Campaign2008

This blog features information about the political campaign nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania. it will discuss congressional races western PA, but it won't restrict comments to those jurisdictions. On many occasions, it will feature humor, but its main purpose is to "cut the legs off" political jihad. This is a site for political grown-ups of all ages.

Name:
Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, United States

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (English and American Literature). I taught for 10 years at various educational institutions (Univ. of Rochester, my alma mater, College of William and Mary, and University of Georgia, where I was also Asst. Ed. of the Georgia Review. Later, I worked as a speechwriter and "thinker" at various large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, Aetna, Merck (consultant), and Eli Lilly (consultant), among many others. I'm a full-time writer and political commentator/analyst. Favorite company: AudioTech Business Books. Favorite female: my wife, Patricia Ann Maloney. Favorite politcal candidate: Diana Lynn Irey (PA's 12th congressional district)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On the Lighter Side: Jack Murtha's Winter Coat, Alex Witt's "Overnet"

A young police recruit was getting quizzed by an instructor who asked him: "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother-in-law?"

The recruit replied immediately, "Call for back-up!"

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I heard some "new poll numbers" on CNN recently. They showed that the percentage of Americans looking favorably on the Democrats' takeover of Congress had fallen since the election by six points -- before of course the Democrats have taken over!

At that rate, by the end of 2007, the numbers favoring the Democrats' victory may be the first in history to fall below zero.

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Some people have said that it appears that I don't like Democrats. Nothing could be further from the truth, because I worship the quicksand on which they walk.


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I wonder if the Democrats' recent problems with public opinion have anything to do with their fighting corruption by placing in power people like "Prince of Pork" John Murtha, impeached former federal judge Alcee Hastings, cold cash handler Howard Jefferson, and FBI target Alan B. Mollohan.

Almost makes one yearn for the good old days of Mark Foley.


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It turns out that Silvestre Reyes (D, TX), named by Pelosi as head of the House Intelligence Committee, didn't know Al Qaeda from Al's Bar & Grill. Pay attention, Silverstre!

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Democratic congressman Howard Jefferson was the first one I've heard of that kept his bribe money in a freezer. In the case of long-time Democratic senator Herman Talmadge (son of race-baiter Gene Talmadge), he had an interesting place to hide money he'd extorted from lobbyists.

Herman had been married for decades to a woman named Betty and, eventually, the senator -- an ugly man who smoked cigars -- started looking around for the inevitable trophy wife. Betty filed for divorce, and it was not an amicable one.

As part of the proceedings, Betty indicated that Herman had a moth-eaten old winter coat in which he stashed large amounts of cash. Lo and behold, someone checked the coat, and it contained just over $15,000, stuffed in a pocket. Herman apparently used it as something of a pre-ATM cash dispenser.

When he ran for re-election, many Georgians apparently sided with the popular Betty. Herman lost to Georgia businessman Mack Mattingly, who become the state's first Republican senator since Reconstruction.

I don't know what happened to the winter coat -- or to whatever stashes Herman kept around.

I wonder if Jack Murtha has an old winter coat?

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Alex Witt of MSNBC is still at it. She's the illegally blonde newsreader who once announced that her favorite part of the news was "celebrity gossip." On another occasion, she asked a panel of experts if a certain Middle Eastern figure was in danger of becoming a "piranha." Of course, she meant pariah.

Today, she was talking about "the Internet overall." Except she called it "the Overnet interall."


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Is it just me, or does Ike Skelton (D, MO), new chair of the House Defense Committee, look like a dead-ringer for Fred Flintstone?

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We call Democrats heads of committees, like Reyes and Skelton, "chairs" not because they're something one could sit on but rather as a reflection of the personalities.

We don't say "chairpersons" because that would disciminate against people who might prefer "sofaperson" or "deskpersons."

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There's a story that the Saudi ambassador to U.S., who recently resigned and returned home, has reportedly stiffed various lobbyists and consultants to the tune of many millions of dollars.

And who says there's not an Allah in heaven?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Murtha, Haditha and Other Coming Events on Campaign 2008

This week in Pennsylvania: Two Marines from his state received the Silver Star for gallantry, both of them posthumously. One of those Marines, who threw himself on a grenade to protect his buddies, has received a nomination for the nation's highest commendation, the Medal of Honor. Yesterday, one Marine from Pennsylvania was charged with committing a crime last year in Haditha, Iraq.


In coming days, I'll be writing more about Haditha -- and Congressman Jack Murtha's role in making it nearly impossible for the Marines under suspicion to receive a fair hearing. I'll do some thorough investigation into what Congressman Murtha knew (not much, apparently), when he knew it (or made most of it up), and, especially, what Marine senior officers, if any, gave him information.

The issue here is that those officers -- if they exist -- are part of the USMC chain-of-command and could play a role in determining the innocence or guilt of the Marines. If any officers did talk to Murtha, it's essential to determine who they are and which of their superiors gave them preliminary information about the actions that took place at Haditha. Don't expect such details to come from Murtha, at least until he plunks down in a witness chair.

Marines or political officials who made early statements about Haditha almost before the investigation began risked "poisoning the well." John Murtha, with his role as chairman of the subcommittee of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has control over the spending spigot for defense. He's a strong ally of the Speaker of the House.

In short, he has tremendous power to influence defense policy. That should -- but seemingly doesn't -- impose a responsibility on him to make reasoned, informed statements on matters pertaining to defense and the military.

If any Marine is convicted of illegal actions at Haditha, I imagine his first line of defense will involve the unfortunate statements made by Congressman Murtha. Taken in whole, his comments about Haditha are factually wrong and morally despicable.

Truth in blogging: Because of the unfair treatment of the Haditha Marines mentioned above, I plan to contribute to their defense funds and urge others to do the same. "Semper Fi."

Final Reaction to Reg Henry: Reality & Illusion

This is my final comment (at least for this year) to one Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

My view of Sally [a former columnist at the Post-Gazette] was that she was being dishonest in SOME of her columns because she was implying/suggesting that she was a garden-variety liberal who believed in the Bill of Rights as essential to a decent society. I don't believe she was/is a liberal, and I saw no evidence she regarded the Bill of Rights as anything but some out-of-date prescriptions.

I thought because Sally was obviously so bright, she might eventually get beyond "see[ing] through a glass darkly." One of my old mentors at the University of Rochester, historian Eugene Genovese (along with his wife, Kitty) started out as Marxists and later jointed the Russian Orthodox Church! "Late vocations," Senator Moynihan once called them.

Something roughly similar happens at the end of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," where Kurtz exclaims "The horror! The horror!"

My sense of Reg Henry's views is this (in my own words): "Hey, Saddam killed perhaps 300,000 Shiites and Kurds, and he started two major wars, and used weapons of mass destruction, but he wasn't really any kind of threat, so George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are a couple of smucks."

I believe that Reg Henry's further view is (again in my words): "I don't give a hoot in Hades about all those Kurds, Shiites, and the gassed Iranian solders, and the WMDs he used against the Kurds -- and apparently got rid of or sent to Syria or somewhere -- because what I really want to do is to stick it to a bunch of Republicans. I want to demonstrate to my colleagues and readers my, ahem, moral and social superiority."

I realize that's harsh, Reg, but is there any evidence it isn't true, other than your vague suggestions that you really think Al Qaeda is a shabby group? Pre-WW II there were a million-plus people in England that signed the "King and Country Resolution." It basically said, "Resolved, I will not fight for King or Country." Hitler would have gone around killing millions of people without the resolution, but it certainly perked up his spirits. The signatories were not bad people; they were naive people.

