Sunday, September 30, 2007

Snakes vs New Jersey Developers


Tough choice on who’d win that confrontation.

Both have excellent speed, power and endurance.

One stays low to the ground, always crawling on its slimy underbelly. And the other is a slick and slippery reptile-like creature. I am not sure who’s more sneaky. One eats rats whole and has bugs for dessert; the other eats towns whole.

The Developers have a better legal team and more lobbyists. The snakes have a better environmental team, and have been around since the Garden of Eden.

All in all, it’s a toss-up.

But, if you took the point spread and the New Jersey Developers in Medford this week, you lost!

That’s right --- the corn snake and northern pine snake combined for all the points this week: The New Jersey Pinelands Commission put the kibosh on a 110-home project in Medford. A big goose egg for the Developers. Zero. Zippo. Nada.

Go Snakes! Score one for the slimy creatures (the snakes, not the lawyers).

In the corner for the Snakes is Carlton Montgomery, the director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. In the corner for developer ‘Bob Meyers Communities’ is, well, Bob Meyers.

Here’s the tale (or tail) of the tape:

The Snakes (courtesy of Newsday.com)
The corn snake _ a colorful, docile, rodent-eating species that's a popular choice for a pet reptile _ has been under state protection since 1979, and is presently listed as an endangered species. The dull-colored, secretive northern pine snake is listed as threatened.
Bob Meyer & The Developers (courtesy of www.bobmeyers.com)
For nearly half a century historic New Jersey towns like Evesham, Medford, Moorestown and Shamong have provided the perfect backdrop for the classic communities created by Bob Meyer. At Bob Meyer Communities, we know that building a new home is more than a practical decision. A new home is a purchase that will be part of your life for years to come. At Bob Meyer Communities, we build homes with a sense of history... yours and ours.
Unless, of course, there are corn snakes and/or northern pine snakes on the property.

The Snakes have won -- for now.

But a rematch has been set up already: The decision has been appealed to an administrative law judge.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

All in The New Jersey Family

“A North Jersey mayor and his wife have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. They are accused of extorting gifts and cash that paid for gambling, plastic surgery and a dog.” (9/29/07 New York Times)

It’s nice to see a married couple still sharing interests together. Especially if they're from small town America: Guttenberg, NJ (in the middle of Hudson County) is just 11 blocks long and 4 blocks wide.

Of course, in New Jersey in Hudson County those 'shared interests' include the family dog, gambling trips to Atlantic City and…extortion. Gotta love New Jersey.
"Mayor David Delle Donna, 49, of Guttenberg, a tiny town wedged into populous Hudson County, surrendered to federal agents yesterday in Newark. He and his wife, Anna Delle Donna, 58, appeared in court and were released on $100,000 bail. They are accused of accepting the gifts and money from a bar owner in exchange for political favors." New York Times, 9/29/07
(My apologies to Charles Stouse and Lee Adams, songwriters of the "All in the Family" TV theme song.)

All in The New Jersey Family

Gutten
berg’s Mayor and his wife
Took bribes so they could have a better life
.
Helped a Guttenberg bar through its strife.

Those were the days.


“Cash is what it takes you see;

To get a dog, and for plastic surgery
.
Mister, We could use a trip ---
The shores of Atlantic City, again.”


“We’re not guilty of the crime!”
“We never took dough - not one thin dime!”

Gee --they’ll end up doing time.

Those were the days
.

New Jersey officials can't seem to give money away

“New Jersey officials can't seem to give money away when it comes to the nation's highest property taxes. About 200,000 people have failed to apply for their property tax rebates, costing themselves $200 million total, Democratic leaders said yesterday. About 1.1 million rebate checks were mailed to homeowners last week, but Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. urged those who haven't applied to do so before the Oct. 31 application deadline.” (Hester, AP)

So, the state with the highest property taxes in the nation left rebate checks totaling about $200 million on the table. Go figure.

And there are 200,000 of them. Clueless.

Probably these are the same types of guys who drive a Pacer or a Yugo, drive with their left signal on in the left lane, have an eight-track deck in their car, is not registered to vote, live at home with their parents, did not think that Don Imus said anything wrong, does not have an EZ-pass, and roots for the Mets (North Jersey) or Phillies (South Jersey).

Here is the way to make sure the State actually distributes the money: Send out a press release telling people they CANNOT have their money back. "Nope, you can't have it back. We're going to keep it and use it to....buy glow in the dark shoes for all the deer in the state so that....can be seen at night".

People will go nuts making sure they get their money back.


Friday, September 28, 2007

After seven years, The President STILL Am Learning

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

And President Bush has been examining his life since 2000, since he said:

"Is our children learning?"
-- George W. Bush, January 11, 2000

Well, after seven years of contemplating that thought, the other day he found the answer:

"Childrens do learn."
-- George W. Bush, September 26, 2007


Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Not I" said, the Democratic candidates for President.

Every child knows the story of the Little Red Hen:

One day as the Little Red Hen was scratching in a field, she found a grain of wheat.

"This wheat should be planted," she said. "Who will plant this grain of wheat?"

"Not I," said the Duck.


"Not I," said the Cat.


"Not I," said the Dog.


"Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did…


And the story goes on and on like this, where the duck, the cat, and the dog give no help to the Little Red Hen with the planting, the baking, the threshing…you know the deal.

Now, here’s the latest from the Presidential debate Wednesday night:

When asked if, as president, they would guarantee that American troops would be out of Iraq by the end of their first term (in 2013), here is what the brave Democrats had to say:

"I think it's hard to project four years from now," said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

"It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I cannot make that commitment," said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Maybe the Little Red Hen was a red because she was a Republican.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Republicans in New Jersey who face tough races: They’re in SCHIP shape.

Since they know their president will veto the SCHIP bill anyway, Republican members of Congress facing tough races next year voted in the affirmative on the bill.

SCHIP is State Children’s Health Insurance Program ----“a national program designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford to buy private insurance. The program was created to address the growing number of children in the United States without health insurance.”

Democrats want to increase the funding of the program, while Republicans want to keep the funding flat.

Ferguson is a Schmerguson: Congressman Mike Ferguson voted against SCHIP before he voted for it. AND he faces another tough race in ’08 against Assemblywoman Linda Stender ----who lost by just a single point in ’06.

Sex vs Sax: In 2006, Congressman Jim Saxton faced Democratic candidate Rick Sexton. Despite the similar sounding names, the numbers were not even close: Saxton got 58% of the vote, while Sexton received just 41%.

Saxton probably didn’t even sweat that much. But, wait, in 2008----Saxton will face a much tougher opponent in State Senator John Adler. Saxton is 64 years old, and has been in Congress since 1984.

<--------Adler has served in the New Jersey State Senate since 1992, where he represents the 6th Legislative District. Adler was Democratic Conference Chair from 2002-03 and Assistant Minority Leader from 1994-2001.

He was ahead of the curve with an endorsement of John Kerry in 2004, while the rest of the state went for Howard Dean. For 2008, he is supporting Obama. Not for nothing, Adler does not follow the crowd.

Both Republicans probably did not wish to be tagged as ‘anti-children’ in a year before they were up for re-election again--- so the safe vote is voting for SCHIP. As long as they have the political ‘cover’ of a presidential veto, they think they’re OK and joined the other 45 Republicans in voting for SCHIP.

But let’s see what happens when they’re pressured to vote to overturn their president’s veto.

That’s when the fun begins.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jury Duty and Stamps

I went to the post office today and mailed some letters. I was given the new Jury Duty Stamp.

Now, the much easier way to send messages these days is either by email or by postage meter --- but maybe I am old fashioned.

I still like stamps.

The folks at the US Post Office are very creative about 'who', 'what' and 'where' they honor on their stamps. Unlike the folks at the US Mint who are generally limited to dead presidents for our money, the folks at the US Post Office can be much more creative.

And sometimes they get really darn ingenious with their choices.

Recently there have been stamps issued to honor the Hershey’s Kiss, singer Ella Fitzgerald, Darth Vader, and even Marvel Comics superhero/villian Silver Surfer.

And sometimes they are as conservative as the US Mint: A recent stamp honored former president Gerald Ford.

But they really must be running out of ideas this time.

They issued a stamp earlier this month to honor Jury Duty. No, not the 1995 movie with Pauly Shore. The societal obligation.

Yup, that public responsibility that nearly everyone and their mother tries to avoid now has its very own stamp. For just 41 cents, you can send that birthday card to your Aunt Fanny in Florida or the money you owe your Cousin Marvin in Minneapolis ---with a tribute to Jury Duty in the upper right hand corner of the envelope.

"I am thrilled by the Postal Service's issuance of the Jury Duty stamp, which celebrates the important role of our citizenry in the delivery of justice," said Chief Judge Judith Kaye of New York. "We rightly take pride in this uniquely American institution, which has been a great strength of our nation from its very beginnings."

Thrilled? Judge Judith needs to get out more.

Today the postage clerk at the Flemington post office told me that she thought “more people will respect jury duty, now that it has its own stamp, and not try to duck their obligation”. Good thought; most people I know certainly do get their moral and ethical motivation from postage stamps.

The stamp itself pictures twelve of your “peers” ---of all colors of the rainbow. Maybe, just maybe, one of the jurors is named Roy G. Biv.

There are orange and purple jurors. There are three jurors who are three different shades of green and two different shades of blue. All in all, the jurors look like they have food poisoning, and turned different colors as they got sicker and sicker.

Now, I think that the jury system is a very important constitutional right.

And a vital part of American history. Ever since the Magna Carta promised “no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land,” the jury system has proven to be a very cool institution.

But a stamp? Maybe I am too cynical.

It’s such a slippery slope, though ---stamps commemorating societal obligations.

What’s next a stamp honoring Cross at the green, not in between”---maybe with the green guy from the jury duty stamp crossing a street safely.

Or an airmail package with a “No Spitting” themed stamp.

For New Jersey, perhaps a stamp with the purple guy paying a toll or the orange lady laying out on the Jersey Shore listening to Springsteen.

It could happen.

Judge Says Item on Stem Cells Stays on Ballot

A state judge ruled on Monday that a $450 million bond proposal to finance stem cell research must stay on the November ballot, dealing a blow to abortion opponent. (New York Times, 9/22)


Guess those abortion opponents who trusted the judgment of an ‘actvist’ judge instead of the wisdom of the residents of New Jersey got what they deserved.

