Fighting For Pork: Obama Breaks Promise on Wasteful Spending in Defense Bill

In August, President Obama proclaimed that he would not tolerate pork in the defense budget by declaring “If a project doesn’t support our troops, we will not fund it.” He is being accused again of a substantial gap between his rhetoric and the reality of his politics. He just signed the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill with an estimated $4.2 billion in pork contained in 1,720 earmarks.

In a flagrant violation of the promise of both Obama and the Democrats, the defense bill is a continuation of the pork politics that they said that they would end. The bill includes the following:

∙$5 million for a visitors center in San Francisco
. $54 million for a flood-control project that will raise two trestles used by the Napa Valley Wine Train
∙$23 million for indigent health care in Hawaii
∙$18 million for the Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts
∙$1.6 million to computerize hospital records in Oakland
.$1.6 million for a Monterey graduate school
∙$47 million for anti-drug training centers around the country
∙$20 million for the World War II Museum in Louisiana
∙$3.9 million grant to develop an energy-efficient solar film for buildings
∙$800,000 for minority prostate cancer research
∙$3.6 million for marijuana eradication in Kentucky
∙$2.4 million for handicap access and a sprinkler system at a community club in New York

The bill also funds weapons that the Pentagon does not want such as $5 billion for two destroyers, 10 C-17 cargo planes and to develop a jet engine rejected earlier by Defense planners.

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44 thoughts on “Fighting For Pork: Obama Breaks Promise on Wasteful Spending in Defense Bill”

  1. ETSpoon, Say our friend Badman

    I don’t think I’ve seen you post here but using friend and Bdaman in the same sentence will not bode well for you at this blog.

    Nice site BTW but a big fat O in most of the comment sections. I saved it to favorites. I’ll stop by if it’s O.K. with you.

  2. Everybody talks about pork but nobody wants to do anything about it. for the simple reason that everybody likes it.

    Whether or not spending is pork or not is a matter of perception.

    Say our friend Badman here is in law enforcement in the state of Kentucky. That $3.6 million for marijuana eradication is not pork in his little piggy eyes, but much needed federal funding to fight the scourge of hillbilly grown pot (everyone knows mountain Williams should be distilling illegal moonshine.) But for some one across the river in Indiana that $3.6 million to eradicate the pot crop is just so much pork.

    And on it goes.

    And since the “defense” budget is the most sacredest of Washington’s sacred cows pols facing re-election need something to show the folks back home they can bring home the bacon.

    Hell, if Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the President been smart enough they should have bundled single-payer universal health care in the the Pentagon budget and it would have sailed through both Congressional chambers!

  3. raff & Jill,

    I’ve been thinking about a draft and there’s an additional flaw to the one’s raff pointed out. That is you are dealing with a certain percentage who are sociopaths – people who would have zero issue marching their children off to their deaths if it enhanced their bottom line. A draft would mean nothing to those people. However, if your opponent’s heart is stone, become water. Look for another weakness.

    War tax for the wealthy (500K/year and up) and corporations. No exemptions. No excuses. Flat percentage. EVERYONE pays. You don’t pay, you go to prison or your assets are seized and sold to cover the difference.

    Hit not just the sociopaths, but all who stand to benefit from war with a direct cost in the form of a tax.

    Then let’s see how anxious the Bush family and Exxon is to sell out our national best interests to illegally invade Iraq for their Saudi puppeteers.

    Combine it with a draft, that’s just extra incentive, but the real work would be done on impacting their balance sheets. Make their decisions have a direct and substantial impact to them and those they employ.

    In order to whack a monster, one must not only decide upon which kind of carrot works, but which kind of stick as well. Money is a better stick to beat the venal with.

  4. Jill,
    I am not sure a draft will solve the problem. We had a draft when Eisenhower gave his warning and we had similar problems prior to the end of the draft. When we had a draft the elite’s children were very rarely drafted or found their way into the National Guard. A guy named Bush comes to mind. I don’t think it is feasible to be free of war, but we should be trying to prevent the Iraq-type debacles. If a draft will do that, I am for it, but I am not holding my breath.

  5. rafflaw,

    I agree about a standing army. We should have a no exceptions draft and no contractors. If the people of the nation are not willing to put the bodies of their children into war, then we should not have that war. A draft would put a very fast brake on our wars of empire. Instead, our ruling elite simply hires mercenaries from all over the world and our quest for empire is “free” to continue. That is why mercenaries outnumber our regular forces.

