Monday, October 16, 2006

Raj's Interview with the Evening Bulletin

Below is Raj’s interview with the Evening Bulletin. The interview was published on Monday.

I must confess that I did not believe Raj Bhakta was a serious candidate for Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District. I thought the only reason he was the Republican candidate was for much the same reason Arianna Huffington was a candidate for governor of California - publicity.

However, after speaking with him, I learned my preconceived notions were incorrect.

Bhakta impressed me as genuine, intelligent, articulate, with an infectious enthusiasm, and very creative. This last characteristic is important, as creativity is something that certainly has been lacking in Congress - from both parties - for years.

There were three issues I asked Bhakta to address - matters that I felt would help contrast him with the incumbent, Allyson Schwartz. These issues were medical malpractice reform, immigration and the Iraq war. His answers provide a precise demarcation between him and Schwartz. They will help voters better decide for whom to vote.

EB: What do you think should be done about medical malpractice and tort reform?

Bhakta: There is no question - it is irrefutable - that litigation costs drive up the cost of medical care and are driving doctors out of practice. In Pennsylvania, doctors are leaving because it is becoming too expensive to practice because of frivolous lawsuits.

Trial lawyers are profiting not because they are correcting an injustice, they are fleecing the system. Something has to be done to limit these unwarranted awards.

It is no secret that Congresswoman Schwartz will not do it because she is indebted to the trial lawyers. Last year, she received $700,000 in contributions from them. This is a tremendous amount of money from a special interest group.

I think there has to be a cap on what the lawyers receive. There cannot be incentives to bring fraudulent lawsuits as there are now. I would vote to eliminate junk lawsuits that cause skyrocketing health care costs and force doctors to leave the Commonwealth. I also want to introduce meaningful market-based reform.

EB: You are the son of legal immigrants. You have your own personal experiences to bring to the table when speaking about immigration. What would you do about illegal immigration?

Bhakta: First, I would secure the borders; that is the number one priority. These people have broken the law. There are people who are waiting 10 years to become citizens. People who waited like my parents did. Why should other people cut in line in front of them?

Second, I would present a program to illegal immigrants that offers them permanent worker visas. But they cannot become citizens and get the full benefit of social services that citizens get.

EB: The courts have ruled that illegal immigrants can get social services now. How can you prevent that?

Bhakta: I'm not talking about emergency room care or something like that. I'm talking specifically about Medicare and Social Security.

EB: Many politicians like the idea that illegal immigrants contribute to the social security system with bogus numbers. This way, the government keeps the money without paying it out.

Bhakta: Exempt them from social security taxes and payments. This is where I am different than anybody else on this issue. I do not want the American taxpayer to have to pay social services for them. If illegal aliens, who are being given a chance to get legal permanent worker visas, think this is unjust, they can always leave and go back where they came from.

EB: What incentive is there for illegal immigrants to follow your proposed law or any law for that matter? We've already said that we cannot deport them. Just recently, NYC Mayor Bloomberg said many businesses survive only by illegal immigrants doing jobs that Americans will not do for the wages they are paid.

Bhakta: That's true. Many businesses would close. Many illegal immigrants are hardworking people who only want to make a better life for themselves and their families. There is no sense deporting them.

EB: Aren't you contradicting yourself then? If these businesses would close, then you can't deport them. If you can't deport them, then they don't have to follow the law. So I repeat, what incentive is there for illegal aliens to follow the law?

Bhakta: Well, here is the thing. They can be deported and we can bring in other workers, say from India for example - who will pay for the chance - to come here and work. This way, not only do we solve the problem of illegal immigrants who refuse to follow the law, we can bring in legal immigrants and earn revenue for the government besides.

This way, businesses will continue to function. The loss of workers that they got from illegal immigrants won't matter. The illegal immigrants now have an incentive to follow the law because there will be consequences if they don't, the government can bring in legal workers on worker visas so we don't have to worry about terrorists streaming across our borders, and the government can earn revenue to pay for the costs.

EB: What about the war in Iraq? What should we do?

Bhakta: I am very familiar with that part of the world. Promoting democracy is a noble goal. However, I do not think that the American people have the will to make the sacrifices necessary to do accomplish that.

Proud to Vote for Raj

Tom Shakely & Friends chronicles Raj’s illustration.

Raj Bhakta, the congressional candidate whom I endorsed last spring against opponent Allyson Schwartz, has been making national headlines and appearing on major media recently. Why? Because he decided to prove how easy it really is to cross back and forth on the U.S./Mexico Border…by riding an elephant with a mariachi band in tow.

Bhakta is a candidate I earnestly admire, and whom I’m proud to say I’m voting for this November. I live in his district, the 13th, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He is the right man to represent Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia because he knows that positive, concrete changes need to happen.

Bloggers Coalition Recognizes Raj

If It Wasn’t So Hopeless…

Our Red Republic links Raj on the border.

Congressional Candidate Raj Bhakta showed the world what a joke our border security is by bringing three elephants and a mariachi band to the border unmolested. Watch the hilarious video of how easy it is to break into our country. Afterwards, you can go ahead and cry because the situation is hopeless. I honestly did not think the situation was this bad.

Clayton Cramer Applauds Raj

Clayton Cramer showcases Raj on the border.

It sounds like if there were no elephants involved, the Border Patrol wouldn't have done anything at all.

