TCS Daily


What Did Mr. Murtha Mean?

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - November 15, 2006 12:00 AM

I think I can say, and say with pride, that we have some legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world.

-- Mark Twain, 1875

When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.

-- Shirley Chisholm

Cong. "Jack" Murtha is a sort of local legend here in Western Pennsylvania.

He delivers the goods, as they say. The pork. He has steered plenty of money into his district. He's from just over the mountain from me, in Johnstown.

Local boy makes good and all that. We forgive him for "going native" a bit after all these years in Washington's corridors of power. He's smoothed off a lot of his Allegheny mountain "frontier-coal-steel" coarseness. Carefully cut business suits. That white hair. A very studied establishment look. Great stuff.

And now he's in line to be Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. A lot of people around here are rubbing their hands because they figure that then old Jack will really be able to ladle out the pork.

I'm impressed with how far Jack's come.

But I just have a question.

What did Mr. Murtha mean that day, January 7, 1980, when he met with those guys in that Washington, D.C. townhouse - the guys with the cash sitting right there in a drawer - what did Mr. Murtha mean when he said:

...I want to do business with you. I mean I want to get the goddamn jobs in the area, you know, a few bank deposits in my area. Nothing I'd like better. Later on, after we've dealt a while we might change our mind - we might want to do more business.

What was that all about?

What did Mr. Murtha mean when, apparently knowing he was talking to men bent on bribing members of Congress, he told them "we might want to do more business?" You can see the whole FBI tape of the thing here.

I know, I know. I've heard his explanation before he clammed up to the press for good - that he was just looking for jobs for his downtrodden district. But that just doesn't stretch far enough to cover everything said in that townhouse that day.

Yes, he has "long experience" in Congress. And, yes, a great military record, blah, blah, blah. All well and good.

Look, maybe that whole Abscam thing was, as the Washington Post has since called it, "an ethical scrape" for Mr. Murtha, a real learning experience from which the good congressman emerged a thoroughly chastened individual.

All Mr. Murtha needs to do now is explain what he meant by being willing to "do more business" with strangers that he met in a strange place; strangers with cash on hand.

Oh, and one more question. Why has the mainstream media, including big local papers in the area, like the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, put forth barely a word about all this?

Categories:

42 Comments

Corruption in Politics
It is truly sad that Americans are seldom shocked when their elected officials are found to be corrupt. Yet the electorate's lack of shock, distaste and distrust for government goes back to our founding.

That Murtha may have had a good military service record long ago certainly cannot forgive him for his mind set in 1980. Mr. Cunningham of California was indeed a well decorated war hero yet few, especially Democrats were willing to "let him off" or rationalize his behavior.

If the Democrats really meant what they said before the election, "we want to end the culture of corruption in Washington", then they must start by removing the 'lumber yard' from their own eyes, certainly not by placing an unindicted co-conspirator in the second most powerful position in the House. Or to put an impeached, by a Democratic Congress, ex-judge in charge of the Intelligence Committee.

Of course I doubt very seriously that any American would now be surprised that the Democrats are just as corrupt as they ever were. They set the standard for corruption when they controlled Congress before.

nerve
I think we should could agree on a simple rule: a Republican is allowed to criticise the ethics of a Democrat only if he/she at the same time mentions greater and more recent lapse from a Republican. Republicans have sat so quietly for the past six years during the hayday of Delay, Abramov, Ney, Cunningham, (to mention only those headed to the slammer this year), that dirt per say should not bother them.

I'm allowed to criticise Murtha, and I hope he is not made majority leader.

You don't think and you don't make rules. I don't agree. The facts.
Listen up. You don't think and you sure as hell don't make rules. On here we don't have to listen to and accept the opinions of those who use the government as an ATM with equal weight as we do in elections. Mindlessly chanting "democrats good, republicans bad" might play well on college campuses, the socialist cesspools of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago but its still a tribute to George Orwell's warning about letting pigs lay claim to a monopoly on civic virtue and then giving them power.


You're mendacious, delusional or both, and your arguments are specious at best, insane more likely. I'd like to be charitable, but I'll settle for succint-get lost!
DeLay may or may not be found guilty of something. We know for a fact Ronnie Earl(?) is a partisan hack who should be tried for prosecutorial abuse. Innocent until proven guilty.

Abramoff checked into the Cumberland Md, federal pen today and is a LOBBYIST, not a legislator with an oath of office.

Ney, resigned in disgrace. Will face the music.

Cunningham, despite a better military record than Murtha resigned in disgrace. Will face the music.

