A Challenge to Democrats and the Lefty Blogosphere

In its election recap, the Washington Post reports the following from the state of West Virginia: 

In the 1st District, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D) survived a year of congressional scandal, defeating state Del. Christopher Wakim (R) to earn a 13th term. Mollohan overcame his dismissal from the House ethics committee, investigations of his real estate dealings and allegations that he used his influence to shift millions of taxpayer dollars to friends and relatives. Mollohan will keep his Appropriations Committee seat.

Throughout the state, any sense of suspense ended for unnamed schools, bridges and dams: Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D) won a ninth term over John Raese (R), positioning Byrd to extend his record as longest-serving U.S. senator and top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

Emphasis mine. 

Here's the challenge:  Mollohan is, to say the least, "ethically challenged."  There's no sensible reason for him to retain his seat on the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives.  If Nancy Pelosi is serious about "draining the swamp," she'll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel. 

As for Byrd, his history of earmarking excesses makes Ted Stevens look like Ron Paul.  Earmarking is little more than legalized corruption.  It's buying votes.  Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he's the one who put a "secret hold" on a bill that wouldn't have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it.  Democrats who rightly railed against the "Bridge to Nowhere" can't be taken seriously if they sit back and let Byrd resume diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to wasteful pork projects in West Virginia.  Harry Reid should remove him from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It won't be easy -- Byrd in particular is likely to raise holy hell.  But if you're going to change the culture of corruption in Washington, you'd go a long way toward demonstrating your seriousness by starting with your own party. 

It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.

UPDATE:  Several readers have written to point out that Pelosi is set to pass over Rep. Jane Harman to  make Rep. Alcee Hastings chair of the Intelligence Committee.  Hastings is of course a formal federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench by a Democratic Congress in 1989 for taking bribes.  Apparently, the Congressional Black Caucus is demanding a chairmanship for Hastings to compensate for the loss of influence caused by Rep. William Jefferson's removal from the Appropriations Committee -- also due to corruption.

This, within 72 hours of the election.   Meet the new boss...


ANOTHER UPDATE:  Glenn Reynolds links to this post, calling it a case of libertarian "buyer's remorse."  Not exactly.  I still think the GOP needed to lose this election.  And I'm glad they did.  But supporting the Dems in the election doesn't mean we give them a pass now that they've won.

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  • ||

    Mollohan's win confirms the general axiom that voters tend to reject Republicans with any hint of scandal (e.g. Weldon) while re-electing crooks like Mollohan, Jefferson, and the scumbags who run cities such as Philadelphia. Of course, all 535 in D.C. are thieves to one extent or another, but Dems seem to get a pass more often.

  • edna||

    It would also be nice to see the lefty blogs pick up on this, and give Pelosi and Reid the cover they need to do the right thing.

    somewhere between, "no way," and, "ain't gonna happen." they're the blue team's version of hannity or limbaugh. happy to carry water.

  • Meyer||

    Has Mollohan been convicted of anything? If the allegations proved to be unfounded, I don't see why he should lose his committee seat.

  • ||

    If you've ever been to West Virginia, you'll notice two things: (1) it's an absolutely beautiful state; (2) everything is named after Byrd. There is absolutely no question that Byrd is the reigning king of pork. And none of his earmarked expenditures make any sense, nor have they done anything to alleviate poverty in that state. West Virginia boasts six lane highways with fewer cars than lanes, and right beside the highways are shacks brimming with toothless and pregnant women.

    I'll second Radley Balko on his challenge. The webroots people lost on Dean and Lieberman. If they can help pressure Reid to oust Byrd from the appropriations committee, they might yet be relevant after all. We libertarians who voted against Republicans this year should also do our part to put the pressure on Byrd. As far as I'm concerned, a crying Byrd would be just as good or better than a crying Santorum.

  • ||

    Sadly, the whole idea that Democrats are going to do anything to rein in spending is, um, ridiculous, and I say that as a long-term Democrat. Democrats have a very hard time voting against any kind of federal spending whatsoever. Republicans believe in welfare for the rich; Democrats believe in welfare for everyone.

