Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Thrill is Gone

The Thrill is Gone

The thrill is gone for New Jersey Republicans. The fight is gone, the passion is gone. They're whipped. Their President came to NJ and top Republicans stayed away in droves.

Right after 9/11, as the president stood above the rubble of the World Trade Center, his approval rating was at an all time high of over 90%. "I'm on top of world, ma!" Even the French whose taste compels them to love Jerry Lewis, loved President Bush back then. "We are all Americans!" the French shouted. But now? The French don't like him. America does not like him. The folks in NJ don't like him ---as his approval ratings hover at 28%.

There was an event in Edison yesterday. A fund-raiser for the Republican Party's fall campaign war chest-------where you'd think all the important Repubs would be. Not so.

Many Republicans paid $5000 a piece to have their pictures taken with George W. Bush, while others stayed away from the event to avoid having their pictures taken, since they have elections this fall.

You can bet that the Repubs that were not so cautious will see the President next to them all fall in campaign material when the campaign season begins in full throttle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This is what passes for patriotism?

MyTown of Flemington has the best of traditional Memorial Day parades, filled with boy scout troops, the Hunterdon Central Marching Band --- and veterans, old and young.

One of the heads of the local veterans groups is a 60ish Viet Nam vet, who speaks each year at the various services, and is passionate about America.

After the very moving event, we had a chance to chat about ‘patriotism’ and ‘Americanism’ away from the crowds.

“I am always for America”, he says, “No matter what happens. And I have a solution to this whole immigration problem. When the first spic guy comes across the border, I’d shoot him. Then, when the next guy comes across, I shoot him, too. By that time, I figure the third guy will think twice, and go back and tell the other Mexicans to stay home.

He continued.

“I teach in a Catholic school. I would get fired from public school. After 9/11, I tell my kids that the rag-heads and the dot-heads just have to go. America should be for Americans.”

Are these the values you want to teach to your kids I inquire. He says again that America "should be for Americans". Just a few generations ago, they were the saying the same the same thing about my people [Jews] and his people [Italians], I say. "It should still be America for Americans" he insists. I end my efforts, and wish him a good holiday for himself and his family.

Maybe someone should educate him: Tell him that Hindus are not our enemy [think that is who he means by ‘dot-heads’.] And that many of those who he is spouting this racism against are actually in the military themselves---fighting in the very same American army today he served in 30 plus years ago.

Unfortunately, this is what sometimes passes for ‘patriotism’ sometimes these days.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What did you do in the war, Dad?

That was the question that Miss Connor, my 4th grade teacher at PS 277 in Brooklyn ,wanted each kid in our class to ask their dad. We had an entire sheet of questions that Miss Conner handed out---you know, printed on mimeograph paper that had that rich chemical smell.

"What rank did your father have?" "What was his job in the war?" "What countries did he go to?" were some of the questions we had to ask. We were assigned to do an oral report for the class; this was to be a school project for Veterans Day in early November 1963.

I had heard many of my father’s WWII stories told over and over again. There was the story about his train ride from New Jersey to the training camp Alabama, the train ride where he walked up and down the train cars saying hello and meeting everyone. There was the story about how he hid a bald man’s cap, and the man got mad at him. There was the story behind an old photograph, where he met his lifelong friend Irving in Paris and how they went AWOL.

But his experiences in the war were never analyzed with an academic approach. I had never written the stories down and told them to anyone outside our family. So, I sat down with my dad, and began to ask the questions, telling him about my project. My dad, Bernie, answered with a bit of whimsy, in his playfully humorous way.

“Well, I helped beat the Nazis in World War II. I won the war. I used to meet regularly with Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill and all the Generals, Eisenhower, Patton,----and I advised them on what plans we should make for winning the war. We made plans to invade Normandy in France. I was the one who called ahead to see which day would be best to invade Normandy, and made the appointment. The person I talked to had a very thick French accent, and he said, 'De best day vould be June 6th, Zat day we are free. Zat should be De day’. And the name ‘D Day’ stuck.”

I was very impressed. I believed all of this to be true. At the age of nine, I was not the world’s most skeptical child.

I reported these findings to my class in my oral report, and Miss Connor stated sternly in a disapproving tone, “That sounds quite improbable. What rank was your father?”

