Thursday, April 27, 2006

PorkBusters Herd Losing Credibility

I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt radio show yesterday when I heard him announce that the Senate had defeated an amendment to kill funding for the infamous Railroad to Nowhere. He followed up his announcment with the statement that "we are not yet serious about pork". I can agree with him on that because the people who appear to be the least serious about pork-barrel earmarks are the folks at PorkBusters.The railroad to nowhere is now the centerpiece of the PorkBusters movement, the be all end all, the ultimate big game, and the coup-de-grace of all their efforts. Unfortunately, their arguments appear to be descending into the same demagoguery used by much of the left.

During the debate leading up to the invasion of Iraq, which I did and do support whole-heartedly, there were conscientious and reasonable arguments against an invasion. However, those arguments were quickly lost amidst a tsunami of 'Blood for Oil' and 'Greater Israel' moonbattery. Well, now the PorkBusters have picked up a chorus of the old bogey-men, greedy developers and evil casinos.

Yesterday, the Senate voted down Coburn's amendment to kill funding for the Railroad to Nowhere-- a $700 million project meant to move an already functional section of CSX rail line farther away from the Mississippi coast so that the section of land it now occupies can become a beach resort/casino area.

On my first day in Waveland, we had one guy walking around shouting bible verses at the residents who had come for food and announcing Katrina was God's response to Mississippi's casinos. To the credit of Convoy of Hope, he was invited to leave that day but not before I had the unfortunate experience of sharing a table with him. After talking with him for five minutes, I wanted to punch him (as Christianly as possible mind you) right in his big smug mouth!

I'm surprised to hear these standard hobgoblins of the left used by Hugh Hewitt. Like Mr. Hewitt, I live in Southern California where we've heard all about the evil developers and wicked Indian casinos for decades now. And it's not like I support pork-barrel spending or even this particular railroad to nowhere, but I need substance to be convinced. I am more than willing to look at some evidence and agree that this is a corporate boon-doggle or a big labor kickback, but PorkBusters has failed to present any such evidence at this point.

What they have done is converged on a few arguments which they continually state as truth, but that are, in fact, less than decided. For example, we have the New York Times article and countless PorkBusters articles stating that the CSX rail line has already been rebuilt at a cost of $250 million dollars. I haven't been back there recently, but the two-mile Saint Louis Bay Bridge, used for Highway 90 and for CSX rail lines, was not yet completed as of January 2006. Even if it were, who can blame the Senator for making a rail line that connects New Orleans to Biloxi, Gulf Port, and the rest of the Gulf Coast a federal matter.

Of course, I've already pointed out the demagoguery of the PorkBusters herd, including one particularly shameless gem asking "how many people will lose their homes". As usual, the issue becomes a little more complicated than simple slogans. Sure, some developers and casinos may benefit from a relocation of the rail line, but the party that stands to benefit most is the State of Mississippi. The state wants that ground, currently occupied by the CSX rail line, for a relocation of Highway 90 to the higher ground. The current Highway 90 would be converted to a "beach boulevard", which I could care less about. If PorkBusters or the residents of Mississippi want to protest the "beach boulevard" plan, I have no problem with that. However, there are genuine reasons to relocate Highway 90 to the higher ground where the CSX rail line now resides.

Highway 90 near Waveland, MS

Crossroad on Highway 90 during Hurricane Rita

We know there is no amount of safety we can buy to protect us from something as devastating as Hurricane Katrina. The residents of Hancock County found that out the hard way. Since Highway 90 was one of the higher locations in the county, residents would park their cars along the shoulder to keep them out of the flood waters. The first picture shows how effective that was for Katrina. The second picture is a crossroad connected to Highway 90 during Hurricane Rita. The part of 90 that I was on remained dry, but it was closed due to flooding the night before. That's why we drove over the rails into Bay Saint Louis to help folks clean out their homes that day. The CSX rail line is the highest ground in the area. That's why the governor plans (PDF) to relocate part of Highway 90 to the rail line, which is why he supports the relocation of the CSX freight traffic.

Relocation of CSX railroad operations and acquisition of the CSX rail line and right-of-way for the development of a new east-west transportation thoroughfare.

Another talking point that the Porkbuster herd have decided upon is that the CSX line will be transferred to existing lines currently used by a competitor. Unfortunately for PorkBusters, I don't believe that has been decided with any amount of certainty. The idea has come up along with the original idea of building a new east-west rail corridor, but I've seen nothing that settles that argument one way or the other.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I am absolutely opposed to pork-barrel spending and earmarks on completely unrelated bills, but I've seen no evidence of the railroad to nowhere being in either of those categories. For some unknown reason, the Porkbusters herd has chosen this one issue as their Little Bighorn and I'm afraid their credibility and thus their cause will meet the same end as General Custer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

highway 90 in "the Bay" would not be relocated anywhere. it does not go sown the beach in Hancock county. so moving the railway accomplishes nothing other than a waste of money. the RR is back up and running. I am life long resident of the pass and as you know from your visit the RR runs approx 1/4 mile from the beach on a built up rail bed. In most areas throughout Harrison County this is NOT much higher ground. Additionally, This "brilliant " move puts two 4 lane highways and two east west major streets all within 1/2 mile of each other. As someone who lives here this is PORK pure and simple

4:01 AM  

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