John Murtha’s airport to nowhere continues to get federal subsidies

The people of the United States need to be aware of the federal government subsidies that are handed out to local communities on a regular basis, and they need to realize this graft is unconstitutional. If you want it in your state, pay for it yourself. Stop depending on what you refer to as “free” money from Washington, it’s not free and it’s destroying our country.

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Rep. John Murtha dead at 77

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) passed away suddenly today. He was suffering complications from gallbladder surgery and died at a Virginia hospital.

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Good for me, not for thee… again.

Every so often, Congress vomits forth a bit of hypocrisy nastier than most… like this:

“The new congressional jets may be getting scrapped.

After an uproar over a proposed purchase of new executive jets for use by senior government officials, including members of Congress, the top Defense appropriator in the House has offered to eliminate funding for the planes – but only if the Pentagon, which operates the jets, agrees.

“If the Department of Defense does not want these aircraft, they will be eliminated from the bill,” Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommitee said Monday evening.”

For those coming late to the rodeo, Murtha has created a whole airport out of whole cloth… or, to be more precise, Congressional earmarks.

Another day, another couple hundred million…

Congress continues to make my point – Murtha’s nephew and $4 million

Too much power at the federal level leads to a culture of corruption in Washington D.C. I don’t care if you’re talking Democrats or Republicans. Of course, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) had “no influence” in awarding no-bid Pentagon contracts to his nephew … wink wink, nod nod.

The problem is not obvious corruption – of which there seems to be none here – but when you read about these types of contracts, you just feel a little dirty about it. You have to admit it, the Washington D.C. spending culture results in these stories and connections, even if nothing is really wrong or corrupt.

Here’s the story from the Washington Post, with a hat tip to Malkin.

Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

My guess is Robert Murtha’s company may just be the absolute best company to do this kind of work for the Pentagon. I’m going to assume that is the case.

Why was this a no-bid contract?

It comes down to this. Since the federal government has so much authority to spend cash on items not authorized by The Constitution, the media has the opportunity to go out and easily find stories that the public just soak up.

Murtha has been in Congress so damn long as the king of pork for his district, that he has single-handedly warped the minds of his constituents into thinking it’s his job to bring as much bacon/cash/pork back home as possible. If his district sends in $1 and they get $3 in return from the feds, they win.

And Murtha gets re-elected.

Do you see what the real problem is?

Others writing now includes Hot Air.

As far as the name “Murtha” being a hindrance, the Washington Post notes that Robert’s not the only Murtha doing all right despite that supposed handicap.  His father, John Murtha’s brother Robert Sr, runs another highly-successful lobbying group, KSA, that specializes in — wait for it — defense contracts from the Appropriations Committee.  If the name “Murtha” is a drag on government contracting, imagine what they could do by changing their names … maybe to Visclosky.

There may be good reasons to occasionally award no-bid contracts for highly specialized work, but warehousing doesn’t fall into that category.  Granting no-bid Pentagon contracts to a powerful Congressman’s nephew screams for an investigation, and a deeper look at the “culture of corruption” that seems to surround John Murtha and his allies on Capitol Hill.

AJStrata over at Strata-Sphere is calling this a witch hunt, but my point still stands. We need to look at the culture of control in Washington, along with the culture of corruption.

Profiles in spending, John Murtha

Perhaps no single individual can exemplify the profligate spending and massive ego that is Congress better than John Murtha. And what better monument to his ego than the airport that has been named for this poltroon.

“The John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh, a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center.

Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage. For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The key to the airport’s gleaming facilities — and, indeed, its continued existence — is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year’s stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.”

Three commercial flights a day between Dulles and nowhere… a 34 passenger plane that flies for *four* people.   Now, business does occasionally pick up during election season, when Mr. Murtha flies home to campaign.

What hath John Murtha wrought?

“Murtha, dubbed the King of Pork by critics, consistently directs more federal money to his district than any other congressman — $192 million in the 2008 budget. His pattern of steering millions in earmarks to defense contractors who give to his campaign and hire his allies as lobbyists is being scrutinized by the FBI as part of an investigation of a lobbying firm led by one of Murtha’s closest friends.