I believe the Reg Henrys of the world do great damage to the country, collectively perhaps more so than Al Qaida. No, you don't fly airplanes into buildings or kill men, women, and children with car bombs, but you help undermine public confidence in leaders who are trying their level best to protect American and Americans.

I realize no one at the Post-Gazette ever challenges you on anything. In this regard, you remind me a lot of the grandmother in Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find." A few simple illusions are enough to sustain her for nearly a lifetime.

Oh, and thanks for wishing me Merry Christmas. I didn't realize that salute was now "in" at the P-G.

steve maloney
ambridge, pa

Reg Henry: No "Public's Right to Know?!"

Mr. Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette disapproves of my reprinting his response to me in an earlier column. He believes in the "public's right to know" but not insofar as it pertains to him. So, I'm removing his earlier comments in the Dec. 21 column, but I will reprint the following, which I sent to him on Dec. 22 (Friday).

I have some thoughts on the critical issue of the public's right to know.

One of your columnists (a few years ago) told me that she "would rather live in Cuba than in North Carolina," to which I said the weather was better in NC. Later, she told me she was "just kidding" (after she thought I might make that interesting revelation -- and her name -- public).

She had been singing the praises of Cuba under Castro, so I was suspicious that maybe she was not "just kidding." She seemed to believe that Cuba's universal health care (albeit provided rather selectively, which seemed oxymoronic) gave it a moral superiority to countries like the U.S., which did not have such a health care system.

She stayed away from sticky problems such as Cuba's lack of anything like freedom of speech, press, or religion. The absence of elections and the intolerance of political opposition didn't seem to disturb her.
Of course, at an earlier stage of her life, she had expressed admiration for at least one advocate of the philosophy of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), part of which philosophy was to kill policemen, kidnap people, and commit armed robberies.

This particular columnist wrote some very good columns, and she usually was an excellent reporter (always avoiding references to the joys of the Cuban dictatorship). Admittedly, I found several elements of her personality likable, and she seemed to be a good wife and mother.

Of course, much of my insight into this journalist came from personal communications. The general public was unaware of her positions on issues of interest, including Cuba and authoritarianism. For all most of her readers knew, she was a follower of traditional (and dreary) liberal principles.

My own view was that she believed dictatorship was sorta okay if it came with universal health care and lots of rhetoric about worker solidarity.

In other words, she was the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky's "Legend of the Grand Inquisitor." Give the people bread (or health care) and you don't have to give them a freedom they really don't want anyway.

Here was the question: did the public have a right to know what I knew (or strongly suspected I knew) about this woman? I think they did have such a right -- not so that they could prejudge her but rather so they could know where she REALLY stood.

Mr. Henry, maybe the most important thing I was saying to you is that the public has a right to know where you really stand. Yes, you despise Donald Rumsfeld and think his policies on fighting terrorists in Iraq were misguided.

But what exactly do you think were the right policies? What should he have done differently? Doing nothing is not usually an option, although perhaps you might disagree with me on that.

So, as Karl Marx once said, "What is to be done?"

Fighting terrorism (or even finding some high-value terrorists) is going to be a bloody mess. The Reg Henrys of the world can't abide such bloody messes. The sight of car bombs and fires generated by terrorists give them dyspepsia. They wonder if it wouldn't be possible to fight terrorism without shedding a lot of blood.

Wouldn't just expressing moral outrage at mass murder -- as we did initially in Serbia, and have done continuously about Rwanda and Darfur -- be enough? That way the mass killing could go on but no American boys and girls would die, so it would be, in a sense, endurable. That's what I call "The Kofi Annan" solution.

Is what the Reg Henrys of the world are really proposing -- remember the public's right to know? -- the old vision of the Fortress America. We will have better airport security, more vigilance at our ports, more "sharing" of (limited) information between the (deracinated) FBI and the (cautious) CIA. We will keep out some suspicious characters but not do so in a way that might injure the sensibilities of the ACLU and its supporters.

Of course, we won't have "warrantless wiretaps" or the NSA interception of communications between one or more pro-Al Qaida people. We won't have the Patriot Act "in its current form." We won't take the war to Al Qaida and its supporters, but rather we'll wait for them to break through our defenses and do another 9/11.

Then, we'll wait for Speaker Pelosi and President Hillary Clinton to express the collective outrage of the American people. We'll hear the same rhetoric we heard in the first Clinton Administration after the African embassy bombings and the Cole disaster.

Enlistments in the Marine Corp and Army may surge -- for a month or two. Perhaps we'll have a "surgical" military engagement with those who supported the attack.

Then, things will start to go badly (as happens in every military conflict, including WW II and the Civil War). At that point, Reg Henry, Dan Simpson, and Tom Waseleski will join their colleagues at the Post and the Times and start putting journalistic daisies into the guns. They may even (horror!) criticize Secretary of Defense John Murtha for his failed policies.

"And I Tiresias have foresuffered all, enacted on the same divan." (T. S. Eliot)

Steve maloney, ambridge, pa

Thursday, December 21, 2006

John Murtha: Irresponsible Comments on Haditha Lead to Charges

On December 22, 2006, I'll be writing about the charges made on Dec. 21 against several Marines who were operating in Haditha, Iraq in 2005. I believe John Murtha, the "ethically challenged" Head of the House Appropriations Committee, has through his statements made it impossible for the Marines to receive fair treatment, let alone a fair trial.

At this point, I'd like to refer to some comments made earlier this year by Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee.

"There is the possibility that the Marines did gun down innocent civilians as local Iraqis claim. But it is equally as possible that one or more people inside the house opened fire upon the Marines in an ambush after the IED went off.

"It has happened that way frequently, and that exact scenario left ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt seriously wounded, when the IED attack that wounded them was followed by small arms fire from nearby buildings. The attack was broken when coalition forces counterattacked."

"Someone who truly supports the troops, even if they do not support the war, would want this incident fully investigated to uncover the truth. They would want to know the facts. They would want to know if the Marines fired out of blind rage at the loss of their friends, and they would be equally interested in finding out if the Marines assaulted that location because someone inside fired upon them, as they claimed.

"Was it a slaughter of innocents, or were insurgents firing from within civilian homes? Were those that triggered the IED among the dead? We do not yet know, and some are already passing judgment."

The Post-Gazette's Reg Henry (Revised)

Reg Who?

"The mission was to kill people." (Comment today on CNN by the former number two leader of Al Qaeda in Indonesia outlining the group's "mission" in that country)


Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The world will little note nor long remember that fact, even though Henry is a moderately humorous individual.

The P-G is a strange place. It has some of the best journalist-reporters in the East, but it's editorialists generally look like a bunch of refugees from the old SDS of the 1960s.

The current editor has been getting rid of some of the worst offenders, including Ann McFeatters, mentioned in the previous postings. The worst of the columnists, including one Dennis Roddey, seem to appear less often, which is good.

Then, we have the old retainers, such as Reg Henry.

In today's column, Henry takes the standard liberal position that Don Rumsfeld has screwed up the Iraq War. He also criticizes President Bush and Vice-President Cheney for praising Rummy as "the finest Secret of Defense" in the nation's history.

Reg sees such a commendation, which is probably true, as unconscionable hyperbole. I speculate that very high praise is something that Reg retains for, oh, owners and editors at the Post-Gazette.

Columnist Henry believes it was unseemingly to have a commendatory send-off for Rumsfeld. He seems to think it would have been better for him to skulk off in disgrace.

(I submit that the Reg Henrys of the world -- not matter what fine gentlemen they be -- have no concept of how to react to mass murderers like those in Indonesia or Iraq. Don Rumsfeld didn't precisely know how either, but at least he tried, however imperfect his actions.