    In addition, the close political divisions in most of the country makes it essentially impossible for politicians of either party to refrain from pork-barrel vote-buying. Furthermore, the voters like it.

  • Pete Guither||

    Jefferson hasn't won yet, and the lefty blogs are supporting his opponent in the run-off on Dec. 9.

    It may not be the same as standing up to Byrd, but it's a pretty positive step.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    (1) it's an absolutely beautiful state; (2) everything is named after Byrd.

    And it contains more concrete per resident than anyplace on earth.

  • ||

    Has Mollohan been convicted of anything? If the allegations proved to be unfounded, I don't see why he should lose his committee seat.

    Not being convicted of a crime doesn't imply that the allegations are unfounded. The bar for criminal conduct is very high (rightfully so), and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard leaves quite a bit of room for sub-criminal ethical malfeasance, particularly given the practical difficulty of proving scienter in these type of cases. That Mollohan has acted in an unethical manner is beyond question. If Democrats want to argue that a criminal conviction is necessary to pursue a much needed house cleaning, then they haven't learned anything from recent scandals.

  • Rhywun||

    Was it Byrd who started the abhorrent trend of naming public works after living people (let alone the even more abhorrent practice of naming stuff after himself)? "Reagan National Airport" and "George Bush Turnpike" come to mind.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Was it Byrd who started the abhorrent trend of naming public works after living people (let alone the even more abhorrent practice of naming stuff after himself)? "Reagan National Airport" and "George Bush Turnpike" come to mind.

    Most likely. I've been to Morgantown for WVU games and to the tracks to bet the horses and I am not exaggerating, I've been on SEVEN different roads, streets or highways named after Byrd.

  • ||

    creech,

    Your axiom has some exceptions:

    John Doolitle
    Chris Shays
    Jerry Lewis
    Steven LaTourette
    Jerry Lewis

    I think it depends more on the party affiliation percentages of the district rather than the party itself. Strong Rep districts re-elect compromised Reps and likewise for the Dems.

  • Meyer||

    Not being convicted of a crime doesn't imply that the allegations are unfounded. The bar for criminal conduct is very high (rightfully so), and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard leaves quite a bit of room for sub-criminal ethical malfeasance, particularly given the practical difficulty of proving scienter in these type of cases.

    That may be so, but I still feel uncomfortable turning committee assignments over to the right-wing smear machine. Don't want a particular Dem on a committee? Just throw some allegations out there.

  • ||

    Not only did Robert Byrd perfect the practice, he's the one who put a "secret hold" on a bill that wouldn't have even eliminated the practice, but would merely have added a bit of transparency to it.

    emphasis mine this time, Radley. and this doesn't excuse Byrd's behavior, but I beg to differ. from the article you linked to:

    ...Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., acknowledged Thursday that he also placed a "secret hold" on legislation that would open up the hidden world of government contracts to public scrutiny.


    Byrd and Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, two of the most skilled purveyors of federal funds, used the parliamentary maneuver to stop legislation that would create a searchable database of some $2.5 trillion in federal spending.

    emphasis mine again

  • ||

    Sometimes allegations are entirely baseless. In which case, neither legal nor political action need be taken. Sometimes allegations are overwhelmingly supported by evidence. Legal and political consequences should then follow. Finally, sometimes there's a decent amount of evidence that something wrong has been done but not enough to convict. In that case, a politician should not be prosecuted, but should suffer censure, removal from committees, and possibly even removal from office.

    Like Caesar's wife, these people are supposed to be held to a higher, not a lower, standard of conduct. We really need to stop giving these jokers passes on all of their unethical behavior. Yeah, maybe they all do it, but when they get caught, they should be out on their asses, not getting treated like nothing happened.

  • ||

    I still feel uncomfortable turning committee assignments over to the right-wing smear machine. Don't want a particular Dem on a committee? Just throw some allegations out there.

    Well, was Tom DeLay convicted when he decided not to run again? No. Am I crying about that? No.

    There is a "left-wing smear machine" as well. To be expected, really. I don't think it does any sort of favors to really fighting corruption to jump on any accusation against one party and then defend members of the other by saying "well, he hasn't been convicted yet."

