Author Archive: Steven Hart

A Teachable Moment in Fort Lee

The Fort Lee superintendent of schools appears to have cribbed a speech off the Internet in order to pay homage to the district’s National Honor Society inductees last week.

Actually, “cribbed” may not be the right word here – according to this report in the Record, Joanne Calabro appears to have copied the speech word for word from an Web page. Particularly rich is the news that the speech was offered as an example of what to say during a National Honor Society induction ceremony. You know, when you want to congratulate students for their hard work and tell them that intellectual achievement is an avenue to success.

That’s example, madame superintendent: e-x-a-m-p-l-e. Along with “plagiarism,” it’s one of those words any good national Honor Society student would recognize. I guess this is what educators refer to as a “teachable moment.”

Cross posted in The Opinion Mill.

Mike Ferguson and Scott Garrett, Living On the Edge

Rise, everyone, and put your hands together for New Jersey legislators Mike Ferguson and Scott Garrett, doughty Republicans who understand that the real threat facing America isn’t the fact that their president has transformed Iraq into a sleepaway camp for terrorists looking to hone their urban warfare skills and use them in other countries. No, the threat that has them galloping faster than Paul Revere is the fact that the words “In God We Trust” are on the edges of the new $1 coins.

A Wedding in New Jersey

Since marriage equality is a cause close to BlueJersey’s heart, come say hello to Amy and Alice and throw some figurative rice their way:

the take-away: despite the fact that “gay” marriages aren’t recognized as such in New Jersey, Amy & Alice got married anyway. And they signed their civil union papers too. I saw two people who really really wanted this-who love each other, are committed to each other, and ready to declare it within the bounds of the law–as civil partners–and beyond it, as a rabbi declared them joined. several of those gathered were moved to tearful speeches afterwards, but I didn’t need the speeches to be moved to tears. I was moved by their actions–not to wait until the world suits them, but to proceed according to their conscience and according to the home they want to build for themselves and their young boy. I think they envision a world for Ben that doesn’t have the sorts of prejudice and ignorance and narrow worldview that is the background noise passing for national discourse these days. I think they envision a country where one can follow one’s bliss without the need for societal approval, only the legislated principle that their experience is equally valid to any other citizen’s and is recognized…we can all help promote this reality by recognizing them ourselves…

They did it. And I’m proud to know them. And I’m honored that I was there. I admire and love them for it. And I hope that weddings like this become a bigger fad than frisbees…

But wait! Aren’t these just the sort of people the late Jerry Falwell accused of bringing on the 9/11 attacks?


Jihad With Cheese

It seems only fitting that a terrorist plot supposedly based in part on information gleaned from pizza deliveries would get cheesier on closer inspection.

So as New Jersey broadcast and print news outlets are in the throes of a massive attack of Jack Bauer Fever over allegations that six bozos had a notion that they’d like to attack Fort Dix, it’s a little disconcerting to realize that the prime mover behind the plot appears to have been the very FBI informer who blew the whistle on the scheme:

There, But for The Grace of God and Goldman Sachs, Goes New Jersey

The idea of using asset monetization — i.e., leasing public fixtures like the New Jersey Turnpike to private investors in exchange for upfront cash — to plug New Jersey’s budget hole seems to have lost a lot of steam, but bad ideas and bad pennies have a way of coming back. So this Business Week survey of the national fad for privatizing public assets is important reading.

State and municipal authorities across the country have embraced monetization, beguiled by the prospect of quick money laid out for them by investment banks such as Goldman Sachs. The technique is rapidly developing into a separate asset class with its own investor base.

The biggest immediate worry about asset privatization is that the new owners — probably consortia of overseas investors, such as the Macquarie Group-Cintra partnerships that bought long-term leases to the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road — will immediately begin aggressive toll hikes to increase their returns.