The judge concluded that the case, filed on behalf of 16 plaintiffs, was filed too late to qualify for the “imminent harm” claim to have any validity. He declared the claim of ‘imminent harm’ was “self-created.”

Now, residents can help New Jersey continue to be a leader in the field of stem cell research. Support the New Jersey Stem Cell Research Bond Act.

And support Democrats this election season. If Republicans take over the Legislature, this could be dead in the water.

Some stem cell basics:

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What’s in a name? An arena by any other name…

According to an article in Newsday: What once was the Brendan Byrne Arena, and then became the Continental Airlines Arena, is now looking for a name.

The airline pays $1.3 million annually for those naming rights. I think the former governor got away for free.

Amazingly, the Roman Coliseum has stood for more than a thousand years ---since 80 AD ---and still has the same name. That guy "Roman" must have got a hell of naming rights deal.

Anyway, the naming rights of “The Arena Formerly Known as Brendan” are up for grabs.

I guess the whole corpo naming rights idea is not a bad one. Some think it's stupid. But, money is to be made on the ‘naming rights’ for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority ---but it’s gonna be a tough sell. The Houston based airline, Continental backed out of a deal due to major changes in the tenants of the arena.

The New Jersey Nets are goin’ back to Brooklyn (they started out on Long Island years and years ago with Dr. J as the NY Nets), where they will live out their days in the Barclays Center, (Barclays Bank is paying $400 million for twenty years for the naming rights.)

Also, theNew Jersey Devils are moving to the brand spankin’ new Prudential Center in Newark very soon.

Some companies have been through the arena, to check it out for naming rights. George Zoffinger, CEO of the authority, said a tour of the arena by potential bidders earlier this month didn't go as well as expected.

"With the uncertainty of the building, it's a very difficult sell," he said.

So, it will be empty. Vacant. Uncertainty certainly abounds.

Subsequently, I thought I might help out by going on www.superpages.com, to find some possible monthly renters. George, here are companies whose actual names reflect the current status of the arena. Maybe you can give these a shot:

“Empty” Cloud Ta'l Chi
210 West 94th Street
New York, NY 10025

“Empty” Pockets
4095 US Highway 1,
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852

“Empty” Building Security
378 Schuyler Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032

“Vacant” No-Callback
429 Greenwich
New York, NY 10013

“Vacant” Property Security Inc
50 Center Street
Oradell, NJ 07649

Hope one of these works out.

If not, I will bid $1000 a year for the “Joey Novick Arena”, ---- as long as it comes with my picture on the front of the building. Let me know if that works for you guys, and I will draw up the agreement------------>

Or maybe, just maybe, you could name the arena after someone who has done really good things for the state of New Jersey.



----like Brendan Byrne.

Now, there's a novel idea.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Welcome to Riverside. Now get out.

Last year Riverside passed a controversial law that was geared to keep out illegal immigrants.

It was passed in a hurry, and focused on fining landlords who rented apartments to illegal aliens and on employers who hired them.

However, the law was never really enforced, and it was recently rescinded. The Riverside Council decided they did not have the funds to deal with the civil rights law suits that the town might be hit with.

The immigrants--- Brazilians----have mostly left. And are not likely to come back. Would you?

From www.phillyburbs.com: "The cost to continue fighting this would have been astronomical and we need a new town hall and new streets," said Deputy Mayor Lorraine Hatcher. "The writing was on the wall: It's a federal issue."

Well, duh. That was what opponents to the law said more than a year ago.

Now the town has lost part of its population that rented apartments and shopped in stores. The result? Empty storefronts. Empty apartments.

Many Brazilians are not coming back.

"I wouldn't come back either," said Luis Ordonez, a U.S. citizen from Ecuador who owns the River Dance Music Store on Scott Street. "Do you want to live in a place where you are not welcome?"

A Hell of Lady Just Got into Heaven.

Today I went to the memorial service of a hell of a Democratic dame.

A lifelong FDR Democrat, Anna Zyck. She was so full of life and had the kind of spunk that made you know that she did not suffer fools at all. I am privileged to be included in the people she considered a friend.

She was a Democrat’s Democrat. Voted in every primary. Voted in every election. Always had every Democrat’s sign on her lawn come election time. She was always decked out in her red, white, and blue outfit each and every Memorial Day parade.

She was a registered nurse and a graduate of the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, Trenton. Anna was also a graduate of the Nurse Cadet Program at Lakehurst during World War II. During her lengthy nursing career, she was a nurse at the Hunterdon Medical Center, a private duty nurse, a nurse at the Hunterdon Developmental Center and was a longtime volunteer nurse with the Senior Health Services of Hunterdon County.

She received a Governor's Award for volunteer nursing.

Her sense of humor knew no bounds. Anna, we are all better off from having known you. And we will feel your loss each and every election day.

If there’s a political heaven, they have a new activist to contend with.