Now for the Democrats (the pigs):

Hillary Clinton, the master commodities speculator and sudden finder of subpeonad documents, inventor of secret "commissions" to make private medical decisions a crime: Reelected and contender for the presidency (over John Kerry's, Al Gore's and Nancy Pelosi's dead bodies, of course)

Harry "land deal" Reid (connected to Abramoff): Elected Majority Leader.

Murtha (second most famous unindicted co-conspirator) running for No. 2.

William Jefferson ($100,000 in cold freezer cash, caught on tape) will participate in a runoff election against Louisiana State Representative Karen Carter on December 9, 2006.

Alcee Hastings, impeached off the federal bench, but the woman to clean up the house apparently thinks that he should jump ranks over Jane Harman.

KKK member Robert Byrd, Grand Kleagle, dropped the N-Bomb on TV, still reciting Cicero on the Senate Floor. I wonder if anybodys noticed that his soliquys have begun to take the distinct tone of dementia. Wonder how many lynchings he was at?

Those people in the electorate who actually pay attention will soon be reminded that the Democrats are the masters of corruption.













good post and that is only scratching the surface
Compared to Democrats (as a party) Republicans are downright saintly. This is not to say that the Republicans don't have their share of bad ones; they do. But, at least when outed, Republicans resign, not get elected to multiple more terms; at least when Republicans are caught, they are critized and asked to leave, not given standing ovations and a pass.

There is no more two-faced bunch of liars and theives than those now in the Democrat party.

It's the Democratic Party, and ABSCAM was in 1980
Not the Democrat party. To which Tom DeLay, former majority whip now facing criminal charges does not belong.

>at least when outed, Republicans resign, not get elected to multiple more terms;

It's that the voters' call?

>at least when Republicans are caught, they are critized and asked to leave, not given standing ovations and a pass.

ABSCAM was in 1980; that's 26 years ago, for people who can do arithmetic. If there were then charges against Murtha to bring, they should have been brought. To drag this up now after 13 election cycles is desperation.

Likewise with all the rest of this stuff. And if you really think that the Republicans are the party of non-corruption, you should make that case to the voters: they seem to have gotten a different idea, based on the events of recent years. This is not an apology for Democrats; it's just speaking about double standards.

Whatever you say eric
I didn't bring up ABSCAM, but the question remains, after 26 years, why did Murtha get a pass? Not desperation, just a valid question.

And no, it shouldn't be the voter's call. These people should have been forced out of politics and their own party should have done it. Only the democrats believe their party's power base is more important than having decent people in places of power. They would have rallied around Charles Manson if he were a democrat and a Representative or Senator.

But that's O.K., they voters should decide.

I'm saying, no double standard
I know you didn't bring up ABSCAM, but the essay this thread is based around did. As for why Murtha got a "pass" - you'll have to ask the prosecutor on that. A large number of people were criminally charged and went to jail: there's no indication anyone got special treatment.

>And no, it shouldn't be the voter's call. These people should have been forced out of politics and their own party should have done it.

Which people?? Murtha because his name came up? Or perhaps you were talking about Ney, who hung on for deal life as long as he could in order to keep collecting his house paychecks. As far as "forcing peole out of power" - political parties don't have that ability. The voters elect congress, not political parties.

>Only the democrats believe their party's power base is more important than having decent people in places of power.

I see no evidence whatsoever this is true. The career of Tom DeLay is not a bright lantern of unswerving integrity. He was indicted, but then pushed through a change in the Republican rules allowing him to keep his position as majority leader in the house (the change was later changed back) and then ran for the republican nomination for his seat in the primary and won. His whole history in Congress has been littered with abuses of all kinds. But he's the model of shining Republican integrity??

>They would have rallied around Charles Manson if he were a democrat and a Representative or Senator.

Oh please. In fact, in recent elections the Democrats did not rally around Lieberman. The voters nonetheless decided.

Mothra strikes!
John Fund of WSJ Opnion Journal gives a pretty good account of "why Murtha was not indicted" in today's issue. See: http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110009248

Essentially, favors were traded and Speaker O'Neill and key figures on the House Ethics Committee shut the investigation down. Later, "In 1997 Mr. Murtha joined with Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, in blocking outside groups and private citizens from filing complaints directly with the House Ethics Committee."

Another shining moment.

I love the way LG loves to pretend that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats
1) Delay, has yet to be convicted of anything, most lawyers who have examined the way in which Delay was indicted have declared that the entire process stinks of prosecutorial misconduct. The case will be thrown out.

2) Abramoff: Gave more money to Democrats than he did to Republicans.

How about Reid and what's his name from Louisianna.

There is one difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to corruption. Republicans expell those who are caught. Democrats promote them.

