Author Archive: Brian McGinnis

Why Haven’t You Voted Yet?

In the 2004 presidential election, 3,638,153 New Jerseyans voted. Roughly 5.4% (or 196,460) of these voted early.

As anyone who’s been reading this site for more than a few months can tell you, there might be issues with the voting machines in our state. The paper trail alone should be incentive enough to vote early.

But there’s a more important reason to vote early. I’ve already voted. That means there’s one fewer vote that the Obama, Adler, and my county freeholder campaigns (Capelli/Cream, if you’re interested) have to worry about turning out. It lets these campaigns– most importantly Adler, who’s in a tight race where GOTV will be a huge factor– better prioritize and more efficiently use their field resources. Every vote banked early is one they don’t have to think about on election day.

What’s more, it frees me up. I don’t have to wait in any long lines, although they usually don’t have any in my precinct. I can devote 100% of my election day energy to helping the Adler campaign, where I’ll be volunteering on E day, to get out the vote. My early vote, though it’s still just one vote, has a ripple effect that makes my local campaigns that much more efficient in GOTV. And if tens of thousands of us activists do the same, that ripple effect adds up quickly.

So with a slew of close, competitive Congressional elections, Freeholder races, mayoral campaigns, and all the other races down the ballot that could hinge on an effective GOTV, there’s a lot at stake.

All the more reason for you to vote early. Do it today!

Want A Flat-screen TV? Just Ask Ocean County!

The Ocean County Clerk’s office is now, evidently, broadcasting in HD!

Democrats on Friday fired another campaign salvo at Ocean County Clerk Carl W. Block by releasing records showing that he spent $227,000 on expenses such as a flat-screen plasma television and $400 to frame a portrait of Freeholder John P. “Jack” Kelly.

The 47-inch TV cost $2,200 and Block also spent $540 to have a Howard Miller wall clock in his outer office repaired. It still doesn’t work.

“It was here when I got here; it’s still here,” Block said on a recent tour of his office. “Like I said, I would like to get rid of it. There’s probably a bill in there trying to repair it. As you can see, it’s not something you would easily know how to repair. I didn’t buy it; it’s not mine. I haven’t done anything with it.”

The expenses were paid from the clerk’s dedicated trust fund.

I’ll repeat the items again, because they bear repeating. $2,200 on a flat screen TV, $400 to frame a portrait, and $540 to fix a clock that still doesn’t work.

Berkeley mayor, Ocean County Clerk candidate, and general up-and-coming Democrat Jason Varano brought up the issue during an endorsement meeting in the Clerk’s race with the Asbury Park Press:

Varano had first raised the issue of the trust fund during an appearance with Block before an Asbury Park Press editorial board meeting last month. He accused Block of mismanaging the trust fund, an account supported by revenue from service fees assessed to members of the public to process mortgages, deeds and passport applications. The money is separate from Block’s annual $3.4 million budget, funded by county taxpayers through the Board of Freeholders.

The Varano campaign has argued that Block should not have spent almost $25,000 on travel since 2006 or $250,000 in about the same time period on what it says are frivolous expenses outside his office’s five-year capital improvement plan.

Fixing an ornamental clock or purchasing a plasma TV linked to a laptop computer broadcasting a Power Point presentation in the lobby of the clerk’s office is not in the spirit of the statute governing the fund, Democrats contend.

Carl Block is the well-liked Republican Ocean County Clerk. You’ll recall Ocean County Republicans have made their brand calling out high taxes and crusading for eliminating wasteful spending.

To be sure, there are legitimate expenses from which to draw money from this fund. The frivolous expenses that appear here beg the question: how else was taxpayer money wasted? Were there other such expenses? Inappropriate taxpayer-funded travel? Carl Block and the Ocean County Clerk’s office should  publicly disclose all expenditure documents associated with this fund, just as a precaution.

Nobody Reads Your Crappy Blog, Anyway

Except that they do:

The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found 27 percent of registered voters have read political or campaign blogs.

The study also found Democrats outpace Republicans when it comes to reading blogs, visiting social networking sites and using social netorking sites to get their campaign information.

The study said:

Though the overall numbers are small, significantly more Democrats (12%) than Republicans (7%) or independents (5%) have gotten campaign information from social networking sites. All of these differences are driven by the behavior of liberal Democrats, 58% of whom have visited any websites or blogs about the campaign; by comparison, fewer than 40% of other partisan groups have done so (conservative and moderate Democrats at 35%, moderate and liberal Republicans at 37% and conservative Republicans at 32%).

Not surprisingly, younger voters are more likely to be reading blogs and going online for their campaign information. The study says:

Nearly two-thirds of voters under age 30 (65%) have watched a campaign-related video online, and almost as many (59%) have read blogs, visited candidate websites, or used social networking sites. About half of young voters report having watched speeches (48%), interviews (47%) or the debates (47%) online; slightly fewer (36%) have watched campaign commercials on the web. More than one-third of older voters, including 41% of those ages 30 to 49 and 34% of those ages 50 to 64, have watched some type of video.

