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America's Debate > Archive > Policy Debate Archive > [A] Domestic Policy
Seattle Times Story

QUOTE(From the article @ with my emphasis)
WASHINGTON - The FBI is joining the Bush administration's war on pornography, and it's looking for a few good agents.

Last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director," Robert Mueller.

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography — not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.


"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

We can say that "pork" is the channelling of Federal funds towards areas that one's political supporters find appealing in the hope of them continuing their support. It's the diverting of funds towards the narrow sectional interests of your own core support regardless of other, more pressing political priorities

Usually, this takes the form of channelling Fed money to one's geographical constituency. The narrow sectional interests might be, say, those of the people of Alaska who will benefit from having a new bridge, which few other Americas will ever get within 500 miles of. The Alaskan politicians that can swing this stand to gain or maintain support from Alaskans. (I only use this because it was a recent example in another thread.)

This FBI anti-porn campaign seems to be channelling taxpayer's cash towards the Attorney General's political and spiritual constituency (most of the most vocal people behind the current anti-porn campaign are conservative Christians doing so on moral grounds, who are also core to the support of the whole Republican party today), but it strikes me that the underlying principle - diverting funds towards the narrow sectional interests (in this case, religious moralising) of your own core support (based on political views not geography) regardless of other, more pressing political priorities - is the same.

It's still pork, even if it's prepared & cooked differently.

Questions for debate:

Should this type of programme really be a high priority for the Federal government?

Is this campaign necessary, or is it just another flavour of pork? ("Bacon", perhaps?)

I know what you are trying to say here Julian, but it doesn't quite meet the mark. We have enough dilution of meanings today.

The origin of the political usage of the word "pork" begins with an old expression- "...I can bring home the bacon..."

By "bringing back" Federal dollars for district specific local projects, which creates jobs and contracts for potential voters as well as economic stimulation for other voters to see, elected officials can then (during the next election campaign) point out their successful past efforts at "bringing home the bacon".

In your case Julian, neither the Attorney General nor the F.B.I. Director are elected officials with a local constituency to deliver jobs or other economic benefits to (the historic and specific definition of political "pork").

You assert that "conservative christians" are a kind of constituency in this case. But there is no economic benefit to be had by them, unless you believe that this "Squad of Ten" will be succesful in banning some pornography and that the people who would have spent money purchasing that porn will then spend that money on "conservative christian" products and services.

Please don't dilute and render meaningless a perfectly good political term like "pork". With all the words in the English language, I am sure you can find one that would better meet your needs in this case.

Having said that:

Should this type of programme really be a high priority for the Federal government?

Absolutely not! Moreover, I think it should be a zero priority item and should be abandon forthwith.

Is this campaign necessary, or is it just another flavour of pork? ("Bacon", perhaps?)

This "campaign" is neither "pork", nor "Bacon", or even remotely "necessary."

Should this type of programme really be a high priority for the Federal government?[/quote]
No. What good is cracking down on porn in the USA going to do anyway, when the whole industry could easily offshore via the internet. That's what happened to gaming, in case the FBI hasn't noticed.

But, then again, this is the same Justice Department and FBI that spent time and effort putting Tommy Chong in FEDERAL prison for 6 months for selling bongs police.gif so it's not really a surprise. Like the FBI guy said, war on terror must be all sewn up by now...

Is this campaign necessary, or is it just another flavour of pork? ("Bacon", perhaps?)
I'd second Argonaut's sentiments - pork refers to dollars for a given district. And I doubt that Van Nuys or Woodland Hills is happy for the additional law-enforcement jobs in their neighborhood.
Should this type of programme really be a high priority for the Federal government?

An emphatic NO. What a waste of trained agents and taxpayer money, just to pander to the religious right. I wish the government would just keep its collective nose out of people’s bedrooms. Good grief, some of the conservatives’ biggest fundraisers PROFIT from porn (e.g. those mentioned in the article with hotel and cable or satellite interests). And didn’t Mary Carey, the porn star shill for the Republicans? Isn’t that kind of like biting the hand that feeds your coffers? hmmm.gif

The true obscenity here is what may happen while these agents are busy determining what obscenity is (I guess they’ll “know it when they see it” w00t.gif ).

Is this campaign necessary, or is it just another flavour of pork? ("Bacon", perhaps?)

The other white meat? No, as defined, it isn’t pork, just a really, really bad allocation of resources. On a list of priorities, this would be at or near the bottom (no pun intended).
First question is a great big "duh"- I doubt any sane person would disagree with that in the big picture.

However, second question- I think makes a good point.

I see pork as a payoff for a politician to get elected. If the politician has nothing to gain in his district, say, is not facing an opponent in re-election- what does he have to gain (unless of course, he is outright accepting bribes, which is criminal, or planning on a private sector career, if caught, is also legal, but hard to catch) -

Like with my other thread on this, Don Young has absolutely no reason to champion our turnagin arm bridge other than we need it. He faces no or a symbolic opponent at best. He is too old to think about the private sector, more about retirment from his "day" job. The only reason he put this forward, and our other bridge, is because constituents have named that as high priority federal infrastructure projects we have.

So where is his gain, other than saying "look, I got my consituents something they really needed and I responded to a grass roots movement"- so, in other words a positve legacy to his state.

Okay- now, buy very publically starting an FBI agency to combat "sin"- who is getting paid off in POLITICAL capital- Those poeple you mentioned are appointed because thier bosses' elections are beholden to the religios right, in a big, big way. In fact, there is no way the republican part can survive a split from the religious right. It is the reason so many conservative leaning libertarians stay away from the Republican party.

This is a very, very good definition of pork:

1) It accomplishes absolutely nothing tangible, and has no effect on a real problem whatsoever, total waste of money- one of the very single definitions of pork IMHO

2) It pays off a particular consituency's election "demands"- it doesn't have to be about dollars and cents pay off- but this is a payoff in political capital. In many ways- this is a bigger payoff than a contruction project to the politician doing the pandering (because both dems and repubs engage in this daily) - it pays off in campiagn donations and political support.

This is more porkier (did I just invent a new word?) than any infrastructure project, well, ever LOL
Victoria Silverwolf
This brings back memories of Edwin Meese, Attorney General under Ronald Reagan. It was a bad idea then, it's a bad idea now.

I wouldn't use the work "pork," though. That tends to imply some sort of economic incentive. Instead, there are two possible reasons for this decision by the current Attorney General.

1. He thinks it's a good idea. As I've said, I disagree.

2. It pleases one of the most important segments of support for the GOP:

Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."

(From the link provided by Julian)

Not "pork," but possibly "sacred cow."

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