As usual, LG proves himself to be a hypocrite
He doesn't demand that those speaking about Republican corruption also mention the greater and more prevelant corruption amongst leading Democrats.

Justice delayed is justice denied
1980-All that means is he got away with it to long. Yeah, move on, right?

You guys are such hypocrites-When Strom Thurmond had his birthday party, you went back to the 1940's to find a repellent but common political position of times to discredit him and Republcans are regularly combed over for decades old indiscretions or slips of the tongue to impeach them. Here is a bloody crime-on tape-and all you have is "that was a long time ago".

As for your simplistic canard about voter sovereignty, there is a mechanism for expulsion for the very reason that on occasion, that the presence of corruption taints the entire body.

Alcee Hastings would have a problem getting an insurance saleman's license with his background. His impeachment should have disqualified him from ANY public-even from being elected in some district where votes are apparently cast without care for such things.

Then again, there's no comparison between texting pages (Foley, gone) and sodomizing them (Studds, standing ovation), but I'm sure you'll break into your long time ago litany.






About that Strom Thurmond thing
You're mistating the issue:

>n Strom Thurmond had his birthday party, you went back to the 1940's to find a repellent but common political position of times to discredit him

The Dixiecrat movement was in the 40s. What Trent Lott got into trouble for was saying, in 2002, ""I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

The problem here was that Thurmond ran on a program based upon and embracing racial segregation. Coming from someone who voted against the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, yes, it raised questions in 2002. He thought he had to apologize. You should tell him (and Bush) he had nothing to worry about.

As far as the other stuff goes -- tell it to the voters. Or don't you trust them?

And that's why Tom DeLay is such, such a superior role model!!
He'd never, ever, ever indulge in anything like this. Never ever!!

This isn't to say no questions exist about Murtha, or for that matter about dozens of other figures, Republican or Democrat. But to portray the Democrats as the party of corruption and the Republicans as the light of the shining city on the hill is ludicrous.

LG didn't say that: he said both parties had politicians involved in scandal
But here you are to issue of blank "you're a Republican so you must be innocent card." So thoughtful!!!

Delay sucks, too
But I don't think he got caught in a bribery scandal. What the hell? Rattlers or cottonmouths, they're both pit-vipers. Nancy Lugosi's swamp ain't never gonna get drained! Looks like Reid might be the next crook to fall. How embarrassing for our new leader. No wonder they carted Abramoff to jail so quickly. Keep the war on the front page.

So you don't care what the facts are
Your only concern is that they endorse Republicans. Thanks for being upfront.

Uncanny
Lemuel -- you have an uncanny and very bothersome habit of putting words into other people's mouths or in this case, other people's posts. No one on this thread has stated that the republicans "must be innocent", in fact everyone agrees that greed and corruption broaches the partisan line. Some claim that the republicans are more responsible in that when they get caught, they take care of their own and dispose of appropriately. The evidence is weak, but leans in that direction. But how about this, why don't you argue the point you are allegedly replying to rather than setting up a straw argument. From previous experience, I don't expect a cogent response to this post from you. It just doesn't seem to happen with you and any dialog quickly devolves into your favorite "I know you are, but what am I? Oh and your are irrelevent!" dead end snit. So, no thanks.

Your comment bears no resemblance to intelligence
Don't put words in my mouth.

Then explain what you mean, and show you treat Republicans the same.
Oherwise you're just doing a predictable partisant dance.

P{lease contact Tom DeLay's defemse committee
Or explain your point,

Here's what I said before regarding the thought that Democrats are more corrupt
>Only the democrats believe their party's power base is more important than having decent people in places of power.

I see no evidence whatsoever this is true. The career of Tom DeLay is not a bright lantern of unswerving integrity. He was indicted, but then pushed through a change in the Republican rules allowing him to keep his position as majority leader in the house (the change was later changed back) and then ran for the republican nomination for his seat in the primary and won. His whole history in Congress has been littered with abuses of all kinds. But he's the model of shining Republican integrity??

Perhaps...
you could explain exactly what the current state of the charges against Tom DeLay are right now. That would be a good start since the whole case against him was a political hit job without merit.

I "trust" no one.
Unlimited democracy is two wolkves and a sheep voting on dinner-thats why we have a constitution, much ignored that continually starts its articles with "Congress shall pass no law".

Innocent Until Proven Guilty- Keep Throwing, Hope SOMETHING Sticks.
Uh, lets see the charge against him is based on a law that WASN'T in effect when he was supposed to have broken it. I don't know anything else about him, nor do you. So what "abuses" are you talking about-sources please. Otherwise, until there's a conviction, your nothing but a smearmonger.


