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Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Earmarks, Who's Holding Feet To The Fire?

I've written more than a few posts about Congressman Rick Boucher and his millions of dollars in earmarks (go here, here and here for a taste).  What I haven't written about is whether any of his largesse has ever been put to good use.  Was it a waste of our tax dollars or did his promises actually materialize in some meaningful way?

Someone should ask him: What happened to our moneyHas anything measurable come of it?

Don't hold your breath for answers.

But there is this.  Someone - somewhere else - has been asking those questions of another congressman, and has gotten disturbing answers:
Rep. Murtha's earmarks lead to fewer jobs than promised
By Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post Staff Writer

Ford City, PA. -- In 2005, Rep. John P. Murtha announced here that a technology firm was moving into an abandoned plate glass factory. Best of all, he promised, the new firm would generate 140 jobs.

The Pennsylvania Democrat steered $150 million in defense money to Caracal Inc., along with a $3 million grant for factory renovations. "Today's ribbon-cutting ceremony is yet another indication that our investment in this region's economic revitalization is paying off," he said that day. But Caracal never created the jobs the congressman touted. The firm peaked at 10 employees and then folded in early 2008. Once its Murtha-engineered Navy contracts ended, the company could not survive.

"Let me tell you: We look at jobs. How do we attract jobs?" he said. A Washington Post analysis of Murtha's earmarks, however, shows that his job promises often come up short. Of 16 local companies the congressman has helped win federal earmarks, 10 have generated far fewer jobs than forecast, and half of those already have closed operations in his district.

The Post analysis illustrates the fleeting success of some of the companies backed by earmarks. Some of the jobs generated by Murtha's earmarks cost about $2 million each, and scores disappeared as soon as projects were completed. [link]
So maybe someone (maybe someone who is paid to ask questions - at either the Bristol Herald Courier or the Roanoke Times) should be asking Mr. Boucher: What resulted from the following expenditures?

• $6,400,000 for the Center for Injury Biomechanics

• $3,838,500 for the Center for Advanced Separation Technology

• $1,569,000 for the Biodesign and Processing Research Center

• $1,001,000 for something called Sustainable Engineered Materials from Renewable Sources

• $400,000 for Horseshoe Crab Research

• $282,000 to the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation "to develop business assistance software tools"


The list could go on and on.

Generally, Mr. Boucher receives high praise from movers and shakers in Southwest Virginia for "bringing home the bacon."  But is it bacon?  Or is it a decayed, rancid, putrified, smelly carcass?

Did anything - A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G - come of these taxpayer investments?

I think we have a right to know.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Wouldn't this be something?
Rumors abound that new Leonardo da Vinci painting has been found in Boston
By Sarah Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer

Is the world about to gain another Leonardo da Vinci painting?

The multitasking Renaissance genius who produced the most famous portrait in the world -- Mona somebody -- left us only 10 to 20 other paintings. Yet if current whispers bear out about a picture in Boston, that number may increase by one more. Art experts say it's the equivalent of stumbling upon a surprise Shakespeare play or a lost Homeric epic.

At this point, we have only a tantalizing mystery -- perhaps the unspooling of a new Da Vinci code -- dangling on the slender thread of secrets and a handful of clues that emerged this week:

-- The Washington Post receives a tip from a source who wishes to remain anonymous that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has in its possession a painting believed to be by the Italian master, and is in the process of authenticating it. Were it deemed a true Leonardo, such a painting would be only the second one in all the Americas. [link]
I'd bet it'll turn out to be a wild goose chase.

But still, the mind reels at the possibility ...

Obama Gov't. Your Hard-Earned Income. Rathole.

You would just have wasted it on food and clothing anyway:

Expect Care packages and the Peace Corps to be sent in next.

As The Globe Warms ...

Is there an odd disconnect between reality and "science"?

India Meteorological Department: “It could turn out to be the coldest Calcutta winter ever.”


Somebody has some 'splainin' to do.


Maureen Dowd:
If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
We must protect one another.  Uncle Sam Obama ain't gonna be there for us.

* She might have included the fact that the Islamist bought a one-way ticket, a tell-tale sign.
** I can't believe I quoted America's Ditsiest Columnist.
*** Dowd, in her column, stole my comparison between Janet Napolitano and Janet Reno.  Still, she deserves a mention from me.

Quote of the Day

On those who believe in global warming:

Lefties have long mocked Christians on the fringe for proclaiming the imminent end of the world and the coming of God. Yokels, bumpkins, knuckle-draggers, Bible-thumpers, crazies, and zealots are but a few of the epithets that have been hurled at End-Times Christians. 

It's therefore more than a little ironic -- perhaps divinely ironic -- that many of these same oh-so-worldly liberals have come to embrace their own version of the end times.

The global warming cult, in one sense, is the left's last stand: It's a lashing out at the human race for all its perceived deficiencies, avarice, narrowness, and failings -- or at least, that portion of the human race that resides in the west.  The human race stands in the docket accused of degrading the world with the intent of destroying it. But the evidence doesn't bear out the charge. It is instead the accuser who has and continues to destroy human life. It's the left that's intent on making the end times a self-fulfilling prophecy.
J. Robert Smith, "The Left's End Times," American Thinker, December 31, 2009

A Shudder Runs Through Conservative America

Our last best hope of saving the country from the ravages of the Obamaniacs may have experienced a heart attack:
Limbaugh hospitalized in Hawaii

Honolulu – Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is staying overnight in a Honolulu hospital after he was admitted Wednesday afternoon in serious condition, according to local news reports.

