Thursday, January 31, 2008

Republicans Out Number Democrats 6-1

In the Great Race for Congress in the 7th, right now the Republicans lead by a ratio of at least 6-1.

They have somewhere between six and eight candidates: To start with there’s Kelly Hatfield, Leonard Lance, Martin Marks, Victor Sordillo, Chris Venis and Kate Whitman. And the Democrats just have one, Assw. Linda Stender.

And just when you thought there more than enough candidates in the race for the 7th Congressional District race, there come two more with very interesting backgrounds.

New on the Republican block, there is Tom Roughneen. He is an Iraq War veteran, and I thank him for his service. He experience also includes being an Army defense lawyer and a former assistant prosecutor with Union and Essex counties. He will actually be running from town to town in the district to help his name recognition. Clad in his www.rockthecongress.com sweatshirt, he may soon be seen running through your town. Be careful driving if you see him on the road at night.

If you go to his website, there is a streaming video where he has some typical sophomoric quips about Senators Obama and Clinton. From his experience in Iraq, he brings a unique perspective to the ongoing Iraqi War debate. If any Republican should be able to make the tough argument of why we should still be in Iraq, he should. However, at from his speech at his announcement, he brings nothing new to the debate.

Next throwing his hat in to the ring, is Bridgewater Township Councilman Michael Hsing. Hsing is a personal friend from our days in the Leadership New Jersey Class of 1998. He is a two term Councilman in Bridgewater. He has served as President to the Bridgewater Town Council, and as the President of the Somerset County Governing Officials Association.

So, now there are eight. Should be an interesting primary, to say the least.

Entrenched politicians from long standing Republican families. Neo-con Republicans.

But not one amongst them who has had the courage to declare that he/she would vote to bring the troops home Iraq, -----leaving us all still behind the eight ball.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rudy: He's gone. You feel stupid.

Jerry Seinfeld on magicians: "What is the point of the magician? He comes on, he fools you, you feel stupid, show's over ... It's like, 'Here's a quarter. Now it's gone. You're a jerk."

Same thing with Rudy 911liani’s run for President. What was the point of his run for president? He comes on stage, squawking over and over about 911. He fools you, he ignored Iowa, New Hampshire, he tanks in Florida, and now the show’s over. And it is like, “I’m America’s Mayor, and I’m gonna be the president. 911! 911!” Now he’s gone. If you supported him you’re a….well, you get the idea.

Back in the late spring, I had the opportunity of running in to the Chairman of the Hunterdon County Republican Committee, Henry Kuhl. Now, Henry must be a smart fellow, with more than just a scintilla of political smarts, since he has been the chairman in Hunterdon for more years than I can remember.

When I inquired of his choice on his side of the ailse, Henry told me “the next president and vice president of the United States will be Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson”.

[He did not spell Rudy Giuliani for President with "911", by the way.]

“Hmm”, I said. “Do you really think that Giuliani will be able to survive the southern conservative Republicans? Will they really vote for someone who is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, twice divorced, and an Italian Catholic New Yorker?”

Without hesitation, he declared an emphatic “Yes, because they want a winner.”

So, the Southern conservative Republican right-wing Christian fundamentalists will be willing to compromise their core values to support a “winner”. Good trick, I thought.

As it turns out, those folks won’t even get a chance to have their core values tested.

And in NJ, the Repubs must all feel stupid, being fooled that way Rudy ran his campaign and dropped out.

On the Democratic side, Rudy’s magic tricks did not fool anyone. So it goes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The President's Final Days

8:50pm

I am at the Courier News about to watch the President's final State of the Union Address. I am part of their panel watching the president. The Secretary of the Interior is not there. He's at home watching this on TV, at home "carrying the football" in case of a national emergency.

9:05pm

All members of the Cabinet appear to wearing the same ties. Maybe they get a bulk discount, when they buy at the White House gift shop.

9:07pm

Barry Sullivan, announces the President of The United States to Madam Speaker. Second time that happened.

Bush is walking through the crowd, shaking hands, smacking backs, ruffling hair. Cheney: Red tie. Bush: Blue tie. Republicans and Democrats alike are cheering. Democrats that it's his last. Republicans perhaps glad he is going, too.

9:11pm

The President speaks. Note the hour. Wander if that's choreographed.

Economic stimulus package, job growth slower.

"Compete for votes, cooperate on results." Hmmm. Good line. Wonder who wrote that?

Funny line about the IRS taking checks and money orders. Democrats did not laugh. He calls for permanent tax cuts, promises to veto any bill that raises taxes.

9:20pm

Promises a balanced budget; "families must balance budgets so do governments." Of course, this is from a man who has OK'd spending 2 billion a month on a war that has put the nation in deep debt. Ironic.

"expanding consumer choice in health care". What does that mean? If people cannot afford healthcare, there is no choice.

Small business association health care. Good idea.

Education: No Child Left Behind. Unfunded mandate! And why schools, teachers, and parents want to see it retired, period.

Pell Grants expansion. Sounds like the same thing that Democrats offered 8 years ago that the 2001 Bush opposed as too expensive.

Rhetoric from a lame duck with low approval ratings. He leaves a legacy of failure, lack of accomplishments, and Republicans running from him around the country.

<--------Big smirk on Cheney's face.

9:26pm

He still cannot pronounce "nuclear" correctly: Calls for expansion of "nuclear" energy. Expand investment in research. Does not sound like a conservative to me.

Wants to ban human cloning. I support that, as long as it includes Bush's DNA.

9:32pm

Secure the borders. Build a fence. More border patrol agents. Calls for foreign workers to be able to come to America and work. Illegal immigration still a problem. Must be dealt with in a way the upholds our highest ideals.

Sets the stage for more nation building by giving examples of democracies emerging around the world.

Now he is on Iraq. Oh boy. Says the surge is working. [Sure, but not politically].

9:45pm

Killing is down, he says due to surge. [So, does not that mean it's time to come home?]. Cheers from Republicans, Democrats sit. Surge forces beginning to come home.

This is certainly one of the most shallow, cliche-filled State of the Union messages I have ever heard. 20,000 troops are coming home. Any further draw down will hurt progress he says. [However, with no bench marks, there is no way of knowing for sure when troops will come home.]

Well, this certainly is not the same Bush who said using the Cowboy attitude, "Bring'em On". He looks tied, beleaguered, and worn.

Calls for a democratic Palestinian state, once again.

Talking about Iran's nuclear program. Still cannot pronounce "nuclear".

He should have been impeached. Our bad.

