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Tags: Pork

Release the Illegals, But Keep the Zombie Simulations & Steven Seagal



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The very first dollars the federal government stopped spending in the face of sequestration were the $16,400 to $164,000 per day it spends detaining “several hundred” illegal immigrants.

I suppose you could say not informing local and state law enforcement was a cost-saving measure, too. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery tells Arizona reporters that “we don’t know what the criteria was to determine who was safe to release… we don’t know why they were detained in the first place, or the crimes they may have committed.”

The editors of the Arizona Republic reassuringly inform us, “These may all be non-violent offenders, but no one knows. We simply have no way to measure how much, if at all, our communities have been made less safe.”

The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is part of the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Janet Napolitano. Say, how have they been spending their money lately?

Columbus, Ohio recently purchased an “underwater robot” using a $98,000 UASI grant. Known also as a “remotely operated underwater vehicle,” the robot is mounted with a video camera providing full-color display to a vehicle on shore. Officials on the Columbus City Council went so far as to declare the purchase an “emergency,” not because of security needs, but because of “federal grant deadlines.”

If the money was not spent quickly, it would have been lost. The Columbus dive team, however, is responsible only for underwater search and recovery missions – not for rescue missions that may happen during a terror attack.

One of the team’s higher profile missions in recent years was the recovery of a $2 million “sunken treasure” in the Scioto River.

Apparently the only requirement to justify a purchase of an underwater robot with federal taxpayer funds is… a body of water.

In Keene, New Hampshire residents revolted against the town’s plan to acquire a BearCat, developing their own motto – “thanks, but no tanks.” Residents viewed the vehicle as an unnecessary purchase even though it is being paid for though a DHS grant worth $285,933. Although the town has had just two murders in the past 15 years, Keene Police Captain Brian Costa argued that “when this grant opportunity came up, it made a whole bunch of geographic sense,” since none of the five armored vehicles already in the state are not located in southwestern New Hampshire where Keene is located. He further stated that the vehicle would have been useful during the 2005 floods where the police department lost a cruiser.

The grant application for the BearCat cited the 2004 Pumpkin Festival and the 2007 Red Sox Riots, when the Red Sox won the World Series as examples of incidents when the BearCat could be used. The Pumpkin Festival is an annual event with 70,000 visitors, many who come to Keene in hopes of breaking the world record of lighting the most Jack’o’Lanterns.

And we all know how unruly and dangerous the Keene Pumpkin Festival can get.

One notable training-related event that was deemed an allowable expense by DHS was the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012. Held at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island outside San Diego, the 5-day summit was deemed an allowable expense by DHS, permitting first responders to use grant funds for the $1,000 entrance fee. Event organizers described the location for the training event as an island paradise: “the exotic beauty and lush grandeur of this unique island setting that creates a perfect backdrop for the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit. This luxury resort features over 460 guestrooms, five pools, three fantastic restaurants overlooking the bay, a world-class spa and state-of-the-art fitness center. Paradise awaits…”

The marquee event over the summit, however, was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration. Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to put on a “zombie-driven show” designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event. The firm performed two shows on Halloween, which featured 40 actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit. Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part of their education in emergency response training. Barker explained that, “the idea is to challenge authorities as they respond to extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.”

Finally, some wise research on the part of the federal government. So, can bullets stop a zombie or not?

A review of Arizona’s UASI grant awards shows that several police departments and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office used UASI grants to purchase armored vehicles.

In 2011, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office used two armored vehicles and a SWAT team to conduct a raid of the residence of a man suspected to be involved in cockfighting. The actor Steven Seagal, who was then filming his television show ‘Lawman,” participated in the raid and rode in one of the armored vehicles.

Simulated zombie attacks and Steven Seagal. Your tax dollars at work!

Tags: ICE , Illegal Immigration , Janet Napolitano , Pork , Sequestration

A Few Words In Praise of Fear



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Today is definitely a love day in my love-hate relationship with the Republicans. A 2,000-page pork-bomb replaced with a one-page continuing resolution? That is some nice work, Senator McConnell.

Other words that do not trip easily from my keyboard: John McCain really pulled it through.

Something has got into the Republican leadership, and that something is: fear. Wonderful, salubrious fear. For this we can thank the Tea Party movement, for several reasons. The first is that, while our European cousins are out rioting in the street for more and more government spending, the one significant, genuinely popular movement afoot in American politics is demanding the opposite. No Washington poobah wants to get yelled at by rowdy constituents at a town-hall meeting back in the district. They really hate that.

