Friday, November 30, 2007

We’re number 2 in the nation on this number one issue.

The FBI has just released its annual report on hate crimes committed in each of the 50 states. New Jersey ranks second in the number of hate crimes across America, behind only California. Like California, we have a very large number of immigrants coming to our state, both documented and undocumented. So, perhaps our environment may be one that is a breeding ground for hate crimes. Not something to be proud of.

This a self-reported statistic, by the way. And not all states may have participated equally. For example Alabama reported only a single hate crime. Georgia reported only 13. And Mississippi, reported that there were no hate crimes at all. Either they under-reported, or they chose not to participate. Although I risk being sued by Fox News for trademark infringement, ---remember the states report, and you decide.

According to the folks at Garden State Equality, one of the problems is that: “New Jersey has not updated its hate crimes law in years. The law was one of the first of its kind in America. But like all pioneering laws, laws in other states have passed New Jersey's in strength and scope. New Jersey's current hate crimes law does not even encompass gender identity or expression.”

Garden State Equality and the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League have worked with legislators and the Attorney General's office to help craft a bill to strengthen the state hate crimes law. The bill adds "gender identity or expression" to our hate crimes law, and strengthens the law in several ways for people of color, for women, etc.

Nothing but the Truth: Who was that Masked Man? And why should Manalapan care?

That’s me --- to your right, my left. Every word I write, every fact I cite, every web post that 'bytes' ----you’ll be watching me. And you know who I am. But hey, that’s me. It’s what I do.

But it’s not what Mr. or Ms. or Messrs daTruthSquad, a New Jersey blogger, does. If 'Truth' wants to post in his/her/their own anonymity, that is up to him/her/them.

And in America, that should be OK. But Manalapan thinks it's not. And some bloggers don't, either.

I read recently where the founder and editor of the Alternative Press blog which covers news and information for the residents of Summit, Berkeley Heights, and New Providence is instituting a new policy regarding blog posts: No name, no gain. It is, after all, his blog and that certainly is his right. But he is wrong.

Posting anonymously is a perfectly reasonable way to express one’s opinion, with First Amendment protection and deep historical roots. Will there be rude comments and some profanity? Of, course. But that issue does not rise to the level of compelling someone or group to waive his or her basic First Amendment rights. The real answer to the issue is more postings, not fewer. But I digress; the real issue at center stage is with daTruthSquad.

This whole thing was spurred on when the Township of Manalapan [all 31 square miles of this landlocked municipality with a population of about 37,000], came down on blogger DaTruthSquad for writing bad stuff about the town. Apparently, Mayor Andrew Lucas and his Township Committee have never heard of the First Amendment.

Mayor Lucas, let me print it out for you here:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This is the part of the Constitution that allows daTruth Squad to do what he/she/they do without letting you know who they are. Manalapan went so far as to actually spend tax payer dollars to pay their township attorneys in September to issue subpoenas to Google, asking the company to provide daTruthSquad's name, blog posts, unpublished drafts and any other information related to the site.

Oy! What were they thinking? And who is their town attorney? He/she should know better, too.

The Manalapan Township Committee would probably have asked The Lone Ranger to take off his mask. Or Batman to remove his cowl. And for Superman to put back on his glasses.

The Star Ledger editorial on the issue was dead right on:
“Politicians haven't changed much since 1776.... They still hate criticism, especially when they don't know who is behind it. Town leaders should take a refresher course in the First Amendment as well as the state constitution. Bloggers, like leafleteers, have a right to anonymity."
Go daTruthSquad: May we know who you are by your words alone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Romney needs to read the US Constitution, Article VI, Section 3.

The Framers got a good many things right in the Constitution: The First Amendment. The Due Process Clause. Prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. And Article VI Sec. 3 which covers "Debts, Supremacy, Oaths". This is the article that contains the phrase:

…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Even if you’re not a lawyer you can probably understand that one. If you want to hold office, the supreme law of the land says that your religion does not matter and cannot bar you from holding office.

Now, politically, that is another question. Certainly New York Governor Al Smith learned that in 1928 as the first Catholic to run for president. And then-Senator John F. Kennedy found out the same thing in 1960. He won, despite being Catholic. Since then, things have not changed that much, at least politically. Voters still put candidates for national office through a religious test.

Governor Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and his religion has certainly been an issue for some of electorate. So, it is very curious why Romney would say the following:

In an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, Mansoor Ijaz writes:
"I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that 'jihadism' is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, '…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Ijaz is a prominent Pakistani-American businessman, a financier, and a media commentator on terrorism, mostly in relation to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s obvious that Mr. Romney is making a ‘religious test’ a part of his campaign with regard to who would be in his administration. And not only that ---to make the percentage of Muslims in the population part of the criteria is equally outrageous. The fact that Muslims “could serve at lower levels” in a Romney presidential administration clearly deserves no comment and is wrong on its face.

Far too many Americans agree with the assumptions upon which Romney's answer is based. I wonder if Mr. Romney thinks that Mormons should have to pass the same ‘population’ numbers test he is applying to Muslims.

If so, where would that leave him?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I heart Huckabee-NOT.

It’s hard to believe that both Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee served as governor of Arkansas.

Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton have only three things in common: They both served as governor of Arkansas; they both loved to eat; and both had Dick Morris as a political adviser.

That is where the similarity ends.

Huckabee, who is surging in Iowa and Florida, is a Christian Evangelical’s dream candidate. Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and solidly pro-life, and does not believe in evolution.

Here are examples of his extremism:

Huckabee indicated that he does not believe in evolution during a GOP primary debate.

Huckabee said it is imperative to “take this nation back for Christ.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/8/98]

Huckabee said that most prisoners would love to be in a jail like Guantanamo Bay. Said the former Governor: “Most of our prisoners would love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo and less like the state prisons that people are in in the United States.” [ThinkProgress 6/7/07]

Huckabee called legal abortion a “holocaust.” Huckabee told the Family Research Council: "It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973." [CNN, 10/21/07]

Prior to leaving office, Huckabee had online gift registries allowing lobbyists to know exactly which gifts to buy him in order to curry influence. In response a former Arkansas state government official was quoted as saying: “He’s using the trappings of the governor’s office to get everything he can, and the sad part of it is, I honestly believe he does not see anything wrong with this,” [Arkansas News Bureau, 11/13/06]

Huckabee falsely claimed that most of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen. In fact, only one of 56 was indeed a clergyman. Huckabee said: “The signers of the Declaration of Independence were ‘brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.’” Per the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly’s website PoliFact, only John Witherspoon was a clergyman. [, 10/21/07]

On Huckabee’s campaign website, he says that religion “drives” his decisions and that he does not separate religion from his professional life. Additionally, Huckabee pledges on his website that, as President, he would “staff all relevant positions with pro-life appointees.” Huckabee also says that his efforts in Arkansas to infringe on a woman’s right to choose “are the accomplishments that give him the most pride and personal satisfaction.”

And, some creepy one-liners from Governor Huckabee:

Huckabee “joked” that he lost weight because Democrats put him in a concentration camp. "I have just come from six weeks at a concentration camp held by the Democrat party of Arkansas in an undisclosed location, making a hostage tape. That's why I look that way,” he said. [Arkansas Times, 10/6/06]

Huckabee said that only Baptists go to Heaven. “I love to tell the story of the lady who asked me in my early political life if it was true that I was a Baptist minister, and I said, ‘Yes, ma'am, that is true.’ She said, ‘Well, let me ask you, are you one of those narrow-minded Baptists who think only Baptists go to heaven?’ I said, ‘No, ma'am, actually I'm more narrow than that; I don't think all of the Baptists are going to make it.’" [Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 6/6/07.

Repubs: Think this man should be president? Think again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Like mother, like daughter? No experience necessary.

This passed weekend, I gathered with a group of Democrats in Flemington at the Union Hotel for a few drinks and appetizers on Saturday night. We began discussing the 7th Congressional District race, and how Linda Stender would fare now that Mike Ferguson had dropped out. They all rejoiced at the good news. Beers all around.

The general consensus was that it was hers to lose. With all the likely 'best possible' candidates on the Repub side having dropped out –Senator Tom Kean, Assm. Jon Bramnick, and former Congressman Bob Franks---it seemed, the group gathered declared, that it was a cinch that Stender would soon be in Congress.

But, wait, I thought. There are lots of factors to consider:

Who will be at the top of the ticket in a presidential year? Who will be the Rs presidential candidate? Who will run against Senator Lautenberg? All factors yet to be decided. Then I predicted that the Republicans will run a woman, younger than Linda Stender, self-funded, without any record to attack.

And, voila, just like that Kate Whitman appears.

The daughter of Governor Christie Todd Whitman. Just turned 30. From a well-known wealthy New Jersey family. Never held office before.


It’s doubtful she will not face a primary challenge ---Senator Leonard Lance most likely. However, it would not surprise me at all if Senator Lance, a long-time Todd-Whitman family friend, was talked out of a primary run, so that the short-cashed Repubs would not waste valuable financial resources by spending money in a primary.

The young Whitman's [lack of] experience: She worked in Washington as the communications director for Representative Christopher Cox, Republican of California. She graduated from Wesleyan University. Her husband of four years is a lobbyist for Zeliff, Ireland & Associates in Washington. And she is listed on the website for her mother's group, the Republican Leadership Council, as the Executive Director of that organization.

And she is practically scandal free---except for a ticket for littering she received back when she was 21 years old. She tossed a beer can on the ground in front of a police officer in Bethlehem, Pa. Her then-governor mother said of the incident, that her daughter seemed ''to have had a lapse of judgment" and "She will pay whatever fine is imposed."

Stay tuned.

What’s past is prologue.

It’s always harder to blog everyday when it’s holiday time. Family was over for Thanksgiving, and we’re bogged down catching up on what’s going down. This Thanksgiving was especially fun due to the addition of our 14 year old cousin, Burkely. He has a great background in history, having won a medal for a National History Day competition at his school. He went on to compete in the state level competition, also.

I got a chance to do what I love to do with serious young people, which is discussing politics. While most 14 year olds lack the deep historical background necessary to have an understanding of exactly why what's past is prologue, Burkely’s studies and passion for history give him and edge in discussing politics.

