Wednesday, December 5, 2007 (This is part of a column from my other site: Scroll down a little to see the "Where's the Bacon" piece, the most important one I've ever written about John Murtha.
MURTHA: TREATING VOTERS LIKE CHILDREN
As more and more of you are learning, I'm "transitioning" from this web site to a new, permanent site at: http://stevemaloneygop.blogspot.com/. I'll be writing this month (December) about some extremely important races for the House and Senate -- Melissa Hart (R.) against Rep. Jason Altmire (D.) in the PA 4th District, Lt. Col. William Russell (R.) against John Murtha (D.) in the PA 12th District and Heather Wilson (R.) against Steve Pearce (R.) in the Republican primary for the New Mexico Senate race.Please visit my new site (you're on it now) and bookmark it.
You're always welcome here. My goal is not, unlike many other blogs, to "steal" tidbits of news from the campaigns or the MSM. Instead, I will dicuss how Republicans (moderates AND conservatives) can wage effective campaigns against tough opponents, such as John Murtha and Jason Altmire.
I will not accept "conventional wisdom," such as (erroneous) statements about how much Murtha has done for the 12th District.In short, I'm not into gossip, titillation, and nonsense. What I say about the Russell-Murtha race applies to many other districts around the country.
In the 12th Congressional District, people in the Johnstown, PA, home of John Murtha (and of Lt. Col. William Russell) often say something like: “Yeah, ole John is something of a loudmouth and a bully, but he sure does one thing: He brings home the bacon.”
Mark Twain once said, “The problem with many people is that what they KNOW is true . . . isn’t.”
In the 12th, John Murtha has brought home something, but it doesn’t really qualify as bacon.
Here's how the wonderful Almanac of American Politics describes the 12th District:"The mountains and valleys within a 100-mile radius of Pittsburgh comprise one of America's most beautiful--and economically troubled--regions. This has been tough, hard-working country ever since Scots-Irish farmers settled here in the 1790s. Their first big product was whiskey--this was the site of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794--but historically the most important product was bituminous coal. Discovered in the 19th century, it was the basic energy source for the production of iron and steel."
The Almanac continues: "The offspring of the original settlers were joined by immigrants from Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia, living in little frame houses packed into the towns on interstices between hills and rivers, within walking distance of steel factories, foundries and coal mine shafts."
Now, the steel mills are mostly closed and coal mines mainly abandoned. They haven't really been replaced. And the District has more in common with traditional Appalachia than it does the pricey ‘burbs of Philly and Pittsburgh.
So, John Murtha, “where’s the beef?” And, especially, where’s your legendary bacon?
It’s nowhere, unless the bacon consists of federal handouts – “earmarks” for special projects -- that benefit the few -- and have little or no effect on the many.
In the 12th congressional district, the median household income (MHI) in the Almanac's 2006 issue was $30,600. In the inner-city mostly Black 2nd district of Philadelphia, represneted by Democrat Chakah Fattah, , the MHI is . . . $30,600. Wow.
Fattah's district is one of the two in PA that's losing population -- the other being the city of Pittsburgh district (the 18th) represented by Democrat Mike Doyle. Most areas of the 12th have also lost population, but that's balanced by strong growth south of Pittsburgh. (See the discussion below of Washington County.)
In Mike Doyle’s mainly down-at-the-hells city district, the median household income is $30,100 -- just a hair below the number in Murtha's 12th.
In contrast, look at the Pennsylvania 4th District, where I vote. Half the district consists of old mill towns, such as Aliquippa and Ambridge, where I live, as well as semi-rural areas north of Pittsburgh. However, the MHI in this district is $43,500 -- nearly $13,000 more than in the 12th.
In Republican Rep. Tim Murphy's 18th district, mostly area south of Pittsburgh, the MHI is $45,000. If Murtha lives to age 125, the 12th will not see a MHI that high.
Many people in the 12th, particularly those in Johnstown, firmly believe that "John Murtha takes care of us." If we just look at MHIs, we find they're dead wrong.
Washington County, far west of Johnstown, is largely ignored by Murtha. That County is increasingly dominated by Republicans, such as Diana Irey, and economic growth, job creation, and tax restraint are very strong. Once a Democratic bastion, Washington should go strongly for Russell.
Generally, however, the 12th is a place where young people can get a good education (at places like Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson, Pitt-Johnstown, Waynesburg College). Then, many of those college graduates say good-bye to their families and go elsewhere to get a decent job.
John Murtha's temporary infusions of taxpayer-funded jobs has no appeal to them. Yes, some people, mostly corporate executives and lobbyists, have benefited greatly from Murtha's earmarks.
He has apparently used "earmarks" to raise the compensation of some hospital surgeons from roughly $200,000 annually to $250,000 and up. And a few Johnstown lobbyists far from their corporate headquarters wait in vain for their phones to ring while they meditate on their six-figure salaries.
For the most part, the people of the 12th, particularly those in rural Greene County, have not prospered as a result of any actions by Murtha. He has abjectly failed to bring in the kind of businesses that would raise the wages and benefits of real people -- the kind that make up most of the population of the 12th. That district has MHI at or below the numbers we find in areas identified with urban poverty.
Granted, some voters in the 12th fear that, for all his faults, Murtha's leaving would make things worse. Frankly, that may not be possible.The region, as the Almanac suggests, is beautiful. The people come from sturdy stock and are willing to work hard. It’s an area that yearns for some good-paying manufacturing jobs.
So, why is Toyota be establishing a huge auto assembly plant in tiny Blue Springs, Mississippi -- and not in the 12th District? One reason may be that they don't want to deal with a congressman, John Murtha, famous for pushing people around and extorting huge campaign “contributions.”
Trust me, Toyota and other successful companies want nothing to do with "The Prince of Pork."The solution obviously is to elect a man dedicated to creating real jobs and promoting private enterprise businesses. That individual is Lt. Col. William Trower Russell.
If Murtha stays as congressman, the 12th will remain in its own version of suspended economic animation.