I read recently that Rummy's net worth was somewhere in the $100 million+ area. I speculate that if Reg Henry was worth, say, one-tenth that much, he wouldn't be doing some dirty job (like serving as Secretary of Defense) or writing a newspaper column. He could have stay in business and made another gazillion dollars.

A former Navy pilot, Rumsfeld served as the nation's youngest Secretary of Defense -- and later, as the oldest. He's devoted more hours of life to serving the public than Reg Henry has to sleeping. Now in 70s, Rumsfeld has paid out more in personal sacrifice and anguish than we as a nation have a right to demand.

While fighting two wars, Rumsfeld has re-modeled an army that was in no way ready to fight modern conflicts, dominated as they are by murderous, fanatical insurgents. He doesn't have the luxury we did in the days of yore, like World War II, when the draft allowed massive build-ups.

Rummy has been to Iraq 15 times -- and reportedly has visited Walter Reed Hospital with his wife dozens of times. I'm sure he has no illusions about the human cost of war.

Admittedly, he doesn't have a lot of respect for the Washington media. I remember one occasion when NBC's top defense reporter asked him if it was "sporting" (or fair) to attack Taliban forces who were in strategic retreat. He disliked reporters who hadn't taken the time to inform themselves about the nature of the War on Terrorism.

Reg, what you miss in your column is a central point: Al Qaeda (and their fellow insurgents) wants to kill Don Rumsfeld, Reg Henry, David Shribman, Tony Norman [Associate Editor of the P-G], Steve Maloney and all our friends and family members. There's nothing personal in it, just the spillover from fanaticism.

Do you believe we should do anything in response? Or are you neutral on the subject?

I look forward to future columns telling us how you would deal with this situation.

But somehow I don't think tying a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree will suffice. When President Hillary comes in and we have a 9/11 twice a year or so, Reg Henry may get to repent at leisure . . . if you aren't spending all your time ducking for cover.

Personally, I have great respect for Rumsfeld, and I believe the country has lost a great leader. I also believe that, if I owned the P-G, people like Reg Henry would soon come around to my point-of-view.

After I wrote back to Mr. Henry, he sent me the following note (in red). I think the note demonstrates the kind of intellectual depth one gets with some P-G writers:

FOLLOWING IS MY RESPONSE TO AN E-MAIL FROM HENRY, ONE HE DOESN'T WANT REPRINTED:

That may be the reason the ISG disappeared without a trace? I devoted an entire column to the Post-Gazette and another one to you. I believe you're totally uninformed about the situation in Iraq, pre-2001 and post-2001. Iraq was a haven for terrorists under Saddam, and it included Abu Nidal, one of the world's most vicious terrorists. It also included a terrorist center at Salmon Park. In the north of Iraq, Ansar Al Islam (a subsidiary of Al Qaeda) had a major terrorist center, where they were experimenting with Ricin and Sarin Gas. Obviously, Al Qaeda in Iraq has decided to take a major stand in that nation, and its current leader said 4,000 Al Qaeda have been killed there (meaning it's probably 8,000).People "like me" know these things, and people like you could find them out if you checked out Google -- or shouted across the hall to your colleague Jack Kelly. Merry Christmas,steve maloney




Murtha & The Post-Gazette: Western PA's Culture of Corruption

I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of our local newspapers, almost every day. There are many excellent writers there, including Jerome Sherman (Washington reporter), Jack Kelly (national security), Bill Toland (local politics and features), Rich Lord (local politics), Steve Massey (economics), Paula Reed Ward (local news), Bill Moushey (investigative journalism), Chico Harlan (local news), Ed Bouchette (Pittsburgh Steelers' news), Ann Rodgers (probably the best religion reporter in the nation), Ruth Ann Dailey (columnist), John Allison (formerly editor of the "Forum" OpEd section), and many others.

I mention all these people because some individuals at the P-G -- including David Shribman, the cautious and fussy editor -- regard me as someone who HATES the publication indiscriminately. I do criticize the P-G's editorial policy, because I believe it's almost totally unreflective and ultimately harmful to the region and the nation.

I've criticized some P-G journalists, now gone, who seemed to be doing little more than sucking up to the far-left Block family that owns the paper. One of them was "Washington correspondent Ann McFeatters, whom I labeled the paper's "Roseann Roseanna Dan."

Another Block favorite might be Milan Simonich, who surfaces from time to time to belabor people he regards as conservatives. In the 2004 campaign, Simonich wrote several articles about the "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" that were in line with paper's editorials excoriating the Swifties.

I accused both Simonich and editorial page editor Tom Waseleski of never actually talking to a member of the Swift Boat veterans, a large group including many Viet Nam War heroes. To my horror, they never denied my charge! What kind of newspaper doesn't talk to both sides?

I've also condemned the P-G's mindless endorsements of political candidates and judges who were later indicted and sent to jail. I've criticized the endorsement of other people -- including former Mayor Tom Murphy -- who ended up as "unindicted co-conspirators."

Overall, I've expressed my exasperation at the P-G's failure to investigate fully the culture of bribery, extortion, and vote-buying that reigns in western Pennsylvania. The newspaper has no real interest in looking into the landfill of corruption surrounding the office of one John Murtha, congressman from the 12th District of Pennsylvania.

What was Congresssman Murtha's role in enriching his brother Kit Murtha, a lobbyist. What has been Murtha's role in enriching his former staffer Paul Magliochetti, a lobbyist for various firms benefiting financially from the congressman's role in doling out defense contracts? You won't find answers by reading the Post-Gazette.

Here's how Congresspedia describes situation: "The PMA Group was founded by Paul Magliochetti, a former staffer on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee where John Murtha is the Ranking Member, and specializes in defense earmarks.

Congresspedia continues: "The PMA Group is the sixth highest campaign contributor to Murtha's congressional career giving $105,500 since 1989. Murtha has helped secure millions in earmarks for the clients of the PMA Group, which also happen to be some of his top career campaign contributors."

Gee, is this true? Short answer: yes. What is the Post-Gazette, which calls itself "one of America's great newspapers," doing about the obvious conflicts of interest? Short answer: nothing.

Magliochetti and his PMA group are directly or indirectly responsible not just for pouring $105,000 into Murtha's overflowing campaign coffers but rather well over a half-million dollars.

Diana Lynn Irey, Murtha's opponent in the 2006 congressional election, said the companies Murtha funneled money to -- and which funneled some of the money back into his campaign -- were getting a return on their investment of nearly 100 to 1! As you may recall, Murtha's campaign spending to overcome Diana totaled about $3.2 million, funding that in a relative sense overcame Hillary Clinton's campaign moneyfest.

I don't know what John Murtha, Kit Murtha, and Paul Magliochetti have on the P-G's owners that keep the newspaper so silent on this disgraceful -- and I believe, thoroughly illegal -- situation. I do know what the P-G should have on them, but apparently doesn't. In my heart of hearts, I believe many people at the paper would like to take on people like Murtha, but since he's a Democrat and hero of the left they're not allowed to do so.

For most local journalists, Paul Magliochetti, Kit Murtha, and their associates seem to be as hard to find as Osama bin Laden and his merry men. One local TV station -- KDKA -- has a full-time journalist, Jon Delano, but she's such a shill for the Dems that he might as well appear dressed in a donkey costume.

The culture of Western Pennsylvania has been one where every businessperson eventually runs into a politician with his hand out. Maybe a person like person like Murtha and his minions don't count as "news." If everybody is doing it, what's the big deal?

(My next column, posted later today or early tomorrow, will deal with P-G columnist Reg Henry.)


