I love it because it's quick, it's easy, it allows me to keep up with some of my friends more quickly than I could otherwise, and it allows me to track the breaking news posted by several national television stations and newspapers.
Twitter also allows me to follow the goings-on of several politicians to find out what they're up to on a daily basis. Obviously, I would prefer that they pay attention to what's going on in the committee hearings and floor debates that they are so kindly tweeting about, but having worked for Congress for nearly ten years and being a political junkie, I appreciate being kept in the loop (or in my case, in the beltway).
One of the things I've loved about the past few days is that one of the folks I'm following, Senator John McCain, has been doing a daily top ten list of some of the more egregious examples of earmarks in the FY 2010 omnibus bill being debated this week in the Senate (he calls it his top ten list of porkiest projects). Yes, I will argue that there are some legitimate things in the bill that will prove important to a lot of people (chiefly, the funding to keep the government up and running). But folks, come on - really? Have you looked at this list? Some of the items McCain has pointed out (the numbers are his; the comments are mine) include:
- $632,000 for the Hungry Horse Project. Those are some mighty pricey oats.
- $59,000 for Dismal Swamp and Dismal Swamp Canal in Virginia. What could you possibly want to do to a swamp?
- $95,000 for the state of New Mexico to find a dental school location. Really? Do you really have to pay someone $95,000 to say, "That looks like a good spot?"
- $150,000 for lobster research. What's to research? They're delicious!
- $950,000 for a Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As much tourist traffic as Myrtle Beach draws, can't they afford to pay for their own convention center just with the revenue from the hotels and restaurants and other tourist spots?
- $118,750 for a building to house an aircraft display in Rantoul, Illinois. Isn't this called a hangar? Don't airports have hangars? Couldn't an area airport host the display?
- $380,000 for a recreation and fairground area in Kotzebue, Alaska. Okay, I just had to look this up, since I had never heard of the place - the total population is 3,237. And it's in Alaska; isn't the entire state a recreation area?
- $190,000 to build a Living Science Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. The living science of what, Mardi Gras?
Change, transparency, reform; I seem to recall hearing these three words quite a bit from both sides of the aisle. I haven't really seen much change or reform to this point, and despite the assertions of many to the contrary, I don't expect to see many changes in the future.
And as far as transparency? All I can say is, "Thank you, Twitter!"