Category Archives: Congress

The Tucson Tragedy

Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Raleigh, NC.

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It is Sarah Palin’s fault!

Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and other right wing talk radio were the trigger!

Those angry tea-party folks are at the cause!

What complete nonsense!

Everyone seems to blame everyone.  Yet, for some reason, no one wants to blame the alleged gunman.

Am I missing something?

I was listening to morning local talk radio. Nancy Kman stated something to the effect that we should be more cautious in what we say and that certain words could be responsible for triggering a mentally unbalanced person.  That sentiment immediately brought before me a thought of abused women who stay in relationships.  One I knew in particular, after she left, would say; “As long as I didn’t push his buttons he wouldn’t hit me, for the longest time I thought that it was my fault he hit me, you know…. because I would do or say something that would upset him.”

I have to wonder is this what we have come to in society.

Are we all to be so afraid that the wrong word, the wrong comment, the wrong treatment of someone who MAY be unbalanced will spur him or her onto a shooting spree?

Are we now to apply what is obviously flawed logic in an abusive situation to society at large?

Are we now to reason that we are responsible for another’s illegal and immoral actions?

I am responsible for myself and in turn, no one is responsible for me.  I cannot, nor should I be, responsible for the actions of others and in turn no is responsible for my actions.  We can’t control anyone but ourselves.  It is one of the main points I focus on with people who seek my assistance in losing weight.  It is as true in maintaining one’s health as it is in anything else in life.  You can only control you, attempting to control someone else is futile.

Additionally, I have to ask how we are:

ONE supposed to know someone is unbalanced and TWO what would be THEIR trigger.

I had a brief flirtation with the world of politics.  I ran a losing campaign for Congress and I spent a brief period of time acting as a political analyst for WYOU.  In the grand scheme, I was an insignificant blip on the radar.

However, I can relate three occasions that happened during my campaign that caused me some concern. Two of the three involved the same person, so I will relate those together second.

The first incident occurred in Monroe County; I was campaigning at some type of event in which there were many vendors.  I was introducing myself, when at one of the booths; the person behind the stand asked my party affiliation.  When I answered, I was immediately assailed with a verbal onslaught of how George W. Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  No efforts at reason were helpful; this person just continued raising her voice louder and louder until I simply walked away.  The trigger was nothing more than my party affiliation.

The other two occurrences happened at separate times, but by the same person.  The first time I was at an event in Lackawanna County, a volunteer was walking ahead of me asking people if it was okay if I introduced myself and spoke with them for a few moments.  One of the people we talked with was very eager and I spent several minutes with him.  His passion was obvious, and as long as I listened, everything was calm.  After a significant period had passed, I advised him that I understood his concerns; I had even jotted down a few notes, and I would look into what he had told me.  I went to walk on to the next person and I guess that was the trigger. He became agitated.  He claimed that I was not interested in what the people had to say.  I nicely tried to reason with him, that there were other people who wanted to speak with me.  Finally, he seemed to relax, I’m not sure why, but he did and I was able to go on.

The second episode occurred when I was campaigning with my then wife.  We were out doing a downtown tour when I caught a glimpse of this same person heading straight at us.  The speed he was approaching alarmed me and I immediately placed myself between him and my then wife. Immediately a verbal barrage of accusations assailed me about our last meeting.  He claimed I hid the fact that I was a republican and his verbiage increased in both vitriol and volume.  I attempted to engage him in conversation, but anything I said just amplified his anger. Finally, my now ex-wife whispered to me… and I am paraphrasing, “Subdue him or call the police.”  I am not sure why, but something else captured his attention and we were able remove ourselves.

I would guess if either meant me harm, they would have done so.

The question must be asked; how is one to know the trigger?  In retrospect, I don’t believe either of those folks to be mentally unbalanced, they were passionate about their convictions, but they saw my party as the cause of what was wrong and in turn, I became the object of their anger.  Yet, if someone is genuinely unbalanced, inflammatory words or actions may not be something as forthright as calling someone an enemy or having a target over a congressional district.

