Author Archive: KendalJames

Do The Booker Backwalk!

Have you heard about the new dance craze sweeping the nation? It’s called the Cory Booker Backwalk, and it goes something like this:

1) Put your foot in your mouth. Do this by calling “nauseating” and “ridiculous” the completely legitimate questions being asked by the Obama campaign about Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Bain is a cornerstone of Romney’s message, so what makes the topic unsavory isn’t exactly clear. Maybe, like Steve Kornacki points out, Booker just doesn’t want to anger his many friends (and potential future friends, wink wink) in the finance sector.

2) Take your foot out of your mouth. Do this by frantically publishing a YouTube video intended to squish any notion that Booker would say such a silly thing. Call it a clarification, even if it’s essentially a complete reversal.

Got it? Good, because the Booker Backwalk is all over the news today, and you don’t want to miss out. His pals at Morning Joe think it’s no big deal and are holding out hope for another video of Booker and Christie running hand-in-hand through a meadow.  At CNN they have reported that Booker is “Backtracking Bigtime.” And Talking Points Memo is focusing more on how Booker’s gaffe/possible moment of too much candidness gives Republicans new ammo no matter how you slice it.

It’s interesting that coverage of this debacle casts Booker as a progressive Democrat. Think Progress, for example, calls Booker the “popular and progressive” mayor of Newark, even though Booker’s take on one of  the biggest issues of the day – education reform – is in square alignment with Republican governors like Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels and Tom Corbett. Journalist Glen Ford has reported on Booker’s direct ties to the right’s agenda of privatization and union-busting. Just two weeks ago, Booker spoke at a pro-school voucher event sponsored by ALEC. Progressive?

Glen Ford doesn’t think so. In fact, Ford calls Booker “a major player in a huge historical saga in which the corporate right successfully bought its way deep into Black American politics.” That saga, argues Ford, is at the root of the current attack on public education in NJ and across the U.S. Watch and think:

QOTD: Chris Christie Superiority Complex Edition

Tonight on NJ 101.5, Chris Christie was asked about Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald’s challenge to debate their respective tax cut proposals. It’s a discussion the governor recently said he’d be glad to have but now clearly fears as evidenced by his refusal to actually have the debate. What did Governor Christie say about his change of heart?

“I know Lou is trying to make himself important, but he is who he is.”

Forget that Christie said he welcomes the discussion. Forget that he has already accused Democrats of lying about their tax plan, making a debate the perfect forum for nailing them to the wall on their sordid plot. Forget that this is a guy who always brags about meaning what he says. Because apparently that only applies… Well, it’s unclear.

What is clear is that this is a man who clearly thinks that he is important, far more so than some puny legislator (who is also the Assembly Majority Leader). What a nobody! And if you’re not even a legislator – let’s say you’re just some guy or gal working a job and feeding yourself, perhaps a family too – well then it’s even less likely Chris Christie wants to hear from you. I mean, you’re not even the governor or anything.  

Deep Thought: Ready Or Not?

Not long ago, Governor Christie told ABC News:

I don’t feel ready in my heart to be president.

But here he is again, saying that if Mittens wants to talk veeps, Christie will listen:


If Governor Romney comes to me and wants to talk about it, I’ll always listen.

So which is it? Is he suddenly ready for all of that responsibility should something happen to the President? Or is he still not ready?

Feel Bad Words

Let’s do a quick head check on some Christie logic. He’s all over the news for comments he made while speaking at a tax policy event in New York:

We are turning into a paternalistic entitlement society that will not just bankrupt us financially, it will bankrupt us morally because when the American people no longer believe that this is a place where only their willingness to work hard and act with honor and integrity and ingenuity determines their success in life then we’ll have a bunch of people sitting on a couch waiting for their next government check.

Which is weird, because folks from both major political parties always go on about how ingenious we Americans are; how relentless we are in our pursuit of excellence. So that’s not true, and we’re actually all lazy opportunists?