Political and campaign blogs have emerged as a popular internet destination for young voters, but significant minorities of older voters report reading them as well. Among those under age 30, 42% have visited blogs, as have 30% of voters ages 30 to 49 and 24% of Baby Boomers ages 50 to 64. About one-in-ten older voters (9%) have read political or campaign blogs.

Do you live in your parents’ basement? /snark. This is an open thread.

Chris Myers: The Economy Is Basically Strong. Wait, No, It Stinks! Wait, what was the Question?

Chris Myers has launched a doozy of an ad.

MYERS: Look, folks, George Bush is part of the problem, but so is Trenton politician John Adler.

Under Adler, property taxes are out of control, people are losing their jobs, and our economy stinks. Think about it…

Holy cow. There’s enough baloney in those two and a half sentences to feed a middle school for a week.

He’s right. George Bush is part of the problem. Yet for some reason, mayor Myers wants to continue George Bush’s disastrous economic policy and George Bush’s disastrous strategy in Iraq. The AC Press, endorsing Adler, ripped Myers thus on Iraq:

And on Iraq, while both Myers and Adler favor a careful withdrawal of U.S. troops, Myers is still insisting that the United States “must achieve victory on our terms,” that “we can’t send the message that the United States is weak,” and that he’d “rather fight terrorists overseas than in New Jersey.” Please. We have all heard these bromides before – from Bush.

And if Myers really thinks Bush is part of the problem, how come he hasn’t denounced Freedom’s Watch, run by Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush calvary, for running racist robocalls in New Jersey to help his campaign? Hmm.

Myers also blames Adler for all of New Jersey’s ills– property taxes, job losses and a poor economy. This is especially interesting given that Adler has supported a constitutional convention to fix property taxes in this state and wants to give a middle class tax cut to working families to get our economy going again. It’s interesting still that Myers somehow blames John Adler instead of George Bush for our recession-bound economy.

Then, again, this is the same Chris Myers who said the economy was “basically strong” only a few months ago. On the economy, he’s more erratic than John McCain on six cups of coffee.

How out of touch can you get?

Paul Sarlo in the Hospital

A breaking release from Senator Paul Sarlo’s chief of staff, Chris Eilert:

       “Senator Paul Sarlo experienced a medical emergency in his home early this morning.  Though testing has been inconclusive, the incident appears to be cardiac related. He is in Hackensack University Medical Center where he is undergoing further testing.

      The Senator’s family is appreciative of the kind wishes that have already been extended to them.”

We all send our best wishes and prayers to Senator Sarlo and his family.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Read it and weep, John McCain.

Powell’s unassailable national security credentials could sway voters who are vacillating about whether Obama is ready to be commander in chief, and his endorsement of the Illinois senator would make a national security emphasis by McCain in the election’s closing days extremely difficult.

Powell, 71, a professional soldier for 35 years, has advised the last three Republican presidents.

The general’s camp is being coy about what he might or might not say on Sunday. But some McCain advisers suspect, without being sure, that Powell will endorse Obama.

“It’s going to make a lot of news, and certainly be personally embarrassing for McCain,” a McCain official said. “It comes at a time when we need momentum, and it would create momentum against us.”

Updated by Jason Springer:  Here is the video of the endorsement.


Asbury Park Press Endorses Obama

Yes, you’re reading that correctly.

Here’s the heart of their argument:

Obama and McCain both have portrayed themselves as agents of change. Obama’s claim rings true. McCain’s does not. McCain has opposed President Bush and the Republican Party on some issues, including campaign finance reform, global warming and the detention of prisoners held without evidence as terrorists. But on the two most important policy matters, the handling of the economy and the war in Iraq, McCain’s views are barely distinguishable from those of Bush.

We aren’t entirely comfortable with either of the candidates’ tax cut proposals. But Obama’s plan, branded as class warfare by McCain, would essentially revert to the tax rates in effect during the Clinton administration. It is hardly radical.

Wow! One of the state’s right-leaning editorial pages has strongly and unequivocally debunked the silly idea that giving a tax cut to 95% of Americans is somehow socialism.

They also were not very fond of the pick of Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP, not one bit:

There are two other key considerations that make us tilt toward Obama.

First, should he die in office, the nation would be in the experienced hands of Joe Biden. If McCain, who is 72 and has a history of cancer, should die in the presidency, he would be succeeded by Sarah Palin, whose selection as the vice presidential candidate calls McCain’s judgment into serious question. She is not qualified to lead a nation facing its toughest challenges in decades.

Second, dramatic change is needed. That can best be accomplished with a president and a Congress from the same political party. The partisan deadlocks that have prevented Washington from taking decisive action on health care, immigration reform and other issues can’t be allowed to slow measures needed to put the nation back on course.