One life lesson I have learned is that you CANNOT apply rational logic to irrational people — that itself is a striking contradiction.

Dr. Joe Leonardi


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Filed under Congress, Congressman, Conservative, Democrat, Democratic, Freedom, Liberal, Mass Murder, MSNBC, National Public Radio, NBC, NEPA, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, The House

Tucson Arizona Tragedy

Since my failed run for office and my short-lived career as a political analyst, I infrequently comment on politics. However, I am bothered by what has become an apparent attempt to politicize a terrible tragedy.  The attempted assassination of a member of Congress and the senseless death of six innocent bystanders is something that should be above politics. Yet, sadly, it is not.

I have read much speculation and I submitted a column for my friend Dave Yonki’s site for his Write on Wednesday feature, which I will repost here after it runs.

Preparing for that column, I was doing research on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the alleged gunman Jared Loughner.  There is a lot of information out there and there is much speculation and opinion; however, I came across the following item from My Fox NY Website in reporting about Jared Loughner.

“The suspect’s mother works the Pima County Board of Supervisors in Arizona, the briefing added.”

When I did a search for more information there was really nothing out there other than the above line almost thrown on as an after thought.

Now, for those of us who live in Northeast Pennsylvania, we scratch our heads when we read something like that.  Here in good old NEPA, our elected and appointed officials have been running up quite a record of scandal and corruption — so maybe, just maybe we are a little more skeptical.

You see, a person who has had run ins with the law and has no police record and was able to purchase a handgun and has or may have (because I’m not sure if that is just bad grammar and I can’t find another source) a relative working in government, well…. we immediately become, what’s the word I’m looking for???? …. Suspicious.

Sarah Palin at the Time 100 Gala, in Manhattan...

Image via Wikipedia


So is there anyone else out there besides me who finds this somewhat interesting?


What makes me even more interested, is that Sheriff Dupnik really seems to being trying to direct attention onto conservative talks show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and conservative candidates such as Sarah Palin.

Now, I have no idea how politics works in Tucson Arizona.

I am not saying there is anything nefarious going on.

I honestly don’t have any idea.

So, if the question would be is there some kind of political connection?  To that I don’t know the answer.

However, what I find curious is that no one seems to be asking the question.

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Filed under Congress, Conservative, Democrat, Democratic, Liberal, Liberty, MSNBC, Northeast Pennsylvania

Meuser’s Misstep

“I certainly feel employers are obligated to follow the law. But it’s not employers’ responsibility to enforce the law. It means they cannot be fully expected to be able to identify a phony ID from a valid ID.”
Dan Meuser  3/7/08 Scranton Times-Tribune

Meuser’s Misstep
by: Joe Leonardi

Dan Meuser is a candidate seeking the republican nomination to represent the PA 10th in Congress. Because my business is in the district I am interested in the primary, however since I do not reside in the 10th, I can not vote for or against Mr Meuser.

Recently it has been reported that Mr.Meuser’s company, back in 1997, was fined for hiring three illegal immigrants. Out of the thousands of people that Pride has hired since the Meuser family has taken over, an incident over the hiring of only three illegal immigrants should be no big deal.

Due to one major misstep it now will become one.

Dan Meuser has come out as the tough on illegal immigration candidate. Yet, he does not seem to have truly researched the issue. In addition to this misstep look at his position section on illegal immigration, it states, “Before any immigrant can become a United States Citizen, we should require them to read, write, and speak English.”

Dan you are running for Congress, you should be aware this is already taking place.

One, the test is given in English. Unless it has changed since my father took it, he needed a basic, functional familiarity with the English language to pass.

Two, check the USICS web site under redesigned test, the new test effective this year, makes a better understanding of English even more of a necessity.

Three, illegal immigrants aren’t the ones applying for citizenship — so this little caveat has no place in a position with the heading “Combating Illegal Immigration.”

It appears for all the money Meuser has spent on his team they are operating like a bunch of rank amateurs.

This flap over hiring illegal immigrants should never have happened, it should be a non-issue. Now it will be an issue. Why?

It is not the fact that Pride hired illegal immigrants.

