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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Earmarks Led To The Tea Party Revolution

"I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."
-- Congressman Rick Boucher, 9th District Virginia


Of their districts.


First, a revealing exposé in this morning's Washington Post:
Murtha's Earmarks Keep Airport Aloft
State-of-the-Art Pennsylvania Facility Sees Few Travelers but Lots of Funding
By Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post Staff Writer

Johnstown, Pa. -- 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. [link]

When confronted with the fact that this is, without doubt, a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, there's this response:

"Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey defended the public spending and said it is unfair to weigh the airport's low volume of passengers against the federal dollars invested in the facility."

It's unfair for taxpayers to judge the facility's viability.

Or, as Congressman Boucher (put it, "I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."

Congressman Murtha knows what's best for his district. So shut up.

Let's turn to our own backyard here in Southwest Virginia.

To Congressman Boucher's pet airport.

Little used and over-funded Virginia Highlands Airport sits a mere 28 miles (and just 29 minutes down I-81) from a real facility - Tri-Cities Regional Airport. A map:

I've flown out of there and I can attest to the fact that real planes land and take off. And it's clean, modern, efficient, and well-equipped.

Unlike Boucher's little neighborhood airport.

But guess which got an earmark appropriation from Virginia's 9th District congressman in the most recent government appropriations bill?

And not just an earmark. 1 million, three hundred thousand earmarks.

From his website list of appropriation requests (see "Boucher Requests Funding for the 9th Congressional District (April 3, 2009"):

Project Name: Virginia Highlands Airport

Amount: $1,300,000

Recipient: Virginia Highlands Airport


"I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."

A virtually unused airport in Boucher's backyard is going to receive $1.3 million when a real airport, with real airplanes flying in and out all day every day is just a half hour away.

A half hour away.

Expect a Boucher apologist to explain:

"A Boucher spokesman defended the public spending and said it is unfair to weigh the airport's low volume of passengers against the federal dollars invested in the facility."

It's all about their districts and their priorities. They know best. And shut up.

Not far down the road from Boucher's breathtakingly wasteful boondoggle, on Tax Day, a large gathering of concerned Americans assembled to address such madness.

The Tea Party revolution was born.

- - -

A special note: Though he was reported to be just down the street at the time of the Tea Party rally, Boucher was not in attendance. He has his priorities.

A special note to Boucher's lackies: Before you write to tell us that Virginia Highlands Airport serves a different purpose (it being for "general aviation"), first explain the earmark. Here's Boucher's excuse for the $1,300,000 expenditure:

"The funding will be for Virginia Highlands Airport for engineering services and land acquisition related to a project which will lengthen the runway at the airport. Explanation of the Request: The funding will be for Virginia Highlands Airport for engineering services and land acquisition related to a project which will lengthen the runway at the airport."

Notes From The Abingdon Tea Party

I arrived in Abingdon about 6:15 pm on Wednesday which was 15 minutes before the announced start time. When I got out of my vehicle I could tell that speaking was already taking place but with the size of the crowd I imagine the person in charge, whom I now assume was Strother Smith, had to start a little early with some comments just to let the gathered masses know someone was in charge and that the real events would soon be taking place.

Mr. Smith asked the crowd to open an area in front of the speakers area so a young man, dressed in a frontier or colonial type outfit, could present the US flag. The crowd then joined in singing God Bless America followed by the pledge of allegiance and then a brief prayer.

Mr. Smith then spoke for several minutes about the disconnect between Washington and the people of this country, the refusal of some elected officials to understand the depth and breadth of what it is that is really pissing off (my words) so many Americans who otherwise have kept quiet before now. He pointed out that the tea parties being held across the nation that day were not fueled merely due to taxes and the fact they will inevitably go up but also the unimaginable spending, horrendous debt and the apparent rush in DC to find things to fix that aren't broken.

He informed the crowd that Boucher and Senators Warner and Webb had all been invited to the event by email, snail mail, and calls to their offices. He said Boucher was in Abingdon that afternoon even as the event took place and made comments that Boucher's apparent snub (again, my word) of the event being held in his hometown just went to show how out of touch Boucher and those like him are. Within a 30 minute period he asked three times if Congressman Boucher, Warner and Webb were in the crowd, noting each time that they had been invited and if they were present they would be recognized and given an opportunity to speak to the crowd if they so wished.

There were four people who made brief comments. Three were females and they each did a good job of expressing the unrest of so many people and how the politicians were clueless as to why this pimple had reached critical mass and was popping as evidenced by the number gathered there. One gentleman spoke about how much this country has changed in the last couple of decades and how frightening he found that. This particular man pulled 4 years in the military and had recently retired with 30 years of service to the Virginia State Police.

The crowd was enthusiastic but well controlled and polite yet many didn't let that control and politeness prevent them from whooping and hollering it up. No names were run through the mud, no cursing was heard by me and most everyone I saw had a look on their face that seemed to say 'I'm mad as hell and, by golly, this here tea party thing may just work'. The Abingdon police department had two uniformed officers placed at the main crosswalk and they just did their job and as far as I could observe were polite and helpful. They never once got off their Segways that I saw. Say, aren't those scooters pretty expensive? I can vouch that Abingdon has at least two in their arsenal of motorized pursuit vehicles. It's good to be green they say but if I were a cop I'd just as soon have a good Schwinn.

