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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Charlie Dent's Official Kickoff For Third Term: It's Hammer Time!

Seriously, what's the deal with all that facial hair at The Morning Call? It's bad enough that every editor and columnist is trying to look like a college professor, but now their reporters are getting in on the act, too. I met one of their star journalists, Daryl Nerl, last night at The Four Points Sheraton on Airport Road. Maybe it's me, but I think he's taking things too far.

Before you get the wrong idea about my little rendezvous with Daryl at a local watering hole on a Friday night, I better explain we were both there on business. In fact, I finally got to meet blogger and Morning Call op-ed columnist Pam Varkony last night, too. I was stunned and, for once, speechless. In addition to being such an excellent writer, she's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. Unfortunately, she brought her husband. I tried slipping a few of my extra valiums into one of his drinks, but Shawn Millan drank it instead and passed out immediately, falling right into the indoor pool.

We were just a few of about three hundred enthusiastic fans who braved the cold rain last night to watch Charlie Dent announce his candidacy for a third term as the Lehigh Valley's representative to Congress.

I have never been to one of these things before, and arrived at the Sheraton early. Then I decided I should be fashionably late, so I sat in my jeep, popped a few Valiums (I have a prescription, damn it!), and waited for the parking lot to fill up. These Dent fans were all pretty young. College age. That surprised me. I finally followed a large group and walked behind them into this room with a big strobe light and loud music. Everyone was boozing and kicking it up, dancing to "Hammer Time."

Man, these Republicans know how to party! After about an hour, it finally dawned on me that I was in the wrong frickin' room. I did get a few phone numbers, but they all go to a VD hotline for some reason.

When I finally got to the right room, I slipped on my "At Issue Ron Angle" polo shirt and tried to look rich. Little did I know that Republicans hate Ron as much as Democrats. Several looked at me menacingly, but Shawn Millan squared me away. He slapped a nametag over the "At Issue Ron Angle" and I scribbled "Meg Holland, Jr.," on it. After that, people were pretty nice.

"So you're Meg Holland, Jr."

"That's right."

"So what do you do?"

"I'm an architect."

I fit right in.

All kidding aside, the crowd was very cordial and affectionate. I got more kisses last night than in my fifty-six years on earth. Nancy Dienel, Dawn Berrigan, Dottie Niklos, Pam Varkony and Scott Armstrong all planted one on me. No phone numbers.

Charlie was introduced by Lehigh County Republican Chair Bill Platt, who scares the shit out of me because he looks exactly like his dad. Bill reminded the crowd of words once uttered by our poet president, Abraham Lincoln. “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

If anything sums up Charlie Dent, it's those two simple sentences. Charlie Dent is a man proud of the place in which he lives. In his eight minute speech, he made that clear. "I will be your representative to Washington, not Washington's representative to you. I live here and will not take for granted this community that has been so good to me. I have a lot more to get done."
And what I like most about his style of leadership is his reliance on the people in his district. "Original ideas don't come from Washington and Harrisburg. They come from you." Charlie also lives so that this place will be proud of him. The very first thing he did was ask his wife and very active kids to come up and join him.

Pam Varkony has a terrific and accurate summary of the points Dent made in his brief address. I'd say that, of all these points, there are three things he stressed the most.

First, he insists we must end our oil dependence, especially from unstable parts of the world, and look for alternative forms of energy. "Americans landed a man on the moon. We ushered in the information age. American ingenuity can find an answer." No one disputes our global gas gauge is flickering on E. Dent is a co-founder of the House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus, and wants to convert Route 78 into a hydrogen highway, but has told me before that he supports any environmentally friendly alternative that works.

Second, he mentioned our security, and I'm not talking about battles in far flung corners of the world, but our safety here at home, in places like Allentown or Easton. He warned that a "growing menace" of "violent gangs" are "preying" on our communities and even our schools. He has already provided funds for 300 digital video camera systems for police in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. These both protect officers and provide oversight. Thanks to Dent, Allentown police will have better radio gateways, so they can talk to law enforcement in surrounding departments. The federal government can't supply police officers, but can supply funds for equipment that should enable cities to beef up their forces. In addition, Dent has introduced the Anti-Gang Task Force Act, which authorizes $20 million per year to establish new multi-jurisdictional anti-gang task forces consisting of appropriate local, state and federal officials.