Government, according to Chris Christie, tells Americans to “stop dreaming.” Government supports put in place to help citizens reach their goals, supports which help foster and facilitate great aspirations – well, Christie argues that those supports have in fact rendered us a couch-locked mass of sedentary leeches for whom sitting around watching daytime television is good enough. We Americans, it seems, are too easily lulled into complacency by government. We have no interest in dignity or contribution or self-worth. The people who make up this great country are prone to sliding into piggish opportunism, looking to get away with anything possible.

So if you’re not one of the few noted individuals to have been publicly barked at by Christie the Insult Comic Governor, there you go.

Deep Thought: Slipping From Print

Man alive, the “Who’s ALEC?” story was everywhere this week! The in-depth piece by Sal Rizzo of the Star Ledger, which brought this story to the fore, ignited coverage across the state and country:

The New York Times – ALEC and Old Yeller

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – ALEC’s Secret Influence on State Laws, Legislators

Think Progress – Christie’s Education Bills Bear Striking Resemblance To ALEC Models

Working America – ALEC Influence Over New Jersey Lawmakers Exposed in Star Ledger Report

Governors Journal – Christie Accuses Press

Jersey Jazzman – Smart ALEC in New Jersey

Even Wall Street Journal reporter Lisa Fleisher tweeted her incredulity at Christie’s claim of ignorance, then pushed back when the governor tried to accuse her of fostering a conspiracy theory.

You know who didn’t cover a lick of this, not even behind their paywall? PolitickerNJ.com. Why wouldn’t the “virtual watercooler for the state’s political elite… a necessary daily stop for politically-minded web surfers” have even a blurb… a tweet… a pixel about this?

Dunno.  

(Note: Our coverage of this story can be found here.)

Christie Playbook: The Overreach

Governor Christie is always reminding us that he’s the governor. If you watch his town halls or television appearances and count the number of times he does this, you will quickly run out of fingers. We get it, Chris. You’re “in charge.” We know.

But perhaps he needs to insert a word into this meme he’s created, and start saying “I’m ONLY the governor.” Because his actions over the past few years indicate that when it comes to power, Chris Christie always seems to want more. The latest example can be observed in his plan to merge Rowan and Rutgers. Shooting first and asking questions only if someone makes him, Christie now plainly admits his tendency to act despite the law. He admits  that he doesn’t even know for sure if his plan is legal.

 Is this a pattern? You bet:

– His attempted elimination of COAH was illegal.

– His refusal to fund the state’s most troubled schools was illegal.

 – His early intention to unilaterally reopen government worker contracts in 2010 was squashed by his lawyers; it would have been illegal.

These examples of over-reaching are the ones involving illegality. Of course, there’s also the wide range of over-reaching that may be legal but is nonetheless unseemly. There are plenty of examples: He scuttled at $400M education grant in order to sustain his fight with teachers and the NJEA. He goes from zero to asshat in seconds, barfing insults at women, men, student “drug mules,” legislators, Navy Seals, teachers, or anyone else who disagrees with him without cowering in fear. And of course, there was the unilateral canceling of ARC.

More. More. More.

 

Camden Mayor Dana Redd and Power Broker George Norcross III Immortalized In Song

“I’m from where they raise taxes, homeless get evicted / Just what Norcross depicted, a city apocalyptic / Dana Redd don’t run shit, she restricted, a puppet with strings twisted / The city’s mayor never existed.”

So you’re Camden Mayor Dana Redd. Or you’re South Jersey Democratic power broker (boss) George Norcross. And suddenly, questions about your political dealings have crossed from the back rooms and wonky websites into pop culture. Uh-oh. That can’t be good for the ol’ legacy.

With a hat-tip to Save Jersey, this is the new video for the song  “Voices (Camden NJ Anthem),” featuring a number of Camden’s most notable rappers and anchored by Big Lou.  Starting around the 5:00 mark, he says the lines quoted at the top of this diary.

Thoughts, Blue Jersey?  