Truth in blogging: I contributed to SwiftBoat Veterans for Truth and supported all their efforts.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mutterings from the Mothership: A Three-Step Process in Conservative Renewal

(Revised December 21, 2006)

Read the superb www.Townhall.com essay by Paul Weyrich! Link is below.

www.townhall.com/columnists/column.aspx?UrlTitle=the_next_conservatism_47_building_the_next_conservative_movement&ns=PaulWeyrich&dt=12/16/2006&page=2
Weyrich has been active in conservative and Christian politics since the 1960s. Currently Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, he was a top aideto Senator Gordon Allott and has been a major “idea person” and political organizer for many years.


His piece deals with organizing groups to support conservative candidates and/or causes.

If you're the conservative candidate, how do you get groups to support you? You do so by pointing out to them how working together will help advance your common cause. “Scratch MY back, and I scratch THY back.”

Remember one very successful politician's answer to the key question of how you get others to support you. The simple answer is: YOU ASK THEM. (If you want to understand the art of persuasion, read Cialdini's great book, Influence: The Art of Persuasion.)

Requesting groups' help should appeal to them because it will help leverage their local and national influence. It's step one in a three-part process whose goal is influencing the making of public decisions -- and, especially, winning elections.

Yes, in political campaigns, each of us has just one vote. However, if we influence the way others vote – asking them to cast their ballots for a candidate, or driving infirm people to the polls, or participating in fund-raising efforts, or calling and reminding others that you appreciate their vote -- then we might as well be voting several times.

In one campaign, I worked with a young woman (Amanda) not old enough to vote. She called approximately 400 registered voters and urged them to vote for the candidate she supported. Technically, she didn't have a vote, but through her actions she "cast" many votes.

It’s a little bit like one very successful politician’s answer to the supposedly tough question of how do you get people to vote for you? The simple answer is: YOU ASK THEM.

An entrenched congressman like John Murtha of PA’s 12th District is NOT going to ask them on a face-to-face basis. He’s “much too busy” (or so he’d like you to think) actually to go out and request something from people he regards as The Great Unwashed. So, he sends out an unending river of brochures dealing with the all the pork he's bestowed on the district.

If you're not exactly entrenched, the pesonal act of asking for help is the key. It’s the political version of the Biblical injunction, “Ask and you shall receive.”

If you're having any trouble getting groups to come on board, then proceed by giving them ONE GOOD reason they should vote for you. First, however, find out what they want done, and if you agree with their position, they'll probably be yours forever.

As Paul Weyrich points out in his essay, requesting help is the first step. The next step is staying in touch with your newfound supporters. As he puts it:

"As your coalition of interested groups and individuals grows, you must maintain constant communication with them. They must always be receiving something new and interesting from you, including not only information but also activities in which they can join.

"Constant communication is the lifeblood of any movement, and if it is not maintained, the movement will die. Fortunately, thanks to the internet and other new technologies, it is technically much easier and much less expensive to maintain constant communication today than it was when I began in conservative politics in the 1960s.

Weyrich adds a third step: "While your new movement's leadership must always be open to communications from your troops in the field, it is a mistake to think any movement will just 'happen' on a bottom-up basis. For the most part, your troops will be asking you, 'What should we do?'

"Your leadership must be pro-active in coming up with things for them to do, things that will hold their interest while advancing your movement's cause."

In too many cases, good people don’t know exactly how to go about working together. It’s a little like the statement made about the anarchists (people who believed in no government) at the turn of the 20th century. “The anarchists have some good ideas but a terrible organization.”

Whenever you’re speaking to individuals or a group, as them to DO SOMETHING. It might be to join a movement, or write a letter to the editor, or call a talk show, or to e-mail their friends, or to send in a few of your hard-earned dollars to support a cause, or a or to vote for you candidate of your choice.

Purposeful action is essential. Yes, many people are in a kind of mild despair about the current state of the nation. However, sitting around and bemoaning the country's fate won’t change anything.

In a representative democracy, there's nothing so bad happening that people acting with resolve and discipline can’t change it. Remember one my favorite quotes (from Edmund Burke): “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

The solution to society’s problems is for YOU to do something – and then keep on doing it. If you're a leader, you must keep on leading, giving your followers positive things to do. If you're a follower, be such a good one that you'll soon be indistinguishable from the leader.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Read Paul Reed Ward Article in Dec. 19, 2006 Post-Gazette

A major "heads-up" to readers of this blog about an important article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Paula Reed Ward, a talented reporter. I'll write more about the piece later today.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06353/747213-298.stm

The headline is: "Geneva College Says Laws Violate Religious Freedom." In Ms. Ward's words, "The lawsuit against both the Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of labor stems from the Beaver Falls college's attempt to post job openings limited to Christian candidates on the state's Careerlink Web site."

Football fans will recognize Beaver Falls -- about an hour's drive West and North of Pittsburgh -- as the boyhood home of Joe Namath.

In her article, Ward quotes an imporant figure in constitutional law, Professor Robert S. Barker, of Duquesne University, a Roman Catholic institution. (Geneva College is evangelical Christian "in the reformed tradition.")

Barker says, "Government has become a force hostile to religion and religiously affiliated institutions." Strong words, but right on target.

I doubt seriously that Justices Breyer, Souter, and Stevens -- the Supreme Court's version of Larry, Curly, and Moe -- see it the way Prof. Barker does. Also, the ACLU is already doing its anti-religious huffing and puffing about the audacity of Geneva College in trying to practice Christianity.

More later in a column that will be the first of several pieces about the policies conservative candidates should be advocating as we head toward Campaign 2008.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Case of Mike Doyle: Representative Government as a Sham & Delusion?

I keep circling around issues of campaign finance reform in my pieces about Murtha, Mollohan, and various other figures. Many of my conservatives brothers and sisters claim to hate/despise/dislike John McCain for his efforts at finance reform, as manifested in McCain-Feingold.

Many libertarians (yes, Virginia, there are a few out there) dislike limitations on campaign financing because they believe, perhaps correctly, that it's a form of restriction on free speech. Many conservatives dislike finance reform because they believe -- incorrectly -- in the myth of the "rich Republicans" who will bail out GOP candidates.

In many races for the House or the Senate Democrats far outspend their Republican opponents.

The current system mainly serves to entrench politicians, some of whom would serve the country better if they were spending eternity in a trench six feet deep.

Some readers have been shocked by the fact that John Murtha spent well over $3,000,000 in his campaign against Diana Lynn Irey. He out-spent her by much more than three-to-one.

If Diana had had $1.854 million rather than $854,000 would she have won. Almost certainly, she would have because she could have done the saturation TV advertising necessary to defeat a powerful incumbent.

But she didn't have the big bucks.

So, here was the campaign: he was corrupt, and she was honest; he was cynical, and she was idealistic; he was a captive of the Beltway, and she was a true daughter of Pennsylvania; he was the same old political stench, and she was a breath of fresh air.

And, in a variation on an old W. F. Buckley line, "he was tall, and she was short; he was fat, and she was thin."

And he won. He buried her in his huge pile of money.

In the current system, where businesses and unions like give money to incumbents, particularly those on powerful committees, the incumbents win. 2006 was not a normal year, obviously, but more than 90% of incumbents still won. Nationwide, not a single Democrat incumbent lost -- not the one (Alcee Hastings) impeached as a federal judge, not the one (Howard Jefferson) with $90,000 in his freezer, not the one (Murtha) who traded his votes to the highest bidder.

Even in races where the incumbents have no money and no hope of getting more than a few votes, the incumbents are flush with cash.

Take Democrat Mike Doyle, an amiable dolt from PA's 14th District who, in 2004, retained his congressional seat in a race against . . . nobody. With no opponent, Doyle collared a Saddam-like 100% of the vote.