It is not the fact that they were fined.

It is the fact that he was not the one to disclose it.

If I were on Meuser’s team this 1997 incident would have been a huge advantage. Instead, now, it appears that it may provide a hindrance to Dan Meuser becoming the republican nominee.

But Joe, how could an anti-illegal immigrant candidate use the fact that his company hired and was fined for hiring illegal immigrants as an advantage? Isn’t it better to avoid it and hope no one finds out?

No! From President Nixon to Congressman Sherwood the lesson that no one in politics ever seems to learn is — that the cover-up is worse than either an actual or perceived scandal. Right now the perception is that Dan Meuser, while not actively covering it up, hoped that no one would have learned about this — which again reeks of amateurism.

If you are going to claim the mantle of immigration enforcer, common sense would have told you this was going to come out.

Who is advising Mr. Meuser? Dan, whoever it is — fire them.

How would I have turned this to Dan’s advantage? Simple, one of his first commercials should have gone something like this:

I am Dan Meuser and I’m running for congress.

Several years ago my business was the victim of the current failure in our immigration policy. Our company unknowingly hired three people who were in this country illegally. Utilizing forged identification documentation they secured employment with my company.

When their ruse was uncovered, at my direction we cooperated fully with the INS and payed a substantial fine. As a result we upgraded our employee screening process. However, this was allowed to occur, and may occur again, because of the failure of our government to control our borders.

My family’s business was the victim of inept illegal immigration legislation and enforcement. To ensure this does not happen to any business in the future I ask for your vote.

Send me to Washington D.C. so that our country’s borders will be protected.

Send me to Washington so no other individual, small business owner or company will be the victim of illegal immigration.

The above simple commercial would have:

One – demonstrated Dan Meuser’s honesty and integrity.

Two – demonstrated the he is a leader by taking the steps necessary to internally rectify the situation.

Three – avoid the insinuation that Mr. Meuser was hiding something and not give ammunition to his primary and general election opponents.

Four – identified a reason hirings like this may occur.

Five – give voters the chance to end the current government’s failures by electing Mr. Meuser.

By not addressing this issue head on, the Meuser Campaign has opened itself up to a full frontal assault. If his opponent in the primary does not attack and exploit, Congressman Carney will.

It is not too late for the Meuser Campaign to rectify its’ errors, but he needs to get away from the D.C. management and start counting on local people for his advise.

Those D.C. hired guns do not care if Mr. Meuser wins. They only care about advancing their own careers. Whether Dan Meuser or Mayor Lou Barletta in the 11th win is irrelevant to the beltway boys, the fact that they brought in “promising” candidates is enough to advance their careers.

Unfortunately, that advancement will come at the expense of the candidates.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under Chris Carney, Congress, Congressman, Conservative, Dan Meuser, Election, Lou Barletta, PA-10, Primary, Republican

Why Lou Barletta Should Not Run For Congress

“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” President George W. Bush

DCCC cash on hand $46,494,438.30
NRCC cash on hand $22,594,563.55

* as of Oct. 2007

Why Lou Barletta Should Not Run For Congress
by: Joe Leonardi

Republicans are more than likely going to lose more seats in 2008. Throughout the country President Bush has destroyed our party unity. All you have to do is look at the cash on hand and donations coming into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee compared to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Mayor Lou Barletta — this is not the time, in a democratic district, to take on a democratic incumbent.

To break it down:

– According to FEC filings the Barletta for Congress committee is still in debt about one hundred fifty thousand dollars. Kanjorski’s committee has over 1.2 million dollars on hand. No matter what Lou raises, he is still over 1.3 million dollars down.

– The DCCC is not going to let a senior house member go without a major fight. The money that the DCCC will pour into the 11th will be astronomical. The NRCC will not have the money to fight back.

– Lou has made quite a splash with his stance on illegal immigration. However, Congressman Tom Tancredo has been more vocal and more effective. Tancredo actually helped kill the amnesty bill in the Congress. Has that translated into more support for his presidential bid? If immigration was the end all and be all of national politics, Tom Tancredo would be a top tier candidate in the presidential primary race. Is he?