Business Lobbyists love Republicans

According to their website, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ) was “established in 1927…has approximately 900 members, from Fortune 500 companies like Hertz Corporation, Ingersoll-Rand, Continental Airlines, Stryker, PSE&G, Sharp, and Sony to emerging companies and sole proprietorships representing all areas of business and industry. The organization is the leader in free enterprise advocacy for the purpose of providing - through education, legislative vigilance and membership interaction - an economic climate that enhances business potential and makes New Jersey a better state in which to live, work and conduct business.”

But that's not the whole story. They also seem to have a love affair with Republicans.

Their PAC, called the Private Enterprise Political Action Committee (PENPAC) has endorsed 40 plus Republicans for the state legislature, and only five Democrats.

Part of the criteria for the PENPAC choice: "A commitment to reducing government regulation."

And we all know what that means for consumers and labor.

Amongst the Republicans endorsed were Senator Sonny McCullough, Assemblyman Mike Doherty, and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce ---all safe bets for Big Business.

The Democrats endorsed were Assemblyman and Senate Candidate Francis L. Bodine, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, Senator Paul Sarlo, Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer, and Senator Ray Lesniak.

PENPAC Chairman Richard Goldberg said, "..it is critical that these candidates, who believe in smaller government, are elected to the New Jersey legislature. ”

CIANJ also vehemently opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), which is supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress. When enacted, the Employee Free Choice Act would level the playing field for workers and employers and help rebuild America’s middle class. It would restore workers’ freedom to choose a union by:

• Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.
• Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.
• Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

Joining CIANJ in opposing the Employee Free Choice Act are anti-union front groups like the discredited Center for Union Facts, led by lobbyist Richard Berman. Berman is infamous for fighting against drunk driving laws and consumer and health protections. Also, the National Right to Work Committee and Foundation, the country’s oldest organization dedicated exclusively to destroying unions, also joins CIANJ in opposing the Employee Free Choice Act.

President Bush has threatened to veto the the Employee Free Choice Act.

That alone should tell you everything you need to know about the CIANJ.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We're fighting in Iraq so that their people can enjoy free speech, too.

We enjoy freedom of speech here in America.

Even New Jersey students have the same right of protest we are trying to make sure the Iraqi people have.


This from AP newswire:

STUDENT PROTESTERS FREE TO WEAR HITLER YOUTH BUTTON

A federal judge in Newark has ruled two students who wished to protest a school-uniform requirement may indeed wear buttons featuring identically clad members of the Hitler Youth. The students had been threatened with suspension, but U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, citing the Vietnam War-era case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, wrote that only if students' speech will "materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school" may they be punished for it. He rejected the school district's argument that an image of Hitler Youth was inherently abhorrent and disruptive, but ruled the boys cannot distribute the buttons to other students on school property.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Petraeus and The Political Punchline

Here are some of the best points of view on the General Petraeus report from the world of comedy, as Bush hides behind him...

"Earlier today was the big Iraq report. General Petraeus said the troops can start coming home next summer. ... I believe his exact words were, 'And then it's Hillary's mess.'" --David Letterman

"Another big day on Capitol Hill. General Petraeus testified again today before Congress about the Iraq war. Some Democrats are claiming that Petraeus' answers are scripted by President Bush. Which explains Petraeus' use of the word 'surgerrific.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Petraeus gave his progress report on Iraq to Congress. Many of the senators commented to the general. Senator Barbara Boxer said Petraeus was overly optimistic; Mel Martinez of Florida thanked the general; Senator Larry Craig of Idaho said, 'There's something about a man in uniform.'" --Jay Leno

"General Petraeus was in Washington testifying before the Senate. After the testimony, Senator Craig said, 'You may not know this, general, but right now I'm saluting you.'" --David Letterman

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Free-wheelin' Freeholders

I am personally and politically offended when Republicans lecture anybody, including the Democratic Party, on the issue of fiscal responsibility.

On the national, state, and local levels they continue to make fiscally unsound choices, going against [again and again] their so-called ‘core’ philosophy of ‘conservatism’.

That, as Spanky from the Little Rascals would say, is a lot of hooey.

On the national level, Bush and the Republicans in Congress squandered a surplus created in the Clinton years, and have spent billions on an endless war in Iraq.

On the state level, when Whitman and the Republicans were in charge, they grew state debt astronomically, while borrowing $2.6 billion without public approval to pay for the state pension fund.

And on the local level in my home county, the Hunterdon County Freeholders just spent more than two million dollars building a clubhouse for the County golf course. Outrageous.

Now I like golf as much as the next guy---especially if the next guy does not play golf. However, I think Hunterdon residents should be outraged that the County is getting in to the Country Club business.

What's next? Restaurants. Night Clubs, Bowling Alleys. The list of possible businesses is endless.

These are the same so-called free market Republicans who disdain when the government gets in to any kind of ‘business’ ----that is much better administered by private businesses.

“It’s a good deal for the County" they say. ‘It will increase business at the golf course,' they offer.

Perhaps it will.

However, if a clubhouse is such great deal, why can’t they find ‘private investors’ to provide the construction capital? Isn’t that the way the ‘free market’ in capitalism is supposed to work? If a business man or a business woman sees value in the construction and maintenance of a golf club house, are we not better off allowing that private investment to flourish, rather than taking property tax dollars that are better spent on actual public services? Those dollars could be used for employee salaries, road construction, bridge repair or dare I say it ---- to help offset rising taxes.

