Grass roots politics

Bill Clinton, yes the former President, is expected to make an appearance Saturday, 3/28, in the Girardville St Patty’s Day Parade.  Yes, St Patty’s Day was earlier in the month but as a testament to good old fashioned values, Girardville moved their parade so that it would not interfere with Holy Saturday.  

And now you can ask–Where the hell is Girardville, PA?  (http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=275805#Hist2) It’s a small town outside of Ashland in Schuylkill County.  It’s population tops out at about 1,750 and the median income hovers around $23,000, almost $20,000 less than the national average.  The median rent is about $234, and a mortgage around $500.  From experience, it’s a nice little town. 

While Sen Obama continues his cat and mouse game in the state,  the Clintons are taking every opportunity to showcase Hilary’s message.  One of the Clintons has made an appearance somewhere in NEPA every week since the primaries came to PA.  Sen Obama meanwhile has taken a vacation and put out cryptic notices that he’ll be in the area sometime soon, probably Tuesday, and possibly anywhere.   In PA there is only one candidate who wants to win and that is Sen Clinton.  With the former President’s appearance on Saturday, he will add another 1,000 or more votes to the popular vote totals of his wife.  That’s just the population of Girardville.  Last year attendance numbered between 10,000 -15,000.  

I’m no fan of the Clintons but what they are doing in NEPA is smart politics.  They have shown that there is no town too small and no voter too insignificant that they can’t try to reach on a personal level.  Politicians overlook places like Girardville too often and yet it is in these places where campaigns and issues are debated the most fervently.  Ideas are born in these towns that later shape the direction of our nation.  The people living in these towns are the “grass roots” politicians praise on the campaign trail when they weave their way through cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

In the end I still can’t support Sen Clinton because of her policies. However,  the very least I can do is raise a green glass of beer in late March for her efforts (through her former President husband) to reach the proverbial “grass roots” voters in Girardville and all of the other “little” towns in NEPA.  (Maybe Bill and I can raise that glass together after the parade and exchange campaign buttons!)

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Current State of the Race for 08

While Sen Obama is defending his pastor and talking about “a typical white person”(yes he did say it) and Sen Clinton is stuck in a room laughing hysterically over her rival’s implosion, Sen McCain has been touring overseas and acting Presidential. 

While traveling with Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman this week, Sen McCain met with Gen Petraeus during his 8th trip to Iraq since 2003 and traveled Baghdad with Iraqi and American military personnel.  Sen McCain then met with leaders in Israel, Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Britain and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  McCain’s trip was just another nail in the foreign policy coffin the Democrats are lying in as they attempt to win the White House and retain control of Congress this year. 

As Senators Obama and Clinton continue to make speeches regarding foreign policy affairs, Sen McCain was being proactive in foreign affairs.  The meetings he had with world leaders this week may amount to nothing, as he is not yet President.  However, only Sen McCain can reach out to these leaders before he is President because of his experience with world leaders over 20 years in Congress.  The meetings may also prove to be valuable tools as he addresses voter concerns over the war and other issues around the world. 

Sen Obama has made 3 trips overseas since being elected.  His foreign policy experience is essentially nonexistent.  Sen Clinton, while having  relationships with world leaders and their wives, has continued to focus on poll numbers to shape her foreign policy initiatives.  Both say they want to lead the US and reshape American foreign policy if they elected President.  Both fail to show their commitment to America’s standing around the world by neglecting the realities of current events, especially in Iraq. 

The current sate of the race for 08 has Sen Obama debating race issues.  A debate he started and is having trouble arguing.  It has Sen Clinton saying what she needs to say to win the nomination of her party, a mathematical improbability at this point.  And the race for 08 has Sen McCain practicing what he preaches both in Congress and on the campaign trail,  reaching out to other leaders to ensure the safety and continued prosperity of America.  In other words, the work of a President. 