9:58pm

Calls for liability protection for companies who have allowed the government to spy on Americans. Boo. Hiss.

"America opposes genocide in Sudan". That's going out in a limb!

Asks Congress to pass a wide range of new benefits for veterans. I heartily approve. He's winding up, because he is talking history about the framers ---"We The People". It's almost over. He is almost no longer the President. Just a few more months to 1.20.09.

He's done. Final one.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mensch of the Week and Putz of the Week January 27, 2008

Mensch of the Week

Our very good friends on BlueJersey.com have pointed out a concern about the way certain Democratic County committees have been using their resources to support ONLY the Clinton for President campaign --- in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton had not been endorsed in those counties. Additionally, supporters of Edwards, Obama and Kucinich were not allowed use of the county offices.

In Camden County and Burlington County, for example, it was pointed out on BlueJersey.com that
“Upon walking into the [Camden County] headquarters in the Garden State Pavillion, one might mistake the building for a Clinton campaign office. Hillary signs dot the doors outside, and only, you guessed it, Hillary literature is available inside. One wouldn't know that John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich or Barack Obama even existed in this Democratic office because of the lack of material available on any other candidate than Clinton."
In Burlington County, the fine folks of BlueJersey pointed out that
“Although the Burlington County Democratic Committee has never voted to endorse anyone for the presidential primary, party leadership has decided to devote the county party's resources to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Many rank and file County Committee members are not happy.”
Chances are that in many counties in New Jersey, Hillary Clinton would receive a vote of endorsement from the majority of Democratic County Committee members, anyway. However, it does not seem very democratic for County resources –mailers, phones, office space-- to be used for only one candidate when there is a presidential primary imminent on February 5th.

A strong case can be made that County Committees should share their resources equally amongst all candidates that have some support from their members. OR use their resources for a single candidate only when that candidate has the official endorsement of the County Committee.

For their strong advocacy for small ‘d’ democracy, as well as their support for openness and transparency in the endorsement process at the county committee level, our Mensch of Week this week goes to the folks at BlueJersey.com.

Putz of The Week

Each year in New Jersey, tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars are donated by people, unions, lobbyists, political action committees, and political parties to candidates running for office. These entities donate money to candidates of both parties for the single objective of getting their choice candidate elected to public office.

Whether they are seeking a political favor for a client, a government job for their unemployed cousin Marvin, or truly believe their supported candidate has the vision, experience, and skills to make the quality of life in New Jersey better for all of us---there is one thing that financial supporters do not expect their donations to be used for: Legal fees to defend against corruption charges.

From this week’s Star Ledger:
State election regulators yesterday banned former state Sen. Wayne Bryant from using leftover campaign funds to pay his legal bills to defend against corruption charges. The ruling by the Election Law Enforcement Commission could open the door for action against two others who have already tapped campaign war chests to pay criminal defense attorneys: former senators Sharpe James and Joseph Coniglio. (Hester and Shearn, Star-Ledger)
The fact that campaign funds should not be used for legal fees should be a no-brainer. It’s why they’re called ‘campaign funds’, folks.

For even asking the Election Law Enforcement Commission to rule that campaign fees be allowed to be used for legal fees, former state Sen. Wayne Bryant is our Putz of the Week.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Two Sides To Every Issue...many candidates, too

Last night, while the Republican congressional for the 7th hopefuls were in the very Democratic county of Union, the Democratic candidate for Congress, Linda Stender was in the very Republican county of Hunterdon. And she was on her game.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender wowed’em at the monthly meeting of the Tewksbury Township Democratic Club ---where about 50 people came out to hear her speak. Stender was in good humor, looking great after a full day’s activities that started with Assembly committee meetings in Trenton. Ms. Stender fielded questions on the Iraq War, the economy, local truck traffic, the school funding formula, state debt, and immigration. She was firm, focused and friendly. Unlike her campaign in 2006, which got off to a much later start, she is ready to roll already.

On the Republican side, the five out of the six 7th congressional hopefuls jockeyed for position at a meeting last night in Clark, Union County. Senator Leonard Lance, former NJ First Daughter Kate Whitman, Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, former Summit Council President Kelly and former Deputy Mayor of Hillsborough Chris Venis all tried their level headed best to become the conservative’s conservative. Whitman declared that she is more conservative then her mom. Mark’s declared that he is solidly pro-life. Hatfield was the real McCoy when she said that she did not like the government interfering in people’s personal lives.

The Republicans all seemed to agree on the war, and backed their party’s wrong-headed commitment to an endless war plan, with no exit strategy.

On a quick note: with a name like Venis, I bet the former Hillsborough Deputy Mayor is glad his opponent isn’t Ferguson. Certainly not after the way the current Congressman’s campaign played around with the name Stender in the 2006 campaign.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Central Jersey Political Brawls

Fight Club Judge: If you took Harcar and the points, you lost. And the beating goes on.

Judge Robert Schaul heard both sides of the Raritan Township -Karrow-Harcar brawl, and gave the ‘win’ to…Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow. He said in his decision that:

(1) the brawl definitely happened; (2) it was “choreographed” by Harcar and (3) that Harcar was an “agent provocateur” in the matter.

Wow ---Harcar an “agent provocateur”. I lost my bet, too. I placed my money that she would be called an “alleged assailant”. I was off by a mile.

Back in June 2007, Raritan Township Committeewoman Chris Harcar allegedly went to the business headquarters of Hunterdon County Chairman Henry Kuhl to allegedly make phone bank calls for the alleged primary race for sheriff. Allegedly, she got in to an alleged scuffle with Karrow, and allegedly had her arm broken by Karrow. Allegedly.

From press accounts:

Karrow: "I don't think the judge could make it any more clear about her lack of credibility.”

Harcar: "We have a lot more evidence.”

And Harcar may get a chance to present that evidence in Round II of the Karrow-Harcar brawl --- in her civil suit charging defamation.

Harcar was Karrow’s hairdresser years ago; no one knows if that had anything to do with their bitter battle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Entertainment and Politics

Last year, I participated in a study done by a researcher from Gonzaga University Political Science Department on the recent trend of entertainers becoming involved in politics. The researcher interviewed such legends as singer Martha Reeves [currently a council member in Detroit], comedian Tommy Smothers, singer Jerry Butler [Butler is working in Chicago as a Commissioner for Cook County] and Will Durst [comedian who ran for mayor of San Francisco]. He also interviewed me.

We talked at length about how entertainers get involved in politics, whether they should, the liberal vs conservative dichotomy in the entertainment world. Currently, comedian and writer Al Franken is running for Senate in his home state of Minnesota.

