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Blue America: Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-08)

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[FDL is thrilled to welcome Pat Murphy to chat with us today.  And a big congratulations to the Murphy's on the birth of Maggie — what a cutie.  As with all Blue America chats, please stay on topic in the comments and please be polite.  Any off-topic discussions should be taken to the prior thread.  Please join me in welcoming Rep. Pat Murphy to FDL! — CHS]

I was as angry last night about the Inside-the-Beltway Democrats picking Lieberman to speak as Pach— and almost every progressive blogger I know– was. Like Pach, I think a lot of people wanted to give the Democratic Party some room to establish itself without tough criticism from the rank and file as the new Congress began, but leaders like Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel and even Harry Reid have just not delivered. And earlier in the week I was just as pissed off about Hoyer's mega-golf extravaganza with a planeful of lobbyists in the Caribbean, and about Ari Berman's story exposing Max Baucus as the worst corporate whore in the Democratic senatorial caucus.

It made me ask myself if the efforts our community made– efforts that contributed to the enhanced powers of people like Emanuel and Hoyer– were wasted.

And then I read a bill that 4 of our newly elected Democrats — Joe Sestak, Carol Shea-Porter, Steve Cohen and Patrick Murphy — had just proposed, H.R. 960, Enhancing America's Security through Redeployment from Iraq Act. Reading the text calmed me down and then made me feel proud of our efforts to elect anti-war grassroots Democrats and progressives. It made me redouble my efforts at getting Congressman Patrick Murphy to come and spend some time with us online today.

Patrick J. Murphy was raised in a row-home in the far northeast corner of Philadelphia, PA. The child of a legal secretary and a Philadelphia police officer, Patrick led the typical life of an Irish-Catholic kid growing up in the Parkwood section of Philly; he went to St. Anselm’s for grade school and Archbishop Ryan for high school, played a lot of hockey, and was constantly surrounded by a expansive network of family and friends. The lessons that Patrick learned in those early years would help propel him through his career in the United States Army and beyond; even helping him win a seat in Congress at the age of 33.

Perhaps the most important lessons Patrick learned were the values of service and sacrifice.

When Patrick signed up for the Army in college, he was following the example of his father, brother, and 3 uncles; all of whom served in the US military. In fact, even Patrick's name has significant meaning. Patrick is named after Patrick Ward, his mother's childhood friend, who was killed while serving as a door gunner in Vietnam. The example set by his family and his namesake is what motivated Patrick to enlist in the Army ROTC program while at King's College.

It also drove him to leadership roles throughout his early life; student body president at King's, heading up the Harrisburg Civil Law Clinic while in Law School, and leading a massive sandbagging effort in 1996 that was credited with helping to spare the city of Wilkes-Barre, PA from a damaging flood. But it was during his career in the Army were Patrick most fully lived the values he was learned as a young boy.

Patrick's career in the Army first took him to Baumholder, Germany and then to West Point, NY. He began his time at West Point serving as a General Practice Attorney in the office of the Staff Judge Advocate but was soon appointed to be a Special Assistant US Attorney and then a professor of Constitutional Law for the next generation of military leaders. At the time Patrick was the youngest West Point professor since W.W.II. Then 9/11 happened.

Immediately following 9/11, Patrick asked his commanding officer that he be deployed overseas. He was deployed twice, first serving as a Command Judge Advocate for the 3rd Armored Division in Tuzla, Bosnia and then as a Captain with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, Iraq. Patrick served in Iraq from 2002-2003, and was later awarded the Bronze Star for his service.

In Iraq, Patrick saw striking indications that United States’ policy in Iraq was flawed. Just ask him about the difference in manpower between the Philadelphia Police Department and the 82nd Airborne in Al-Rasheed, Baghdad. Patrick saw first-hand the woeful mismanagement, waste, and corruption that beset the war from the beginning. He knew something had to change.

The day Patrick was released from the Army in 2004 he drove through the night from Fort Bragg, NC to Philadelphia, PA, finally crashing on a friend's couch in the early morning. A few hours later Patrick walked through the doors of the Kerry/Edwards campaign and volunteered his services. He worked for the Kerry/Edwards ticket as their Pennsylvania Veterans Coordinator. When the bid failed Patrick felt a keen desire to further the message of change, even if it meant making a long-shot run for the US Congress.

After emerging from a hard-fought primary, Patrick took on rubber stamp incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick in what would prove to be one of the closest elections in the country. Running hard on a positive message of change, Patrick defeated Fitzpatrick by a final count of 1,518 votes. Shortly after his election, Patrick's wife Jenni gave birth to their first child, Margaret Grace Murphy. Congressman Murphy was sworn in on January 4th with his seven week old daughter in his arms.

Since taking office, Patrick has worked hard to deliver on his campaign promises, first by helping to usher through the initiatives in the Democrat's 100-Hour agenda, and delivered his first speech from the House floor advocating the reinstitution of fiscal responsibility and a pay-as-you-go system of budgeting. But, some would say, Patrick's main legislative agenda has been focused on the war.

Patrick has a unique profile as the first and only Iraq War veteran elected to Congress.

Part of the reason the folks of the 8th CD elected Patrick was to take a leadership role in this debate and help push Iraq policy in the right direction. Patrick Murphy, with Senator Obama and Congressman Thompson, has proposed the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007. The bill would stop President Bush's troop escalation plan and initiate a withdrawal of all American combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008.

He described their bill as offering "a practical, bipartisan option so we can win in the Middle East and start bringing our troops home from Iraq."

The bill would cap the number of American troops in Iraq at this month's level and start a "phased redeployment" of U.S. troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan, other countries in the Middle East or back home. The phased redeployment would start no later than May 1, 2007. Once completed, a limited number of troops would remain in Iraq for counterterrorism efforts and to train Iraqi forces. He has also sought to combat the wasteful spending he saw in Iraq by proposing H.Res.97, also know as Providing for OIF Cost Accountability.

Last year our Blue America efforts raised Patrick's campaign $7,700. Fitzpatrick has already announced he intends to challenge him to a re-match. In the past weeks we talked about helping freshmen who have lived up to their campaign promises financially so that they are not dependent on K Street lobbyists and special interests. Please give us a hand in helping a freshman who is living up to the promises he made us keep his seat. Here's the Blue America ActBlue Page. There is no contribution that isn't welcome no matter how small.

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.

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