We do know Murtha is on tape and Hastings was impeached. Those are facts and Public record.

No Double Standard11?? LOL
That's a joke right? Dems love to sling mud and continue even after a republican resigns; but when it is one of their own the rall the troops and help get that person re-elected.

No double standard??? Whatever.

Republicans have a right to complain and sling a little mud, at least their criminals are forced out and prosecuted.

No double standards, please
I'm not carrying a brief for either Murtha or Hastings. But as for DeLay - you may "not know anything else about him" other than you think he's being charged ex post facto, but other people do. His lawyers rasided that defense, and it was shot down by a Republican judge. Before the current mess, he's been repeated admonished by the House ethics committee, the same committee that in 1997 voted to admonish another Republican, Newt Gingrich. Read details here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63387-2004Sep30.html

These are facts and public record too. Sauce for the goose ....

Then why have elections???
Nobody's in favor of "unlimited democracy," aka majorty tyrrany. Nobody's in favor of doing away with constitutional protections. The voters weren't voting to abolish the bill of rights, they were re-electing Murtha. You thin it was a mistake - let them know.

Murth got a pass because ...
In the 80's the liberal press in PGH and J-town had no counter balance. Today we have right-leaning papers like the Tribune Review, talk radio and the internet to call these things into question.

If he did this today he would never be able to skate. Murtha has brought in too much pork and is too well liked to be called to the mat for something that happened 26 years ago.

But I do find it ironic how the Democrats yelled about 'negative campaign' when Irey used this material in her run. Now rival democrats are using it to block him from becoming leader.

Nobody got a pass
It was investigated frontwards and backwards. No money changed hands. Murtha said he was looking for investment in his district. But it still makes people, including Democrats uncomfortable. Perhaps the fact that Democrats are bringing it up indicates that Democrats are not the party of institutionalized corruption some on this board need to believe they are.

So DeLay demonstrates Republican moral superiority???
>Dems love to sling mud and continue even after a republican resigns; but when it is one of their own the rall the troops and help get that person re-elected.

Sure, we saw them do that for Lieberman. As far as Murtha's concerned, he took his case to the voters. DeLay didn't. Are you saying it was because Republicans are noble? I just noted DeLay had lots of reasons to resign long before he did. If Murtha committed a crime, by all means prosecute him. What I don't get is making a huge deal out of Murtha while saying the DeLay case is somehow evidence of Republican moral superiority.

Perhaps you could look up this widely available information
And, sure, DeLay says it's all a partisan plot. He's said the same thing abot all the ethical questins that have arisen over decades.

This is funny
eric claims that I put words in LG's mouth, then he proceeds to put words in my mouth.

One thing you can always count on a liberal to do is display their utter and complete hypocrisy.

But back to LG, I just pointed out that LG never applies to critics of Republicans, the same standards he demands for critics of Democrats.

I have never said that all Republicans are innocent, I just showed that the Republicans he listed were.

Strawman arguements down the line
Delay is out of politics; Leiberman is a good example, he has been an ethically good guy and he is the most Democrat of Democrats, but he crosses the aisle on one issue and he is out. Those wonderful friends he has there.

As I said, the Dems would back Manson, as long as he toed the party line. This is not the party I knew growing up and backed in my youth. By 1990 the party had changed drastically and became the worst of what I hate about politics.

You're just saying "no, no," not presenting an argument
How many Republicans stood up to DeLay during all the years he was bullying and piling up ethics violations?

This is not to say Democrats can do no wrong, or Republicans are all evil. But it is really, really a stretch, looking at the history of the last 20 years or so, to say that Republicans have been the ethics standardbearers and Democrats the dogs. And you have provided no backup whatever of your claim that "the Dems would back Manson, as long as he toed the party line." Sure, it's an exagerration - but however much truth it contains is equally true of the Republicans.

News bulletin: Murtha loses election for house majority leader. Obviously a democratic coverup strategy to make them look ethical...

In your dreams
Another "true because I say it is"

> I just showed that the Republicans he listed were.

No, you just claimed that Tom DeLay wasn't guilty of the pending criminal charges against him, without noting that they come on top of a whole series of ethics committee admonitions against him. But, sure, he's just being targeted by partisan enemies.

Neither party is some ethical standard bearer
No one denies that there have been some unethical republicans; but many of the ethical violations claimed against DeLay are questionable and minor. Yes, he has a few big ones and, as I said, he is now out of politics.

Murtha was only an example; so what if he lost the election for majority leader, he hasn't resigned has he?

