Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Isn't That Special?

Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m such a novice when it comes to politics (except for the 18 years I spent as an officer in a community organization, during which time I read Roberts Rules of Orders, The Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, and Wealth of Nations, among other works).

But I thought one of the Democrats’ biggest complaints was Special Interest Groups? Those evil, K-Street lobbyists who line the halls of Congress bribing our representatives to represent them instead of the people who elected them?

That was why we Republicans kicked our representatives out of office in 2006. Whose side were they on here, we wondered, as they helped spend our government into oblivion. Apparently, Democrats don’t have any conscience about it at all.

In spite of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform, a bipartisan effort, they were all too happy when a judge ruled against the act, stating that corporations and unions may make contributions to elections.

Obama promised change and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D) in New Jersey’s 8th District has gotten a lot of change so far for the upcoming, 2010 mid-term elections. $473,500 worth of change, to be exact, the last time anyone checked. And there are still three months to go.

Pascrell is an entrenched Democrat who has held sway over the 8th District for a number of years. His Republican challenger, Roland Straten, hasn’t spent his life as a career politician. A lifelong resident of the area, he’s been too busy for politics (though never too busy for his community, serving on the Paterson Rotary, the Paterson Education Fund, the Paterson Chamber of Commerce, the Paterson Economic Development Corporation, the Memorial Day Nursery, and the board of St. Joseph’s Hospital).

As a 40 year businessman, Navy veteran, and licensed engineer, he knows how to earn money and manage a business. Now he must learn to raise money and manage a political campaign.

Can he do it? The question is, what are we going to do?  Pascrell’s “investors” have donated that money to his campaign largely for the purpose of mailings and commercials. Just what is Pascrell’s message going to be? How he’s going to “protect” us from the special interests, the lobbyists, that he’s all for the “little guy.”

The list of political contributions from the Federal Election Commission shows some very curious entries.

The Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE). $1,000 (The National Rural Electric Cooperative). Excuse me? We’re the 8th District. The City of Paterson, the county seat of Passaic County, is at its center. Nearby is hoity toity Montclair with the New York City (electric) train running right through its center. Garfield. Verona. Wayne (think Willowbrook Mall). If you want to get nostalgic, Wayne was rural, once upon a time. It used to be the home of Preakness Farms, the race horse farm for which the famous Preakness horse race is named. Now it’s all malls, flood plains, and mini mansions. About the only rural section is The Crossroads between the Hamburg Turnpike and Route 23.

They couldn’t mean Pompton Lakes. A few years ago, Pompton Lakes had a spectacular 23 transmission box blowout that shut off half the town, including its business district. Pompton Lakes definitely has electric (though they didn’t have it that particular night).

Rural. Well it seems they began during World War II when there was a shortage of electrical construction. They now represent consumer-owned electric cooperatives. Okay, so let’s see who else is on that list. The Airline Pilots Association. A union. Caldwell Airport? There are a bunch of academies. The American Academy of:  Dermatology, Family Physicians, Neurology Professionals, Ophthalmology ($8,500 – obviously, the Congressman will need new glasses to read all the bills he’s helped pass), and the American College of Cardiology (for all those patients who are going to have heart attacks when they see their taxes in January).

AFSCME has donated tons of money of course, the municipal employees union. $4,000 to keep themselves employed for another two years or so. Anheuser-Busch. AFLAC. The American Hospital Association. The American Bankers Association. The American Dental Association (we’ll keep them busy grinding our teeth over Pascrell’s growth of government).

The Amalgamated Transit Union. American Council of Engineering Companies. The American College of Radiology. AT &T. The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries. The American Nurses Association. The American Psychiatric Association (they can certify that the people who vote for Pascrell are crazy).

These are just the As. Continental Airlines Employee Fund. Bayer Corporation. Becton, Dickerson. Boeing Company. Bristol Myers. The Committee on Letter Carriers Education Fund. The International Longshoreman’s Union. Cablevision. Chubb Corporation.

General Electric. Honeywell. Johnson & Johnson. National Community Pharmacists Association. Mass. Mutual Life, Merck, MetLife, and New York Life. The NEA. SEIU. NAIFA (The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors – shame on them). The Sierra Club is a major sponsor.

The National Limousine Association?

Well, you get the picture. You can see the entire list and the contributions here. Click here for the list

Most of those contributors have a special interest horse in the race. These very same contributors showering Pascrell with money now will be lining up in the hallways after the election waiting for their payback, at our expense. We will ultimately pay for all those mesmerizing commercials, telling us repeatedly what a friend Pascrell is to the common man, how financial reform and Obamacare will benefit us.

I wasn’t able to participate in the Montclair parade, where Straten was behind Pascrell in the line up. A prior commitment and the heat prevented me from going. I never even made it to the prior commitment. But Pascrell was at the Totowa Memorial Day Parade. I didn’t see him but I saw his entourage trotting after him, throwing his unspoken promises of political favors out to the crowd the way some organizations throw free candy out to the crowds from their parade floats.

The thing about parades is after the parade is over, the people, especially the kids, drop the American flags they’ve been waving to pick up the free candy. Over the years, I’ve collected a fair number of those discarded flags. They’re all over my house.

Looking at Pascrell’s FEC Campaign Donation List, I see a parade of special interest spectators waiting for the free candy to be tossed out and I anticipate all the American flags that will be discarded along the way if he’s elected (again) as they follow him to Washington.

Isn’t that just special?


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