I suppose the most impressive thing to me was to realize that every person in attendance was there because they have some core beliefs. They live by principles they've possessed for years and they let those principles guide their daily lives. They are the kind of people who, if they can't sleep at night, have a medical condition not a moral condition and they can look at themselves in a mirror when they get up and not be ashamed at what they see looking back. We all came in private vehicles and paid the gas ourselves. We didn't need to be pushed, shoved, threatened or paid off to attend by a union boss who promised to pick us up in Greyhound buses and provide a snack along the way. We made our own signs and we didn't have to ask anyone else what those signs should say. We found our own way there and we found our own way back home.

jf: Submitted by a concerned Southwest Virginia citizen.

For Those Who Think It's About Taxes ...

... or that it's a front for the Republican Party, read and learn:
The Palmetto Scoop

The message from folks in Greenville to Congressman Gresham Barrett was clear Friday evening: Voters are mad about the $700 billion bailout he voted for and the massive government stimulus package he is now supporting.

Barrett, a Republican, attempted to speak before an estimated crowd of 4,000 people at a Post Tax Day Tea Party in the Upstate only to be greeted by boos from most everyone in attendance.

Protesters screamed “go home” and blew air horns during the duration of Barrett’s five minute speech. Some even turned their backs to him.

Messages on dozens of signs and hundreds of fliers also expressed a similar contempt for “Bailout Barrett.”

The gubernatorial candidate did his best to deliver his speech, but the crowd never let up.

“I know you’re mad, I know you’re frustrated, and I hear you,” a shaken Barrett said over the crowd. “You may boo, you may turn your back on me, but I’ll never turn my back on you.”

Barrett has come under heavy fire across the state for his bailout and stimulus support, something that will seriously hamper his gubernatorial bid. Especially with so much of the anger coming from his own backyard in the Upstate. [link]
The conservative base - in Greenville and across the country - is looking for a political party that represents them. The Democratic Party leadership seems quite happy with the direction that the country is headed. The Republican Party? Too often its leadership just wants to tag along.

But as Gresham Barrett found out, there comes a reckoning.

A Quiz

What do the following people have in common?

a) Bill Ayres
b) Jeremiah Wright
c) Hugo Chavez.


a) Barack Obama's undying friendship
b) Seething Anti-American hatred
c) All of the above

Is anyone surprised by this New York Post headline?

What have you the voters brought down on this country?

- - -

Note to those not into text messaging: BFF stands for Best Friends Forever.

It Was Never About Hope Or Change

It was about getting elected.

Get over it.

About That Scurrilous Anti-Gun Ad ...

... currently being aired here in Virginia in which Republican gubernatorial contender Bob McDonnell is viciously attacked by the minions of New York City Mayor Bloomberg, Jim Geraghty reports:

Unmentioned is the fact that the killer did not get his weapons at a gun show. The so-called "gun show loophole" had nothing to do with the horrific events at Virginia Tech.

What's more, the most recent statistics suggest that criminals very rarely get their weapons from gun shows. In 2006, an FBI study of criminals who attacked law-enforcement officers found that within their sample, “None of the [attackers’] rifles, shotguns, or handguns . . . were obtained from gun shows or related activities.” In 2001, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that less than three-quarters of one percent of guns used in crimes were purchased at gun shows. (Interestingly, Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, keeps citing statistics from 1998, even in reports from 2008.)

The attack ad concludes, "Ask Bob McDonnell why he's protecting criminals instead of protecting us."

I am angry that Mike Bloomberg is using this victim's family to argue for a legislative provision that, if it had been in effect two years ago, would have had absolutely no impact on the Virginia Tech massacre. Bloomberg might as well run ads for his trans-fat ban, too.

Bloomberg currently presides over a monstrous mess called New York City. Yet he thinks he can come down here and solve our problems for us? Get your own house in order, pal. We're doing just fine without you.

So The Ice Isn't Melting?

Did you know that 90% of the Earth's total ice mass is in Antarctica?

Did you know that, despite the hype and hand wringing coming from the clueless left in this country, the ice mass in Antarctica is growing, not shrinking?

It's a fact:
Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking
By Greg Roberts, The Australian

Ice is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".

Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica.

"Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said. [link]
So. What to make of this? And why didn't I read this in the Washington Post?

Could it be because the Post knows the best way to get that massive federal (and global?) tax passed is to convince enough Washington politicians and idiotic voters that the ice caps are melting, and that the melting is being caused by carbon emissions, which are warming the planet, and that the only way to stop the warming from continuing is by levying crushing taxes on commerce, and on our way of life, ostensibly to control the production of CO2, ostensibly the cause of the warming, the end result being the elimination of a problem that doesn't exist?

Science, to their utter embarrassment, is proving their basic premise to be a lie (charitably, an error). The ice in Antarctica is not disappearing. It's growing.

Time for another computer model, fellas.