Asset privatization is still developing a track record in the U.S., but let’s say the experience has not been uniformly encouraging:

Rice Pudding in Atlantic City

During the 1890s, bartenders swabbing the bars while their patrons swilled down five-cent draughts of beer became adept at (cough cough) accidentally knocking down a few of the nickels the drinkers had lined up to keep the suds flowing. This supplemental income became known as “rice pudding.”

(The term lingered into the twentieth century. During Frank Hague’s 30-year reign as mayor of Jersey City, boss of Hudson County and baron of New Jersey, municipal employees were expected to kick back three percent of their annual salaries to the political machine. The day they were supposed to pony up was called Rice Pudding Day.)

Workmen preparing for the demolition of the old Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City have turned up over $17,000 worth of rice pudding. Unfortunately for them, Pinnacle Entertainment of Las Vegas gets to be the bartender.

Like they say, the house always gets its money.

Cross posted at The Opinion Mill.

Princeton University Emeritus Professor Lands on Terrorist Watch List

He’s an ex-Marine with five years of active duty and 19 years in the reserve. He was decorated for his service during the Korean War. He’s a nationally known and respected scholar who is highly critical of Roe vs. Wade and supported Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. He’s Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton University, and he’s on the Terrorist Watch List.

Want to guess why? This might offer a clue:

Garden State Auteur Kevin Smith to Get Political with His Next Movie

Kevin Smith, New Jersey’s second-favorite son, is working on a horror movie with political overtones, to be called Red State. There are those who, like me, once worked at convenience stores and therefore view Clerks and its sequel as horror movies, but according to Smith this is really going to be his own take on the genre, so I guess we’ll have to put aside those rumors that Smith’s next film would be an adaptation of Jim McGreevey’s recent memoir, with Jason Mewes in the lead role. (That was a joke, everybody, okay? Got it? A joke . . .)

But it is definitely inspired in part by wingnut preacher Fred Phelps and his gay-hating, veteran’s-funerals- picketing fellow fungoids at the Westboro Baptist Church, which is certainly interesting to those who, like me, enjoyed Clerks II but left it wondering if Monmouth County’s gift to world cinema was ever going to break out of the whole Jay and Silent Bob thing. Read about it here at the U.K. edition of Rotten Tomatoes, which promises to post the full interview sometime soon.

Cross posted at The Opinion Mill.

The Marching Malkins: Wingnuts Aim Their Ire at Burlington Township High School

“Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!” was the conservative mantra long before 9/11, but the Keystone Kops operation known as the War on Terror has given right-wingers license to turn the volume knob up to 11.

And yet the public, working on the evidence of its eyes rather than the blinkered ideology of the Bush cultists, constantly has to be reminded to be afraid only of certain kinds of terrorists. It has the temerity to notice that while Islamist violence abroad is certainly dangerous, we have plenty of homegrown terrorists with light complexions and flag decals on their vehicles to worry about as well. This annoying tendency of the reality-based community keeps conservative pundits and bloggers in a near-continuous state of sputtering Yosemite Sam outrage.

This fear-crazed brand of wingnut political correctness is in full noxious flower this week as Michelle Malkin – whose eruptions of nonsensical outrage occur as regularly as blasts of steam from Old Faithful – rallies the troops against Burlington Township High School in New Jersey, where school and municipal officials staged a mock-terror drill that involved a fictional milita-style group rather than a bunch of swarthy Muslims in turbans:

Schlock and Pshaw in Princeton

Now that the blogosphere-wide laughter triggered by Ann Althouse’s epic hissy fit over the indignities she suffers from left-wing Internet meanies is finally starting to die down, let me draw your attention to another tide of ridicule that’s slowly starting to build over an equally deserving target – one, moreover, with a New Jersey connection.

The fun starts at Whiskey Fire, where blogger Thers has composed a poem in heroic couplets in response to a Princeton-based warblogger who still can’t stop giggling over the absolutely outrageous bumper sticker he put on his car, just to show those anti-war lefties a thing or two.