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Robert Scheer

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“The gift that keeps on giving” should have been the headline on the Pentagon’s decision to award the Boeing Co a $35 billion defense contract Defense of the nation, of course, had nothing to do with it .

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The facts about earmarks -- and the deficit, for that matter -- are so simple that even the dumbest birther should be able to understand.

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Senate Republicans have agreed not to use earmarks, the bacon delivery system favored by many a senator. It's a party decision, but there's movement for a floor vote banning earmarks altogether, and the White House and some Democrats are on board.

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On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved a massive spending bill, totaling $447 billion, which includes quite a few earmarks. In fact, 5,224 earmarks made their way into the bill, adding up to about $3.9 billion. This did not please House Republicans, of whom not a single member voted for the measure.

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Nearly a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives find themselves embroiled in a lobbying scandal, with Rep. John Murtha at the center. One hundred four representatives earmarked more than $300 million in just one bill, allegedly in exchange for campaign contributions from a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha protégé.

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The AP took a closer look at some of the claims in Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday and found that the VP nominee, like some of her allies, is simply full of it on a number of points.

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Pork, as in earmarks, not as in pig, is again in vogue this political season only a year after a 2007 congressional promise to curb what some call wasteful spending in politicians' home districts. At the top of the earmarking ladder is the defense authorization bill (read military-industrial complex), which saw a 29 percent increase in district spending since 2007.

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All three presidential candidates are scheduled to be back in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. A Republican senator has proposed a yearlong ban on earmarks and, shocking though it may seem, John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are apparently on board with the idea. Their colleagues in the Senate, however, are somewhat less enthusiastic.

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McClatchy is reporting that Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, is under investigation for earmarking millions in funds for a road project in Florida that wasn't even wanted by the local community but could have been something of a gold mine for one of his campaign contributors. The Justice Department is also investigating potentially unsavory behavior on the part of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and other Alaska legislators.

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