    We currently have the worst of both worlds, the standing army/military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about and the private contractors whose desire for perpetual war is unquenchable, no matter how much blood they are fed.

  6. Jill,
    I agree that contractors can be troublesome in their performance and to me that is part of the oversight that is missing. I understand your comment about the perpetual war issue, but if we enlarge the standing army to provide many of these services, we have the same argument about the military establishment wanting to perpetuate war. I cannot disagree about any essential services being withheld from our military due to dangerous situations, but once again that is part of the oversight problem that I mentioned initially. If we are to have contractors in war zones, the military commanders must have control of them or we need to get them out and replace them with military personnel.

  7. Wiki has a good general article as a starting place:

    Here’s another article on the history of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937:

    The History of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937

    By David F. Musto, M.D., New Haven, Conn.

    Originally published in Arch. Gen. Psychiat. Volume 26, February, 1972

    reprinted at:

    I also suggest the book “Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics” by Rudolf Gerber

  8. rafflaw,

    I do have a problem with contractors even in the limited sense you’re OK with and here’s why. The logistical support contractors regularly abandoned our troops in times of need. In Iraq, our troops went without food, water, and the clothing they needed because the contractors felt it was too dangerous to get these things to them. They simply refused to go. Our people were left in a very bad situation. This was also true of resupply for parts.
    Dina Razor wrote about this.

    Contractors are also inherently dangerous in a democracy because it is in their interest to have perpetual war. It’s why they gave so much money to the Obama campaign and were one of his largest supporters. War equals money.

    There has never been good oversight over the contractors, not in their actions or billings.

    Here’s one of JT’s post on this subject:

    “Most notably, KBR’s Iraq project manager said in 2003 that supervisors could “stop any activity which you believe to be unsafe.”

  9. I completely accept that

    1) We have corrupt politicians in office
    2) Marijuana is a relatively harmless drug compared to drugs that are legal
    3) Laws are often used to persecute the poor and non-white
    4) The political system is driven primarily by corporate interests
    5) The War on Drugs is a joke

    However, I’ve often wondered exactly what corporate interests were preventing marijuana legalization. You claim that DuPont opposes MJ legalization because it is a nylon competitor and PHARMA opposes MJ legalization because it is a drug competitor. These both make sense, but do you have any references to any places that these conflicts are discussed in more detail?

  10. Do your own research into who has the most to gain from criminalization. Then follow the money.

    First you run into companies like DuPont, an original driver in criminalization because hemp rope and canvas competed with their new “nylon” they wanted to sell to the government during WWII for use in ropes, parachutes, etc. Then, once the phama companies realized marijuana had other medical uses that a cheap, easy to grow plant would cut into just like it cut into DuPont’s bottom line, they jumped on the criminalization bandwagon. I said DuPont in the specific and Pfizer in the general when any Pharma company would have done. Their actual contributions this cycle are only relevant to it’s the same pattern they’ve followed since marijuana was criminalized starting in 1925 with the Uniform State Narcotics Act and ending with the Hearst/DuPont driven Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

    The only reasons marijuana is illegal is it’s a natural product that out competed synthetic products AND because it was primarily used by minorities in the early 20th, it was a perfect cover for discrimination too. Can’t have those nasty weeds being used by the Negroes and the Mex-I-cans, now can we? Criminalization is still is used to persecute minorities . . . and the poor. Marijuana, a multi-use plant good for acid free paper, high quality textiles, high protein bird and animal feed, medicinal and – yes – entertainment purposes, is illegal because a small number of people cannot profit from it and they paid off the government to write the laws to their business needs.

    Fascism at its finest.

    In addition, Obama’s net strategy is ripe for fraud possibilities. If I could rig an internet voting campaign, I know for a fact many of those <$200 donations could be laundered corporate money. Easily. Especially since Obama's first act that raised my eyebrow was refusing to turn over the small donor list. I always have known this and so has any computer professional smart enough to know how to spoof an IP. We turned a blind eye to that because McBush was only an option if we wanted nuclear war. Given his fascist actions since taking office, I now suspect there was fraud in Obama's contribution model. Just like there was when Bush was appointed President. Fascism is our national illness and it infects all of Washington.