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Obama’s Race Card

Sen Obama is the latest politician to use race as a divisive issue in this campaign.    In his “race speech” yesterday  he spoke of slavery and discrimination as ills passed on to us by the founding fathers.  He asked whites to ” acknowledge that what ails the black community does not exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination are real and must be addressed.” He blamed the “middle class squeeze” on corporate America and its need/greed for profit and said that white resentment of minorities flows from these “culprits” who are sending jobs overseas and/or into poorer countries of color.  He blamed the past for the black community not having more millionaires, saying “legalized discrimination meant black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath future generations.”  and this “lack of economic opportunity and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide..contributed to the erosion of the black families.”  And he excused his pastor’s comments by saying that this is the culture that Rev Wright grew up in. 

 His option of coming together to say “Not this Time” to divisive politics is based on the idea that whites bear a burden of responsibility for what is happening today in schools, heath-care and the world.  While professing a belief in the can do, self help attitude of America during his speech, Sen Obama maintained that society can only change with more money and ironically more government control in health-care, education and other societal issues. 

Unfortunately, Sen Obama’s dream of a more perfect union can’t be bought.  It also can not come about by blaming the past for the ills of American society today.   The only way a more perfect union can come about is to forget race and gender and age and focus on the issues that are important to everyone.  After we identify those issues it is up to us, as individuals not races, to pursue happiness, not expect it from our government. 

Mr Obama comes to Town

Scranton caught a glimpse of Sen Obama last night.  That’s it, just a glimpse.  Obama arrived in town and ducked in the back door of a local eatery with a quick wave of his hand to supporters outside.  Once inside he taped a round-table discussion for MTV with Iraq war veterans.  It will air later, no doubt when they promote their new movie Stop Loss.  Then on to the Radison in Scranton.  Sen Obama gave a 10 minute speech to about 500 people about his Irishness(?) and the history of the Irish in Scranton and America.  Again he sidestepped the supporters outside presumably to avoid the scattered protesters also outside.  Then he was gone. 

What can you say about his visit other than it was a waste of time?  News coverage of the event is taking a backseat to the opening of a new newsroom in Stroudsburg.  Talk radio is trying to defend, with little conviction,  his not talking or shaking hands with supporters at the airport or at the events.  And people were generally nice when interviewed, saying it was nice of him to come and give a little speech. 

Sen Obama did not gain any votes,  and may have cost himself some, with his visit to Scranton yesterday.  The die hard fans of the rock star are scratching their heads today wondering why the man in the stylish, but not very Irish,  green tie didn’t even come to say hello.  Some have even called local talk radio hosts to say that they were offended by Obama yesterday.  Ultimately Mr Obama’s campaign will focus on Philly and Pittsburgh so I do not expect he will treat NEPA with any sense of urgency.  After yesterday it is clear he thinks he has lost here already.  That’s the first thought Sen Obama and I can come to an agreement on. 

 Next Up, President Bill Clinton in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday!

Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 8:15 am  Comments (2)  
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St Patrick does not support McCain

This weekend was the annual Irish migration to NEPA.  Those who are and those who want to be Irish came to celebrate St Patty’s day in Scranton on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.  Sen Clinton was one of those wanting to be Irish, marching in the parade on Saturday and shaking as many hands and holding as many babies as possible.  Sen Obama’s supporters were chanting loudly and registering voters for the April 22 primary.  Sen Obama was absent from the festivities but opened HQ in both cities on parade day.  But where was Sen McCain’s support? 

As I walked the parade on Sunday in Wilkes-Barre, I wore a McCain campaign button ( I was with another group so a larger sign of support was not appropriate).  Out of the 15,000  reported people attending the parade, I saw only one person make an attempt to show support for McCain.  The local Republicans were not out signing voters up for the primary nor were they passing out any signs,stickers or buttons for support.  Senators Obama and Clinton made strong showings at both events and, in the case of Sen Obama, had loud chanting supporters.  Voter registration drives were happening from both of the Democratic camps and, again most visibly, Obama was leading the effort for registration. 

