Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 30th, 2010: News Shocker: New Jersey To Eliminate Offices Of Governor And Lieutenant Governor

December 30th, 2010: News Shocker: New Jersey To Eliminate Offices Of Governor And Lieutenant Governor

State Sen. Ray Lesniak is initiating legislation in the Senate that would eliminate the office of Lieutenant Governor and Governor, considering that “the state is working very well while Gov. Christie is in Disneyworld and Lieutenant Governor is in Mexico.”

Two years ago voters in New Jersey approved the creation of the lieutenant governor position as an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, and Republican Kim Guadagno was elected.

Amongst the powers designated to the lieutenant governor under Article V, Section I, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey state Constitution, is the requirement that the lieutenant governor “…stand directly behind the current governor, smiling, as he or she signs or vetoes bills; leave the state of New Jersey to go on vacation when the governor does; cut ribbons at the openings of state parks or the closing of tunnels or bridges…”.

But not everyone thinks that Kim Guadagno is doing her job.

"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). "It's being handled very well by Sen. Sweeney, but you have to really question the purpose of the office."

And a noted New Jersey academic questions the need for the transition of power, and maybe even the need for is the office of governor itself. “The requirement, in an era of instant communication, only adds to political complications when passing down powers”, said Joseph Marbach, a Seton Hall University political science professor. "It's really an antiquated policy. He's not out of contact with people, particularly because of technology," said Marbach, who is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This is a concept that is 200 years old and really doesn't make a lot of sense in the modern era."

In an era of blackberries, e-mail, cell phones and instantaneous communication––does it really matter if we have a governor at all? Maybe it is possible to outsource the needs of our executive branch to a state whose governor does not make as much as Christie does. Christie is amongst the highest paid governors in the nation at $170,000.

“When people run for governor, they know what the salary is,” said Ingrid Reed, political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “They’re not doing it for the money. They’re doing it for the power to do good deeds.”

“We’re trying to cut back in government spending, maybe it’s time to outsource the role of the governor to a state like Maine, where the governor is paid just $70,000. Or maybe outsource to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who takes no salary at all. We can text message our needs to Arnold, and save a great deal of money in the process,” added Lesniak.

In other news, in Florida Gov. Christie was on YouTube yelling at Donald Duck declaring that he was “...unfit to teach values to our children because he wears no pants when he goes out in public.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Festivus, New Jersey!

Happy Festivus, New Jersey!

It's that time of year again to get out your unadorned aluminum pole, and celebrate Festivus.

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday of Festivus, "the holiday, as portrayed in the Seinfeld episode and now celebrated by many, includes practices such as the "Airing of Grievances," which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned.

And so, in the spirit of the holiday of Festivus, I share with you today how people in New Jersey politics have disappointed me over the past year 2010:

Gov. Chris Christie: How could anybody expect this Governor not to be on the list of any Democrat in New Jersey celebrating Festivus?

Losing $400 million in Race To The Top Funding. Vilifying NJEA. Yelling at teachers and reporters. Stopping the ARC Tunnel. List too long to list here. No wonder his tide is turning more than the Jersey Shore's.

Bear Hunters: What's the matter? Hunting and killing Bambi not macho enough for you? So, you need to go after Yogi and Boo-Boo?

State Senator Loretta Weinberg: For not getting elected Lieutenant Governor. I know it is heaven to have you in the Senate where you still give them hell. But, I know as Lieutenant Governor you would have done so much more than just look adoringly over the shoulder of the Governor as he vetoes bills.

Senate President Steve Sweeney: For his abstention on Marriage equality, and lack of leadership in general. Has not lived up to all the leadership hype as of yet, and is pale in comparison to his predecessor. Lots more will
be expected in 2011.

Assemblyman Alex DeCrocce: For his Scrooge-like opinion about the unemployed work force in NJ being lazy: ("I'm one of the few people here ... who feel that benefits are too good for these people,"). And he is the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Leadership Committee? What a moron.

Wally Edge for revealing himself: This is a secret that would have survived just fine, like Dear Abby or the Dread Pirate Roberts.

The entire Republican Congressional Delgation from NJ: For being on the wrong side of history and not voting to repeal "Don't Ask/Don't Tell"---Including my own Congressman Leonard Lance. Land mines don't make distinctions based on sexuality and neither should you. Shame on you all.

The 44 folks indicted for corruption: The electeds and rabbis who went to trial this year did nothing to enhance the reputation of New Jersey corruption, and just served to help the folks who produced "The Soprano State" make some bucks.

Cast of "Jersey Shore", "Real Housewives of New Jersey": Not quite as bad as the Corrupt 44, but you are enablers of the Jersey jokes written for late night hosts Leno, Fallon, Letterman and Ferguson. Snooki, please go back to NY.

Statue of Lou Costello: For not coming to life and making us laugh all year. We needed some good laughs this year, and you were not on First.

Mayor Anna Little: For distorting Frank Pallone's record over and over again in your campaign for Congress. And for your wacky ideas on governance.

Future Ex-Congressman John Adler: For voting against the healthcare bill because he thought it would give him a win in the second term; and for having a hand (if true) in running a fake Tea Party candidate. While I was proud of State Senator Adler, Congressman John Adler disappointed me.

The entire New Jersey population at large: Over the last decade New Jersey's population grew, but at a rate much more slowly then either Texas or Florida. I am very disappointed that the New Jersey population could not distract itself more often from watching the Jets or Giants, reading the Star-Ledger or the Asbury Park Press or listening to Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce long enough to schtup more often to increase your numbers. Now the very Republican states of Texas and Florida will have more influence in Congress.

And I am sure you can add your own.

