Watching Sausage Being Made


In an article headed by those most accursed words in journalism–"Second in a Series"–today's New York Times chronicles a new congressman's haphazard decision-making process as she selects earmarks for her district. And dear god, it's awful.

Just the first paragraph makes me want to weep:

Kirsten Gillibrand arrived in Congress two months ago, ready to tackle national problems like health care, immigration and the war in Iraq. But few issues are as challenging as the one she has been confronting for the past few weeks: picking pet projects for her district.

And then there's this:

It is the bricks and mortar of legislative life, and, as Ms. Gillibrand has come to learn, the requests for federal aid range from the major (like $7 million to build a new police station in Saratoga Springs) to things that are obscure even to her (like $400,000 to renovate the James Vanderpoel House in Kinderhook).

"Who was Mr. Vanderpoel?" Ms. Gillibrand blurted out the other day as she went down the list of requests.

And this:

"I came up with that idea at literally 3 in the morning when I couldn't sleep," she said to her staff at a recent meeting, after proposing a novel way to get $6.8 million in funding for renovations at the Olympic center in Lake Placid. "It made sense at 3 in the morning."

For more on pork from the Reason files, go here.