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My Congressman’s Town Hall Meeting

Readers, I apologize for not having any material up since Dec. 20th.  I trust everyone had a blessed Christmas season and regret I did not post my well wishes at the time.  But I have been down with a foot injury which, due to the somewhat unique nature of it, makes it rather difficult for me to sit at the computer for any significant length of time.  I have no idea how I contracted it and unfortunately, I have no means to pay a doctor for treatment. However, I have taken pain medication to keep it from getting worse, along with ice treatments, foot elevation and wraparound splints.  Your prayers would be truly appreciated for me at this time.

But though I have been silent for the last 3 1/2 weeks and limiting in reading my e-mails, I have endeavored to try to keep up as to what’s occurring on the political scene, especially with reference to Obamacare.  As you may know, though I did not post any material on it, the Senate passed its version strictly along party lines on Christmas Eve (what a great gift for America, huh?) and now it’s in conference committee, awaiting the usurper’s eventual signature.  Make no mistake, once signed into law, various groups and a number of states are prepared to challenge the legality of it.  And true liberty loving heroes in Washington, like Sen. Jim DeMint of S. Carolina, are taking unprecedented measures and using rarely used parliamentary and other moves to keep this atrocious job and country killer from ever becoming law.

However, I wish to leave that issue for the moment and share with you some observations and points from my visit yesterday to one of the many town hall meetings conducted this week by my Democrat Congressman, Pete Visclosky, representative for the 1st District of Indiana which covers much of Northwest Indiana.

As you will note on his web page, the Congressman has conducted quite a few meetings since Jan. 9th, 24 in total.  However, it should be quickly added that his meetings in January are all that he conducts in an entire year.  An aide of his told me this past summer when Congress was home for the month of August to “face the music” about Obamacare that Rep. Visclosky only holds them in January.  That was strictly not the case as he did hold an unannounced meeting in August that erupted in political pandemonium. But generally speaking, this was true.  He didn’t want to hear what the voters had to say during the August recess, unlike other Congressmen, particularly Democrats, who were largely read the riot act from their constituents.

And the Congressman heard it even more so this week as you will note here and here; also see this great picture here – this woman also stood outside the town hall meeting I attended in Valparaiso, which I will detail momentarily.

If you would like to see a few of the You Tube videos of the Congressman’s meetings, I have the three that are currently posted at You Tube linked at the end of this post.  These appear to be mild mannered contrasted to the above, though there are elements of intense passion to be observed.

Now as for the forum I attended yesterday, like virtually all of them, it was packed with standing room only and with individually spilled outside the conference room.  It goes without saying, and for which several constituents mumbled, that these meetings could have been held in larger facilities, such as a high school or college auditorium or gym.  For the forum I was at, a large room could have been rented at Valparaiso University, located just minutes from Valparaiso (also called Valpo by some) City Hall.  At the very least, such lack of planning could be considered poor oversight.  At worst, such could be viewed as possible indifference to the public for which this Congressman serves.  There can be little argument as to any claim that Rep. Visclosky might make that he had no idea the attendance at these meetings would be sizable.   He had to have known the opposition to Obamacare and his vote in support of it was significant.  No other issue is consuming the bulk of the time at these meeting as government takeover of the private health care system.

As to the meeting I went to, unfortunately I was one of those who could not get a seat inside the conference room or stand up along the walls.  I was about 10-12 feet outside the nearest door.  And due to my foot condition, I could not stay on my feet for any serious length of time, thus I would take a break every few minutes to sit on the carpeted floor outside a door that was not used for entering and exiting.  Eventually a Congressional aide saw me and was kind enought to lead me to a bench between two of the other doors as some outside folks gradually left, either for lack of visibility or other reasons.  I daresay this aide likely did not originally know I was not a fan of her employer.

The meeting began a couple minutes after the top of the noon hour with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance (for which Barack Obama despises).  Then the Congressman began discussing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cap and trade, and of course, the health care abomination, along with a few other issues.  He did so until about 12:30 PM when he began to answer questions submitted to him in writing.  He continued doing so until about 1:25 PM when the conference was adjourned.