I thank Freeholders George Melick and Eric Peterson for opposing the clubhouse construction. But the other Republicans ----Ron Sworen, Matt Holt and George Muller: shame on you.

Soon your party will think you’re voting like ----dare I say it ----damn liberals!

Unless the golf course is going to draw the likes of Tiger Woods, but only if we have a great Clubhouse ----I think the Freeholders should can it.

Oh, and maybe someone can read it to him.

Ok, so up till now it seems like the Democrats in Congress have no will to actually leave Iraq. And, sad to say, some of the same people who voted to support the war, also supported the surge. Perhaps there is no good plan to leave Iraq, only a field of very bad choices. Well, you can’t say we didn’t tell you so. That’s why you don’t get in to wars like this.

But, alas, we did go in.

An old liberal Democratic warhorse has come up with an idea on how to actually leave Iraq. Remember Senator George McGovern? For those of you my age, that’s a stupid question.

For the rest of you, he was the guy who won Massachusetts and DC in the 1972 Presidential election, but came in second to Nixon. Yes, the election right before Watergate and Nixon’s resignation. Perhaps if he were the president back then…but I digress.

Senator McGovern has written a book with William R. Polk, Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. And it’s in paperback, too.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is what the folks at the Middle East Policy Council have to say about the book:

“The real importance of McGovern and Polk’s short book has been to offer an alternative framing of the choices facing America in Iraq from those found in either the careful calls for regional diplomacy and redeployment of the Baker-Hamilton Commission’s report or the president’s wildly unpopular and almost certainly doomed choice to instead “surge” tens of thousands of additional American troops into Iraq. The once heretical idea of a rapid American withdrawal has now moved to the center of American politics. Withdrawal gets ever-more support in public-opinion polls and has been endorsed by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, while both houses of Congress passed a bill containing the (unenforceable) demand for a 2008 departure date. Detailed proposals for a withdrawal are popping up everywhere from The Nation (Juan Cole) to the Council on Foreign Relations (Steven Simon) to MIT’s Security Studies program (Barry Posen). Clearly, a sea change has taken place in American politics on the question of Iraq. Out of Iraq may one day be read as a key crystallization of this moment.”

Buy one and send it to President Bush for the coming holiday season.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sean Hannity and the Right Wing radio gang go nuts over the MoveOn.Org ad

So, Sean Hannity and the Right Wing radio gang go nuts over the MoveOn.Org ad on Friday.

All afternoon, Rush, Mark Levin, Sean et al are blasting MoveOn.Org with caller after caller questioning Move On.Org’s patriotism, sanity, support for the troops, etc.

And many Democratic law makers also thought the ad was a bit over the top ----Senator Carl Levin, and Sen. John Kerry, for example.


"I don't like any kind of characterizations in our politics that call into question any active-duty, distinguished general who I think under any circumstances serves with the best interests of our country," said Kerry.

Of course, personal attacks on the patriotism of a sitting general are never permissible in the middle of an unjustifiable and unpopular war.

I am sure the same thing happened to General Westmoreland when he lied about the Viet Nam War.

The more things change the more they remain the same. But the ad did strike a nerve and it gets people talking.

Anyway, MoveOn.Org released a new TV ad---one that moves from 'betray us' to 'betrayal of trust'.

Never mind these are the same people--Bush, Cheney et al-- who lied about weapons of mass destruction, the number of troops it would actually take to win the war, how long we would be there, and implying that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

Of coure, none of that matters.

What seems to matter more to Sean & Co. is that MoveOn.Org attacked the General’s personal integrity and patriotism. Obviously, a much more important issue than the 3000 plus who gave their lives in the war.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Can't we all get along?


The New Jersey Congressional delegation obviously disagree on the recent report on Iraq 'progress'.

In a nutshell:

Senator Menendez:

On the the General Petraeus report: "He said that even if (President Bush) were to ask him such a question, he would decline. It is evident to me that . . . our top general cannot see an end to the war.

Congressman Jim Saxton:

"We can choose to stay committed to success, withdraw at the appropriate time and leave the Iraqis celebrating freedom, or we can leave prematurely and allow the forces of evil and terror to carry out their mission."

Without the votes in Congress to leave soon, or the will for a majority of Democrats to take a stand, we will be in Iraq for generations to come.

"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."---and for years to come!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conversations in Congress: Thumbs up on Iraq!


"Does the [Iraq war] make America safer?"
--Senator John Warner

"I don't know, actually."

-- General David Petraeus, in his testimony before the Senate Tuesday.

Maybe we can believe them, this time.

Start the Jewish New Year with chutzpah, I always say.

This story is from the New Jersey Lawyer: (the only thing it has to do with New Jersey):

A DICTATOR STANDS UP FOR HIS GOOD NAME

A panel of three Indonesian Supreme Court judges has ordered Time magazine to pay $106 million for defaming the country's former dictator, Suharto, and Time's lawyers have vowed to fight the award in the name of press freedom. Time's Asian edition asserted in a May 1999 cover story that after four months of reporting in 11 countries, it had discovered that Suharto had secreted away more than $15 billion in European banks before he left office in 1998. The former dictator tried to sue Time in several Indonesian courts without success until the latest panel, which includes a retired general who rose quickly through the ranks during Suharto's reign, ruled in his favor. Attempts to bring Suharto to court for corruption and human rights abuses, meanwhile, have failed, with one judge ruling in 2000 he was too ill to stand trial.
Now, here is a guy who helped kill people, too:

"...a CIA study of the events in Indonesia assessed that 'In terms of the numbers killed the...massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century'..."

