Monday, June 25, 2007

Amster: "'Sanctity of life' too complex for narrow views"

Randall's getting better at this. In today's effort he weaves some needed nuance into a national issue on which most people are rock-ignorant, and brings it home with a real local connection. Good show.

I appreciate Randall's assiduous work to calm the waters and get people talking on an adult level. It still ropes me off that we're dealing with this as any kind of controversy, though. We all know, if we're paying attention and honest about it, that this is an invented political issue directly related to the ongoing effort to assign human rights to blastocysts, which is a reactionary stratagem designed primarily to regain legal control over the sexuality of women. I'm really sick of it, we ought to be past this.

Editorial: "Congress disappoints again with ‘pork’ bill"

The unnamed Courier editor feels that $153 million in earmarked spending, in the context of a trillion-dollar budget that doesn't include funding for two ongoing wars, is something worth his morning finger-wag. OK, fair enough, how are we doing, relatively speaking?

Drawing from a comparative report by the Congressional Research Service (big PDF), I did a couple of sums. It appears that for '05, following a decade of consecutive increases, Congress earmarked over 1.2 billion bucks for over 16,000 individual projects. Took me about ten minutes, including downloading the 50-page report on dialup.

I can't say how the editor arrived at his number, so I don't know that it's directly comparable, but I'm sure that if he'd found a higher number he'd have used it. I'll walk right past the discussion we ought to be having about the good that's bound to be mixed in with the bad in the earmark pile. Just taking the editor's supposed point of view, it seems to me that in the context of his apparent desire to reduce earmarks, a drop in this category of spending by nearly an order of magnitude in two years ought to be cause for celebration rather than disappointment.

So which do we have here: a lack of interest in the simplest research, or a considered effort to make the voters dumber and slam Democrats? Either way, our community is poorly served.