable use of public funds.

Thus while I personally find any use of public monies for historical preservation wasteful, I can certainly see the argument that there’s nothing especially abnormal or outrage worthy going on here.

Phil, you’re a conservative, right? I seriously don’t understand how earmarks even blip on the radar to that group. When G-dub creates a Medicare prescription drug benefit with unfunded liabilities higher than Social Security then I don’t get why pork projects still raise enough interest to click reply, even if you hate our favorite former President.

The historic preservation argument would work if this was a building that was a nationally identified historic landmark. It is not, it is only identified as such at the state and local level. Meanwhile, the money is being diverted from the fund that is supposed to help the nationally identifed historic landmarks through an open process based on merit. There is no process involved here other than a congressman’s intervention.

I don’t have much of an opinion one way or another on the historical preservation thing. I’m not categorically opposed, but I suspect there’s a lot of room for abusing the label in ways that the public at large wouldn’t appreciate if they looked closely at the specific projects.

That said, it does not even appear to be a designated landmark at the national level*, but is asking for federal money. And doing so in a way that subverts much of the process presumably designed to distribute the pot of such federal money in a fair way.

*The article is kinda fuzzy in this area, and I don’t have the background knowledge to fill in the gaps well.

Tim, I would consider myself significantly closer to the conservative viewpoint than the liberal one on the national scale, but I think I’m hardly doctrinaire.

Yes, there are worse things that the federal government does than give $250K out the side door to some ritzy club. But just because the government does dumb things A, B, and C, doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it for doing dumb thing D, even if D is perhaps of a much smaller scale than A, B and C.

Also, when the government spends billions or perhaps even hundreds of billions on “big waste”, it is sometimes hard to grasp, or even really evaluate whether it was wasted or not. (Billions for the auto-industry - waste or not?) Projects like this are at a more human scale, and a little easier for normal folks to comprehend.

I know. I was just pointing out that they can raise the other half by charging an extra $18/month per member for one year. That seems very affordable for their members, most of whom are very well off.

It’s not so much a matter of the absolute amount (hey, what’s a million dollars given to friends here and there?) It’s - well, it IS the principle of the matter. It’s the type of environment in Washington, in which is it completely OK for me to give a quarter million to some well heeled rich buddies to renovate their private club in exchange for me going along with you giving your cousin’s trailer park a million dollars for upgrades, etc.

Just because it’s the way things are done doesn’t mean it’s right. It certainly is not necessary. It is not required that congress men and women allocate millions and millions of dollars to pet people and projects. It’s “only” $250,000 going to these rich guys’ club. Ask a food bank in any city how helpful that $250,000 would be as they’re trying to help more and more people these days.

It is disgusting and shameful, anyone who attempts to argue the opposite is hyper partisan.

But what are you going to do about it? McDermott’s seat is completely safe, he would have to do far worse to be challenged in either the primary or in the general election. You can attempt to shame him I suppose but I am sure that he know if he sticks to his guns he will get what he wants without repercussion.

Maybe, if we are really lucky the story will go national and then the party will pressure him to stop it, since it could contribute to them losing seats in marginal races. One can only hope.

In my case it sure wasn’t. Raising a cynical stink about earmarks is a way for conservatives to pretend to be concerned about saving money while funneling it to their defense contractor and privatization buddies.

Sadly, this is pretty much the baseline level of corruption you get in Washington. Sure, you can make an argument for it theoretically on historical preservation grounds, but in this case it’s highly likely its petty corruption.

While I agree it’d be better spent there, don’t fall into the trap of pretending a saintly project is the alternative destination for this money. Very few people in Congress or the general public gives a shit about the poor; at best it’d be spent on a mildly beneficial to mildly useless alternative.

Can I point out that McDermott was one of the few people to nail the Iraq War dead to rights? He’s practically a professional wrestler in his public image, but I’d take a dozen more of his sorry ass in a heartbeat over the median Democrat. I think it’s unlikely his corruption profile is significantly different from any other congress critter, to boot.

Dude, that is like saying that all government spending is a waste so doing anything with the money is A-ok. That is bullshit and you know it.

It is no coincidence that only people with nothing to lose (once again, Jim’s seat is very safe) were the only ones to go on record against the Iraq war. Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone with a lot to lose was on record against it, I would love a list!

Dude, that is like saying that all government spending is a waste so doing anything with the money is A-ok. That is bullshit and you know it.

I’m making the specific claim that the amount of money allocated to hunger reduction is for all intents and purposes completely separate from earmarking, because the public and Congress simply do not give a shit about the issue. They get zero marginal dollars when budget space frees up - the money would go to something other than hunger reduction. Sure, it’s a waste, but don’t pretend the alternative is this ludicrous rhetorical pipe dream of a program.

Another example of this this annoying rhetorical trope is from the Lomborg crowd stating that spending the money to stop climate change on third world development and hunger reduction instead would improve the state of humanity more, so we should totally not spend anything on stopping climate change. Ignoring the bullshit climate change mismeasuring they do to come up with this result, even if you do postulate that third world help would have a higher ROI it’s a bad faith argument - there’s no fucking way anyone is going to do that as an alternative with the money, because people have demonstrated no interest in doing so in the first place. The actual alternative is non-third world spending. If you really wanted to increase third world spending, you can do that too; it’s not like the numbers involved are that big either way, or there’s a serious tradeoff between constituencies.

There’s times this is a valid observation - tradeoffs between big budget line items with lots of support like tax cuts vs. deficit reduction, or health care vs. the Iraq war, where the swing of a few votes makes a big difference. But congressional earmarking vs. hunger reduction isn’t one of them.

Maybe someone with a lot to lose was on record against it, I would love a list!

Is your claim that only someone safe politically could state the truth, or he just said it because there was no downside? Off the top of my head Scott Ritter was the only other “known” person making the (correct) claim that no WMDs would be found, and he wasn’t elected. In retrospect it’s pretty amazing that all the dissenting voices were ignored, especially Ritter - he was incredibly well positioned to know the truth.

So what? I’m not condemning the guy. I’m just saying that this particular earmark seems wrong.

That’s quite the logical leap, but I think I can top you.

This is not disgusting nor shameful, anyone who attempts to argue the opposite is secretly a showgirl.

Are you saying that if we have a hidden desire, deep within our dark secret hearts, to be a showgirl, that is somehow wrong?

That is so homophobic! Or misogynistic! Or something!