But he gets a good lawyer, and sues for defamation. So, lesson learned: Even dictators have legal rights to clear their good names in court.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The real election in New Jersey is just 783 Days away.

The November 2007 election is a mere 55 days away. However, the simultaneous election campaign in New Jersey is for the Presidential primary on February 5th, 2008 is a mere 146 days away.

And, of course, the grand daddy of them all ---the 2008 presidential election is on November 4th, 2008 and that’s 419 days away.

However, lurking waaay behind the scenes is the real biggie in New Jersey --- the 2009 election for Governor.

And that’s a mere 783 Days or 18793 hours. Or 1127626 minutes away.

It will be here before Bush can learn how to pronounce ‘nuclear’.

Why is that soooo big? Because it’s unprecedented.

It will be the first time New Jersey will be electing a Lt. Governor. Kind of changes the whole shebang, one might think.

Hence, who is on the short list for Lt. Governor to run with Governor Jon Corzine?

Well, the ticket will need some ‘balance’, perhaps. Someone to reflect the rich diversity of New Jersey’s political landscape. Someone with leadership skills and executive experience, possibly.

Indeed, that would put Newark Mayor Cory Booker on the top of the list.

But wait, New Jersey ranks somewhere in the low thirties for the top states with women in state legislatures.

So, maybe Barbara Buono or Susan Bass Levin might be on the ticket. Buono has been a loyal Senator and a good Democrat. Levin has been an executive (Mayor of Cherry Hill), the Commissioner of the DCA, and a solid fund-raiser for the Democrats.

Also, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman might be on the list ---she was the Democratic State Chair, and is the Majority Leader in the Assembly. Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, the powerful chair of Appropriations Committee could be considered, too.

Other possibilities might include Mayor Jun Choi of Edison, who has powerful standing in two important constituencies the Democrats need for victory: the Asian community and the progressive community. And he has executive experience as well, being a Mayor.

Another might be Kris Kolluri, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. He was named a possible Lt. Governor candidate by PoliticsNJ on their 100 most powerful politicians in New Jersey list earlier this year.

Maybe a Congressman or two might be interested in the number two spot, with an eye toward being elected Governor in 2013. A congressman would not have to give up their seat in Congress to run for Lt. Governor, either. So, Rep. Albio Sires ---the former Speaker of the Assembly might be tapped, or maybe even Congressmen Rush Holt or Rob Andrews.

Anyone we're leaving out? And it's still just 2007.

I Heart New Jersey

Bush must love us in the Garden State.

First, he picks Michael Chertoff, former Seton Hall Law professor and native of Elizabeth, NJ as the Secretary of Homeland Security, -----when NY’s Bernard Kerik was forced to drop out of the running.

Next, when he needs a new Supreme Court Justice, he first chooses his former personal lawyer from Texas and then-current White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Harriet Miers. When she tanked, where did Bush go once more? To NJ, to get the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Samual Alito ---a Trenton born guy.

So, when his number one man in the White House, Karl Rove, submits his resignation ----where does Bush go again?

The Garden State, that’s where.
“Burlington County native Ed Gillespie has been a congressional aide, Republican National Committee chairman, campaign official for President Bush and a high-powered Washington lobbyist. Now Gillespie has accepted what could be his toughest assignment yet. In his recently acquired role as White House adviser, Gillespie, 46, is helping shape political and legislative strategy for the remainder of Bush's term.” (Chebium, Gannett)

But not everyone thinks he will do a great job:

"Ed Gillespie is a longtime Republican operative who will bring the same divisive brand of politics to the White House that has damaged the Republican Party and been bad for the country," said Karen Finney, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. He does not bring new ideas or a fresh approach, just more of the same."
So, Ed, we in the Garden State salute you. We wish you well over the next 496 days, or 11905 hours or 715,000 or so minutes, until the stroke of noon on January 20, 2009 when the long Bush nightmare is finally over.

Best of luck. Looks like you'll be stuck with the guy until then. Hope you've kept your New Jersey 'edge'.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"The good news is Iraq is ours, and the bad news is Iraq is ours." —David Letterman

The headline in the New York Times reads:
Delay Decision on Major Cuts, Petraeus Says.

As if anything else was expected. This was not a ‘surge’, it was a fancy term for ‘escalation’.

It is said that political comedy has a very short shelf life. Now that the war is entering its fifth year, the same political comedy from four years ago is not only still funny, but prophetic.

You decide. Petraeus might not be as funny as these folks, though.