Finally, he noted our health care crisis, noting that individuals should be able to take advantage of the same discounts for health insurance that are offered to businesses. And he stressed that individuals should be allowed to choose their own health care providers.

After his speech, Pam took my picture with Dent. What poor Charlie doesn't know is that I stole his wallet. Hey, I'm a Democrat, and that's what we do. Unfortunately, he only had $3. The Morning Call's Daryl Nerl was kind enough to allow Pam and I watch as he peppered Dent with question after question. No softballs. Pam had some good questions, too. I'll tell you about that next week. Right now, I have a few more calls to make. It's Hammer Time!
Update: Daryl Nerl's more accurate account of last night's event is here. Dent did tell Nerl he disagrees with McCain's immigration views and hasn't decided on a presidential favorite, but is "leaning towards McCain" at the moment.

30 comments:

Chris said...

Let me see, $224K for the arts in Bethlehem at SteelStax. $20M for camers and radios to fight crime in Allentown. The promise of a boondoggle health care program to rival medicare, medicaid, and the durg program. Yet where in the US Constitution does Representative Dent get the power to do this. The public is fed up with pork. The Congressional and Presidential candidates tell us that they get it. Senator McCain now tells us that he voted against the Bush tax cuts because there were no spending cuts. Yet on this weekend Charlie Dent out spends Fast Eddie on buying votes. Thank the good Lord he doesn't have any competition this year. What would he spend then.

Pamela Varkony said...

Bernie,

I wondered what Sean was doing in the pool. I thought he might be demonstrating some new hydro-electric environmental initiative of Charlie's.

Good thing my husband didn't end up with that vitamin-laced cocktail...the Glock that he carries would have gotten all wet.

Now if he just doesn't read the nice things you said about me, you and I might both live to post another day.

Anonymous said...

Bill Platt's son is a poor excuse for a party leader. With Bill Platt leading the Republicans we ahve no excuse to not win this Congressional seat. I just hope that we can find a viable candidate at the 11th hour to step up and let us do it.

BTW: In this past election, Lehigh COunty Democrtas won every conty row office in which they fielded a candidate. Unfortuantely we did not have anybody willing to run against Jim Martin. In additon, all4 County commisioenrs seats up for election in 2007 were previously held by 4 Republicans and we won 2 more seats on the Lehigh COunty Commissioners. Bill Platt II may just be the greatest thing to ever happen for the Lehigh COunty Democartic party. Now all we need I beg you is to find a bona fide candidate to run against Shawm Millan's talking robot named Charlie Dent.

Bill Villa said...

"Unfortuantely we did not have anybody willing to run against Jim Martin."

Anon 4:22, why do you think this was again (no one ran against Jimbo 4 years ago either). And don't be a-scared to answer, you're anonymous ...

Anonymous said...

Wishing and hoping aside. Dent will whip Sam Bennet worse than Dertinger. Even Dem's being strong armed by the party don't support her. Outside of fanatic Dem's and disgruntled Repub's, most voters when weighting the two will even reluctantly pull Dents lever over that of Sam the Sham.
I'm a Dem who travels in Dem circles.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is the perfect opportunity to knock Charlie Dent off of his perch. However, I am still hoping that somebody, anybody, will step up and take him on. All we need is a half way viable candidate. I think that the point about Sam Bennett being completely un-electable is very valid. Sam Bennett is un-electable even to those of us who have never voted Republican in our lives. I also think that the local Republican party is at a low point in that they have zero leadership. Shawn "Big Loser" Millan and Bill Platt are both the best thing we have going for us. Now is the time to draft a viable candidate and knock off Charlie Dent.

Anonymous said...

Sam Bennett is going to be the Dem candidate so deal with it.

She has been traveling around on her Wash DC consultant's orders and she probably thinks that she has raised enough money to be a real player.

Deluded is more like it.

Any way you look at it, though, she will be the candidate and she will lose -- probably in a spectacular and dramatic fashion that will further harm the local Democratic Party as well as other Dem candidates.