– The big issues against Kanjorski are nepotism and cronyism. In Luzerne County the voters simply do not care. The money to the Kanjorski nephews was an issue in 2002 and 2006. Cronyism was an issue in the Luzerne County Commissioners race. However each and every time the incumbent democrat won. The fact is, that in Luzerne County, the voters don’t care about cronyism.

The 11th congressional district is more than just Luzerne County.

– Lackawanna County’s republican precincts went democratic in the last commissioner’s race. Granted, many of these precincts were in the 10th, but that only emphasizes the dissatisfaction. Most precincts in the 11th are democratic. If they are angry with republicans, does anyone think, that over one issue they are going to turn republican?

– Monroe County, for the first time in years, has elected democratic majority commissioners.

– Carbon County is a democratic stronghold. Kanjorski is very highly thought of there.

– Columbia County, which is probably the most conservative county, has strongly supported congressman Kanjorski. He has currently promised a levy system on the banks of the river. His seniority, being a member of the majority party and his accomplishments with the levy system up river, will all but assure continued support.

– On two major issues; abortion and gun control, Congressman Kanjorski is solidly in line with the voters in his district. He has received high ratings from the National Right to Life Committee and National Rifle Association. These are huge issues in Northeast Pennsylvania, and with no difference between candidates, most are likely to stick with their party.

– There is no conservative at the top of the republican ticket. Translated — on election day conservatives will stay home. The myth that Hilary Clinton will push conservatives to the polls is one that should not be counted on. If anything, after eight years of President Bush, it is my belief that Democrats will turn out in force to ensure the election of, along with a democratic house and senate, a democratic president.

– Finally, the Mayor’s experience is in the executive branch. In my opinion, Lou Barletta should run for either Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Congress would be a waste of his leadership qualities and abilities. In the House of Representatives he becomes one voice in a sea of four hundred thirty five. He will be a freshman in the minority party. He is not going to be given any committee assignments to raise his profile. If anything, with the democrats in control, he will be minimized and probably never get anywhere near a committee that has anything to do with immigration. Additionally, the democrats will likely cut off funds to much of his district. By freezing out “Congressman” Barletta, it ensures that in two years the seat will go back to the Democrats.

Mayor Barletta is a good, decent honorable man. If he chooses to run he will have my vote. However, presently he possesses secure, salient, powerful political capital. If he opts to misspend it — it will be Lou Barletta’s parting, political swan song.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under Congress, Congressman, Conservative, Democrat, Democratic, Hilary Clinton, Lou Barletta, Northe East PA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Paul Kanjorski, President Bush, Republican


“Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more”

from Bruce Springsteen’s  My Home Town 

Joe Leonardi

With all the talk about Scranton City Council and this being the season of resurrection —- I thought I would write about my hometown and the possibilities of it’s rebirth.

During my run for Congress, our grass roots, shoe leather campaign brought us to downtowns all over NEPA.   Eventually, one of those tours, brought us to the town where I was born and raised.  When we hit Pittston, the usual meet and greet was enhanced by me giving a guided tour of my hometown.  I noticed I was continually saying, “and over there used to be this, and over there used to be that.”  “In that vacant lot was this and that parking lot used to be that. ”  I have to admit, a tear touched my eye as I realized all that has been lost since my youth.  Then a smile touched my face as I realized all the possibilities.

What went wrong?  Well in Northeast Pennsylvania the answer is easy.  We were a one industry region for a long time. When the Knox Mine disaster deposed King Coal, not only mining jobs were lost, but all the jobs and industries that supported anthracite fell away.

After Knox, the next industry to dominate Pittston was the garment industry.  We had numerous dress factories that were teeming with work.  So much work, that many women sewed from home. Then the next knock down came in the form of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA for short.  When NAFTA was being bandied around, I was one of its most vocal supporters. I laughed heartily when Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot spoke of the giant sucking sound that would be heard throughout the land.  Well if you want to see the aftermath of that giant sucking sound, go to Pittston.