We discussed the upcoming presidential primary [he’s not made a choice yet, but is definitely supporting the Democrat, and is not thrilled with Hillary Clinton]; the Iraq War [thinks we should never have entered and thinks we should get out very soon]; and President Bush [thinks he has got to be the worst president ever]. He was also looking forward to being able to vote in the 2012 presidential election, and was glad to hear that whoever wins in 2008, would probably be seeking his vote when he/she runs for re-election next time around.

Oh, I also introduced Burkely to the tried and true very annoying game of “Got Your Nose. Not so much the childrens' version, but the annoying adult version. You know ----that’s where you direct the unsuspecting participant’s attention to the area just below his/her chin, with a “Hey, you’ve got a food stain on your shirt!” When they look down, you tweak the participant’s nose, and shout, “Got Your Nose!” Always a fun and annoying activity at parties. My father handed it down to me, and I felt compelled to teach it to Burkely. He spent the remainder of the weekend doing this to his parents. I am sure they were pleased at his new skill.

So, while I hope that Burkely enjoyed the weekend of food, family, politics and board games, I learned a great deal about politics myself this weekend. I learned that if you’re jaded from being too addicted to the Sunday morning talk shows, CNN and C-Span, then speak to a serious and knowledgeable young person like Burkely, and they will set you straight.

Good deal for me: I'm less jaded about politics and Burkely learned a new game with which he can annoy his parents and friends.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes...

"Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth."
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,

And is Rowling smart, or what?

The Hunterdon County Democrat newspaper runs a feature each and every week called “The Kids Page”. Most often they pose fairly innocuous questions to kids of middle school age and younger.

Such questions as “When there's tons of good food around, can you stop yourself from eating?” or “Describe a present you wanted NOTHING to do with. Why?”. Or the always popular “You'll never believe what my pet did!”.

Their answers appear with their name, grade and school. Parents and grandparents love that stuff.

Last week, however, the question asked was one that really surprised me, especially for the Democrat: “What do you think? Is President Bush doing a good job?”

Here’s what the youth of the very Republican Hunterdon County had to say about the president:

“No! The President lied to us when he said that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. He then sent troops looking got them and they didn’t find any! Thousands of troops have lost their lives in Iraq. President Bush needs to needs to pull the troops out."

JG, High Bridge Middle School, Grade 6

“President Bush is doing a bad job…we’re in a war that is killing a lot of people. Some people think the war is good because of what happened on Sept. 11. But it’s gone on for too long! In our weekly reader, I read that Bush is going to send many troops home by Christmas but I don’t think he’ll send as many as he said he would."

EL, Franklin Twp School, Grade 5.

“President Bush is doing a bad job. Why can’t he get everybody out of Iraq immediately? He needs to listen to other people! He needs to stop yapping and saying he going to everything and just do it immediately!”

CG, Three Bridges School, Grade 3

Like they say, "out of the mouth of babes"… Or something like that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Jersey: We’re Not The Biggest Loser

Last month, a study came out that was circulated world wide that showed how New Jersey was getting smaller and smaller. But as it turns out, we're not really the biggest loser.

Apparently, according to a Rutgers University study, more people were leaving New Jersey than coming in. However, according to the fine folks at the New Jersey Policy Perspective, that conclusion was just plain wrong: “..a closer inspection shows that the Rutgers report’s doomsday forecast is based on selective use of census data.”

Rutgers using census data selectively? That can’t be good for an educational institution.

The Rutgers study showed that 231,565 more people left than came in ----that measured state-to-state movement, according to Mary E. Forsberg, the research director at the New Jersey Policy Perspective. The Rutgers report failed to take into account little things that impact population --- like births, deaths and immigration. Go figure.

Since 2000, New Jersey has increased in population from 8,414,350 to 8,724,560. That is an increase of 310,210. New Jersey, according to the NJPP analysis, has the fifth-largest immigrant stream of any state in the nation.

So, New Jersey, by the numbers , is not losing people, period. Thanks to Mary, for pointing that out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I guess Ferguson IS a Schmerguson

If you're a reader of political blogs, you probably already know about Ferguson's decision to bow out for '08.

A shocker to say the least.

Last week it was Jim Saxton in the NJ-3 dropping out; now it's Ferguson. If this keeps up ---one Republican dropping out per week---by Christmas, the Republican Congressional delegation will have no incumbents left to run.

And so the New Jersey buzz in the blogosphere these days is the fact that Mike Ferguson is not seeking re-election in the NJ 7th so that he "can spend more time with his family".

So, now Ferguson is a 'spender', too.

"Can spend more time with his family". That's always the number one reason an incumbent drops out. Or maybe it's "the system is broken". Or maybe "politics so become much too expensive to run a campaign."

It's never "Things are not going well, and I may be beaten by my opponent and the last time I ran I nearly lost." That's never the reason.