Recently, actor and martial arts dude Chuck Norris entered the fray, endorsing Mike Huckabee for President. Here's what he had to say about Senator John McCain, and why he did not pick McCain:

"I didn't pick John McCain to support because I'm just afraid that the vice president would wind up taking over his job in that four-year presidency, so we need to find someone that can handle it for four years or eight years, that has the youth and vision and communication skills to make that work."
-- Chuck Norris

And here is McCain's response:

"I'm afraid that I may have to send my 95-year-old mother over to wash Chuck's mouth out with soap."
-- John McCain

Maybe some people in show business should stay out of politics. And visa versa.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mensch of the Week and Putz of the Week -January 19th 2008

I waited this week until Sunday to award the weekly Mensch and Putz of the week here at NJPoliticsUnusual, because I was live blogging from the 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Debate and Straw Poll. This event organized by our very conservative friends over at Conservatives With An Attitude, and Michael Illions.

There was a healthy turn out of about 200 plus paleo-cons, neo-cons, Ron-cons, and one tie-dyed libertarian hippie. I did get to speak with many before the festivities began. There were some true-believers and many situational conservatives.

However, these were not Republicans that followed the Eleventh Commandment as stated by Reagan: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

There was booing and hissing a plenty on several fronts.

Bill Spadea, speaking on behalf of Mayor Rudy, was booed for articulating Giuliani's stand on undocumented aliens and his support for a path to citizenship. Not to be out done, the room filled with mostly Ron Paul supporters, also jeered their own candidate’s rep ----libertarian Murray Sabrin ---for articulating so well that Rep. Paul does not support the Iraq War.

More on Sabrin: In an answer to a question on whether or not we should stay in the United Nations, Sabrin said [and I admit to paraphrasing, but this is the substance of what he said]
"Ron Paul supports withdrawing from the UN, and making them condos on the east river. That will handle the homeless problem in NYC.”
It was told as a joke, and thereby illustrates the difference in the core values between the Republicans and the Democrats.

And, so, for making light of the housing and homeless problem in New York, Murray Sabrin is our Putz of the Week.

Rush Holt has been trying for years to pass his Bill, H.R. 811 ---H.R. 811: The Voter Confidence & Increased Accessibility Act.

Recently, Rep. Holt has introduced the “Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008. This act will help election authorities using e-voting to convert to paper ballots, offer emergency paper ballots or convert audits by hand counts. For 2008, this will make sure that every vote is counted, that every election result is verifiable.

According to an AP story:

The bill would provide incentives for states to provide verified, audited balloting for the general election, but would not mandate standards for all states.

Voters in all or parts of 20 states, including New Jersey, now cast ballots electronically without backup paper verification, said New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt, who has sponsored the bill in the House.

"Millions of Americans will be voting on unreliable electronic machines without paper ballots. There will be questions that cannot be resolved because there is no way of determining a voter's intention. All you have is an electronic memory," said Holt, a Democrat.

Holt said he crafted the emergency bill because the House has not approved his earlier measure that mandated the use of backup paper ballots and audits in time for the presidential election.

For his ongoing efforts to ensure accountability in the election process, and especially his efforts this week, Rush Holt is the Mensch of the Week here at NJPoliticsUnusual.com.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Debate and Straw Poll

10: 40:

I am live blogging from the 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Debate and Straw Poll ---Michael Illions is speaking now----so far I have met Guy Gregg ----and there are several candidates here running in the 7th. Very interesting ----no Pledge of Allegience. Bill Spadea speaking for Rudy. Ron Paul is the big draw here to day. Guy Greg is here for Mitt Romney.

10: 54:

Mike Huckabee's speaker promises a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and to ban abortions. Now the supporter for Duncan Hunter is speaking on how he will be the strongest on border security. The room is hot for Ron Paul. Murray Sabrin is taking the podium, and lights up the room.

Sabrin declares that if Reagen were alive, he would endorse Ron Paul. Other issues: deregulate business, America should have no nation building, and is a "good Christian". I am certainly glad to hear that! Ron Paul does not believe in the income tax. Crowd is chanting "Murray, Murray!"

Speaker for Mitt Romney is now on.

11:01am:

I am in Woodbridge at The Forge. There are about 200 people here, mostly for Ron Paul. Rs are outnumbered by neo-cons, paleo-cons, and con-cons. Guy Greg is here, speaking for Fred Thompson.

Guy Gregg is saying how Fred was endorsed by National Right to Life.

Assembly David Ruzo, speaking on behalf of John McCain -----now he is dissing Jim McGreevey.

There is one guy who tried to stick a Ron Paul sticker on me---I declined. But the best quote this far came from him. "I hated Tom Keane. He hated accountants." Enough said.

11:06:

"I lived through a Jim McGreevey. I lived through Jim Florio. I can't live through another 8 years of the Clintons". Very sparse applause for John McCain. More applause for Murray Sabrin.

Boos for Rudy's rep!

11:12

Spadea trying to handle the crowd's displeasure with is answer on Rudy. Not a Rudy friendly crowd at all. Actual boos.

11:14am

The artful dodge: Romney's rep--"Look at his track record". To a softball question on the changing international economic scene. Sparse applause

11: 16am:

This is a solid pro-life, pro-2nd amendment crowd. Very pro-Paul. Murray Sabrin now talking about being in favor national sovereignty, and now he is against nation building. Against open boarder free trade.

Spadea declaring that Rudy is a free -trader. "Boos' come from the crowd. Big boos on paths to citizenship legal immigrants. Cited a Texas study that said that the local impact on economy has been positive with the flow of illegal immigrants. Wave of LOUD boos from the crowd for Spadea on Rudy --sparse applause.

11: 24

Huckabee's rep: get rid of the IRS, a supporter of the Fair Tax, base it on consumption. Sabrin: "There are two wings of the Rep Party. The Big Government wing. And the Ron Paul wing." Talking about elliminating Dept of Energy. Dept of Education. "Restore the principles of 1776, and these problems would go away in four years".

Romney will support a line item veto.

11:28am

The Crowd is an interesting mixture of young people in business suits, Anne Coulter looking young blonde woman, some in jeans and workshirts. One older looking hippie with long hair, a beard, and a tie-dyed Tshirt. He is wearing a Ron Paul bumper sticker on his back. Ron paul certainly is the champ here.

The promoter of this event is Illions from Conservatives with An Attitude website.

