Author Archive: JRB

Can the Corsi name make Sipprelle un-cozy?

heh … heh … heh… – – promoted by Rosi

The following is a deep thought from the Department of Strange And Unlikely But Hey, This Is Jersey We’re Talking About.

Those who live in and around the 12th Congressional District might’ve noticed the lawn signs that went up last week. Not so much in lawns as in the ground near intersections and traffic thoroughfares. The signs are either for multimillionaire Republican hopeful Scott Sipprelle or his “Tea Party Approved” primary opponent, David Corsi.

Sipprelle has the money, has the creepy wide-eyed ads, and the total support of the GOP establishment since Mike Halfacre bowed out. Corsi, on the other hand, has an eagle-loaded website that looks like a Firecracker ice-pop.

In all, Sipprelle should be the shoo-in. The only hitch he might face? Corsi’s name.

While I immediately knew who Sipprelle was, seeing the lawn signs for Corsi also rung a name-recognition bell. Then it struck me: Jerome Corsi, that crazy red-faced racist dude who wrote books saying Obama was born in Kenya and Kerry was really a coward. The Republican base loves that psycho-crank — both of those books were New York Times bestsellers. What if enough Republican primary voters think Corsi is in some way linked to Corsi? Will it make the primary result crazy?

Fingers-crossed.

OK, but are they REALLY comparable to Fortune 500 companies?

Promoted by Jason Springer

In a Huffington Post essay, billionaire real estate magnate/publisher Mort Zuckerman exalts the Tea Partiers and Governor Chris Christie for lashing middle class teachers and government workers for daring to live like members of the middle class instead of barely scraping by. One line particularly sticks in my craw:

In New Jersey, Christie says government employee health benefits are 41 percent more expensive than those of the average Fortune 500 company.

OK. Say that’s true. The follow up question is this: but are they paid like those at the average Fortune 500 company?

Maybe there are some, but I’ve never met a teacher who chose that career path to get rich. They make middle class salaries, boom or bust. They collectively bargain for benefits because their pay is not the creme de la creme of corporate compensation.

So while reform and rethinking in every area of government is a good and necessary thing, let’s stop it with the billionaires like Zuckerman pretending that state and local finances would be just fine and dandy if all these public employees didn’t have health care or pensions.

Why Trenton Democrats are conservative about the state Supreme Court

Promoted by Jason Springer

The other night on Blue Jersey Radio, Jason floated an idea: that Trenton Republicans would use Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue for speedy consideration of Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination to the New Jersey Supreme Court. To recap, Christie became the first governor to stop a sitting justice from receiving tenure, opting to pick a big campaign donor instead. Democrats in the legislature were so outraged, they’ve decided not even to hold hearings on the nomination.

Now, Jason said the GOP argument would be that if a Democrat in Washington can pick whomever he wants for the court, why can’t Christie? Cue this morning’s Republican press release: “US Republicans Pledge to Give President Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination a Fair Hearing… While New Jersey Democratic Legislators Plan to Block Governor Christie’s Supreme Court Nominee.” It juxtaposes cherry-picked quotes from Mitch McConnell and Steve Sweeney, John Boehner and Joe Cryan… you get the picture.

The Jersey GOP’s argument is irrelevant for so many reasons, it barely deserves addressing. Democrats in Trenton have worked across the aisle with their new Republican governor this year in a way that Republicans in Washington wouldn’t even consider with their new Democratic president last year, let alone this one.

But a single reason stands above all others, and deserves to be stated. What this controversy comes down to is Gov. Christie revoking a precedent carried out by the likes of Governors Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean, Christine Whitman and more. The Democrats are actually playing the part of the conservatives by trying to preserve the bipartisan traditions that have kept the Supreme Court from rampant politicization.

If New Jersey Republicans truly want to do something for bipartisanship in our government, the best thing they can do is to join the Democrats and block Gov. Christie on his partisan powergrab. That would be the way to ensure a modicum of cooperation between the two parties can continue long into the future.

Halfacre bows out in NJ-12

Mike Halfacre will let millionaire Wall Streeter Scott Sipprelle have the Republican nomination in NJ-12 without having to suffer the indignity of a serious primary.