Limbaugh, 58, was sitting in a chair in his 9th floor hotel room at Kahala Hotel and Resort when paramedics arrived, local ABC affiliate KITV reports. Sources told the news station that Limbaugh informed emergency crews that he was having chest pains ... [link]
Get well, Rush.  The outcome of the fight for our freedom and the well-being of our children's children are at stake.

The Question Of the Day

Would Senator Ben Nelson be foolish enough to vote for ObamaCare again when it comes up for final vote?

One thing I've learned about Washington Democrats over the years is this: Priority Number One in their eyes is not mother or country.  It's getting reelected.  And if ol' Ben is looking to keep his cushy job in the Magic Kingdom, and we all know he is, then he'd better be paying attention to the polls back home.  For they are truly eye-popping:
Ben Nelson's Purgatory
By John Fund, Wall Street Journal

The scriptures refer to reaping the whirlwind. That certainly describes Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson after the first state-wide poll since the controversial deal he cut in exchange for his deciding vote on the Senate health care bill.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that if he were running for re-election today, Mr. Nelson would lose to Nebraska's GOP Governor David Heineman by a stunning 61% to 30%. Only three years ago, Mr. Nelson won his current term with a solid 64% of the vote.

Clearly, the senator's fall in public esteem is a direct reaction to his having voted for the health care bill as part of a deal in which Nebraska was exempted from the costs of new federal Medicaid mandates. The ObamaCare bill was already unpopular enough in Nebraska but became even more so when state residents discovered they would be saddled with it anyway, plus exposed to national ridicule over Mr. Nelson's sweetheart deal. Now 53% strongly oppose the bill, while another 11% somewhat oppose it. Only 17% favor the deal that Mr. Nelson struck in order to vote for the bill. [link]
I think Nelson's problem goes beyond just his vote for ObamaCare.  Here you had a seemingly principled Democrat - a rare breed - who stood up against his own party on the issue of abortion.  He was admired for having backbone.  Ideology superceded crass political posturing.  He would not support any bill that allowed for the federal government to fund the slaughter of babies.

Well, as it turned out, he would.  Nelson flushed his support for the lives of America's innocent little children down the toilet in return for a couple of political favors.  A Medicare deal and some vaguely worded promises about abortion and state's rights.  So much for principle.  So much for ideology.

So much for Ben Nelson's future.

He's now toast.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving Democrat.

How Quickly The World Has Changed

From George W. Bush's foreign policy to that of Barack Obama.  From Pax Americana to this (from Fouad Ajami):
There was that "diplomacy of freedom," the proclamation that the Pax Americana had had its fill with the autocracies and the rogues of the Greater Middle East. There but for the grace of God go we, the autocrats whispered to themselves as they pondered the fall of the Iraqi despot. To be sure, there was mayhem in the new Iraq—the Arab and Iranian rulers, and the jihadists they winked at and aided, had made sure of that. But there was the promise of freedom, meaningful elections, a new dignity for men and women claiming their own country.

What a difference three or four years make. The despots have waited out that burst of American power and optimism. No despot fears Mr. Obama, and no blogger in Cairo or Damascus or Tehran, no demonstrator in those cruel Iranian streets, expects Mr. Obama to ride to the rescue. To be sure, it was in the past understood that we can't bear all burdens abroad, or come to the defense of everyone braving tyranny. But there was always that American assertion that when things are in the balance we would always be on freedom's side.

We hadn't ridden to the rescue of Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s, but we had saved the Bosnians and the Kosovars. We didn't have the power to undo the colossus of Chinese tyranny when the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square, but the brave dissidents knew that we were on their side, that we were appalled by the cruelty of official power.

It is different today, there is a cold-bloodedness to American foreign policy. "Ideology is so yesterday," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed not long ago, giving voice to the new sentiment.
There has been much written in recent days about how long it took for Obama to make a statement to the American people about the terror attack in the skies over Detroit. And about the fact that his scripted response was, in the words of one correspondent, "like a tepid legalistic statement from a deputy district attorney."

His supporters have brought up the fact, in his defense, that it took George W. Bush as long to make a public declaration about a similar incident involving the "shoe bomber" in 2001.   But everyone knew that Bush had by then declared war on terror and had unleashed American power on that now-hated foe.  And that we were engaging the enemy on a daily basis.  And that it was his driving intent to win the fight.

These days, the war on terror - or "overseas contingency operation," as the Obama people want us to call it, which speaks volumes in itself - as everyone knows, is but a distraction to our current president.  And that his foreign policy could best be summed up in the immortal words of Rodney King - "Can't we all get along?"

And then there's the bowing to foreign dictators.

My God.

Things in the world have changed a lot in a year.  And not at all for the better.

- - -

And there's this from the man who ought to be leading the fight.  Dick Cheney:
"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."
The enemy is at war.  Obama is on vacation.   That says it all.

- - -

And, most telling, there's this:

Priorities.  Priorities.

- - -

And let's put this in perspective:

Click on the Ramirez/Investor's Business Daily image to enlarge it.