Mikes's a big force on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, so apparently PACs ($398,000 in 2004) and individuals ($271,000 in 2004) just love to send him money, race or no race.

In his 2004 "campaign," Doyle rasied more than $670,000. On his campaign, he spent almost $746,000 -- not much less than Diana L. Irey expended in a real race against a real person, Jack Murtha. Doyle ended up 2004 with a big chunk of cash left over.

How do you spend three-quarters of a million when you have nobody to spend it against? Mike's not telling.

How did Mike do in 2006? This time he had opposition, someone named Titus North, representing the ever-popular "Green" Party.

No Democrat challenged Doyle in the primary, and in the general election he had no Republican opposition. The last time Doyle faced a Republican was 2000, and that gentleman got only 31% of the vote.

At one point in 2006, Doyle indicated that he liked it better when he had "competition," such as North.

Some competition. North's declared contributions for the race totaled an impressive zero dollars and zero cents. Mike Doyle's campaign raised more $900,000+, spent $800,000+, and kept around a quarter-million for some future electoral "rainy day."

To Titus North's everlasting credit, he chalked up 10% of the vote. If he tries again, we can almost guarantee he'll get 11%.

This kind of thing goes on all over the country. Although Doyle is Caucasian, his heavy funding and lack of opposition exemplifies the situation with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, almost all of whom waltz their way through one election after another.

In the next election (2008), there will be around 210 Democrats who have safe seats in the House. It takes 218 to control that chamber of Congress, so Republicans don't have a great chance of regaining the House.

Most Americans don't realize this is the situation. They believe they're going out to vote for candidates who are in contested races.

I don't know how to reform campaign finance. What I do know is that if such reform doesn't take place, then our "representative government" is at least a sham, if not a delusion.

Ruth Ann Dailey: Worth Reading

Around the country there are many conservative columnists and editorialists doing great work. They aren't exactly "wasting their sweetness on the desert air," but they're not very well known.

One of these people is Ruth Ann Dailey, who has a once-a-week column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Back in the 1980s, she was a radio talk show host. Because of her teenage-girl voice (modified by age and effort?), she called herself "Pittsburgh's Barbie." She's put that phase behind her and has become one of Western Pennsylvania's most compelling conservative voices.

For years, she was married to WTAE news anchor, Scott Baker, recently dismissed from that station. For sometime, he's been married to a former Miss America contestant. 'Nough said.

Happily, Ms. Dailey is going on with her life.

An important step in her career, she once said, was the publication of her first national article in The National Review. My ears perked up because my first national article appeared in 1974 -- before Dailey's time -- in The National Review.

For years, she's been a fixture on local public television on Friday nights in the debate section of WQED's "OnQ." She regularly crosses swords with one Chris Moore, a Vietnam veteran who despises the Iraq War, President Bush, and conservatism in every form. He presumably also despises Ms. Dailey.

When people disagree with said Chris Moore vigorously, he occasionally goes ballistic. Once on WQED, Fred Honsberger, local conservative talk show fixture, criticized a point Moore had made. The response was for Moore -- on live TV -- to begin shouting uncontrollably and waving his arms at Honsberger.

Reportedly, the program's producer threatened (through the ever-present ear pieces) to pull the plug on the show if Moore didn't shut up. She feared "OnQ" might be turning into "The Jerry Springer Show."

Ms. Dailey's rational, eloquent approach tends to disarm Moore and other leftist and anti-American guests.

Her most recent column in the Post-Gazette reviews several books that will interest conservatives. One of the books is about the ever-popular topic of reconciling science and religious belief.

As Dailey says, "Joy suffuses a book mostly about science called The Language of God. Its author, Francis S. Collins, is the longtime head of the Human Genome Project.

"The book's subtitle, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, is a bit misleading, because what Dr. Collins mostly does is explain to monotheists of all persuasions why the incontrovertible facts of evolution do not pose a threat to their religious faith or to their belief in a 'Creator God.'"

The other book she mentions is about one of my own favorite subjects, the demonstrated compassion of (most) conservatives. "Who Really Cares is a readable analysis of giving and volunteerism in America. Public policy scholar and economist Arthur Brooks skewers the notion that support for government spending programs is evidence of a charitable spirit . . . [He] demonstrates that the conservatives who oppose such government policies give away markedly more of their money and resources than liberals do, at every income level.

She concludes, "Dr. Brooks' research destroys the false stereotype of the heartless conservative."

As you can see, Dailey writes with clarity and force. She's someone conservatives around the country need to know better. (The following is the link to her column.)

A gift of books, but you'll have to buy them

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Run Diana, Run

I'd like to thank RedRover for putting my Murtha/Mollohan column on the blog at FreeRepublic. In less than a day, it's drawn many comments, including several inquiring what Diana Irey plans for the future.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1754948/posts

I'll be talking to Diana after the New Year, and I'll ask her what she plans to do. I'll clear the column with her first before posting, so that I get it exactly right.

What do I think of Diana? She's one of the impressive human beings I've ever met. She's a dedicated wife and mother, a fine elected official (Washington County, PA County Commissioner), a thoroughly honest person, and a complete supporter of American soldiers.

To me, she adheres extremely well to the Two Great Commandments, to love God and to love her neighbors. I told her once she reminded me of a modern version of Joan of Arc, called by God to protect and serve her country. Joan of Arc's motto was "For God and for France," and Diana's could be "For God and for America."

Do I think Diana will run again? I don't know, but I hope so.

Do I think she could win in 2008? Absolutely.

She climbed more than two-thirds of the way up a very high mountain in 2006, and -- if she's willing -- she can reach the summit.

I've cited to her and others the example of Newt Gingrich, whom I knew and supported when I was in Georgia. In 1972, Newt talked to me and several other political types in Atlanta. He was interested in running for federal office.

In 1974, Newt ran against an "old style" Georgia Democrat named John Flynt, a man who'd never had any significant opposition during his many years in Congress. To the amazement of most people, Newt got 48% of the vote.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter of Georgia headed the national ticket and brought out the "yellow dawg Democrats." Newt got significantly more votes than he had in 1974, but lost again to Flynt by a 52-48 margin.

In 1978, Newt declared again -- and Flynt retired from office rather than face certain defeat. Newt ran against Democrat State Senator Virginia Sheppard and won handily.

Most of the rest of Newt's story you know.

If there is a next campaign by Diana, John Murtha MAY retire rather than face defeat, which I assure you he would experience.

But what would he do if he retired? The man has no life aside from deal-making and influence-peddling. If he wasn't paying off family members, former staffers, and various campaign "contributors," his phone would never ring.

Murtha's 149-86 defeat in his effort to become Democratic majority leader is significant, especially given his backing from Pelosi. It shows that the people who know Murtha best opposed him in spite of the speaker-designate's support for her buddy "Jack." I'm sure he'll spend a lot of time enacting political vengeance on the people who voted against him. After the defeat, he looked like one very angry man.

If Diana became elected a congresswoman, or a Senator, or even President, the country would be lucky to have her. She's a bright person who's able to attract other good people to work for her. She's a charismatic speaker (see the www.Vets4Irey.com segment) who can enlighten and inspire an audience. She would bring a freshness and honesty to Washington, DC that the place assuredly needs.

I see Diana as something of a female version of John Boehner, who will be the minority leader in the new congress. Boehner has never taken funds earmarked to a special project in his district.

Earmarks are a major source of the cynicism and over-spending in Congress. Murtha is synonymous with them, a characteristic that has earned him the title of "The Prince of Pork."