Now, on to 2011, and the Feats of Strength. Between being a legislative election year, and a year we lose a Congressman, we will need all the strength we can muster.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hero Extraordinaire and Mensch of The Year

December 12, 2010: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hero Extraordinaire and Mensch of The Year

Since1992, Bernie Sanders has been on my list of heroes along with such people as Ralph Nader, Thurgood Marshall, and my dad, Bernie Novick.

I first met Bernie on the streets of Burlington, Vermont ––when he was running for Congress early in the summer of 1992. I was up in Burlington, playing a comedy club and Bernie was campaigning on the streets of the town where he was Mayor from 1981 to 1989. He approached me with a big smile, and in his Brooklyn accent asked me where I stood on the issues impacting the state. When I told him I was not from Vermont but from Brooklyn, he chatted me up anyway.

I asked him for one of his campaign buttons for my dad–– (Bernie was so well known in Vermont that his button just had one word on it ––“Bernie”). I told him my dad was named “Bernie” and was also from Brooklyn, and he said to m
e, “Then he must be a good man!”

Years before, I had read about Bernie in a New York Times Sunday Magazine section article about
the “only self-described socialist mayor in the United States”. The article went on to describe how Bernie had been born in Brooklyn, and moved to Vermont and ran for mayor and beat out more well-funded Democratic and Republican candidates. Through his success as mayor in revitalizing Burlington’s downtown and his personal popularity, he served several terms.

After meeting Bernie that summer in 1992, I decided to support him in his race for Congress. And so, I organized a comedy show benefit that included myself, comedians Scott Blakeman and Henriette Mantell. The Sanders for Congress campaign arranged a location at a club in Brattleboro for October 14, 1992 (which happened to be the night of the Gore quail Stockdale vice presidential debate).

Scott is a wonderful political comedian who has worked for free for good political causes for many years. Henriette is someone you may know from The Brady Bunch movie, where she played Alice the Maid, and from her work as the co–producer of the documentary on Ralph Nader, “An Unreasonable Man”.

The comedy show only raised about $7000––but they told me that that was a sensational amount for any congressional race in Vermont.

I am still a strong supporter of Pres. Barack Obama, although I am disappointed in his continuation of several of the Bush policies including not closing Guantánamo, sending more troops to Afghanistan to lengthen that senseless war, and continuing the Bush tax cuts. Bernie Sanders has been on the right side of these issues since the very beginning.

And so, for his unwavering dedication to do the right thing and take a stand––even for eight and a half hours in his recent filibuster––I award Bernie Sanders the Mensch of The Year 2010.

By the way, he gave me the Bernie campaign button, which we have to this day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

538 Ways To Live, Work, And Play Like A Liberal

As a standup comedian and political activist, I traveled the tea party circuit in New Jersey, and around the country to collect the grist for my comedy mill. I am often with conservative, libertarian Republicans, tea party people and right-wing extremist looney tunes people that would make Christine O'Donnell look normal.

So it is a pleasure when I get to hang out with creative, critical thinking liberal progressive Democrats.

I had the opportunity of meeting Justin Krebs for the first time about two years ago at his theater The Tank in New York City. I had heard a lot about Justin over the years as the producer of “Laughing Liberally”, a comedy production that traveled the country featuring some of the most outstanding left of center political comedians in the nation.

However, the first time I got a chance to really sit down and talk to Justin, was at the Netroots Nation Conference last year in Pittsburgh and this year in Nevada. I was very pleased to hear but he put down his thoughts about being a liberal in the book: “538 Ways To Live, Work, And Play Like A Liberal”.

Right now he is traveling the country joining Drinking Liberally groups around the nation promoting his book. As Justin says, “if we're going to succeed as a country, and as a society, we need to understand we're all in this together. Being liberal is the belief that were better off when we live for each other then when we live only for ourselves and it is the only philosophy that can change the world for the better.” An excellent thought from a critical thinking liberal.

Some of the tips in Justin's book include:

  • Watch MSNBC instead of Fox news
  • Where the flag with pride
  • Make progressive financial investments
  • Support liberal businesses
  • Embrace a political conversation with a relative rather than avoid it
  • Bring independent films to a local movie theater
  • Start a Drinking Liberally chapter and try some of the group's signature drinks

Well, that's only seven of the total 538. You've got 531 more to go in this great book of tips. Maybe you can get the book for a conservative libertarian friend for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, or a birthday.

The book is available on Amazon.com here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No News Corp Is Good News Corp


10.25.10: No News Corp Is Good News Corp

As many people in New Jersey know, the Fox channel has been off the air in many homes because its parent company News Corp. and Cablevision have not been able to agree on payment issues. That has voters turning to elected officials and candidates to see what they are doing to make Fox available.

Scott Sipprelle originally misheard what the problem is and thought that it was "lox" that was unavailable. He immediately held a press conference in East Brunswick condemning Rush Holt and his liberal policies for impeding small businesses from providing a sufficient supply of smoked salmon.


Gov. Chris Christie went right to the microphones blaming President Obama and Washington bureaucrats for impeding the airing of Fox. When Christie was then told that it’s a dispute between two private companies, he quickly hired Bret Schundler as a telecommunications czar and then immediately fired him.


Aides to Senate President Steve Sweeney indicated that it wasn’t a top priority for him, considering that Sweeney’s television programs are preselected by Chris Christie. “One of Christie’s people comes over to my house on the weekends and sets up my DVR for the whole week,” Sweeney said. “It’s so nice not having to make decisions about what to watch.”


Senator Michael Doherty quickly became the public face of the TEA Party movement, otherwise known as the Television Enough Already group. “None of the Founding Fathers ever watched television,” Doherty said while encouraging people to instead read the Federalist Papers at night by candlelight.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno came out with the following statement: “Hi, I’m Kim Guadagno and I’m the Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey.”


Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver was originally on Cablevision’s side, but then she found out that Joe DiVincenzo likes watching reruns of “The Office” in the evening so she switched her position to backing Fox.


Anna Little indicated that Fox would have been able to pay the higher fees that Cablevision wants if “Fox didn’t have to pay for the exorbitant medical bills for its employees that Obamacare mandates thanks to Frank Pallone.”


Here’s hoping we can get this problem resolved quickly before the NJEA starts to get blamed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

9.16.10 New reality show this Fall “Snooki and The Mayor”

New reality show this Fall “Snooki and The Mayor”


Follow the hilarious romp when an Italian girl from the other side of the tunnel in
Marlboro, New York develops a twitter relationship with the African-American Mayor of Newark!

It’s the first TwitCom of the new Twitter season! Here is just a Twitter sample of the wacky crazy laughs you’ll get each week:

"Ugh stuck in newark traffic is no fun...Omg why I got a stick shift I will never know. Stop and go traffic I'm killen myself here
:( "
-- Snooki tweets

"Snooki! I'm the mayor where R U so I can give u a ticket 4 texting & driving we needs revenue!"
-- tweet from Newark mayor Cory Booker

Is that wacky or what!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio proclaims “Bret Schundler Day”

“Today is a day that is stupendous, for all of Ohio–––and all its descendants,” announced Gov. Ted Strickland in proclaiming today, September 3, officially “Bret Schundler Day” in the Buckeye State.

The former education commissioner of the state of New Jersey may be reviled in the Garden State, but in Ohio he is a hero to the several hundred thousand children of the Ohio school system.

Last week, because of the actions of
Schundler, Ohio will receive $400 million from the Obama administration to improve schools. “Screw Justin Bieber,” said 11-year-old Jessica Lynn Grant of Columbus, Ohio. “Mr. Schundler is my new hero––because of him we don't have to lose cheerleading, or after school lacrosse. He's cool.”

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Ohio was among nine states and the District of Columbia that will receive funding in the second round of the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” competition. Other winners include Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

A principal from a middle school in Dayton, Ohio––who wished to remain anonymous––had a similar opinion: “… the schools here usually suck. But Mr. Schundler's actions will allow our schools to suck just a little bit less this year. And I don't have to give up my raise or vacation.”

The governor continued reading from the proclamation he had just signed:

Whereas Bret Schundler has long been known as having a commitment to the education of the children of Ohio and;

Whereas it was his actions alone that enabled Ohio to finish 10th in the
“Race to the Top” federal funding for education competition and;

Whereas his actions enabled the Buckeye State to receive $400 million to help hire teachers, provide scholarships for students, and keep our schools open;

Therefore, it is in great recognition of the fine contribution Bret Schundler has made to the state of Ohio for all of our students and teachers; I proclaim today September 3, 2010 “Bret Schundler Day”.

Schundler really helped bring bucks to the Buckeye state," finished the governor with a little smirk.Gov. Christie's office in New Jersey could not be reached for comment.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Cost of Incompetence

Candidate Chris Christie made a point over and over again about his fight against corruption in New Jersey government as US attorney. And Gov. Chris Christie made it a point to vilify, bully, and denigrate the teachers of the NJEA.

He even made a joke about it when questioned by Star-Ledger reporter Tom Moran. Doesn't seem quite as funny now, does the governor Christie?


  • Gov. Chris Christie asked the teachers in New Jersey to give up their pay raises.
  • Gov. Chris Christie asked New Jersey voters last April to vote against their local school budgets.
  • Gov. Chris Christie took a hard stand against the NJEA and all that organization did for the past who knows how many years to make New Jersey schools the best schools in the country.

And what did Chris Christie give back for all he asked? Incompetence.

$400 million. For that same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

5200 Elementary School Teachers for One Year.

Or 44,600 Head Start Slots for Children for One Year.

Or the 33,706 University Scholarships for High School Students for One Year.

So Gov. Christie, when Tom Moran asks you about your administration's incompetence and what that means for the citizens of New Jersey, are you going to laugh about that, too?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

US Department of Education reveals real reason why New Jersey lost “Race to the Top” funding: Gov. Christie was on “steroids”.

It seems that baseball is not the only American pastime plagued with steroids these days: US Department of Education spokesperson Grant Handley revealed today the real reason why New Jersey lost out on $700 million in educational funding: “it's obvious from the mistakes in this application, and the way it was hurried down to DC from New Jersey that it was obviously prepared by someone on steroids. And that someone is Gov. Chris Christie.

Under US Department of Education funding federal statutes, it is “illegal to use any substance such as steroids, narcotics, or perception enhancing drugs when preparing an application for any type of federal funding.” Ironically, this law was signed by Pres. George W. Bush––the man who appointed Chris Christie to be US attorney.

Mr. Handley made note that this was not the first time that it was observed that Chris Christie may have been on performance enhancing steroids. Like Roger Clemens when he threw a bat at Met catcher
Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, steroids can cause “rage, irritation, extreme arrogance and lashing out at others on a regular basis. With the New Jersey governor's attitude towards the NJEA, small towns and suburbs and most recently Justice Wallace of the Supreme Court––it's obvious that the governor has been suffering from steroid rage for a long time.”

Other evidence of governors use is his enormous “bulking up”––similar to the way baseball homerun hitters Barry Bonds and
Mark McGwire looked after many years of being on steroids. “You don't look you don't look that ‘bulked up’ from just eating food,” said a source inside the governor's office, who wished to remain anonymous.

Other evidence of the governor's use of steroids in the past was his blaming on Commissioner of Education
Bret Schundler for a “compromise” he made with the NJEA back in June during the first round of “Race to the Top” educational funding. Back then, he hid his steroid use by saying of Schundler, "I’m sure we’ll have disagreements in the future. Hopefully we’ll just handle them a little differently,”--after which he flew into a steroid rage.

