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Bloggers 1, Smoke-Filled Room 0

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the mister-can-i-have-some-pork dept.

447

MarkusQ writes "A few days ago a bi-partisan bill (PDF) to create a searchable on-line database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans, financial assistance, earmarks and other such pork was put on 'secret hold' using a procedure that does not appear to be mentioned in the Constitution or in the Senate bylaws. This raised the ire of bloggers left and right and started an all out bi-partisan effort to expose the culprit by process of elimination. As it turns out it was our old friend the right honorable Senator from Alaska, Mr. 'Series of Tubes', Ted 'Bridge to Nowhere' Stevens."

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447 comments

Ackthpt's Theorem (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010714)

It is said: Power corrupts, while absolute power corrupts absolutely.

My theorem: The longer any party or group remains in power the closer they come to corrupt.

While some may draw a bead on Mr. Stevens and his 37 years in office. Remember pork is often a reward for having been loyal at some point. It's not simply Sen. Ted Stevens rolling up his sleeves for a reach into the Pork Barrel, but his reward for long, loyal service to his contemporaries. There's doubtless a bit of influence due to his seniority, but he's been a good soldier when his party has needed some. We can expect a lot of red faces when same bi-partisan muck-rakers get their hands on the online database and equally glib Senators and Representatives have to answer for decades of funny business which has passed beneath the radar in a long game of "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine."

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (5, Interesting)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010755)


It is said: Power corrupts, while absolute power corrupts absolutely.

My theorem: The longer any party or group remains in power the closer they come to corrupt.


I agree wholeheartedly. My new policy on voting is to always vote out an incumbent, unless I've been especially happy with his performance. If the whole country did that (especially on the national level, but also on the local level), I believe we'd have a lot fewer issues with corrupt politicians.

But then again, what to I know... I'm just a lowly working class citizen.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (5, Insightful)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010846)

Quick note: in theory that might be true, but then in theory if this happened on a regular basis, everyone would concentrate EVEN MORE on getting elected, and do EVEN LESS for the people once they got in, because they'd know that re-election was unlikely if not impossible -- even if they did a good job.

The ability to be re-elected is supposed to be a check on such behavior; it is supposed to incentivize good performance by offering an extension. Unfortunately, when the majority doesn't care enough about what's being done in office to know a person's track record, that incentive isn't worth much.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (5, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010884)

As he said, "unless I've been especially happy with his performance"
Of course personally I'm most happy when they pass as few laws as possible, unless they are to reduce the governments power or unact some stupid law.

The "do-nothing" theory of government (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010940)

and do EVEN LESS for the people once they got in

I've been half-seriously theorizing for several years now that the best thing any legislator could do lately is take a vacation. They can't dream up as many crazy laws or appropriations that cause more problems than they solve when they're fishing with the family back in their home (or in many cases, adopted-because-the-people-there-would-elect-them) state. Work out a budget, review any international business that has come up, pass a minimal number of laws deemed absolutely necessary for new technology or other special cases, then get your butt out of Washington before you start thinking that place is a typical American town filled with typical Americans.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011042)

Quick note: in theory that might be true, but then in theory if this happened on a regular basis, everyone would concentrate EVEN MORE on getting elected, and do EVEN LESS for the people once they got in, because they'd know that re-election was unlikely if not impossible -- even if they did a good job.

The funny thing about that is that what most people term Pork Spending, IS doing something for the local people and businesses. You can't tell me that a $223 million project like Ted Steven's "Bridge to Nowhere" didn't mean a hell of a lot of local jobs for an area of only 8050 people- not to mention the jobs it would have created on that little tiny island building vacation McMansions for people from the lower 48 once the island was joined to the airport.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (0)

pboulang (16954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011104)

Isn't it the job of a representative to act in the best interest of his constituents, yet the job of a senator is to act in the best interests of the country?

The other white meat. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010865)

Ted Stevens and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Don Young, are very popular in Alaska for the very reason everyone on Slasdot is up in arms - Pork.