A Private. First Class,” I said proudly.

"Hmmph. Then it is not possible that he met with Roosevelt and Churchill and the Generals, young man. Chris Link, your report please.”

Miss Connor dismissed me just like that, moving on to Chris' story of his dad as a SeaBee in the Navy.

I returned home completely dejected, not knowing what to believe. Had my father really made all that up? Did he really not win the war? Did he not really meet with Roosevelt and Churchill?

My dad cleared up the mess.

“No, no. I was a Private First Class. That was the rank for someone who met with the Generals and President Roosevelt almost everyday. You see, we had to meet in PRIVATE. That was the point. You couldn't go off and tell everyone when and who you were invading, could you? That information had to be PRIVATE."

"No, you would have to keep that info PRIVATE," I thought. "Seems logical to me."

"And the places we met were always the best. We met in FIRST CLASS hotels and restaurants. So, my rank was PRIVATE - FIRST CLASS. Now, you go back to school and set that teacher straight.”

Made sense to me. Never again did I doubt my dad, Private First Class Bernie Novick. The man who won World War II.

Enjoy the weekend. And thank a Veteran. Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ending the war: Not complicated at all.

In E.J. Dionne's column today in the Star-Ledger, he advises left-wing Democrats [as if they are the ONLY ones to oppose this war and find problems with the President's failed war policies] to follow Barry Goldwater's advice from the 1960 Republican Convention and just "Grow up". Senator Goldwater back then was attempting to beat back “a rebellion against Richard M. Nixon, whom conservatives saw as selling out to liberals on various platform planks.” How much wiser the Republicans were in 1960, then in 2007. Had they only beat back Richard Nixon, he may have gone into historical oblivion much sooner.

Dionne says “The Democratic Party's progressive wing, furious at what it sees as the capitulation of its congressional leaders to President Bush on the Iraq war, should remember this history. The decision to drop withdrawal timelines from the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill is not a decisive defeat.” While not a ‘defeat’, it still sets back months and months the objective the Democrats were elected to do, which is end this war. The president certainly has no desire or plan to do that.

Dionne is suggesting that somehow progressive Democrats should learn a lesson from Goldwater, the doyen of the conservative movement, and simply “grow up.” They should not look at the House Democrats giving up on meaningful timetables and benchmarks as a major defeat. I must vehemently disagree. This is a problem of major proportions.

The Democrats in the House folded their tent went home. Not all Democrats. Speaker Pelosi and others did have the courage of their convictions and voted their conscience and did the right thing. All the Democratic NJ Members of Congress did the same, with the exception of Rep. Rob Andrews. The reasons given by Rep. Andrews were filled with political platitudes like “We do not have a veto-proof majority for that proposition.” or “There are two ways to end our involvement in Iraq's civil war. The first is to elect a new President who will accomplish this goal.” Both reasons, I fear, are not of any importance to the families waiting for their loved ones to return. Nor to the 200-300 more families who may suffer a devastating loss this summer, should the war continue.

But the rest of the Democrats let down the American people who overwhelmingly wish to see an end to America involvement in this war, period. The headline of Dionne’s editorial is “See you in September”. Unfortunately, there may very well be several hundred more soldiers dying during the summer in this horrible mistake of a war----those who will not make it to see their families in September. So, while many of us will be at the Jersey Shore, at community pools, and on vacation sometime this summer ----Congress now must wait an additional four months to September in order to deal with the next funding bill for the Iraqi war.

Dionne goes on to say that “Democrats, in short, have enough power to complicate the president's life, but not enough to impose their will.” This unfortunately, is very true.

However, I think that it is well worth making the president’s life more and more “complicated”, as long as more and more American lives are lost in Iraq.

That is, not “complicated”, at all.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Democrats fold to Mr. 28%: Not SMART

I cannot express how disappointed I am that the Democrats, in spite of their ascendancy to control of Congress in January, have folded their tent, and capitulated to “Mr. 28%”, ----voting for Iraq war funding without a set of specific, measurable, attainable, responsible, and time-tabled benchmarks for bringing the Iraqi people in control of their own nation, and bringing our troops home.

"Specific, measurable, attainable, responsible, and time-tabled". If you use the first letters of each of those words it spells SMART. The Democrats were not SMART here at all.