While Sen McCain has wrapped up the nomination ahead of the 4/22 primary in PA, supporters in NEPA and across PA must get out in any way possible to show support for Sen McCain’s message.  Senators Obama and Clinton have a tough six week fight ahead of them in PA and will undoubtedly get most of the media coverage.  (Sen Clinton, I predict will still win PA by a large margin.)  However,  it is equally important that Sen McCain’s supporters are visible during this time to remind voters that there is a candidate with a solid record of leadership both in his party and across party lines. 

The lack of a Republican voice during the parades this weekend was troublesome.  Again, where were the Republicans?  I will continue to do my small part and can only encourage others to start showing their support in PA, and NEPA specifically.  Let’s not let our voices be drowned out in the tidal wave of support being shown for both Senators Obama and Clinton.   

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 11:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Offending Obama

What exactly can you talk to Sen Obama about?  The latest thing you can’t discuss is his religious affiliation.  Yesterday GMA ran a piece about Sen Obama’s pastor and the radical comments he has made.  The pastor of Obama’s church for the last 20 years blamed America for 9/11, called the US the US of KKK A, and said “not God bless America, God DAMN America!”,  among other things.  In addition, church members that were interviewed did not see anything wrong with the pastor’s statements, one even saying that it’s just called being black in America.  Sen Obama’s staff has said that the Senator does not agree with some of the things the pastor has said and likened him to a crazy old uncle.  however, Sen Obama has not denounced anything the pastor has said during his campaign.

Apparently Sen Obama’s life is untouchable.  When people use his middle name, a registered name with the US government used for Social Security,drivers license etc,  he calls its use extreme. When people point out, factually, that he is receiving a very high percentage of the black vote, he calls it missing the point.  Whenever his race is brought up in any conversation, he calls it racist.  And when voters question his policies they are called Republicans because they don’t understand hope and change.  

I do not believe that race,heritage,gender or religion should be a factor in deciding how to cast your ballot.  However, when serious issues about a candidates past,  are brought up, they need to be discussed.  In Sen Obama’s case the discussion over his pastor’s comments is a legitimate one.  The pastor made defamatory and malicious comments against the USA and the government.  Sen Obama sat in the same church listening to sermons from the same pastor.  Why has he not denounced his pastor’s comments?  Mitt Romney was vetted about his Mormon beliefs and even had to have a press conference about his beliefs and those of the modern Mormon church.  Romney denounced certain beliefs that are held by fundamental Mormons.  Should we not expect the same from Sen Obama whose own church leader has said these very public comments? 

Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 9:27 am  Comments (1)  
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Obama’s achievements

Sen Obama has to have done SOMETHING, ANYTHING in his 3 years as a Senator,  at least that’s what I’m telling myself as I struggle with his cult like personality.  I can’t go on believing that his rise is just because he can turn a phrase.  I have to BELIEVE he actually has a record of CHANGE

What has Sen Obama done in 3 years?

Sponsored a resolution to honor Percy Lavon Julian, African-American chemist, (referred to committee), sponsored a resolution condemning the government of Zimbabwe for violent actions against its citizens (held at desk), introduced a stamp for Rosa Parks (referred to committee),resolution to celebrate the life of Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson (PASSED!!!),resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month(referred to committee), passed July 12,2007 as National Summer Learning Day (!!!!),  sponsored resolution to honor Carl Stokes, first African-American mayor of a major American city Cleveland -(Committee), a bill to require the President to reduce GLOBAL poverty by 1/2 between 1990 and 2015(committee), a bill to amend the Clean Air act to increase the renewable content of gasoline(committee), a bill to prohibit the introduction or delivery of toys containing lead into interstate commerce (committee), a bill to provide procedures for correctly classifying contractors and employees (committee), a bill to authorize  the National Science Foundation to establish a Climate Change Education Program (yep, committee), a bill to promote healthy communities (committee), a bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal Elections( to be voted on later (probably after he’s elected)), and finally one thing that passed that Sen Obama sponsored—a bill to provide relief and promote democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

I’m still trying to find something Sen Obama can claim as a glorious success.  Don’t count him out yet, I’m sure there is a naked mole rat species that needs protecting somewhere.  It’s a quest now to find more outstanding accomplishments Sen Obama has worked across the aisle to promote. 