The Knick Arm bridge is seen as a shot in the arm for local developers and construction critters. Remember, pretty much the only economic engines in Alaska are Oil and Government. Nothing else but a bunch of trees, rocks and the occasional brown bear.

So they bring in the Pork. Christ, half of Anchorage is named Ted Stevens this or Ted Stevens that. It's a GOOD thing. Really. It's representative government at its finest....

The other way to look Mssrs. Stevens and Young is that they are pretty cheap dates. For one genuine vote in the House or Senate, you need only to bribe a couple hundred thousand people. You got the money, honey, they've got the time.

Re:The other white meat. (3, Interesting)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010991)

I don't know, Conrad Burns [wikipedia.org] has brought a lot of pork into Montana, and almost everyone I know here hates him, and can't wait to vote him out of office.

Re:The other white meat. (2, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010992)

Remember, pretty much the only economic engines in Alaska are Oil and Government.

Oil seems to be rather profitable lately. Why do they need federal funds for anything?

Re:The other white meat. (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011002)

Remember, pretty much the only economic engines in Alaska are Oil and Government. Nothing else but a bunch of trees, rocks and the occasional brown bear.

I thought that there was a fair bit of fishing and tourism, too. All that Alaskan King Crab and Alaskan Salmon must come from somewhere.

Re:The other white meat. (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011060)


I thought that there was a fair bit of fishing and tourism, too. All that Alaskan King Crab and Alaskan Salmon must come from somewhere.


It comes from Jamaica. I thought everyone knew that.

Re:The other white meat. (4, Interesting)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011046)

t's a GOOD thing. Really. It's representative government at its finest....
Ouch!

It is sometimes said that the American political system, while good in structure, has become so beholden to money and self-interest that it is now one of the worst of the Western democracies.

For example, you have Jesse Helmes who was prepared to inflict terrible things on people in other countries to save a few jobs or a bit of pork in his own district (eg. tobacco). The companies involved rewarded him with the money to advertise, and the voters were prepared to sacrafice many people they couldn't see in the name of their (or their neighbors) self interest.

Now, the fact that you think this is a GOOD thing REALLY scares me.

Re:The other white meat. (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011054)

"Ted Stevens and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Don Young, are very popular in Alaska for the very reason everyone on Slasdot is up in arms - Pork."

And the only way to get rid of this, is to dry up the 'well'.

First, Let's not give the feds taxes directly!! They should have to depend fully on the states for their finances. This would not only help dry up 'pork' funds, but, might would also cut out what I find to be one of the nastiest things, having the Feds take tax dollars, then use them as blackmail over the states in order to get them to legislate laws the Feds really should have no power over. Witholding hwy funds really chaps my ass, and it is their fav. thing to do.

Lastly, the more I hear about it, maybe we need to go back to having the Senators appointed by the state's legislature rather than general elections, that would keep them more loyal to their state's interest, rather than the national political parties' interests.

Re:The other white meat. (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011097)

And the pork will continue to roll in until we have up or down votes on all budget items. As long as individual congressmen can stick it in those huge omnibus spending bills that no one knows what is in them until months later, this practice will go on.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (2, Insightful)

MrSenile (759314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011027)

Yes, for we all know it's much better for new politicions who are currently wheeling and dealing with everyone around them to be able to survive the shark infested waters of politics and are willing to kiss, scrape, and bend over to anyone in seniority than it is to have an old shark in the pool who's already played all these games and no longer has a need to.

So, we have the young and corruptable, or the old and corrupted.

Solution is probably to remove all political parties and hire a bunch of 'the common people', but that also won't work as the economy would take a nose dive and any political agenda would be shirt-tailed.

Whatever we do, it's not like we have a choice. Just grab the jar of vasaline.

Lake Woebegon effect (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011057)

There's this thing referred to as the 'Lake Woebegon Effect'.

People tend to over rate themselves and those close to them as 'above average'.

Soooo... while people tend to flunk public schools, they tend to give *their* schools C's and B's.

