Saturday, May 3, 2008

Philadelphians: Read This Page

I have a new column on the Pennsylvania Republican candidates available at: A revised version will appear here on Monday.


Rep. Chaka Fattah (born "Arthur Davenport"). Yes, now that you mention it, he does look a little like Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Voted the Congressman "Most Likely to Be Led Off in Leg-Irons" -- okay, I made that part up.

If you've never heard of Chaka Fattah (Shock-uh Fuh-tah), congressman from Pennsylvania's 2d district (city of Philadelphia west of Broad St.) you're like 99.9% of the American people. Lucky you. Lucky them.

In the minds of many people, including yours truly, Fattah represents everything that's wrong with America's big-city politics. He's ideologically hostile to just about every governmental or private action that would help the people of his district.

Fattah is a Democrat version of "Dr. No." If there's ever a good piece of legislation proposed -- say, repealing the death tax or curbing federal spending or extending the Patriot Act -- he votes against it.

The Sunday and Monday column will deal with the congressional race between Democrat Fattah and Republican challenger Michael Livingston.

Fattah is known as the congressman who wouldn't release his tax returns. Livingston, coincidentally, is a law professor at Rutgers-Camden and an expert on taxes. Perhaps Michael could volunteer to help Chaka with those pesky returns?

Governor Ed Rendell used to be Mayor of Philadelphia, and he ran for the state's highest office on the basis of what he called "The Philadelphia Miracle." Unfortunately, the "miracle" turned out to be Philly's role as a national leader in crime, unemployment, poverty, and general misery.

Like Rendell, Fattah, now in his seventh-term and apparently electable unto eternity, is no miracle worker. Philly's troubles continue -- and multiply.

In a district that's more than 60% Black and almost monolithically Democrat, it would be a true miracle if Michael won this year's election. It also would be the best thing that's happened in Philly since the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb.

Congressman Fattah has been one of the cheerleaders for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner. In a city with a murder rate that sometimes approaches that of Baghdad, Philadelphia really doesn't need politicians doing "huggy-bunny" with killers.

If you have an interest in Mumia Abu-Jamal and, especially, Daniel Faulkner, go to the "Justice for Police Officer Daniel Faulkner" web site. As you'll discover, Fattah didn't exactly cover himself with glory by jumping on Mumia Abu-Jamal's unsavory bandwagon.

(In his murder of Faulkner, Abu-Jamal and his brother, one William Cook, were found at the scene with an emptied gun. They insisted they didn't see who committed the murder -- hint, hint -- or see who did.)

But isn't Fattah extremely popular with his voters in his district, where he generally gets 88% of the vote? Not really. He's just a name on the Democrat ticket. The votes for him are more Pavlovian than reflective.

When Fattah decided to run for Mayor in the Democratic primary, he didn't win. In fact, he got only 15% of the vote, essentially in a tie for last place with Bob Brady, who happens to be the congressman from the other side of Philadelphia. Thus, few people like Fattah. They just vote for him out of habit.

Misery abounds. The poverty rate in the 2d district approaches 30%. It was approximately 30% when Fattah came into office, and it will be about 30% when he leaves. The occasional government handouts Fattah periodically doles out to his constituents don't do anything to deal with the district's fundamental problems.

Chaka Fattah has been on the government payroll for 30 years -- and counting. He has built up one heckuva pension, and he's married to a beautiful local TV anchor. What a country!

Republican Mike Livingston? Oh, he's just a guy who knows about taxes (and the need to keep them low) and economics. He's a person who believes strongly in economic development and personal freedom, both of them great medicine for what ails the district. He doesn't have any sympathy for "celebrity cop-killers" such as Abu-Jamal.

Does Mike Livingston have a chance of winning? To him, I'd say what I recently told another candidate: save any thoughts about winning or losing for, say, November 1. Get your message out the best you can, and then -- win or lose -- you'll have nothing to be ashamed about. Livingston and Philadelphia both have a chance to make a positive statement.

(This will be Sunday's column here. On my national blog on Sunday, I'll have another column.)


Jim Fryar said...

Its a terrible irony that people think Fattah and his ilk will help them, when in fact the reverse is the case.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Jim, the voters fall into the definition of insanity that's been going around: doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for a different result. Keep up the great work.