Sunday, June 25, 2006

Crazy Jack

When Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha began speaking out against the War in Iraq, his remarks gained instant credibility with his Democratic colleagues and members of the MSM. As we were told, Murtha was a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve who had served in Vietnam (perhaps you heard, John Kerry was there as well). That experience, coupled with Murtha's long support of defense issues (chiefly, programs that benefitted his district or relatives of his Democratic colleagues) made the Congressman an expert on Iraq whose views must be taken seriously, even if many of his comments make no sense from a military or political standpoint.

Speaking in Miami over the weekend, Murtha illustrated again why he cannot be taken seriously as a military expert, or even as a critic of American national security policy. At a town hall meeting sponsored by Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek (and held at Florida International University), Congressman Murtha announced that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.

Let that one sink in for a moment. From Murtha's perspective, American efforts to bring democracy and stability to Iraq are more threatening to global security than attempts by two rogue nations to develop and acquire nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them against western targets. It goes without saying that Murtha's logic train jumped the tracks a long time ago, but there is no evidence that the Congressman's Democratic/university audience voiced event a hint of disagreement. To the contrary; I'd guess that Murtha's remarks probably received a standing ovation. Afterall, Murtha is an authoritative Democratic voice on national security matters, or what passes for one in today's version of his party.

When we last checked on Congressman Murtha, he was assuring Tim Russert that U.S. military forces in the Gulf region could be easily re-deployed to "nearby" bases on Okinawa. When Russet suggested that Okinawa is a bit distant for "quick reaction" forces assigned to the Middle East, Murth--with a straight face--assured Mr. Russert that American aircraft could reach the Gulf in no time at all.

Never mind the fact that Kadena AB (our primary airfield on Okinawa) is more than 4,000 miles from Baghdad. Never mind that the most direct route would require overflying China, a prospect that is exceptionally unlikely. Never mind that the "available route" (through the Malaccan Strait and across the Indian Ocean) would require 16-hour round-robin missions, and the support of much of our aerial tanker fleet. Never mind that such operations would create all sorts of diplomatic problems and wreak havoc with aircraft maintenance schedules, crew rest and a host of other operational issues. And finally, never mind that the Murtha "plan" simply doesn't make sense.

The real question here is at what point a (supposedly) informed member of Congress loses whatever shred of credibility he/she has left, and is held up to the scorn and ridicule they so richly deserve. Murtha has been easy meat for the blogosphere, where his pronouncements on Iraq and recent "air support" proposals were savaged by anyone with more than cursory knowledge of military operations.

Obviously, that's not the case in the MSM. Other than a few mildly tough questions from Tim Russert, Congressman Murtha has spouted his imbecelic "strategy" with nary a peep from the drive-by press, who seem to regard him as the greatest military thinker since Clausewitz. In another media era (or, say, if Murtha was a Republican) his remarks would be roundly criticized and quickly dismissed. The New York Times would probably weigh in with a lead editorial deriding the "folly" of such remarks, and invitations for the Sunday talk shows would probably cease.

But in today's media environment, Murtha has become a left-wing hero who will likely remain the Democrats' public voice for defense and security issues. That raises a couple of other questions: first, how did someone with such a marginal understanding of military issues ever rise to the rank of Colonel, even in the Marine Corps Reserve? The Corps has long prided itself on having officers and NCOs who can adapt to rapidly changing strategic, operational and tactical conditions, and "think outside the box" in developing innovative solutions. Murtha obviously missed that class at Quantico, and again failed to absord the lesson at intermediate and senior service schools--assuming (of course) that he actually completed those courses. In reality, Murtha's rise to the rank of Colonel is more a testament to the Corps' efforts to maintain a powerful ally in Congress than the Congressman's ability as a military leader.

And that brings us to our second, more pressing question: has Jack Murtha taken leave of his senses? His comments over the past week suggest a man who will say anything to keep himself in the media spotlight, or someone whose grasp on military reality appears to be fading. As the November election approaches, voters in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District should ask themselves if "Crazy Jack" is better suited for the House of Representatives, or (perhaps) a more confined, comfortable facility, with padded walls, and those nice, long sweaters that tie in the back.


enuff said...


I take exception to your statement that the illustrious Democratic Congressman, Jack ’Retreat’ Murtha, may have take leave of his senses. In fact sir, you go to far in your assessment and give the Congressman far too much credit! That vacuous area between the Congressman’s ear’s is not given to intelligent thought as it is known but to some convoluted echo of a Harris/Financial Times poll conducted prior to President’s Bush’s recent trip to Europe where: 5,000 participant’s of Britain, France, Italy and Spain, over three days from June 6 concluded:

‘….36 percent of Europeans view the United States as the greatest threat to global stability.
Thirty percent named Iran and 18 percent China…’

Poll: U.S. seen as threat to stability



Wanderlust said...

spook86, I think Blackfive has a lot more info on Murtha - including the fact that he served during Vietnam, but not "in country."