While they tend to rate Congress as a den of drunks, maniacs, thieves and idiots; *thier* congress person is 'OK'.

So your statement My new policy on voting is to always vote out an incumbent, unless I've been especially happy with his performance. is actually a good example of this effect. In fact they count on it; talking about 'those people in Washington' while not bothering to mention the fact that your congress critter *is* 'one of those people in Washington'.

No prisoners, no quarter (they don't give it to you, now do they?). It's time to sweep out the house!

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (1)

The Mad Debugger (952795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011116)

Problem is that Pork is often benefits for one's constituents (bridges, defense contracts, etc.), so there's not often incentive for a politician to cut pork. Often pork is the kind of stuff they point to in their stump speeches as examples of their accomplishments. They're bringing $$$ to their voters at the expense of other constituencies.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010774)

What's sad is that "Uncle Ted" isn't dumb (Alaskans call him that, as in rich uncle). He could be using his years of experience being a real statesman instead of just trying to rake in more geld for oil-rich Alaska (it's the state that pays you a dividend to live there you know). Even the Dem's King of Pork, Senator Byrd of VA, stands up for individual constitutional rights all the time. Stevens just grabs tax dollars and picks his nose.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (5, Interesting)

Lijemo (740145) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010828)

It is said: Power corrupts, while absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I would argue that a more accurate saying would be: "power attracts the corrupt. Absolute power attracts the corrupt irresistably".

The longer any party or group remains in power the closer they come to corrupt.

...because that means the corrupt have had that much longer to maneuver their way into power within the party or group. Changing ruling parties/groups frequently means a lot of corrupt power-brokering ends up being wasted maneuvering to power within a group that no longer has any externally.

Or as my great grandfather liked to say, "political parties are like old socks: if you don't change them often enough, they get so they smell"

Having just two isn't that much better. Because "the corrupt" can do well for themselves by maneuvering to power within either one of them.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (4, Funny)

Dan Slotman (974474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010831)

We can expect a lot of red faces when same bi-partisan muck-rakers get their hands on the online database
After the 2004 election, I have great faith in the voters' ability to ignore incompetence and corruption.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010954)

After the 2004 election, I have great faith in the voters' ability to ignore incompetence and corruption.

You make a valid point.

I watched all three debates and Bush came off as bumbling as Bullwinkle. He scored a couple points, but largely looked ill-equipped for the job. He was re-elected anyway.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (1)

Gemini_25_RB (997440) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011049)

Being under 18, I couldn't vote in 2004. However, I was not surprised to see Bush win again. Not because he seemed especially good during the debates, or had a sound platform. It seems to me that Kerry's position was so vague that it would be hard to vote for him in good confidence. And on top of that, Kerry was scary looking, not monkey-ish.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011056)

"because they're giving out condoms to kids in public school!"

-One lady who told Howard Dean why she voted for Bush in 2004.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011011)

After the 2004 election, I have great faith in manipulated elections to be misinterpreted as voters' ability to ignore incompetence and corruption.

Re:Ackthpt's Theorem (3, Insightful)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010909)

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887
cite [quotationspage.com]

One man's Pork is another man's Job Well Done (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010943)

The problem with Pork is for any given piece of pork, there's a politician whose district wants that pork. We may all think that $223 million on a bridge to nowhere is a waste of money, but Alaska voters, the guys who keep putting Stevens back in office, think it's not an altogether horrible way to work down Alaska's federal tax deficit (more money paid in federal taxes than received in federal benefits).

In a sense, getting pork for his constituents is your representative's JOB. Would be nice if they got $223 million for, say, better teacher pay or something though.

Re:One man's Pork is another man's Job Well Done (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011031)

If true, that's some mind bending logic. Shouldn't Alaskans want better than to simply reduce their tax deficit? Who cares if you have less money flowing out of the state if it's just going to be spent on something stupid?

I'd rather just pay less taxes. It would benefit me lot more than a silly numbers game.

