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Another anti-Immigrant Extremist--GOP Cong. Lou Barletta

Anti-Immigrant Extremist GOP Congressman Lou Barletta—Demagogue Donald’s Pick to Defeat Senator Bob Casey 2/11/2018

“Don the Con” won his 77,000 electoral vote margin in WI, MI, and PA by putting on one big “populist” act. Billionaire “populist” Donald told these Rust Belters that Democrats had ignored their shuttered factories and businesses, but he alone would revive them and be their champion. He promised to “drain the swamp” of millionaires and lobbyists who were working against them in D.C. Donald had no intention of “draining any swamp.” He increased the ooze tenfold by picking his Cabinet and top advisors from the ranks of his gazillionaire cronies. He pushed for and signed a top anti-middle class 1% tax cut scam. Donald’s promise to restore jobs to the Rust Belt was one he had no intention of keeping. He has outsourced at least 10,269 jobs, 11% of trade layoffs, compared to 4% in the previous five years under Obama (“The Hill,” Greenwood, 11/30/17).

However, Demagogue Donald is sticking “big time” to one major campaign theme. He remains dead set on drastically cutting the flow of legal and illegal immigrants, campaign promises he made that resonated “bigly” with his “red meat” xenophobic base. He plans to permanently cut off protection from deportation for at least 690,000 DACA individuals (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) unless Congress fixes this issue by 3/05/2018. DACA people are children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents at a very young age. They have grown up here and know no other country. Trump, so far, has refused to allow several reasonable bipartisan fixes to DACA unless they provide money for constructing his ridiculous wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, allow easier deportation of other undocumented immigrants, and radically slash legal immigration, deal breakers for most Democrats and some GOPers. Donald’s hard line chief-of-staff, John Kelly, echoed his boss’ stereotyped views when he called undocumented immigrants who did not sign up for DACA “too afraid” or “too lazy to get off their asses (See Stracqualursi, CNN, 2/06/18, Kopan, CNN, 2/06/18).” Donald pardoned former AZ sheriff Joe Arpaio who racially profiled Latinos and cruelly and inhumanely treated immigrants he detained. Trump ally Arpaio is now running to replace retiring GOP Senator Jeff Flake (See cnbc.com, Breuninger, 1/09/18). Arpaio is no GOP outlier. On 8/29/2017, with backing from Trump, PA GOP Congressman Lou Barletta announced he will challenge Dem. Sen. Bob Casey (cnbc.com, Pramuk, 8/29/17). Who is Lou Barletta?

Fourth-term GOP Congressman Lou Barletta (62) currently represents PA’s 11th Congressional District (CD) in that state’s east-central part. Like the “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck” reconfigured PA 7th, the Keystone 11th has also been subjected to post-2010 GOP “creative” artwork-- extreme gerrymandering. After gerrymandering, this formerly Democratic district lost “Blue” strongholds like Scranton, former VP Joe Biden’s original home, and Wilkes-Barre. The current 11th was pushed into more rural and GOP-leaning territory to the north and south. It now stretches from the Poconos all the way to the Harrisburg suburbs. The 11th reaches from Wyoming County in the northeast to Cumberland County in the south. The congested neighborhoods of Colonial Park and Paxtang east of state capital Harrisburg form the 11th’s population hub. The cities of Carlisle, home of Dickinson College and the U.S. Army War College, and Hazelton are located in the 11th. Northern Wyoming County contains the underground Marcellus Shale formation full of natural gas. Supermarket retailer Ahold USA has one of its two headquarters in Carlisle. Harrisburg International Airport, Penn State University’s Harrisburg campus, and Shippensburg University are in the 11th(CQ & Barone 14 Political Almanacs).

After the post-2010 GOP redistricting, Romney won the 11th by 9 points and Trump clobbered Hillary by a 24% margin (See CQ 14). The 4/07/2017 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the PA 11th an R+10 score. However, had Cong. Barletta not decided to run for the Senate in 2018, he might have faced a much tougher fight to retain his House seat. On 1/22/2018, the PA State Supreme Ct. ruled that the post-2010 GOP House maps were a partisan gerrymander that violated the state’s constitution and had to be redrawn fairly before the 11/2018 elections (See huffingtonpost.com, Levine 1/29/18). On 2/05/2018, the U.S. Supreme Ct. declined to block this lower court ruling (CNN, deVogue & Badner, 2/05/18).

Hazelton, PA native Lou Barletta attended community college and Bloomsberg University. He left college and unsuccessfully tried out out for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He returned to Hazelton and worked for his family’s construction and heating oil business. Barletta opened his own highway line-painting company that grew into the largest such business in PA. Barletta’s father was Hazelton’s Democratic chair. Barletta started out as a Democrat but became a Republican because Reagan “made him into a believer (CQ14).” In 1998, he won election to the Hazelton city council on his second try. Two years later, Barletta was elected Hazelton’s mayor. He served as mayor from 2000-2010 (CQ & Barone 14).

In 2006, Barletta, the grandson of three Italian immigrants, made national headlines for opposing illegal immigration (CQ14). He vowed to make the city “one of the toughest places in the United States for illegal immigrants.” Hazelton’s city council approved Barletta’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act. This ordinance allowed the city to deny a business permit to employers who hired illegal immigrants and gave the city authority to fine landlords up to $1,000 for leasing to illegal immigrants. The act made English Hazelton’s official language and prohibited city employees from translating document into any language without official authorization. In 2007, a federal district judge found the act unconstitutional. In 2010, this ruling was upheld by the U.S. Ct. of Appeals (NY Times, Preston, 2008, Wash. Post, Powell & Garcia, 8/22/06, Preston, NY Times, 9/09/10).