As an aside, I’ll just note that both the APP and the Philadelphia Inquirer have slammed John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as VP, saying it raises serious questions about his judgment.

This endorsement for Barack Obama for President truly sounds the death knell for John McCain’s chances to win New Jersey this November. The only question now is how much of an effect will Barack Obama’s coattails have down the ticket in the Garden State.

Inquirer Endorses Obama (Kind of)

Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer– one of the most widely read papers in South Jersey– endorsed Barack Obama for President:

Both major candidates are trying to avoid association with Bush’s failed policies. But only one does so successfully. On every issue important to America, Barack Obama offers a plan that would pull this nation from the precipice built by bad Bush decisions. The Inquirer endorses BARACK OBAMA for president.

While John McCain also promises “change,” it’s hard to believe that’s possible from someone who, by his own admission, has voted with Bush 90 percent of the time. On key issues such as campaign finance, pork-barrel spending, and humane interrogation of terrorism suspects, McCain has indeed been a “maverick.” But mostly, he and Bush have been on the same page.

More troubling was McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. This blatant overture to women voters and evangelical Christians who share her views on abortion backfired when Palin in interviews proved she is not prepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The Inquirer also compared the two candidates’ policy proposals on Iraq, taxes, energy, and health care, and it wasn’t even close:

Over the past four months, this Editorial Board has compared the candidates’ positions. In almost every case, Obama has a superior proposal for this nation. Consider:

Give McCain credit for supporting the successful “surge” of additional U.S. troops to Iraq. But McCain opposes a timetable for leaving Iraq, something even the Iraqi government wants. Obama wants a reasonable timetable for withdrawal, coordinated to protect U.S. troops, that would allow our focus to shift to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area, where Osama bin Laden is holed up.

One of the most persistent deceptions in this campaign is McCain’s claim that Obama proposes “painful tax increases on working American families.” Obama would raise income taxes on households earning more than $250,000 per year. Most households – 81 percent – would receive a tax cut. The nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center has calculated that households earning between $37,595 and $66,354 a year would save $1,118 on their taxes annually under Obama’s plan. McCain’s proposal would save those same families, on average, $325.

On energy, both McCain and Obama favor alternatives such as wind, solar and biofuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But McCain wrongly emphasizes offshore drilling, which will have minimal impact, and building more nuclear plants, which will take decades.

Obama would provide health insurance to more Americans. He would subsidize premiums for the working poor, mostly paid for by repealing the Bush tax cuts but also by requiring businesses that don’t provide medical benefits to contribute. McCain’s idea to provide medical tax credits of $2,500 per person and $5,000 for families would come at a hefty cost, ending the tax break given workers whose health care is paid for them at work.

The board concludes with a powerful, simple argument:

These times demand steady, focused leadership. Leadership that takes America far from the policies that have created so much fear. Leadership that says it’s OK to hope, because hope properly directed yields results. Barack Obama is ready to provide that leadership.

Now, why I did I mention in this diary’s title that the Inquirer “Kind of” endorsed Obama? Because they took the highly unusual step of noting their endorsement was not unanimous among the editorial board, and as such, they posted a short bit on the dissenters’ views. I’m warning you, it ain’t pretty:

Ask people to describe McCain and the first response often is, “He’s honest.” What you see is what you get. There are no mysterious associations to dance around. No 20-year attendance of a church whose pastor preached anti-American sermons. No serving on an education reform panel with a domestic terrorist. No financial support from a convicted felon. No ties to a group currently under investigation for possible voter-registration fraud.

And McCain didn’t hire as a strategist David Axelrod, who helped lead Mayor John Street’s race-baiting reelection campaign.

Wow. Sounds like someone on the editorial board is not exactly a happy camper.

APP: GOP Didn’t Do Its Homework

Even the Asbury Park Press slams a plan to suspend the sales tax:

but the GOP didn’t do its homework in preparing its temporary stimulus plan, which it wants to put into effect from the day after Thanksgiving through Jan. 4. Before the Legislature decides whether to accept or reject the idea, a detailed economic analysis is needed. What is the anticipated loss or gain of revenue and what is the anticipated increase in sales activity?

Last December, the state collected some $1 billion in sales taxes. Would the loss of revenue from halving the 7 percent sales tax assessed in most communities and the 3.5 percent in urban enterprise zones for five weeks balance out what Republican lawmakers believe would be a major bump in retail activity?


A temporary reduction in the tax may be a good idea. But if the Republicans want to make the sale, they need to make a better pitch – one grounded in facts.

Ouch. The APP is a bit right-of-center, so when even they call out a proposal to “suspend” the sales tax, you know that proposal is truly a gimmick, perhaps on the level of John McCain “suspending” his campaign last month.