Author Archive: deciminyan

John Adler (R-NJ)

NJ-3 just gets worse and worse. – promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted from deciminyan

Imagine this scenario.  Freshman Democratic Congressman John Adler defeats footballer Jon Runyan in the November election.  This is plausible because even though New Jersey’s Third District has been gerrymandered to make it a “safe” district for the GOP, Adler has significantly more money with which to campaign, and Runyan is weak on the important issues.  Now, also imagine that nationally, the Republicans take control of the House.

If this scenario were to come to pass, the best thing John Adler could do is to switch parties and become a Republican.  Certainly, his first term voting record mirrors what would have been the voting pattern of his predecessor, long-term moderate GOP Congressman Jim Saxton.  Like Adler, Saxton would probably have voted against health care and would have supported the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  Also, given the fact that New Jersey’s redistricting based on the 2010 census will be controlled by Chris Christie’s cronies, it is a safe bet that this district will once again be gerrymandered favorably for Republicans.  Switching parties would be a safe bet for Adler to retain his seat for several more terms under this scenario.

This sequence of events would not only benefit John Adler, but it would benefit the District as a whole.   With a GOP majority in Congress, a Republican Adler would be better positioned to promote programs and earmarks that would bring jobs, funding, and other benefits to Burlington and Ocean Counties.  He would still be a minority within his own (new) party because even though he votes more like a Republican, he has not partaken of the Tea Party Kool Aid.  The more moderate Republicans who are sent to Congress (as opposed to Tea Party Republicans), the better off we all will be.  And if Mr. Adler does switch parties after the election, it leaves room for a progressive Democrat to run in 2012, giving voters of the Third District a real choice.

I hope Adler wins; after all, he’s (barely) the lesser of two evils.  And I hope that the Democrats retain control of the House – otherwise this nation is in deep shit.  But if the Democrats do lose, and Adler does win, we are all better off if he honestly admits that he’s a moderate Republican and switches to the GOP.

New Jersey Needs S1872 Like it Needs More Traffic

What do you say, Blue Jersey?  – promoted by Rosi

Cross posted from deciminyan

No one on any point of the political spectrum disagrees with the contention that New Jersey’s public education system is in trouble.  Once the model to which other states would aspire, today our public schools are severely underfunded and the schools’ dependence on an unfair property tax revenue stream exacerbates the situation.  The recent cuts imposed by the Christie administration have compounded the problem by taking an additional one billion dollars from the education of our children.  So why would the New Jersey legislature consider a bill that takes another $360 million from public schools without improving education?  And is unconstitutional as well?

Yet, that is exactly what is happening in the Garden State. (read all about it below the fold)

Why the Republicans Will Win Big in November – And What it Means for America

Cross posted from deciminyan

Dick Polman, one of my favorite columnists, recently penned an article entitled “Making a case that maybe all isn’t lost for the Democrats.”  In that column, he argues that the poll numbers showing huge GOP gains may be premature and that the Democrats have a bigger war chest than their opponents.  As much as I often agree with Mr. Polman (and I do agree with his assertion that no matter how bad the Democrats are, the GOP is worse), I’m afraid he is wrong in his assessment of the November elections.  There are several factors in play that give the advantage to the Grand Old Tea Party:

(continued)

Finally – An Adler/Runyan Debate Open to the Public

promoted by Rosi

I recently lamented that the debates for NJ-3’s congressional seat were in closed-to-the-public radio studios or at for-fee venues.  Well, that’s no longer the case.  John Adler and Jon Runyan will be debating at the JCC in Cherry Hill on October 11 at 7:30PM, and the organizers confirmed to me today that it is open to the public.  Prior to the debate, there will be a cocktail reception with an $18 cover charge, but participation at the reception is not required to attend the debate.  It should be interesting to see how an ex-footballer who has memorized the Tea Party lines does against the Harvard-educated lawyer.

Democracy – For a Price

This race is hotter than hot. I like the idea of weekly debates, and the GOP might disagree but I think Adler would clean Runyan’s clock. – promoted by Rosi

This coming Monday, Congressman John Adler and Footballer Jon Runyan will meet for what is billed as a “Congressional Candidates Forum.”  The event is sponsored by the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce.

