Thursday, December 25, 2008

And so, another year has come and gone in New Jersey.

Hard to believe we have reached the last year of the first decade of the 21st century. Boy, seems like it was just yesterday that Bush was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court.

And what a year it was! For the folks in the New Jersey news in 2008, we have some parting gifts:

For Dick Zimmer, who could not seem to get any news outlet to cover his Senate race, we leave him a YouTube account, so maybe he can record his own news, and play it for the world to see on his own network [maybe called ‘ZimTV’ ?], along with his very own cardboard cutout of Frank Lautenberg to debate.

For David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno---a NJ Turnpike EZ Pass and a subscription to New Jersey Monthly magazine, so they can truly learn what a great state this is and stop making endless New Jersey jokes.

For Leo Donofrio, the attorney from East Brunswick who claimed that Barack Obama does not meet the constitutional requirement to be the president, we leave a tin-foil hat and a subscription to Conspiracy Theory Monthly magazine.

For State Senators John Adler and Leonard Lance, leaving the Trenton Beltway for the Washington Beltway, we leave you the new game Congressman in A Box™, that comes with all you need to be successful in Washington: a list of potential campaign donors; a coin to flip for those tough budget votes; a yearly travel pass on Amtrak between DC-New Jersey, a complete list of all the lobbyists on K Street, and set of steel plated back- armor to wear to protect your backs from being stabbed by your fellow Congressman.

For Hunterdon County Sheriff Deb Trout [who is facing a recall effort and just had her office raided by investigators from the County Prosecutor’s Office], we leave a $50 gift certificate for a resume re-write service.

For Joe Ferriero, future ex-Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Committee, we leave a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and an autographed picture of Loretta Weinberg.

For Congressman Steve Rothman, we leave a new Magic 8 Ball for the 2009 campaign season, the old one having been well used predicting that Barack Obama, and not Hillary Clinton, would be the next the next president of the United States.

To Congressman Rob Andrews, we leave a Facebook and MySpace account so he can find new friends---since his run against Frank Lautenberg and the subsequent breaking of his promise not to run again for Congress will leave him with few friends in the New Jersey congressional delegation.

To Steve Lonegan, Americans for Prosperity, we leave….unfortunately not at all, because he’s gonna be back big time in 2009, running for governor again, to annoy us even more than in 2008.

For all the last remaining Hillary supporters in New Jersey who still have not gotten over her loss to Obama, we leave you T-Shirts that read, “I Voted For Hillary, and All I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt” on the front, and “Hillary 2016” on the back.

For all the towns with populations under 5000, we leave you a complete set of the names of all the towns in New Jersey, so you can figure which are the best towns to merge with. Hint “Wayne” should avoid merging with “Newton”. “Wayne-Newton, NJ”?

For the all the parting investigative news reporters from the Star-Ledger, we leave you a blogspot.com account, so you can all continue writing, and a Star-Ledger subscription, so that you can judge how bad the paper will become now that you’re all gone.

On a serious note, for Governor Jon Corzine, we leave our thanks for his courage in abolishing the death penalty in New Jersey, and for agreeing to sign a marriage equality bill, once it reaches his desk.

And for all the New Jersey men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, we leave you our wishes that you are home very soon. And to all those dads, moms, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice---there is nothing more that we can give you but our thanks to you and your families.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Festive Festivus


A Festive Festivus for all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Putz of the Week this week: Mayor Bob Hauck of Flemington

The Putz of the Week this week [and maybe the next few weeks] goes to:
Mayor Bob Hauck of Flemington, not the wisest mayor the town has ever had.

In the interest of complete transparency and disclosure, I need to reveal that I ran against Bob Hauck for mayor in 2006. So, some of you may think that my opinion is tainted. However, I have been to only one other Flemington Borough Council meeting this year, and mostly I have stayed at a safe distance from the workings of Council.

But not this time. I was compelled to attend a special meeting called in order to deal with what the mayor attempted to do.

The Mayor of Flemington Borough tried do an end run around the Borough Council and ---get this---the Flemington Borough Police Chief and tried to eliminate the police department, under the rubric of ‘shared services’.

Generally, during a budget crisis all avenues of budget cuts ---even tough ones---should be explored. However, the exploration should be done, openly, squarely, and transparently---with all members of Council and the public fully informed that such meetings are going on.

Hauck met secretly in private meetings on at least two occasions with the mayor of Raritan Township, and their chief of police to discuss the possibility of disbanding the Flemington Police Department. And he failed to tell the Flemington Police chief, and at least three other Borough Council members.

Not cool, Mayor Hauck. The people of Flemington and your Borough Council deserve much better than that.

A packed crowd inside [and outside] of a special meeting---was none too happy. Many in the SRO crowd were wearing T-shirts showing their support of the Flemington FOP. This has to be a completely wrongheaded move on Hauck’s part that will cost him any good will he has left, after the Union Hotel closed on his watch. And maybe this wrong move will cost him his re-election in two years.

This is a guy who, in the past, has played fast and loose with the local press on the ‘truth’, so it is no surprise that while he told Ronald Bakley, executive director of the state FOP lodge, that "There are no plans to disband the Flemington Police Department,” he was secretly having meetings to discuss “quietly disbanding the police department.”