Some Ferguson Facts:
  • In June 2003, after a three-year dispute with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Congressman Ferguson agreed to pay $210,000 for a loan that he made to his campaign during his first election of $525,000 from a trust established for the Congressman by his parents. The FEC claimed that this loan from the trust equated to a gift from his parents. According to Federal law, the cap on personal contributions from an individual to a candidate is capped at $25,000 per election cycle. The fine was one of the highest ever paid to the FEC. Ferguson maintained that he did nothing wrong.
  • Ferguson received the third most money of all recipients of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC campaign contributions. DeLay is being prosecuted on charges of felony money laundering of campaign finances and conspiracy to launder money. To date, Ferguson has not offered to return any of the $54,403 he received from DeLay or ARMPAC, despite calls from Democrats to do so.
  • In 2003, Georgetown University junior Michelle Mezoe accused Ferguson of grabbing her at the Rhino Bar and Pumphouse in Georgetown.
  • In 2006, Ferguson came within a point of losing to Assw. Linda Stender.
Maybe those are some of the reasons.

Anyway, whether it's Senator Lance or Assm. Jon Bramnick or Tom Jr. or former congressman Bob Franks, it will be an interesting race, none-the-less.

Support Linda for Congress. And we hope Mike enjoys his time with his family.

A Tale of Two New Jersey Cities

Camden and Brick:

According to, they are a total of 63.35 miles apart ---just a touch under 1 hour, 26 minutes of drive time, without normal New Jersey traffic. Both are near a body of water---Camden is on the Delaware River; Brick on the Atlantic Ocean. They both have populations of about 80,000.

They are both at extreme ends of the state: Brick is in eastern New Jersey; Camden is in western New Jersey. That is where the similarities end.

Recently they both made it in to the top ten of theCity Crime Rankings published by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly. This is a listing of the Most Dangerous and Safest cities in the country. Camden is number 5 on the Most Dangerous list and Brick is number 3 on the Safest cities list.

The criteria used for determining city rankings include FBI gathered per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and automobile theft. Weight is given to each crime based on its seriousness.

Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison had no comment about the report. Brick Mayor Stephen Acroplois said, “You can make statistics say anything. When we got the number one ranking [in New Jersey] that was great, but I am not a big guy on statistics.”

Apparently, neither is the FBI: they posted a statement on their website criticizing the use of statistics for such “lists”. Go figure.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Every Vote Counts

"MATAWAN — Republican Paul Buccellato, who lost the mayoral race by one vote, is calling for a recount. Buccellato was defeated by Democrat Mary Aufseeser in the Nov. 6 general election. He received a total of 946 votes, and Aufseeser 947. "The best thing to do, since it is a single vote, is to do a recount," said Buccellato, 53, who has served as a councilman since 2001. "It's in the best interest of everyone." (Thompson, Asbury Park Press)

"BOGOTA -- Democrat Joseph Shuler, whose bid to unseat Republican incumbent Anne Marie Mitchell fell short by one vote in last week's council election, said Tuesday he will ask a judge to order a recount. "I want to rest good at night and know that either I won or I lost," he said. "I'm one vote away from being tied, and I'm optimistic that I'll be able to get two votes to win. I'm very close.”
If you add the votes in both communities, you get a dead heat.
Last February in Flemington, Mark Legato won the first of several special elections engendered by a close race from the November 2006 election. He won by a single vote in November, but the election results were thrown out by a judge. And then in large part due to great organizing, and lots of help from Democrats and DFA, he won. I worked on that race, and know from experience that each and every vote counts.

With races that close, don’t let anyone ever tell you that your vote and voice do not count.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Getting more NJ-ish Every Day

I moved to New Jersey in 1989, after a lifetime of living in New York. I chose to live in Flemington, and I love it here. When I first moved here, though, I was the quintessential New Yorker.

I was born in Brooklyn, went to high school there, and graduated from Brooklyn College. Not the typical background for someone living now in rural-ish New Jersey. I say rural-ish [rather than 'rural'], because my fellow local elected officials/policy makers who are Republican have done everything in their power to make sure that developers have their way with the land around Flemington---but that's another story.

I moved to Flemington in 1990, and my first experience was a memorable one.

I stopped in front of Higgins Newsstand to buy a newspaper. And as was the standard practice in New York, I doubled parked. Right behind me apeared a police officer, Sergeant Faber. He signaled for me to move my car.

"Officer, I am just running inside to get a newspaper, I will be right out," I said. He told me to take my time.

About three minutes later, I came out with the Star Ledger in hand, as Sergeant Faber was finishing writing me a ticket.

"I told you I was just going in to get a newspaper. You told me to take my time," I protested.

He handed me the ticket and admonished me, "Here is something else you can take your time to read. Don't double park."

Lesson learned: Flemington is not New York.

Anyway, I still feel like a New Yorker sometimes, although I feel like a New Jerseyean most of the time.

Lots in New York has changed since I left. The Interboro Parkway is now the Jackie Robinson Parkway. The Westside Highway is now the Joe DiMaggio Highway. And even the subway token has given way to Metro Cards. I was in New York last holiday season, and I did not know how to take the subway, given the Metro Card need. Is that sad, or what? What's next? Yankee Stadium is gonna be replaced, too?

So, I am now a proud New Jerseyean. Just how much of a New Jerseyean am I? About 61%, according to this quiz I took.

How 'New Jersey' are you? Take the quiz yourself, and see where you fit in to the Garden State.
You Are 61% New Jersey!