Funny what catches the notice of politicians. I was a newspaper editor for years, and I’ve had at least a dozen politicians tell me: “We don’t really give a damn what you write about us in the editorials. We don’t even really read them. But if we start seeing letters to the editor, we notice. Any time one constituent is ticked-off enough to take the time to write a letter, that’s significant. One guy writing a letter means that there are 500 more who agree but don’t take the time to write.” One guy writing a letter represents a few hundred people in the mind of Joe Congressman. Those Tea Party rallies, too, loom a lot larger than the raw numbers would suggest, impressive as those raw numbers have been. Joe Congressman does not want to see that crowd camped out on his doorstep.

The second reason used to dabble in witchcraft. Say what you like about Christine O’Donnell and her incompetent nut-cluster of a campaign, she showed the Republican establishment that the Tea Party, and the fiscally discontent at large, are willing to run a kamikaze candidate against any RINO target of opportunity. And not all of the challengers are going to be O’Donnell-type buffoons. Sharron Angle was a much more serious candidate and ran a much more serious campaign. Pat Toomey chased Arlen Specter out of the Republican party and then put the smackdown on his Democratic opponent — a retired admiral, let’s remember, not some wild-eyed hippie — in the general. Pat Toomey scares the old guard. They do not want to see a dozen Pat Toomeys showing up in Republican primaries next time around. Kay Bailey Hutchison does not want some Stetson-wearing Toomey showing up in her backyard.

The third fear factor is: reality. In Washington and in statehouses around the country, the reality of the pending Fiscal Armageddon is starting to seep into the thick skulls of the elected class. Jerry Brown pronounced himself “shocked” once he got a good peek at California’s balance sheet. Off the record, politicians of both parties are starting to concede that a lot of the old ideological disputes at now moot, because there simply isn’t any money. It’s not a question of whether there are going to be deep cuts and fundamental restructuring, but when and how much.

I do not agree with the David Frums of the world that religious and social conservatives are a net loss for the Right, and I honestly do not much care whether we have a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy or something else. (My own preference is for letting the brass of the various services decide for themselves; the military gets lots of consideration for logistical concerns, in my view.) But here’s what I did notice about that fight: The fact that the Republicans have made spending their line in the sand, and not some relatively inconsequential but symbolically important question about gay soldiers, seems like good news to me. And the Democrats folded, as did the Republican appropriators — they didn’t really try to defend the spending, because the spending is indefensible.

Stopping the omnibus was huge — and if you haven’t read our very fine you-are-there coverage from Costa and Stiles, do read it now. This is a good day for conservatives. We can move  back the hands on the Fiscal Doomsday Clock a full 60 seconds.

– Kevin D. Williamson is deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, now available at Amazon.com. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.

Tags: Debt , Deficits , Despair , Fiscal Armageddon , Hope , Pork

Omnibus Shenanigans



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Say this for the Democrats: They’re trying to go out in style, with a pork-packed, earmark-laden, shameful embarrassment of a spending bill, full of junk on practically every one of its 2,000 pages. It is the political equivalent of a raised middle finger to the fiscally sobered-up American electorate that just threw them out.

I think the Democrats have just handed another big political win to the Republicans, who can and should kill this bill. Republicans who vote for it all but demand a swift and brutal visit from the Club for Growth and the Tea Party.

Tags: Debt , Deficits , Democrats , Despair , Earmarks , Fiscal Armageddon , General Shenanigans , Pork

Even the Goods Ones Are Hostages to Pork



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But before I go: This important, Earth-shaking news just hit my desk, courtesy of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. For reasons known only to God, the farm lobby (a.k.a Big Elmer), and Governor McDonnell, setting up Web sites to sell apples and the “Beautiful Gardens Plant Breeders Workshop” are pressing public priorities in the Old Dominion, requiring taxpayer subsidies. You Virginians need the government to help you build a Web site? What, they don’t have seventh-graders in Virginia?

Couldn’t Republican officeholders at least pretend to be ashamed of this stuff?

RICHMOND — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced funding today for eighteen agriculture-related projects which will promote and enhance the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops.  The projects resulted from the competitive grant process established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant funds. 