During the Monday night meeting, Hauck stoically read from a carefully written bland statement, hardly acknowledging the communications fubar he caused with the town’s people and his own Council. And then on top of that, he attempted to shut down the public and violate the Open Public Meetings Act by not allowing public comment on the issue. Only through the insistence of several members in attendance was the right to speak asserted----and then confirmed by the town attorney. The mayor can impose a time limit on each member’s public comments in an open public meeting, but he may not shut people out completely.

A follow up meeting on this issue has been scheduled after the holidays in January, at a larger venue. Prediction: more of the same at the next meeting, and this idea to disband the police department will go down in flames.

Hauck should know better than to try to fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"We Can't Let This Bank Fail"

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming blogging campaign we are coordinating on behalf of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey which, as you are probably well aware, is in desperate need of donations.


We are scheduled to launch the "We Can't Let This Bank Fail" blogging campaign for Monday December 15th. Our goal is to get 100 New Jersey bloggers on board to help spread the word about the increased demand being put on the food pantries in New Jersey and how everyone can help.

If you are a blogger in New Jersey, please join in our efforts. If you know of a blog in New Jersey that you think should be involved, please email them a link to this post.

To really understand the serious need for donations, just click on the link below and take a minute to view the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXH_aBJKcE4

Anyone wishing to get involved, email me at jerseybites (at) gmail (dot) com and look for 100 blog posts on December 15th. I hope they will compel everyone to do something, anything, to help.

Here are some of the great preliminary posts our participants have offered up to promote the "Blogging Out Hunger" Campaign.
Blogging Out Hunger, We Can't Let This Bank Fail
This Full House

Attention all New Jersey Bloggers: Help Blog Out Hunger on December 15
Fits and Giggles

Empty Plates and Full Hearts
Lynette, New Jersey Moms Blog

Jersey Bites and Hunger Sucks
More Monmouth Musings

House Hubbie's Joins "Blogging Out Hunger" Campaign
House Hubbies Home Cooking

Jersey Bites, AND SO CAN YOU!
James Hogan's Random Thoughts - http://averagenoone.blogspot.com/

Are You A Hungry?
The Behind the Wheel Chef - http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/

We Can't Let This Bank Fail: Roxy Joins Community of New Jersey ...
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives - http://roxiticusdh.blogspot.com/

Food Bank of NJ Needs Your Help!
The Ridgewood Blog

This is Some Serious Stuff
The Joy of Toast

Not Letting the Bank Fail
JCRegister

East of Eatin'
Likelihood Of Success

Participating Bloggers for “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign

1) JerseyBites.com

2) RedBankGreen.com

3) Jersey Girl Cooks

4) Simply Sable

5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey

6) Padma's Kitchen

7) Chefdruck

8) Life Lightly Salted

9) My Italian Grandmother

10) Cook Appeal

11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars

12) Mommy Vents

13) This Full House

14) Paper Bridges

15) Motherhood Avenue

16) The Kamienski Chronicles

17) Down the Shore with Jen

18) Fits and Giggles

19) House Hubbies Home Cooking

20) Nourish Ourselves

21) Partybluprints.com

22) Tommyeats.com

23) Off the broiler

24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby

25) IamNotaChef.com

26) SimplyBeer.com

27) HistoryGeek.com

28) Savy Source Newark

29) Momlogic New Jersey

30) SurvivingNJ.com/blog

31) SurvivingNJ.blogspot.com

32) JerseyGirlGuide.com

33) Best of Roxy

34) Citizen Mom.net

35) Lynetteradio.com

36) Jersey Beat

37) Pop Vulture Phil

38) JerseySmarts.com

39) LongBeachIslandSummers.com

40) WildwoodSummers.com

41) Mike Halfacres Blog

42) Somerset08873

43) Family, Friends and Food

44) KateSpot.com

45) NewJerseyMomsBlog.com

46) JCRegister.com

47) New Jersey Real Estate Report

48) Riverviewobserver.com

49) More Monmouth Musings

50) Man of Infirmity

51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey

52) SweetNicks.com

53) Average Noone

54) Cleary’s Notebook

55) Welcome to my Planet

56) The Center of New Jersey Life

57) Sharon’s Food Blog

58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate

59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News

60) New Jersey Real Estate

61) BlowUpRadio.com

62) LazlosDen.com

63) The Ridgewood Blog

64) Book a Week with Jen

65) Banannie

66) Cartoongoddess.com

67) Matawan Advocate

68) Take Back the Kitchen

69) The Joy of Toast

70) Route 55

71) Montclair Kids.com

72) SaveJersey

73) Stompbox

74) Joe the Blogger

75) Environmental Republican

76) Stacey Snacks

77) Subversive Garden

78) New Jersey Pathfinder

79) Cooking With Friends Blog

80) Triple Venti

81) Read All About It

82) Rich Lee on Media

83) Likelihood of Success

84) Cape Cuisine

85) The Business At Hand

86) NewJerseyTaxRevolution

87) Figmentations

88) MiddletownMike

89) Caviar and Codfish

90) A Day in the Life

91) Mack’s Journey Through Life

92) Alice’s Restaurant

93) Tiger Hawk

94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog

95) The Food Chain

96) Henson’s Hell

97) Cranbury Conservative

98) Baristanet

99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual

100) Jersey Shore Blog

101) Plainfield Today

102) Beacon Bulletin

103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We should be proud that Donofrio is from New Jersey

Conspiracy theorists come and go.