You've definitely got some Jersey in you. Congratulations, it's a great thing to be. However you're score could certainly be a lot higher!

How New Jersey Are You?
Make Your Own Quiz

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Answer My Friend, is Blowing in The Wind..

Well, blow me down.

While many New Jersey towns are battling against the high costs of energy, Ocean Gate has got the whole thing figured out: They’re turning in to the wind.

This town is in Ocean County, and is right on the Atlantic Ocean and will get to try out all those winds whipping off the Atlantic to help turn a windmill turbine.

They figure it will work just well enough to power the lights for their whole municipal complex. While some in this town of a touch over 2000 may not like looking at the big wind catching machines, maybe it could help stabilize taxes.

I am sure that if it is successful, their mayor, Paul J. Kennedy will be elected over and over again.

One important warning, though: Local Guinness Book of World Records holder Rob Beaton should not stand near the wind mills trying to break his previous record, unless he wants scrambled eggs. He holds the record for holding the most raw eggs in his hands, without dropping them: a cool dozen raw eggs.

Maybe next year at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, there'll a seminar on The Value of Wind in New Jersey. Or hot air in Trenton.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Supreme Court passes on New Jersey Poet's Law Suit.

“Somebody Blew Up America,” was written in 2003;
There was an angry reaction from the Gov. --- Jim McGreevy.

“Fire the poet!” was the Legislature’s hue and cry.
A vote came up to fire the poet; all present voted, “Aye”.

“My free speech rights are violated”, the poet herein stated.
Unfortunately his plight is not to be further debated.

Hence and forthwith, Amiri’s journey has become moot.
The DC Nine will not hear this Poet’s Legal Suit.

While I don’t know if this was the best solution;
Perhaps the biggest loser was the US Constitution.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sister Susie sells seashells at the Seashore: Not so simple.

Let’s just say sister Susie was going to sell seashells at the seashore --- in New Jersey. Here is what she might have to go through in the Garden State, to sell seashells at our seashore:

  • She'd have to make sure her location in the seashore town was zoned for commercial sales. Also, she would probably have to buy a day pass for the shore, unless Assm. Neil Cohen has his way and sets the beaches free.
  • Sister Susie will have to pay sales tax on each seashell sale, and withhold Social Security taxes from any employees.
  • If she was just selling seashells at the seashore for the summer, perhaps a vendor’s license would be necessary.
  • She would have to make sure the seashells were not from a species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as administered by the Office of Protected Resources.
  • If she is your sister, and you have any decision making power over who exactly gets the rights to sell seashells at the seashore, you and she both would be subject to the New Jersey Conflict of Interest law.
  • But, if sister Susie is a Sister at a church, she may be exempt from certain zoning and tax regulations. Also, she may be permitted to distribute for donations for her church the seashells. And her right to distribute seashells might very well be protected by the First Amendment under religious grounds.
  • If the seashells are from the ocean in international waters, there might be some intercontinental environmental treaties that may have to be followed regarding international fishing rights. Also, she might want to make sure that the seashells arfe gathered by union seashell gatherers, too.
If any of the above is not followed, sister Susie might be suspended from selling seashells at the seashore. Or sister Susie might have to sue to sell seashells at the seashore.

Anyway, all of this is much easier for Susie than for her sister-in-law Betty Botter or brother-in -law Peter Piper.

It seems that Betty Botter bought a bit of bitter butter that made her batter bitter ----and now she’s in trouble with the Better Business Bureau. And her brother-in-law, Peter Piper, who picked a peck of pickled peppers. Seems it was not exactly a "peck", and now he's in trouble with the New Jersey Weights and Measures.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rudy jokes vs Hillary jokes: Which jokes are funnier? You decide.

On the Republican side, currently the leader in the polls is Rudy Giuliani. On the Democratic side, it’s Senator Hillary Clinton.

For comedians, the good thing about the both of them, is, that they are both easy targets for humor.

But, the real question is, who is the easier target?

You decide. Here are five jokes each about Rudy and Hillary, borrowed from late night talk shows.


"On January 20, 2009, you may very well be welcoming to the White House Rudy Giuliani and his lovely wife, whoever that may be at the time. ... Giuliani's first wife was his cousin. I'm not making that up. I think that's a very cheap way to go after the Southern vote." –Bill Maher

On Rudy Giuliani saying during a debate that he couldn’t possibly describe the mistakes he's made in 30 seconds. "Here's a hint. It starts with annulling my first marriage to my second cousin and it ends with my kids from my second marriage supporting Barack Obama because they hate my third wife." --Jon Stewart

"During a speech to the NRA, Rudy Giuliani was interrupted by a cell phone call, which he stopped his speech to answer. Giuliani then told the audience, 'That was my wife reminding me to pick up some milk at the 9-Eleven" --Seth Meyers

"Iran's president wanted to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, but his critics said, 'No, no. You are trying to exploit Ground Zero for political gain, and that is Rudy Giuliani's job.'" --Bill Maher

