How Earmarks Survive:

Robert Novak has a column this morning on how earmarks survive in the new Congress:

With the midnight hour approaching on Saturday, Aug. 4, near the end of a marathon session, Democratic and Republican leaders alike wanted to pass the defense appropriations bill quickly and start their summer recess. But Republican Rep. Jeff Flake's stubborn adherence to principle forced an hour-long delay that revealed unpleasant realities about Congress.

Flake insisted on debating the most egregious of the 1,300 earmarks placed in the defense money bill by individual House members that authorize spending in their districts. Defending every such earmark was the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee: Democratic Rep. John Murtha, unsmiling and unresponsive to questions posed on the House floor by Flake. Murtha is called "King Corruption" by Republican reformers, but what happened after midnight on Aug. 5 is not a party matter. Democrats and Republicans, as always, locked arms to support every earmark. It makes no difference that at least seven House members are under investigation by the Justice Department. A bipartisan majority insists on sending taxpayers' money to companies in their districts without competitive bidding or public review.

On a personal note, I've known Jeff Flake since his think-tank days when we worked together on a project. He was a man or principle then, and it is refreshing to see that he's lasted this long in Congress and continues to stick to his guns. It seems that he is one of the few Republicans left in office who believes he belongs to the party of less government.

UPDATE: Those interested in following (or supporting) the web campaign against earmarks should check out Porkbusters.