Growing up in the ’50’s and ’60’s, I was schooled in the idealized version of American democracy.  Representatives were supposed to be directly connected to the people and pre-election activities were open to all.  But Monday’s debate is not.  It will be held in a fancy hotel in Mount Laurel, and for those who are not members of the Chamber of Commerce, there’s a $40 fee for attendance.  And according to the Chamber’s web site, sponsors for the debate are the Health Care industry and the Insurance Industry.  Don’t expect much push-back discussion on topics that require these industries to better serve their customers.

The Chamber has every right to charge for such an event. (more below the fold)

Guns or Soup

promoted by Rosi

Cross posted from deciminyan

They closed a neighborhood library in Camden yesterday.  Camden – one of New Jersey’s most disadvantaged cities – bearing the brunt of the Bush Recession and the Christie Depredation with an order of magnitude more grief than most of us.

They say that nature abhors a vacuum, and the vacuum created for the children in that neighborhood by the closing of the Fairview Branch library will be filled by drug dealers, gangs, and other nefarious forces.  So by closing the library, Camden residents will be forced to spend more on the already overworked police department and judicial system.

Many Camden teens will lose their only access to the Internet – vital in this day and age to secure even the most low-paying jobs.  Younger children will miss out on the joy of reading – exploring real and imaginary worlds to spark their desire and commitment to a better life, not to mention losing tools that foster better academic performance.  The neighborhood, which has been coming together over the last decade, will lose a gathering place that helps advance that cohesion.  And while the library staff, which consists of two employees, will be transferred to other branches, it’s only a matter of time before they or their colleagues will join the ranks of the unemployed, as the other branches in Camden are on track to close also.

The entire budget shortfall (not just the libraries) for the City of Camden is $28 million.  That’s how much we spend on the war in Iraq in four hours.   Despite the fact that the recovery of one of New Jersey’s most historic cities is vastly more important than the oil wars in the Middle East, it impractical to just stop the war for four hours to make up the shortfall.  But we could stop the war for good, and use those funds to revitalize Camden, and the scores of other urban areas and their people who represent the future of America.  Where are our priorities?

I Don’t Recall

Where’s all this going, Blue Jersey? – promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted from deciminyan.org

There’s a Facebook group called “NJ Against Chris Christie” which has over 38,000 members.  Some of the discourse there is childish, using epithets and taunts.  Yet, there’s also a considerable amount of rational discussion about the governor’s performance, his cronyism, and his overly simplistic solutions to complex problems.  Often, it is pointed out that New Jersey election law allows a recall petition to be initiated one year following a gubernatorial election, and there’s lots of talk about doing so.

As I explained in an earlier post, this is a bad idea.  (find out why below the fold)

Happy ½ Birthday

promoted by Rosi

I normally don’t cross-post articles from my deciminyan blog that are not NJ-specific.  But this topic will be a function of how the states proceed.  With Gov. Christie’s track record, it is important to keep the pressure on him to avoid additional blunders.


With the exception of newlyweds and doting grandparents, there are few celebrations of a six-month anniversary or birthday.  Yet, this month – September 23rd specifically – there is an important half-year milestone for the United States.

That day will mark six months since the President signed the historic Affordable Care Act into law.  And while the implementation of the provisions of the act will be phased in over the next several years, some of its benefits will start on September 23rd.

The bill that was signed last March is severely flawed.  It is complex and will result in 50 somewhat disparate systems because much of the implementation is left up to the states.  A Single Payer approach (“Medicare for All”) would have been a better, more fiscally sound system, and the current bill is a boon to for-profit insurance companies.  Nevertheless, it is a good start with some tangible benefits to be realized this month.

Here’s what happens on September 23rd (courtesy NJ Citizen Action):

  • Coverage Expansion for Young Adults – Young adults up to age 26 can participate in their parents’ health care plan.

  • No Rescissions – Bans all health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

  • No Lifetime Limits on Coverage – Prohibits all health plans for placing lifetime caps on coverage.

  • Tightly Regulates Annual Limits on Coverage – Tightly restricts the use of annual limits by all employer plans and new plans in the individual market, to ensure access to needed care.

  • Free Preventive Care Under New Plans – Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles.

  • New, Independent Appeals Process for New Plans – Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions.

  • No Discrimination Against Children with Pre-Existing Conditions – Prohibits all employer plans and new plans in the individual market from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.  Already exists in New Jersey, but will now be extended throughout the country.

