Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Senator McCain’s Pork Chops

by WINSLOW T. WHEELER

Yesterday, Friday, the Washington Post published a letter from the President of Citizens Against Government Waste in response to my commentary in last Sunday’s Outlook section.  Tom Schatz, the President of CAGW, focused on defending Senator John McCain against my descriptions and criticisms of his actions on defense bills.  I sent the Post a response to Mr. Schatz, but the Post has decided not to publish it.  Both letters are reproduced below.

Friday, August 27, 2004; Page A20
Washington Post

In the Aug. 22 Outlook piece, “Don’t Mind If I Do,” WINSLOW T. WHEELER leveled much-deserved criticism at Congress for larding the defense budget with self-serving, parochial projects. Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual “Congressional Pig Books” have shown how defense pork has risen 30.6 percent during the past three years, even as our elected leaders purportedly have marshaled all available resources to wage the war on terrorism.

However, Mr. Wheeler missed the mark when he accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of giving a “wink and nod” to record pork in the 2005 defense appropriations bill.

Mr. McCain’s credentials as an anti-pork crusader are unassailable. He is the only senator who consistently takes to the floor to shame members of Congress for their budget-busting, special-interest spending. Mr. McCain’s decision to insert his criticism into the Congressional Record instead of speaking on the Senate floor hardly means that he is “going through the motions” or that his efforts are insincere.

Mr. McCain has repeatedly pushed for budget reform legislation that would reduce opportunities to get pet projects included in the annual spending bills.

Several times, he was rebuffed by Mr. Wheeler’s former boss, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), when he sought help to make such remedies a reality. And no wonder. Mr. Wheeler regularly prepared a laundry list of pork requests at the behest of his boss for inclusion in defense appropriations, as he acknowledged in his essay, “Mr. Smith Is Dead,” published by the Center for Defense Information.

TOM SCHATZ
President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Washington

 

My response:
Dear Editor:

In large part, I agree with Tom Schatz, in his 26 Aug. letter regarding my commentary in Outlook, “Don’t Mind If I Do.” Both his organization, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and Senator John McCain perform a valuable public service by reporting on Congress’ atrocious and corrosive pork system. Mr. Schatz was also right to point out that I was once a busy participant in that system. As I have already confessed and in much more detail in my forthcoming book, “The Wastrels of Defense,” I didn’t just push pork for the Senators who employed me, I did a lot to retard Congress’s porcine apparatus. However, I continue to be very disappointed in Senator McCain. As a U.S. Senator, he is in a position to do more than just report on pork like CAGW, yet for the most part he takes no meaningful action.

Senator McCain’s inaction constitutes an enabling of pork, not a crusade against it. As authorizations and appropriations for pork in Congress’s defense bills achieve new records in parallel with Senator McCain’s speeches, the nation’s defense weakens. Accurate reporting outside Congress helps, but just talk inside keeps the system going. In my book I’ve come up with a “12 Step” program to impede pork on Capitol Hill and to stop the other ways Congress sabotages US security. I would welcome working with Mr. Schatz and Senator McCain to give citizens the Congress they need and deserve in the area of national security.

Sincerely,

WINSLOW T. WHEELER
Visiting Senior Fellow
Center for Defense Information

Winslow Wheeler is a visiting senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information. He contributed an essay on the defense budget to CounterPunch’s new book: Dime’s Worth of Difference. Wheeler’s book, “The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security,” will be available from the Naval Institute Press in October.

 

Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail