Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain announces his plan for cutting back on NASA funding.

Special to NJ: Politics Unusual:

(AP) Fifty years ago in July, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act into existence, creating NASA.

However, if Senator John McCain becomes the next Republican President, he is likely to sign NASA out of existence.

“They found water on Mars? Big f$#@king deal. What we needed for them to find is oil,” said the Arizona Senator.

“Why the hell do you think we’ve been spending all that money on the Phoenix Mars Lander? To get some ‘Martian ice’? No way, Jose. We needed to start 'way, way' off'-shore oil drilling there immediately. Now, whatya got? Zip. Nada. Nothin’.”

The Senator did make note that he was embarrassed that the Mars Lander was named for a ‘city in [his] home state’. “You cannot imagine my disappointment. I just don’t know what to say," he shared, holding back tears.

William Boynton, the lead NASA scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer instrument on Phoenix, was stunned, too. All he could muster were mumbles of “we have water...we have water, over and over again. Boynton also said that water was positively identified after the lander's robotic arm delivered a soil sample on Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by heating.

“That damn Mars machine can use its robotic arm to pleasure itself up there in space, for all I care,” McCain said. “If I'm in the White House, I will have one rule for NASA: No Texas Tee, no government moolah. No black gold, no American gold. Capice?”

NASA had no further comment.

Reversal of Misfortunes

Money is called ‘cash’. They also call it “dough”. Or moolah, coin, bucks, loot, scratch, bread, ducats, wampum and dead presidents.

While the Eskimos are known for having hundreds of words for ‘snow’, we in America have many words for ‘money’. As Danny DeVito's character, Mickey Bergman, in the David Mamet film “Heist” says: "Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money.”

They just don’t call it ‘returnable’. But that is what seems to be the new trend in NJ.

In what seems to be a stunning reversal of the usual ‘fortune’ in New Jersey politics, people all over New Jersey are returning money. That’s right ---they’re giving money back. Yup, "return to sender", stamped right on the envelope.

I guess the first time it was done this political season was when Senator Clinton returned about $850,000 received from a fundraiser who was wanted by the law. This year, Linda Stender returned $6000 received from Assemblyman Neil Cohen, who recently resigned from the State Assembly amidst allegations of child porn being on his office computer. And earlier, the GOP demanded that Ms. Stender return money she received from Congressman Charlie Rangel---when the NY Congressman was accused of improprieties regarding apartments he is renting in Harlem.

Now, not to be outdone, the Stanhope Board of Education wants its bucks back from their former superintendent [Nicholas Brown] --- $65,125 paid out to for unused sick and vacation days when he left for a new job.

What’s next? Oil companies with huge profits returning money to drivers?
Trenton giving money back to towns? Wouldn’t that be something.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why always New Jersey?

Neil Cohen, once the liberal champion for all liberal causes in NJ, has resigned. The guy who every year wanted to set the beaches free from the requirement of a beach pass resigned this morning, effective immediately. When there are allegations of child porn on your office computer, I guess 'resignation' is the next step.

It’s a slow news summer, so, unfortunately, this news will play around the country’s local news outlets on the same page with sidebars re-covering NJ’s gay governor as well the Corzine/Katz email incident. I am sure that stand-up comedians over the next few weeks will use this information as grist for their comedy mills.

So, why is it always New Jersey? I don’t know. I am from New York, and I chose to live in the ‘burbs of Hunterdon County just about twenty years ago. I did not choose Flemington, as much it chose me. But the whole New Jersey jokes thing may have begun when Ben Franklin said, "New Jersey is like a beer barrel, tapped at both ends, with all the live beer running into Philadelphia and New York." Not funny now, but back in 1776 that line killed.

Sometimes Franklin would tour taverns around the colonies with Jefferson on the violin. He even made fat jokes about John Adams.

This is an actual line from the Federalist Papers, but rejected at the 1789 convention: : "The Adams from Massachusetts is so fat [then the Congress would yell out 'how fat is he?']....that he should have his own constitution!" Bada bing!

So, Ben, thanks for electricity, the pot bellied stove, the Farmers Almanac, and ----initiating the jokes about New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Democratic Friend in Florida

As I speak to lifelong Democrats, I am seeing an interesting pattern emerge, over the course of time. Those who were formerly strong Hillary Clinton supporters, sometimes showed through with their true colors.

Back in June, they seemed to be going through the stages of grief, the first one being “denial” as in, “This cannot be happening to us! Arrgh!” The first comment –the ‘This cannot be happening to us!’ was actually said by a lifelong Democratic friend in Florida. I threw in the ‘Arrgh!’ for emotional effect.

After the DNC meeting where the issue of Florida/Michigan was resolved, her response was the second stage of grief—‘anger’: “Why Hillary? She’s a victim. It’s not fair! Wahhh!”. Again, I threw in the ‘Wahh!” for emotional effect.

The next stage---‘bargaining’, was somewhat combined with ‘depression’, the fourth stage. This was evidence by the realization that Senator Obama was actually now the presumptive candidate, and that the best they could hope for was a Hillary VP spot. “I will consider supporting ‘Bama [at this point, she still was somewhat in stage two ‘anger’, and continued to call Senator Obama, ‘Bama’], but only if my Hillary is chosen for Vice President.” Notice the ‘my Hillary’ comment. Strong ownership there.

This was combined with the fact that although Hillary is most likely on the short list for VP, the fact that there is ‘a list’ that she shares with others, is very ‘depressing’ for my Florida friend. And I did not even need any other comment for emotional effect.

The final stage is ‘acceptance’, as evidenced by my Florida friend’s comment of, "It is what it is. I guess I will vote for Obama [see the change from ‘Bama’], but as long as he supports Israel.”

The 'Florida friend' is my mother, Pearl, and she was pleased to see Senator Obama visit Israel this week. So, she is now over her Hillary grief, and will be a good Democrat again.

Go figure.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Three times the Senator

In 1996, the price of a gallon of gas was just $1.23. The median price of an average home was just $144,200. And in 1996, the cost of running for Senate in New Jersey was much less than it is today.

But don’t tell that to Dick Zimmer, ‘cause he is running as if we’re still at 1996 prices. Shhhh! Mum’s the word.

The last time lobbyist/lawyer Dick Zimmer ran for Senate, it was 1996. He spent alot less money in that race than he will have to spend to win in 2008. However, because of the Repuplican primary and his very late start, he is very far behind Frank Lautenberg in fundraising.

Nearly three times as far behind as of the last reporting deadline with the Federal Election Commission.

Senator Lautenberg has $1.29 million cash on hand. While lobbyist/lawyer Zimmer has just $411,029 at the end of June.

While primaries in both parties were costly, Lautenberg spokesperson Julie Roginsky told the Star-Ledger, “The campaign is confident that we will have the resources necessary to win this November.”

The late great Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. Zimmer is going to have to really start milking those cash cows, if he is going to compete with Lautenberg.

The Star-Ledger reported that there is a $1000 per head fundraiser for Zimmer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington later this month. Hope they’re serving milk.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Technorati Profile

Share and share alike.

The big watchword for the past ten years amongst municipalities has been shared services”.

Sounds good as a sound bite come election time. A way of getting the public to think their elected folks are saving big bucks by sharing the cost of running their towns with the next town over, under or around them.

So, just who’s benefited from the lion’s share of all this sharing? Apparently not enough communities are sharing.

Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts wants to expand the powers of the LUARC Commission [Local Unit Alignment Reorganization and Consolidation Commission] to nudge more of NJ’s 566 governmental bodies to share more. He wants these Commission folks to nudge local governments to have more merger referendums, so that voters can decide merger for themselves. Sounds like more democracy to me is a good thing.

DCA Commish Joe Doria said of N J’s tiny towns, "We have communities that are the hole of the doughnut…There's no need for those small communities."

“There’s no need for those communities”? "The hole of the doughnut"? Tell that to the fine folks who pay taxes in places like Flemington, Lambertville, or Freehold. They provide municipal services pretty darn efficiently. I prefer to think of those towns as the "nucleus of the cell", a much better analogy.

Of course, this is a guy who was the mayor of Bayonne. Yo, Joe, maybe Bayonne, being at the center of the New York harbor, Staten Island, and Elizabeth wants to merge with those geographical entities. I am so sure that my home town of Flemington was more financially efficient than Bayonne n a per capita basis, that I would bet you a dinner on it. Any fine Flemington restaurant or Bayonne eatery will do.

One thing everyone can agree on: Change the name of that commission. LUARC sounds like a green-headed scaly creature from Star Wars. Or maybe a city on the coast of France, famous for its cheese pastries.

Personally, I like Roberts’ idea to name the commission after the late Assembly Speaker Alan J. Karcher---whose book New Jersey's Multiple Municipal Madness detailed the history of how we got to have 566 different towns in NJ.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And the headline reads: “Lesniak suggests Republican running mate for Obama.”

Yup, apparently the current Democratic State Senator, former Hillary supporter and former Democratic State Chairman [1992-94] suggests that Senator Obama needs “…for the good of the country, a Republican with foreign policy smarts and gravitas…” and that this “…would be a wise running mate choice.” He recommends Senator Richard Lugar.

His stated criteria seems wise enough. But are there not Democrats who fit the same bill--- with “foreign policy smarts”, and with “gravitas”, who would also be a “wise running mate choice”, also? What about Governor Bill Richardson? He was UN Ambassador. What about Senator Joe Biden? He has been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a long time. And what about General Wesley Clark? He has been, well, in the military.

There are probably other Democrats that fit the bill, also.

Although the Senator means well, in his assertion that “It would show that Obama wants to bring this country together,". Fair enough; after eight years of this President, we certainly need uniting. But, the last two times we had a president and vice president of two different parties, is did not work out so well. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are one pair. Abe Lincoln and Andrew Johnson are another. Go figure. Maybe the Senator thinks we need to try this arrangement at least once a century.

What about this same plan for New Jersey? Would the Senator advise Governor Corzine in the same way, when he chooses a Lt. Governor running mate in 2009? Maybe Senator Jennifer Beck might be available. She brings a unique approach, as she did in her race last fall. Maybe Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. or Senator Leonard Lance. They both bring strong family names
and a sense of NJ history. Or maybe Brett Schundler or Steve Lonegan ---for a good liberal/conservative balance. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I think that Senator Obama should stay the course, and pick a good Democrat. That would unite the country, and his party around him.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mister Softee takes a hard line: That’s his tune.

In New Jersey, someone is always trying to run a scam. Cut in to your territory. Play your tune. Think we're talking about NJ politics?

Nope: The ice cream biz. It’s a hard sell selling soft ice cream in the Garden State. Especially, if you’re out of tune.

Jim Conway, Jr. is the owner of the Mister Softee ice cream company located in Camden County. That jingle we are all familiar with from the 1960s is his identifiable trademark. And if you’re trying to sell soft ice cream from your own truck in his neighborhoods ----his warning to you: Get your own jingle.

It seems that Danny’s Soft Serve ice cream truck has been driving around Newark, playing the Mister Softee jingle in order to con the neighborhood kids in to buying his ice cream. Sooo, Mister Conway called his lawyer, and he is suing Mister Danny. By the way, it was Conway’s dad that penned the very familiar jingle.

More than 600 trucks across the USA play that jingle every day. And since a trademark is defined as
As a mark is a distinctive sign or indicator of some kind which is used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to identify uniquely the source of its products and/or services to consumers, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
In this case, the “distinctive sign or indicator” is a tune.

Conway told the Star Ledger “It’s easier to attract people to get out of their houses if they think it’s Mister Softee.” And he used video surveillance that caught Danny outside a Newark school scamming the kids.

Maybe, just maybe, come Election Day some scamming politicos will use the same jingle attract voters to the polls.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Garden State Cool

Tough driving down to the Jersey Shore because gas is too expensive? Here are the top seven ways to keep cool in New Jersey, without spending too much money:

7- Go to the frozen food aisle at a local Shop Rite or Stop and shop---bring your beach chair, your fav magazine, and set up shop. It should cool you off long enough, until you hear “Security: Idiot on aisle seven!”.

6- Water is getting very expensive, so you don’t want to waste your own. So, find someone watering their own lawn, and insult them over and over again until they assert their revenge by squirting you with the garden house.

5- Use duct tape and rubber bands and attach frozen bags of vegetables to your far head, the back of your neck and arms. That should cool you down.

4- Stick your pillow case and bed sheets in the freezer for about 20 minutes, and then go to bed. Cool for the night.

3- Go to the local mall, again bring your beach chair, favorite novel, and read until you're asked to leave. If you’re asked to leave, Go to for a list of all the malls in NJ from Cape May to Bergen County, to plan your weekend.

2-- The best commercial food freezer ---the Tiger Woods of true cool: the True T-49f commercial freezer. With a full 49 cubic feet of space and a 1⁄2 horse power motor capable of generating chills in the -10◦F range. Where are these babies in NJ? Usually at fast food places—Taco Bell, KFC, etc. Go to have a fast food lunch, and while no one is looking, sneak by for a quick blast of -10 degrees of cool.

1- Remember that hot air rises, and get out of the sun.
The perfect cool place below ground to cool off: Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel. They have giant underground fans aplenty to cool off. Again, bring your 8 bucks for admission, your beach chair and your copy of what’s ever on the best seller list in the NY Times summer reading. Just lie back in your chair on one of those side walking areas and cool off. The NY/NJ Port Authority says it’s about ten degrees cooler down there than the outside.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The McCain Pause and the Straight Talk Express

Maybe it's a case of projectile disfunction. Many people in New Jersey pause when thinking about whether or not to vote for John McCain. “Hmm…” they think.

Hopefully, they’re taking more time than the eight seconds McCain took to give a non-answer to a question about health insurance, birth control and Viagra.

McCain touts his ‘straight talk’ on a myriad of issues…well, except, birth control apparently. From the answer the Arizona Senator [who opposes women’s right to choose] gave to MaeveReston of the Los Angeles Times about birth control, his talk was anything but straight. It was non-existant.

The reporter asked about whether it was fair for insurance companies to pay for Viagra, but not birth control.

McCain paused for a full eight seconds. And then said, “I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer…because I don't recall the vote.”

Straight talk indeed.

Eight seconds in today’s short attention span/ADHD infested society is a life-time. It’s time enough for Kobe Bryant to score a winning basket. For the New Jersey Giants to kick that winning field goal. And, perhaps, for anyone from New Jersey to spew out the names of all twenty-one counties. Go ahead and try it:

I did.

Maybe McCain should try that for eight seconds.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pre-July 4th Fireworks in Lebanon Borough

Lebanon Borough Public Park

The town newsletter for Lebanon Borough [Hunterdon County, population 1,065] is called the “Lebanon Lantern”. But the local government attitude towards free speech in this tiny densely populated borough is anything but ‘enlightening’.

Recently Mayor Mark Paradis and July 4th Parade Chairwoman Debbie Masco declared that non-partisan voter registration in their town was too much of an “un-patriotic” and “political” activity to be held in Lebanon Borough in their public park after the July 4th parade. Unbelievably, they even went as far as to threaten to have the sheriff’s department arrest anyone who attempted to register voters. Can you say Bull Connor?

Also, Ms. Masco went as far to declare that voter registration in the public park after the parade would so offend her volunteers, that they would all up and quit and that would destroy the 61 year old Lebanon Parade forever.
Ms. Masco, you need to keep things in perspective.

In my capacity as Hunterdon County Democratic Chair from 1996-2000, I oversaw the County Party’s voter registration efforts at local town events all over the County. We registered voters in just about every town from Lambertville to Readington ----from Union to Raritan Township. We registered anyone and everyone ----anytime there was a township community day or street fair or Flemington Fair.

Therefore, when I was asked by a group of young volunteers from the Democratic Party to assist them in organizing a non-partisan voter registration table at the public park in Lebanon Borough, I said I would help.

So, I called Mayor Paradis to make the arrangements for a small voter registration table, in a reasonable and legal location in or near the public park. That was when the pre-July 4th fireworks started.

Right off the bat, the Mayor denied my request, calling voter registration not within the "spirit of July 4th" or within the event theme of "America's Moments in History". Ironic, isn't it?

The Lebanon Borough Park is a ‘public forum’---where it is completely within constitutional bounds to register voters, given reasonable ‘time, place and manner’ restrictions. A small unobtrusive voter registration table in a corner somewhere is all we asked for, and were constitutionally entitled to.

There is no activity more civic, more non-partisan, and more purely American than providing an opportunity for those who are eligible to vote to register. Voting is the basis of our democracy.

Just what about voter registration do Mayor Paradis and Ms. Masco find so offensive?

This was the first time in all my years in Hunterdon County that a seated Mayor declared that there would be “no voter registration” in his town. Throughout our conversation Mr. Paradis was never able to provide the authority he had to make such a declaration, either.

After more than an hour of a heated conference call, Mayor Paradis and Ms. Masco finally relented ---but only after I was compelled to invoke the ACLU of NJ. Go figure.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This is 2G2BT.

OMFG! Maybe the next ‘George Carlin’ will help us figure out the "Seven Text Messages that Cannot Appear on License Plates."

Seems like the letters ‘WTF’ may be one of them.

For those of you, like me, who are still using full words from the Webster’s dictionary to text with, the above title says, “To Good to Be True”. And the letters WTF mean "What the F%#k!", but only to regular text-ters. To my 82-year-old mother in Florida, it might mean "We Treasure Florida".

This tale might motivate the folks at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in Trenton to sit up take notice of the license plates they’re handing out willy-nilly.

In NC [that’s North Carolina] a 60 year-old driver was clued in by her grandchildren as to just what the three letter combonition WTF means in ‘text-talk’. Now 10,000 drivers need to get their license plates replaced. Now, the car owners are yelling “WTF”.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Signs of the times: The ACLU is at it again:

Well, those darn ACLU folks in New Jersey who want democracy and open government are at it again. They want to allow those who advocate for the election of local candidates to actually have the right to place political signs on the lawns of their own private property. Imagine that!

Some towns in New Jersey place a limit on the amount of time a private citizen can place a political sign on their lawn.

The shrews in Shrewsbury want those signs out for no more than sixty days before the election, it seems. High-falutin’ Hawthorne does not allow signs up for more than seven days after an election. If you have a political opinion, seems you’re gonna get screwed before or after an election in New Jersey.

I have a high opinion of the fine folks of the ACLU [being a card carrying member myself], and I make no bones about being miffed about laws that prevent people from placing political signs on their own lawns for whatever time period they want. They have been successful before eliminating such silly laws---in Franklin Lakes, for example.

Heck, if it’s your private property, you should be able to put up a political message 24/7/365 for all I care. What about a peace symbol on a flag that hangs year round? What about the American flag that says, ‘we’re a patriotic family’? Is there to be a time period for that, too?

These local ordinances are non-partisan---they have impacted supporters of Barack Obama and Ron Paul. Folks: Political speech knows no time limits. It’s endless.

For the record, I have called Mayor Patrick Botbyl of Hawthorne and Mayor Emilia M. Siciliano of Shrewsbury to see what’s up with the political sign issue. I await their calls, and will report when they do call.