(read more below the fold)

Lesson Noted

Cross posted from deciminyan.org

There’s a difference between a “lesson learned” and a “lesson noted.”  When you observe a mistake and understand its root cause, that’s a “lesson noted”.  When you take corrective action to ensure that the root cause is eliminated so that the mistake does not recur, that’s a “lesson learned.”  The debacle over the Christie Administration’s mishandling of the Race to the Top application for federal education funds has an important lesson noted.

Initially, Governor Christie, whose team’s last minute changes to the application introduced errors that resulted in the state being disqualified, blamed the Obama administration and a state mid-level official who introduced the error during a last-minute frenzy to undo the agreement between the Commissioner of Education and the teacher’s union.  When the Obama administration insisted on playing by the rules, Christie asked the Feds to apologize for not ignoring the errors in the proposal.

Subsequently, videotapes of the oral presentation of the New Jersey team showed that this was more than a clerical error, and the team was unprepared to support the requirements of the proposal.   Christie, looking for a scapegoat, fired Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler.  As far as I know, the governor has yet to apologize to the Obama administration for the false blame.

Now, imagine what would have happened if the federal Department of Education had not videotaped or not released these proceedings.  Bret Schundler would still be Commissioner of Education, and the governor’s false statements would be unrepudiated, treated as truth by the mainstream media.  The public’s right to know the truth about how how their officials are performing and how their tax dollars of being spent would have been compromised.  Clearly, we need more transparency in similar types of government evaluation and decision-making.

Chris Christie ran for governor on a platform of transparency, and the Shundlergate affair shows that this is one of many campaign promises that the governor is ignoring.

Transparency is important, especially when the use of our tax dollars is at stake.  Lesson noted.  Now, we must transform this to a “lesson learned” by implementing full transparency at all levels of government.  Taxpayers deserve nothing less.

NJ-3 and Progressive Challenges

Cross posted from deciminyan.org

New Jersey’s Third Congressional District can be viewed as a microcosm of the American political landscape. We have (and I know personally) Tea Party extremists, moderates, and left-leaning Progressives in areas as diverse as suburban Cherry Hill, the Shamong Pine Barrens, and the shore towns of Ocean County.

First term incumbent Congressman John Adler is in a tight race with Republican ex-footballer Jon Runyan. Runyan echoes the Tea Party mantra on most issues, although there are a few exceptions such as his opposition to transferring Social Security investments to for-profit organizations. When he was in the New Jersey State Senate, Adler was regarded as one of its most liberal members. But in his current role, Adler kowtows to the right-leaning population in Burlington and Ocean counties by touting his “centrist” approach to legislating. In this day and age, “centrist” is a code word for “moderate Republican.”

It would be beneficial to the district and the nation if NJ-3 were represented by a more progressive congressman, but given the demographics of the area, big changes will be needed before this can happen. Adler’s primary opponent, Barry Bendar, would have promoted better policies, but Mr. Bendar only received 25% of the vote in a low-turnout Democratic primary.

So the $64,000 question is, “why do voters in NJ-3, and the nation overall, seem to embrace the policies of the failed Bush administration and the Tea Party extremists?” The answer is “messaging.” Tea Partiers have a great advantage in that they control the messaging infrastructure. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News (with help from their Saudi investors), right-wing hate radio, and corporate ownership of most mainstream media tend to get the message out, both overtly by sheer force of numbers , and covertly by controlling the language of the debate. The counterpoints to these behemoths are loved by their Progressive base, but how many people do you know who listen to Rachel Maddow or belong to MoveOn.org?

To transform NJ-3 and the nation will require Progressives to become more adept at explaining to the general public why our approach is best for the country as a whole. With the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, the harebrained Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, and the corporate lock on media production and distribution, this will be a daunting task.

I was thrilled at John Adler’s victory two years ago. While his win was clearly on Barack Obama’s coattails, it was the first time this area had elected a Democratic representative in over a century. And despite his centrist moderate Republican voting record, I’ll vote for him again. Not because I’m enamored by his performance; not because I want to vote against a tax-evading donkey-farming ex-football player; but because I think the makeup of the 112th Congress will be close. And it scares the heck out of me to think that John Boehner will be Speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency. Big change requires small steps, so I’ll hold my nose, vote for Adler, and continue to advocate for a better America for all her citizens through Progressive ideas.