A couple points about Rep. Visclosky taking roughly 25 minutes to talk of his own accord.  In my opinion, this was highly inappropriate.  This was the people’s meeting, not his.  It may have been fitting to speak briefly for about 5 minutes at most and then let the audience have the rest of the discussion. But in this writer’s view, it was not proper to take up a third of the gathering and offer his rambling thoughts.

The reason I say this comes from experience.  Prior to moving to Indiana, I had attended town hall meetings in Illinois by the former late U.S. Senator Paul Simon, retired Congressman Bill Lipinski of the 3rd Congressional District in the state and later his son, Dan Lipinski, who is the current representative in that district.  I clearly remembered Simon and Bill Lipinski (affectionately called Bungalow Bill for being in a Chicago district with a preponderance of old style bungalow homes) going straight to the constituents for discussion and Dan Lipinski offering brief opening comments before letting the public control the themes.  This was clearly not the case here in the Valpo meeting.

Also, during the Valpo meeting, as with the others in the You Tube videos linked above, the environment was very controlled by having questions submitted in writing to the Congressman as opposed to letting constituents speak into a microphone and the Congressman responding impromptu.  Someone who has command of their convictions and isn’t ashamed of their votes or positions isn’t going to ask that questions be written beforehand.  This kind of malarkey gives me the itch to run for this Congressman’s seat.  I’m not afraid of what I stand for and passionately articulate it and if I don’t know the answer to something submitted to me spontaneously, I’ll get that answer.

The questions submitted here were similar to those at the aforementioned You Tube video links.  A couple exceptions were that Rep. Visclosky proudly touted his vote against cap and trade, for which he got a fairly good round of applause, and his vote against the 2008 bank bailout while President Bush was still in office.  However, the cap and trade vote was obscured by the fact that he voted for Obamacare, which will, like cap and trade, extensively kill jobs across America.  And the bank bailout in the 110th Congress is greatly obscured by Visclosky’s votes for the so-called stimulus bills and TARP legislation.  Those votes he conveniently ignored.

Being outside the conference room made it a bit difficult to hear what was going on inside; even more so when the Congressman’s comments were met with loud boos and jeers and interruptions, which occurred sporadically and with modest amounts of anger, though not as fiery as in other meetings.  But it didn’t help that there was no microphone for Mr. Visclosky to speak into. The lack of a mike and accommodations for the large crowds.

While out in the hallway, I did strike up a conversation with a somewhat disabled patriot who, like me, agreed totally about the unconstitutionality of Obamacare.  He shared with me a piece of paper where he wrote down four issues of concern that he wanted to ask the Congressman. Besides the government takeover of health care, one of his remaining concerns was whether Obama is constitutionally qualified to be sitting in the position he currently sits.  Given that there was the meeting inside and the need to keep external noise to a bare minimum, I could not but very briefly concur and discuss with him my total agreement with him and wish that other concerned citizens would pick it up as well.

This patriot had another congressional aide come up to him and help him transfer his comments to a small form note to submit to the Congressman.  The aide then took the note and I believe brought it up to Mr. Visclosky along with the other questions for submission.  Due to the noise issues and lack of a mike, it was not clear whether this patriot’s specific question on Obamacare was heard, even though other questions on Obamacare were submitted and responded to.  However, it appeared quite clear that if it was, the portion of Obama’s questionable U.S. citizenship was ignored.

The question I would have loved to have seen submitted is one that would almost certainly bring closure to the Congressman’s quarter of a century service.  And that is the fact that, according to the Federal Election Commission’s website, Rep. Visclosky’s campaign contributions from within the state amounted to just 4%, meaning outside interests control his war chest and thus secure  his reelections.  Regardless of how people feel about their Congressman, liberal, conservative or something else, anyone whose pocketbooks are lined up with out of state money should be sent to the unemployment line at the close of their election term.  That means Rep. Visclosky as well as Sen. Evan Bayh, who, like the Congressman, is up for reelection this fall and only gets 14% of his funds instate.

In summary, if your Congressman or senator acts like Rep. Visclosky did in these You Tube videos and as I described, regardless of political party (though such will more likely occur under the Democrats) it’s time to send them packing and end their taxpayer paid salaries.

And as promised near the beginning, here are the three You Tube videos from Rep. Visclosky’s town hall meetings – one in the city of Schererville (broken down into two segments) and the other in the city of Highland.

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