"Well, each candidate has an appeal for gay voters. I mean, Barack Obama knows what it's like to face intolerance; John Edwards gets $400 haircuts; and Hillary is really in need of a makeover. In fact, the winner of the gay debate will go on to face Rudy Giuliani in the cross-dressing caucus" --Jay Leno


"Yesterday on the campaign trail ... Senator Hillary Clinton was extremely critical of NAFTA, even though the program was implemented by Bill Clinton. When asked about it, Hillary said, 'It's not just NAFTA. I'm also opposed to my husband's views on MILFs." --Conan O'Brien

"Hillary has a big lead in the Democratic race for president. Political insiders are speculating that if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she may choose a Hispanic running mate. When he heard about this, Bill Clinton yelled, 'How 'bout Salma Hayek?'" --Conan O'Brien

"In an upcoming interview with the gay magazine The Advocate, Hillary Clinton says the rumors about her being a lesbian are not true and she says she's never had sex with a woman, no matter how many times Bill has begged her to." --Jay Leno

"Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed $5,000 be given to every baby born in the United States. And today, Republicans attacked Hillary's plan, saying what babies need are jobs, not handouts. ... $5,000? Imagine that. Remember when politicians just kissed babies? Now we have to pay them off too." --Jay Leno

"Last week, it got a little dramatic. Senator Hillary Clinton called General Petraeus a liar. And believe this, if there's one thing she knows, it's how to spot a guy who's lying." --Jay Leno

Friday, November 9, 2007

Only God Knows for Sure.

Apparently, political adversity in New Jersey gives you religion ----whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

Take Republican Jim Treffinger, for instance.

The former Essex County Executive was all set to run for the Senate against Senator Bob Torricelli, when BAM! –he was sentenced to federal prison on corruption charges.

According to the Star-Ledger – “Treffinger, 57, was a rising star in Republican politics and the favorite to win his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat when federal authorities raided his Newark office in 2002. The former Fulbright scholar and popular Verona mayor dropped out of the race four days later. He ultimately admitted he put two campaign staffers on the county payroll and obstructed the federal probe.”

Then, he had an epiphany and got religion. He will graduate with a degree in divinity in 2009 from the Princeton Theological Seminar. "When you lose a lot of things, you have a whole re-evaluation of what is the meaning of your life," said Treffinger.

And, of course, there’s former Democratic governor Jim McGreevey. Last spring, McGreevey started down the path to become an Episcopal priest and was accepted into a three-year seminary Master of Divinity program at Manhattan's General Theological Seminary.

Now, if you’re a former TV star from Saturday Night Live who played a character whose gender was somewhat undecipherable, you become an atheist. In her solo show, “Letting Go of God,” Julia Sweeney traces her journey away from religious faith to becoming an atheist.

As far as I know, Sweeney has never held office in New Jersey nor does she have plans to.

The Complete Idiots Guide to New Jersey

So, another Election Day is done, and the Democrats inched ahead to slightly more power in Trenton.

A loss of two seats in the Assembly [now 48-32]; a net gain of one seat in the Senate [now 23-17]. Senator Leonard Lance gracefully gives up his post to Thomas Kean Jr, who is fresh off a 60-40 victory-romp over Gina Genovese.

Good luck to Kean as we move through 2008 and 2009. My prediction: Kean will give up the Senate minority leadership after 2009 to an older and wiser Repub, with his tail between his legs ---after the Dems deliver the state’s electoral votes for the presidential candidate.

Public Question No. 4: Who would vote against this? Idiots or insane people, perhaps.

But the real issue from Tuesday is why more than 503,395 actually voted to oppose the removal of the words “idiot or insane person” from the standard in the New Jersey Constitution of who may and may not vote. Of course, the interpretive statement explained that
“The phrase ‘idiot or insane person’ is outdated, vague, offensive to many, and may be subject to misinterpretation. This constitutional amendment acknowledges that individuals with cognitive or emotional disabilities may otherwise be capable of making decisions in the voting booth and that their right of self-determination should be respected and protected in this regard.”
As Seinfeld would say, “Who are these people?”

Are they all Three Stooges fanatics, who hit each other with crow bars all the time? Are they all fans ofJack Ass”? Are these fans the basis of Howard Stern's audience on Sirius satellite radio?

I inquired around Flemington to see who in point of fact voted to keep ‘idiots and insane people’ in the Constitution. I was not disappointed.

Low and behold, I found a current Borough Council member [recently re-elected] who voted to oppose all the public questions.

His reason: ‘They were all set up just to raise our taxes’.

“But how is keeping the words ‘idiots or insane people’ with regard to voting rights 'set up' to raise our taxes?”
I inquired.

“Maybe not that one,” he indicated. “But why do we have to be politically correct with everything nowadays? Everyone knows what an idiot is. It’s been that way for years, and now they need to change it?”

Perhaps he also failed to see the irony in his own statement.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Politics As Usual in NJ

The great Dodger/Giants/Cubs manager Leo Durocher once said, "You win some, you lose some. Some get rained out, but you gotta suit up for every one."

That saying is as true for politics as it is for baseball. And I try to suit up for every political race, and always hope for the best. Yesterday had some mixed results.

