Intercepts

A big wind bloweth...

Congresspeople — how’s that for political correctness? — are like addicts when it comes to pork. No matter how many times they vow to quit, they keep going back for another hit.

The fiscal 2007 Defense appropriations bill approved in conference last week proves that theory. It contains one of the most blatant earmarks the Interceptor has seen in close to 20 years of reading Defense Department bills cover to cover. I need to get a life.

The spending bill is 314 pages, and the porkmeisters managed to insert some special interest funding into the first page of the bill — long before they got to minor details such as providing funds for equipment and supplies needed to conduct wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first page of the conference report that goes along with the spending bill discusses wind farming, not war. That’s right, wind farming.

The last paragraph on the first page of the conference report allocates $5 million for “contractor support to coordinate a wind-test demonstration project on an Air Force installation using wind turbines manufactured in the United States that are new to the United States market and to execute the renewable energy purchase plan.”

Such specific language is a sure sign that this $5 million is earmarked for a specific company that will set up its turbines in a specific district. So I’m determined to hunt down the guilty parties on this earmark — congressperson and company. If you can help, send an e-mail message titled “Windbags” to bbrewin@fcw.com.

The fact that both houses of Congress approved this earmark shows that lawmakers may be in desperate need of a 12-step program for overcoming pork addiction.

No wonder public approval ratings for members of Congress have sunk even lower than those for journalists.

Conservative windbag tilt

DOD’s inspector general confirmed last week what Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and 23 of her colleagues have long suspected: When it comes to talk radio, the Armed Forces Radio Television Service (AFRTS) has a conservative bias.

Rush Limbaugh has bloviated over the AFRTS airwaves since 1994, but it did not have what the DOD IG calls a progressive talk radio program until it added the Ed Schultz Show in 2005.

An AFRTS survey this year showed what anyone who has ever spent time in combat — which excludes most members of the current Congress — would readily know: Talk radio is not exactly at the top of warfighters’ listening lists.

I can’t imagine anyone dodging improvised explosive devices while escorting a convoy in Iraq and saying, “Boy, I can hardly wait to get back to base and listen to Limbaugh.” Nope. Like those of us from the Vietnam generation, the troops in Iraq want music to divert them from harsh realities that Limbaugh and Schultz can only talk about.

We can use Galileo for targeting

Global Positioning System satellites are used for everything from targeting smart munitions to guiding oil tankers into Alaskan ports. They are also the basis of a megabillion-dollar GPS industry and a prime example of American technological ingenuity.

However, a program to develop a new generation of satellites — GPS IIF — has run into problems. The fiscal 2007 spending bill’s conference report states that, because of those problems, the Air Force has decided not to acquire GPS IIF satellites 13 through 18.

No problem. The reports states that GPS constellations must be refreshed on a continuing basis and the satellites “are living longer than expected.” So the current constellation should be able to do the job until some IIF birds are launched and replaced by GPS Block III satellites.

Boeing is the GPS IIF contractor, and Lockheed Martin is developing the GPS Block III satellites. If we can’t get enough replacement satellites in orbit to keep the GPS constellation running, DOD can always avail itself of the European answer to GPS, which is Galileo. That could be a problem, however, because China has invested in Galileo.

The world is flat.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com.

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