Washington Babylon — August 7, 2007, 8:24 am

Democrats Back at the Trough

pigfountain

I regularly receive press releases from one of the two major political parties lambasting the other, and I generally don’t pay them much mind. But the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out a release on August 4 that contained some juicy tidbits about the performance of the current Democratic Congress.

For example, it pointed to the Democrats’ appointment of Congressman Alan Mollohan to chair the subcommittee that oversees the FBI budget. That’s an interesting choice given that Mollohan is currently under FBI investigation for seeking earmarks that benefited his friends and supporters. And how about the inspired decision to appoint “Dollar Bill” Jefferson to a seat on the Homeland Security Committee? Maybe that should have waited until Jefferson finds a better excuse for keeping $90,000 in his freezer, as discovered during an FBI raid on his home.

The press release also cited an outburst of Democratic porkbarrel spending. The legendary Congressman John Murtha, chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on defense, recently won a controversial $23 million grant for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in his home district. So far, his fellow Democrats have not acted to strip that money from the spending bill despite the stink caused by the grant; nor have they reprimanded Murtha for allegedly threatening to cut projects in the district of Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan after the latter tried to axe the NDIC funding.

Incidentally, the New York Times recently ran an article reporting that this year Murtha “has obtained $163 million in pet projects—more than anyone else in Congress and more than his own previous record of about $100 million.” The story said that House lawmakers have “put together spending bills that include almost 6,500 earmarks for almost $11 billion in local projects,” including $63 million worth of projects in or near the district of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. On a smaller scale, the House supported a $2 million earmark to buy a building for Congressman Charlie Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to have a “well-furnished office,” a “Rangel Library,” and personnel to organize his “photographs and memorabilia.”

Given the large number of Republican lawmakers under federal investigation–with the illustrious Senator Ted Stevens being only the latest example–it’s impossible to take seriously the GOP’s attempt to seize the mantle of morality. (A representative pious quote from NRCC Communications Director Jessica Boulanger: “It’s baffling that the Democrats would so willingly . . . violate the trust of the American taxpayer. After a shameful final sprint of broken rules and broken promises, the House will adjourn for the summer on a low note.”) And despite the efforts of Murtha and other kindred spirits, the Democrats aren’t even close to racking up the record levels of pork approved by the GOP-led Congress in recent years. Still, they’re working on it, and the party’s record to date makes it easy for Boulanger to mock the Democratic promise to run the “most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2016

Trump’s People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Old Man

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Long Rescue

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

New Television

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Improbability Party

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Helen Ouyang on the cost of crowd-sourcing drugs, Paul Wood on Trump's supporters, Walter Kirn on political predictions, Sonia Faleiro on a man's search for his kidnapped children, and Rivka Galchen on The People v. O. J. Simpson.

The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

Photograph (detail) © Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos
Article
Trump’s People·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"All our friends are saying, load up with plenty of ammunition, because after the stores don’t have no food they’re gonna be hitting houses. They’re going to take over America, put their flag on the Capitol.” “Who?” I asked. “ISIS. Oh yeah.”
Photograph by Mark Abramson for Harper's Magazine (detail)
Article
The Long Rescue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
Photograph (detail) © Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Newscom
Article
The Old Man·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

Illustration (detail) by Jen Renninger
Article
New Television·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
Still from The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story © FX Networks

Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:

$62,000

Kentucky is the saddest state.

An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today