The Democrats, once again, have shown how completely without a backbone they can be. I do not think they could have achieved less had the Republicans remained in control of Congress.

On a positive note, I can say that that I am proud of the fact that most of the Democratic members of New Jersey Congressional delegation voted NO. Rep. Rob Andrews was the sole Democratic supporter of the President’s failed policies in Iraq from New Jersey.

I wish that the Democratic Party had the conscience and courage of their convictions, and put this issue to the President in the simplest way possible by declaring:

"Mr. President -- This is the funding bill for the troops in Iraq. It has all the funding you have asked for. The bill supports the troops, giving them what they need.

If you veto it, you are the only one responsible for not supporting the troops. The rest is up to you, and it is the way the Congress wishes to fund this war effort, with an understanding of specific, attainable, measurable, responsible, and time-tabled benchmarks for bringing the Iraqi people in control of their own nation, and bringing our troops home."

It is sad to see Democrats not supporting the point of view held by the vast majority of the American people----that which gave them the majority in Congress.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

95 80 78 --- Hike!

Our friend Tom Hester, Jr. shared the good news for those of us in Central Jersey in today’s Home News Tribune with this headline that ran immediately over his name:

“New Jersey weighs toll hikes to earn $15B for debt”

Just when you thought you were safe from the skyrocketing gas prices that have plagued the rest of the country [companion article in the same Home News Tribune says how NJ has the lowest gas prices in the nation], here comes another great way to take money out of your pocket: Increase the tolls.

Now, I know that NJ is a ‘corridor state’, one that has hundreds of trucks passing through every nano-second on our roads, and those trucks pay lots in tolls to us. And since I live in Central Jersey and go mostly east and west instead of north and south, I really don’t pay that much in tolls. Really. I don’t even have EZ Pass. Quite frankly, I never thought it was that EZ. And I like saying ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to the human toll takers. Makes the ride more pleasurable. However, perhaps a fair compromise would be to charge out of state folks more money, and give NJ residents a better price break on EZ pass ---- if such policy can pass constitutional muster.

Still, when I do travel on the GSP or the NJ Turnpike or through the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel, I hate the idea of paying for a road or bridge or tunnel that was all paid up years and years ago. Although, I do like going over the Outerbridge Crossing --- the name is just so silly. I found out years ago that the bridge was named after Eugenius Outerbridge, the first chairman of the Port Authority and a Staten Island resident. Is that an incredible coincidence or not? I am sure the NJ/NY Port Authority laughed like hell when someone said “Let’s name it the ‘Outerbridge Bridge’”.

Connecticut---another corridor state---got rid of their tolls years and years ago. Seems like they are doing just fine without them. Their roads are no worse for the wear without tolls, and they are just about finished with their section of I-95, too.

So, bottom-line --- Governor Corzine wishes to “monitize” the roads. And I guess other states have had some success with that approach by selling off the asset that is the road to some private company, and grant that company the right to collect the tolls. And, yes, “montize” is just a fancy spin on the word “privatize”. Perhaps the real reason Trenton needs to raise the tolls is to create more of a money producer for which ever company buys the NJTpike or the GSP.

The Laws of the Great Garden State

Our good friends at the ACLU of New Jersey asked the New Jersey Law Revision Commission to recommend that the New Jersey state legislature remove two laws from the New Jersey statutes --- two laws that have been held unconstitutional. The ACLU succeeded. It took four years, but because of the persistant efforts of Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU the job is now done. Click here for the post on by Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU.

The two laws are:

(1) A now out-of-date law requiring that students stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. This was ruled unconstitutional by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals almost 30 years ago and by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 60 years ago.

(2) A law requiring that minors seeking abortions notify a parent. This was ruled unconstitutional in an ACLU-NJ/Planned Parenthood challenge in 2000.

It seemed reasonable and prudent that the Law Revision Commission acted promptly this year and did what was necessary to help NJ residents avoid any further confusion on the issue. However, before they made the change, according to an article in the May 14th New Jersey Law Journal, the NJ Law Review Commission considered that such changes were too “controversial”. Seems that they were concerned that no one in the legislature would want to appear to vote against the Pledge of Allegience or on the issue of abortion.

