- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Murtha’s comments

Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who favors pulling U.S. troops from Iraq, said he would not join the U.S. military today.

A decorated Vietnam combat veteran who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, most of it in the Reserve, Mr. Murtha told ABC News’ “Nightline” that Iraq “absolutely” was a wrong war for President Bush to have started.

“Would you join [the military] today?” he was asked in an interview taped Friday and aired Monday.

“No,” said Mr. Murtha, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees defense spending.

“And I think you’re saying the average guy out there who’s considering recruitment is justified in saying: ‘I don’t want to serve,’” the interviewer said.

“Exactly right,” said Mr. Murtha, who became a news media sensation in November after repeating his long-held view that U.S. forces should leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Mr. Murtha did not respond directly when asked whether a lack of combat experience might have affected the decision-making of Mr. Bush, Vice PresidentDick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their former top deputies, Reuters news agency reports.

“Let me tell you, war is a nasty business. It sears the soul,” he said, choking up. “And it made a difference. The shadow of those killings stay with you the rest of your life.”

When asked for comment, a Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col. John Skinner, said: “We have an all-volunteer military. People are free to choose whether they serve or not.”

Miscalculation

“Why have President Bush’s poll ratings improved lately?” New York Post columnist Dick Morris asks.

“Some say it is because he became more visible and vocal in defense of his policies. But I believe the Democrats drove voters back to his camp with their attacks on the Patriot Act and the administration’s wiretapping policies,” Mr. Morris said.

“Bush’s Democratic and liberal critics tend to see opposition to the war in Iraq and complaints about domestic spying as two sides of the same coin — both positions that defend what they see as our values in the face of government recklessness.

“But while the critics have a plurality on the question of whether the war in Iraq was a mistake, they’re in the minority in complaining about the Bush anti-terror policies at home.

“Why do majorities support the Patriot Act and NSA [National Security Agency] wiretapping but oppose the war in Iraq? Because the true swing voters in politics today are isolationists, who vote with the left on Iraq and with the right on homeland security.

“It is impossible to understand politics today without grasping the essential power of isolationism in our political community. The voters who rate Bush’s performance in Iraq negatively or who call for a pullout are not, in the main, dedicated liberals or even Democrats. Rather, they’re marching to the beat of a drummer never stilled in our political music — the desire for the rest of the world to go away.”

Mr. Morris said: “By figuring that all anti-war sentiment is liberal, Democrats misread the public — about the isolationists, whom the Democrats will keep in their corner when the argument is 4,000 miles away, but will lose when it is right at home.”

Teacher donations

“If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you’d probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy.

“In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial-disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union,” according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

“Under new federal rules pushed through by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, large unions must now disclose in much more detail how they spend members’ dues money. Big Labor fought hard (if unsuccessfully) against the new accountability standards, and even a cursory glance at the NEA’s recent filings — the first under the new rules — helps explain why. They expose the union as a honey pot for left-wing political causes that have nothing to do with teachers, much less students,” the newspaper said.

“… The new disclosure rules mark the first revisions since 1959 and took effect this year. ‘What wasn’t clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party,’ says Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog. ‘They’re like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups.’

“There’s been a lot in the news recently about published opinion that parallels donor politics. Well, last year the NEA gave $45,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, which regularly issues reports that claim education is underfunded and teachers are underpaid. The partisans at People for the American Way got a $51,000 NEA contribution; PFAW happens to be vehemently anti-voucher.”

The Journal said: “It’s well understood that the NEA is an arm of the Democratic National Committee. (Or is it the other way around?) But we wonder if the union’s rank-and-file stand in unity behind this laundry list of left-to-liberal recipients of money that comes out of their pockets.”

Wife v. husband

The wife of a Texas state representative filed Monday to run against her husband in a race that both candidates said coincides with an impending divorce.

Democratic state Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, an incumbent from Weslaco, faces a primary challenge from his wife, Jessica Reyes-Martinez. The District 39 seat is in South Texas.

Mrs. Reyes-Martinez, 28, filed as a candidate in the March 7 primary only 30 minutes before the Monday deadline, according to local news outlets. She’s making her first bid for public office and is now a homemaker.

“I’m actually running for office, not against him,” Mrs. Reyes-Martinez told the McAllen Monitor. “It just happens he’s in office right now.”

The two live in separate houses in Weslaco, and did not speak with one another after making short speeches at the Hidalgo County Democratic Party kickoff Monday night.

Mr. Martinez, a 29-year-old firefighter and paramedic, took office in 2004. When asked if the race is personal, he said that’s for voters to decide.

“Everyone is free to run,” he said.

Hidalgo County Democratic PartyChairman Juan Maldonado said it’s a surprise that the race is contested now, but anything is possible in Hidalgo County politics.

There are no Republican candidates.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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