Raj Demonstration: Pure Awesome

Beyond Borders Blog Special Report

The Absurd Report Quotes Raj

From The Absurd Report:

A new poll, using neutral language, finds intense voter concern over immigration in 14 tight congressional races. The surveys were conducted by the polling company inc. for the Center for Immigration Studies.


“If I can get an elephant led by a mariachi band into this country, I think Osama bin Laden could get across with all the weapons of mass destruction …” –Raj Peter Bhakta

An Outstandingly Frustrating Reality

DIS Blog Highlights Raj on the Border

Making His Point

CSA Blog Spotlights Raj on the Border

Daily News: It Requires Not One New Law

Stu Bykofsky discusses gun control.

The knee-jerk response by some to Philly's soaring murder rate is to demand More Laws.

Others respond by asking: Why don't we enforce the 20,000 gun laws currently on the books across the nation?

You Should Take Her Picture

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Welcome to Philadelphia.

Our Daily News features the "reprehensible" behavior of congressmen - but only the behavior of congressmen from far-away states. And even then, it helps that sex is involved and, of course, that the offender is a Republican.

Did I mention yet that we're a smoke-free city? Yep - just sneaked that one in there. Even though no one in City Hall knows what the regulations actually say, or how to enforce them, or even bothered to notify affected business owners. But, yes, we're smoke-free, except for our coming casinos - it'll be OK to smoke there.

Did I mention that many local politicians may be part-owners of these casinos? No matter, minor detail. We've got elections coming up, some important races. We've got some offices that will be filled before the elections, though. Seems that having a spouse, ex-spouse or parent who was a ward leader or elected official is the only requirement for City Council. That might explain the stellar work they do.

And we're concerned about guns here. Not about the repeat offenders who illegally carry them and murder our citizens - we just like to have non-binding resolutions saying that guns are icky and bad. Never mind that at the time this letter is published, we will have buried more than 300 murder victims this year. If only the state legislators would let us make up our own gun laws, these murders would cease, and all the icky guns would go away. Honest.

Oh, and foie gras - we think it's cruel and icky. OK, cruel and yummy, but we think it inconveniences the geese, so we're going to burn up some daylight with another non-binding resolution to protect geese in France while the children of Philadelphia are gunned down. This abysmal excuse for political "leadership" is garbage and Philadelphia deserves better.

Where is the outrage? Mayor Street and every member of City Council should cut out the photo of little Cashae Rivers and should carry it constantly until there is some realistic progress on the city's problems. And take it out of their wallet each time they consider doing something stupid while being paid to serve the citizens. (Laminate the pictures, they'll likely get a lot of use.)

Taking a junket to "research" an issue vital to your constituents? Look at the smiling face of a poor 5-year-old who died the month she started kindergarten. Signing legislation that hurts small business but exempts your own wealthy friends? Take the picture out again. That a 5-year-old anywhere would have the deck so stacked against her by the lifestyle choices of those around her is reprehensible. That her young life would be ended due to a drug feud is unforgivable.

Where's the outrage? Why aren't the media asking our elected officials what their plan is? We deserve better from our officials, from our courts, and from our press.

Tom McCourt, Philadelphia

"Hire More Cops or Hire More Coroners"

From the Northeast Times:

Raj Bhakta stood outside the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office on Friday afternoon to deliver a message to Mayor John Street.

"Hire more cops or hire more coroners," he said.

Bhakta, the Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District, contends that the city is experiencing a crime epidemic. There have been more than 300 murders already this year.

The candidate believes that hiring more police officers will help lower the rate of murder and other crime. He also favors building more prisons to incarcerate career criminals for life.

In Congress, he would try to secure money for police officers and prisons in the budget of the Department of Homeland Security.

"We have terrorism right here in the city of Philadelphia," he said.

Bhakta blasts Street for what he calls his "callous disregard" to the rise in violent crime.

The Republican also slams Schwartz for not denouncing the mayor. He said the Northeast is stuck with a "do-nothing" mayor and congressional representative.

Northeast Times: Details Optional

From the Northeast Times:

Philadelphia police homicide investigators are seeking the public’s help in solving an Oct. 3 fatal shooting in Oxford Circle.

Officers were called to the 1500 block of Rosalie St. at about 9:20 p.m. and found a wounded man lying in the street, said Officer Raul Malveiro, a police department spokesman.

Michael Thierry, 29, of the 12100 block of Aster Road in Parkwood, was wounded in the head and groin. He was admitted to Frankford Hospital-Torresdale, where he died at 8:34 a.m. on Oct. 5.

According to a police source, a witness reported seeing two white males flee the scene. No further descriptions have been disclosed.

Northeast Times: Three Victims, No Profit

From the Northeast Times:

Three local men were wounded during a shooting at a Rhawnhurst apartment building last Saturday.

The three victims are brothers, all in their early- to mid-20s, according to Capt. Jack McGinnis of Northeast Detectives. At about 5:30 p.m., the men went to an apartment building on the 7500 block of Algon Ave. to collect a debt for prior contract work, McGinnis said.

As they entered the building, a fourth man followed them inside and pulled a gun on them in an apparent robbery attempt. The suspect shot all three men then fled without their money, investigators believe.

All three men were hospitalized at area hospitals and are expected to recover from their wounds.

The assailant was described as a black male of Latino heritage. The victims believe he is Dominican because of the Spanish dialect that he spoke.

He is age 22 to 24 and 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall. He has a medium build, clean shaven face and short black hair. He wore a white T-shirt and jeans and carried a .40-caliber silver semiautomatic pistol.

He fled in an unknown direction.