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In fiscal year 2010 Sen. Daniel Inouye sent $392,432.850 in earmark spending back to his state. This is a “story” according to the Washington Post, because writer Jason Horowitz managed to convince his bosses that all the frenzied coverage of our 49th state was really terribly unfair to the 50th, but once he got to Diamond Head he was all “holy shit life is short” and decided the task of figuring out how to fill 3,000 words was a classic example of what they call a “job best outsourced to the Center for Responsive Politics.”
And I have to hand it to Jason, in a way, because from my limited experience in the newsrooms of our national newspapers there was a direct correlation between reporters with a “sense of what the word ‘fun’ means” and reporters who “took the buyout ten years ago” so the barely existing sliver of me that still clings to “hope” sees a story like this and assumes Horowitz must have a somewhat operating sense of “fun” to go through the trouble of convincing the Style editors that yes a Daniel Inoyue profile is what the world really needs this campaign season. (By the way, I am not going to try and ruin that assumption just yet by checking to see if he is on Twitter.)
Butthis leads me to an important philosophical problem I have with this story, which is related to the aesthetic problem of how—in stark contrast to the massive multimedia photo gallery the Post put together last week on the Alaskan wilderness for a story that was for chrissakes about defense contracts—there are barely any photographs of the alleged pork recipient (Hawaii) in question.
Which is simply this: why did we conquer Hawaii anyway? It sure as fuck wasn’t because it is so convenient to get to. But neither is Pakistan, and we spend like $392,432,850 times one thousand on places like that every year, and unlike with Hawaii I don’t think we’ve even managed to produce a light rail over there. Robert Byrd was raking in more than $3 billion in annual earmarks for his state when he died. Inouye is a war hero whose state produced our first black president and Byrd was a longtime KKK member whose state produced Lynndie England.
One of the last things that America really has going for it as a country are some really spectacular places to visit and maybe even live. The right gets off on vilifying anyone who lives in those places for stupid and incredibly minor crap like this, because they are bitter angry people who grew up believing sex, by virtue of being the only fun thing to do in a place like Wasilla until Oxycontin came along, must be evil. A creepy visceral distrust of aesthetic beauty, in nature and art and architecture and language, underpins so much of what they do—ha, like remember Jim DeMint‘s crusade against nature trails—and yet no one ever calls them out on it, “centrist” cowards that they all are.
But I digress. The real issue is, unlike Dan Inouye the Pentagon controls trillions of dollars and still it has not given us a way to get to Hawaii in under a gazillion hours. If they could please get on this, I’m sure it would make everything else that is destroying the earth run a lot faster too, but at least we could go to Hawaii for the weekend.