11:31am

Huckabee supporter just revealed that he was a survivor of 9/11 ---he was in the Twin Towers on that day. Sabrin answering a question about energy indepence ---saying that "17 of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, and we invade Iraq". "If the attackers were from Mexico, would we invade Cuba?". The crowd cheers, some yell , "Yeah we would."

Sabrin still the fav here! He has a table,

"We are saving the caribou at the expense of our national sovereignty. We should be drilling where the oil is". Cheers.

Lots of children here with parents.

11: 38am

Question: Should we be in The UN? "Sabrin: "Paul supports withdrawing from the UN, and making them condos on the east river. That will handle the homeless problem in NYC," We need to withdraw from Iraq. The president told us that the mission was accomplished, and it's time to bring them home"

Spadea for Rudy: "I have to respectfully disagree. When we have troops on the ground, we must support them. The surge is working."

Huckabee on UN withdrawal: "About the UN. It needs to reigned in, We pay too much. We need to make the oil rich nations to pay more. I work in midtown NYC. And I can't get to my office when the NYC police are escorting someone from an oil rich nation to the UN, who is going to criticize us. That has got to stop."

11:46am

Question on the FDA control of food and drugs:

Huckabee's suppoter: "The Governor knows a little bit about food. Many of you know he had a weight problem. With the help of a higher power, and on his own he lost his weight, and he did not need the government to help him lose weight. He did it on his own".

Sabrin on Ron Paul: "Ron Paul is a doctor. He is the only one who believes that young people should be able to withdraw from Medicare, Social Security"

Sabrin on Iraq war question/immigratioon : Ron Paul has the Christian beliefs. He believes in a Christian belief of a just war. He believes in eliminating the citizeship birthrights.

This is truly amazing. I need to come to these more often. It is great theater.

Guy Gregg: "Senator Thompson is the only candidate right on all the issues." Sparse applause.

For Jay Lassiter: On McGreevey: " I could not stand McGreevey as Governor or as Mayor of my town of Woodbridge".

11:55am

Spadea just got majorly booed on being against national ID cards. Won't let him speak. Booed left and right. Booed him off stage.

Sabrin on Ron Paul: "No candidate has ever won a presidency on a war platform".
" We cannot win on a war platform". Guess Dean was right from the beginning!

Very Young questioner: On whether Rudy has read the 9/11 report, and what is his stand on literacy. I did not get the connection, neither does Spadea. Why are the terrorists coming after us? Is it because we have democracy and literacy? ........Huh?

Spadea: He did read the report. Key point to have a strong military, and stop them over there, before they come here.

Romney: "Whether we believe that terrorists hate us because of who we are, or what we have, we need to confront the terror of global jihad." Sparse cheers.

Guy Gregg: "peace through strength" Reagan, Reagan. is his watchword, over and over again.

12:05pm

Spadea: Only 6% of the prisons are illegal aliens. We have created a red herring issue. He is booed.

Sabrin: Quotes Reagan "Ron Paul is opposed to birthright citizenship. Citizenship is earned, not a matter of geography. We are the only nation who does that".

Mitt Romney on immigration: Need to build a fence. Need to control employers that hire illegal immigrants. Crack down on "sanctuary cities". What a Rovian term!

Guy Gregg: Thompson supports English only, and as our official language.

Spadea: I guess we don't agree on everything. But Rudy is the only one who carry on the Reagan legacy of limited government. One opponent did not support the Bush tax cuts.

Ron paul and Reagen believed that if you subsidize something, you get more of it. The government has been subsidizing illegal immigration for years, and it must stop.

12:09pm

Spadea brought up Rudy's handling of getting rid of the homeless squeegee men as a proof of his ability to get things done ---the problem outside the Lincoln tunnel in New York. He was told by the police that they could not stop them from squeegeeing there was nothing illegal about that. So, Rudy directed the police to ticket and arrest them for jay walking. The problem was solved immediately.

Wow. Harrassing the homeless for jay walking is leadership. Get Rudy to the White House. I am sure he will start cleaning up Congress the same way.

Sidenote: Several of the speakers actually criticized the Dems for dropping out. "They know they can't win. They're dropping out like flies". I am sure that's it.

Closing statements:

Great story by a former firefighter: Single most important issue: National security. I am not supporting Rudy G. I am supporting John McCain. It's not enough to have an academic understanding of war. That is why I am supporting McCain. Someone with the experience of blood on his uniform and mud on his shoes.

Sabrin: Ron Paul was called up in the military in the Cuban missle crisis. Ron Paul was there. Peace through strength. Russia went belly up because of Afganhistan. This war is no longer popular. The best candidate is Ron Paul. Outstanding applause.

12:24pm

Mitt Romney rep: The governor walks the walk of traditional values. The Clintons and Barack Obama desperately want back the keys to 1600 PA Avenue.

Guy Gregg: What's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? We believe government is there to empower you. That's the simple answer. We have better candidates than they do. Any of our candidates can beat Hillary or Obama or Edwards. That candidate is Fred Thompson. Sanctity of life. School choice. 2nd amendment rights. The appointment of conservative, strict interpertation of the Con. Read the Constitiution as written. We need to stay unified. The goal is a Republican president.

They are about to vote on a candidate. I get to vote by the way!! I paid my money.

I am still deciding.....hmmm.

12:30

207 total votes


John McCain 2

Mike Huckabee 4

Rudy G 14

Fred Thompson 27

Ron Paul 128

I wrote in Barack Obama, but they did not announce that.

12:34pm

And we are done. It was an interesting event overall. Not too much open Democratic bashing. I had expected more Hillary bashing. My impression of these people is that they are tired of the Christie Whitman, Rudy G, Ahnold Republicans, that they view as RINOs. They wish to go back to the days of Ronnie and Nancy. They are solid pro-life, 2nd amendment conservartives, and would dismantle years of environmental, civil rights, social programs if given the chance. If Murray Sabrin is to be their candidate to run against Senator Lautenberg, I would welcome that. Although he seems to be a very articulate bright person, who is very clear on his views and values, those are not views and values that the majority of New Jersey would share.

Thanks and over and out.

Joey Novick, casting his vote at the conference for Barack Obama.

7:13pm Update

I received an email from the Straw Poll's organizer [Michael Illions] declaring that he was surprised that I wrote that there was no Pledge of Allegiance, and that the group of 200 did say the Pledge at about 10:33am. Now, I can honestly say that I was there from about 10:20 am or so, I checked in after waiting on a long line, met Michael Illions at the front table, and greeted him. During that time I heard no full room Pledge. After that, I milled around the room for about 15 minutes, got a bagel and cream cheese and OJ. I set up in the back of the room, and started blogging about 10:40 am. Just as the speakers began. However, I will take Mike's word for it that there was a Pledge, possibly before I arrived, when people were coming in --earlier in the morning.