Handley pointed out that last fall Christie flew into a steroid rage in front of Congress, when he was giving testimony. He left in a hurry, saying that he had to “catch a train and get back to New Jersey.”








Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Congressman Lance: “yada yada yada… tax cuts… yada yada yada… Republican ‘no’ votes"

Last night I went to the town hall meeting of my congressman, Leonard Lance. Unlike, the summer town hall meetings of 2009, this was rather tame by comparison.

First of all, I want to say that I like Leonard Lance very much. When I was on Borough Council in Flemington, he was always extraordinarily helpful getting us much-needed financial support from the state for roads and other municipal projects. Back then, State Sen. Lance would have no problem getting “earmarks” for those in his district. But now, Congressman Lance toes the Republican line against such earmarks. Oh, what a difference a few years and a larger district makes.

I expected that there would be many Tea Party people taking the Congressman to task on his Cap and Trade vote––but I guess that issue is mostly over since the June primary. Back then, three separate Tea Party candidates failed to garner even a majority of the vote to oust Lance. So there were conservative Tea Party people there at the Town Hall meeting, who had only supportive questions for the congressman. The only time I heard them peep or squawk was when a Democrat got up to ask a question and expressed support for Obama,––then there were boos and hisses. They were rude bunch to say the least.

There's no question about it---after seeing him last night---Congressman Lance is very different from State Sen. Lance. State Sen. Lance is the person who bucked his own party by voting against a pension bond scheme by then Gov. and family friend Christie Todd Whitman. He also was the person as Sen. Lance to sue then Governor Jim McGreevy over borrowing money for the state without voter approval.

I got a chance to ask him if he had to do it over again, would he support Cap and Trade this time around. His answer: "No, I would not.” His answer, however, did not surprise me––because he flip-flopped on this issue mostly under pressure from the right wing of his party. What did surprise me is his reason for flip-flopping on the issue: He said that the reason why he would not vote for Cap and Trade again is because “the Obama administration did a poor job of negotiating in Copenhagen”, and he wasn't willing to take on the responsibility for the United States to deal with this issue alone. Of course, the follow-up question I should've asked had I thought of it would have been, “so Congressman, had the Obama administration negotiated successfully in Copenhagen then you would still be supporting Cap and Trade?”

And so, Congressman Lance “yada yada yada’d” his way through questions about his “no” votes on job creation, consumer protection against Wall Street's schemes, and his switch on Cap and Trade. I believe that he is still one of the few Republicans who was moderate in his heart, but has become conservative in his “political brain”.

As long as the seventh District has to have a Republican in Congress, I wish we had the old Leonard Lance back. He was a maverick, he was independent, and voted his own mind. Unfortunately, we may not see that Leonard Lance again for a while––if at all.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Anna Little is now following me on Twitter! And boy, am I excited!

This morning, I awoke to the following e-mail:

“Anna Little is now following your tweets on Twitter. A little information about Anna Little: 2380 following. 2306 followers.”

Now, while that doesn't seem to me like a really great number of Twitter “followers” for someone running for Congress. However, I really shouldn't talk. I have a mere 277 followers, and I follow 522 people. I don't know what it says about you if you are following twice as many people as are following you––I do feel kind of like a very unpopular high school geek. But, I digress.

Waaaaaay back at the beginning of the summer in June, on New Jersey Primary Day, Anna Little was outspent, out–gunned and out-media-ed by her billionaire primary opponent, Diane Gooch for the right to run against Frank Pallone for Congress in NJ-6. Gooch spent $200,574 on her campaign, more than ten times as much as Little spent, after raising $432,902. Little won the nomination on a literal shoestring budget of $19,503. So it goes.

Little, under her Twitter feed, lists the following bio:

“I am a Constitutional Conservative running for Congress to beat Frank Pallone in #NJ6 and resist the progressive agenda. It's time to take our Country back!”

Notice that she capitalizes the words ‘constitutional’ and ‘conservative’, and “country”–––like she owns them. Like they are hers. Like she has had them trademarked and no one else can use them. I'm surprised she doesn't have a little “TM” in a circle next to each word.

However, she fails to capitalize The Words “progressive” or “agenda”. Oh, she does properly capitalize the words “Frank” and “Pallone”.

Before the primary way back in June, I asked AFP president Steve Lonegan for a prediction––and he correctly predicted that Little would beat Gooch.
So, I offered him the following bet––which he took: if Little wins, then I write a check to AFP for $100. However, if Frank Pallone wins, then Steve writes a check for $100 to the ACLU-NJ.

And so, now I will begin to follow Anna Little on Twitter because they tell me that it's only courteous that if someone follows you, you should follow them right back.

My prediction: the ACLU of New Jersey will be $100 richer in November.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What Their Side Says----

Now you may have thought that the only people from Their Side who say wacky things are Michael Patrick Carroll, Steve Lonegan and Michael Doherty, but nooooo. Here are others---What Their Side Says...

A congressional candidate in Alabama, Rick Barber, a self-described tea party adherent, claims in a new advertisement that the health law amounts to "slavery," reports, in a separate story. "In his latest ad, the tea party candidate is speaking with a revived Abraham Lincoln.

'Hey Abe,' Barber says, 'if someone is forced to work for months to pay taxes so that a total stranger can get a free meal, a medical procedure or a bailout, what's that called?' Before Lincoln answers, Barber cuts in to ask: 'What's it called when one man is forced to work for another?' 'Slavery,' Lincoln says.”

"Barber will face Martha Roby in a runoff on July 13 for the GOP nomination to oppose incumbent Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright (D) in November." Barber defended his ad, which also included Nazi imagery, saying "Somebody has to say this. When Hitler took power, no one wanted to think that the Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jewish people, was possible. I'm saying that you have to recognize and name tyranny when you see it", according to MSNBC.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Great way to clean out your basement

Great way to clean out your basement

I had the opportunity of interviewing David Larsen, the guy who scored the most points against Leonard Lance in the seventh Congressional District in the primary. Larsen told me that he showed up one day at Lance's district office in Flemington with 50 or so “flip-flops” nailed to a board––to represent Lance’s “flip-flop” votes in Congress. Larson videotaped that for his website––and I must say Lance's staff was very patient.

A few weeks later Democratic
Congressional candidate Ed Potosnak came to Lance's office with a box full of munchkins to represent Lance's vote on closing the doughnut hole a Medicare payments––I think.

So this gave me an idea: what a great way to clean out crap from your basement! All you need is an incumbent candidate running for office, some crap from your basement you’re trying to get rid of, and a good bull should reason for dropping off that stuff that the office. And–voilĂ ! –You’re in business.

Let's say, for example, you have one of those Stairmaster™ exercise machines in your house that's become just a place to hang dirty laundry. You can drop it off at, let's say, Congressman Scott Garrett's office––and proudly declare, “Garrett has to step up and start working for the people––not just for himself!”


That might work.

Or your aunt Edna sent you a fruitcake for Christmas but you're still trying to get rid of. All you need to do is drop it off at Sen. Gerald Cardinale’s office in Cresskill, while passionately stating, “the senator’s votes on marriage equality make him as nutty as a fruitcake.”

Suppose you have an old ugly green paisley un-upholstered chair that you purchased at a yard sale and it has been in your basement for about seven years, (we had such a chair)––maybe you could leave it off at Sen. Michael Doherty’s office fiercely stating, “Since winning a seat in the Senate, Doherty’s votes are all worn out. And green and paisley.”

Well maybe some of them don't work perfectly, but you get the idea. I'm sure they’re are others.

Monday, June 7, 2010

At the Right Conference this time.

The last two political conferences I went to were the Americans for Prosperity national conference in Pittsburgh--and then the Americans for Prosperity conference in New Jersey last March. As a fat, old, bearded guy--I think I fit in very well with the right wing folks--and that enables me to walk amongst them, eat with them, and ask them questions about their politics. In a way, I feel inspired by Dian Fossey and her experience with the gorillas of Rwanda. She ate with them, walked amongst them, and watch them mate ---for more than a year to get a sense of what they were like. You probably saw the movie Gorillas in the Mist. Well, I tried to do everything she did--except watch the right wing mate. But now, I feel more at home.

I drove down from New Jersey this morning to Washington DC to attend the Take Back America conference, which is a gathering of 800 or so progressives--and there is quite a difference from when this group gathered in 2008. Back then, we had a president who strongly favored offshore oil drilling, we were entrenched in a quagmire both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Americans were very upset about the bailing of the financial industry.. But today, things are different: we have a president who favors offshore oil drilling, we are entrenched in a quagmire both in Iraq and Afghanistan and more Americans are more upset about bailing out of the financial industry. So, for progressives the more things change the more they remain the same.

At this conference, the "Take Back America" was subtitled "The America's Future Now! Conference."

Now, with a president who was selected on a progressive platform, the issue for most of the people here was: How do you hold the Democrats and Pres. Obama accountable for the platform that helped him get elected? Especially in an environment with a bad economy and Tea Party people ready to vote all incumbents out of office?

That seems to be the big question that everyone here will be trying to answer over the next 2 1/2 days.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TV Time

Before I knew that I suffered from severe ADD, I watch lots of television usually 6-7 hours a day was the norm for me. My earliest conscious memory was at the age of three, asking my mother when she was completely asleep at 530 in the morning if I could watch television in the living room. These really old black-and-white cartoons went on at 6 AM -- and if I got there early enough I could catch the last 15 minutes of a show called "The Modern Farmer". This show was on between 5 AM and 6 AM and it taught farmers had to use modern methods to increase their crop production, take care of their livestock, etc. It never occurred to me at the time as to why such a show was running on a station in Brooklyn, New York.

Anyway, I got into the regular habit of watching too much television way too early. Two hours in the morning before breakfast. Two hours right after school. An hour are or so during dinner and three hours (at least) at night. My parents used to punish me by forcing me to cut back my television watching to just four hours per day -- -- a horrible fate for me.

Anything you see on Nick at night or TV land from the 1960s was what I watched with devotion and religious fervor. The benefit for me later in life: I became an outstanding player in the TV version of Trivial Pursuit. But that is another story.

Needless to say, between ADD and TV I did not read much.

So in the seventh grade at JHS 278, Mrs. Lichtenstein assigned us books to read over the Christmas holiday season. Two weeks to read a book and do an oral report on the first day after vacation. Mentally, to me that was like climbing Mount Everest. Mrs. Lichtenstein was of German background -- -- she never smiled, gave too much homework and had a stare that could melt lead. To my friend Chris, she gave "To Kill a Mockingbird". To Deborah, she gave some book about a dancer who died. To me, she gave “Fail-Safe". The thinnest book on the shelf. It was about 200 pages long and I had two weeks to read it. Work out the math yourself ---when Mrs. Lichtenstein handed me the book, she said sternly, "10 minute oral book report on January 3, Mr. Novick," I hate being called Mr. Novick -- -- even more than being called Joseph.

So, “
Fail-Safe" stayed on my dresser for the first week of the vacation totally untouched. And then one morning I picked it up. An offshoot of severe ADD was severe procrastination. I thumbed through it, read about a paragraph from one page -- -- "... the president was silent after the news...". And I promptly put it down again.

For the next seven days the vision of dread grew larger and larger in my 12-year-old head. At Day Seven, it appeared in the distance like a small dark cloud on the horizon. Each day it grew longer and larger and greater in focus. By Day Three, it became a large dark gray menacing face blotting out everything in the sky. The night before it was the only thing in the sky I could see.

The night before the first day of school after vacation, I was watching TV, of course. And as I thumbed through the TV Guide, -- -- there it was on Channel 9. WOR -- TV. The Late Late Show at 3:15 AM: “
Fail-Safe" the movie. In glorious black and white. "...a 1964 film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler…”. Hey, Burdick and Wheeler? These were the same guys whose name was on the book that I had up in my room. I could do this. I could watch it take notes and give a 10 minute oral book report. There was a God.

So, promptly at 3:10 AM, I woke myself up, snuck into the living room and turn on the TV. My parents’ bedroom door was closed. And I covered my head and the TV screen with a big towel to keep excess light and sound from creeping out of the living room. I set as close as I could to the screen to keep the sound down as low as possible. As close as I was to the screen, the light from the TV could've been very good for my eyes.

There were too many late-night commercials I thought. I tried my best to stay awake and get enough of the gist of the movie. I took notes and sloppy handwriting that I hoped I could recognize the next day.

January 3: we were to do our book reports just after lunch. My heart was pounding solidly in my chest. I felt like Mrs. Lichtenstein stare was burning a hole in my head the entire morning. Chris went first and stumbled through "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- -- he was thorough but nervous. Maybe his nervousness would take the edge off of Mrs. Lichtenstein when I spoke. And then, Mrs. Lichtenstein said, “ Mr. Novick – Fail Safe please.”

I slowly walked to the front of the room, with my notes in my hand I turned and looked at Mrs. Lichtenstein -- -- I made my first mistake -- I felt cocky so I "smirked". Perhaps that smirk did me in.

“Fail Safe is the story of how the United States accidentally dropped an atomic bomb on Moscow, and the president was unable to stop it and order the plane back....". My second mistake at this point was looking over to Mrs. Lichtenstein. That second look lead her to read my body language to tell her that something was wrong.

As I began to continue to read my notes, Mrs. Lichtenstein asked me The Question: "Mr. Novick, in Fail Safe who played the president?". And then my mouth acted completely on its own: "Henry Fonda,". I tried to continue, but she just stopped me. How was I to know that Mrs. Lichtenstein read TV Guide also?

Well anyway, Mrs. Lichtenstein sent a note home with me to get my parents. They force me to read Fail-Safe from cover to cover and get a written report. And you're what I discovered? The book was actually better than the movie -- -- no commercials. And I did get punished -- -- just four hours a night of TV for the next week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes

The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes

Political comedy is tough. You are always going to offend someone, but these folks don’t seem to mind. And the shelf life a political comedy joke can sometimes be less than 24 hours. But these guys endeavor to do their best work as soon as CNN, the New York Times, or Glenn Beck reports the news.

America is blessed by having several late-night common show hosts who also offer outstanding political comedy. Jay Leno, Bill Mahr, Jon Stewart, and and even Jimmy Fallon sometimes gets into the act, channeling his former role as the cohost of news update on SNL. But the best political comedian out there today on TV has got to be Lewis Black. So you can decide for yourself, here are the top 10 political humor lines from last week.

10 --"There's speculation that the 1,000-point drop in the Dow may have been sparked by a typo, where someone entered 'billion' instead of 'million' on a trading order. Economists are saying a single letter hasn't caused this many problems since the letter 'Dubya.'" —Jimmy Fallon

9- "At a stop in Buffalo today, a woman walks up to President Obama and says, 'You're a hottie with a smokin' little body .' She said that to the president of the United States. I tell you, Betty White is out of control." —Jay Leno

8-"This oil spill in the Gulf is affecting everybody. In fact, when I went to lunch this weekend and ordered the sea bass, they asked if I wanted it regular or unleaded." —David Letterman

7-"British Petroleum said today that if this spill gets worse, they may soon have to start drilling for water." —Jay Leno

6-"Dick Cheney's pals at Halliburton ... say they're going to do the underwater cement job to plug the hole. I thought, wait a minute, this is a mistake. Underwater cement? You call the mafia. Am I right?" —David Letterman

5-"The oil company said it was the rig company's fault. The rig company said it was Halliburton. And somehow, each time they passed the blame, Goldman Sachs made a hundred million dollars." —Bill Maher

4-"We're still dropping things on it. This is like if your toilet overflowed and you tried to fix it by smashing it with a brick. Their next idea is to get the old lady from Titanic and she's going to throw her jewelry at it." —Bill Maher, on the oil spill in the Gulf

3-"Well, in Colorado one of the gubernatorial candidates has taken out a Craigslist ad to find a running mate. Is that a good idea? Hey, it didn't work when John McCain tried it." —Jay Leno

2-"Good news from the world of publishing. Sarah Palin , former governor of Alaska, has a new book coming out this fall. The warning came from an alert T-shirt vendor." —David Letterman

1-On Glenn Beck's complaints that critics of Arizona's immigration are making Nazi comparisons: "Glenn Beck is offended! Glenn Beck thinks playing the Nazi card is going too far. Glenn Beck — this is a guy who uses more Swastika props and video of the Nuremberg rallies than the History Channel." —Lewis Black, in a brilliant Daily Show rant in which he demonstrated that Glenn Beck has "Nazi Tourette's “

"It's 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except there's just one degree, and Kevin Bacon is Hitler. Can I play? Let's see. Mother Teresa had a mustache. Hitler had a mustache. Mother Teresa is Hitler!" —Lewis Black, on Glenn Beck's frequent use of Nazi analogies.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Take My Mother in Law, Please

Apparently in the state of New Jersey it is perfectly okay to poke fun at your mother in law, but not your former law firm. In two separate cases, we find out some very interesting information about the First Amendment as applied in New Jersey.