Such decisions, of course, should not be political.

Kudos to Law Revision folks, on doing your job. Quadruple kudos to Deborah for her vigilance in keeping up this effort for all these years. For that effort, New Jersey thanks you.

In the future, maybe there are some easier laws the Law Revision Commission might want to start with, just to kick up their juices in order to get ready for the tougher laws...

Perhaps there are other laws still on the NJ books --- that we just don’t need or need to be updated.

Check these out:

N.J.S.A. 39:4-85. Passing to left when overtaking; passing when in lines; signaling to pass; passing upon right

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left thereof and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle….

The driver of an overtaking motor vehicle not within a business or residence district
shall give audible warning with his horn or other warning device before passing or attempting to pass a vehicle proceeding in the same direction….

“…or other warning device”? Hmmm, what could legally pass for an “other warning device”?

Perhaps, it is not only legal to flip the finger to the driver in the next car when you pass him ----maybe it is required by N.J.S.A. 39:4-85. So when you’re on the NJ Turnpike, drive courteously, and follow the law. You don’t want to get points on your license, and up those already high New Jersey insurance rates. Go for the gold.

Another law the Law Review Commission should look at is ---

N.J.S.A 36:2-54

"Kindness Awareness Month in New Jersey" designated.

1.The month of May of each year is hereby designated as "Kindness Awareness Month in New Jersey." All citizens of this State are urged to partake in educational programs and activities to foster kindness.

Hmm. So, now kindness is legislated in NJ --- but only in May.
And giving loud or noticeable warnings to passing cars on the NJTpke or GSP is a must.

So, for the rest of the month, [especially the coming holiday weekend]--- be kind when passing cars, and signal them appropriately.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

“Too many damn laws!”

A few weeks back I attended the United Way annual dinner in Hunterdon County, and as always as a United Way Board member, I was sitting at a table with several UW supporters, clients, and volunteers. Being one of the only Democrats at the table is not an unusual experience for me, and the subject matter always turns to local, state and national politics.

Now, even the Republicans at the table have nothing to crow about regarding national politics these days with ‘Mr. 28%’ [and falling in NJ, thank you] in the White House, and both of NJ’s Senators being Dems. The same can be said for Trenton with the Dems holding both houses of the Legislature and Drumthwacket. [I always like saying “Drumthwacket”, mostly because when I was growing up in Brooklyn my house did not have a name.]

Anyway, the only thing the that many Repubs in Hunterdon have to drone on about these days is local politics. After our discussion about the Rs heated sheriff’s race and the multiple candidate freeholder race, the main R at my table made an ‘interesting’ observation:

“Problem with you Democrats is, you want too many damn laws! Laws for this! Laws for that. We should have a limited number of laws. Like we do in the Constitution. Just a dozen or so amendments. Like we do in the Bible. Only ten commandments there. And we do OK with them.”

Now when I came to the table, I had figured the guy voted for GW with his being a Repub and all----but after his last comment, my figuring was confirmed. So, I played along, and inquired, “Well, that’s interesting, how many laws do you think we should have?”

“Maybe no more than a hundred. Or a thousand, if you really need them," he chimed, with a big smile on his face.

Now, that I was too far in to this discussion to get out, I asked, “So, when we reach the limit, do we get rid of some laws? How do we do that?”

The answer seemed so logical to him:
“Well, you just set up a state commission to get rid of the old laws. I’m not saying you just get rid of the oldest ones first, but the commission looks at the bad laws, and just -----Phsxxsst [insert Bronx cheer here, which I do not know how to spell]---get rid of them. Off the books. Sayonara, amigo.”

Well, at least he has a sense of diversity ---- with his ‘Sayonara, amigo’ quip.

Before, I turned to my right and spoke to the one other Democrat at the table---the one with good sense to not speak to Mr. Repub, I asked finally, “This commission you want to set up to get rid of the extra laws---wouldn’t that require a new law to set up the commission? And what law would you get rid of to establish the new law to set up the commission?”

“I leave that to the lawyers”, he replied confidently.

Good call to give to ‘the lawyers’, I thought. And people always ask me ‘So, where do you get your comedy from? Real life, I say, real life.

