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Informing Hawaii's voters

Principle for Judging Federal Earmarks and Local Pork

Information about federal earmarks and local pork is increasingly available.

On November 30, 2010 Grassroot Institute of Hawaii announced its new webpage providing detailed information about the state budget and allowing individual comments from the public regarding questionable expenditures:
http://hawaiisunshine.org/

A related GRIH webpage provides a list of about 800 race-specific government and private programs "for Hawaiians only":
http://4hawaiiansonly.com/

At the federal level, the Senate on Tuesday rejected a rule that would have banned earmarks. During the debate Senator Dan Inouye (D, HI), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and local king of pork, spoke at length against such a ban.

Meanwhile a House rule throughout 2009-2010 requires members of the House of Representatives to post information on the earmarks they submit to the Appropriations Committee, on their official House website at the time the request is made. Each request is required to include the proposed recipient's name and address; the amount of the request; and an explanation of the earmark's purpose and why it's a valuable use of taxpayer funds.

The two Grassroot Institute webpages mentioned above unfortunately do not yet include that sort of detail, either because the state government refused to provide it or because it's time-consuming or impossible to get that information for private grants.

Congressman Charles Djou, during his brief time in office, voted against most new federal spending even when it would have brought money to Hawaii. As a fiscal conservative and man of principle, he apparently refused to request any earmarks. His empty earmark list is at
http://djou.house.gov/about/funding-requests.shtml

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, however, supported nearly every spending bill and aggressively grabbed federal money through earmarks. Her disclosure webpage shows each earmark as a clickable link providing the required details. Here's her long list for the current fiscal year alone:
http://hirono.house.gov/fy2011appropriations/fy2011appropriations.htm

Browsing through Horono's earmarks and thinking carefully about them led me to a few conclusions about appropriations in general and earmarks in particular.

  1. It's bad to make people from everywhere pay for projects that benefit only one particular place. Citizens of Ohio should not be taxed to pay for Hirono's "industry-directed research to enhance the competitiveness of the floriculture industry in Hawaii" nor "to provide flood protection to residential and commercial lands in the southern part of Lahaina and to reduce the amount of sediment entering nearshore waters." Likewise, citizens of Hawaii should not be taxed to pay for similar local projects in Ohio. Making local people raise their own taxes to pay for local projects is the best way to know whether those projects are worthwhile. Not only are federal earmarks inappropriate for flood protection in Lahaina, even state tax dollars may be inappropriate. Maui people don't want to pay for Honolulu's rail project, and Honolulu people shouldn't have to pay for projects benefitting only southern Lahaina.
     
  2. Airports, harbors, national parks, military construction, highways connecting different states, etc. are truly of national importance. Local people are good at realizing when such things need improvement. Therefore members of Congress are correct to request money for them, such as Hirono's earmark "to restore critical habitat for numerous protected species on Kure Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument" and another earmark "to remove two sunken fishing vessels from the reefs at Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll National Marine Refuges, both of which are components of the newly proclaimed Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument." Whether those national monuments should have been proclaimed is open to debate; but having been proclaimed it then becomes important to protect and maintain them.
     
  3. Earmarks are not emergencies. They should be available for public scrutiny long before they are enacted into law, not inserted at the last minute or hidden deep inside unrelated bills.
     
  4. There should be a central webpage listing everyone's earmarks. Hirono's list makes her earmarks transparent and accountable. But would anyone outside Hawaii routinely look at her list?
     
  5. Should there be a ban on all earmarks to stop the craziness? Government money should not be regarded as an unlimited horn of plenty that nobody pays for. Under the current system politicians have an incentive to grab as much as possible for their own local districts, because nearly all the taxes will be paid by people from other places who cannot retaliate. Charles Djou apparently did the noble thing, standing on principle and not taking earmarks; however, he thereby abandoned his duty to our local people to bring home the bacon. Mazie Hirono is bringing home bacon plus entire herds of pigs; but bankrupting our nation. One way to deal with the problem is to ban all earmarks. Otherwise, require that every earmark be included only in the single bill most closely related to its subject matter, and already present in that bill when it has a committee hearing. There's not enough time for every earmark to be a freestanding bill or even to be challenged; but it should be easily possible to discover, challenge, and remove the most outrageous ones.

Mother Harassed by TSA over Breast Milk

The TSA caught on tape acting like the Gestapo.

Scanners and Gropings Spreading to Buses and Subways?

Soon random searches will be made as people drive into Tampa Airport, says Judge Andrew Napolitano. He states that the government wants to bring the airports' pornographic scanners and gropings to bus and subway stations. Geraldo Rivera points out that the TSA has never caught a single terrorist.

The ostensible reason for the now widespread scanners and pat-downs is the underwear/Christmas bomber. The bomber's father had warned U.S. security about him way before his son boarded that Amsterdam to Detroit flight on Christmas Day 2009. He was not only allowed to fly from Holland to Detroit, according to witnesses, but he was given a special escort to board the flight without a passport! During the flight, other passengers saw videos being shot. Some say they were of the underwear bomber, other passengers were not clear. It is strongly suspected that the U.S. government wanted the bomber to take the flight and made sure he got on the plane. Soon thereafter, because of this "terrorism incident," many more body scanners were installed in airports. A key beneficiary? Michael Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security, the umbrella organization for the TSA. Coincidence? You decide. It has since come to light that lobbyists spent millions to get the U.S. government to buy the scanners. Chertoff, who stepped down as head of Homeland Security and the TSA on January 21, 2009, is benefiting financially from them because his security consulting company has one of the scanner manufacturers, Rapiscan, as a client. Rapiscan is the major supplier of body scanners at airports.


Kurt and Lori Haskell, the couple who saw the underwear bomber flout airline rules and board their plane without a passport, are fighting what they say are the government's lies to the American people about the underwear bomber.