From 2003-2004:

"Today, the United Nations approved a resolution to lift the sanctions against Iraq. ... Yeah, the move will allow Iraqis to buy things they don't have, such as medicine and weapons of mass destruction." —Conan O'Brien

"The Bush Administration said there will be a delay in restoring a newly elected democratic government in Iraq. However, they said the delay will not be as long as the one we have had in this country." —Jay Leno

"Hey, today we got the four of clubs. A guy named Samir al-Aziz, a Ba'ath party bad guy. And we now have the four of clubs, the five of clubs, the five of spades and the seven of diamonds. I don't know what game they're playing at the White House, but today, when it was confirmed that we had the four of clubs, Condoleezza Rice had to take off her blouse." —Bill Maher

"The Pentagon said this week that the war in Iraq has cost $20 billion so far. The breakdown is operations: $10 billion; personnel: $6 billion; getting Bush re-elected: priceless." —Bill Maher

"Today, President Bush announced he's been mispronouncing the name of Iraq all along. He said it's actually pronounced Syria." —Jay Leno

"Now there are reports from Baghdad that officials are taking bribes for favors, giving jobs to their relatives, taking money under the table from contractors. You know what this means? The war is less than a week old, and already they have an American-style democracy." —Jay Leno

"For the first time the people of Iraq are united. Today on CNN I saw a Kurd, a Shiite and a member of the Republican Guard coming together to cart off a big screen TV." —Jay Leno

"We have defeated Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The good news is Iraq is ours, and the bad news is Iraq is ours." —David Letterman

"The press keeps asking President Bush when will this war end? I think the war will end officially the day after the 2004 elections. If President Bush learned anything from his father it was don't end a war too soon." —Jay Leno

"All over Baghdad, Iraqi looters have been breaking into banks and walking out with millions of dollars in Iraqi money. As a result, they now qualify for President Bush's tax cut." —Conan O'Brien

"The U.S. military has begun handing out decks of cards with pictures of the most wanted men in Saddam Hussein's regime. There are 55 cards and they're handing them out so people can identify them. Apparently, three Tariq Aziz cards will get you a Pokemon." —Conan O'Brien

"There are reports that Saddam has been spotted in central Baghdad. Parts of him were also spotted in northern Baghdad, eastern Baghdad and western Baghdad." —Jay Leno

"The military said we'll be able to confirm Saddam is dead with DNA testing. Apparently we have a sample of his DNA. So Monica Lewinsky is working for the CIA?" —Jay Leno

"We have an important decision to make now about who controls Iraq. You know, that's a critical question, because it's who we're going to be fighting in five to ten years." —Jay Leno

"And now the really difficult part: We have to rebuild Iraq into a strong and independent nation that will one day hate the United States." —David Letterman

Still funny?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Gods Must Be Crazy: They now speak to Democrats, too.

“Earth, God here. Over”

“Yes, God. We’re listening.”


“Well, I have spent the last millennium or so talking to the Republicans, the right-wing Christian fundamentalists, and their ilk about my Message, and, well, damn it ---(oops, sorry)---darn it---they just don’t seem to be listening.


“Yes, we know”.


“I tried talking to Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson, and Jim Bakker. Same story. Pfssst. Nothing. They mostly liked to hear
just themselves talk.”

“Got it. So, what can we do? How can we serve you, oh, Lord?”


“Glad you asked that question, Earth.

"I would like to start talking to some Democrats, too. Not all of them at first, maybe just a small message…maybe a Democratic presidential candidate whose numbers are floating in the low double digits. Someone who can use my help.”


So, God told New Mexico’s governor Bill Richardson that Iowa should be the first caucus and primary.

And God saw that it was good.

And Richardson spoke at the Northwest Iowa Labor Council Picnic over the weekend:

“Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord should be the first caucus and primary".

What’s next on God’s agenda? Perhaps he will tell John Edwards to shave his head. Or Joe Biden to use only one word answers. Or Mike Gravel to stop throwing rocks.

Or, maybe, just maybe, he will talk to Congress on getting out of Iraq.

Talk to Democratic majority in Congress, God. Maybe they’re ready to listen this week.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Elephant in the Room.

Even with New York Senator Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Conference in Atlantic City this week on Friday, there was something larger overshadowing her appearance: The elephant in the room.

What happens in AC, does not usually stay in AC.

Only Congressman Bill Pascrell made mention of the “it” – the arrest this week of 11 elected officials for “taking bribes in exchange for help securing public contracts.”

Rep. Pascrell spoke only of the frustration that the legislative leadership felt; he made no mention of the possible guilt or innocence of those arrested. Several members of the state legislature who are up for re-election were arrested, and the governor has called for their resignation.

Rep. Pascrell was also the only speaker [other than the Governor] to tell the crowd that ‘we must concentrate on 2007 first, and not worry yet about 2008’.

As far as 2008 is concerned: No other presidential nominee showed his face, tacitly acknowledging that Senator Clinton is the choice of the majority of New Jersey’s active Democrats. Obama and Edwards had tables outside the main room, but the others had no presence at all. Even longtime friend of New Jersey, Senator Joe Biden was AWOL.

While former President Bill Clinton is the more engaging speaker of the two, Senator Clinton unmistakably showed the crowd why she is in the lead to be the 2008 nominee: She was powerful, focused, hit all the right points and is ‘ready to lead’, as the crowd hoisted big blue ‘Hillary for President” signs over their heads.