  • ||

    Cheer up.

    Eventually, there will be a "Robert Byrd Memorial" something.

  • ||

    The best part was when people actually believed that policy would resemble campaign promises...

    Come on, did anyone actually have any expectations that things would change? I voted SPT democrat, but not under the expectations that the candidates themselves would be any better---my glimmer of hope resides in the coming "nobody has a true majority" Senate (you need 60), and the ensuing gridlock that I'm praying for.

    Funny thing is...well, not so funny as it is depressing...is that everyone, and I mean fucking EVERYONE, talks about gridlock as if it is some evil bogeyman to be avoided at all costs. I hear fucking idiot jackass commentators saying "it's time they put aside our partisan differences and get to work". Why is it such an absolute good when congress is "getting shit done"? It's not like they ever do anything but take our liberties and our treasure. So why the FUCK should we be demanding that they "get to work"? We should not. People have this unreasonable (and, IMHO, completely imbecile) expectation that Congress should always be "working", just like you and me. News flash: congress isn't a business...or it shouldn't be. The LESS they work, the better we all are.

    So let's just sit back and pray for gridlock. And stop acting shock, SHOCKED I TELLS YA, when the democrats don't buck the system. The best we can hope for, no matter who is in power, is gridlock.

  • ||

    If the allegation comes from Rush Limbaugh, I think it's safe to let them hold on to their posts. If the allegation comes from law enforcement, some non-partisan watchdog group or someone on your own side, it's best to kick them off, if only for the sake of appearances. Until either they clear their name or not.

    "Innocent until proven guilty" is excellent in a court of law, but politics is a different game.

    I suppose Byrd may be hard to get rid of. As distasteful as he is, he has seniority, he probably has established good relations with others in the party and, when you come down to it, his crime is doing what all the other lawmakers are doing, only doing it more. He has not, as far as I know, broken any ethics rules and as much as we would all like pork to be declared unethical that's not a justifiable reason to punish Byrd.

    Mollohan is probably a different story.

  • ||

    Here's an article from one of the agents of the "right-wing smear machine", the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/14/AR2006051401032.html

    Of if they are too partisan for you, a site which lists who they think are the 20 most corrupt members of Congress lists 17 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Mollohan is one of them.

    http://www.beyonddelay.org/

    Defending Mollohan is defending the indefensible. The _best_ spin you could possibly put on it is he blew an obscene amount of money on NFPs for his district. It is almost surely far far worse than that.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Eventually, there will be a "Robert Byrd Memorial" something.

    My guess is there will be dozens of Byrd Memorial somethings, including a KKK meeting hall.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    I suppose Byrd may be hard to get rid of.

    He's what, 89? All we need is for some Republican staffer to jump out of a toilet stall and yell "BOO!".

  • ||

    I'm tanned, rested, and ready.

    And toga clad, naturally.

  • ||

    If the allegation comes from Rush Limbaugh, I think it's safe to let them hold on to their posts. If the allegation comes from law enforcement, some non-partisan watchdog group or someone on your own side, it's best to kick them off, if only for the sake of appearances.

    And if Rush repeats the allegations coming from law enforcement, some non-partisan watchdog group, or someone on your own side... then their in the clear again? Nice.

  • ||

    Which is it?
    Draining the swamp?
    or
    San Francisco values?

    I just want to share that Waki Paki and I have been high-fivin' each other and patting each other on the butt since the election results were announced.
    I'm feeling those San Francisco values wash over me! He's not excited by that, but, rather that there's a good chance his coreligionists will not be getting killed in such numbers.

  • ||

    He's what, 89? All we need is for some Republican staffer to jump out of a toilet stall and yell "BOO!".

    Remember how long Strom Thurmond lived? Those crazy old bastards live forever.

  • Derrick||

    I lived in WV for a while, down the street from a federal facility which researched the reproduction of the fruit fly. I don't remember whether it had Byrd's name on it, but pretty much everything else did.

  • ||

    Radley,
    you provide a lot of cute rhetoric, but little of substance. I challenge you to come up with some projects in WV that Mr. Byrd secured funds for that are demonstrably useless and would NOT simply have gone to another state. The ones for which Mr. Byrd initiated the need in the first place, not just the money.