My favorite part of Halfacre’s bid for Congress? The time he joined other conservatives in saying that President Obama was weak on the Somali pirates and that Ronald Reagan would’ve killed them like, even deader, or something. And then Juan Melli called him out on it over Twitter…. That was awesome.

Sorry, Gov: A Bad Day For Asking Democrats to Work With You

“To the people of New Jersey, I say this: you voted for change. And today, change has arrived.”

      – From the inaugural address of Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie rode a huge wave of anti-incumbent sentiment in November’s election. His most penetrating campaign message was, ‘Change.’

He’s very Jersey (which is a good thing). He’s got a nice family. If you judge him by his friends, it’s fair to say he is generally a good person and open to ideas and perspectives that differ from his own.

And yet, after seeing the Republican Party spend the last year…

  • completely denying President Obama’s mandate for change in Washington.
  • stirring populist anger against the government for problems created under their watch.
  • abusing the legal process to keep Al Franken out of the Senate months after his victory was obvious.
  • forcing repeated votes — some late at night and in harsh weather — to cause the most strain on the ailing Senator Robert Byrd.

… it is hard to be a Democrat and want to work with a Republican.

And today of all days, when the national GOP will declare victory in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race — regardless of its outcome — and go on to claim a mandate to completely halt the changes Democrats were elected to make…. Well, you better believe that it is a bad day to ask for Democrats to help a Republican executive be successful. Maybe it won’t always be this way, but today it is hard to swallow.

A few lines after declaring the primacy of change, Christie said in his speech that the “era of partisanship and acrimony has not served the people well.”

Today, there are many, many Democrats who will agree with him on that.

Be A Hero

It is a decidedly uphill fight in Trenton today for people who support marriage. I think all we can ask of our state senators today is that at least one of them decides to be a hero.

There aren’t many instances where someone can wake up in the morning, walk into a room and turn the tide of a debate. But that is what can happen this morning if just ONE of the state senators opposing marriage equality decides to do what he or she knows in the heart is right.

Opportunities like this don’t come along often. So please, senators: this is your chance to do something great. To defy the old Trenton muckety-muck and be a hero to so many New Jersey families.

Tomorrow’s Bread

Promoted by Rosi. Langston Hughes nails it. So does JRB.

Besides my mother’s secret and uncanny sixth sense for ascertaining a person’s weight, I don’t tend to write about personal stuff here, or anywhere, really. But on the eve of a vote that may decide the issue of marriage equality for some time, I wanted to share this.

In 1968, my dad graduated from college and was promptly drafted into the United States Army. When he got out, he spent the better part of the 1970s going to grad school at night. His days were occupied by his job as a teacher in the New Jersey state prison system. He helped inmates learn to read better, get their GEDs and exposed them to new fields of study. One of those fields was literature.

This old job of my dad’s led to a bookshelf in the basement of the house I grew up in being filled with a number of interesting volumes that I otherwise would have had little exposure to. All kinds of Afro-American autobiographies and prison poetry collections — some with titles too provocative for my thirteen year-old mind to comprehend.

See, I had just graduated from reading all the Dickens and Jules Verne and Twain we had lying around, but had yet to move on to my next literary hero, Ray Bradbury. I had heard of this guy Langston Hughes in school, and his poetry collections were the most numerous among this odd bookshelf.

So I picked up one titled THE PANTHER AND THE LASH, but none of the pages I flipped to interested me. And then I pulled down a tall, slender green hardcover with an etching of a man on its face (which I later learned were done by E. McKnight Kauffer).

One of the first (perhaps the first) page I turned to was in the back. A poem called, “Democracy.”

Adios, Tina Kelley

My god, this is gorgeous. Promoted by Rosi

Tina Kelley, who corresponded from many-a-Jersey dateline in The New York Times, has taken a buyout. She wrote a wonderful poem about reporting here. Go have a read.

It is magic, writing news. We have an honored front row seat in life,

the chance to walk through the bat cave for six hours seeing the last

ceilingsful of bats, mysteriously dying. It is a privilege to listen

Just Sayin’ (Jeff Gardner 2011)

To your question, JRB … I am – – promoted from the diaries by Rosi

I pledge $100 and 25 volunteer hours to Jeff Gardner in 2011 if he chooses to challenge state Senator John Girgenti (D) and bring a more inclusive, progressive voice to Trenton.

Just sayin’. I got your back, Jeff. Who’s with me?