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)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Altmire, Murtha, and Doyle: Doing Their Three Stooges Imitation?

I sent the following note to Jerome Sherman, who writes on national politics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jerome, on your Saturday, March 24, 2007 story about the 218-212 House vote to set a ttimetable for Iraq withdrawal: you may remember when I said earlier that 4th District congressman Jason Altmire would end up voting the way Nancy Pelosi told him to, which in fact is exactly what happened. You point was that he had real concerns about voting for a timetable, and my point was that his concerns were mainly for local political consumption.

I never heard exactly what "reservations" he had about setting a timetable. Me being me, I doubt he had any reservations of consequence, especially given the fact that he never expressed them in any detail. He never seems to express his views fully on any issue.

When Altmire voted for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of a form of life, he portrayed his stand as pro-life, in keeping with his campaign promises. Does he regard some forms of abortion as pro-life, and if so which ones?

What exactly is his thinking about how the timetable vote will play with Al Qaida, the Taliban, and the various insurgent groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? Was that the source of his supposed "reservations," if he in fact had any of consequence, and how did he resolve the question in his own thinking?

In fact, how exactly Altmire thinks the U.S. should conduct the overall War on Terror -- if he thinks we should be conducting it -- is a mystery to me. Perhaps you could get him to illuminate his views, again assuming he has any.

There's a major problem with portraying Altmire as moderate/independent/pro-life, etc., as his votes so far show no signs of such commitments on his part. In this regard, he's about as independent as Congressman Mike Doyle, who always votes with the leadership, aside from an occasional Western PA vote ('we love coal, we love steel, we love union bosses," etc.)

There's a problem with your use of the phrase "fractious majority" in regard to the Democrats. Since only a handful of Democrats voted against the resolution, the majority doesn't seem all that fractious. If you're talking about a few people who posture constantly for the Party's left-wing (individuals like Dennis Kuchinich), they aren't being fractious. I believe they almost all fell into line when the vote was taken, didn't they?

Additionally, I wonder exactly what role the insertion of billions of dollars of "pork" played in getting the majority vote for the timetable. How many Representatives voted from the timetable in order to get the pork? Was it a half-dozen or more, as appears to be the case?

Overall, we read a lot in the papers about the "Blue Dog" Democrats (fiscal conservatives), as well as socially conservative and "moderate" Democrats. Is there any hard evidence that more than a few such people really exist, or they mainly media creations? I don't see how any fiscal conservatives could vote for a bill containing so many earmarks (i.e., pork).

Finally, does Congressman Murtha still think it's a good idea to redeploy the troops to Okinawa, as he suggested to Tim Russert? I haven't heard him speak out on this lately. Does he continue to believe Okinawa is the best place from which to conduct military action against Al Qaida and associated terrorists?

Jerome, obviously I'm very skeptical about the actions and explanations of Congressmen Altmire, Murtha, and Doyle. When they vote on proposed legislation, I'd like to hear why -- in some detail -- they did so. The sloganeering favored by Jack Murtha does not constitute an explanation -- and does not communicate an understanding of the pros and cons involved in any vote of significance. I don't get the sense that any of the three men have done the kind of reflection necessary with complex issues.

It's not the obligation of any member of Congress to agree with me. However, when they disagree, I'd like to have some sense of why they do so.

Thanks as always for your consideration of my thoughts.

Steve Maloney, Ambridge (Member of "Jerome Sherman Frequent Reader Club")


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