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The King of Pork - Part II

August 20, 2007


(PUBLISHERS'S NOTE: To read the first article of this two-part series, click HERE.)

I felt John Murtha, The King of Pork, looked lonely last week, so this week I included two of his fellow porkers. But although Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have both been extremely successful at shoving their way to the front of the pork trough, John Murtha still reigns supreme and undefeated. This week we will concentrate on the ways Murtha and his porkmates intimidate and blackmail fellow legislators into voting for their favorite wasteful multi-million dollar projects.

Let's start with an interesting exchange I witnessed between King Murtha and Congressman John Campbell on CSPAN. I am willing to bet a lot that this is one of the times John Murtha wished they had never allowed CSPAN to bring their cameras to Congress. (See LINK below: "Rep. John Campbell Squares Off Against Rep. John Murtha on House Floor.")

The context is a debate over the $459 Billion bill Murtha is trying to ram through Congress which contains 1,337 earmarks that will cost American taxpayers $3.07 billion (see last week's ARTICLE for more on "earmarks"). "Earmarks" are better known as "pork." Basically, they are paybacks to political cronies or ways to bring money to a politico's voters to make sure he or she is re-elected. They are usually unrelated to the bill to which they are attached, but the porkers won't vote for the necessary parts of the bill unless their payback is included.

The worst part is that most pork is for unnecessary and unwanted projects. For example, in this defense bill Murtha has an "earmark" to provide extra money for a military base that the Pentagon wants to close! They don't need or want the base, and they certainly don't need extra money for a base that is scheduled to be closed. Of course, there are many such "earmarks" in every defense bill, and Murtha's is not the only one. The Pentagon only has so much money, so they list the bases that are necessary for the national defense, and those that are outdated and no longer needed.

Then the politicians wring their hands over base closings in their districts, claiming it will affect security. In reality, they're worried that jobs in their district will be lost, causing them to lose votes. Forget about the fact that ALL Americans are paying for those jobs in that one district for that useless base. How about the fact that the very same liberals who vote against every needed piece of military hardware the Pentagon requests invariably vote against closing ANY base in their state or district. Talk about hypocrisy!

Here is a partial transcript of the debate between Campbell and Murtha. Note that Murtha is often unable to answer Campbell, because he knows a truthful answer will make him look even more greedy and inept than he already appears. (Campbell and a group of Republicans are leading a fight against "earmarks" in Washington. Although they are going after both Republican and Democrat porkers, not one Democrat has joined them, even though the Democrats have promised to "clean up" the unconstitutional and unethical "earmark" problem.)

Congressman Campbell began to question King Murtha about $2 million he earmarked for the Sherwin Williams paint supply company. Murtha became very defensive and more than a little angry. The transcript doesn't do Murtha's answers justice. Campbell was speaking in a normal, respectful tone. Murtha's answers were mostly shouted in a bullying tone.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Our staff went over every one of these earmarks very carefully. And it's not in our highest priority list, but I'm sure that the military is interested in this kind of research, because it's so important to the military.

REP. JOHN CAMPBELL (R), CALIFORNIA: If I may inquire further, Mr. Chairman, you said you're sure the military. So you're not aware if, in fact, the military has asked for this kind of technology?

(At this point there was a pregnant pause of about half a minute, in which Murtha refused to answer. Campbell continued...)

CAMPBELL: I guess the answer to that is no. What investigations have been done to determine that this technology could actually even be effective? And I'm happy to yield to the gentleman?

MURTHA: We have a $459 billion bill. We look at every one. We attend - we ask the members to vet them. Our staff vets them. We go over every single earmark. We don't apologize for them, because we think the members know as much about what goes on in the district and what needs to be done for the Defense Department as the bureaucrats in the Defense Department.

CAMPBELL: Then I'm sure if the gentleman goes over every single one that he can answer the question. What investigations, what research has been done to determine that this technology could be effective and is worth $2 million of taxpayer funds?

(Once again, Murtha refused to answer Campbell's question, but if looks could kill Campbell would have been both dead and buried.)

In summary, Murtha has set aside $2 Million for a paint company (which just happens to be in his district) for research on a product that the Pentagon has not requested and does not want or need. No studies have been done to determine if the product even has a potential to help the military. Worse, he did not put the contract out for competitive bidding.

By the way, if Sherwin Williams does develop some kind of product, they will own the patent that tax dollars have paid for. If they sell it to the military, the American taxpayer will pay for it TWICE, because we will have to buy the rights from Sherwin Williams. And you can be sure that if it is a successful project, the paint company will not sell it to America for the paltry sum of $2 Million. No, a successful product will be worth much more than that.