Tomorrow: There is actually a commission that gets rid of old laws: The Law Review Commission. Well, some times they do, and sometimes it’s too ‘controversial’. But that story is for tomorrow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”

Recently in my hometown of Flemington, a Republican member of the Borough Council, called for clean and ethical campaigns in the coming fall elections. Great idea, I thought. Ironic, though, when called for by the Republican Party.

The Councilmember stated [in the May 17th Hunterdon County Democrat newspaper] that he would like to see the Council draft a resolution in support of ethical campaigning; that the Council ban taking campaign money from “state organizations, county organizations or even private organizations because that money comes with strings attached.” While I agree with the sentiment he expressed, I was wondering if he understood the irony: The irony, of course, was that it was his Republican Party that had acted in the fall elections in the manner he found so offensive. It was his Party that made allegations of corruption that they knew were not true when they said it, said it anyway, and the newspapers declared were not true, also. His Party, not the Democratic Party.

It was his Party which took substantial cash from a local attorney, and then rewarded him with a job as the Flemington Public Defender, and a place in the New Jersey pension system----those were the "strings attached”.

It was his Republican Party that over the years rewarded a local business owner with an economic development consultant contract worth close to $80,000 in return for her support in recent elections. More strings attached.

It was his Party which engaged in the campaign that the Courier News called the “nastiest ever” in Flemington ---- using Karl Rovian-type baseless personal attacks on the integrity and veracity of his Party’s Democratic opponents.

And it was his Party’s candidate who refused to sign an ethical campaign pledge in the February 2006 special election. His Party spent thousands more than the Democratic Party candidates, and moved political campaign cash around from the County Clerk’s campaign to the local Flemington campaign.

So, I think the answer to his concerns are, first, cleaning up the mess in his own Republican Party, and then see what the Borough Council can do. Such is the irony.

In the last quarter century, the American voting public has seen a disturbing trend take place: An alarming decrease in the percentage of those who are registered to vote going to the polls on Election Day. According to David Wallechinsky in Parade Magazine, "One of the more shocking statistics also relates to elections. In a recent survey of the percentage of voting-age citizens who actually cast a ballot in their country’s elections, the United States ranked only 139th out of the 172 nations that held elections." There is an equally alarming increase in the negative tone of campaigning and 'politics of personal destruction' in federal, state and especially in local campaigns. Such was the type of campaign conducted by his Party in Flemington.

I truly believe that in order to change this, we must begin locally at the grass roots level---within each political party.

Basic retail politics in local elections in Flemington used to be the traditional knocking on your neighbor's door, handing out flyers with good ideas for your community, and attending coffee gatherings in the local church or temple meeting room or school community room.

Unfortunately, this has been replaced by the same kind of negative tone and broad-based personal attacks that is typical of the 'Karl Rove/Swiftboat’ variety of campaigning in national elections. And that is not good. There are several things that residents can do right away:

Demand debates by local candidates, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Letters to the Editor of the local community newspaper requesting in depth coverage of the local race and debate. A voluntary 'Truth in Campaigning' state-wide statute or local ordinance. Fair campaign practices. A "Clean Campaign Pledge" signed by the candidates. For some really great ideas, see an article by Seton Hall Law School Prof. Paula A. Franzese, the Chair of the New Jersey State Ethics Commission, at:

Your elected officials, your local newspaper, and your neighbors can all be persuaded to do the right thing---and require the highest standards in New Jersey for clean political campaigns in local elections.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Doherty for Senate 2008: Deal or No Deal?

“Deal or No Deal” host Howie Mandel has reinvented himself again and again over the years --- from prop comedian to actor to talk-show host and now to game show host. The Republicans this season seem to be doing the same thing. First, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani re-invent themselves as conservatives by denying their pro-choice stand on abortion. And now, Senator Leonard Lance and Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow are hedging their bets with conservatives, too----by coming out early and supporting Assemblyman Mike Doherty for a US Senate run in 2008. Given their history of being fiscally conservative but socially liberal, this seems to me like an about face.

Do these two rational thinking Republicans really share core values with Doherty----enough to support him for Senate? This is a man, who in a recent debate on global warming with Assemblywoman Linda Stender, denied the existance of global climate change. He declared that he does not believe in evolution, either. “It does not matter. Evolution or creationism. It just does not matter,” said Doherty. Well, at least Doherty is in line on that issue with 30% of the Republican candidates for President. Doherty is not only out of touch with his district; he is out of touch with New Jersey.