There are the conspiracy guys who claim that anyone and everyone from the Mafia, Fidel Castro, LBJ, the Soviets, or my Aunt Lilly had something to do with the JFK assassination. By the way, my Aunt Lilly was nowhere near Dallas on November 22nd.1963. She was probably at a beauty parlor in Brooklyn getting ready for my cousin Lenny’s Bar Mitzvah the next day. There are those who believe that Neil Armstrong did not really walk on the moon and that the whole thing was shot in a movie studio or somewhere out in the Arizona desert. Or that green M & Ms are an aphrodisiac.

Now, New Jersey can be proud that we have our own tin-foil hat wearing guy with his own conspiratorial theories about President-Elect Barack Obama: Leo Donofrio, an East Brunswick attorney.

Donofrio claims that since Barack Obama was not a “natural born citizen” --- since Obama had dual nationality at birth -- his mother was American and his Kenyan father at the time was a British subject -- he cannot possibly be eligible to be president, under the U.S. Constitution.

Donofrio also claimed that two other candidates, Republican John McCain and Socialist Workers candidate Roger Calero, also were not “natural-born citizens” and thus ineligible to be president. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and Calero was born in Nicaragua in 1969, and holds a green card as a resident alien. So, we have to give credit to Donofrio for at least exposing the Calero controversy. Glad we got that over with.

Now, Donofrio’s problem seems to be with the phrase “natural born citizen” from Article II Section I: No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;

How does Donofrio define “natural born”? Does that mean that if someone is conceived through artificial insemination or through in vitro fertilization, that person may not be eligible to become the president? After all, since that is not ‘natural child birth’, that person could never be a natural born citizen.

Anyway, don’t worry. This week, the Supreme Court denied Donofrio his day in court. United States Supreme Court Docket for case number 08A407 - Leo C. Donofrio v. Nina Mitchell Wells will not be heard---in spite of Justice Thomas asking.

Now maybe he can go back to the street corners of East Brunswick screaming that the world is flat.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I guess the First Amendment is not really “first” in Bayonne….

So what if the election in Bayonne is over? Maybe some residents still want to let the world know who they support for mayor---even well in to 2009.

Maybe it’s part of their Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa decorations.

But according to Bayonne City Public Works Director Gary Chmielewski, no can do. Apparently there is a city zoning code that mandates that all election signs must be removed from residential, commercial and industrial properties within two weeks after an election. City Zoning Officer John Zgola said, he'll be "riding around" looking for sign-breakers. And impose a $1250 fine if they don’t comply.

Didn’t the ACLU already deal with these issues for towns in New Jersey?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My first Thanksgiving in New Jersey

When I was eleven, way back in 1965, my family was invited for Thanksgiving to my cousins’ cousins, a Jewish-Italian family who lived in the southern part of Staten Island. This was the other side of the world to us if you lived in Brooklyn -- but, now, with the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge just a year earlier, Staten Island was more accessible by car. And off we went in the family car, our white 1954 Buick Special.


My mother spent a good portion of the trip, while we sat in traffic on the Belt Parkway, explaining to us why the cousins, Anthony and Dominick Arcamone, of my cousins, Lenny and Robert Novick, were not our cousins, but only cousins to Lenny and Robert -- way on the other side their family. “The Arcamones are only cousins to Lenny and Robert, but not to you,” she told me.

“But how can that be? If Lenny and Robert are my cousins, and Anthony and Dominick are their cousins. That must mean that Anthony and Dominick are my cousins, too,” I retorted, asserting my early understanding of transitive logic. Finally, exasperated, my mother said, “They CAN’T be your cousins. They are not Jewish.”

Jewish/Catholic intermarriage was not a topic my mother wanted to venture into just yet, although Lenny and Robert seemed comfortable with the concept.

Finally, after almost an hour of traffic, we finally made it over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for the first time -- the longest suspension bridge in the world. We paid our 65-cent toll, and got a great view of the Hudson River, the Statute of Liberty and Manhattan bay.

The Arcamones lived just off the last exit in Staten Island, just before the Outerbridge Crossing. Unfortunately for us, my dad was not the best with directions, and he missed the exit. So, we were treated to two bridges that day, as we crossed over the Outerbridge Crossing into Perth Amboy. If Staten Island was the other side of the world, New Jersey was another planet, if you came from Brooklyn.

Somehow, we got on Route 35 and then onto Route 9 South, my father desperately looking for a way to turn around, by making a U-turn. And, so for almost 2 hours, we were lost in New Jersey. And each time my father got directions to “go up to the next traffic circle, and make a right turn on the jug-handle” proved to be completely unhelpful. Such terms as ‘traffic circle’ and ‘the jug handle’ were foreign to Brooklyn drivers in 1965.

