Mississippi's two U.S. senators included $700 million in an emergency war spending bill to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line that has already been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina at a cost of at least $250 million.
Republican Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who have the backing of their state's economic development agencies and tourism industry, say the CSX freight line must be moved to save it from the next hurricane and to protect Mississippi's growing coastal population from rail accidents. But critics of the measure call it a gift to coastal developers and the casino industry that would be paid for with money carved out of tight Katrina relief funds and piggybacked onto funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By happenstance, moving the track would free up prime coastal property to be turned into a delightful avenue of casinos -- an avenue also paid for by federal dollars. What could be more noble than using our wars as a means to fund better casino infrastructure? Maybe free health care for our sex workers, but that's about it.