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.

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)

Friday, February 16, 2007

John Murtha: The Most Ex of Ex-Marines

I sent copies of this piece to Jerome Sherman, a national politics writer for the Post-Gazette and Bill Toland, who writes on western PA issues for the same paper. Generally, Jerome does a good job, although I sometimes feel as if he's constrained by the need to have "good relations" (i.e., not to ask embarrassing questions) with federal officials, especially John Murtha (PA 12th District) and Jason Altmire (PA 4th District). Murtha is an "expert" on military matters who seems to rely mainly on public opinion polls to make military judgments. Altmire is an "expert on health care" (self-described) who is clueless about the real reforms needed in health care.

Murtha has used his position as head of the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations to enrich a relative (Kit Murtha), various former associates (especially Paul Magliocchetti), and big contributors to his campaign (UPMC and others). Bill Toland doesn't see a whole lot wrong with that, viewing it basically as politics as usual. It is, in fact, against the law to trade votes for money, a point the P-G historically had found difficult to grasp. Following is a copy of the note I wrote to Jerome Sherman.

Hi Jerome:

I know Bill Toland thinks that asking a journalist questions or disagreeing with him is bad form, but you -- unlike Bill -- seem open to constructive criticism. Bill apparently had an extensive interview with Murtha prior to the election, and if he threw him anything but softballs, I must have missed it. Kissy-face is NOT serious journalism, no matter how mellifluous the prose. Shame, because he "couda been a contenduh."

John Murtha: He and his mistress' voice (Ms. Pelosi's) say they "support the troops" but oppose the troops' mission. The (Democratic) governor of Wyoming said last fall that was "a distinction without a difference." I don't understand what kind of distinction Murtha is making, but it seems to make no sense, and I wish someone would ask him.

If the U.S. leaves Iraq in a hurry, the country will be dominated by terrorists: Sunni and Shia (backed by Iran, a state supporter of terrorism). Does Cong. Murtha agree with that almost universally accepted view?

Also, what strategic and tactical steps does John Murtha think the U.S. should take in the war against terrorism (Al Qadea, Hezbollah, and assorted hangers-on)?

I follow Murtha closely, and I have no idea what his response, if any, would be. In terms of his desire to "protect" American soldiers, how would threatening to cut off funds do that? If the generals in charge don't have the capacity to increase troops and to redeploy them as necessary, how in hell does that "protect" them?

Does John Murtha, the most ex- of ex-Marines, think, all things considered, it would be better if the terrorists won? If he believes this war is unwinnable, does he believe the general War on Terrorism is unwinnable?

In regard to Murtha and Pelosi: recently, Murtha threatened (the right word) the Pentagon for "leaking" information about Pelosi's desire for a plane the size of Air Force II. Ms. Pelosi denied -- falsely, I believe -- that she wanted such a plane. Apparently, Congressman Murtha, ex-Marine, made the inquiry to the Pentagon. If not, what exactly was the purpose of the threat?

John Murtha doesn't answer my phone calls -- well, I'm not in his district nor do I dole out campaign funds to him -- so I can't get answers to what I think are very good questions.

I will come clean: I don't believe John Murtha, ex-Marine, gives a hoot in hell about American soldiers or the War on Terrorism. Overall, he reminds me of John Adams' comments about the governmental seat-warmers of an earlier day: "Few die, none retire."

steve maloney
ambridge, pa


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