We drove further and further south, and it looked like Thanksgiving with the Arcamones was not going to happen, and we started looking for an alternative place to eat. But this was Thanksgiving, and every restaurant was either closed or booked up.

Finally, we arrived at a gas station somewhere outside of Freehold -- I remember passing the Freehold Raceway. The station was owned by an older Indian couple, who took pity on us, and shared with us half of their own dinner -- cold meatloaf sandwiches. And so, in 1965, we spent Thanksgiving dinner in New Jersey somewhere on Route 9.

Years later, during a family Thanksgiving dinner, we re-told this story of our Thanksgiving in the ‘land of New Jersey’, and how strange it was for us coming from Brooklyn. My ten-year-old nephew, Brandon, noted, “Uncle Joey, you guys had Thanksgiving in a strange land with Indians, just like the Pilgrims.”

This Thanksgiving, be especially thankful for the veterans who are in Iraq and Afghanistan and cannot spend the holiday with their own families. But for their commitment, we would not be enjoying this time with our famiies.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

California Dreamin' ---Connecticut is little in size, but large in civil rights.

On the east-iest of the East Coast, we have Connecticut, ranked 48th in the US in size at just 5,543 square miles. And you can drive from the border of New York to Rhode Island, in just over an hour---depending upon Hartford traffic.

On the west-iest of the West Coast, we have California, ranked 3rd in the US in size at 163,696 square miles. In size, Connecticut is third from the bottom [ahead of Rhode Island and Delaware] and California is third from the top [behind Alaska and Texas]. And that is where the parallel ends.

For in Connecticut, not a bastion of liberalism, has taken a step in the right direction of marriage equality by beginning to marry gay and lesbian couples. Last month, the Connecticut Supreme Court “had ruled, 4 to 3, that the state’s civil unions violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law…” ---setting the stage for hundreds of gay couples to be hitched.

But marriage equality is now prohibited in California. So, this issue will most assuredly makes its way to the United States Supreme Court with the states in disagreement over this matter. Massachusetts and Connecticut are now the only states allowing same-sex marriage. New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire have civil unions, and California has domestic partnerships.

So, Connecticut is little in size, but large in civil rights.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

From BBC World News: Palin hits back at critics by calling them ‘jerks’; They call her a ‘doodyhead’. Then she says, “I’m rubber you’re glue…”

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has hit back at critics who said she thought Africa was a country not a continent, calling them "jerks".

“Of course, I know that Africa is a continent. Darn it, it’s right next to the continent of SOUTH Africa...everyone knows that!”
said Governor Palin.

Anonymous Republican Party aides cited in a BBC World News report also said she could not name the three member nations of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“Why should I name the three member nations of NAFTA? Those nations should be able to name themselves, for sure. A nation’s people choosing their own names is what democracy is all about! After all, we chose the name ‘America’---darn it, we didn’t let some Italian guy name us (giggle) (wink).
"

Mrs Palin said her comments on Africa and NAFTA were taken out of context. “Those comments were taken out of context, just like this coment will be.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) spent more than $150,000 on a designer wardrobe and beauty treatments for Mrs. Palin after she was chosen as John McCain's running mate. "Those are the RNC's clothes…I never asked for anything more than a Diet Dr Pepper once in a while."

Larry D. Young, President and CEO of the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group did not return our calls for comment. However, Joe The Plumber commented, “Sarah’s one hot babe, who does not need a ‘diet’ anything.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Comedy in Bernardsville

Stand-up comedy in New Jersey started in Bernardsville. Really, they were the first.

Every night on late night talk shows, there is at least one joke about New Jersey. We are tough, and we can take it. But, our much maligned Garden State has something to be really, really proud of when it comes to the world of stand-up comedy: this is the place where audiences so appreciated the talents of people like Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Rosie O’Donnell, Paul Reiser, Chris Rock and dozens of other now-famous comedians that they actually paid to see them.

Yup, while the Comic Strip, the Improv and Catch A Rising Star merely gave these comedians stage time ----and nothing more---there was a bar/restaurant in New Jersey that saw the value of these very talented future stars, and paid them to come and do their shtick. That bar/restaurant was called Freddy’s back then---and it was in Bernardsville. Freddy's is even mentioned in a biography of Seinfeld---on page 180 of "Seinfeld, the Making of an American Icon."

The birthplace of paid stand-up comedy in the New York metropolitan area was in Bernardsville. In New York, these comedians got bupkis. In New Jersey, they got fifty bucks, a dinner, and----respect. In the world of future Rodney Dangerfields, respect was very much appreciated. Sometimes even more than the dinner.

There was a small back room at Freddy’s that held maybe 75 people. The bar was in the back of the room, and the comedians took the stage in the front of the room. The ‘stage’ was only six inches from the floor, and maybe 4 square feet total. But the magic was palpable. Imagine that! A club owner who valued comedians enough to pay them money.

The success of the Sunday nights at Freddy’s were a combination of location ---being across from the New Jersey transit train station, which is how most comedians could get there---no New York acts had cars in those days. Timing---it was 1980, and disco was so over it would make your teeth hurt, and audiences were looking for something different. And baby boomers were laughing hard at Saturday Night Live, and so live comedy had come in to its own.