The American people show that they are for the most part swallowing the government and company explanations about body scanners hook, line and sinker (the x-rays are not harmful, the image doesn't show much detail, your face is not seen, your nude image is not stored, the person looking at your image doesn't know who you are, etc., etc.). This goes to show that Americans don't reserve their faith just for religion. The government, big companies and scientific spokespersons get generous amounts of it too.

Banks Put the Screws to Ireland

After the Irish rescue them.

Leo Panitch says U.S. created financial crisis and European banks turned the Irish Miracle into a nightmare. Meanwhile thousands of Irish take to the streets in protest.

Ron Paul on Morning Joe

Look who's agreeing with Ron Paul! BTW that's Mika Brzezinski, daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-hosting the show along with former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough (FL).

December 2, 2010

U.S. Government Caught Up in Lies

Paul Craig Roberts writes that the fallout from WikiLeaks and its head, Julian Assange, shows that we in fact have reverted to, and are living in, the Dark Ages.

Says Roberts,

Some member of the United States government released to WikiLeaks the documents that are now controversial. The documents are controversial, because they are official US documents and show all too clearly that the US government is a duplicitous entity whose raison d’etre is to control every other government. 

Americans reading that may think it is a ridiculous statement, but plenty of citizens of other countries would agree: the U.S. seeks to control their country.

Read more . . . [AntiWar.com]

Akaka Bill to Be Attached to 'Must-Pass' Legislation

Sources in the Senate report that Sen. Inouye is personally working to jam through the Akaka Bill this month. He would do it by attaching the bill to an omnibus spending bill that his staff is writing in secret. According to Senate sources, Inouye would wait to offer that secret bill until just before the "continuing resolution" that funds the government is set to expire. His colleagues would then be forced to either vote for the porked-up omnibus bill (with no public comment, little opportunity for debate, and certainly no chance of amendment) or reject the whole bill and deny the government the funding it needs to stay open. It's a game of chicken.

Every lame duck session features an omnibus spending bill, sometimes called "the Christmas tree," used by Senators and Representatives to give expensive gifts to their campaign contributors in the form of earmarks and riders. But attaching controversial and dangerous new policy legislation to an appropriations bill is unusual and unethical, especially when there's no floor debate on it.

It's unclear which version of the Akaka bill Sen. Inouye plans to sneak through. The so-called Lingle compromise bill S.3945 was promised for several months but never delivered to the Senate until November 15. S.3945 has never had a hearing in any committee or on the floor of either the House or Senate.

The most recent previous version H.R.2314 actually passed the House. If the Senate passes it by itself or as an attachment, President Obama will sign it. H.R.2314 is so radical and dangerous that even Governor Lingle, who had aggressively supported the Akaka bill for seven years, sent a letter to all 100 Senators asking them to oppose it.

The long delay in introducing the Lingle compromise S.3945 confirms suspicions that it is merely a decoy to lull Senators into thinking Lingle supports the Akaka bill H.R.2314 which is the version likely to be actually attached. The decoy theory is bolstered by the fact that Hawaii's powerful race-based institutions strongly preferred the radical H.R.2314 but reluctantly acquiesced in the compromise when told there were not enough votes for cloture.

The new Governor Abercrombie takes office December 6 -- the same Congressman Abercrombie who pushed H.R.2314 through the House. He dreams of becoming the "Great White Father" of the Akakakanaka Tribe. It's easy to imagine Abercrombie asking his friends in the Senate to hold their noses and let the House bill go through. "Forget about the issues raised by Lingle; she's now merely a worn-out former Governor."

This is the time of year when Inouye likes to make sneak attacks through stealth maneuvers. On December 15, 2009 an article in the Honolulu Advertiser reported on accusations by Hawaiian sovereignty activists that Sen. Inouye "is trying to avoid public scrutiny of legislation that would grant them historic new status by hiding it in a defense bill." Sen. Inouye was quoted in that article as responding "I have never suggested that the Akaka bill be passed and adopted as part of the defense appropriations process. I don't know where this nonsensical suggestion originated." The article said Akaka was as unhappy as Inouye about the accusations. "'It is very frustrating that opponents intentionally seek to spread misinformation about the bill,' Akaka said last night. 'This should call their credibility into question once again.'"

But it's the credibility of Akaka and Inouye that is really destroyed by their track record of stealth, deception, and outright lies. Despite Inouye's claim in the above quote that he never suggested passing the Akaka bill as an attachment to a defense appropriations bill, that's exactly what he tried to do on several occasions going back to 2000. Even the concept of using a decoy is not new. In 2006 a decoy new version of the Akaka bill was introduced only 9 days before a cloture motion was filed for a different previous version of the bill! For documented proof of these things, and predictions by this writer four months ago which are now coming true, see "Akaka bill maneuvers coming up from September through December 2010" at http://tinyurl.com/2avo9kq

That webpage includes much more besides proof of Sen. Inouye's abuse of appropriations bills in several lame duck sessions. It also includes
Congressional Record quotes of Senator Inouye's lies on the Senate floor when he told his colleagues that U.S. troops invaded 'Iolani Palace in January 1893, arrested the Queen, and imprisoned her there; and also another time when he told his colleagues that in 1898, when the Hawaiian flag was hauled down from the Palace at the ceremony of Annexation, the flag was publicly cut into pieces which were distributed to the annexationists as souvenirs of their final victory over the Hawaiians.

It's especially shameful when a Medal of Honor recipient behaves so dishonorably. Let's hope that his colleagues will call him to account without excusing him on grounds of age, infirmity, or ignorance.

Glenn Greenwald vs. Establishment Spin

Prisoner Beating Caught on Tape

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