    There are a number of facilities in my neck of the WV woods which got to where they are through the influence of Sen. Byrd. Let's face it, he's got clout. Most of these facilities are federal. If they weren't here, they would be somewhere else. Seriously, anyone, would you not think your Sen or Rep is doing the right thing steering projects to their district?
    We can argue about the merits of a National Conservation Training Center or a training facility for the BATF, but it wasn't Mr. Byrd's idea that they exist, just where they exist.

    You charge Mr.Byrd with corruption. I think you mix up personal corruption with a corrupt system. No one has ever been able to say that Mr Byrd profited personally from his political connections. He has profited politically, sure, but that's not corruption.
    I agree with you that earmarks are a bad practice, then let's go after them, not after one out of a hundred that use them! Throwing one man off a committee is a mere gesture which won't solve the problem, but just continues the bad practice of political window-dressing.
    It's cute to fall into this general dislike for a successful politician, but Mr. Byrd is hardly on a level with some others, recently not reelected.
    It is not helpful to continue to blow up appearances as reality and assign guilt by association simply for political expediency. Can't be avoided during a campaign, hinders progress outside of them.

    As for naming facilities for living people, I have always thought that to be unseemly, but Mr. Byrd is hardly alone. It's a universal trend. He should have turned down the honour.

    I do not know the exact motivation why Mr. Byrd put that "secret hold" on the earmark reform legislation and if he thinks that action was a smart move. I have left word with his office and will relay the reply when I get it.


    PS: I was going to comment that no one has yet brought up Mr. Byrd's connection to the KKK 65 YEARS AGO. but I see TPG beat me to it! Congratulations TPG!

  • ||

    Maybe in 2008 the entire focus of the LP and others interested in fundamental changes in Washington should be to oust these undead incumbents. I don't mean the old guys, I mean the guys who've been in Congress for more than, say, twelve years (and I only give 'em that long to let Senators stay for two terms). There's no way, no how, any career politician (other than Paul and maybe five other exceptions out of 535) can be trusted for that long. Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

    Even if the new guy is somewhat distasteful, a wholesale change has got to bring with it at least some modicum of idealism and/or reform-mindedness. We can use 1994 as a measure for how long that will last, which means further ousting and reousting. In a country of 300 million people, I think we can replace our Congresspeople more often that every thirty or fifty years. Holy Zeus, people! And, by the way, if the name is familiar but the face isn't, vote against! Ye gods!

  • ||

    The length of time the Dems keep the Congress depends upon, pretty much, one thing: whether the Dems have learned to make peace with the NRA and conservative dem/lib like me who are its members and activists. If Schumer and Co. resort to their same old gun grabbing tricks, they will be taken back to the woodshed in 2008. Period.

  • ||

    The problem with "throwing the bums out" every 12 or so years is that the FiretrUCKing staffers run the place with even more of an iron fist than they do now. Don't like Pols? You'd like the staffers even less. Trust me.

  • Meyer||

    From the Washington Post Article,

    Mollohan's transactions -- first reported last month by the Wall Street Journal -- were uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center, a small research institute in Virginia that gets some of its funding from the politically conservative Scaife family of Pittsburgh.

    Like I said, right-wing smear machine.

    I think we should wait for at least an indictment before we start taking the word of Richard Mellon Scaife.

  • ||

    martin,

    When the thief walks out of my home with my TV and jewels, I'm not interested in whether he gives them to West Virginia or keeps them himself. I just want my stuff back, and I want the thief kept out of my home in the future.

    I'm not even using this analogy in the usual libertarian, anti-tax sense. I just mean that whether the misuse of funds is politically or personally motivated or even legal really makes no difference. It's still my money being used for purposes that are unfair and illegitimate.

    Letalis,

    Well, yes, there's always the argument that staffers, lobbyists, and bureaucrats gain power in such circumstances. There's some truth to that, but I think you're more likely to see at least some attempt to fight those entrenched "powers" when newbies enter Congress (esp. in large numbers). Certainly, the power of these jokers in Congress now is unchecked and will remain so without some significant oustering and purgification.