And certainly there are Republicans who have more well rooted conservative credentials than Doherty. Congressman Chris Smith, for example. And certainly there are Republicans whose values appear to be more in line with most of New Jersey, like the often-mentioned U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Even Lance himself would make a better Senate candidate than Doherty.

Although Republicans all, Lance and Karrow do not appear to share core values with Doherty. They are both pro-choice; Doherty is not. Lance supported the Highlands Act; Doherty does not. Perhaps something else is afoot. I smell a deal…

Earlier this year, Doherty floated the idea that he was exploring a run for Lance’s state Senate seat. Senator Lance [who serves as the Republican Minority Leader] certainly could have held off a challenge by Doherty in the 23rd Senate District, but perhaps such a run would have shown Lance’s weakness with the conservatives in the district. Or maybe some weakness in Doherty’s home county of Warren. Who knows? Lance’s name has been mentioned as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court, so I am sure he would not have wanted a primary for his Senate seat to muck up the works. Either way, sometime before the filing deadline in April, all the Republicans kissed and made up, so there was no divisive primary. Deal or No Deal?

So, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of New Jersey Republicans in their support for Doherty. Of those Republicans who still have hearts, I mean.

Flemington: MyTown in Central Jersey

While most of New Jersey struggles with the dichotomy of being either South Jersey or North Jersey, MyTown of Flemington sits in the center of Central New Jersey, at the heart of heavenly Hunterdon County. We sit pretty much in the center---we’re one hour north of Philadelphia and one hour west of NYC. People here work and travel to both cities everyday. Well, not the same people---that would be silly. But many people do choose to live here because of its proximity to NYC and Philly. One spouse/domestic partner/civil-unionist can work in one city, while the other works in the other. Proudly, we are the center of Central New Jersey. The center of what Ben Franklin called "A keg tapped at both ends".

Fellow comedian Dom Irrera tells a joke about nicknames: “In the old neighborhood, everyone had a nickname. There was Big Petey. There was Little Petey. There was even Medium Petey."

Sometimes, but not always, I feel like we live in the equivalent of ‘Medium Petey’. Not quite northern NJ and not quite southern, either. To my buds in Bergen County, we’re part of South Jersey, and all Philly fans. To my peeps in Gloucester County, we’re strict northerners and all Yankee fans. And at the center of it all is Flemington, MyTown in Central Jersey.

And I can say ‘MyTown’ because while I am not a native NJer [born and raised in NYC, thank you very much---Brooklyn, to be exact, thanks again] I spent twelve years on the Flemington Borough Council dealing with the problems and challenges that any Central Jersey town faces these days. Property taxes. Sprawl. Property taxes. Traffic. Downtown business leaving, coming back, leaving again. And property taxes, of course. So, I can now claim my piece of NJ as MyTown.

Flemington [aside from being MyTown] is really Anytown, USA. We have our Main Street [really called “Main Street”, ---and we even have a North Main and a South Main, too]. We have our history ---the Lindbergh Baby Trial took place here in 1935. And, no, it was not the Lindbergh Baby who was on trial [like we’ve never heard that joke before]—(and yup, I made that joke myself once, when I was living here for about five minutes) ----it was the first “Trial of the Century” and the trial-ee was Bruno Hauptman. We even have a re-enactment of the Trial each year in the actual courthouse where the original trial took place. Some older folks around here (including the current Mayor) still believe that Hauptman was guilty and got what he deserved. Really.

While MyTown has not grown much in years and years and years [pop. according to is “Males: 2,038 (48.5%)Females: 2,162 (51.5%)”, [Check that out, fellas!---that’s 1.06 girls for every boy!]
We’re still just about 4200, on the nose------MyTown is surrounded on all four sides by the ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-pulsating, housing development-building, school-constructing, mall-installing, ‘open space’ buying, super-growing Raritan Township [21,834 residents, increased a staggering 138.9 percent since 1980!] -----RTville, the town without a center.