Secondly, Mike said that all the votes were counted, and there were several counters---and no vote for Obama. Now, I don't mind that it may have been tossed, or not counted, as a 'joke' vote. Again, I take his word for it. I actually did not expect the vote to be counted. But, I paid my entry fee and spoke my mind.

I just wanted to follow-up for the record.

Smackdown: The Candidates vs The Comedians

With the writers strike still in full swing, the late night talk shows are working writer-less. Or are they? Just whose lines are they anyway?

The comedy monologues seem to not have slowed down in any way in their attacks on the presidential nominees. And, by the way, the candidates themselves are pretty funny. But ---just who is funniest---the Candidates or the Comedians?

We provide, you decide:

"Congratulations to Mitt Romney, he was the big winner in the Michigan primary. His dad used to be governor there, which I think is an inspiration. It proves in America that you don't have to be the wife of a former president to win, sometimes you can just be the son of a governor." --Jay Leno

"I looks like the Democratic field really starting to get narrowed down. For Democrats, it's going to be Barack Obama versus Hillary. So, it's a black man or a white woman. You know, this is the same decision Michael Jackson has to make every morning of his life." --Jay Leno

"Dennis Kucinich got a judge to order MSNBC, the cable channel, to let him be a part of the debate, which is the political equivalent of your mom forcing the other kids to play with you” --Jimmy Kimmel

"I don't get this. Hillary Clinton's been bragging all year long that she's been doing this for 35 years, but she just found her voice on Tuesday? There's a medical term for this -- 'slow learner.'" --Bill Maher

"This is a ridiculous election. If I hear this word 'change' one more time, I'm going to change the channel. ... Even Mitt Romney, who is running for president as Ward Cleaver, is for change. Every time he gets up there, he says, 'I love change. Change is good. Who doesn't like change? Whatever I just said, I'd like to change that.'" --Bill Maher

"Fred Thompson said he is out trying to revitalize his campaign. What does he mean 're'? When was it vitalized?" --Jay Leno

And the Candidates:

Mike Huckabee:

"I'm from Hope, Arkansas, you may have heard of it. All I'm asking is, give us one more chance."

"We've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."

"Whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what, if we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket."

Mitt Romney

"If I adopt the same policy, we're going to need a heck of a lot more chairs in the Cabinet room." --Romney, who is a Mormon, referring to Rudy Giuliani's comment that he might let his wife attend Cabinet meetings

"I think the reason that some 28, 29 percent are not comfortable voting for a Mormon is they think they're voting for Harry Reid." -- on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is also a Mormon

"You look at that Democratic debate, I had to laugh at what I saw Barack Obama do. I mean in one week he went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies. I mean he's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."

Rudy Giuliani

"I'm a little late. I bumped by head and broke my hair." –at the 2007 Gridiron dinner

"Look, for someone who went to parochial schools all his life, this is a very frightening thing that’s happening right now." --after a lightning strike cut out his mic as he was answering a difficult question about abortion during a Republican debate.

Hillary Clinton:

"Well, that hurts my feelings." --on why voters like Barack Obama better.

"You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President's motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges."

Barack Obama:

"I don't want to be invited to the family hunting party." --on revelations that he and Dick Cheney are eighth cousins.

"Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare 'Mission Accomplished' a little too soon."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No Comment Needed.


"Make it a hundred [years]. That would be fine with me."
-- John McCain on how long the U.S. should have troops in Iraq

"It could easily be that, absolutely."
-- George W. Bush, when asked if the U.S. would have troops in Iraq for the next ten years."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Clowns to the left of us. Jokers to the right.

Lawyers and politicians in New Jersey can rest a little easier today: Clowns, apparently, are now hated by kids of all ages. Maybe people hate clowns even more than they hate attorneys and elected officials. Move over, Boffo.

A study done by the University of Sheffield in the UK has found that children don't like clowns and even older kids are scared of them.” They took a poll of young people as they examined how to improve the d├ęcore of children’s wards in hospitals. Too bad, so sad, Bozo.

"As adults we make assumptions about what works for children," said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university. "We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."

Wow. Sorry, Eric.

I guess none of those kids ever drove on Route 1 at 5pm or had to read a local property tax bill or drive to the Jersey Shore in July. Then they would know what scary really is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rush Holt in New Jersey

Until Linda Stender becomes my representative in Congress in January 2009, we still have Mike Ferguson. So, I live vicariously through those in the 12th who are represented by Rep. Rush Holt. It was not too long ago that Congressman Holt represented Flemington. And he represents towns not too far from Flemington in Hunterdon.

So, I keep a close eye on what he does, and always appreciate his leadership in Congress:
From "Freepage News":
Early next year, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., will introduce the "Confidence in Voting Act of 2008," which would provide $500 million to counties and other election jurisdictions to replace controversial paperless electronic voting systems before the 2008 presidential election. The bill envisions voters using paper ballots that are marked by hand, or ballots that are printed on Election Day after voters use a computer to make their choices. An electronic scanner, like a standardized test, would then tally the ballots.

The bill also provides $100 million for audits, where 3 percent of all paper ballots -- including absentee and early voting -- would be hand-counted to verify the electronic count before winners would be certified. Those audits would be public, according to the New Jersey congressman.

The bill also would pay for printing "emergency" paper ballots to be used as backup if there were a "failure" of paperless voting systems, although it does not state what constitutes an emergency or a failure.

"The overall goal is to have audited elections based on voter-verified paper ballots throughout the country," Holt said. "Audits must be completed and discrepancies resolved before certification of the winner. You could publish the results on Election Night, but they would not be final."

The proposal by Holt comes against a backdrop of congressional gridlock on voting technology issues and studies by top election officials in key states, notably California and Ohio, which have documented security and accuracy problems with all-electronic voting systems. In some states, election administrators have wanted to update voting systems before 2008's presidential vote but have lacked the necessary funds.

"What we do is offer reimbursement for anyone who opts in," Holt said, stressing the proposal's optional nature. "There is time to do this by November."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Delegate Diversity in the Democratic Party

If anyone ever tells you that there is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in NJ, just tell them this:

Amongst the Democratic nominees for president, there is [or was] a woman, an African-American and a Latino.

On the Republican side, there are [and always have been] only white males---with three of them not believing in evolution.

That should tell you alot of about the difference in values between the parties.