The owners of Freddy’s had all the comedians sign their 8 x 10 black and white photo---there were shots of Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, Seinfeld, Gilbert Gottfried, Eddie Murphy, Paul Reiser, Bob Nelson, Rosie O’Donnell ---and countless others less famous all over the walls. Who knows where those pics are now.

Today, that place is a micro-brewery, I think---the Stone Tavern Inn. But back then, the funniest people in the world entertained.

All in Bernardsville.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Breakfast With Republicans

The other morning I ventured where few Democrats have gone before: To a post-Election Day Republican breakfast in Hunterdon County.

With Senator Leonard Lance’s Congressional win a mere 48 hours old, the buzzards have already started circling around his soon to vacated Senate seat. The first bird to buzz his intentions to run: Assemblyman Mike Doherty. Doherty arrived early to the gathering, worked the room, shaking hands, flashing his grin, and being very open about his intentions. “He will definitely be running in the June [2009] State Senate primary, whether he gets chosen by the County Committee members or not,” declared Ed Smith, the Assemblyman’s Chief of Staff.

Doherty has flirted before with running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg, but got out early. Had he run for US Senate, that would have been a debacle for him. Doherty is a West Point grad, and has been given high marks by National Rifle Association, New Jersey Right to Life and several other conservative leaning groups. He is so right-wing, he makes Reagan look like Karl Marx. He does not believe that global warming exists, by the way.

His most likely opponent for Lance’s Senate seat: Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow. Ms. Karrow was insistent on the fact that she has not decided as of yet, and wanted to not steal Senator’s Lance’s victory thunder. A big gamble for both Doherty and Karrow: they both have to give up their Assembly seats to run for Senator.

So, Lance’s win has started an avalanche of Republican candidates in wait and see mode: Hunterdon Freeholders Erik Peterson, Matt Holt, Ron Sworen, along with Warren Freeholder John DeMaio and a menagerie of mayors might get in to the Assembly race, should both Karrow and Doherty run. And then, of course, that move would trigger an equally crowded field for the open freeholder spots, perhaps in both Hunterdon and Warren.

When I arrived at the Republican fest, ---I got questions like “Are you changing parties?” “What are you doing here?” It was all very amusing, and I am confident enough in my Democratic Party membership, that I can be in a room of Rs, and not catch anything. And while everyone was celebrating the victory of Senator Lance, not one mention of Barack Obama or John McCain. Go figure.

Perhaps Tina Fey needs to check her caller ID when she picks up the phone.

AP Newswire:

In a scam that falls under the category of "turnabout is fair play" [or maybe ‘se retourner est jouer franc jeu’ in French], today French President Nicolas Sarkozy called former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey, and pranked her in to thinking he was two Canadian radio comedians from Montreal. “Boy, he sounded just like a French Opie & Anthony. Two different voices and everything. I really had no idea he was the president of France”.

Perhaps she should have realized that something was not kosher when he said,
“We love to watch all the funny shows on NBC, especially ‘My Name is Earl’.” Ms. Fey was on the set of her show, “30 Rock” when she took the call. “I thought that it was actually Canadian comedian Marc-Antoine Audette wanting to get my help as part of a prank call to President Sarkozy, in response to his call to the real Sarah Palin. It is all very confusing.”

The real comedian Audette is part of a radio duo that has made prank calls to a series of world leaders over the years. Fey didn't give away anything of real note – except when ‘Audette’ suggested that perhaps Fey had an ambition to have her own television show herself one day.


"Maybe in eight years,"
she joked doing her best Sarah Palin impression--- thinking that President Sarkozy as Audette was being sarcastic himself, thinking that he must have heard of her show “30 Rock”. “We love you! Thanks you for talking to me!”, Fey is reported to have told ‘Sarkozy’ during the call, thinking she was talking to the real Audette.

In other news, President-Elect Barack Obama made a prank call to the brother of Jeremy Piven, and offered him the Chief of Staff position.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Robo-calls, yet again.

I hear from these people about once a year, always at the end of October. And they never listen to what I have to say, but just talk and talk. Yup, the dreaded Robo-calls.

Bill Clinton. Frank Lautenberg. This year it was Leonard Lance and my good friend from Leadership New Jersey, Michael Hsing.

I cannot wait for this robo-call some day:

“Hello, this is Assemblyman Petey McPeters. I am sponsoring Assembly Bill A-1401, the “Stop Robo-Calls” legislation. These calls, like this one, are annoying and inconvenient, and all too often clog up your phone line at home. Please join me in calling upon the Speaker of the Assembly to move A-1401 out of committee, and post it for an up or down vote. If you do, you may not have to get anymore robo-calls like this one.”

So, here is a column back in July 2007, about Robo calls:


"Hello, this is Bill Clinton. I am supporting Democrat Melvin
Smendrovich for Borough Council in Jerseytown because Melvin shares my values on the 'kitchen table' issues that...."

"Hey folks this is Joe Piscopo. We both know that New Jersey needs Republican Petey McPeters to be the next governor. He'll work hard everyday t
o...."