RTville used to call MyTown ‘the whole in the doughnut’. I prefer [since MyTown is the town-center of RTville] to call MyTown the ‘nucleus of the cell’. After all, this is where everything in Hunterdon happens---all roads in Hunterdon County [well, two roads, actually---31 and 2-oh-2] lead to MyTown. My term has not caught on yet with the local residents, but it is more catchy than ‘the whole in the doughnut’, and it has panache. And EveryTown in NJ needs some panache to distinguish itself from NYC, Philly and [sometimes] the rest of Jersey.

So, I kind’ve grown to like MyTown very much. It’s home and it is getting more panache-ey everyday.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Jersey & PA: Perfect together!

New Jersey has a certain reputation in the nation. On late night TV---Letterman, Leno, Conan---all jokes seem to end with the punchline of either "George W. Bush" or "New Jersey" these days. I think the only late night show that stays away from the NJ jokes is The Daily Show----maybe that's because host Jon Stewart is from the great Garden State [born in NYC, but grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey]. So, maybe that's why he leaves NJ alone. We are so lucky.

We're made fun of. Ok. We're tough. We can take it. We're friendly. We get along with other states. Well, one of them, at least.

Well, we certainly get along with our neighbor to the west, Pennsylvania. Why, just this morning we agreed to a major project: dredging the Delaware! That's right, we may not agree with New York on who actually owns Liberty Island or the fact that the Giants play here and should be called the New Jersey Giants----but when it comes to Pennsylvanians----dig we must!

The NJBIZ website reported today that "New Jersey and Pennsylvania agreed today to move ahead with a Delaware River dredging project expected to increase the depth of the waterway’s main channel by five feet from its current 40-foot level." And what state could not use an "extra five feet" in its channel?

The article goes on to say that "The project, which let larger ships navigate the waterway, will run about 100 miles, from the mouth of the Delaware Bay to Philadelphia/Camden stretch of the river."

Maybe size does matter. Bigger ships may mean bigger bucks for New Jersey. But we will have to share the bigger bucks with Pennsylvania, I guess. Take that, New York!

Assemblyman Mike Doherty: Maybe he believes the Earth is flat, too.

Winston Churchill said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." On the Tuesday, May 8th, the lies that traveled around our world threatened by global warming were told by Assemblyman Mike Doherty [a presumptive candidate for US Senate in 2008], and his cohort, Jim Tayor, a spokesperson/lawyer from the Heartlands Institute, a reputed ‘think-tank’ funded in large part by big oil companies. The Heartlands Institute espouses that global warming does not exist and is just a scam to raise taxes.

I had the opportunity that evening to attend a debate between Mr. Doherty and Assemblywoman Linda Stender---a debate I thought would be on the ways we can endeavor to combat the dangers imposed by global climate change caused by the release of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere. Instead what the attendees were treated to was a ‘debate’ on whether global climate change even existed.

Ms. Stender brought with her to support her position on the dangers of global warming, Dr. Alan Robuck of Rutgers University, a scientist who has worked on the issue of global warming for the past thirty-three years. Mr. Doherty chose to bring with him, not a scientist, but a ‘spokesperson’ [Mr. James Taylor] from the Heartlands Institute. The fact that the Heartlands Institute is funded in large part by big oil companies makes one question the credibility of their motivation herein.

After opening statements by the state representatives, the scientist and the ‘spokesperson’, questions came from the audience of about 50 people. The most telling question of the evening revealed Mr. Doherty’s questionable core belief system about science in general. He was asked whether or not he believed in evolution, ---a inquiry reflective of the question asked of the Republican Presidential contenders. In the recent Republican presidential debate, 30% of the presumptive nominees revealed that they did not believe in evolution. Mr. Doherty expressed a similar point of view, by saying, “It does not matter. Evolution or creationism. It just does not matter.” Perhaps he believes that the Earth is flat, too. Perhaps Mike should check out the Flat Earth Society at But I digress.

Mr. Doherty’s denial of the existence of global warming and evolution, in spite of the overwhelming evidence for both, is alarming. The fact that this person is actually one of the members of the New Jersey State Assembly voting for our district is even more disturbing. Perhaps Mr. Doherty needs to go back to high school and sit in a basic freshman science class at Hunterdon Central. His position is narrow minded thinking at best and anti-intellectual scientific revisionism at its worst.

Don't be Like Mike.