And in New Jersey, the Democratic State Committie will choose delegates with a commitment to have the delegate slate reflect the diversity of the state. This is will ensure a more
productive balance.

The Republicans, well, will have no such commitment.

The Democratic Party is using a proportional voting system, while the Republicans will use a ‘winner-take-all’ approach. The Democrats will see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the state more than the Repubs will see any of their potential nominees.

And the respective Parties had different opinions, too:

Democratic State Committee Chairman Joe Cryan:

"
We believe in diversity and representing all people. Republicans don't believe it's all that important…It's a synopsis of why we're successful in New Jersey."

Mark Sheridan, general counsel to the Republican State Committee:

"We have no quotas on the Republican side of the aisle. Our delegates will be chosen based on who will best lead for the next four years and help to govern our party for the next four years.”

In other words: no diversity in their delegates. Maybe some of them don’t believe in evolution, either.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Main Street, New Jersey

This is the opening page of MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis.
Perhaps, tell me of what it reminds you:

This is America—a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and corn and dairies and little groves.

The town is, in our tale, called "Gopher Prairie, Minnesota." But its Main Street is the continuation of Main Streets everywhere. The story would be the same in Ohio or Montana, in Kansas or Kentucky or Illinois, and not very differently would it be told Up York State or in the Carolina hills.

Main Street is the climax of civilization. That this Ford car might stand in front of the Bon Ton Store, Hannibal invaded Rome and Erasmus wrote in Oxford cloisters. What Ole Jenson the grocer says to Ezra Stowbody the banker is the new law for London, Prague, and the unprofitable isles of the sea; whatsoever Ezra does not know and sanction, that thing is heresy, worthless for knowing and wicked to consider.

Our railway station is the final aspiration of architecture. Sam Clark's annual hardware turnover is the envy of the four counties which constitute God's Country. In the sensitive art of the Rosebud Movie Palace there is a Message, and humor strictly moral.

Such is our comfortable tradition and sure faith. Would he not betray himself an alien cynic who should otherwise portray Main Street, or distress the citizens by speculating whether there may not be other faiths?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mensch of the Week and Putz of The Week Friday, January 11th

We’re on our fifth week or so in a row of Mensch of the Week and Putz of The Week, and I've received several emails from readers out there with some comments. I thought this week I would not only name the new Mensch of the Week and new Putz of The Week, but take an opportunity to answer some questions about the feature.

Rafael G. of Plainfield asks, “I have heard of Putz. But what is a Mensch?”

Thanks, Rafael. A Mensch is a Yiddish word ---that roughly means "a good person." A "mensch" is a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy.” For example, a person in your family who lends you money or a good friend who does a favor he does not have to. That’s a mensch.

Gloria L. of Tewksbury writes, “All your Putzes of the week all seem to be Republicans. Why is that?”.

Thanks, Gloria. I can honestly say that the Mensch/Putz Selection Committee never checks political party registration. I think that they apply standard basic Mensch/Putz criteria, handed down through the ages. Where the gauntlet falls, well that is up to the Selection Committee.

Finally, Stephanie R. of Perth Amboy inquires, “I read your posts everyday. Sometimes you’re a Putz. Sometimes you’re a Mensch. What is it with you?”

Well, thanks, I think.

I guess it’s just the normal balance and dichotomy of life. Y'know --- Country/Rock. Good cop/bad cop. Putz/Mensch. What are you going to do? That’s life.

Now on to this week’s choices. Briefly.

So who wants to be a millionaire? Practically everyone in New Jersey.

New Jersey has the highest property taxes
in the nation. We also have the highest insurance rates in the nation. And now, we have the highest percentage of millionaires in the nation.

Yup, when it comes to people with the big bucks, we got’em. Lots of them.

The Garden State ranked No. 2 for two years until 2006, according to the Phoenix Affluent Marketing Service. But last year we surged to the No. 1 position, with Maryland in number 2. Connecticut is third, and Ahnold’s California is just number ten.

So, to the fine folks at the Phoenix Affluent Marketing Service who collect this data so that big companies know where to market luxury products and investments -----you’re the Mensch of Week. Thanks for giving NJ a number one designation we can finally be proud of.

Putz of the Week

Assemblyman Mike Doherty has never been my favorite member of the Assembly. Indeed, since he is a mostly libertarian conservative Republican, there is not too much we agree on. He does not believe in global warming or evolution. And another thing he does not believe in, is voting his conscience.

This week Mr. Doherty abstained when it came to voting on New Jersey’s apology for our role in slavery. Abstained. While other Republicans at least had the courage of their convictions and voted “NO”, Doherty could not even muster that effort.

Doherty, said the bill was "a part of a bigger issue to keep all Americans divided". Yes, I am sure that the chief sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Payne woke up one day and queried, 'Hmmm, how can I divide America today?'

And so, not because he opposed apologizing for slavery ----but because he could not muster enough conscience to cast a vote against it, Mr. Doherty is once again Putz of The Week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Comeback? Oh, You kid.

The big watch word for the expectation game in the first two presidential contests is "comeback". 

Not as in "Come back, Little Sheba" or "Shane! Come back, Shane!" But as in the public thought a particular candidate was not going to win, and he/she showed'em!

It's an interesting strategy that has no down side. If the public does not expect much, and you give them more ---voila! They're fooled in to thinking you're all shiny now.

 It's what President Bill Clinton did in New Hampshire in 1992 with finishing second behind Paul Tsongas. It's what Bush did to Gore in the first debate.

Both Hillary and McCain declared themselves 'the comeback kids', for their showing in New Hampshire.

But now, back to Hillary and Barack: Here is what my good buddy Thurman Hart has to say about the whole deal. He expresses some insightful thoughts on the 'comeback' issue, much better than I can:

Delegate Check…and Reality

For whatever reason, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary. Barack Obama was second with John Edwards making an honorable mention...

Going into New Hampshire, Hillary had 169 delegates, Obama had 66, and Edwards had 47. After New Hampshire, Hillary has 183, Obama has 78, and Edwards has 52. This means Hillary picked up 14, Obama picked up 12, and Edwards added 5. So the ultimate effect of New Hampshire was to add to Hillary’s delegate lead by two.

But let’s not get carried away. Despite the flurry of polling in the last 24 hours before the vote, this is not a comeback. Consider the following sports analogy:

A football team is favored by 17 points going into the game and at halftime they have that covered. In the third quarter, the challenger pulls even. Based on momentum, you could expect the challenger to win. But, lo and behold, the expected winner actually wins by a field goal. Did they launch a comeback? Or did they just manage to (barely) meet expectations of winning?
Something to think about, if you took the challenger at 17 points, you’d win your bet.