A federal judge threw out a defamation suit against comedian Sunda Croonquist, ruling effectively that her Jewish mother-in-law jokes are “opinions and thus protected by the First Amendment.” The judge described her jokes, although tinged with “racism”, as merely "colorful, figurative rhetoric". It makes one wonder if Judge Mary Cooper would have felt the same way if the jokes were about lawyers -- -- -- and judges.

Croonquist’s background serves as the basis for her comedy -- -- she is the product of a black mother and a Swedish father -- -- she was given a Hindu name and attended a white Catholic school in Patterson. Well, we can see that there are yuks aplenty there.

And, of course, to complete her comedy career she had to, of course, marry into a Jewish family -- -- so she can have a Jewish mother-in-law to make fun of. But her mother-in-law, Ruth Zafrin, was none too happy with being the center of Croonquist’s barbs. The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in 2009 alleging defamation, false light and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress -- -- not to mention unjust enrichment. I have not seen Croonquist’s name listed into many comedy clubs in New Jersey, so I'm not quite sure exactly how much she's being "enriched" by her Jewish jokes about her mother-in-law.

Ironically, Ruth’s filing of this lawsuit most likely drew more attention to what she was trying to stop -- -- and made Croonquist more popular in the process. Good going Ruth!

In another case, a federal judge in Trenton refused to dismiss a suit by Levinson Axelrod against a former associate who set up a website to trash the firm. The site put up by former employee
Edward Heyburn -- "Levinson Axelrod Really Sucks" -- -- compelled Levinson Axelrod to believe that the use of the name in the title of the website would cause confusion about whether or not it was connected with the firm. Yes, I'm sure that's the case, when people read a website that says ‘this law firm really sucks’, they're going to think it's just a way of generating a business for their lawyers. Really.

Heyburn, on the website, bashes his former law firm, celebrates the firm's losses in court," has fun with the firm's own promotional videos by overdubbing. Sounds like he's protected by the First Amendment to me.

Anyway, perhaps Heyburn and Croonquist should get together and exchange notes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Guys Talkin' Sports

Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran: Some people may think that these two lawyers have way too much time on their hands. Others might think that maybe their getting their signals crossed. But maybe if you're a Jets fan, you'd like to see these two guys on the front line next fall.

These two NJ lawyers---one of them a Jets season ticket holder---filed a lawsuit arising from the New England Patriots' secret videotaping of New York Jets coaches in a game at Giants Stadium in 2007. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard oral arguments Wednesday.

I would certainly imagine that President Obama will be watching the results of this case and the Solomon-like judicial prudence of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as they ponder what to do for lawyers and Jets fans Mayer and Afran.

The Patriots were caught taping signals by Jets coaches, a violation of league rules, during the opening game of the 2007 season. New England won 38-14 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.

Mayer and Afran assert that the Patriots' actions "violated the contractual expectations and rights of New York Jets ticket-holders" who paid to watch a game played in compliance with the league's rules; that teams that participate can't commit fraud on ticket holders; and that "the Patriots violated federal racketeering laws as well as New Jersey's consumer protection laws by concealing material facts-the existence of the videotaping-from paying customers."

I am certainly sure that this will make for better relations between the Garden State and Massachusetts, also.

The lawsuit asserts that fans should be compensated for all games played in Giants Stadium between the Jets and Patriots since Belichick became head coach in 2000---and that fans are entitled to triple that amount-or $184.8 million in compensation. Earlier U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown Jr. in Trenton dismissed the case when he ruled that a ticket seller only contracts to provide entry to a ticket holder "to view whatever event transpires."

Mayer and Afran have been to court many times before ---unsuccessfully---to try to get McGreevy to leave office, and to try to get then Governor-elect Corzine, upon assumption of office, from appointing someone to fill the balance of his Senate term.

At one time Mayer ran in a primary against Rush Holt for Congress---and lost. And, no, Mayer did not sue Congressman Holt when he failed to win the primary.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010 Putz of the Week and Mensch of the Week

Last summer, "Jersey Shore” introduced America to Snookie, Mike the Situation and J-WOWW. These folks helped make Jersey Shore the top Thursday night prime-time show for viewers ages 12 to 34. And now they're going global.

Viacom is planning to take the show to more than 30 countries around the world -- -- including Portugal, France and Italy. This is exactly what New Jersey needs to enhance its reputation from Europe to the Pacific Rim. Gee, thanks Viacom.

It's almost certain that the only folks who will benefit from this expansion will be the cast themselves -- -- reportedly now making more than $10,000 per episode. Maybe Jersey Shore will be more popular in France than Jerry Lewis. For all their efforts, in helping the world see New Jersey through the eyes of the folks on Jersey Shore, Viacom is our Putz of the Week.

I have lived in Hunterdon County for more than 20 years. I served on the Borough Council in the county seat of Flemington from 1994 to 2006. And I served as the county chairman of the Democratic Party for two terms. I attended many freeholder meetings, wrote newspaper editorials criticizing the County government, and ran campaigns for many County candidates. But now, I need to give our county government kudos for a really great accomplishment.

New Jersey Foundation for Open Government is an organization dedicated to an open and transparent government. In the interest of complete disclosure, I sat on their state board for two years.

During 2009, NJFOG and Common Cause worked together to develop a checklist of government information that should be readily available on the web. And they awarded Hunterdon County with a certificate that placed the county at the top of a survey on how much open-government information counties provide on their web sites.

So, for their commitment to open government, transparency, and a very accessible website for the residents of our County, this week our Mensch of the Week is the Hunterdon County government.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stop screaming. You’ll wake up the neighbors

If you're a local town mayor in New Jersey and you think that screaming about the impact Christie’s budget cuts will have on your town is an issue, it seems that “…screaming too loud during sex can get you or your partner arrested in New Jersey."