Now, on a smaller scale, it is about to happen again. With the closing of Seton Catholic the downtown will loose those that work for and attend the school.  Once again, a stinging jab to the fortunes of good old Pittston.

It is easy to sit back and identify what went wrong. The breakfast counters, barbershops and bars are full of those more than willing to point out who or what was responsible.  For the most part they are pretty accurate, well maybe not the folks in the bar at 2:00AM, but I digress.

What can we do to make it better? What made a smile touch my face as a tear touched my eye? What gives me hope for Pittston?    Possibilities of a resurgence in downtown Pittston, that’s what.  Downtown Pittston has many advantages:

One – It is centrally located between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.
Two – The Susquehanna runs along side it.
Three – It has relatively easy access to interstate 81, access that can be made                    easier.
Four – It has good infrastructure, a great fire department and police force.
Five – It is full of good, honest, hardworking people.
Finally, for the sake of this discussion anyway, it has buildings and land.

Perhaps it is time to take a new line of attack regarding downtown redevelopment.  Past thinking has always been to grow downtowns we must lure businesses, usually retail, to the downtown.  I say we take a new approach.  Let’s turn downtown Pittston into a middle to upper income residential area.  We need to encourage investors, builders and developers to take to the downtown and create townhomes, condominiums and apartment buildings.  When these buildings are in place and people are given incentive to live there, then the specialty shops will come. The boutiques, gourmet restaurants, cafes, professional offices and such will move in to service and supply the new populace.  We can make Pittston an oasis of residential and specialty businesses smack in the middle of a great old coal town.  (And we should never be ashamed of our coal mining roots, but that’s for another column)

A different idea?  Maybe, maybe not?  However, we need to start thinking outside the box.  We must create a strong incentive for people to want to come downtown. In the process perhaps we can start a new economy so our graduating children can stay….in our hometowns.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under City Council, Congress, Hometown, NAFTA, NEPA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Pittston, Scranton, Springsteen

Nancy Pelosi — Speaker of State?


224,017 + 148,435 + 400 = 372, 852

Nancy Pelosi — Speaker of State?
By: Joe Leonardi

The top number is the number of votes George W. Bush received in 2006, the bottom number is the combined number of votes Nancy Pelosi received in 2004 and 2006. Add another 400 or so votes from the U.S. House to elect her Speaker and Nancy Pelosi doesn’t even get a total of three hundred seventy three thousand votes. President George W. Bush received over sixty two million votes from all the American people. So, could someone please tell me where she gets the authority to go to a state sponsor of terrorism, Syria, and negotiate renewed relations between our two countries. I can not stop shaking my head at the unmitigated gall of this individual. I realize that Speaker Pelosi must think that she has the mandate of the people. But less than four hundred thousand votes, from a single Congressional District in California, does not grant your the title Representative of the United States of America! There may be a new Congress in town, but there is not a new President.

If Speaker Pelosi wishes to represent the entire United States of America, then she should seek the office of the President. This is not only a dramatic overstepping of her authority, it also provides a divided front to the people of Syria. One that can be exploited by Syria’s leaders. We have a Department of State whose role, under the President, is responsible for matters related to foreign policy. It is one thing for Senators and Representatives to visit other nations on fact finding missions, I will not begrudge them that, however it is a completely different matter when your stated intent is to influence relations between our country and another. This is not your role Madam Speaker.

If you have read anything I have written you are well aware that I am not happy with the direction of the Republican Party nor President Bush. However, if there is another factor you should also have taken away, is that I am a firm believer in our Constitution — this is a definite overstepping of Speaker Pelosi’s Constitutional role.

Through control of the budget the Congress may exercise indirect influence over foreign policy. However, the only direct role the Congress has is in the treaty ratification process and approving cabinet level positions and that is done with the advise and consent of the Senate, not the House. Speaker Pelosi has acted in a disgraceful manner. Not in her going to a foreign government, but in her statement that she ‘has great hope for reviving U.S. relations with Syria’. Madame Speaker, again, this is not your role. I’m not sure if the Botox has seeped into her frontal lobe or what, but this is flat out ridiculous and a gross overstepping of the Speaker’s bounds. Okay, the Botox crack maybe uncalled for and harsh, but I am looking for an explanation for her irrational behavior. And I can’t see how a rational person would think that frighteningly distorting one’s features is sensible.