Published in: on March 10, 2008 at 2:13 pm  Comments (1)  

Here comes Hilary!

Today’s the day!  Sen Clinton is coming to Scranton in a few hours to make her first PA pit stop on her way to winning the state in April.  Her strategy is solid coming in tonight.  She is having some Old Forge pizza on her way from the airport, followed by a visit to the Rodham house to reconnect and reestablish her roots here in PA and then on to Scranton High for her 6PM show.  All three stops give her votes with the locals.  She could tie it up in NEPA tonight if she brings some Old Forge Pizza to the rally. 

Published in: on March 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How Liberal can you get?

I readily admit I channel surf political coverage.  I like coverage from a variety of news outlets and see something new and different everyday.  However, CNN stopped me in my surfing last night when they called Vermont for Obama.  It wasn’t that he won, I thought it would just be a long night for Hilary at that point.  It was the coverage of one particular city in Vermont–Brattleboro. 

Last night, the citizens of Brattleboro passed a referendum stating that the town attorney should draw up indictments against Pres Bush and VP Cheney for crimes against the constitution and authorize police to arrest them if they entered  the town.  President Bush and VP Cheney were compared to Hitler as the petition for the measure was passed for signatures before being approved for the ballot by a select committee in the town.  

 The petition and passage of the referendum is laughable in its treasonous way.  Why didn’t they just vote to leave the Union?  However, it is more disturbing than laughable because these voters are a small sampling of the people who believe in Obama and his ultra liberal message.  Combine this referendum with the witch-hunt Rep Pelosi launched this week and you have the same old “hate Bush ” politics of Kerry and Gore, which worked out so well over the past few years. 

Obama’s message is one of bipartisanship.  His actions in the senate show that 96.5% of the time he is a Democrat first.  His support in Vermont only solidifies the position that he is so Liberal that the constitution does not matter and the principles of the founding fathers are only history and need to be revised to suit America today. 

PA for Clinton

After winning 3 out of 4 last night, Clinton now has her sights set on PA.  In my corner of the world there are only 2 political candidates that have visible support–Clinton and Ron Paul, except of course for my immediate area where I have McCain signs up.   PA will probably go big for Clinton, especially NEPA where I’m sure she will campaign on her family ties to Scranton.  Also Clinton has the support of our Governor, who visits NEPA every other day it seems.  Obama on the other hand is probably too liberal for NEPA where they support gun owner’s rights, are against abortion and mainly catholic yet vote Democrat.  Also any candidate addressing illegal immigration will have to mention Hazelton where they have been trying to enact local anti-illegal immigration laws and under the Mayor, Lou Barletta, who is running for the House against a 20+ year veteran of the House–Paul Kanjorski.  Obama’s stance on immigration will not win him votes in this area. 

Seven weeks is a long time for the candidates to campaign for a state and I expect I will be seeing political ads every other commercial.  For Obama to win in PA he will have to answer some tough questions and go beyond his rhetoric.  Suspending reality to “BELIEVE” doesn’t fly with voters in NEPA.  A great example of this happened a couple years ago when the Mayor of Wilkes-Barre introduced a new initiative to revitalize the downtown.  It was introduced at a big public party where people expected an announcement of new businesses or services coming to the downtown.  Instead at the great unveiling the Mayor introduced a slogan–“BELIEVE” and was almost laughed out of office.  The people of PA , and NEPA especially,  want real solutions and not cute catchphrases. 

So lets begin the rallies and commercials here in PA.  At this point the evidence suggests it is a one person race.  For Obama to make a play in PA,  he will have to overcome years of family ties and years of immigration from the people of NY and NJ who come to live here and continue to work in Hilary’s adopted home state.  It doesn’t look good for Obama.