It wasn’t a comeback. Either the polls all had it very wrong or the over-anxious media coverage actually changed the actual votes. Either Obama’s supporters stayed home because they figured he’d win or people felt sorry for Hillary. Or maybe things just worked out that way for no particular reason.

But it wasn’t a comeback.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Real Message Out of New Hampshire: Vote Democratic

The real message out of New Hampshire was that people voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidates. This bodes well for November, whether the Democratic presidential candidate is Obama or Clinton or Edwards.

New Hampshire is an open primary state. This means that anyone, regardless of political party affiliation, can vote for anyone they choose. In a sense, a Barack Obama has as much to fear from a Hillary Clinton as he does from a John McCain.

But here are the numbers from the January 8th NH primary, with 91% of the districts reporting:
Democrats Vote %

Clinton 102,486---- 39%
Obama 95,263---- 36
Edwards 44,283---- 17
Richardson 11,943---- 5

Republicans Vote %

McCain 81,005 ----- 37%
Romney 69,132 -----32
Huckabee 24,364 -----11
Giuliani 18,763 -----9
As you can see, even with Obama in second place behind Hillary, he scored with enough New Hampshire independent voters to outpace McCain, the Republican leader. In 2000, McCain won New Hampshire, and his style still resonates with the independent thinking New Hampshirians. New Hampshirites? New Hampshirers?

Anyway you define them, the folks from the Granite State were rock solid for the Dems.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First among firsts

If you have not noticed, the Presidential Primary Season has actually begun. Sort of. And time is running out for some of the hopefuls.

Late last night, while the rest of the nation and New Jersey slept, the teeny tiny teeny tiny New Hampshire towns of Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location voted first. First among firsts.

The tiny towns with two names.

The next leader of the free world will be chosen in the next month or two. Up until now, it has been like Spring Training. And, continuing, the baseball analogy, it’s as if when a few teams lost a few spring training games, they decided to drop out of the regular season. Maybe the Mets should have done that last season. But who knew?

Out on the Repub side: Sam Brownback, Tommy Tancredo.
Out on the Democratic side: Joe Biden, Chris Dodd.

More than a hundred years of experience in government ----whoosh, out the door just because of the polls and the folks in Iowa. More will probably drop out after New Hampshire.

I guess Darwin was right: Natural selection works, even in politics. Too bad the Republicans don’t believe in evolution.

According to the New York Times, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, New Hampshire vote first in the first primary in the nation. In Hart's Location, Obama received 9 votes, Hillary Rodham Clinton 3 and John Edwards 1. On the Republican side, McCain received 6 votes, Mike Huckabee 5, Ron Paul 4 and Mitt Romney 1.

In Dixville Notch, Obama got 7 votes, Edwards 2 and Bill Richardson 1. Among Republicans, McCain got 4 votes, Romney 2 and Rudy Giuliani 1.

That’s right. Hillary Clinton got zero votes. No one in Dixville Notch voted for Hillary.

Ooops.

And right now, a new Marist survey has Obama leading Clinton by eight points in New Hampshire, 36%-28% -- followed by Edwards at 22%.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

N.J. wants to drop out of college.

The Electoral College, that is. Or at least we’re gonna try.

The 2000 election results. Iowa and New Hampshire’s over-inflated level on importance in choosing the presidential nominees. These two elements seemed to have combined to compel states to question the wisdom of how the Democrats and Republicans choose their nominees for president.

The state’s answer to Iowa and New Hampshire is the early primary. Their answer to the Electoral College: National Popular Vote.

The state Senate gave a big thumps up to joining with other states for support of the National Popular Vote ---“interstate compact to skirt the Electoral College by requiring the state's electors to cast their vote for president and vice president based on the national popular vote winner.” The Assembly has already passed the bill, and Governor Corzine is expected to sign it.

According to their website, …Under the National Popular Vote bill, all of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).”

Thus far, the National Popular Vote, has been, well not too popular. Many sponsors, many bills, but not too many states. Only Maryland is in the compact. NJ would be number 2.

The agreement would take effect only if enough states come aboard to produce 270 of the 538 votes currently needed decide a presidential win -- making it highly unlikely the agreement would affect this year's presidential election.

The always appropriate Senator Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon, said if the states want to change the Electoral College, it ‘should be done in the appropriate manner’ by amending the Constitution.”

With the election in November, the National Popular Vote movement may be moving too slowly to have any impact on 2008 election. Sooo, we will have to suffer through the Electoral College once again. 270 will still be the Magic Number.

I think we should change the whole thing with a constitutional amendment. But that’s not likely to happen soon, either.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mensch of The Week and Putzes of the Week

Let’s start off with the Putzes of the Week--both big and little, shall we?

This week, New Jersey moved closer to becoming the first Northern state to apologize for slavery under a measure approved by a legislative committee. The Garden State had a history none of which we can be proud of concerning this issue.

NJ was home to more slaves than any other Northern state except New York, and we didn't ratify the constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery until January 1866, a month after it had already become federal law. So, an apology would be in order to set the record straight.

Said bill sponsor Assemblyman William Payne: "This bill does nothing more than say New Jersey is sorry for its shameful past.”

This is no different than the Pope apologizing for the Catholic Church's record of anti-Semitism from centuries ago. There is no one alive who was a victim, but it sets the record straight.

So, what did the Republicans have to say about the bill? Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll actually praised the institution of slavery.

I will repeat that: Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll actually praised the institution of slavery.

He said: "
If slavery was the price that a modern American's ancestors had to pay in order to make one an American, one should get down on one's knees every single day and thank the Lord that such price was paid."
Well said. Mike, praise the Lord, and pass the whip.

For that ignorant and uncaring remark, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll is the big Putz of the Week.

The Little Putz:

In my home borough of Flemington, in November 2007, the Democrats took control of the Borough Council for the first time in ten years. With a ‘weak’ Mayor form of government, a Republican mayor and four council members who are Democrats, you would think there would be rough sailing ahead.

So, acting in good faith, the Democrats met with Mayor Bob Hauck and discussed such things as Planning Board appointments, hiring of consultants and Council assignments for 2008. After a bit of good old political horse trading, everything seemed settled out peacefully.

Or so the Democrats thought.

So what did Hauck do? At the Reorganization Meeting Thursday, January 3rd, he sandbagged the Dems on each and everything he agreed to. Planning Board appointments? Nope. Council assignments? Buzz off, Dems. He made what started off as a feel-good meeting go sour right away. Talk about sour grapes about being in the minority.