Kinda like Markos Mulitsas Zuniga (Kos) served in the Army during Gulf War I in 1991.

Those two deserve each other, methinks. As for Murtha, he's got to keep himself framed as the Democratic voice of defense, or else someone might notice those lovely spending earmarks he's famous for.

chancuff said...

"the U.S. military presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran."

Were I in Sun-Sentinel's shoes, I'd sit quiet as a mouse, hoping this will all blow over without much more fuss. Elizabeth Baier quotes Murtha several times in her Breaking World News (Brit Hume of Fox News as well as the Wall Street Joural have taken Baier's ball and run with it) claims of what Murtha said in Miami. When direct quotes are used, it's often the case the reporter has recorded the event, in order to make certain their quotes are accurate. What initially drew my attention was her lack of quotes for what she claims Murtha said in her first paragraph.,0,7119684.story

Shortly after reading the Sun Sentinel story, I googlenews'ed "Murtha Miami Iran Nuclear"
Among the dozens of hits quoting Ms. Baier indexed within a few hours of the Sun Sentinel's earth shaking expose' of Murtha's talk, I found another article published by the Miami Herald.

You will notice, this writer totally missed Murtha's "shot heard around the world" (technorati now has 400+ hits for what Ms. Baier claims Murtha said.)

On the unlikely chance Ms. Baier did *not* quote Murtha from a recording she made at the event ... I've written the Florida International University Public Relations folks asking them to preserve their audio/video recording of this event they sponsored for Murtha to speak at.

I've sent inquiries to the entire editorial boards of the Sun Sentinel, Wall Street Journal, Arizona Sun Star and Miami Herald, as well as Knight Ridder, asking them to pursue any recording of this event, in pursuit of the real news story, Elizabeth Baier.

It shouldn't take more than a day, or three, for Ms Baier to experience personally, that the world of journalism is flat. Whether you like or despise John Murtha is no longer the story. The real story is ... just how far has mainstream media sunk? Is Jerry Springer Journalism the new standard for reporters?

Here's what should strike every blogger as truly shocking... If Murtha never said anything like this ... If America's Conservative Talking Heads plastering this "Murtha fiction" all over the internet, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, then who's to blame for this story achieving such prominence that our enemies will have no trouble finding it, and get the comfort these stories provide them?

Hold your breath and hope that this aid to our enemies really doesn't have anything to do with John Murtha, at all. Until this gets cleared up by audio/video recordings of what took place in Miami, it's America's media "dittoheads", including bloggers that are the ones providing comfort our enemies.

Let's hope Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and of course, conservative bloggers ain't the real culprits giving comfort to our enemies.

Keep in mind there are only two stories written by reporters who were actually in Miami last Saturday, where Murtha spoke. One used Mutha's outrageous comments as her opening paragraph, and the other, at a competing Newspaper in Florida, never mentioned them at all.

I spent a few hours on the phone with a friend of mine who is editor for a news site. I'm letting him run with this ball. You can follow how this story develops at:


chancuff said...

I have returned to give you yet another update. As of the date and time stamp of this posting the following is correct:

The original first paragraph written by Elizabeth Baier at the Sun-Sentinel has been removed. Since their original correction to their story and my constant vigilance and the constantly updated reporting at, they have rewritten this entire original article.

What distinguishes this as unique is that though newspapers certainly update stories all the time, but when doing so, they are required by standard journalism practice to make clear it’s a revision, stating prominently at the top this story is a revision, and updating the date of the article to the date of the revision.

They have done neither. Any impression created by this post of mine that this indicates that the Sun-Sentinel is covering up what they started by making all the uproar of this week over something that “never happened” is not my intent here. (legal disclaimers have become necessary)

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too

chancuff said...

Looking at the large number of blog posts I've placed throughout the blogsphere in the last 2 weeks, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking they look like spam.

My apologies to all.

Some interesting happened today. I received an email response from Bill Pasco(e) of Diana Irey's campaign against John Murtha for the 12th District of Pennsylvania seat in the House of Representatives.

In responding Mr. Pascoe's email, I found it useful to CC that response to him to Elizabeth Baier and her editor Ms. Rosenhause (Managing Editor Sun-Sentinel).

The topic of those emails was "Rovian Architecture Unplugged". If you are interested to learn more, feel free to write them.

Make "Rovian Architechure Unplugged" your subject heading so they know what your inquiry is about.

Their email addresses:

Bill Pascoe

Elizabeth Baier

Sharon Rosenhause

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too