Re:One man's Pork is another man's Job Well Done (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011109)

And I see I have read the chart backwards - Alaska is actually #2 for MOST federal benefits received per dollar in taxes paid. So Stevens is doing a very good job getting federal dollars for Alaska.

Seeber's Theorem (0, Flamebait)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011009)

Pork is just jobs for Americans, and is no problem at all. The real problem is that taxes are taken out of property and income instead of directly from the FED for the crime of printing money.

Re:Seeber's Theorem (1)

Dan Slotman (974474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011066)

The problem with pork is that it is wealth redistribution with the sole purpose of benefiting those in power. Federal funds are collected from the taxes of citizens of every state (and via printing money as you point out). However, federal funds are not distributed equally to every state, and pork is by definition a frivolous expense.

Scoreboard is a Little Off (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010728)

Smoke-Filled Room 0

Look, this is great, go bloggers, hurray for our side. But I've gotta say, "Smoke-Filled Room 0" is a tad optimistic. I mean, if only, right?

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010752)

Look, this is great, go bloggers, hurray for our side. But I've gotta say, "Smoke-Filled Room 0" is a tad optimistic. I mean, if only, right?

Smoke-Filled Rooms have a habit of reacting in nasty ways which are "good for America."

Watcheth thyne back.

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (3, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010762)

Besides, now that we know it's him, is he lifting the hold? Sure we can shame him but my impression is that Stevens is well beyond being vulnerable to that.

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (4, Funny)

Nematode (197503) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010864)

Just to illustrate a little further where Sen. Stevens' priorities (and shame) lie, remember that this is the man who said, when the Senate voted NOT to allow drilling in ANWR earlier this year, that it was the "saddest day of his life." Remember also that his wife died in a plane crash in 1978.

Now, maybe his wife was a very nasty person, but when an 83-year old man thinks that the saddest day of his life is not getting Exxon into a wildlife preserve....

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011000)

You've never been married, have you?

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011021)

Truly when I saw the headline, I wondered why we were reporting on the wiretap-illegality ruling this late... I'd say more of Bloggers 1, Smoke-Filled Room 1+ (because we don't know what else is happening in other smoke-filled rooms.)

Re:Scoreboard is a Little Off (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011035)

Look, this is great, go bloggers, hurray for our side. But I've gotta say, "Smoke-Filled Room 0" is a tad optimistic. I mean, if only, right?

Yeah, you're right.

But I was jazzed about it when I submitted it, and doubly so because a few days when the whole thing started it looked like such a hopeless undertaking. I mean, starting from scratch, what do you thing the odds of getting congress critters to admit something like this is? And how long would you expect it to take?

--MarkusQ

It had to be put on hold... (3, Funny)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010731)

Mr. Stevens put the bill on hold while waiting for the Internet sent by his staff member.

I believe he'll still be waiting when hell freezes over.

Re:It had to be put on hold... (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011028)

I'd read this (on CNN I think) a while ago and the real reasons one of his staffers gave was 1) he wanted more details on how it would actually work and 2) he was worried about the cost-benefit of the program.

OK so #1 does make some sense because can you imagine how clogged up the tubes could get with all that pork. #2 however, come on! This is the same guy who threw a hissy fit when people complained about his $223 million "Bridge to nowhere" to an island with 50 people. Whats the cost-benefit on that!?!?!

No Shit, Sherlock? (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010740)

How the heck did it take them that long? Were they working through the Senate in geographic order, from south to north?

When I first heard about this thing, my immediate thought was "it's gotta be that fuckhead from Alaska. Wait -- he couldn't possibly be that stupid, could he? ... Yeah, he could." How was he not the first person they looked into?

It's a little alarming that there might have been that many better suspects than him to investigate first. But I guess that's become the point of the Senate these days: a high-pressure hose of pork-barrel cash back to your home state. Keep the money rolling in and your head down, and you can stay there apparently forever.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010819)

Exactly, It's like watching the original Star Wars trilogy then being surprised when Palpatine turns out to be the sith lord in Episode III.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010825)

Yeah, it's easy to suspect somebody, but a little harder to find the proof. At first, nobody knew who was responsible for it, and so people started questioning their congress people to find out where they stood. Sen. Stevens did not answer until pretty much everyone else had denied being responsible. Then, when it was about to get pinned on him anyways, he admitted it.

