Monday, October 03, 2005

I Don't Write The Headlines, Unfortunately

First, the newspaper stuff. I don't write the headlines--my editor does, and this one is inaccurate. The highway bill had lots of pork for Arizona, too, and Rep. Hayworth is proud of it. Light rail funding! That should make my editor at The Tribune simply delirious with joy (they hate light rail, but never seem to notice that their boy J.D. is on board).

Also, when I file my column, I begin the email with a word count and most times, a quip or an attempt to try to pull my editor's chain. (This style should be very familiar to those reading this blog.) This week, for some reason, the opening quip--that "I await reading the Tribune's position on the new national ID card (sure, it's not called that, but what else is it?) in the forthcoming Hayworth immigration bill"--became the lede of the column. Either this kind of self-referential stuff is now expected in op-ed columns, or else my editor really doesn't bother to read my stuff. So the newspaper version starts off oddly, which you can read here. I've taken out what shouldn't have been included in this version.

Next, here's the background on this column. Last week, I wrote that the desire by Sen. Kyl and Sen. Sessions to locate a victim of Katrina who would have to pay estate taxes was a search for "a myth, a non-existent 'urban legend.' Just like 'compassionate conservatism' -- or Jon Kyl’s heart." So here's the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Some of my readers that language was too extreme, an unwarranted personal attack. Of course, that very week, Hayworth called our governor "no better than the brazen looters who seized on a natural tragedy to plunder downtown New Orleans" for, as noted below, asking the federal government for money to take care of problems on the border. Hayworth, when called to account for that somewhat over-the-top description, proceeded to justify it at 800 words. So hence, this week's column.

Another version of this point is a cartoon in this week's The New Yorker, showing guys in a Capitol Hill office sitting around a desk saying, "We need to find a way to blame the federal government that doesn't implicate the administration." (And no, I saw the cartoon after I had filed my column.)

East Valley Tribune, Oct. 2, 2005
* [See above: Headline isn't accurate. Lucre was lavished here, too.]

Rep. J. D. Hayworth feigned outrage last week that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano had the effrontery to request that the federal government pay some of Arizona’s costs from the feds’ failure to keep control of the border. Hayworth even called Napolitano a “looter” and screeched that she would be stealing food from hurricane victims -- because any dollar spent here in Arizona would come from hurricane relief.

This is amazing stuff, even for someone with Hayworth’s stubborn aversion to reality. Despite his loudly-stated and oh-so-convenient concern about Katrina’s victims, he somehow never managed to visit the evacuees during their three weeks at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Hayworth honks that it’s criminal to spend money repairing the problems caused by illegal immigration here in Arizona. But remember that pork-laden transportation bill that Congress passed and President Bush signed this summer, the one with nearly 6,500 “earmarks” worth more than $24 billion? Hayworth voted for them all.

$2.3 million for beautifying California’s Ronald Reagan Freeway? $6 million for graffiti elimination in New York? Hayworth voted yes. $1.2 million for lighting and equipment at the Blue Ridge Music Center? $207 million for the “Prairie Parkway” through GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s district? Hayworth thought those were fine uses of your tax dollars.

Why fix the federal government’s failures here in Arizona, when instead we could get a $3 million hiking trail in Richmond, Indiana, and $10 million in waterfront walkways in Newark and Hoboken, New Jersey? $3 million for Rails to Trails in Modesto, California, and $5 million for an Intermodal Transportation facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut? Hayworth said, “Sure.”

Hayworth’s generosity -- with your money -- stretches across nearly a dozen time zones, including $5 million for an “Auto Tour Route” at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge and $6.5 million to restore the Wilmington Train Station in Delaware, to some $941 million on 119 projects in Alaska, including $223 million for a mile-long bridge to an island with 50 residents, $231 million for a new bridge in Anchorage to be named after the congressman who sponsored the earmark, and $3 million for a movie “about infrastructure that demonstrates advancements in Alaska, the last frontier.” On all these, Hayworth voted “yes!”

Hayworth howled that any federal money spent addressing illegal immigration comes from hurricane relief, but he approved $2.4 million for the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana. You think folks in Louisiana might want floodwalls repaired rather than a new visitor center? It’s too late; Hayworth already voted yes.

Horse riding facilities in Virginia ($600,000)? A Vermont snowmobile trail ($5.9 million)? Parking at a New York City hospital ($8 million)? A bicycle and pedestrian trail in Tennessee ($532,000)? Each time, Hayworth voted “aye.” A daycare center and park-and-ride facility in Illinois ($1.25 million)? Dust control mitigation for rural Arkansas ($3 million)? The National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio ($2.75 million)? Hayworth spells each project “Y-E-S.”

If anybody’s a “looter” in this scenario, it’s Hayworth. He’s voted for all these projects -- and now claims that spending money solving Arizona’s problems would be a crime.

But the best example of Hayworth’s hypocrisy was his bleat that “I take a back seat to no one in my criticism of the federal government” when it comes to its failures in dealing with immigration. He claims to be working on a bill (which he plans to introduce, nine months into the session).

Here’s the truly galling part. Hayworth has been in the House for nearly a dozen years, his party has controlled Congress virtually all that time, and it’s a Republican administration, right? Hayworth’s paychecks come from the federal government, which also provides the health insurance he used to pay for his stomach-stapling surgery. (Unable to lose weight on his own, he needed a federal subsidy -- but he won’t support helping Katrina victims get medical care through Medicaid.)

Hey, J. D.: You are the federal government.

Hayworth isn’t in the back seat -- because he’s driving. He may not have noticed, however, because he’s been too busy blaming others for his own failures of responsibility.

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