    Maybe Pelosi and the Democrats will listen to my drumbeat for the Censor. Since we, the people, are too stupid/jaded/whatever to vote unethical and corrupt people out of office on our own.

  • Timothy||

    He's what, 89? All we need is for some Republican staffer to jump out of a toilet stall and yell "BOO!".

    Remember how long Strom Thurmond lived? Those crazy old bastards live forever.


    I think their hatred gives them power. Like the Emperor.

  • ||

    Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is nice also. When did airports stop being named after people to honor them to the sitting Senator who appropriates tax dollars and claims "he" built the airport.

  • ||

    Left-wing auto-defense spin-control.

    Meyer, sorry to disappoint, but your boys are just as corrupt as the ones just kicked out - and I'm surprised it only took 2 days for everyone to figure it out.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate:

    "When the thief walks out of my home with my TV and jewels...."

    Fair enough, I'm with you on that one. Then let's go and get the system changed. Going after one guy may feel good, but isn't going to accomplish much.

  • ||

    martin,

    Couldn't agree with you more. It's not one guy or even all the guys. It's the danged system. Not to beat an undead, oh-so-edible horse, but if the powers of Congressmen were strictly limited, then the interest in corrupting them and the effects of whatever corruption they bring with them would be remarkably curtailed. I'm surprised the Constitution doesn't have anything in it about limiting government power :)

  • Larry A||

    If Nancy Pelosi is serious about "draining the swamp," she'll kick Mollohan off the appropriations committee before she pounds her first gavel.

    Reading the article, particularly her "first 100 hours" goals, I'm afraid Nancy's version of "draining the swamp" will involve a fire hose and a tank of water the size of Lake Michigan.

  • ||

    Here is an entertainingly long list of things named after Byrd.

    Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing? WTF is that?

  • ||

    martin,

    Ms. Marcus from WaPo was kind enough to compile a partial list of Byrd related pork:

    The Robert C. Byrd Federal Building and Courthouse in Charleston, the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building and Courthouse in Beckley, the Robert C. Byrd Expressway , the Robert C. Byrd Freeway (I've driven on this one during "rush hour" - I practically had the entire freeway to myself), the Robert C. Byrd Bridge, the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center at Wheeling Jesuit University, the Robert C. Byrd Science and Technology Center at Shepherd University , the Robert C. Byrd Technology Center at Alderson-Broaddus College…

    Now, be kind enough to explain to me how all of the bridges and roads and various centers had to be built somewhere, so they might as well be in WVA. And why did they require federal dollars instead of state dollars?

    Sorry, Byrd is more than just a symptom of a greater problem. The "everybody is doing it" excuse is both morally worthless and factually incorrect given the exceptional quantity of Byrd related earmarks. The last thing we need is to have Byrd in charge of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • ||

    Oops, I missed bee's linked list. It's much more complete than mine.

  • ||

    Maybe Pelosi considers Harman too powerful, given Harman's aerospace and military connections. Is this the congressional version of "Meerkat Manor" and the family matriarch Flower?

  • R C Dean||

    Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing? WTF is that?

    I think it has something to do with the design and manufacture of birth control devices.

  • Boghie||

    Wow,

    You through out amateur Porkers and got the real thing...

    Brilliant...
    Absolutely Brilliant...

    And, while fighting a war. Wow, the opportunities for pork during wartime are amazing. We'll start backing the troops by condemning waterfront property for casinos and government buildings!

  • ||

    Martin Said:
    "Seriously, anyone, would you not think your Sen or Rep is doing the right thing steering projects to their district?"

    Check out the voting record of Representative Jeff Flake from Arizona. This Republican votes no on almost every single federal spending bill. No pork for his district.

  • Libby Spencer||

    Well said Radley. I'm just catching up on the these remarkable developments having been without internet access for the crucial three days and I had a similar take in my initial analysis, which is available here at the Detroit News.

  • ||

    I'm glad they did

    If you're going to whine, please go for it, but please don't posture.

    It's really unattractive.