Yes, really.

It seems that in an appeals court ruling that was handed down on Monday, the judges said the “screaming reported by a neighbor gave police an ‘objectively reasonable basis’ to believe that a limited investigation was necessary”---to see if everything was OK in the home. I should it say it was OK. Well, at least for the partner screaming, I guess.

The police entered the home to see what the fuss and screaming was about, and saw marijuana and drug paraphernalia in plain view----leading to the arrest of the folks. Oh, well. Maybe they should have claimed it was ‘medical marijuana’ and he was giving her a special treatment. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17th, 2010 The Day New Jersey Stood Still

March 17th, 2010 The Day New Jersey Stood Still

It was like the plot from the 1950s science fiction movie: An alien (first Republican elected state-wide in very Blue New Jersey in 12 years) with his mighty robot (Big Budget Ax) land their spacecraft in State Capital Trenton. We need to say, "Klaatu barada nikto!" before it's too late.

They bring an important message to the State that he wishes to tell to representatives of the entire State. However, communication turns out to be difficult, so, after learning something about the natives, he decides on an alternative approach. He lives amongst us, and he reveals himself, along with the news that Big Budget Ax is a member of a race of super-robot enforcers invented to keep the budget of the State in check--- that will destroy the State if provoked.

Some of the major proposals in Republican Un-Governor Chris Christie's 2011 budget:

Education:

— Reduces state aid to primary and secondary K-12 schools by $820 million. Schools will lose up to 5 percent of their budgets. Districts where state aid is less than 5 percent will lose all that aid.

— Reduces state aid to colleges and universities by $175 million; eliminates aid to independent universities.

Property Taxes:

— Eliminates rebates for everyone in 2010.

— Gives reduced rebates to senior citizens, the disabled and low-income wage earners in April of 2011.

— Allows no one additional to join the "senior freeze" program, which lets low-income senior and disabled citizens lock in their property tax rates when they enroll.

— Proposes that rebate checks be converted to automatic property tax credits.

— Proposes that a 2.5 percent cap on property taxes be enacted for towns and schools. If towns or schools want to exceed the cap, they must get voter approval.

Income Taxes:

— Reduces the state tax credit for lower-income workers known as the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent from 25 percent of the federal benefits. The eligibility would remain the same, but the credit would be lower.

Health Care:

— As of July 1, allows no more adults can enroll in the NJ FamilyCare program. The program offers free or subsidized health insurance coverage to low-income children and their parents.

— Closes two state-run hospitals, Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner — one of four such state-run facilities in the state — and Vineland-West Hospital.

Layoffs:

— Approximately 1,300 state workers will face layoffs beginning in January. It is unclear how many of those are union workers and when the layoffs will occur.

Pensions:

— Skips a $3 billion pension payment to a system that is already underfunded by $46 billion.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14, 2010 Governor Christie Cuts The Day to Just 23 Hours

Governor Christie Cuts The Day to Just 23 Hours

In yet another Executive Order sure to rile clock and calendar makers, Governor Chris Christie issued Executive Order 247, cutting back an hour a day from the days in New Jersey.

“This will save New Jersey residents 365 hours every year, and at least $7.25 per hour per resident ----roughly a total of $23,067,361,250.00 for our state coffers. That’s a lot, I think,” said the spokesman for the governor.

Democratic legislative leadership vowed to request the New Jersey Supreme Court to issue a stay to the
Executive Order 247, and have the “Order only effect just Sunday, March 14,” and “to get the hour back by the fall in November.” This order particularly irked the Democratic leadership because of the governor signing the order to take place "between 2AM and 3AM" Sunday morning, "while New Jersey residents slept".

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 247

WHEREAS, the State of New Jersey (“State”) is confronting an unprecedented temporal crisis affecting all levels of government; and

WHEREAS, actual and anticipated time spent and utilized by the State continue to fall far below the amounts estimated in the Temporal Year 2010

NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

That ONE-HOUR per day shall be removed from the days in New Jersey, commencing Sunday, March 14th, 2009.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Funny Democrat and a Funny Republican come together for a good cause.

President Obama and Senator McCain may not have gotten along at the Health Care Reform Summit. And Governor Christie may have his sights set on the NJ budget woes that will sure to flare up with Senate President Steve Sweeney.

But, Republicans and Democrats can work together to work on helping raise funds for a good cause.


Stand Up Against Hunger is a fund raising event hosted by Elijah’s Promise to abate hunger in the community of New Brunswick. The one time comedy show will help raise funds for the soup kitchen.

The event boasts two featured comedians me, Joey Novick (Democrat) and Republican Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (‘Funniest Lawyer in New Jersey’) with special guest appearances by Scott Blakeman and Jeff Kreisler.

Scott Blakeman has appeared on Comedy Central's Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and co-hosted of several political humor segments on NBC's "Sunday Today". Scott was the warmup comedian for the Late Show with David Letterman and the CBS comedy series Welcome To New York.


Jeff Kreisler is the winner of the Bill Hicks Spirit Award for Thought Provoking Comedy, writer for Comedy Central's Indecision2008, IFC, and author of Harper Collins' "Get Rich Cheating" (a Boston Globe bestseller).

Since Elijah's Promise began in 1989, they have been helping low-income people in the central New Jersey community. From nutritious meals, to social services and health screening, to culinary arts job training and entrepreneurial training, to our their own catering business, Elijah's Promise has been moving people from hunger to wholeness.

Info:

Thursday March 18th
Crossroads Theatre (7 Livingston Ave. New Brunswick)

TICKETS:
Advanced at www.standup.dojiggy.com $25
at the door $35
Limited seating--reserve your tickets today!

Doors open at 6:15 for refreshments
Show begins at 7:00
General admission seating