The problem of course is that Congressman Jack is "bringing home the bacon" while Al Qaeda, as we saw on 9/11, is bringing the bombs to our homeland. In his district, Murtha is known as something of a "moderate," or even a "moderate-conservative," but on national security he is predictable vote for his party's left wing fantasies.

He doesn't like Al Qaeda, but he doesn't have a clue what to do about it. In all his speeches, he cites polls that supposedly support his "do-nothing" stance. At one point (on "Meet the Press"), he suggested re-deploying 140,000 American troops from Iraq to Okinawa, a mere 4900 miles from the Middle East!

I don't believe Al Qaeda has any known followers in Okinawa. I do know the Okinawans think we already have too many troops there.

Many, many veterans supported Diana in 2006 -- and God willing, more will do in 2008. They did so because she offered them in a time when the MSM offers only a steady stream of bad news and images of despair.

She knows that if we lose the war in Iraq, it will be a terrible setback in the War on Terror. As General Abizaid testified to Congress: if we "redeply" precipitously from Iraq, the enemy -- an implacable, murderous one -- will follow us.

To beat Murtha, Diana does not have to outspend him, although her having enough money will be important. She does have to outsmart him, which she's eminently capable of doing. She will need a lot of volunteers, writing e-mails, making phone calls, and knocking on doors.

I'd like to end with a personal appeal. If you want to encourage Diana to run and desire to support her efforts, please send me your e-mail address, and I'll pass it on to her. You can send it to TalkTop65@aol.com.

The America we know and love doesn't sustain itself by happenstance. It requires the efforts of all of us.

With your assistance, this charismatic young woman can help begin to drain the political swamp in DC and offer hope to millions of Americans. Thanks.

Alan B. Mollohan and the Democrats' Ethical Cesspool

I sent the following to "Redrover," who gave me a nice compliment re: my comments on Murtha and friends: "Hi RedRover: Thanks for the compliment. I'll be writing more about Murtha and his efforts to operate in secret. The most interesting question about Murtha is the precise nature of his payoffs to political supporters. I underestimated his campaign spending for 2006, partly because he had "late money" (post Oct. 18) coming in and going out. For a congressman in one district, his spending in 2006 eclipsed that of "Moneybags Hillary."

Two generations ago, Huey Long, Louisiana's "Kingfish" and governor, was speaking to a crowd of his supporters, known as the "wool hats." The New Orleans Times-Picayune had accused him of corruption, and the Kingfish wanted to respond. He said, "My brethren, they say I stole! Well, the truth is that I DID steal. But my brethren, I stole for YOU." He was re-elected in a landslide.

One of the problems an honest candidate in Pennsylvania -- a person like Diana Lynn Irey Melissa Hart -- faces is that some voters in the Commonwealth might as well be wearing wool hats. A Congressman John Murtha or a State Senator Frank Gigliotti essentially steals from the taxpayers, and the voters -- at least a segment of them -- don't care.

Our sister state West Virginia is almost as bad. To paraphrase a WVU political science professor, some voters hear chapter and verse about the misdeeds of a Congressman Alan B. Mollohan, and their response is "whatever." They expect a congressman to be something of a thief, and as long as he doesn't send nasty e-mails to minors -- or perhaps molest the local Sunday school teacher -- they're willing to re-elect him.

How bad is Mollohan? Let me count the ways.

The Center for Responsive Politics' Capitol Eye Report says the following about the West Virginian: "Mollohan has been criticized for grossly under-representing his assets and earnings on personal financial disclosures from 1996 to 2004; for steering taxpayer money towards non-profit organizations that he helped create, then accepting contributions from their employees and board members; and, finally, for purchasing a farm in partnership with the head of a defense firm. The company won a government contract that Mollohan funded through a 2005 spending bill [e.g., "earmark"].

For the congressman, the consequences were almost humorous. Capitol Eye continues, "These allegations forced Mollohan to step down from his post as the senior Democrat on . . . the House Ethics Committee."

See: www.capitaleye.org/hotraces.asp?txtState=WV&cycle=2006#WV01

Should we laugh or cry? Senior Democrat on the House ETHICS Committee? Who replaced him? Jack Murtha? Howard Jefferson? Ken Lay?

Mollohan has been in Congress since 1982. Generally, he runs either unopposed or with token opposition. The district is so Democratic that it probably would elect Mark Foley if he came disguised in a donkey suit. .

In 2006, Mollohan did face a candidate of some substance (although not a great deal of substance) named Chris Wakim, a state legislator. To beat a Mollohan, a challenger has to go toe-to-toe with him in terms of fundraising, and that didn't happen.

Mollohan spent nearly $1.6 million and Wakim much less than half that amount. Mollahan won by nearly 45,000 votes in an election with sparse turnout, the norm for West Virginia. Why should people vote in elections that are basically charades?

Question: Why did Mollohan have to spend so much money in an election that was never in doubt? Another question: What did he spend it on? A third question: Did he in fact engage in something that the cynics among us might regard as "vote buying?"

If a politician in West Virginia or Western Pennsylvania is corrupt but many people don't care, is it really worthy of note? Mr. Mollohan, along with his partner in political chicanery, Jack Murtha, remains on the Appropriations Committee, doling out billions to people who express their gratitude with lavish contributions.

Jack Murtha. In my last column, I mentioned a big number ($2 million-plus) for his 2006 campaign spending, but I was relying on October numbers. The final number is much larger.

Murtha's 2006 spending against Diana Irey was $3,158,873. He was left with cash on hand of $415,000, plus change, perhaps the better to ensure his re-election next time. (I do believe this will be his last term in Congress, but I'll leave that for another column.)

Murtha received contributions from Political Action Committees, all of whom apparently benefited from his earmarks or othe legislative actions, of $793,000-plus. His contributions from individuals, most of them apparently associated with companies associated with his PAC contributors, of $1,870,000.

On a relative level, Murtha's campaign spending exceeded that of Senator Hillary Clinton in New York. Again on a relative level, it exceed the COMBINED spending of senatorial candidates Allen and Webb in Virginia. Murtha spent more than $26 per vote (120,000 votes), more than double what Diana Irey spent per vote (78,000 votes)

Diana, an especially attractive and articulate candidate, raised $854,000, an amazing amount for a first-time candidate challenging an extremely powerful and vindictive incumbent. Of her campaign funds, only $38,600 came from PACS and nearly $790,000 from individuals -- mainly in Pennsylvania, but also across the country and around the world, including soldiers in Iraq.

In retrospect, it appears Diana -- whom I cherish as a friend -- would have need to raise at least $2 million to come close to beating Murtha. She ended up getting four-out-of-10 votes cast -- a major comedown for a Murtha used to getting 100% of the vote. But she needed five-out-of-10, plus one.

In congressional races, incumbents nearly always win, 95%-plus in a normal election year. What we have with the current system is the appearance of democracy rather than the reality.

Incumbents who are honest win. Incumbents who are dishonest win. Incumbents who are morally neutral win.

In most cases, the people who don't win are the challengers -- like Diana -- who could make great contributions to their countries. They don't win because they don't have "earmarks" (taxpayers' money) to hand out to people who in return will dole out big campaign contributions.

America is not going to solve its problems in a Congress dominated by people by Mollohan and Murtha. In fact, they ARE the problem.

How we solve said problem will be a continuing subject in this blog.


P.S. Political Moneyline had an interesting piece last week on Alan B. Molohan. "12/7/2006 Rep. Alan Mollohan reported paying $70,112 in legal fees to Kellogg, Huber, Hansen Todd, Evan and Gigel." Congressman Mollohan will be paying a lot more to the good folks at Kellogg, Huber in the days ahead. Should it be "Gigel" or "Giggle?"