Commenting on the grants, Governor McDonnell said, “These grants represent a half-million dollar investment in Virginia’s economy that will boost economic development and create jobs in agriculture, Virginia’s largest industry.  This is a diverse group of very innovative projects that include marketing, development, research and engineering projects, all of which are designed to increase the competitiveness of specialty agricultural crops in Virginia.  I congratulate these individuals, educational institutions, and organizations for advancing ideas that will help growers add value and enhance market and job creation opportunities across Virginia.”

The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorized the USDA to provide funds to the states to promote specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops. When considering grants for the USDA Specialty Crop Program, VDACS gave priority to projects that included the following activities:  assisting farmers in transitioning into specialty, high value agricultural initiatives that address the eligible specialty crops; increasing net farm income through high-value or value-added enterprises; finding new ways to market or to add value to specialty agricultural products; and developing pilot and demonstration programs in specialty agriculture that have the potential for transferability within rural Virginia.

VDACS is awarding grants totaling $513,226.81, the largest amount ever for the block grant program, for the following projects:

Specialty Crops Cooling and Packing, Kevin Semones, Southwest Virginia Farmers Market, Hillsville 

Handling and Use of Poultry Litter Incineration Ash Byproducts as Organic Fertilizer in Fresh Market Tomato Production, Jane Corson-Lassiter, Eastern Shore Resource Conservation and Development Council, Accomac 

Performance of a Novel Solar Greenhouse Prototype, Naraine Persaud, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg  

Marketing Expansion Initiative Promoting Virginia Grown Christmas Trees, Jeff Miller, Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association, Christiansburg 

Increasing the Competitiveness of Virginia Specialty Crop and Disadvantaged Farmers through a Statewide Situational Assessment of the VA Farm-to-School Program, Matt Benson, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 

Educational Opportunities for Farm Direct Marketers and Farmers’ Markets, Cathy Belcher, Farmers Direct Marketing Association, Richmond 

Increasing the Competitiveness of Virginia Grown Strawberries , Gail Moody Milteer, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Franklin  

Beautiful Gardens Plant Breeder Workshop, Alexander Niemiera, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 

Increasing GAP Certification Readiness among Organic and Conventional Growers and Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption of Specialty Crops among Children and Adults in Southwest Virginia, Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon 

Developing, Teaching and Promoting Sustainable and Organic Growing Practices at Maple Hill Educational Farm, Marisa Vrooman, Local Food Hub Inc., Scottsville

High Resolution Vineyard Site Suitability Mapping, Peter Sforza, Virginia Vineyards Association, Clifford 

Organic Management of Pest Predation in Commercial Production of Summer Squash, Kevin Damian, Virginia Association for Biological Farmers, Louisa 

Working Capital Grant to Develop a Broad Based Website for the Promotion of Virginia Apples, Diane Kearns, Virginia Apple Growers Association, Charlottesville

Connecting Southwest Virginia Farmers to Institutional Buyers through Local Food Processing and Preservation, Michal Burton, Sustain Floyd, Floyd 

Expanding Markets for Virginia’s Specialty Crops, Butch Nottingham, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Onley 

Improved Management of Harlequin Bug in Cole Crops, Thomas P. Kuhar, Virginia Tech, Painter 

Stink Bug Populations, Injury and Control on Primocane-bearing Caneberries, Douglas G. Pfeiffer, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 

Production and Marketing of High Tunnel Grown Ginger Roots In Virginia, Reza Rafie, Virginia State University, Petersburg

Tags: Big Elmer , Debt , Deficits , Despair , Doom , Pork , Republicans

Another $308 Million in Pork for BP



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Thanks to Senators Coburn and McCain for pointing this one out:

BP may have found itself staring down huge financial losses over the past several months, but executives can take solace knowing that a stimulus windfall will help offset them. On September 28, 2009, Hydrogen Energy California, LLC (HECA), owned largely by BP, was awarded $308 million in stimulus funds to “generate more environmentally friendly electricity by capturing carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.” HECA is a joint venture of BP Alternative Energy North America and Rio Tinto subsidiaries. Stimulus funds “enabled continued development of the HECA project which otherwise would have been cancelled.” Construction is not expected to begin until December 2011, nearly three years after the passage of the Recovery Act, raising serious questions about whether it is anywhere near “shovel-ready.”

Depends on what they’re shoveling, senators.

And remember: This is on top of the $600 million a year or so in subsidies BP collects under a single federal program.

Tags: BP , financial Armageddon , Pork , Spending

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