Oink, Oink

From npr:

Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Shelby, the senior Republican senator from Alabama, and the rest of the Senate should be furious at him.

The reason is simple. Shelby has overstepped the usual bounds of caution and produced an act of senatorial arrogance so breathtaking that the country just might notice. And if the country actually knew that such shenanigans were possible, the country would be amazed and, one would hope, perturbed.

Original DVD cover

Shelby has placed a blanket “hold” on 70 nominations pending before the Senate, nominations for federal agency jobs and seats on the federal bench. Does he have a case against each and every one of the 70? No, he isn’t really talking about any of them.

His problem has to do with a couple of government contracts he wants to see benefit his home state of Alabama. To date, these Shelby “earmarks” have not come to pass, and the senator wants to change that. He is tired of being stiffed. He wants to force the Senate and the Obama administration to cede to his preferences for the granting of these contracts.

The tactic works by inducing pain. It slows or disrupts the work of literally dozens of federal agencies and courts. It interferes with the normal execution of the functions we all pay taxes to support. But this is not the goal; it is merely pressure, a means to an end.

Placing a hold on a bill or appointment has another purpose. It gives any senator leverage over the White House and the rest of the Senate.


The holding senator may have an issue pertaining to the nominee or the bill at hand. Or there may be something else on the senator’s mind.

In this case, Shelby’s communications director tells us, the issue is the coddling of terrorists. The Obama administration has not yet granted a certain contract for the building of tanker planes to refuel U.S. warplanes in midflight. And the Obama administration has not let a contract for a lab that will analyze forensic evidence from bomb-making materials found in Iraq and Afghanistan. The communication from the senator’s office suggests this shows a lack of commitment to anti-terrorism.

It neglects to mention that both these contracts involve, or might involve, large business interests in the state of Alabama.

This is what some call constituent service. Others call it earmarking, the practice of steering specific outlays in spending bills to benefit preselected parties. Still others call this plain and simple pork barrel politics, the pursuit of government largesse benefiting one’s friends and constituents and campaign supporters.


A blanket hold on 70 nominees becomes embarrassing to senators such as John McCain, senior Republican from Arizona, who ran for president twice emphasizing his detestation of earmarks. Now McCain, and others like him, find themselves called upon to defend the Shelby-style brandishing of the hold-filibuster to protect earmarking.


But Democrats need to look in the mirror. One big reason the majority party has not been able to act like one in the Senate is its unwillingness to tackle the customs and traditions that make every senator a king or queen. Every senator has an interest in preserving that kind of individual power.


If one senator can hold sway over so much of the nation’s business simply by declaring himself willing to be unreasonable, then reasonable people have cause to re-examine the institution of the Senate itself.

From The Caucus at The New York Times:

Senator Richard Shelby, the Republican from Alabama, today lifted many of his holds on nominations to administration posts by President Obama that require Senate confirmation.

The move may temper a threat by Democratic leaders in the Senate — and even the White House — that the administration would make recess appointments during next week’s Presidents’ Day break, bucking any notion of senators’ approval.


At one point, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, deemed the senator’s actions the “poster child” for how badly Washington works.

Mr. Gibbs labeled the move yet another version of the corrupt nature of lawmakers’ earmarks for pet projects.


Basically, here’s the gist. Northrop Grumman and its partner, European Aeronautical Defense and Space, want the contract for the refueling tanker. It would add about 1,500 jobs in Mobile, Ala. This contract has been a protracted fight that involves Northrop’s competition, Boeing. Alabama Republicans, including Senator Shelby’s colleague, Senator Jeff Sessions, want a revisit of the draft bid package.

In addition, Senator Shelby is adamant that funds — scheduled for appropriation earlier — should be released for an anti-terrorism center in Alabama.


But Senator Shelby still has holds on on these individuals: Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Erin Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force.

His colleague, Senator Sessions, also a Republican, has placed holds on Mr. Kendall and Ms. Conaton.


The fourth-term Senator has received at least $108,233 in PAC contributions to his political campaigns and leadership PAC from Northrop Grumman’s corporate PACs. This includes contributions, dating back to his first Senate election in 1986, from the company’s political action committee and from the PACs of companies that are now part of Northrop Grumman.

According to the Center analysis, this level of support ranks Northrop Grumman as the seventh most generous institutional supporter over the course of Shelby’s political career.