Saturday, December 16, 2006

You Won't Hear This in Civics Class

"Bo, you paid the wrong [African-American]." Since the comment was made in GA in the 1960s, the term used wasn't African-American. It was made by "Footz" Quinn, head of the Republican Party in Augusta to "Bo" Callaway, who was running for Governor against Lester Maddox and had paid a man in mostly Black Hancock County who "guaranteed" the vote in that area. Hancock's vote went mostly to Maddox, the segregationist, and Footz made his statement as the returns came in. I knew both men.

The following is an e-mail I wrote to superstar writer Mary Grabar (in Georgia, but not acquainted with either "Footz" or "Bo"), who wrote asking me questions about George Allen and Diana Lynn Irey.


I'm writing something on Nancy Pelosi's "Culture of Corruption" this weekend. George Allen's use of the word "macaca" (meaning "monkey" in some language I don't know) is a non-story that lasted for four months and probably cost him the election.

It's a wonder they didn't tape Allen taking a leak. Also, the Wash Post and others belabored him over the fact that his mother (a long-time Christian) was "born Jewish." I think Allen discovered that rather late in his 20's or 30's, and what the h--l difference does it make? What the press was doing was trying to undercut Allen's standing among evangelical Christians.

Newspapers like the Post, the Times, and my own Post-Gazette act almost entirely as cheering sections for the Murthas of the world. They all champion the cause of "diversity," as long as it's not intellectual or political diversity. If a Black man (Clarence Thomas) or a Black woman (Janice R. Brown, formerly of the California Supreme Court) is a conservative, the MSM cuts them into little pieces.

In Maryland, Michael Steele, a wonderful Republican Black man won a significant majority of the white vote (roughly 60-40), but lost the Black vote 78-22 (or about that) and so lost the election. I don't have exact figures on Steele but the ones I'm giving are fairly close.

The notion that "America" (by that, they mean white Americans) won't vote for a Black candidate is pure B-S. It looks as if Lynn Swann (a Black man) split the white vote in PA but got blown away by Blacks in Philly and Pittsburgh who vote as a bloc.

I'm going to write more about Diana Irey's campaign over the next year or so. She got four votes out of 10, and she needed five out of 10 to win. When someone has been in office as long as Murtha, many voters tend to act like Pavlov's dog.

Murtha "spent" more than THREE MILLION on his campaign, while Diana spent $850,000. Most of Murtha's money went as hefty payments to people running around buying votes for him.

He condemned Diana for having "outsiders" come into the district, but he got a much greater percentage of his money from out-of-state than Diana did. He got more from VA-MD-DC (lobbyists and defense contractors) than he did from PA.

If you will look at opensecrets.org, you'll find that many Democrats basically unopposed (Steny Hoyer, Mike Doyle in PA, Jack Murtha in most years, and most of the inner-city Black candidates) spend gazillions on their "campaign." Hoyer spent a lot of money, while his "Green" party opponent basically bought himself a cup of coffee. Same with Mike Doyle in Pittsburgh.

Basically, the money in such races goes out as payoffs to campaign "workers' (who do little or no work) and various companies that have scratched the candidate's back for many years.

In Black areas (and perhaps a few white areas), there's something candidates give out called "walking around money." Basically, this is a payment for votes -- say, $10,000 for the "worker," who distributes half of it to people who vote the right way and keeps the other half (as a "consultant").

Some of the unions that gave lots of money to Murtha get dues from illegal aliens, but hey, money is money, right?

No union member (other than the head of the union and a crony or two) gets to designate where the organization's PAC money goes. If they complain, they suddenly find out there's "no work available."

Murtha's key Congressional buddy on the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Alan B. Mollohan from WV, is now under heavy investigation by the FBI. Apparently, his net worth grew in a little more than a decade by as much as $24 million (from a few hundred thousand).


Oh, by the way, he'll apparently head the subcommittee with authority over funding for the Justice Department (including of course the FBI). Mollohan follows Murtha's lead by designating "earmarks" to certain companies in WV and they reward him with big campaign contributions.

My friend, BT, tells me, "Hey Steve, that's the way the system works." Silly me: I thought bribery and extortion, which is what this is, were illegal. Giving taxpayers' money to people and then getting back a chunk of it as a "contribution" is not what the Founders had in mind.

So much for Nancy Pelosi and ethics reform. If Mollohan is led off in leg irons, as he so richly deserves, perhaps Nancy can replace him with Howard Jefferson, the expert on cold cash.

Mary, I'm going to make this letter part of Campaign 2008. I'll follow with some "boring" (but not really) statistics about massive "campaign spending" from people who had so little opposition they could have conducted their campaigns from Fiji.

Keep the faith, Mary.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Senator Tim Johnson: Good Man, Wrong Party

I'll be writing tomorrow (if the crick don't rise) on Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota. I realize that right now he's fighting for his life in George Washington University Hospital -- I spent two days there myself, and I can assure him the food is of course awful and the care is very good.

Here's the way one news outlet described Senator Johnson's illness: "Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has been diagnosed with a congenital blood disorder known as arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, and remains in critical condition following emergency surgery last night. "

We don't know much more right now (the next night).

I may be one of the world's most ferocious Republicans, but obviously I wish Senator Johnson well. He has a fine wife (Barbara, a social worker and former college professor), and three children, one of them stationed stateside with the U.S. military.

He votes his S.D. constituency, which is one reason I like him -- and why people like Barbara Boxer and Dick Durbin secretly despise him. I'm sure they love his vote when it comes to determining who leads the Senate.

If you'd like to know more about who Johnson is, well, good luck. Being from South Dakota and not (thank goodness) being Tom Daschle, he doesn't have a high profile. In fact, he hardly qualifies for a low profile.

If you want to know his voting record, well, you'll have to wait for Friday. Hint: he is a true moderate apparently -- not a "Specter moderate" (liberal) or "Chaffee moderate (extreme liberal), but a real middle-of-the-roader.

Tonight on MSNBC, Mark Green, the Naderite n'eer-do-well from New York, speculated that the Republican governor -- if Senator Johnson doesn't survive -- might do a "profile in courage" and select a Democrat.

Not likely. The Republican Governor of S.D., Mike Rounds, is a hard-right conservative, pro-life and anti most things that have occurred since the New Deal.

By the way, guess who's the mostly likely opponent for Johnson if he can run for re-election in 2008? It's one Mike Rounds, who would be the favorite to defeat Johnson, who won by a handful of vote in 2002.

I do hope that Tim Johnson resigns his position (soon) as U.S. Senator and goes home to a fine state and a great family. That won't happen, but it's nice to imagine.

In the meantime, he certainly has the Maloney family's prayers and best wishes.

Secret tidbit: he voted "yes" on the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advice to Pres. Bush: "None Dare Call it Murder"

My mother, Ruth Grace Wagner Maloney, died in 1991. She would have turned 89 years old today, December 13, 2006. She was an artist, a teacher, a thinker, and a woman well ahead of her time. She believed strongly in the power of ideas and had a great influence on me. When I think of her today, I also think of John Donne's eulogy for a friend, where he said, "I shall see her glorified." As a believer, I hope and expect to see many people, including my mom, glorified.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." (William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming")

"The horror, the horror." (from Conrad's Heart of Darkness)

Today, President Bush talked at the Pentagon about certain realities in Iraq. One point he noted was the nature of the enemy and their effect on Iraqi society, saying: “Scores of innocent men, women, and children are being killed by brutal murderers.”

In the past, one big problem with President Bush's rhetoric about the war was its reliance on abstractions. One famous phrase was to "stay the course," something that has about as much emotional force as "C'est la vie."