I don't think too many people were surprised by who it ended up being, but it's still better to have it as fact than to have it as a probably right guess.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (3, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010870)

I think it's terrible too. But reading the article something else struck me.

Doesn't it give someone entirely too much power to let a single Senator be able to block and entire bill indefinatly and anonymously? Isn't the whole point of a body like the Senate to make multiple people have to agree on something so one lone quack can't screw things up like this?

Alaskins... PLEASE tell me you are doing something about this guy.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011020)

Doesn't it give someone entirely too much power to let a single Senator be able to block and entire bill indefinatly and anonymously? Isn't the whole point of a body like the Senate to make multiple people have to agree on something so one lone quack can't screw things up like this?

The reason for these holds is that Senate rules require unanimous consent to put something to a vote. It's basically a way of saying "Some of us haven't made up our minds yet." Without such a rule, you'd could easily have Senators forcing votes on issues that the potential opposition hasn't had time to consider. Expect to hear something like this from Sen. Stevens.

Clearly, it is being abused in this case, but I just wanted to make it clear that these rules exist for basically good reasons.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011102)

Alaskins... PLEASE tell me you are doing something about this guy.

Saddly I doubt they will because they enjoy all the pork he has been able to send thier way (hope I'm wrong). What I think we need is some system in the Senate and House where if enough signitures are collected around the country there would be some sort of impeachment of a congressman. It would obviously have to be some crazy high number so it wasn't abused by bigger states picking on little states, but there should be some way to protect the country from twits like this. And then if you have a congressman impeached thier seat must remain empty until the next scheduled election as a punishment to the people in that state for voiting in such an ass-clown in the first place.

It's Bush's Fault! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010962)

it's gotta be that f@@@head from Alaska. Wait -- he couldn't possibly be that stupid, could he?

This has got to be Bush's fault. That damn administration! Those stupid Republicans in Alaska.



----

Wait, before you mod this as insightful, you need to know that I'm being sarcastic. But I'm sure one lib /.er will fall for it.

Re:No Shit, Sherlock? (1)

Phred T. Magnificent (213734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011076)

When I first heard about this thing, my immediate thought was "it's gotta be that fuckhead from Alaska. Wait -- he couldn't possibly be that stupid, could he? ... Yeah, he could." How was he not the first person they looked into?

Perhaps because there are others just as bad. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), to name one. (Yes, I am from Utah, and yes, I AM planning to vote for Hatch's opponent, Pete Ashdown [peteashdown.org], in November.)

smoke filled room? (-1, Offtopic)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010750)

I got to wonder how many of our senators and congresspeople smoke these days? I mean, smoking is kind of looked down on anymore. Maybe the "Smoke-filled room" is where they go to light up away from the public.

Re:smoke filled room? (5, Funny)

ArmyOfFun (652320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010842)

The smoke is not from cigarettes, I know because I toured the Capitol Building. The smoke is actually from the candles light the place. The candles produce a lot of smoke because instead of being composed primarily of wax they're made of torn pieces of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

The only score that matters... (0)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010767)

> Bloggers 1, Smoke-Filled Room 0

I see nothing in the articles about the bill being withdrawn. When, not if, the bill passes, the only score that matters will still be "Politburo hacks 50%+1, Taxpayers" -8,500,000,000,000 [debtclock.com] and counting.

Re:The only score that matters... (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011015)

What the hell are you talking about? Did you even read the summary? This bill is a Good thing. The corrupt hack is the guy who's delaying it.

A good news, long overdue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010770)

Refreshing to hear people and tech/internet coming together to win one for the people, for once. But these are so rare, though - I mean, we're not so different from the so-called "banana republics", are we?

