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March 8, 2007
Getting Porked ('07)By Greyhawk
The just-released "2007 Pig Book" from the group Citizens Against Government Waste should be a bit embarrassing (it definitely would be, in a sane world) to congress members loudly bemoaning the treatment of troops at Walter Reed.
While un-armored Iraq and Afghanistan vets battled rats in their Washington hospital rooms, congress generously funded numerous medical research projects in the defense budget last year:
$59,000,000 for medical research projects ranging from cancer to diabetes to gynecological disease. As important as this research may be, there is no mention as to why these programs should receive money from the Department of Defense. One program which weighs heavily on taxpayers in this category is $1.35 million for the “Obesity in the Military Research Program.”Perhaps they can replace the Burger Kings on every military installation with Tofu Huts.
Projects in the Congressional Pig Book Summary must "meet at least one of CAGW’s seven criteria, but most satisfy at least two":
Requested by only one chamber of Congress;One guy who made out big in Defense was Senator Harry (No relation to Walter) Reid:
$72,720,000 added for projects in Nevada by then-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), including: $7,000,000 for the SA-90 airship persistent surveillance program; $3,750,000 for a counter-drug program for the Nevada National Guard; $3,000,000 for large aircraft infrared countermeasures; $1,950,000 for heat dissipation for electronic systems and $1,300,000 for the study of the structural reliability of smart munitions and lightweight structures at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Sen. Reid bragged about securing millions of dollars for money-hungry programs by announcing funding for “Nevada defense projects including operating expenses at Nevada military bases, research projects at state universities, and grants to private companies developing high-tech defense systems in Nevada.” This occurred before the time when now-Majority Leader Reid attempted to block expanded earmark reform in the Senate in January 2007, and was embarrassingly defeated when a few Democrats and most Republicans stood up against him.But that's nothing compared to Daniel Inouye's (D-Hawaii) score:
$319,655,000 for projects in the state of then-Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), including: $20,000,000 for the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB); $11,500,000 to fund Pan-STARRS to develop a large aperture telescope with the University of Hawaii to prevent space objects from colliding with Earth; $5,600,000 for the Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences, $4,500,000 for chitosan bandage component which utilizes natural compounds found in shrimp heads; and $1,000,000 for a wave power electric generating system. The ACUB works on “conservation planning at the ecosystem level to ensure that greater benefits are realized towards species and habitat recovery.” The Army’s objectives with this program include: “Reduce training restrictions, meet Endangered Species Act recovery responsibilities, prevent development along installation boundaries, and prevent future threatened and endangered species listings.” Thanks to programs like ACUB, the ecosystem for oinkers is thriving in Hawaii.Yup:
ACUBs support the Army's responsibility as a federal agency to comply with all environmental regulations, including endangered species habitat protection. By working in partnership with conservation organizations, ACUBs can coordinate habitat conservation planning at the ecosystem level to ensure that greater benefits are realized towards species and habitat recovery.(Insert your own Walter Reed "habitat" joke here.)
Even Ted Stevens (R-Bridge to nowhere) couldn't bring home that much bacon - but he tried:
$209,900,000 added for projects in the state of then-Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), an increase of 127 percent over the $92,425,000 for Alaska in the fiscal 2006 defense bill, including: $59,100,000 for upgrades to the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex in Red Flag; $4,000,000 for the Northern Line Extension, and $3,200,000 for HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), which has received $109.1 million in pork since 1995. The Northern Line Extension will provide a direct route from North Pole (pop. 1,778 in 2005) to Delta Junction (pop. 840 in 2000), which is a whopping 82.1 mile drive on one highway between the two villages according to MapQuest. The Alaska Railroad Corporation said, “The proposed rail line would provide freight and potentially passenger rail services serving commercial interests and communities in or near the project corridor.”Not all the pork projects are that big, and some may ultimately end the obesity problem:
$1,650,000 added by Senate appropriator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to improve the shelf life of vegetables. According to the senator’s July 2006 press release, “This project will help our troops in the field get fresh tomatoes…” The funding would help “establish and evaluate variant populations of bell pepper, cantaloupe and strawberry.” The money is being directed toward Arcadia Biosciences, a company based in Seattle. In all, Sen. Murray claims to have “secured $55 million in federal defense work for Washington state companies in the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Appropriations bill.” On Capitol Hill, Sen. Murray has already extended the shelf life of her own pork products.A million six could buy a lot of rat bait, but I'm sure looking forward to fresh Strawberry shortcake in Baghdad - where I won't have to worry about some alien invasions:
$1,000,000 added in the House for the Allen Telescope Array in Mountain View, Calif. This “alien” project is part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). SETI describes the telescope as “dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations.” No word on how it will help defend the world against an alien invasion.And in a salute to old-school military intelligence,
$1,000,000 secured by now-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to fund the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center. In a September 2006 press release announcing her pork victory, she said the center will serve as an “education center and project to preserve the site of the U.S. Army’s first language school established in 1941.”Too bad they couldn't have done that for building 18. Ironically, back in '41,
Despite the doubt of such a program succeeding, Rasmussen was given permission and a $2,000 budget to start a school.While once it was the country's oldest operating military installation, the Army closed San Francisco's Presidio (the location of the school) in one of the first Clinton-era budget cutbacks in 1994.
But Nancy also nabbed
$2 million to continue the restoration of the parade ground at the Presidio’s Main Post and Educational Center. The parade ground will serve as the center of activity for the Presidio, and its restoration is part of an effort to create a site for public education about the impact of the military on American life.Should they ever want to do the same for congress, an empty wallet might be a fine symbol.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 8, 2007 6:41 AM | Permalink
The Walter Reed disgrace: Not a single politician has the moral high ground to act surprised about this. The slipshod treatment of our soldiers has been going on for years, while elected officials of both parties turned a blind eye in favor of their ... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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