We've all received the dreaded robo-calls come election time. Automated phone canvassing calls that come day and night. They come with increasing frequency as we get closer and closer to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

They block our phone service. They are annoying, coming at the most inconvenient time. Dinner. In the shower. During love making. However, they serve a purpose of re-minding voters over and over again to support Melvin in his race for Jerseytown Borough Council. That Melvin is the best person for the job. If Bill Clinton can take the time out of his busy day to call you [albeit automatically], then Melvin is the person you should support.

Unfortunately for the hapless Jerseytown resident, robo-calls are a part of campaigns because they’re cheap and they work to election advantage. So, what if robo-calls tick off a voter or two? If they get your candidate elected, they will be part of the campaign strategy.

Legislative Effort in Trenton

There is an effort in Trenton to curtail robo-calls or ban them altogether. While such legislation may run afoul of the First Amendment, several states have enacted laws impacting the practice.

For guidance in dealing with this issue, perhaps Trenton should turn to science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. In his novels Asimov developed the following Three Laws of Robotics ----[most likely not written by a lawyer from NJ]:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
These seem to be clear rules regarding what criteria the state legislature should use in adopting an anti-robo calls bill.

“No harm to a human being?”
Sounds good to me.

“Robots must obey orders”?
This will work just fine.

“A robot must protect its own existence”?
Well, maybe that one will get fixed in committee.

If you and your robot support such a bill, call your legislator's office over and over again----but wait until he or she is eating lunch or in the shower.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The "other" Over Shadowed Senate Race

If you think that the US Senate race in New Jersey is being overshadowed in the press, there is another biggie Senate race being overlooked just south of New Jersey: Senator Joe Biden’s re-election campaign in Delaware.

Yup, that’s right---Joe has another Republican woman in his life, other than Governor Sarah Palin. ---- Christine O’Donnell.

According to O’Donnell’s website, she “is a nationally recognized political commentator and marketing consultant…and she appears weekly, often daily, on national news outlets such as the Fox News Channel, CNN, C-SPAN, FNC's O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes.” She was also on ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher way back when.

In the very strange world of elective politics, there are some states that let senators run for vice-president AND senate at the same time. In 1960, Lyndon Johnson did it ---and won both seats. Joe Lieberman did it in 2000, and was one for two; and Lloyd Bentsen did it in 1988 [won his Senate seat, and lost the VP spot to Dan Quayle].

So, of course, this is a major issue for Christine O’Donnell. But she has heard nary a peep from her senatorial opponent. "He doesn't have any signs up, billboards up or stickers," she lamented to the press recently. And while Biden has had one debate with his Republican opponent, Governor Sarah Palin, he has not been in Delaware for more than twenty days total and has not met O’Donnell in a debate. Nor does he have any plans to.

Delaware, in some ways, has more Democratic blue between its borders than New Jersey. The latest registration numbers statewide: Out of 602,726 registered voters, there are 280,347 registered Democrats; 181,789 registered Republicans, and 140,590 independent or unaffiliated voters.

So, Republican senate candidate/Lobbyist Dick Zimmer may lament that Senator Lautenberg has not had many debates [two as of this blogpost]---but at least he has an opponent in the state. Poor Chris O’Donnell is running against Biden and the Democratic blue wave. Prediction: both Lautenberg and Biden will win their Senate seats.

And when Biden wins the Vice Presidency? Most likely his son, Beau Biden -- currently the AG in Delaware, will be appointed by Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner to fill the Senate spot---keeping it all in the Biden family.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Their news is so much better...

There is an old Jewish joke:
In the 1930s, a story is told of a Jewish man, Rosenberg, who was riding on the subway in NYC, reading an Nazi propaganda newspaper. Goldstein, a friend of his, who happened to be riding in the same subway car, noticed this strange phenomenon. Very upset, he approached the newspaper reader.

Goldstein says, "Rosenberg, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading a Nazi propaganda newspaper?"

Rosenberg replies, "I used to read everyday, the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Jews being attacked, Jews being taken to concentration camps, Jews living in ghettos. So I switched to the Nazi propaganda newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. Their news is so much better!"
That is exactly why I like listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham. Sometimes Mike Savage or Bob Grant although they're completely nuts.

They say over and over again how the liberals [or 'Libs' as Levin likes to say] control the media, the current polls, the banking industry, the entertainment media, unions, the newspapers. Their news is so much better than say NPR or Air America news.

Of course, they have Rovian code names for all these like "Main Stream Liberal" media [or for Rush it's the 'drive-by media'], the Hollywood Elite, the Big Unions, Femi-nazis. They tag Obama with terms like the Annointed One or The Messiah. Although it does puzzle me how those conservative folks like Limbaugh with huge ratings can claim that they themselves are not also 'Main Stream' media.

Lately, though, Limbaugh et al are getting nearly apoplectic over the Obama poll numbers.

They blame bad polling techniques. Limbaugh declared the Powell endorsement was "all about race", and nothing more. Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin have thrown every they can at Obama---calling him unpatriotic, a socialist, a radical, a radical socialist, liberal, leftwing, and 'that one'.

