Go Ahead, Rain on My Parade

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Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, an original pork-buster and friend of reason, has just launched Pork Parade. The spare-looking site is a hub for a number of social networks that let the congressman name and shame earmarks in real time, from his campaign cell phone (although he's been using his campaign computer until he upgrades his phone). Anyone who looks for junk in the budget and tags his/her Twitter.com messages with #pork is linked up with Flake's efforts; their messages appear on the Pork Parade feed.

I had a quick chat with Flake just now to find out a little more about this.

reason: In a nutshell, what do you want to achieve with this?

Jeff Flake: It's a great way to get more people involved in exposing earmarks. I'm going to floor right now to challenge another John Murtha eamark, for example, and I can alert everyone who's following me what I'm doing and why I'm challenging it. Once you let people know, that generate phone calls and activity that lets other people know.

reason: Did this idea come out of [Texas Rep.] John Culberson's twittering during the drilling protest?

Flake: That was the first I heard of Twitter, actually. Of course, now we're all… twitterpated. The earmark issue is a great use for this. What we've missed, up to now, is quick action where people can hear about these earmarks right away.

reason: What's an instance, from the last few years, when this social networking stuff could have delivered  a victory for you?

Flake: People have been made more aware over last couple years, generally, about earmarks. We've been able to apply pressure with e-mails, with blog posts. This allows you to get the message out more quickly. Next week I'm challenging a Pelosi defense earmark that would pay for the Presidio historic site in San Francisco. If you had hundreds of people saying they want it out, that helps, and it helps even more if you can do it instantly. In last couple years I've had occasions, where I published list of earmarks I was going to challenge and seen congressmen run down to the floor to remove their eamarks and save face.

reason: The knock on "pork-busting" is that these earmarks are such a small portion of the budget. Could you use this tech, eventually, to attack other items in the budget that cost more money, or other bills?

Flake: There will be other efforts. This is a way to put individuals on notice, and letting them see how many people you can get to take action against over-spending. It goes far beyond earmarks, but you've got to build up the support and the infrastructure for this kind of action first.

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  1. Bravo, Jeff Flake!
    I disagree that earmarks are minor expenses, when you consider them as the currency used to bribe other members of congress to vote for much, much larger spending bills. When earmarks can no longer be used as leverage, then politicians won’t be as easily convinced to vote for truly expensive “non-earmark” programs.

  2. But Lew Rockwell said pork was good.

  3. Only if its TX CD14 pork.

  4. GO, SMILEY, GO!

    Perhaps Smiley would care to discuss his strong support for a processed pork by-product: MassiveAndOrIllegalImmigration.

    That form of pork will never get him on 60 Minutes as one of the good Republicans, or a chat in Reason’s cool urban loft, but it is a MassiveSubsidy.

    I think I’ll give him a call.

  5. I’ll do that tomorrow. For now I need to go vomit after I see those involved in the “twitter” are GOP hacks like DavidAll and RobertBluey.

  6. Just put some lipstick on it and call it good.

  7. LONEWACKO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *shakes fist in air*

  8. Amazing how many completely unrelated subjects OLS can inject his hatred of brown people into.

  9. Why does the linked site bring to mind the word “cargo cult”?

  10. Oh, and per Chapman earlier, maybe they should only hit up the ladies for 5 bucks a pop to get some gender equity at the Parade.

  11. OLS – go away before I post your e-mail and phone number up and let the DirtyMexicans spam you ’til Doomsday.

  12. I don’t think much will come of this, nor do I really expect substantive earmark reform. What’s much more interesting is Jeff Flake trying to build up a grassroots-supported name for himself in a non-partisan manner. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to conclude Jeff Flake very much has bigger plans than sitting around in his House seat throwing spitballs at earmarks.

  13. I do have to add that Twitter and Congress deserve each other.

  14. take action against over-spending

    So, if an earmark is removed, that money doesn’t get spent? Heh.

  15. Even though they are a small part of the budget, earmarks are a good place to start, because only one or two reps are responsible for each one. That type of individual accountability makes publication more effective.

  16. JTuf and Adina make very excellent points, although no one, Flake included, is expecting this one move to be a silvr bullet for federal spending problems.

    I’m a former Flake intern, and he really is not a self-promoter. He is one of the few people that dared stand up to McCain in AZ regarding our “Clean” Elections law.

    And for a Mormon, Flake really understands the importance of the establishment clause.

  17. The Iraq War, which Jeff Flake voted for, costs more in month than earmarking does in a year.

  18. Although Flake did vote for the war initially, he has been far better than average in scrutizing the costs of our occupation than his peers.

    Yeah, I guess that isn’t too high a standard…

  19. I’d vote for Flake over any of the 4 folks we got running now.

  20. Jeff Flake: the ideal reason libertarian: pro-war and pro-Patriot Act, but hey, at least he doesn’t do earmarks like that Ron Paul fella.

  21. maybe, no comment, maybe not. still important to note.

  22. Sorry, I don’t visit sites that require registration — especially ones run by politicians seeking to expand their spam library.

  23. The next Ron Paul? Unfortunate, though, that last name.

  24. Pork spending is the money that other members of Congress get for their state/district. Palin has pretty much defined it that way too. She has defended pork spending for her state as Alaskan’s getting their federal tax dollars back. Which is pretty much how almost everyone really sees it.

    We pay taxes, we want something in return. What’s wrong with that? The only way to end pork spending is to end taxation. That’s not going to happen. It gives the federal government power.

    I think they should end all taxes by the federal government and shift services to the states. Sure you may still pay the roughly the same taxes as now, but you’ll pay to the state and the feds lose their power.

  25. Charlie,

    I do not recall of the top of my head: Did Flake vote for the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act?

    It’s an acronym, folks!

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