Look eric, ethical violations are not new for either party. Both have very good people and very bad ones. No one I've seen here or elsewhere denies this. The thing that upsets a lot of people with the Dems is their constant leveling of charges against Republicans who, when faced with a real scandal, resign; then when the reverse happens to the dems, they back their guy and even help get him re-elected.

I don't even have to look it up to name some pretty big Democratic Party names who are still serving with a major scandal in their past. I'm sure there are a few presently serving Republicans who also had some of these; but I honestly don't know of a single one right off the top.

Just since Nixon, several notable Republicans have resigned over everything from inappropriate e-mails to pages to Watergate. Each have at least one direct opposite in the democratic party who is still serving.

Until the Dems actually get rid of their rotten apples, they simply can't compare to the Republicans on this issue.

Does that make all Dems bad? God I hope not; I've voted for a few who are still serving. But the party needs to do a little house cleaning before they can make any claim of "running an ethical government" without being laughed at.

Why should Murtha resign now over something that wasn't proven 26 years ago?
I don't get this at all

>Murtha was only an example; so what if he lost the election for majority leader, he hasn't resigned has he?

Why should he, 26 years after the unproven allegations.

> The thing that upsets a lot of people with the Dems is their constant leveling of charges against Republicans who, when faced with a real scandal, resign; then when the reverse happens to the dems, they back their guy and even help get him re-elected.

Where does this come from?? DeLay hung on forever, ethics violation after ethics violation, always saying it was all just partisan nastiness. And DeLay wasn't just any Republican legislator, he was the majority leader. Where were the republican calls for him to step down. Finally, he was indicted and then he got a rule change: before, a majority leader had to step down if indicted; the rule was changed so he, DeLay, could stay in his job. Until that proved to much even for the GOP to handle.

>But the party needs to do a little house cleaning before they can make any claim of "running an ethical government" without being laughed at.

the voters in the last election seemed to have a different view of this. I guess they just got bad info from that nasty MSM.

He got a pass
He said he wasn't interested in the bribe at this time. Which is a little different than looking for an investment in his district.

But my point is that if he got caught on tape like this recently, Limbaugh, Hannity and the blogs would crush him. Powerful right-leaning entities like that just didn't exist in 1980.

I love this
I don't really have a dog in this hunt. I was once a Democrat, now I'm a non-party independent moderate. I'm telling you, from the outside looking in, Dems make us laugh when they talk ethics. Not that DeLay or some other Republicans are better individually, but they, at least, get out of the way once a real scandal comes to light.

Your a pure party hack if you don't see the difference. Hell, I voted for a Dem in the last election; he won too. seeing the Dems as more ethical had nothing to do with it; it was an individual candidate thing. I think you will see this nationwide, if you looked. Ethical Democratic Party is an oxymoron.

I'm a "pure party hack" if I don't agree with you?? I don't think so.
I don't understand why you're regarding DeLay as an unfortunate exception. He was the most powerful man in the country, after the President, for years.

>Dems make us laugh when they talk ethics.

I think you may not understand the word "ethics."

>Not that DeLay or some other Republicans are better individually, but they, at least, get out of the way once a real scandal comes to light.

Again, I encourage you to look at DeLay's record. If that's not sufficient, look at Gingrich's - the divorce stuff is particularly interesting. Maybe that wasn't a "real scandal."

Ethical Democratic Party is an oxymoron.

to the exact extent that "ethical republican party" is. Failure to recognize this is wishful thinking.

If he committed a crime, prosecute him
and as for this:

>But my point is that if he got caught on tape like this recently, Limbaugh, Hannity and the blogs would crush him.

And why didn't Limbaugh, Hannity & etc. come down on DeLay for not just tantilizing people but following through. If you were consistent, you'd have a case. As it is, it's special pleading.

New bulletin: democrats rejected Murtha's bid to be majority leader. Obviously the have no ethics.

this is unreal
DELAY RESIGNED!!! GINGRICH RESIGNED!! and so on… Do we see a pattern here?? Murtha, Studds, Kennedy, Clinton, et.al. are still in office or retired on their own terms. See a pattern there??

Unethical Republicans resign; unethical Democrats stay in office and the party rallies around them. No matter what you want to think eric, this presents an obvious ethical divide between the parties for most moderate, non-party types. We laugh at democrats trying to claim the high road; its a joke.

Both parties have unethical individuals and individual scandals. In that neither has any monopoly. But, as long as scandal ridden democrats continue to stay in office, the Republicans have the high ground on ethics.

B itch and argue all you want, that is both a fact and the perception of those who don't have a strong tie to either party (about 60% of the population.) That you are such a dyed-in-the-wool democrat that you refuse to see this makes you a party hack.

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