It is fine for us to debate and disagree in our chambers of government and through our media, however, when we are dealing with foreign governments and their leaders it is imperative that we proceed with a single, unified voice. The Secretary of State, nominated by the President and approved by the Senate, is that voice. It is an appalling signal to send that there maybe other individuals representing our nation to the world.

Perhaps some republicans in the House can muster up a little backbone, stand up to the Speaker and demand her resignation. I doubt that they do or will, it is as I said when I was running for Congress — I’m glad I wasn’t going to the U.S. house to be a Chiropractor, there aren’t that many spines there.

Joe Leonardi


Filed under Congress, Conservative, Democrat, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, President, Secretary of State, Speaker

Scranton City Council, The Saga Continues…..

“Democracy was regarded as entering into a crisis in the 1960s. The crisis was that large segments of the population were becoming organized and active and trying to participate in the political arena.”
Noam Chomsky; Media Control

Scranton City Council, The Saga Continues…..

Joe Leonardi

I usually don’t post 2 days in a row, but as I was talking about the Scranton City Council Saga to a friend from my campaign and something hit me. It seems that this little turf battle comes down to two teams. Those who support Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and those who don’t. I find it interesting that those, in a move reminiscent of Soviet Russia, who have opted to pull the plug on democracy are generally considered pro Mayor Doherty.

I started wondering; who will really benefit if City Council proceedings go off the air? Who has the most to gain? The answer is Mayor Doherty. And if it is true, as implied on the radio, that it was ultimately his decision to pull the plug on Channel 61 — the picture really starts to come into focus.

I ran for Congress in the Pennsylvania 11th district, which encompasses the city of Scranton. I became very familiar with Scranton and the concerns of the citizens. It had been made known to me that the Mayor is being groomed to replace Congressman Paul Kanjorski, on the democratic side, when Paul decides to retire. So on the chance that I would have won, I took the time to learn about who may have been challenging me in 2008.

I met the Mayor on only one occasion. He seemed like a nice enough fellow. However, most of those I met in Scranton viewed him as “a snob.” He is perceived as someone who comes from money and looks down on the middle and lower classes. While, I didn’t get that impression personally from him, some of his initiatives do reek of elitism. One in particular has to do with an eminent domain case between Scranton and Buona Pizza. (I will publish a column I wrote during the campaign later this week) Also if you read Monday’s 3/26/07 Corbett’s Corner you may get a sense of arrogance from the column. Everything from the phone message that doesn’t identify the Mayor’s office to this quote from the Mayor himself, “Still, Doherty said that all the people of Scranton have the right to be heard, even if they’re “felons” or “mentally challenged.” I was curious by the qualifiers, why not just say all the people of Scranton? I highly suggest you go to the WILK web site and read the column.

All of the negatives brought up at City Council meetings appear to reflect poorly on the Mayor and his supporters. If the City Council can operate under the radar, or television screen, the discontent with the Mayor will not get the air time it is presently receiving. If the Mayor can ram through his vision for the upper class of Scranton, without the middle and lower classes witnessing the battles on Channel 61 — he can use his favorable majority to finalize his agenda. And of course, the meeting minutes are a good month behind on the web site. So by the time the citizens of Scranton have a chance to react — legislation is pushed through.

If the Mayor and his team on City Council looked good on a weekly basis this would enhance the Mayor’s image and I guarantee those cameras would never have left the chambers. Incumbents have an inherent advantage in maintaining their office or running for higher office, so to observe politicians giving up free television time is, to say the least, odd. However, since the constant Mayor and Council bashing would perhaps hurt the Mayor when he decides to make the leap to Congress: could this possibly influence his decision to approve the removal of the cameras?

Just a thought?

Joe Leonardi


Filed under City Council, Congress, Democratic, Judy Gatelli, Pennsylvania, Scranton