O.K., I promise not to go on about it, but there's an interesting little two-step today on Page One of Dallas's Only Daily Newspaper. I just wanted to call it to your attention. It's about congressional earmarks and us.
For a week or so we have been going on and on about how the Republican ban on congressional earmarks is going to screw up Dallas's Trinity River project, which has been funded for more than a decade almost entirely by earmarks. So today, finally, The Dallas Morning News has a story about how the Republican ban on earmarks is going to screw up the Trinity River Corridor Project and maybe also future rail projects.
Here's a big difference in approaches. Jim Schutze: Screw up Trinity River project, good. Dallas Morning News: Screw up Trinity River Project, bad.
So The News story includes lots of lines about how banning earmarks is a bad idea: "Critics of the moratorium on earmarks argue that such funds -- roughly 1 percent of the budget -- won't be cut, they'll just be directed by the administration rather than by elected representatives."
The story also includes another interesting factoid, tossed in down deep in the text without explanation, almost as an aside: "The administration of George W. Bush -- a Dallas resident and former governor -- actively tried to eliminate funding for the Trinity project. The Obama administration has also shown little interest."
Really! One president who is from Dallas and another president who we're not even sure is from this planet because we haven't yet seen his planetary birth papers, and they both tried to kill the Trinity River Project? Wow.
Isn't that a big, "WHY?" Hey! Mr. Newspaper Editor over there! I'm talkin' to you. Your reporter put in the story that two presidents have tried to kill this deal, and he forgot to say why. In fact, didn't you "bury the lede" here, as we say in the biz?
Ah, but you see, "why" is the big no-no. (Am I going on about his yet?) "Why" is the story The News won't tell you. And it's the story nobody wants to tell nationally about earmarks. Earmarks are end-runs around the law, around reason and around fairness.
The Bush White House stated early on in clear terms that it was concerned that the Trinity River project was bogus at birth. I invite you to read their explanation here.
In 14 years of coverage, The News has never told you why. It has never done a comprehensive story on the many ways in which the Trinity River project fails to meet the standards for flood control projects or transportation projects.
It has been funded entirely through political string-pulling and end-runs because it doesn't measure up. It can't make the numbers required by law for federally funded projects.
It's like this: Your no-good cousin Zappo applies for a federal disability pension, claiming that he is unable to work because of "a lifelong aversion to being told what to do." Those bad federal bureaucrats everybody likes to rail against look at Zappo's paperwork. They send him an e-mail saying, "Get a job, Zappo."
So Zappo goes to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and asks her to get him an earmark. In fairness, my metaphor ends here, before Johnson makes a decision. But you get the point.
Earmarks are ways to cheat the regs. That's what you will never ever read in Dallas's Only Daily. Well, not about our earmarks. Over the years they have told you lots of amazing stories about those bad people over in that other bad state somewhere who wanted bad earmarks for their bad Yankee bridge-to-nowhere projects. But here at home it's all about defending the people's will against crazy unreasonable wild-eyed flamboyant federal bureaucrats - you know, that type of person we see so much of.
It's why I say we have to read The News the way citizens of the old Soviet Regime read Isvestia. You never read it for what's on the page. You read for the holes.
Alaska had a bridge to nowhere. We have a bridge to Ray's Gun Shop. Oh, well, we can see it now, sure -- that's totally different. Ray's Hardware and Sporting is the proper name. Maybe when they finish the eight zillion-dollar fake suspension bridge taking us across the river to it, Ray will change the name to "Shooting Provisions by Ray."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.