Re:A good news, long overdue (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010993)

Actually, the culprit is exposed, but is the "secret hold" pulled off? Sorry, premature ejaculation there.

Btw, I believe Alaska is the most subsidized state, per capita, of all 50. They outta know that it's ransom we pay them in exchange for not drilling for oil and fucking up the land. That's no reason to keep the rest of 49 states in semi-banana-republic, is it?

Also, I think most bloggers are loonies with bloated egos, but some of them come through for the "people" every now and then, eh?

Here's The Icing On The Cake (5, Interesting)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010771)

Now, you may ask, why would Sen. Stevens, father of the $250,000,000 "Bridge To Nowhere" , the King of Pork himself--why would this man ever want to put a hold on a bill such as this?

Turns out he's just concerned that this bill would cost too much of the good American taxpayers' money. [tpmmuckraker.com]

Seriously--the man deserves his seat in Congress, if only for being able to sling such profoundly obvious bullshit with a perfectly straight face.

Re:Here's The Icing On The Cake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010971)

Anyone who calls this "Bridge to Nowhere" at Gravina Is. obviously has never been there. Bridge to Nowhere was dreamed up as a smear campaign against pork spending yet it's still not that effective.

Here's the actual quote (2, Funny)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010972)

The internet is not something you just dump a bunch of goverment records on for everyone to search through. It's not a truck. Its a series of tubes.

- Senator Stevens

But what does it mean? (1)

Suzumushi (907838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010775)

The true test now, is whether this information is as damning as it should be to Mr. Stevens (and I use the term mister loosely). Will he own up to it? Will they obfuscate the issue? Can we count on our elected representatives to be accountable? There is some serious potential for some major information breakthroughs here...they'll fight this tooth and nail I think.

Pork and gerrymandering (3, Insightful)

Dan Slotman (974474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010781)

I certainly hope it is only a matter of time before some clean politicians get voted in. Since Democrats and Republicans share blame for pork-pushing, I don't know of a solution beyond knowing about the candidates for whom you vote. Unfortunately I can't see systemic changes without an end to gerrymandering [wikipedia.org]. Incumbents are the only ones benefited, hence there is no motivation to eliminate it. It seems to me that politics in the United States is becoming more of a farce each election.

Re:Pork and gerrymandering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16010907)

Oh he's a great politician -
for Alaska! I'm sure there's enough people there who love the pork he buys them to keep voting him in. This is not a generalization about Alaskans, just the ones who voted for this guy.

ONLY Alaska can vote for the Alaskan govt representatives. And if Alaskans like him, the other 49 states don't matter. And his pork buying friends? As long as they get pork for their states, who cares about the 20 or so states with politicians NOT getting pork for them?

How much pork does your state get?

Re:Pork and gerrymandering (2, Informative)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010951)

The problem isn't one of Gerrymandering; after all, Stevens is a Senator and Senate seats can't be Gerrymandered because they cover the entire state. Besides, Gerrymandered districts should be less pork prone, since the representative in a safe district has less need to bribe voters with lavish projects than one in a competitive district.

The real problem is that voters can easily see the benefits of porkbarrel projects ("See! We got the highway/bridge/museum/defense contract/etc. that our district wants. Isn't that great!") while the cost of the pork for other districts is hidden in the general mass of government spending. The result is that legislators who bring home the pork to a better job of getting votes than ones who are good at cutting the fat.

Re:Pork and gerrymandering (1)

Kaikopere (892344) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010988)

Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with gerrymandering. I think the Hitchhiker's Guide summed it up nicely:

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

We're stuck picking from the people who want the job, who are very unlikely to be the type of people that we want doing the job, regardless of their party affiliation. I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if Congress were run more like jury duty... your name gets pseudo-randomly selected, and off you go to do your civic duty.

My Apologies (3, Insightful)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010806)

As someone who was born in Alaska, raised in Alaska, got a degree in Alaska, and is now a professional in Alaska, I want to apologize on behalf of the state. Also, I'm sorry we vote Republican. There just aren't enough dense population centers to cause people to pull their heads out of their cousins' asses. :)

Re:My Apologies (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010948)

Yea, I guess it takes people living on top of each other to get them to stop living on top of eachother.