Senate President Dick Codey has endorsed Senator John Edwards, and he was absent from the Conference. Much of the rest of the New Jersey Democratic Leadership has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, making it almost a certainty that she will be the choice of New Jersey’s Democrats come February 5th, 2008.

However, Congressman Steve Rothman was the lone voice of support for Senator Obama, with a somewhat overly-long speech touching periodically on the Obama ‘likeability’ factor, Obama as an agent for change, and his legislative experience in the Illinois state legislature.

Each speaker, including Chairman Joe Cryan and Governor Corzine, tried to wow the crowd with the benefits for New Jersey if there were larger Democratic majorities in the Assembly and Senate.

Each Senator and Congressman present –Lautenberg, Menendez, Rothman, Andrews, Pallone, Pascrell –covered familiar territory --- their subject matter ranging from the Iraqi War, to Bush-bashing, to energy independence, to embryonic stem cell research. Lautenberg showed his usual sense of humor, as well as energy and vitality.

Best speaker of the night was the always-powerful Senator Bob Menendez, who excited the crowd with speech attacking the Republicans in general and Bush in particular.

However, the best speech of the night: The short and to the point speech of Rep. Rush Holt. Holt rushed in just before the Governor spoke, and was given the stage right after what was to be the final act of the evening. He said hello to the crowd, apologized for his lateness [stuck working in DC], and invited everyone to the dessert bash next door.

[Side note: In spite of his car accident this past spring, Governor Corzine looked healthy and very well. He bounded on to the stage in three quick steps, and looked as if he was ready for a new season of campaigning.]

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kudos to the New Jersey State Police

"Eight years after New Jersey acknowledged that troopers were focusing on black and Hispanic drivers at traffic stops, federal monitors said on Wednesday that the New Jersey State Police had made so much progress in its attempts to eliminate racial profiling that it no longer needed federal supervision. The monitors concluded in a report that in periodic reviews during the past eight years, the police had shown significant improvement in procedures and training.” (Chen, New York Times)

Much of the time, reporters in the traditional media spend lots of time focusing on the corruption, scandal and sleaze that seems to be equally traditional in the New Jersey political landscape. Now an article in the New York Times focuses on something very positive about New Jersey: the eradication of ‘racial profiling’ in the state.

Eight years ago during the Whitman Administration, the State Police were found to have been racially profiling black and Latino drivers on New Jersey roads. Many in the Administration, including then Attorney General Peter Verniero refused to acknowledge that racial profiling was an issue. Even Governor Whitman showed her insensitivity to the issue by allowing herself to be photographed ‘patting down a suspect’ while out with the police in Camden.

Verniero, testifying before the New Jersey State Senate, said that he “continually assigned subordinates to look into troublesome reports about racial profiling by state police and that [he] rarely followed up to learn what they had found”.

This problem compelled New Jersey to sign a consent decree in 1999, whereby the state “agreed to allow the federal Department of Justice to oversee how traffic stops were conducted, along with other State Police activities”, according to the article in the New York Times.

Kudos to the New Jersey State Police on setting a great standard in eliminating racial profiling on NJ state roads. They deserve pats on the back for moving swiftly in the right direction in eliminating this repulsive and clearly unconstitutional practice.

The State is requesting that the Justice Department no longer have monitoring authority over the state police, since a federal report indicates that “compliance requirements in all areas are now at 100 percent levels…it appears the ultimate goal has been attained”, according to the New York Times article.

Hopefully, this practice is completely a thing of the past, and racial profiling will never again rear its ugly head.

This is especially important given today’s racially charged issue of immigration and its impact on local communities.

Brother vs Brother

In the Civil War, often brother fought against brother. Families were split up over the politics of the war, just as the Union was split in two.

Similarly, the debate over illegal immigration has split a family in to two opposing sides: The Lonegan family.

Mayor Steve Lonegan and his brother, Bryan, an immigration lawyer.

As the Mayor of Bogata, Steve Lonegan is very conservative and very libertarian. He ran for governor in 2005, finishing behind Doug Forrester and Brett Schundler. His group, Americans for Prosperity, is a very conservative organization that advocates “limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.” His run for mayor in 2003 was profiled in the documentary, Anytown, USA.

Last year, Mayor Lonegan demanded that the McDonald’s in his town remove a billboard written in Spanish and then advocated making English the town's "official language".

Ironically, if Mayor Lonegan was actually a supporter of limited government and free markets on the local’ level, it would seem that he would defend the right of McDonald’s to put up a billboard in Spanish ----as a business decision made in a free market.

Also, he would not try to use his local government to control what language people may speak, read or conduct business in. Under Mr. Lonegan's philosophy, one would think, local governments should not be in the business of controlling culture.

This kind of hypocrisy is what makes that philosophy an empty headed idea.

But I digress.

The younger Lonegan brother is Bryan. He was an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of New York’s Immigration Law Unit, and works hard to expose abuses in detention and deportation cases.

Furthermore, Bryan is planning to establish an immigrant workers’ legal clinic at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Their mom, the 74-year old Mrs. Lonegan, observed, “I personally respect them both for sticking to what they believe, which may sound crazy.”

Does not sound crazy to me. Guess their holiday family gatherings are just too much fun.