As the Senate labors to pass the 2009 Appropriations Bill, H.R 1105 the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 John McCain labors to derail spending for the federal government because of Pork Barrel Earmark Spending. This Bill Funds the Governments Budget for the rest of 2009 and has been in the legislation process for more than a year. The Congress couldn’t get their act together last year to pass the budget and enacted a continued resolution that runs out today. They did today get it together enough to continue the funding resolution until next week so the government could continue to operate.
John McCain offered the Senate his top ten list on earmarks as evidence to support his failed amendment to continue level 2008 funding for the 2009 budget year. Well as many Senators pointed out, we are already half way through the 2009 budget year that runs from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. McCain was like the Rancher who tried to call the Ponies home after the coral gate was left open and they all ran off, only in his case the Ponies ran off last year. One earmark that he repeatedly pointed out was $200,000.00 for Tattoo Removal. Quickly the propaganda machine noticed his qua and Bill O’ Riley vomited that he hopes Angelina Jolie didn’t show up to get her Tat’s removed because she can afford to have that done on her own. And of course Sean Hannity jumped right in with his profound words of wisdom to pan the Tattoo removal program. Now all we need is Rush to lead us to the chosen land.
McCain’s Top 10
This wasteful Earmark was pork added to the bill by California Representative Howard Berman. http://www.house.gov/berman/index.shtml
The Earmark is $200.000 to purchase a Tattoo Removal Machine. To be used to remove Gang Tattoos and other types of Anti Social Tattoos that prevents people from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens. The program that would receive the funding removes these types of Tattoos free as part of a violence prevention program. The Providence Tattoo Removal Program helps former gang member’s reform and enables them to become employable and productive. Local Law enforcement praises the program for its success.
What is an Earmark? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earmark_(politics)
An Earmark Specifies that specifically identified funding must be spent on a specified program. This is how the congress has maintained power over the Executive branch of Government in regards to spending. That bridge you crossed on the way home might be an Earmark. This is how the Congress works and has worked for many years. Yes it controversial. On the other hand, it is how your representatives take action on your business. These Earmark programs are real programs and they provide real benefits to you the taxpayer in most circumstances. That is not to say there isn’t room for improvement or a better system. Like an open budget, that Obama just proposed.
Ok so I had the Flu this week and spent a lot of time watching CSPAN. So I watched this whole thing unfold as I lay on the couch whining or whimpering because I was sick.
However, what really pissed me off were John McCain’s top 10 and his remarks about the Tattoo Removal Earmark. Pork I hardly think so!
So now, here is the rest of the story.
Back in 1984, I went to work as a vocational instructor in a one of those wasteful spending programs in Tucson Arizona, John McCain’s district. I worked with Juvenile offenders, gang prevention; in a program that provided vocational training, we had a print shop. Being an Artist, Printmaker, Photographer I taught kids the basic skills to design and print Tee Shirts, Bumper Stickers and Signs. But most importantly I taught them how to work, how to keep a job. We also offered these kid’s the opportunity to get a GED and many did. Many of our kids had Tattoos, Gang Tattoos. This was before Laser Tattoo removal had been invented and they were just stuck unable to move on. You see Gang Tats are specific to cultural geographic areas and if you live in a specific area, your Tats are a big sign hanging around your neck.
So one day in mid 1985 I went to a Dermatologist for a skin check, to get a mole removed. On my upper right arm was a Tattoo. It was a military Tat that I wasn’t real happy with so you can imagine how I felt when the Doctor asked me if I would like to get it removed for free. He told me that a Doctor from the Cleveland Clinic was coming to Tucson to train him in Laser Tattoo removal and that he needed people to volunteer to let him work on them. He told me he had been in Cleveland and practiced removing tattoos on Pigs whose skin is very much like human flesh. Well I was in, I agreed to let his experiment on me after all it worked out for the pigs. I always wondered what kind of Tats do pigs get anyway and where do they get them?
So to make a long story short I showed up at my appointment and became the second person in Tucson to have a Tattoo removed by Laser although as it worked out I think the Doctor used a Phaser. The Tattoo was gone and so was a significant portion of my arm, vaporized. Turns out the new machine was a little to hot not like today’s machines and instead of a bad Tattoo, I had a horrific scar after seven months of painful healing. The Doctor felt terrible and offered to attempt to reconstruct my upper arm, but I had had enough pain and opted to leave well enough alone. From there the Doctors perfected the Laser and treatment we have today, which works just fine in most cases.
Ten years later in 1995 I was again working with at risk youth in Tucson still John McCain’s district. The Gang problem had grown to epidemic proportions in ten years and every part of Tucson faced rising gang violence. As I was told over and over by the kids we worked with your either in a gang or your nothing. Kids are constantly recruited to join gangs in the neighborhood where they live they live in fear or join. Once you become a gang member there is no easy out. Gang tattoos are more like brands on cattle, the gang owns you period. Other gangs just see the Tats as identifiable targets and target you. Only your gang can protect you now, that is unless you leave and that is not allowed.
I remember a young man, about 18 years old who came to our program to get a job. His hands and face disfigured he told us a story about what happened to him. He quit his gang and so his old friends became enemies and kidnapped him. They took him out into the desert and removed his Gang Tats with a screwdriver, gouging away at his fingers, neck and face until the symbols were gone. Then they burnt him, ran over him with a car and left him for dead. The kid just wanted to finish school and get a job. Well he did. He was one of John McCain’s constituents.
But he never got any help from John “No Pork” McCain. After tens years working on the streets of Tucson, I can’t say many people in the Barrio have gotten much help from Big John. In his defense I have to admit that one of his aids in the Tucson Office was a great community asset, Lillian Lopez Grant did care about the people and tired her best to do the right thing for people who couldn’t change there own circumstances.
The fact is McCain is out of touch out of date. He has no idea what the people need and what is important for California or for that matter Arizona. That is why California elected their, own representatives. Yes John, Bill and Sean Tattoo removal is important and necessary for those people who are locked into the violence of gangs. They need help to move on and break the cycle of violence that has dominated their lives and the lives of generations of family members and the communities they live in. Don’t you all want these people to change to become productive citizens?
There can be No change at the expense of political propaganda.
John, Bill and Sean count on the fact that you won’t seek out the real story the real truth. They rely on the political sound bites to enrage you to mislead you for their own political or entertainment ratings gain. There is real power and real danger in the Art of Propaganda. You and I are the victims of false truths.
John held up H.R Bill 1105 and said look at the size of this bill over a thousand pages with over 9000 earmarks. Well frankly, it is big; it is a big Budget Bill for a very big country that has a big government that costs big money. Maybe John should have read the even bigger manager’s reports that accompanied the bill; maybe he would have learned something from their hard work to produce content to support the legislation. No John, never read the Bill or the Manager reports, he said so I watched him say it as part of the congressional record. It was just too big for him to understand. Well that’s why you guys hired the managers to oversee the complexity of the legislation.
More Frankly, John why didn’t you and your crew go to work to eliminate the Pork last year or for the six months you have had a continuing resolution? Why now at the end in the last minute is it now so important? The process the earmarks is the current system of congressional government at work John you have had nearly 30 years to fix it if you wanted too. You didn’t you haven’t so move forward.
The Old Ponies have all run off and they isn’t a cumin back, so lock the corral now before the New Ponies run off. If you don’t like earmarks then change the way congress appropriates funds. It seems to me that is what the President is trying to do with a fully transparent planned budget. We will see how that works out.
I hope the Provident Tattoo Removal program gets their new machine.
It is worth every Penny!
Howard Berman if I were you I would post that Earmark prominently on my website for everybody to read, you should be proud you supported such an important program.