The Fog of Earmarks

The political lamp is lit.

This one has been stewing in my mind. It won’t leave me alone. I am angry and heart sore.

Let me tell you a tale. It is a true tale. I ramble a bit, but trust me, the pay off is worth it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the morning of 11 September 2001 our nation was attacked. By mid afternoon our government was in full panic mode. Our president was afraid to go home, and the VP was ensconced in a bunker. The media, bless them, fanned the flames of fear. People who were merely angry to begin with kept seeing the way our government was reacting and became afraid. They wouldn’t keep all air traffic grounded for days and days if the threat of more attacks wasn’t real would they? Rational, reasoning people became terrified. Our government did that to them, to us. The response of people to the attacks was to wave flags and be defiant. Our government beat that down with continual reporting of high threat levels of terrorist activities. Overreacting became the normal way to handle anything. It has been all over the news. Someone is forgetful and leaves a backpack or briefcase behind somewhere and the local police blow it up instead of checking the name tag and returning it. You have seen those news stories, right? They continue to this day.

In Pike County, Ohio, one of the “overreactions” was to set up a wider perimeter around the “A-Plant” or “Atomic Plant”; our very own uranium enrichment centrifuge facility. That wider perimeter was not necessary. That place was more secure with a tighter perimeter. Besides, it was (and still is) in a semi-shut down state. I find it amazing that there was not a single government controlled facility that was deemed already safe enough to leave its existing security procedures in place. If anyone knows of any, please let me know. I mean, think about it. A uranium enrichment facility had lax security? Anyone that lives here in Pike County, Ohio knows that is not true. I was on the grounds of the “A-Plant” many times for interviews, tours and a physical. If Reagan-nomics had not slashed the Dept. of Energy budget, I would have been a computer systems intern there. The only way to do any real damage to the place would be an attack from the air. It is just so large and spread out that a truck bomb couldn’t do much, and that is assuming that the driver knew just which unmarked building to drive into. Or pilot for that matter…hmmm. Yet, regardless of the already more than adequate security, the government overreacted and shut down public roads.

At this point, most people say big deal. A few county or township roads get closed. People can drive around another route. They sure can. Firefighters. Police. Ambulances. They can all just take the long way around. And that is just what happened. Houses that would have survived small fires burned to the ground because of the unreasoning panic of our government. Real people’s lives were damaged.

Jump forward a few years. A party-hack Congressional candidate in the US 2nd District of Ohio, a congressional district gerrymandered by her own party, is in jeopardy of losing the election to an Iraqi war veteran. She makes promises to fix the problem surrounding the closure of public roads in Pike County. Great. They should never have been closed in the first place. Congresswoman Schmidt wins the election, and sets about to fulfill her promise… by keeping the roads closed.

Her solution is to build new road. Great, yes? Umm… no. Sorry. You see, the money for this road was set aside with an earmark to Public Law 109–59 on AUG. 10, 2005. $960,000 has been set aside for this new road, a totally unnecessary road.

That $960,000 has basically pulled federal funding away from activities detailed within Public Law 109-59, which is also known as the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act”. That law contains a section titled “HIGHWAY BRIDGE PROGRAM” that specifically allows for “BRIDGE REPLACEMENT AND REHABILITATION”.

So. Why am I angry?

Fearmongering lead to stupid panic guided decisions. People were put at risk. Partisan gerrymander-enabled slimy politics took money away from a past due, national safety (and security) program putting even more people at risk.

Why am I heart sore?

You see, there is this bridge in Minnesota. Or there use to be. It collapsed. People were killed. It is precisely this bridge and many, many others like it that were the target of Public Law 109-59. Granted, $960,000 dollars may not have replaced the bridge, but it might have repaired it. It might have funded an inspection that would have closed it down before it collapsed.

Pike County, Ohio is getting a totally unnecessary road, Fog Road to be exact. Jean Schmidt cares so much about it she couldn’t even get the spelling correct when, in a mass mailing to constituents, she patted herself on the back for her project, the “Fogg Road issue”. I wonder how the people of Minneapolis would feel about our little earmarked road. I know how I feel. I have been so worked up about this, I haven’t been sleeping well.

I am that angry and heart sore.

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