So What? (1)

imaginaryelf (862886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010832)

So what's the real consequence here?

Are his constituents going to vote him out of office at the next election?

It seems that politicians who are wrecking the country keeps getting reelected anyway.

Well, (2, Insightful)

Upaut (670171) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010833)

The only thing I can think of doing to remedy this situation is to move to Alaska to skew the vote, and get this guy out of office.

The way I see it, the FreeState program has it right, but instead of choosing a decent state to begin with, they should of chosen a state with a lot of potential, but without the minds to guide it, would of been better.

That and Alaska is just a wonder of nature...


Maybe I should start my own project, the Technocratic Liberation Project. Where well-educated, liberal minded, science minded people can go to live in peace from terrorists that firebomb labs, states that cut funding for schools, anti-abortionists that pipebomb buildings, Federal wiretapping, and the broadband monopoly. And whats perfect is, if America gets really bad, then we can leave and become our own nation, and to retort America would half to drive into Canada... Something thy would not do....

Re:Well, (3, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010941)

The only thing I can think of doing to remedy this situation is to move to Alaska to skew the vote, and get this guy out of office.

This will be unnecessary as Sen. Stevens is not expected to run for re-election in 2008. He is expected to retire at age 85.

Wha??? (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010844)

Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.

Any senator can anonymously hold any bill? So every Republican Senator can anonymously block any Democratic sponsored bill and vice versa? Somehow this doesn't sound right. Why, then, isn't every bill deadlocked?

Re:Wha??? (3, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010912)

http://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/hold .htm [senate.gov]

Its a quid pro quo type of "good old boy" agreement among those in the majority party.

Re:Wha??? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011003)

Looks like the floor leader doesn't have to abide by it. So maybe people should try pressuring him/her into allowing the bill to proceed? This way Stevens has to filibuster the bill if he wants to slow it down.

Re:Wha??? (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011086)

"Its a quid pro quo type of "good old boy" agreement among those in the majority parties."

There, I fixed your spelling mistake.

Re:Wha??? (4, Informative)

underwhelm (53409) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010937)

A hold is an implied promise to filibuster. So when a senator places a hold on the bill, the senate generally agrees to move on rather than force the issue of an ugly, inconvenient showdown. They're then traded, logrolled, and used as bargaining chips in the legislative process.

To answer your question, it doesn't happen constantly because if it did the hold system wouldn't be an effective means of negotiations. The senate would constantly be in filibuster (if the people issuing holds follow through on their threats) and voting for cloture (to end the debate). It works because in general the senate at least wants to appear to get things done--and perhaps actually wants to get things done--and not waste a bunch of time on filibusters and attempted filibusters.

Re:Wha??? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011004)

That's not actually how it works. Individual senators are given an immense amount of power in the Constitution. Frequently, in order to get something done, all the Senators agree to wave their rights in order to accomplish a specific set of things. These are laid out in Unanimous Consent Agreements (UCs in Hill Speak). UCs are used for everything from ending debate for the day, to limiting the number of amendments allowed to a bill, to allowing a Senator's staffer to sit on the Senate Floor, to passing a bill, to anything and everything in between. Listen to CSPAN for half an hour and you will hear Senators asking for Unanimous Consent to a dozen different things. All a hold does is says "Hey guys, I don't agree to wave my rights as a Senator." This means that a UC can't be created for that bill. That, in turn, means that the entire Senate procedure for passing a bill must be gone through. Since this is a very cumbersome process, there are very few bills, if any, that pass the Senate without the help of at least a couple of UCs.

This man HIMSELF is a series of TUBES (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010852)

And apparently, the series never ends. Its like Shogun, or the Fugitive of 80es television.

The morons who voted for that idiot should be relieved of the right to vote.