Limbaugh even so far as to call upon conservatives to visit the ailing stock market as Obama was visiting his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

Limbaugh is losing it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yes We Can: Obama Campaign Sued for Trademark Infringement by National Canning Center

AP Newswire

It seemed like a natural phrase for a new, inspirational presidential campaign: Yes, we can. But, as it turns out, it has been the trademarked slogan for the National Center for Home Food Preservation and Canning ----the trade association folks in DC who advocate for the many ‘canning’ companies around the nation.

“It’s outrageous,” declared Homer “Deacon” Jones Jr., the president and grandson of the founder of the Intercourse Canning Company of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. “Over the years, we have suffered enough from the ‘Intercourse’ jokes. My father, Homer Sr, and his father, Malcolm before him, just took it all in stride. But when someone takes our prideful slogan, ‘Yes, we can!’ and usurps it for political purposes, well that makes my blood boil. That slogan is known all over the country for just one thing: Canning.” Mr. Jones was the President of the National Center for Home Food Preservation and Canning from 1996 – 2002.

Other canning companies around the country were similarly upset. “We have enough competition from the bottling companies, the cardboard manufacturers, and the plastic container folks. We really don’t need this right now,” added Lester Boyles, CEO of the Colusa Canning Company of Colusa County, California. “I support Obama and all, but, dang, don’t that beat all.” Mr. Boyles was one of the canning company executive presidents present at a “No, You Can’t” rally on a rainy Tuesday last week, which drew more than 35 people.

And that’s not all: The Obama campaign may be looking at a similar lawsuit on the international trademark front---this one from France. “Yes Oui Cannes”, it seems, is the newly minted slogan for the Cannes Film Festival. “Mon Dieu, c'est scandaleux!”, declared Jean-Luc Rudehomme, the spokesperson for the prestigious 62 year-old film festival set on the south of France.

In similar news, the semi-pro wrestler “Country Joe” Furst, 36, [born Joseph Furstenberger] of Calvin County, Oklahoma, upon hearing about the legal problems Obama may face, is considering a possible trademark infringement action against the McCain campaign. “It’s on my to-do list, right after my big cage match this weekend in Tuklsa,” shared Mr. Furst. “That’s outrageous. Using my name like that to popularize his presidential campaign.”

The McCain campaign could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Modernize the Debate Format

The first debate between presidential candidates in the modern era were the Kennedy-Nixon debates. Before those, and before TV, there was little demand for any type of debates between the presidential candidates.

The Lincoln-Douglas Senatorial debates of 1858 were actually the first nationally watched debates [ in the newspapers, at least]---mostly because of the hot button issue of the day of slavery. Those guys debated for hours at a time, with people watching, listening, and asking all the questions. "Mr. Lincoln, if you win the election, will you finally take off that big hat?"

No moderator. No lights. No sound bites or quips.

And those debates set up the national rematch just two years later when the candidates met again when running for President. NJ gave 4 Electoral votes to Abe and 3 to candidate Douglas, split the state north and south. Wow, even back then the south and the north had their differences!

And so with the high standards set for debating by Lincoln-Douglas and Kennedy-Nixon, we entered the debate negotiations this year. Choices: A standard debate with podiums and lights. Town hall format with candidates on high chairs, and answering questions of audience members. The candidates seated at a table, talking to each other and the moderator. All boring, with a capital B.

Suggested debate better formats:

Cage match, 'Thunderdome' style: Two candidates in, one candidate out. Both candidates get to swing from those elastic thingies, like in the Mel Gibson movie.

Play "Jeopardy" format: All answers must in the form of a question. For example "This is a nation we invaded for no particular reason".

Leno/Letterman and the Late Night Couch: Candidates talk about tell anecdotes about their childhood, plug their new book or an appearance on SNL, ask passersby some JayWalk questions and read a Top Ten list.

American Idol: Both appear in front of Simon, Paula and the other guy, and sing their economic programs. The home TV audience votes.

Stare contest: Both candidates stare at each other, and the first one to smile or laugh, loses.

and finally, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?----with all questions posed at the fifth grade level.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some advice for Lobbyist Dick Zimmer

According to a Fairleigh Dickenson poll, Senator Frank Lautenberg leads Lobbyist Dick Zimmer by 16 points, 50-34. 14 percent say they’re undecided.

So, if Lobbyist Zimmer by some amazing miracle can still somehow muster a coalition between his “Zimmer Supporters” and “The Undecideds” ----he will still be behind Frank Lautenberg 50-48. Where is the other 2% here? Where do they stand? Are they the Silent Minority? I am waiting for the poll folks at Fairleigh Dickenson to explain. I don't know.

However, there are more bad numbers for Lobbyist Zimmer: More than two-thirds of New Jersey’s most likely voters (71%) have no idea who Lobbyist Zimmer is. Have no opinion of him. More people have been to the Vince Lombardi Service Area, than know who Lobbyist Zimmer is. Tough to run in NJ if people have no idea who you are.

Now, the last time Lobbyist Zimmer won an election [in 1994], Clinton had not even met Monica Lewinskly; George W. Bush was not yet the Governor of Texas, and a baseball strike had canceled the World Series.

So, no wonder more people know who Gilligan is than Lobbyist Zimmer. He needs to learn how to be more popular.