Oink, oink.


Filed under Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Corruption, humor, Iraq War, John McCain, parody, politics, Republicans, Robert Gibbs, Senate, snark, television, Wordpress Political Blogs

20 responses to “Oink, Oink

  1. writechic

    OMG! He never looked better.

    (Ok, I’m gonna read now. 🙂 )

  2. I had no idea the Senate operated in this fashion!

  3. writechic

    Alabama is straight up Dukes of Hazzard politics, and Shelby is Boss Hogg.

    Our holier-than-thou Governor Bob Riley campaigned against casino gambling in Alabama with donations from the gat damn Mississippi Choctaw Indians and Jack fucking Abramoff as the go between guy! But SOMEHOW there’s nothing wrong with that.

    And it’s just so much worse than that. The Judge Mark E. Fuller that sent Siegelman to jail had a multi-million dollar contract to fuel Air Force One in the Bush days. Fuller had been fired by Siegelman before. The U.S. Attorney was supposed to have recused herself from the Siegelman case. She never did. And she is married to Karl Rove’s friend and former business partner.

    It’s just a big ol’ inbred clusterfuck in these parts.

  4. And he doesn’t even have the decency to say “That’s all folks!” when he’s done.

  5. One big reason the majority party has not been able to act like one in the Senate is its unwillingness to tackle the customs and traditions that make every senator a king or queen.

    Shelby— king? or queen? I don’t really care; he’s done the U.S. a big favor, demonstrating just how big an asshole it takes to be a “conservative” politician today. It’s one thing to seek the people’s funds for important and necessary spending, and quite a different thing to use bullying obstructionist tactics to force government to it’s knees.

    The American people better be taking names, because there’s a whole lot of asses that need to be kicked out of government. Buhbye, Dick.

    • shelby is neither a king nor a queen, just a royal pain in the ass. i hope the good people of alabama (i’m lookin’ at you, melissa) forgive me, but i hope northrop grumman doesn’t get the contract, and i hope that shelby is blamed for it. maybe his campaign contributions will dry up when they see he can’t deliver, and maybe he’ll go away. by the way, isn’t what shelby pulled exactly what the teabaggers say they hate? why aren’t they protesting outside his office?

  6. O boy, airplanes! The SAC contract for development of the KC-135 is the reason we darken the skies with the 707 for decades. When more capacity was deemed important, we took the off the shelf DC-10 and adapted it for air refueling. Somebody is definitely on the take to get this Airbus contract and you can count on the bottom line being that no union help will be used. Thats real important to them down south, almost like a religious principle. This company shell game is harder to keep up with as football free agency (SD qb throwing score to Giants reciever in Superbowl). Our Fort Worth plant started as Consolidated-Vultee, then Convair, then General Dynamics, then Lockheed-Grumman. Guess Pizza Hut will get next crack at it. And Nonnie will be pleased to know that her favorite chimp-like person hired Lockheed in the late 90s to purge those pesky kids off the welfare roles to make dumbass look magnificent when he ran for prez. According to Molly Ivins the $38 a month per child stuff was gonna have to go. It did. Grumman runs a business that reposses cars. What is the nature of business anymore. Shelby can go off and sell moonshine for all I care.

    • from what i’ve read and from what melissa said up above, it sounds like alabama is already like texas, politically speaking, and floriduhhh is not far behind. this used to be a blue state, then purple, and i fear it’s turning redder by the day. the dems seem to have run out of steam once bob graham dropped out of politics. they don’t have any statewide-known people to run.

  7. Pork barreling is one of Congress members’ best perks. It helps them get reelected in their home states, no matter how odious the project.
    Here in Texas, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is in a vicious race with Gov. Rick Perry for his job.
    Her TV ads are meaner than a junkyard dog–attacking Perry’s sleazy dealmaking and slimeball lobbyist buddies.
    His ads against her attack her for pork barreling Texas, like voters just hate getting special perks for their state.
    He’s an idiot and so are his supporters.
    She’s a bitch, and I can think of no one better to oppose him in the GOP primary.

    • little ricky goodhair is lucky that the teabaggers he’s catering to have no sense of irony and no real convictions. this is exactly what they say they’re against, but they aren’t protesting outside oinky shelby’s door.