"Cut and run" is another problem usage. President Johnson used it often in talking about Viet Nam, and it didn't seem to help him much more than it has Bush.

A slogan that's on the ascendancy is one contained in the Baker-Hamilton Report. It notes the goal in Iraq should be to have an Iraq that can "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself."

I've used that myself in this Blog. President Bush is using it a lot, and, if the past truly is prologue, he'll be over-using it in the future.

Abstractions don't have a lot of force. They don't move people. They just don't register with most Americans. They aren't the kind of things we will fight and die for.

However, in his Pentagon remarks today President Bush seemed to be saying something that would get people's attention. Consider that remark about “Scores of innocent men, women, and children are being bruttaly killed by ruthless murderers.”

The War in Iraq is about murder. It is about the slaughter of the innocent -- children on their way home from schools, men looking for work in order to feed their families, women shopping for food at a market, worshippers praying at a mosque, and police trying to direct traffice.

Why did the Nazis kill millions of Jews, or Stalin kill million of kulaks? Perhaps because it reflected the nature of who Hitler, Stalin, and their followers were. As one bloodthirsty maniac proclaimed, "Kill for the love of killing!"

In essence, the war is NOT about insurgents, or about sectarians, or about the distinctions between the various militias. Soldiers won't give their lives for Western civilization or even "our way of life." They will give them for mom, dad, and Sister Sue (or perhaps Brother Abdullah).

Again, the situation we face is about murder, cold-blooded, indiscriminate destruction of human beings. It's about taking the lives of people who have done nothing wrong.

Frankly, what the President should do is rub people's nose in the blood unleashed by Al Qaeda and its friends. Perhaps the smell of that blood would awaken some war opponents from their torpor and fecklessness. It can't hurt to try.

Al Qaeda is all about such murder, as we all discovered on 9/11. The people who died at the World Trade Center and in Pennsylvania were not the abstract "infidels" bin Laden despises. They were flesh-and-blood secretaries, maintenance workers, waiters at restaurants, businessmen and businesswomen, fire and police personnel. Dozens of them were Muslims.

The question for us, as for most Iraqis, isn't how we can avoiid or hide from such people. Rather, it's how we can stop them. Frankly, we need to determine how we can kill or capture and incarcerate them before they kill us, which they clearly intend to do.

Throughout history, mass murderers have a purpose. They kill as many people as they need to in order to frighten other into submission.

In the 1930s in Spain, there was a leader of the Spanish Foreign Legion named Millan Asray. His motto was "Viva la muerte," or "Long live death!" That makes about as much sense as one of bin Laden's homicidal and ignorant proclamations.

What we're dealing with in Iraq is the presence of many serial killers. If we have a serial killer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Gainesville, Florida, we tell civilians to take necessary precautions.

However, we don't tell the police -- our domestic version of the military -- to "redeploy" to Philadelphia or Miami. We tell them to intensify their efforts to stop the murderer, to catch him or kill him.

We need to take the same philosophy when it comes to fighting terror. If we flee, as General Abizaid indicated, "they will follow us," and if we don't defend ourselves, they will kill us.

In short, we -- and President Bush -- need to speak clearly and concretely about the murderers we face. Unlike a famous American criminal, they don't post signs saying, "Stop me before I kill more."

In the future, President Bush's speeches should be models of simplicity, focusing precisely what bin Laden and others like him are up to: murdering innocent people, killing for the love of killing.


(My next column will deal with recent comments by Senator Gordon Smith, a Republican who says he can no longer support the war because of the continuing deaths of American servicemen and servicewomen. I like Senator Smith, but in this case I think he's defaulting on his key responsibilities as a Senator: always to face up to reality, always to take stands that don't endanger American soldiers, and always to support positions that defend the security of the USA.)





Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jason Altmire: Undone by Michael Barone

In reading the wonderful Townhall.com, I came upon the equally wonderful Michael Barone, writing about Medicare Plan D. As readers of this blog -- all 29 of you currently -- I've been attacking Jason Altmire and his fellow Democrats who don't understand Plan D and thus keep misrepresenting it.

In his summary, Barone says: "Sunday's Washington Post had an excellent front-page story on Medicare Part D, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Part D, which took effect at the beginning of this year, seems to have been a success."

Barone continues, "Some 22.5 million seniors have enrolled, and the cost–$26 billion–has turned out to be lower than projected. And 'Medicare has received new bids indicating that its average per-person subsidy could drop by 15 percent in 2007, to $79.90 a month.' Polls indicate that about 80 percent of enrollees are satisfied with the program."

What does Plan D critic Jason Altmire think about that? In fact, what does Jason Altmire think about anything other than his tee-time this Saturday?

I've detailed how my wife and I are saving thousands of dollars each year in our use of Plan D. The average individual senior involved in the progam is saving more than $1,000 annually -- or $2,000 for a couple.

Increasingly, Democratic politics -- on health care, on Iraq, on taxation, on economic development -- comes to resemble a virtual reality that bears no relation to the world most of us inhabit. Most of the "problems" Democrats rail about are solving themselves with a good dose of private enterprise, coupled with well-targeted governmental involvement.

To read all of Barone's excellent article, go to: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneblog/archives/061127/medicare_part_d.htm

Barone is co-editor of the irreplacable Almanac of American Politics and a senior editor at U.S. News.

More later . . .

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nancy Pelosi's Congress: A Landfill of Corruption

Bulletin: Howard Jefferson, the Louisiana Democratic congressman who gave new meaning to the phrase "cold cash" has been re-elected to the House of Representatives by the good and reflective people of his district. As you recall, Jefferson's career was mildly disrupted when he was found to have $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer. Two of the congressman's closest aides, including a member of his staff, have been sent to prison for their involvement in the scandal. Jefferson won with a mere 79% of the vote. One of those who endorsed him was the irrepressible Ray Nagin, mayor New Orleans.

'Nother Bulletin: Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democratic congressman and former mayor of Cleveland, one of the most corrupt cities since Sodom and Gomorrah threw in the towel, has announced he is running once again for President of these United States. Don't be surprised if his slogan is something like: "America: The Focus of Evil in the Modern World."

Bulletin: Barack Obama's middle name is "Hussein," which may be helpful with the Muslim vote. There's no truth to the rumor that his original first name began with an S.

Of course, Alcee Hastings, impeached and convicted for bribery as a federal judge in 1989, is still stewing over Nancy Pelosi's choosing the intellectually challenged Silvestre Reyes as head of the House Intelligence Committee. Morally challenged or intellectually challenged -- how is Nancy to choose?

UPDATE ON SILVERSTRE REYES: A writer for Congressional Quarterly recently asked Silverstre Reyes whether Al Qaeda was primarily a Sunni or a Shiite organization. Reyes guessed wrongly and said it was mainly Shiite. Also, he didn't seem to know exactly what Hezbollah, now trying to bring down the elected government of Lebanon, was.

It makes you wonder exactly what Reyes reads in his off-hours, or even what hears when people testify to the Intelligence Committee about the nature of groups like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

There should be no place in Congress for a dimwit like Silvestre Reyes, but here he is heading a vital congressional committee. The country should benefit greatly from his consultations with fellow committee member Alcee Hastings.



John Murtha? Well, his lobbyist brother and lobbyist former staff members have continued to grow rapidly in net worth, and they and their clients continue to fill Murtha's campaign coffers. When he's led off some glorious day in leg irons, he can't say I didn't warn him.

We heard a lot in the last election (years ago? decades?) about "The Culture of Corruption." Well, we've seen that culture, and it turns out to be Nancy and her friends.

God save the Republic.