Barletta first challenged Dem. Cong. Paul Kanjorksi in 2002 and lost. He ran against Kanjorski in 2008 and in this Dem. year lost by just 4 points. In anti-Obama Tea Party year 2010, Barletta clobbered incumbent Kanjorski by 10 percentage points (Zito, 3/28/10, Pittsburghlive.com). The Cook Political Report called Barletta the “biggest winner of PA’s redistricting” after state GOPers removed Democratic precincts and stretched the 11th CD into the conservative Harrisburg suburbs (Barone 14). Barletta has had no trouble winning re-election in his three subsequent races (PA Department of State).

From 2011-2012, Congressman Barletta voted with his hard- right party 90% of the time, nearly up there with his fellow “Red” Southerners (Barone 14). Barletta has voted with Demagogue Donald, 98.4% of the time. He has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare, including in 5/2017 under Trump. He voted for the top-1% Donald-backed tax scam (projectsfivethirtyeight.com, Pramuk, cnbc.com, 8/29/17). His pro-Trump record should come as no surprise. Barletta, an anti-immigration fanatic from the get- go, announced his support for xenophobic Donald as early as 3/2016. Barletta was proud that Trump, just like him, was unafraid to speak “up for American workers on this issue.” Barletta frequently appeared at numerous Trump rallies ginning up crowds. He was a top Trump ally who helped him carry PA. Barletta served on Trump’s transition team and was under consideration for transportation secretary (washingtonexaminer.com, Weaver, 8/31/17).

In the House, Barletta sits on the Homeland Security Committee that handles immigration matters (115th Cong. At Your Fingertips). He continues to take the “hardest of hard lines” on immigration. When some GOPers suggested after the 2012 election that they reach out to Latino voters, Barletta dissented. In 2/2013, after a bi-partisan Senate group came out with a comprehensive immigration reform plan, Barletta called it “amnesty America can’t afford.” He told “The Morning Call” of Allentown that “courting Hispanics is a waste of time for his party.” Barletta added, “The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They (Hispanics) will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on (Barone 14).” He referred to Latinos as “not skilled,” and “not having high school diplomas (t.umbler.com). Cong. Barletta apparently forgot that many Italian Americans, Irish Americans, and other groups also had little schooling.

Barletta tends to hang around and push his anti-immigrant views before groups that Donald called “very fine people.” Translation: white supremacists/ neo-Nazis. In 2006, while touting his anti-immigrant platform as Mayor of Hazelton, PA, Barletta was interviewed by the American Free Press, a publication that regularly promotes Holocaust denial and calls the 9/11 attacks a “Jewish plot.” In 6/2007, Barletta headlined an anti-immigration rally at Hazelton City Hall where one of the speakers and musical performers was Paul Topete, lead singer of the “patriot rock” group Poker Face. The band’s website hosted forums advocating Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies. The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) labeled Topete anti-Semitic. Later in 2007, Barletta appeared in an “exclusive interview” for Americans for Immigration Control, a group that believes that the “annual tidal wave of over a million immigrants (legal and illegal) is endangering our American way of life.” Barletta’s interview was part of a short vicious anti-immigrant video documentary written by John Vinson, a founding member of the League of the South. This neo-Confederate group advocates Southern secession. In 2011, now Cong. Barletta, spoke at an event hosted by the Social Contract, whose editor, Wayne Lutton, was an editorial advisor to the Occidental Quarterly. The Occidental Quarterly is an online publication the ADL labeled anti-Semitic. Later in 2011, Barletta spoke about his anti-immigration views to a panel of the Youth for Western Civilization. The founder of that group said he opposed illegal immigration because “it’s about our dispossession as a people.” Cong. Barletta could care less. He stated he’d been called a “racist and a bigot,” but he calls himself “an American who’s not afraid to stand up for people (KFILE, CNN, Kaczynski & Massie, 1/25/18).” You get the idea.

Two-term PA Democratic Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (57) has a stellar background and Senate record. He is the son of a late two-term popular governor. After two terms as PA’s auditor, Casey, Jr. defeated right wing GOP ideologue Rick Santorum by 18 points in 2006. However, Casey is not that dynamic a campaigner and had a fairly close race in 2012 against a self-financing millionaire Tea Partier (See Barone 14).

Casey now has a big war chest (at least $5.5 million) and constantly keeps in touch with his constituents. However, this is PA. Dem. campaign manager James Carville famously described PA as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.” Trump, remember, carried PA in 2016 by .7% because this “AL area” of right-wing Scots-Irish Protestants and culturally conservative ethnic Catholics, Barletta’s turf, voted heavily. While PA’s “AL” turned out in droves, too many progressives and college-educated women in the Philadelphia suburbs stayed home. Barletta, despite his extremist views, is a “likeable” smiling congressman who can push the anti- immigration button. Although Trump has lost support in PA, immigration still remains a popular issue for much of his hard-core base (See mcall.com, 9/21/17). GOP “sugar daddies,” including Koch, could deliver oodles of cash to Barletta. GOPers have just a 51-49 Senate advantage. Democrats could pick up “Red” seats in AZ and NV to flip the Senate “Blue” in 11/2018. However, to do this, they can’t lose any seats they are defending, including PA. In 11/2018, PA Democrats must not repeat 2016. They must come out “big time” to re-elect Casey. They must say “NO” to Trump, his clone Barletta, and their white supremacist buddies.