    But you can connect the dots yourself on criminalization of that particular substance. It's NOT about "drug control" expect insofar as it's about "retaining drug company profits". Otherwise why would Obama be pushing an anti-marijuana agenda when it's clear many states are about to give the Fed the finger on this issue, starting with California? If he was a smart and not paid off President, he'd be BEHIND California, not forcing this until it becomes a State's Rights battle. Deficit reduction via new tax stream and an operational efficiency savings by decreased law enforcement and incarceration costs related to a non-violent "crime" that many if not most Americans feel should not be a crime at all.

    That's the common sense double-entry accounting solution. Business 101.

    But it's not Obama's solution.


    Read the history. Do the math. I've extensively covered this topic before, including comparative toxicity to the legal drugs nicotine and alcohol. I don't feel like doing it again.

  11. Hey, nice black face you put on there with that Amos & Andy act there, Step ‘N Fetch It. You going to sing “Mammie” next, Jolson?

    Here’s why I can and you can’t. I’ll share a little story with you. Robbie was my best friend and is/was my sons God Father.

    From: CRAIG
    Sent: Thu 12/31/09 11:11 AM
    To: hotmailcom

    whoa, i’m sorry to hear that. anyway, robbie has liver diease, docs told him to quit drinking, but he won’t, he’ll probably be dead in a couple of years, if not sooner. i reckon some things with him will never change, he’s always had an asshole side to him.
    —–Original Message—–
    From: ME hotmailcom []
    Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:10 AM
    To: Craig M

    He looks like he aged alot, what’s happen health wise, I know he was sick and the Dr told him to quit drinking.

    His birthday last year I was asleep and my phone rang about midnight. I got up and it was Victor on my caller ID. I called back and Robbie answered the phone and said, your a fucking nigger and I hope you die and then hung up.

    I called back and Victor picked up, I said Victor, what was that all about, he said, it’s Robbies birthday and he’s in rare form, hold on he wants to apologize. I could here him yellin, I aint apologizing to that nigger, he’s a nigger I hope he dies.

    I called Victor the next day and asked him where were they, he said, Ragtime. I said he said all that in the middle of Ragtime, Victor said yep and the place was packed.

    What a Shame

    To: ME
    Date: Thu, 31 Dec 2009 09:45:56 -0500

    —–Original Message—–
    From: ME hotmailcom]
    Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2009 9:40 AM
    To: Craig M

    I see your email address was in a thank you e-mail from Chico Dakines anniversary, you go?

  12. “How much are DuPont and Pfizer paying you to keep marijuana illegal anyway, Barry?”

    [citation needed]

  13. Jill,
    I don’t have a problem with contractors,per se, but I do have a problem with no oversight. Many of the contractors are supporting the troops mission and if they didn’t provide that the military would have to have more boots on the ground. That being said, if the Pentagon has little or no control over these contractors, then just how much money is being wasted? I would also want to know how many of these contractors are actually mercenaries being used in place of soldiers and Marines. That use of contractors is dangerous and does not allow for oversight and control, as in the case of the Blackwater contractors who were/are being used on missions with the CIA and other agencies.
    As to Bdaman’s concern about the Patriot Act expiring, I look forward to that unconstitutional legislation fading away. I realize that Congress will probably pass some sort of revision, but I am hopeful that it will not trample on the Constitution in the manner of the last two versions.

  14. Contractors endanger our troops and our rule of law. Here are some startling statitstics via Jeremy Scahill. Peace groups evidently see themselves as auxiliaries of the Democratic party, otherwise, they would be joining the small protests against the wars, you know, for peace.

    “By Jeremy Scahill
    …Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone—that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.

    In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo [PDF] released by McCaskill’s staff, “From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.”

    At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.

    The US has spent more than $23 billion on contracts in Afghanistan since 2002. By next year, the number of contractors will have doubled since 2008 when taxpayers funded over $8 billion in Afghanistan-related contracts.

    Despite the massive number of contracts and contractors in Afghanistan, oversight is utterly lacking.”

  15. Hey, nice black face you put on there with that Amos & Andy act there, Step ‘N Fetch It. You going to sing “Mammie” next, Jolson?

    Glad I stopped to check some notes before my meeting so I could see your latest bit of stupidity. Now we can add racist next to bigot on your resume.

    Good show.

    Dance faster. I’ll check back and grade your homework later. I won’t be using your grading curve, however. I prefer to stay in touch with reality.

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