Open Thread: The Whitney Houston Flag Debate

Do a quick search for “@GovChristie” on twitter and you will find that many folks, including veterans and families of service members, are expressing displeasure at the governor’s decision to fly flags at half mast on the day of Whitney Houston’s funeral. Christie has defended the decision, noting that her cultural contribution warrants the honor. Gee, wouldn’t it be helpful if there were some sort of official rules related to this issue?

Turns out there is such a set of rules – United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1, also known as the Flag Code. And while “actions not specifically included in the Code may be deemed acceptable as long as proper respect is shown,” section 7m specifically notes the circumstances under which the flag can be flown at half-mast.

None of the listed conditions seem to match the death of an entertainer. That is, of course, not to minimize in any way Houston’s contribution to popular culture or the many lives she touched with her music. That is simply to say, there are lots of entertainers from New Jersey; exactly how famous and/or influential does one have to be to receive this honor? The subjectivity involved with having to decide who does and doesn’t get flags flown at half mast seems like exactly the kind of reason we have a Flag Code in the first place. But that’s just me.

(Click here to the the U.S. Flag Code.)

Open thread – what do you think?  

Fracking Causes Ohio Earthquakes – NJ Next?

Hydraulic fracturing – better known as fracking – has been popping up in New Jersey a lot lately. It’s a process whereby natural gas is shaken loose and captured from deep underground deposits. Fracking is widely controversial for multiple reasons, all of which relate to the safety of the practice. We’ve reported on it a few times here at Blue Jersey.

Well, it looks like those urging caution and re-evaluation of the practice might not be alarmist party poopers after all. In Youngstown, Ohio, fracking waste water caused two earthquakes on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. The quakes measured 2.7 and 4.0 respectively on the Richter scale; they did little damage and no one was injured. However, scientists know for sure that the quakes were in fact caused by the operation of a fracking waste water injection well used by nearby Northstar Disposal Services. How do they know this? Because between March and November of 2011, nine earthquakes took place in the otherwise earthquake-free Youngstown area. Nine! And so the Ohio Department of Natural Resources teamed up with scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LEDO) to place seismographs around the area, to test what seemed like the glaringly obvious answer: that the fracking waste water operation was, in fact, causing earthquakes.

The Christmas and New Years quakes provided the LEDO scientists with conclusive evidence – with a 95% rate of certainty, that fracking caused all 11 earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio between March and New Year’s Eve.

Fracking – it makes people sick, makes tap water flammable, fills dangerous pipelines and CAUSES EARTHQUAKES.

Here in the Garden State, the latest action in this fight came in November when the Delaware River Basin Commission decided to postpone a vote on natural gas regulations which could have opened the door to the construction of up to 35,000 fracking wells in the Delaware basin. That basin provides drinking water for 15.6 million people – 5% of the population of the United States. The postponement of the vote was considered a victory by environmentalists, but it was only a delay – not an outright rejection of fracking.

New Jersey should ban fracking, as well as the transport of natural gas acquired through the process – at the very least until the EPA completes its study on the practice’s safety, which concludes in 2014. (One can only hope the EPA will incorporate the Youngstown earthquakes into their final report.) This summer, legislation banning the practice was sent to Governor Christie; he issued a conditional veto, weakening the ban to a one-year moratorium with no teeth and all of the important loose ends left un-tied. And though legislators are currently considering override legislation that could protect NJ against future DRBC regulation changes, it’s not clear why the DRBC would move on fracking at all without some clarity from the EPA.

Fracking is an issue that impacts all of New Jersey. Here are recent related bits from Cumberalnd County, Jersey City and Trenton.

And if you know anyone in Ohio, they can help by signing here.

Choi Endorses Pallone, Potosnak Alone Facing Lance in 7th

Blue Jersey has learned that Jun Choi is calling Frank Pallone to give his endorsement to Pallone’s candidacy, and dropping out of contention for a seat in the 2012 election.  Choi had outraised Leonard Lance during the cycle, but because of redistricting no longer lives in the 7th district.  He now lives in Pallone’s district.

That leaves Blue Jerseyan Ed Potasnak as the  presumptive candidate against Lance next year.  Ed’s website is at http://edpotosnak.com/ and you can volunteer or donate there.