It was a good day overall for Democrats in the state---picking up a seat here and there, and more control in the Senate. Unfortunately, several key people lost their seats ----including Senator Ellen Karcher. She was a truly well-guided spirit in the Senate, and her clear thinking and progressive viewpoints will be missed. Hope she stays active.

My own Senator, Leonard Lance, won his own seat easily. However, he is too nice a guy for his own party, and they are going to toss him to the side and hire Senator Tom Kean, Jr. as their new Minority Leader. Lance is the better person, but the better person does not always win in politics---especially in New Jersey. Go figure. Picking Kean over Leonard is the Republican’s loss. My prediction: Leonard will step aside in a classy way, and let Kean be the leader. Leonard is class all the way.

I was surprised to see the stem cell research referendum fail. I thought that the subject matter was very important, and would have passed as easily as the open space question. So it goes. This defeat, I fear, will be one of the things New Jerseyeans look back and regret in years to come.

And, constitutionally at least, we no longer can have ‘idiots’ or ‘insane people’ be able to participate in politics in New Jersey. See how that lasts, with the early primary just around the corner on February 5th. The measure passed 707,987 to 476,595 ----just under 60% to 40%. So, 40% of New Jersey voters want to see idiots and insane people mill about here and there. Go figure, again. Maybe, I will post on that issue later on.

And so, I move from the macro to the micro and to my own home town of Flemington. Last year, I lost the Mayor’s race to a candidate who felt comfortable using personal attacks and innuendo as the basis for his race. In this year’s race for Borough Council, the sting was still there enough to shave off enough votes to have me lose by a hair. Again, so it goes. I will continue to focus on getting good candidates elected locally. And that Democrats have been very good at in Flemington. In a town out numbered about 2-1 Rs to Ds, we have the majority on Council now and out polled the Rs for the last three years overall.

My running mate, Linda Mastellone, won giving the Democrats control of the Borough Council for the first time in many years. My advice to them: Use your majority wisely; it is a very fragile thing.

Linda is also the first tenant to be on the Borough Council in many years, and I hope she represents their interests wisely and well. Tenants are in Flemington a diverse group, who are not treated very well by the Borough at times. They need an active, assertive, knowledgeable representative.

So, in baseball as in politics, there’s always next season. And what a season 2008 will be.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chess is ruthless: you’ve got to be prepared to kill people.

Poor New Jersey: No respect from late night talk show hosts. It's the locale for the world’s funniest joke. The New Jersey Nets move to Brooklyn in a couple of years.

And, now, we lose to New York in chess.

The New Jersey Knockouts lost to the New York Knights, putting an end to their US Chess League action for this year. O c’est domage.

In Round 10 of US Chess League action, the New Jersey Knockouts lost in a sqeaker to the New Youk Knights, putting an end to their season----2.5 -1.5. New York will take the final playoff spot and New Jersey will have to wait until next year. Boy, that burns my bishop.

NJ got slammed on Boards 2 and 3. That put the New York Knights in control very early. This was despite the New Jersey big win on Board 1. Yawn. Excuse me.

This was NJ’s first season in the League. Though they did not make the playoffs, New Jersey made a good showing.

Oh, well, better board position next year.

Here is the US Chess League entire season for the New Jersey Knockouts, in a nutshell:

• Round 1, Tie with Queens Pioneers, 2-2

• Round 2, Tie with Tennessee Tempo, 2-2

• Round 3, Tie with Baltimore Kingfishers, 2-2

• Round 4, Loss to Queens Pioneers, 1.5-2.5

• Round 5, Win over New YorLinkk Knights, 2.5-1.5

• Round 6, Win over Carolina Cobras, 2.5-1.5

• Round 7, Loss to Philadelphia Inventors, 1.5-2.5

• Round 8, Tie with Boston Blitz, 2-2

• Round 9, Tie with Baltimore Kingfishers, 2-2

• Round 10, Loss to New York Knights, 1.5-2.5

Oh well, that's the way the chess boards, sometimes.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

N.J. law targets hand-held ph uz, sendg txtz yl drivN

Here's a story about NewJersey banning text messaging while driving. The story is in text lingo. Go here for a translation.

hom nws Tribune on9 11/2/07

TRENTON, (AP) … nu Jersey motorists yakking on a hand-held celfne or firing off txt msgs nw run a gr8r risk of getN pulled ovr by a cop. Gov. Jon S. Corzine on fri synD legislation givin 5-o mor authority 2 goal drvrs UzN hand-held cell fons, n makin it illegal 2 snd txt msgs yl drivN … distractions legislators contend mak 4 risky drivN.

nu Jersey n 2k4 md it illegal 2 tlk on a hand-held celfne yl drivN, bt 5-o cUd tkt a drivR 1ly f stopD 4 nothA infraction. d bill synD by Corzine allows 5-o 2 tkt Ny motorist UzN a hand-held ph yl drivN.

1ly cali, Connecticut n NY av such laws, as dz Washington, D.C., accrdng 2 d nat conf. of st8 Legislatures. A recent survey by Nationwide Insurance est. 73 % of drvrs uz cell fons n 20 % txt yl drivN. Washington lately bcAm d 1st st8 2 embargo.