Her ego trip will trump reality once again.

What a crying shame.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County Republicans lost less than 30 elections out of well over 100 races in Lehigh County in 2007. I hear Platt's got over 200g coming to the Party this year. Do the math. We Dems better look out or we will lose the Allentown Mayor, a couple more Commissioner seats and we'll be seeing the last of Jennifer Mann. Bill Platt scares the shit out of me too.

Anonymous said...

Bernie --

Shawn "Big Loser" Millan here. Woke up this morning face down in the Sheraton's pool with my wallet missing and a harpoon in my side.

Do you think someone is trying to send me a message.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Shawn, That was your wallet? You really should carry more than $3.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bill Platt II may just be the greatest thing to ever happen for the Lehigh COunty Democartic party. Now all we need I beg you is to find a bona fide candidate to run against Shawm Millan's talking robot named Charlie Dent.

I only met Bill for the first time last night. I've got to tell you I loved his Lincoln quote, and it is a very accurate description of Charlie Dent's style of public service. He was a little taken aback himself after hearing those words from our poet president. Even today, nobody tops Lincoln.

As far as Charlie being a talking robot is concerned, I don't know where to start. When he spoke to the media after his speech, Shawn was floating in the pool. He had no help from anyone. And he needed none either. He's extrremely well-versed on national and international issues. That distnguished from all of our recent congressmen, exceptig McHale, who also had an active interest in foreign affairs.

He gave Nerl, Varkony and me a lecture about Iraq and Afghanistan after his speech, and it was as detailed and thorough as anything you'll read in the NYT. I'll try to summartize it next week.

It is always a big mistake to underestimate an opponent.

Anonymous said...

The conservative wing of the GOP does not like Dent, but takes what it can get, given that it's just a matter of time before the 15th District seat goes blue forever, like the rest of PA.

Liberals hate Dent as if he's a true conservative.

Guys who walk down the middle get shot at from both sides and usually lose. That Dent will not lose is testimony to the utter ridiculousness of Bennett's candidacy.

Perhaps it's because Dent can't stop spending, believes life starts at birth - or shortly thereafter sometimes, and is left of Hillary on the Iraq war. On many critical issues, Dent's not a real bad choice for Dems.

Bill Villa said...

"Unfortuantely we did not have anybody willing to run against Jim Martin."

Anon 4:22, why do you think this was again (no one ran against Jimbo 4 years ago either). And don't be a-scared to answer, you're anonymous ...

Anonymous said...

Does the Congressman agree with the presumptive GOP nominee Sen. McCain, that we will need to be in Iraq for the next 50 to 100 years ? And, if he does, is it his belief that Iraq will be as stable as some of the other countries that we've been in for fifty years such as S. Korea or Germany ?

Not so Casual Obsever said...

I have been following this blog for a day or so and now I must respond.

The 20M that is being brought into the the Lehigh Valley by Dent is for homeland security and crime abatement. We have the presence of MS-13 here in the valley. There are gang killings in Easton, Allentown, Reading all the time. If Dent had a D after his name you would all be in favor the money coming. If he did nothing there would be grousing that he does not care about the people in the valley and their problems.

Admit the fact that we have a good legislator in Charlies Dent, and one of the resons that they cannot find anyone who can beat him is becasue anyone with any sense knows he does his job and is very popular amonst Dems and Reps alike.
The worthwhile D's won't run against him, so what you get is second rate candidates.

It is time to open our eyes and see the good officials we have like Dent and Stoffa and stop bashing them becasue of the letter they have after their name.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, enjoyed your post. It was nice to meet you.
Dawn Berrigan

Bill Villa said...

"Unfortuantely we did not have anybody willing to run against Jim Martin." -Anon 4.22

Okay .. lemme throw this out to any of you anonymous DemExperts: why do you think no Dem was willing to run against Jim Martin in 2007 ... and 2003? I'm really interested in knowing your answer(s) to this question (and youse seem to know everything) so what do you think? What's the reason? Apathy? Job doesn't pay enough? Martin too crony-connected? Judges in his pocket? What. Also, do you Dems feel any shame for sticking us with Jim Martin for another, unopposed, 4 years? And will you have a Dem candidate for DA in 2011? FYI, I'm a Democrat ...

marc said...