When Campbell asked Murtha if the project had been out for bids, Murtha replied, "What paint company do you represent?" Campbell told anchor Rich Lowry on national TV, "I was shocked at his question!" Murtha assumed that because he is so corrupt, Campbell must be also. He assumed that the only reason Campbell would question a fellow Congressman's "earmarks" would be if he wanted to grab the pork for his own district.

Campbell went on: "I tell you what, that comment told me a lot. He assumed that the reason I didn't want this money to go to Sherwin Williams Paint is because I want it to go to some paint company in my district...I told him I don't know of a paint company in my district or anywhere near me. That's not why I'm questioning this. I'm questioning this because it's $2 million that appears to me to be going to something that the Defense Department doesn't want - technology we haven't proven, that hasn't been shopped. We don't know if this is the right supplier. And in the end, even if it works, the taxpayer will have to pay for it again to buy it back from Sherwin Williams' paint."

"Earmarks" are part of the cult of spending that has corrupted Congress. Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, some of the biggest porkers in Washington, love to crow every time President Bush's poll numbers drop. But the liberal media never mentions that poll numbers of Congress are always lower than the President's, often by as much as 50%. America doesn't trust or respect Congress, and in my humble opinion it's mostly because of all the backroom wheeling and dealing that makes the pork culture possible.

I told you last week that I would share with you how a small handful of politicians control the entire Congress. It's simple. They manage to stay in office long enough that they control the committees that control the other politicians. They bribe, connive, threaten and intimidate other members with the power of the purse and their power to help or hurt the careers of others.

Murtha has taken this so far that he may now actually be censured for threatening other Members of Congress. (See LINK below, "Murtha Accused of Rules Violations.")

It all started when King Murtha threatened to kill any spending projects of a Republican who challenged him over an "earmark". This is a serious violation of House rules that could result in discipline against Murtha. The rules forbid members to block earmarks based on how a colleague votes.

Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, dared to question King Murtha over an "earmark" that Murtha sneaked into an intelligence bill. Rogers, who apparently isn't as terrified of Murtha as many of his cowardly peers, plans to insert a transcript of their exchange in the Congressional Record to document the violation. His resolution will also require a House vote to reprimand Murtha for his threats.

According to the resolution, Murtha shouted at and chastised Rogers on the House floor Thursday for offering a motion last week to challenge $23 million Murtha requested in an intelligence bill. Murtha had "earmarked" the money for a drug center in Murtha's district that is scheduled to be closed. The center had received repeated low marks from several federal review boards, and is considered a waste of taxpayer money.

"I hope you don't have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills because they are GONE, and you will not get any earmarks now and forever!" Murtha shouted at Rogers.

Rogers said, "This is not the way we do things here - and is that supposed to make me afraid of you?"

Murtha shouted, "That's the way I do it!"

In a related tirade, Murtha yelled at Republican Todd Tiahrt of Kansas on the House floor for voting in favor of Rogers's motion.

Murtha's power has corrupted any sense of morality he may have once possessed. All he cares about is power and money, and he can't seem to get enough of either to satisfy his lust.

Have you ever heard a more compelling argument for a Presidential line-item veto and Congressional term limits? The line-item veto would stop pork in its tracks, if it was used by a President with any guts. Most governors have this tool at their disposal, and are able to save billions by using it. That's why states have balanced budgets, and the national government has trillions in debt. Why shouldn't the president, whether Republican or (shudder!!) Democrat have the same tools governors have?

And what about term limits? The President can only serve two four-year terms. But Senators can serve six-year terms until they reach complete senility (many have). And Representatives can keep on serving ten or fifteen two-year terms until they can't utter a coherent sentence. A good example of this is the old fossilized former Ku Klux Klan "Exalted Cyclops" (the top officer in a Klan organization), Robert Byrd, Democrat Senator from West Virginia (see LINK below). Another is King Murtha, who has gathered so much power in his 30 years in the House that nothing less than dynamite could dislodge him.

Congress has lost its way. Our Constitution, which is based on the principles of the Word of God, lays out the principles by which these men and women should conduct the business of our nation. Unless "We, the People" vote in men and women of principle like Representative John Campbell, who care about doing the People's business more than money and power, I sincerely fear for our once-great nation.


Rep. John Campbell Squares Off Against Rep. John Murtha on House Floor

Murtha Accused of Rules Violations

Murtha Remains the King of Pork

A Senator's Shame

Media's Love Affair With Murtha Ignores His Pork-Filled Career

Murtha Nabs $150M in Pork

Murtha: Pork and Ethics Issues Surface

EDITORIAL: Pork Lives: Murtha and the Democrats Must Reform Earmarks

Inappropriate Appropriations

Defense cash focuses on lobbying

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Copyright ©2007 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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