  • ||

    Wow,

    You through out amateur Porkers and got the real thing...

    Brilliant...
    Absolutely Brilliant...


    The previous bunch were amateur Porkers? Come again?

  • ||

    You know, I'm fairly savvy about politics, but I couldn't tell you about a single piece of pork "brought home" by the Florida Congressional delegation. With notable exceptions like the constituents of Byrd and Stevens, I bet that most voters don't know the specifics of the porkfest they are receiving. Granted, the money folks back home do know, but that means that pork-obtaining doesn't directly get votes, it just gets electoral largess. Which makes the whole mess worse, in some respects.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate, I recently read a list of earmark appropriations for Florida, and an impressive amount of them were for renovating interchanges. I doubt Florida is anywhere near the worst state for earmarks, but it's not completely devoid.

    And of course no one could possibly think that Democrats have the lock on earmarkers: Trent Lott and Ted Stevens are notable. Lott at least has put in earmarks for Navy projects the Navy not only didn't ask for, but didn't want. The wall of shame has a substantial number of Republicans on it.

  • ||

    I still think the GOP needed to lose this election. And I'm glad they did. But supporting the Dems in the election doesn't mean we give them a pass now that they've won.

    See if David Weigel will say the same thing so I can sleep easier.

  • Paul||

    and right beside the highways are shacks brimming with toothless and pregnant women.

    Sounds like the road by my house.

  • ||

    Slartibartfast,

    I wasn't at all suggesting that Florida lacked its share of bacon; rather, I was noting that I couldn't tell you which politician got what little piece of the pork for me. I'm sure that's true for the vast majority of voters. But, as I said before, the interest groups (the "little guy" versions and the corporate ones) surely do know, and award funds and endorsements accordingly.

    Nice job on the fjords, by the way.

  • Paul||

    Has Mollohan been convicted of anything? If the allegations proved to be unfounded, I don't see why he should lose his committee seat.

    You gotta be shittin' me, right?

  • ||

    I think if a Congressman replaces the roll of toilet paper the wrong way that he should be expelled.

    Hey, I have high standards!

  • Paul||

    I would like to just get it out there before anyone else does (haa!) that I predict that a Democratic victory will be a bit like rubbing salt into the wounds for us libertarian minded folks. To wit:

    George Bush and his Republican congress have, by all proper accounts added a ton of new handles of power for the Democrats to start fiddling with. Item: No Child Left Behind Act. The act of Federal Government expansion expressly put into place by Bush, and much vilified by Democrats as taking away autonomy from local schools. Reversal by the Dems? I think not. I submit that they'll embrace the NCLB program as a great premise, make some minor tweaks which will be called "reforms" and then they'll add a heap of new Federal dollars that the Bush administration failed to provide to the local shool systems to help them cope with the mandates that NCLB created. The "reforms" will be slight increase of local school autonomy, freedom to spend Federal dollars how they see fit, and fewer strings attached, but an overall EXPANSION of the program. For the rest of the expanded powers of the government that is Federal? Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Patriot Act: a neat way to scrutinize anti-abortion activists
    Illegal wiretapping: See Patriot Act
    Federal Scrutiny of bank accounts: Get those pesky tax-evaders-- someone's sellin' something on E-bay, and we want our cut.

    The list goes on.

  • ||

    Paul,

    Which is why we all fear "bipartisanship". Bush could get even more spend-happy to get "compassionate" points. If he goes that route, the only hope will be a rebirth (or birth) of a limited government philosophy in the GOP members of the Senate. Which I doubt seriously will happen.

    So we're all doomed.

  • Don Surber||

    As the only newspaper columnist in West Virginia to take on Byrd in 25 years, I think you confuse earmarking with corruption.

    When the crap is settled, Byrd ranks No. 81 among the 100 senators when it comes to net worth. You buy a house in the DC area, it appreciates.

    By the way, naming things after living pols dates to naming the Metrodome after HHH shortly after he caught cancer. According to Byrd's letter to the editor of a few years back, I'm not allowed to drive on any Byrd highway. That greatly limits my travel in this state :)

  • ||

    Derrick | November 10, 2006, 11:40am | #

    I lived in WV for a while, down the street from a federal facility which researched the reproduction of the fruit fly. I don't remember whether it had Byrd's name on it, but pretty much everything else did.



