As everyone knows, the Scottish Rite is actually some sort of secret society bent on world domination. It includes the Gettys, Rotschilds, Vatican, Queen Elizabeth, George Foreman and Scott Armstrong. Shawn Millan is their evil henchman, and sure enough, he was the first person I saw when I entered the belly of the beast. He had local Republican Julian Stolz strapped to the rack, and was yelling as I slipped past him.
"Talk, Stolz! Did you ever vote for a Democrat, yes or no?"
Shawn turned the crank a little and poor Julian broke down.
"Alright, alright, I admit it. I voted for Sam Bennett. She has nice hair."
Shawn laughed maniacally, and cranked the rack a little more.
It's nice to see someone who really loves his job.
I decided to disguise myself instead of telling this horde of nearly two hundred meat-eating, gun-toting conservatives that a pinko was in their midst. So when I got my name tag, I carefully scrawled "Barack Obama." That should fool those knuckledraggers.
Unfortunately, Joe Hilliard blew my cover almost immediately. "Hey Bernie, nice to see you. You and Barack Obama have the same initials and you both stink." Right after that, Scott Armstrong grabbed me and said, "You're paying for your food."
"Rightyo, Scott, rightyo."
That's why I was there. I was expecting a buffet of lobster and filet mignon and whatever else it is that Republicans eat. Maybe freedom fries. But all I saw were chicken mcnuggets and watermelon. What is up with that? Obviously, this was intended as some sort of racist slur.
Let me tell you, it was a veritable who's who of local conservatives. In addition to the players I've already mentioned, I saw Vic Mazziotti, John Hinkle, Lou Hershman, Dave Shoemaker, Glenn Eckhart, Dawn Berrigan, Bill Hall, Dave Balliet, Bill Platt, Dr. Bob Romancheck and Mike Schware. I also finally met affable Allentown City Council candidate Joe Brudnak.
Former Northampton County Council member Nick Sabatine told this collection of conservatives they need to work within the Republican pary. Third party efforts will fail. He should know. He organized the Patriot Party in Pennsylvania and ultimately became its national chair. Although his party included people as varied as Klansmen and Communists, it has evaporated. Nick explained why. "Ultimately, people will not vote for a third party candidate because they can't win. They can only make a point."
Last night's keynote speaker was Lehigh County Exec candidate Scott Ott, who delivered a lengthy but stirring speech. At his most eloquent, he derided real estate taxes as the "most pernicious form of taxation out there," noting their impact on seniors with fixed incomes. "We owe them an explanation of what we do with their money. You think we pay sheriffs to take care of you. But we pay them to take away your home. ... Is it too much to ask that our government show a little restraint and cut spending at this time?" Ott claims that incumbent Exec Don Cunningham has "backed himself into a corner," which means a tax increase or spending cuts next year.
"You lie!" I was ready to shout, but Millan was a little too close and had already turned poor Julian Stolz into an NBA player. So I ate some watermelon.
Ott received a standing ovation from an obviously friendly crowd. The closing ceremonies included a raffle drawing, followed by some waterboarding videos. The fruit basket was won by a person Scott Armstrong called the "biggest fruit in the room." Me.
Those damn Republicans can't win anything.
Now I completely disagree with most of what I heard last night. I believe government exists to help people who can't help themselves, while these folks tend to view government as our worst enemy. But I still left feeling really good inside. Despite occasional digs that were more humorous than insulting, we both want to help people. There was none of the partisan rancor that has made dialogue impossible. We just have different approaches.