Re:This man HIMSELF is a series of TUBES (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010903)


  Sadly, Alaska is not alone in delivering boobs to elected office. However, the constitution still stands: no tests for the right to vote. Perhaps educating the populace a bit more would help.

From the Wikipedia Article (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010872)

In his speech on the senate floor, Stevens threatened to quit Congress if the funds were removed from his state.
It sounds like they missed an opportunity there...

And the best part is... (4, Interesting)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010913)

The thing I like best about this story is that its part of a larger reframing of the conflict, from a red-team vs. blue-team battle where you're stuck choosing the lesser of two evils to a more clear-cut battle between We The People and those who would like to take advantage of us.

As a life long Republican that can't stand Bush, I probably have deep ideological difference with half (or more) of the people who worked on this, but I respect not only their right to hold opinions that differ from mine, but to know where their tax dollars are going, and who doesn't want them to know.

--MarkusQ

America - Best government money can buy (tm) (-1, Flamebait)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010922)

For all of it's faults, the American Democracy(tm) does eventually correct itself. Karma is infallible and Senator Stevens has what he deserves coming in November along with most other Republicans.

Expose all these things while you can until our Democrat overlords take over in November barring any Republican tricks at the polls. Then start the process over again.

Remember the government serves the people, not vice versa.

Hand out the salt (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16010923)

"Sen. Stevens does have a hold on the bill," said the spokesman, who would only speak on the condition he not be named.
While I wouldn't be terribly surprised it was him, an "unnamed spokesman" shouldn't be taken at full face value.

If it is him, then the weight of the interturbes on his shoulders will hopefully make him recant. But don't be surprised if it's not.

TPM has/had a campaign to contact all the Senators to get responses [tpmmuckraker.com]. I don't seem him on the list of updates, but who's to say that someone that is on the list of "not him/hers" isn't lying?

In any case, I hope that whatever prick placed this "secret block" (just what the hell is that, anyway?) lifts it so we can get this database bill passed. We would take a great step forward in repairing this country if we could easily find the frivilous spendatures and who commissions them.

Be afraid, he's trying to get allies in WA state (3, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011007)

The Senator from Alaska is the primary funding assistance for the GOP candidate for the US Senate in WA State, too.

They're trying to sneak under the radar and pretend they're moderate, but they're not.

Secret Hold not in the Constitution (3, Funny)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011010)

put on 'secret hold' using a procedure that does not appear to be mentioned in the Constitution

Actually, it is, but it's a secret. It's printed on the back, in invisible ink, next to the map....

Yea for Blongers??? (5, Informative)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16011019)

Twelve days ago, at a town meeting in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) accused Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) of obstructing his porkbuster-database bill with an anonymous hold.

That's according to an Aug. 18 article in the Fort Smith (Ark.) Times Record:

One of the senators most criticized for his personal projects, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has a hold of his own on Coburn's bill to make public the spending patterns of the government. Called the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, the legislation calls for the creation of a database open to the public where citizens can track government spending.

"He's the only senator blocking it," Coburn said of Stevens.

Coburn's office was not available for comment this evening.

The article has gone largely unnoticed in recent days, as hundreds of bloggers and blog-readers (at TPMm and elsewhere) have called Senate offices in an effort to determine who placed the "secret" hold on Coburn's bill. The piece does not turn up in a Nexis search, although it is in Google.

Stevens has been the odds-on favorite since the hunt for the Holder Who Dare Not Speak His Name began.

But did he really do it? Well, he had a motive: As the paper and others have noted, Stevens and Coburn have clashed before -- in particular over Stevens' now-legendary "bridge to nowhere." Coburn attempted (and failed) to block the $233 million boondoggle. And revenge certainly fits the senior Alaskan's m.o. "Stevens can play rough," the Seattle Times noted in June. "Despite denials from his staff, he retaliates - and doesn't mind waiting years to do so."

Stevens' office has so far refused to comment on the hold. Ninety-five other senators have confirmed they were not responsible.

Senator Ted should be our new Ambassador to Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16011115)

And the fine Iraqi security force should keep him perfectly safe.
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