The main problem with Hauck at the meeting was just how much of a puppet he is for County Clerk, Mary Melfi. It was she who pulls his strings, and demanded a seat back on the Planning Board. Don’t take my word for it: watch on the Flemington website archive of the actual meeting.

So, for starting off the new Council year with a blowout and brawl, instead of respect and goodwill, Hauck is the little Putz of the Week.

Mensch of The Week

Politicians, by and large, have a reputation for not keeping their promises. However, one former governor made the swearing in ceremony of a newly elected member of the Flemington Borough Council very special, and kept his promise.

Linda Mastellone, a member of New Jersey for Democracy, is a tenant resident of Flemington, who also has a strong business background. That made her a great candidate for Flemington Borough Council, running against incumbent Phil Greiner, a much more conservative and libertarian Republican.

Back in September, Linda ran in to former governor Jim Florio at the New Jersey State Democratic Conference in Atlantic City. Governor Florio promised that if Linda won a seat on Borough Council, he would swear her in. Linda won; Greiner lost.

So, Thursday night, when Linda Mastellone became Councilwoman Mastellone, Governor Florio read the affirmation of office for her. By the way, the governor never once had to refer to the paper for prompting, remembering every word of the Oath of Office. Linda took the oath of office in front of her proud dad, her step-mom, brother, sister-in-law and two adorable nieces.

So, for keeping his promise, and making the Mastellone family proud, Governor Jim Florio is our Mensch of the Week here at NJPoliticsUnusual.com.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Don't Huck This Up

How will the assets and liabilities of the
candidates in
Iowa pan out?


My prediction for Iowa:


Some candidate will become a noun and/or an adjective. You know, like, pull a "Howard Dean" ---the media created that one.

What and who will it be? Will it be [years from now] ----

"He certainly Hillary'd that race!"
---started out the leader, and then fizzled out at the end.

Or "He Hucked that up".

Or "Wow. Just like Obama."

"He was too Rudy for the South"

You get the drift.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, same Grand Old Party: Republicans don’t think it’s right to apologize for slavery

Believe it or not, but the Party of Lincoln think it’s OK to not apologize for slavery.

If New Jersey issues a formal apology, then we would be the first northern state to do so. This far, state legislators in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have issued formal slavery apologies.

What the heck is the matter with a little “I’m sorry” after 140 years? Several prominent Republicans think it just doesn't matter.

Said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris, "Who living today is guilty of slave holding and thus capable of apologizing for the offense…And who living today is a former slave and thus capable of accepting the apology? So how is a real apology even remotely possible, much less meaningful, given the long absence of both oppressor and victim?"

That’s harsh, Merkt.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll demanded that the Democratic Party should apologize first----since Republicans historically opposed slavery. He also noted that New Jersey twice voted against Abraham Lincoln.

He continued, "…But, on a current note, if slavery was the price that a modern American's ancestors had to pay in order to make one an American, one should get down on one's knees every single day and thank the Lord that such price was paid.”

So, maybe Carroll wants to offer an opposing resolution thanking the nation for slavery? Just what hallucinogens are these guys taking?

Of course, this the same guy who had time to offer a bill changing the name of Clinton town to “Reagan” during the time of President Clinton’s troubles with Monica Lewinsky ----but no time or good sense to support this legislation.

The resolution would read in part: "…the vestiges of slavery are ever before African-American citizens, from the overt racism of hate groups to the subtle racism encountered when requesting health care, transacting business, buying a home, seeking quality public education and college admission, and enduring pre-textual traffic stops and other indignities."

"This is not too much to ask of the state of New Jersey," said Assemblyman William Payne, who sponsors the bill. "All that is being requested of New Jersey is to say three simple words: We are sorry."

Once again, the NJ Republicans both amuse and amaze as to what they take issue with ---and what they support.

Welcome to 2008.

Happy New Year 2008

Each New Year many people go through a massive self-examination that culminates in their making New Year’s Resolutions--- focusing on new beginnings ----issues and problems they make a new commitment to solve. Weight loss. Paying down credit card debt. Getting a better balance of family and work life.

Some succeed; some don’t. But there's always 2009.

Here are the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions most often resolved, and then some thoughts on how to apply them to your town in New Jersey:

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends

The State Legislature should spend more time on policy and less time on politics. There are common enemies to both the Democrats and Republicans that should unite them on policy more frequently. The Repubs made an error in dumping Senator Leonard Lance as their Minority Leader. His relationship with Senate President Dick Codey was good for New Jersey.

2. Fit in Fitness 3. Tame the Bulge

These two are self-explanatory. Continue working to get New Jerse’s economic house in order from property taxes, to debt, to school funding.

4. Quit Smoking

New Jersey was right to ban smoking in indoor facilities. The state should continue their efforts by requiring smoking sections at all out door events.

5. Enjoy Life More

More on this at the end.

6. Quit Drinking

An allegory for dealing with over-indulgence. As Aristotle said so long ago, “Everything in moderation”.

7. Get Out of Debt

Duh. With more than 35 billion dollars worth...

8. Learn Something New

Learn from our mistakes. And, uh, end the Iraq War.

9. Help Others

Do volunteer work in your community.

10. Get Organized

Make this a habit in your community. From Stephen Covey:

Be Proactive. Begin with the End In Mind. Put First Things First. Think Win/Win. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Synergize. Sharpen the saw.

And finally:

How To Build COMMUNITY

Turn Off Your TV

Leave Your House

Know Your Neighbors

Look Up When You Are Walking

Greet People

Sit On Your Stoop

Plant Flowers

Use Your Library

Play Together

Buy From Local Merchants

Share What You Have

Help A Dog

Take Children to the Park

Garden Together

Support Neighborhood Schools

Fix It Even If You Didn't Break It

Have Pot Lucks

Honor Elders

Pick Up Litter

Read Stories Aloud

Dance In the Street

Talk to the Mail Carrier

Listen to the Birds

Put Up a Swing

Help Carry Something Heavy

Barter For Your Goods

Start a Tradition

Ask a Question

Hire Young People for Odd Jobs

Organize a Block Party

Bake Extra and Share

Ask For Help When You Need It

Open Your Shades

Sing Together

Share Your Skills

Take Back the Night

Turn Up the Music

Turn Down the Music

Listen Before You React To Anger

Mediate a Conflict

Seek To Understand

Learn From New and
Uncomfortable Angles

Know that No One Is Silent
Though Many Are Not Heard
Work to Change This