Violators of d celfne embargo face a $250 fyn. d fyn 4 txtN yl drivN S $100. d asembly n sen8 aproved d bills n Jun, bt safeT advocates questiond f d measures wd proove efectiv. David Weinstein of AAA Mid-Atlantic hs z dat d st8 nEdz "an all-encompassing bill dat tackles d remaining pieces dat also contribute 2 distractd drivN.''

Thursday, November 1, 2007



Eagleton Poll Shows Clinton in the Lead in NJ

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton has surged to a 31-point lead over her nearest rival in the upcoming New Jersey Democratic primary, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
The statewide telephone survey, conducted Oct. 18-23, showed Clinton leading U.S. Sen. Barack Obama by a margin of 52 percent to 21 percent among voters who identified themselves as Democrats or who said they lean Democratic. Former senator John Edwards was third, with eight percent. Clinton held a 24-point lead over Obama in a previous Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in August.

Rudy Giuliani continued to lead the Republican field in New Jersey, with 54 percent of
Republican voters and those who said they lean Republican indicating they would support the
former New York City mayor in the Republican primary. U.S. Sen. John McCain trailed with 12
percent, and was the only other Republican candidate to earn double-digit support in the survey.

Giuliani’s 42-point advantage reflected a nine-point drop in his lead over McCain since the last
Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in August.

In a general election match-up between Clinton and Giuliani, voters favored Clinton by a
margin of 49 percent to 39 percent. Clinton held a narrow three-point lead over Giuliani in the
August poll. Obama and Giuliani remained in a virtual tie in the latest poll, with Giuliani holding
a slight edge at 44 percent to 41 percent, just within the margin of error for the 856 registered
voters in the survey. Giuliani held a two-point lead over Obama in the August poll.
Clinton’s lead over her rivals in the Feb. 5 Democratic primary has solidified while it has
grown. Sixty-eight percent of Clinton supporters said they are very sure of their vote, up from 51 percent in August. Forty-five percent of Giuliani supporters said they are very sure, but more than half said they might change their minds before the Republican primary, also scheduled for Feb. 5.
“Sen. Clinton continues to strengthen her position in New Jersey, with more than twothirds
of her supporters saying they plan to stick with her through the primary,”
said Tim
Vercellotti, director of polling at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “Former mayor Giuliani has
further to go in closing the sale with his supporters.”

While voters are forming their presidential preferences in the upcoming primaries, they
are also taking an increasingly negative view of the current president. Only 19 percent of
registered voters approve of the job that George W. Bush is doing as president, an all-time low for Bush in the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, and down five points from his previous all-time low in the August survey.
The president’s support dropped 12 points among independent voters and five points among Republicans. Republican voters were evenly divided, 47 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving of Bush’s job performance.
A sizable portion of voters disapproving of the job the president is doing appear ready to
come back to the Republican Party, however, in support of Giuliani. In the general election
match-up against Clinton, Giuliani won support from 29 percent of voters who disapprove of the
job Bush is doing. Matched against Obama, Giuliani picked up support from 35 percent of voters
who disapprove of the president.

“The president’s poor showing in New Jersey does not necessarily translate into a drop in
support for the Republican Party,”
Vercellotti said. “Giuliani appears to be capable of drawing
some of those voters back to the party.”

Both Giuliani and Clinton earned high marks from their parties’ supporters regarding
leadership qualities and electability. Two-thirds of Republicans and voters leaning Republican
rated Giuliani as the strongest leader among the top four candidates for the nomination, which
also included McCain, former U.S. senator Fred Thompson, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Sixty-nine percent said Giuliani has the best chance among the four to win the
White House in 2008.

Honesty and trustworthiness were the only candidate characteristics in which a
competitor came anywhere near Giuliani. Thirty-nine percent rated Giuliani first, and McCain
followed with 20 percent.

Clinton earned similar numbers for leadership and electability, with about two-thirds of
Democrats and those leaning Democratic choosing Clinton over Obama and Edwards as the
strongest leader and the likeliest of the three candidates to win the presidency in 2008. Voters
gave Clinton only an eight-point edge over Obama, however, on honesty and trustworthiness, 34 percent to 26 percent. Forty-four percent rated Clinton the most inspiring of the three candidates, followed by Obama with 34 percent.

Clinton’s 10-point advantage over Giuliani in the general election match-up in the latest
poll reflects a significant shift in the preferences of women since the August survey. Clinton led
Giuliani by 18 points among women in the latest poll, 52 percent to 34 percent. Clinton held only a nine-point advantage over Giuliani among women in the August poll.

Giuliani also has lost support among white voters since August, with a 17-point
advantage over Clinton dropping to a three-point edge in the latest poll. Voters ages 50 and older have shifted toward Clinton as well. While Clinton and Giuliani ran even among older voters in August, Clinton held a 10-point lead over Giuliani among voters ages 50 to 64 in the October poll, and a 15-point advantage among voters ages 65 and older. Voters who have at least some college education also moved toward Clinton, with a four-point lead for Giuliani in August transforming into a nine-point lead for Clinton in October.

“While the data show Clinton building momentum, it is still very early in the campaign,”
Vercellotti said. “With more than a year remaining until the general election, the candidates
could win and lose these voters many times over.”