    Derrick, I assume your subtext is something on the order of "why does the fed gov care about fruit fly sex"? it does sound ridiculous when put that way, but if one understands how science works, studying reproduction in fruit flies allows us to understand reproduction in other, more complex organisms, including and especially ourselves

    thanks to fruit fly studies, we have substantially increased our understanding of cell and DNA replication, inheritance of genes, including those responsible for genetic diseases, evolution, and how genes control embryonic development

  • ||

    OK, as one of the few people here who has actually spent some time at the "Byrd House" out in the boondocks in WV but not too far from DC (a/k/a the National Conservation Training Center), let me tell you what I saw there: high speed internet in every dorm room, Gustav Stickley furniture all over the place (including the on-site bar over which presides a taxidermy mount of a world class Tule Elk from the Pac NW), a first class cafeteria serving great food that was never more than 1/4 full, massively constructed buildings that have few labels of any kind, conference rooms with all the latest electronic communication doo-hickeys, stern faced and well-armed security guys, access by road and river, etc. In other words, everything a group of high-placed gov't officials might need if they had to skee-daddle out of town during an emergency like, oh I don't know, 9/11. I don't think they built that place for a bunch of GS-11's to learn about counting duck turds. Know what I mean?

  • Chris||

    Saying Byrd's pork is no problem because it would just have been someone else's pork is the sort of nonsense that supports this theft-at-the-government's-gunpoint as an ongoing and growing problem. There's no rule that our budget needs to be packed with this garbage. We could actually *gasp* reduce debt, or lower taxes, or refund people their overtaxed money.

    The whole point here is that Byrd's behavior (for which he has legislative immunity and cannot be prosecuted under US law) exacerbates a trend toward ignoring the purpose of government and the limitations its authors thought they had left in place before they were interpreted away by the judicial branch. Expecting either major party to fix this problem requires misplaced faith. However, it's a problem whose solution requires some discussion before we find the erosion of enforceable limits on government lunacy has completely evaporated and we might as well not have a constitution.

    After all: it could be worse.

  • ||

    Chris S.:

    I specifically did NOT make the "everybody is doing it" excuse.
    No doubt Mr Byrd has accumulated a long list of places named after him. I don't know about most of them and anyway, my point was not to defend this or that pork barrel project. My point is still that, if people think it's a waste of money, then go after the system and change it to less pork or no pork or whatever. Going after just Sen. Byrd is merely symbolic feel-good besides looking rather mean-spirited. It changes nothing. The same money will just go elsewhere. I thought the goal was cutting spending, not cutting down people?
    It is my opinion that we've had way to many feel-good, symbolic policies in the past. Anything goes but substantive reform.
    Cutting pork should be one reform, doing away with the totally dishonest, devious and undemocratic way of attaching unrelated items to legislation, just to guarantee their stealthy passage is another one high on my list. A reform of the Speakers' powers might be worth looking at. But that's a discussion for another time.

  • ||

    Martin,

    No offense buddy but your insight is about as brilliant as every Mayor and County Commissioner who thinks a tax on hotels and rental cars gets everyone else to pay for their pet project. Repeat after me, TINSTAAFL.

    I couldn't tell you about a single piece of pork "brought home" by the Florida Congressional delegation.

    It may not be that much these days but I think Bill Nelson is about as cozy with NASA as anybody.

  • ||

    If only the right people were in charge!

    Snicker.

    Earmark reform and Paygo are two of the items in the First 100 Hours program. Putting in system to check abusive porking is far more important that replacing individual Congressmen. It's no coincidence that earmarks exploded at the same time the Republicans abandoned the budget rules from 91 and 93.

    If there are solid rules in place to prevent monstrosities like the earmarks on the highway bill, it won't matter who chairs the Ways and Means Committee.

  • Assistant Village Idiot||

    Until today, I thought that the libertarians' votes for gridlock were an ill-advised but understandable risk to chastise Republicans. The GOP has given lip-service to small government for years, and some have actually supported it (I'm from NH, and our representatives have been very good on that score over the years). Smacking them seemed deserved, but tactically wrong to me.