So, here are some basic tips for Lobbyist Zimmer, courtesy of Wikihow, on “How to Be Popular”:

1. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
That means seeking the support of Democrats, as well as Republicans. Tough one, this year with Bush hanging around every Republicans’ neck.

2. Be friendly.
I have met you in Hunterdon County, and you seem like a friendly guy. Just maybe stop the “Where’s Frank?” schtick, though. It’s annoying people at diners.

3. You may see popular kids that can be very mean to others. Just try to ignore them.
This is what got you in trouble in 1996 in your race against Torricelli---you tried the ‘nasty campaign’ style of your fellow Republicans, and it did not work.

4. Talk to anyone and everyone who crosses your path.
A ‘gimmee’ in politics. Talk to people at train stations, bus stops, door-to-door

5. Stop thinking about yourself.
Tough one in politics. Electeds always think about themselves.

6. Give a helping hand.
You’re a Lobbyist. Duh.

7. Be yourself.
See number 3.

8. Don't say anything that would be laughed at, only say what you wouldn't care if anyone knew.
Perhaps a little bit more humor would actually help.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Four weeks and counting

Today we are exactly four weeks from Election Day, an election day that will be written about for years and years to come. It is a real choice between the future and the past. Between a man who has voted with George W. Bush more than 90% of the time; and someone who offered a real hope for change for the better.

I am supporting Barack Obama for a wide variety of reasons. And he was not the first choice on my list. I originally supported Governor Bill Richardson as I thought he was the Democratic candidate who offered the most experience in the race. When he dropped out, I was left with considering someone who had far less experience.

What turned me in to an Obama supporter was the same experience that turned me in to a Richardson supporter----a personal meeting with the candidate. Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to Governor Bill Richardson when I was a keynote speaker for the New Mexico League of Cities state conference. I found him intelligent, funny and personable.

The same with Senator Obama. I had the opportunity of meeting him on stage at a campaign rally for Jon Corzine for governor. We spoke for maybe ten minutes in a small group on stage, waiting for the event to begin. We talked of municipal issues, sprawl, high property taxes, financial challenges to small communities---all issues that confront New Jersey, as well as his home state of Illinois. I was impressed.

So, I continue to support Senator Obama, and look forward to his election in November. Makes me feel a little old, as he will be the first candidate I support who is younger than me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Poor Lobbyist Dick Zimmer*

I feel badly for Lobbyist Dick Zimmer*, Republican candidate for Senate. He cannot seem to get any campaign traction.

Lobbyist Zimmer*, in his quest to be the next Senator, has been doing what Paul Wellstone did when running against Rudy Boschwitz, going around the state at diners asking “Where’s Frank?”

Only thing is, Lobbyist Zimmer* lacks the campaign charisma, sincerity and progressive agenda that Wellstone ran on. Lobbyist Zimmer*: I have taken the Wellstone training, and you, Lobbyist Zimmer, are no Paul Wellstone.

Although he is trying to create a buzz, he seems to be mostly just annoying people trying to eat their lunch. Maybe Frank should go around NJ diners, and ask if anyone still knows Lobbyist Zimmer*......overheard at the Manalapan Dinner...

"Excuse me, folks, do you know where Frank Lautenberg is?"
"Can someone help this confused man, he's looking for the Senator..." "Maybe he's in DC working for NJ. Maybe you should drive down there..."
"Leave us alone...I would like to eat my chicken salad sandwich in peace."


Anyway, there is a debate set for November 1st, three days before the big day.

*Oh, by the way, I refer to Dick Zimmer with the title “Lobbyist”, because basically that is what he has been for the past twelve plus years or so. I know there are many in my neck of the Republian woods who refer to him as “Congressman”, because once you’re a member of Congress, you sorta retain the title forever. But he has been a Lobbyist much longer than he was a congressman [1992 -1996]; [Lobbyist 1997 – present].

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shana Tova

“This American president has got to be one of the most efficient leaders we have ever had. He has us at war and on the verge of a Depression all at the same time. It took President Roosevelt more that 16 years to accomplish that.”
Ashkenazi comedian Yosef ben Beryl

Sad, but true. Wish I had written the above line myself.

Shana tova

May the new year be filled with joy, prosperity, peace and friendship.

And if not, then next year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Building bigwigs better bite on bedbug bill, by and by.

We are in the middle of an unpopular war, going into it’s sixth year. There is a bill in front of Congress that will make the US economy the largest socialist nation in the free world. There is a presidential election going on.

So, what is the big business in Trenton? Three lawmakers from northern NJ are looking to put a clamp down on blood-sucking creatures who annoy us at night.

Nope, not lawyers. Nor corrupt officials.


Joan Quigly, L.Harvey Smith and L. Grace Spencer are co-sponsors of legislation that will make landlords get rid of the bedbugs. I would have thought there were already laws on the books to breakdown the biting beasties from your bed. But, no.

The bill requires landlords to have the bedbugs exterminated, and pick up the tab in the process---and not pass the charge along to tenants. The fines should bug the landlords: $300 per apartment. Or $1000 per infested common area.

Funny how there is an uptick in the bedbug population during a presidential year.