Would have been there to see you at Charlie's kickoff Bernie, but spent the weekend watching my son and his teammates wrestle at the District XI Duals a Freedom. One fantastic event! I think we should match up the D's and the r's and let them go at it on the mat for charity! It would be glorious! We could end all of the bickering once and for all!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Does the Congressman agree with the presumptive GOP nominee Sen. McCain, that we will need to be in Iraq for the next 50 to 100 years ?

Now why do you say this? We all know this is a distortion of what McCain actually said. You should at least be honest. Dent has a number of differences w/ McCain. I'll be posting about Iraq later this week.

hayshaker said...

Is it me or does anyone find in sad and disturbing that Dent would be playing MC Hammer at a campaign event?

Charlie "Rubber Stamp" Dent. Hopefully the Democrats will win and Charlie will be irrelevant in the grand scheme. If McCain wins, we're in trouble. Dent will rubber stamp anything being the political opportunist that he is. Surprising he didn't robo-call me to tell me what he did this week. He did get in the paper with a big pork check this week though.

hayshaker said...

Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years — (cut off by McCain)

McCAIN: Make it a hundred.

Q: Is that … (cut off)

McCAIN: We’ve been in South Korea … we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans …

Q: [tries to say something]

McCAIN: As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me, I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Queada is training and equipping and recruiting and motivating people every single day.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Buchanan: "There's no doubt John McCain is going to be a war president. ... His whole career is wrapped up in the military, national security. He's in Putin's face, he's threatening the Iranians, we're going to be in Iraq a hundred years."

Bernie O'Hare said...

McCain did not state, as asserted by an anon, that we need to remain in Iraq for 100 years. What he did state is that we need to remain there as long as it takes to make the area stable.

The quotation cited by Hayshaker is the one I've seen.

But Hayshaker, you still need a few reading lessons. Dent's band was not playing Hammer Time. That music was being played in the next room, where college kids apparently go every weekend to dance and booze it up. I was in that room by accident for about an hour. I need reading lessons, too.

The lyrics are about as inoffensive as you can get. But MC Hammer probably woud not qualify as one of those Property of Merit types that you and Sam Bennett invite to your wine and cheese parties.

hayshaker said...

I never said anything about being offensive. Just corny. It is fitting I suppose that a career politician would see re-election as "Hammer Time." Maybe that will the background music the next time he robo-calls me.

I don't drink wine and have never met Sam Bennett. I see little difference between her and Dent however. Bennett -probably- won't rubber stamp neo-con foreign policy though.

As for McCain, he is more hawkish than Bush ever was or claimed to be. You want war in Syria and Iran? McCain is your man.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hayshaker,

As for McCain, he is more hawkish than Bush ever was or claimed to be.

I'm not sure. Bush is a chickenhawk while McCain is the real deal. He also has a brain, and don't think Rummy or Cheney are too fond of him.

We are not electing CandyAss. You can jump and frolic through the daisies all you want. The world is a scary place and we need a tough president. And one who has a brain.

Anonymous said...

Dent's campaign was never relevant
on having any real solutions
in resolving the problems that the "GOA" General Accounting Office had brought to light.

Giving him and credit for public office is an embarrassment to schools, teachers, and citizen's civic IQ.

We all are in a poor state of AFFAIRS from him being in office for so long!

GAO: "USA is living
beyond its means"

hayshaker said...

McCain has a brain? Out of the four remaining candidates, I'd rank McCain as the lowest intellectually. And yes, we need a tough president when you need to get tough. Poking Iran and Syria is not tough, it's stupid. But then again, there is a large but shrinking segment of the populace who still believe America is under siege. Talk about dumb.

Anonymous said...

A guaranteed way to avoid "chicken-hawks" is to live in any number of banana republics where ALL the elected officials are former military - and many still wear their uniforms!

Anonymous said...

Sam the Scam makes anybody else look good.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Sam the Scam makes anybody else look good.


She doesn't make Charlie Dent look good.

I vote for her over Charlie any day.

I can even do better than Sam.

It's Bill Hall for Congress!