    Now this column and comments suggest that many libertarians voted this way because the actually believed they could hold the Democrats accountable enough, and that the leftie blogs would help. That is just sadly delusional. You will now see power politics, backroom deals, and complete disregard for the party rank-and-file start up again. Pelosi will absolutely appoint who she wants, knowing that after a few days of bad press it will die down and she'll have her guy in place. Any complaints will be put down to the "right-wing smear machine (RWSM)."

    Don Surber, point taken, but lack of corruption in that sense does not equal honor. Goebbels kept track of the mileage to reimburse the Reich when he took his aged mother out for rides in the car Sunday afternoons, because he thought it was dishonest and immoral to have perks from working for the govt. Big whoop.

  • Paul||

    Earmark reform and Paygo are two of the items in the First 100 Hours program. Putting in system to check abusive porking is far more important that replacing individual Congressmen.

    Agreed and agreed. I'll believe it, however, only when it passes to my satisfaction.

  • ||

    Hear, hear! This is the kind of bipartisanship I'm all for. If she's serious about wanting to be the most open, honest, ethical, etc. Congress ever, these people need to be off key committees ASAP.

  • ||

    Assistant Village Idiot:

    Hmm, bringing up Göbbels. And this has what to do with Sen. Byrd?

  • ||

    Instapundit is a tard. Buyer's remorse? With Abramoff, Ney, Cunningham, Delay, Foley, Frist, and Sensenbrenner on the Republican side?

  • ||

    snikcer. You're funny.

    The Democrats are a fundamentally corrupt party. All you need to do is think about the whole "Living Constitution' BS (translation: when we can't win elections, Judges should rewrite the laws in our favor, anyway) to realize that. They are also the party of big government (which means, by its very nature, corrupt government).

    You wanted tehm to win, now you get the results. Enjoy!

  • Ryan Waxx||

    333: If you trade a old, stale tuna sub for an all-up shit sandwich, then yes buyer's remorse IS possible... for non-idiots, that is.

  • Assistant Village Idiot||

    martin, don't try to twist what I've said. The point is that an overall immoral character can nonetheless not use position for profit. Thus, the argument in Byrd's favor that he has not personally profitted from the abuse of government position is not impressive to me. Sometimes Nazi figures are used as excellent examples of extremes, with no intent to use them as comparisons.

  • ||

    Paul,

    Ditto. If Pelosi and Reid back out from their commitments to bring this mess under control, they need to be slapped upside the head.

    And I will guaran-damn-tee that the lefty blogosphere will be on board for that. Sites like Kos slap around corrupt Democrats all the time.

  • ||

    Ditto. If Pelosi and Reid back out from their commitments to bring this mess under control, they need to be slapped upside the head.

    Uh, joe, you made a mistake: That should read "When", not "If".

    And I will guaran-damn-tee that the lefty blogosphere will be on board for that. Sites like Kos slap around corrupt Democrats all the time.

    I like reading joe's comments today. They give new meaning to the term "childlike faith".

    I also predict many -- if not all -- libertarians will be sorely disappointed by this crop of Democrats. While I can't dispute the Republicans deserved an ass-whupping for their big-spending ways, it didn't make a lick of sense to replace them with Democrats, people who are openly committed to expanding government.

    The Republicans at least say they want smaller government. The Democrats don't even pretend to try.

    Oh, and one more thing, joe:

    It's no coincidence that earmarks exploded at the same time the Republicans abandoned the budget rules from 91 and 93.

    If you will consult your history book, you will find that the Republicans did not officially take control of either House of Congress until January, 1995.

    Those budget rules whose passing you mourn were abandoned by Democrats.

  • ||

    Strike the last part of that comment: I misread what joe had written.

  • Lex||

    Strictly speaking, Jefferson hasn't been re-elected. He's in a runoff -- against another Democrat (weird product of Louisiana's electoral system), possibly because the anti-Jefferson vote was split. At any rate, voters may still do the right thing with Jefferson.

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