Three Funny Numbers For John W. McBush

October 29, 2008

This New York Times story today profiled Iraq war veterans and their influence on the 2008 campaign, on either side. And that would include supporting Tom Manion, as noted below…

Three hours north and a few days later, another group of young Iraq veterans gathered at a bar in Philadelphia to help raise money for Tom Manion, a Republican Congressional candidate.

David Bellavia, 33, founded Vets for Freedom, a “pro-victory” group that has spent $6 million on television advertisements this year. Pete Hegseth, 28, is the group’s executive director. They both served in Iraq, and as is the case for many young veterans, loyalty to fallen comrades is the dominant force behind their decision to become politically involved.

When asked what motivated them, they spoke less of policy than people. “We lost 37 men in my unit,” Mr. Bellavia said, his voice rising with emotion. “That sacrifice is holy to me. All of them I knew and I loved.”

Tom Manion nodded with understanding. He is running against Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat and the only Iraq veteran in Congress — one of the 30 or so who are pursuing seats in the House this year, up from about a dozen in 2006.

Mr. Manion has attracted Vets for Freedom partly because he shares the group’s “pro-mission” viewpoint. He is also a retired marine colonel, and the father of Travis Manion, a marine and Naval Academy graduate who was killed last April in an ambush in Iraq’s western province of Anbar.

Mr. Manion said he never would have become politically active were it not for his son’s death. “It made me realize that if I wanted to make a difference, it wasn’t enough to sit on the sidelines,” he said.

The last thing I intend to do here is give precious free space to Tom Manion, but I just wanted to note that, for someone selling himself as a Washington “outsider,” he seems pretty comfortable with the support of a “527” group (which is what Vets for Freedom is in the final analysis, a group that dovetails nicely with the human stains of Freedom’s Watch, as noted here; perfectly legal for Manion as far as I can determine, though).

And while I don’t recall any pledges from Manion about 527s, Oliver Willis notes here that a certain Republican presidential candidate rallied with Vets for Freedom, though he once vowed to get the FEC to “crack down” on 527 groups.

This is another reason why McBush needs to act on the advice John Kerry gave him here, though to be honest, it’s probably too late for that now anyway.


Patrick Shoots Himself In The Foot

September 18, 2008

It’s truly a sad day when I find myself chastising Patrick Murphy and agreeing with the Op-Ed page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but that is where we are based on this editorial today…

Murphy was among 85 House Democrats who joined 181 Republicans in approving a bill that would roll back gun-safety measures enacted by the District of Columbia, after the Supreme Court struck down the city’s 32-year-old handgun ban in June.

The legislation would undo gun- registration and trigger-lock requirements, as well as a ban on semiautomatic weapons. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the measure would “endanger public safety in a city that is already a target for terrorists,” permit “dangerous people to stockpile dangerous weapons,” and hamstring local officials in combating gun violence.

Take that approach nationwide, and it would become easier to buy and own firearms in already dangerous urban areas. That makes no sense, and it’s certainly an odd place for Murphy to be.

As CeaseFirePA President Phil Goldsmith noted in an open letter, Murphy is viewed as “a supporter of reasonable, common-sense handgun safety reforms.” What’s more, his district – even with its slice of Northeast Philadelphia – trends progressive. Hardly NRA country.

Aides insist the congressman hasn’t changed his stripes. He still favors a ban on assault weapons and supports “reasonable gun laws.” The District of Columbia vote was about “striking the proper balance between constitutional rights and reasonable restrictions.”

But it’s hard to see the gun vote as anything but political gamesmanship. With a Republican challenger who’s trying to score points about Murphy’s commonsense view that the United States needs to extract itself from Iraq, Murphy’s vote on the gun bill deprives his GOP opponent – retired Marine Col. Tom Manion – of another issue.

I can’t find a way to disagree with any of that, particularly when (as noted here) Patrick co-sponsored sensible legislation to reintroduce the assault weapons ban last summer (this is a post from a decidedly pro-gun site; none of this information is sourced properly, but I’m presenting it anyway for consideration).

As the son of a Philadelphia police officer, Murphy doesn’t need any lectures from me or anyone else about the importance of keeping weapons of crime out of the hands of criminals. But it is truly disappointing to see such a smarmy act of political capitulation against an opponent who, thus far, has mastered only the accomplishment of remaining utterly invisible (the only defense I’ll give to Patrick is that, in the interim between my May post and now, the Supreme Court, in their rank cowardice and stupidity, struck down the D.C. gun ban as the Inquirer noted, so Patrick has the proverbial fig leaf of legal justification here – once again, since the Supremes did that, they should allow guns in their office buildings and give legitimate sportsmen all the rights they want…tongue slightly in cheek here).

Just because the majority of the 8th district resides in the largely pastoral settings of Bucks County doesn’t mean that it is immune to the threats faced by Philadelphia and other big cites from unregistered handguns (on second thought, maybe Patrick does need to be reminded about that after all).

Update 9/19/08: The New York Times has more here; still shocked that Patrick supported this.


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