In this respect, I often find myself regarding the GOP as an especially ornery two-year old, constantly trying to see what it can get away with:
And so it is that Larry Craig (R-Idaho), recently earned the not-so-coveted title of "Rogue of the Week" for his callous disregard of the Columbia River's ecosystem. In what has been described as "a surgical strike from Capitol Hill," Sen. Craig has banned "all future funding" for a little-known operation that monitors salmon populations in the Columbia. Why? Because those salmon threaten to bite the hand that feeds him: in 2002, Craig "received more money from electric utilities than from any other industry" and he has been named "legislator of the year" by the National Hydropower Association.
Last summer, a federal judge in Portland, using data and analysis from the Fish Passage Center, infuriated the utilities. He ordered that water be spilled over federal dams in the Snake River to increase salmon survival. Shortly after Judge James A. Redden issued his order, Craig began pushing to cut all funding for the Fish Passage Center.
...The Fish Passage Center has documented, in excruciating statistical detail, how the Columbia-Snake hydroelectric system kills salmon. Its analyses of fish survival data also suggest that one way to increase salmon survival is to spill more water over dams, rather than feed it through electrical turbines.
This suggestion, though, is anathema to utilities -- and to Craig -- because water poured over dams means millions of dollars in lost electricity generation.
Like your average two-year old, Craig's pursuits are marked by a certain single-mindedness, reducing an extraordinarily complex system to a single consideration. The long-term viability of the wild salmon population and its effects on the Columbia's ecosystem are at least tertiary if they figure in to his calculus at all. Somehow, though, I doubt he actually did much analysis of this issue, given his statements on the subject.
"Data cloaked in advocacy create confusion," Craig said on the Senate floor this month, after successfully inserting language in an energy and water appropriations bill that bans all future funding for the Fish Passage Center. "False science leads people to false choices."
"Idaho's water should not be flushed away on experimental policies based on cloudy, inexact assumption," Craig said in a news release.
Apparently, in Craig's world, it's just "cloudy, inexact assumptions" to think that swimming through electrical turbines is deadly to salmon. And statistics is now a "false science;" who knew? I wonder what his opinion of policy "cloaked in advocacy" might be? Judging by his record, he seems to be all for it.
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)...proposed markup legislation that would permit the sale of public land to mining companies for $1,000 an acre.
...If passed, it could expose thousands of acres of public land, including National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land, to unchecked mining. By purchasing the land, mining companies would not be subject to federal environmental review and reclamation of disturbed lands would no longer be required.
...The Three Rivers quarry...was shut down in May 2005 after U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that it was in violation of federal law for expanding operations beyond its boundaries. For operations to resume, Judge Winmill ordered the BLM to draft a new Environmental Impact Statement.
...But if Pombo's bill passes and the land is sold--to L&W Stone Corp., --an EIS will no longer be required and operations on the 520-acre-site may resume, according to Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, which filed the lawsuit against the BLM.
...Marvel feels part of Pombo's legislation is retribution for the lawsuit. He claims that it would be payback to L&W Stone's owner, Scott Laine, who according to the Associated Press has given nearly $3,000 to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, President Bush and the National GOP Congressional Committee since 2002.
"It's a classic example of pork-barrel politics," Marvel told the Associated Press. "If a private corporation wishes to acquire public land for its own profit, then there should be a significant public process in which local people, and citizens across the nation, can play a part in any decision to sell public lands.
"This takes it out of the public realm altogether."
Which is probably just as well. It seems that Craig tends to embarras himself in the public realm, also much like a two-year old.
Parish Council member Marty Gould said when he heard what Idaho Sen. Larry Craig told a reporter about Louisiana's request for aid after Hurricane Katrina his "blood boiled for a week."
...The senator was quoted in the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune as saying, "Louisiana and New Orleans are the most corrupt governments in our country, and they have always been."
Craig compared people in Louisiana to people in Iraq, saying, "Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in Louisiana as well."
I'll give Craig this: he probably has a firm grasp on fraud and corruption. While he may not like salmon so much, he does seem rather fond of pork.
Gould said he thinks Craig's comments were "about not wanting to pay for Hurricane Katrina," adding that he thinks the senator has his pet projects he wants funded and does not want the money taken from those projects to fund Katrina relief.
In the resolution it is acknowledged that Craig's comments are "especially worrisome to the people of this parish because his stereotyping and blatant bias against the people of this state may be further advanced through his membership in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which takes recommendations for hurricane-related spending by the federal government."
If I were Gould and feeling especially snarky, I would ask Craig for the Fish Passage Center's 1.3 million just to see his response. And Gould is plenty capable of snark:
To further illustrate his point, Gould said St. Tammany Parish should erect a statue in Craig's honor, and he pulled a Mr. Potato Head in Darth Vader attire out from below the dais.
Even he recognizes Craig's inner two-year old. But I'm probably not being entirely fair to Senator Craig; to read this post, one might think the man doesn't like anybody. Which is not true at all; it seems he's quite enamored of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. He was recently - and we can only hope drunkenly - singing Alito's praises at a political fundraiser.
Last Thursday, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and bandleader Paul Shaffer of the "Late Show with David Letterman" teamed up at a fundraiser for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute not only to perform but to debut some original material.
..."This afternoon, I met a fellow who moved me to write a song," Craig told the crowd. "So with Paul's help, in five minutes we wrote a song."
Added Shaffer, "We're going to set the mood. This is a very moody piece."
Thus was introduced their plaintive original composition, "Alito," sung to the tune of "Maria" from "West Side Story," with Alito subbing for Natalie Wood's Maria.
Here are the lyrics, transcribed by The Hill, thanks to a recording made by Craig press secretary Dan Whiting:
"The most beautiful sound I've ever heard/Alito, Alito/Alito, I just met a judge named Alito/And suddenly the name will never be the same/Alito, Bush just picked a judge named Alito/Alito, say it proud, that Republican saying/Say it soft and there's Democrats praying/Alito, may the Senate confirm Alito."
...Craig: "I bring home the pork."
Shaffer: "I stick it with a fork."
Craig: "I can dodge the press."
Shaffer: "Not getting caught?"
Shaffer: "That's what I thought."
Shameless, just like a two-year old. Everything's ok if you don't get caught. If Craig doesn't have a challenger for 2006, he needs one. I've met two-year olds who would make better public servants.