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With Republicans like these....

Check out some of the spending project line items that were included in the big transportation bill recently passed by Congress.

  • $220,000 for one line-item for trolley buses in Puerto Rico
  • $366,000 for one line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $835,000 for a second line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $4.2 million for intermodal transportation at the Philadelphia Zoo
  • $146,000 for a second line-item for trolley buses in Puerto Rico
  • $1.3 million for sidewalk lighting and landscaping around Cedar's-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • $1.3 million for a daycare center and park-and-ride facility in Champaign, IL
  • $1.7 million for an intermodal park and ride facility at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA
  • $2 million for a third line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $440,000 for a bike path in Powers, OR
  • $480,000 for pedestrian and bicycle sidewalks, lighting, and handicapped ramps in Miramar, FL
  • $200,000 for trails and bike paths on Bird Mountain, TN
  • $960,000 for a bike path in Riverhead, NY
  • $2.3 million for landscaping enhancements "for aesthetic purposes" along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, CA
  • $240,000 for boardwalks at Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • $1.6 million to enhance the Battery Park bikeway perimeter, New York City
  • $200,000 for a historical trolley project in Issaquah, WA
  • $200,000 for trails, bike paths, and recreational facilities on Black Mountain, TN
  • $235,796 for extensions to the Mesabi Trail, Aurora, MN
  • $144,000 for paths and trails at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, OH
  • $160,000 for a bike path, Petal, MS
  • $200,000 for a bike path "network", Evanston, IL
  • $2.9 million for a bike path, Delta Ponds, OR
  • $240,000 for bike and pedestrian improvements, Windermere, FL
  • $2.4 million for bike trail, Smyrna, TN
  • $1.2 million for a bike trail, LaVergne, TN
  • $800,000 for regional bike routes on existing highways, Austin, TX
  • $480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse, Lyons, NY
  • $320,000 for a bike path from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach, CA
  • $280,000 for a bike path, Fairview Park, OH
  • $600,000 for horse-riding trails, Jefferson National Forest, VA
  • $2 million for a bike trail, Cookeville, TN
  • $2 million for an intermodal bikeway, Independence, OH
  • $640,000 for bike, pedestrian and other improvements at Georgia Veterans Memorial Park
  • $1.2 million for pedestrian bicycle access project, Newark NJ
  • $1.2 million for a bike path, East Long-meadow Redstone, MA
  • $8 million for the Harlem Hospital parking facility
  • $1.8 million for a bike path, Portage, WI
  • $2.6 million for pedestrian walkway and bikeway improvements along the NYC Greenway System in Coney Island, NY
  • $400,000 for a bike path in Dunkirk, NY
  • $532,000 for a bike and pedestrian trail, Gallatin, TN

Despite some objections by Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and a handful of others, this pork-fest passed the House with a final vote of 412 to 8.

Is that it? Have we lost? Is the battle for fiscal conservatism dead? Restraining government spending was always an uphill battle, but without politicians who at least make an effort it seems altogether doomed. So what's the point in having a Republican Congress, exactly? I suppose it helps prevent income tax rates from rising back up to 70%, but with no desire to rein in spending, how long can taxes be restrained?

I can't delude myself that the Democrats would be any better. And the Libertarians? God bless 'em, but I've voted for Libertarians more often than not over the past fifteen years, and what has it got me? Exactly pea shit.

So is Clinton-era style gridlock the best we can realistically hope for? Is that what I should do from now on? Decide how I want to cast my vote for president and then vote for congressmen from the opposite party? A depressing thought, but what's the alternative?

And here's an even more depressing thought. Limited government has always been the defining characteristic of traditional conservatism for me. But it's hard to pretend you're for limited government when you're happily allocating more than a million dollars for "sidewalk lighting" and "landscaping" at Cedar's-Sinai.

But if you discard the principle of limited government, what's left of conservatism as we know it today? A "culture of life?" Faith-based initiatives? "Defending" marriage? Sorry, I have no interest in any of that. Sometimes it can be damned discouraging being a Goldwater conservative in a Tom DeLay party.


Barry, this crap goes on no matter which party is in power.

Always remember, the first objective of any elected official is re-election. Red, blue? No matter.

The two biggest gonifs in the senate are Byrd and Stevens and they get re-elected in landslides because they bring home the pork.

I miss William Proxmire and his "Golden Fleece" awards.

Actually, the bike paths are not really pork. Generally, these are old railroad right-of-ways that would otherwise be cut by developers. Since it would be cost prohibitive to try to buy back an alternate ROW in the future, turning them into bike paths is a relatively inexpensive way to preserve the land.

Case in point, anyone who drives Route 80 in NJ can tell you how useful a railroad would be today to reduce traffic. The problem is that the ROWs that paralled 80 were sold off years ago. Shortsighted thinking.

Dude, the rail system is toast. If some hotshot wants to build another one there one day, he's gonna have to pay for it himself. Why do I, in Atlanta, have to pay now to preserve land for you to use at some later date. You buy it if ya want it. Have a bakesale.

But we have a right to safe, unencumbered biking dangit! Bring on the solar scooters!

And voting red/blue is almost pointless, if you want your rights back, that is. They say mobilization of the masses is the key. Maybe we should adopt some Rovian tactics to win the hearts and minds of the public to stop the bleeding.

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