The lawmaker, who uses the airport frequently during his campaigns, has steadily steered millions of taxpayer dollars to it to build a new terminal with a restaurant; a long, concrete runway sturdy enough to handle large jets; and a high-tech radar system usually reserved for international airports.”

So, we have an over-appointed, under-utilized airport that, for most practical purposes, amounts to a private convenience for Murtha so he can parachute in during election season and get re-elected.  A runway that will never see a large jet, a radar that is overkill for a regional facility and a terminal with a restaurant that will like as not be subsidized, since the numbers of travelrs just aren’t there to support it.  So, what have we got for our tax dollar?

“An $8 million radar system for detecting weather problems more than 100 miles away spins on the southern edge of the property. Murtha had said that the system would create at least a dozen air traffic control jobs, but the state Air National Guard, which was supposed to staff it, said personnel reductions have left the radar unmanned.

A $17.8 million earmark in 2006 from the Defense Department replaced the airport’s 7,000-foot-long asphalt runway with a reinforced concrete bed capable of handling larger civilian and military jets, but it is not being employed for that purpose.

A $6.5 million, three-story National Guard and Reserve training center, resembling a rustic ski lodge, is perched on Airport Road.

A new air traffic control tower was built in 1999 for $6.8 million, after Murtha persuaded Congress to add the project to the federal budget. He also got the funds that year to build the new terminal, where his portrait graces the entrance.

In 1998, at Murtha’s urging, the Marine Corps agreed to move a helicopter unit to Johnstown and constructed a $14 million hangar and training facility at the airport’s southeastern edge.”

Expensive radars with no one watching the screens and a monument to one monstrous ego.  This is our tax dollar at work — $200,000,000 over ten years.  But, hey — at least the parking is free.  It better be — we’ve paid enough for it.

Murtha claims Congressional immunity, judge agrees

A sitting congressman – before an investigation was completed- claiming Marines killed civilians in cold blood is worthy of treason. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) made that charge, and one of the Marines filed suit against Murtha for defamation. Murtha, of course, claimed Congressional immunity.

I guess goons like Murtha can say anything that they want and get away with it as long as he’s speaking in his official capacity. From The Hill.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich filed suit against Murtha, claiming that the veteran lawmaker damaged his reputation when he told the press that Wuterich’s squad in 2005 killed civilians in cold blood in Haditha, Iraq.

Wuterich argued that Murtha made false and defamatory statements to the press about Wuterich’s and his comrades’ role in the civilian deaths.

Murtha, a former Marine, used his congressional immunity as his defense, arguing that he made those statements to the press in his official capacity as a member of Congress. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday ruled that Wuterich can’t sue Murtha.

Wuterich is the only person awaiting trial in the Haditha case. A military jury acquitted one of the Haditha defendants, and charges against six others have been dropped. Prosecutors allege that Wuterich’s squad took revenge for a roadside bombing, while defense attorneys argue the civilian casualties couldn’t be avoided during a firefight with insurgents.

For some real history, why don’t you read the full text of Murtha’s May 2006 statement that includes the following reference to the Marine fire fight in Haditha, with my emphasis added.

Now, two days after I made my statement [Murtha wanted to pull out of Iraq], on November 19th, we had an incident in Haditha in Anbar province, where a Marine was killed with an IED. Time magazine reported it, and it’s kind of a puzzling report, because they’re investigating it right now. Let me tell you what the consequences of this have been.

It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that’s what the report is going to tell.

Now, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on those troops for the rest of their lives and for the United States in our war and our effort in trying to win the hearts and minds.

We can’t operate, we can’t sustain this operation. Eighty percent of the Iraqis want us out of Iraq; 47 percent say it’s all right to kill Americans.

Remember that charges have been dropped for six Marines, one was acquitted and Wuterich is still awaiting trial.

Murtha has never publicly apologized for his statement and the Marines deserve more respect – especially itfrom a former Marine. Of course, Murtha felt it necessary to apoligize to voters when he called them racists, but I guess none of the Marines are from his district.

Update: (April 23) Makin posted about this today.