Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

It’s hard to believe the Democrats took control of Congress.

Last year, for the first time since 1994, the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. I was confident that the war would be placed on a path of finally winding down. But, unfortunately, the president has continued to receive the funding he needs to continue his insane war policy.

Democratic leaders Pelosi and Reid have been mostly powerless to achieve their agenda as they lack a veto-proof majority.

This week a new twist and turn occurred in the Iraq War that does not bode well at all: the New York Times headline read “U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq”. This is a firm reminder of how the Administration has not at all thought through all aspects of this war. It also is shades of exactly how the Viet Nam War became expanded in to Laos and Cambodia, as that war expanded in to the entire region beyond the borders of Viet Nam.

According to the Times article, “The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials.”

“Sunday's airstrikes provoked outrage in Baghdad”…Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government, called the attack “a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.” He blamed the U.S. military, which controls Iraqi airspace, for “allowing Turkish warplanes to cross the border.” And our “Allies” the Iraqi parliament “condemned the attacks”
“The American role in aiding Turkey, a NATO ally, could complicate U.S. diplomatic initiatives in Iraq, particularly efforts to push Iraqi political leaders to enact legislation aimed at promoting political reconciliation.”

Finally, “Turkey has threatened to mount a full-scale, cross-border incursion to clear out PKK camps in northern Iraq. That could effectively open a new front in the Iraq war and disrupt the flow of supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq, which receives 70 percent of its air cargo and a third of its fuel through Turkey.

A very strong argument can be made that our continued presence in Iraq continues to de-stabilize the region even further. Yup, the ‘surge’ is working just fine.

Howard Dean is coming for breakfast

Chairman Dean

Gov. Howard Dean, seen here about 2 minutes after his unanimous election a couple years ago as DNC Chair, is coming to the Garden State on Friday, October 5, to raise money for the NJ State Democratic Committee.

Dean’s faced down criticism from 2006 DCCC Chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and a howling call for his resignation from the DNC Chairmanship from (Hillary Clinton supporter) James Carville. In his paradigm-shifting 50-State Strategy, which shifts money and power out of the beltway over to state and local organizing, Dean’s found his first line of defense in the netroots and in the grassroots. And 50-State Strategy means something in New Jersey.

This is breakfast. For $35 bucks, with the money going to NJSDC. Event details here.

Wrong Finger, Sir

bush


President George W. Bush coming to the Garden State today, bringing with him his 28% approval rating and the dark cloud that follows him everywhere he goes. Fun!

Anti-Bush Rally details here and here. We’ll crank up the Springsteen, and have a few things to say ourselves. Who can bring the beachballs?

In his 6 years in the White House, this is the first time ever that Bush has come here just to raise money for the Jersey Republicans. And yeah, the Republicans really need the cash. Dems have a staggering fundraising advantage, with Dem incumbents going into ’07 with $15.5 million to the Repubs’ $5.3 million, and Dems with more $$ in the bank.

But it’s more than that. Star-Ledger calls it right:

Not since Watergate have New Jersey Republicans endured such a painful losing streak. It’s been a decade since voters last elected a GOP governor. They hold their fewest number of seats in the Legislature since 1979. A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since Bush’s father ran for office in 1988. And they haven’t won a U.S. Senate seat since before the disco era.

The NJ GOP’s in malaise. From the same Star-Ledger piece, a longtime Republican consultant is quoted, anonymously:

We don’t have an identity of being good at anything or being for anything

They got nothing. And by contrast, the state Dems are surging, with incursions into bastions like Cape May and Bergen counties, and recently Howard Dean’s spirited 50-State Strategy helping to drive surprise Special Election wins in hard-to-crack red areas like Hunterdon, Morris and Ocean counties. And there’s an unprecedented, though still-wobbly sense of cooperation between the NJ State Democratic Committee and activist groups.

So, welcome to New Jersey, Mr. President. The Republicans need the cash you can generate real, real bad. But there’s a huge price to getting too close to you right now. They’ve already got their own dark clouds, after all.

28-Point Approval Rating Man Coming to NJ

bush

In search of Garden State Republican cash, President Bush will be in NJ on Wednesday afternoon, May 30.  It’s $300 for one ticket, and couples don’t get a price break – that’s $600. If you want your picture taken with President, you’re going to pony up $5,000 smackeroos.

That’s a pretty high price for a man with a national approval rating of 28%. In fact, hey, that’s $178.57 per approval rating point, but I hope the Republicans can hold that smile.

Republican state Chair Tom Wilson, Sen. Leonard Lance and Asm Alex DeCroce co-host.

Democrats ought to be able to enjoy the President’s visit too. Stay tuned for details on that.

Help NJ Send a Woman to Congress in 2008

Linda StenderIn just 30 seconds, you can give Linda Stender the early boost she needs to be elected in 2008. Democracy for America is having an online poll to determine its “DFA Grassroots All-Star” – their first 2008 endorsement – and New Jersey has a chance to win this great early opportunity with your help.

After nearly beating Mike Ferguson in 2006, New Jersey’s progressive powerhouse Linda Stender is one of just seven candidates up for early DFA endorsement for a 2008 run for Congress.

Vote for Linda Stender

Winning this grassroots challenge will result in a HUGE early boost in money, volunteers and support. But the contest ends midnight Sunday, so she needs your vote NOW.

Linda Stender DFA

Stender got huge DFA support in 2006. Local endorsement from all four local DFA groups in NJ-7 – Hunterdon, Union, Somerset & Middlesex DFAs – plus NJ for Democracy’s statewide endorsement. That was followed by a national DFA endorsement, funding and mobilization. It very nearly put her over the top. She deserved every shred of it then, and we have an opportunity to do even more now.

You and your friends don’t have to be members of Democracy for America (DFA) to drop in and tell DFA you want their pick to be Stender. (Though you can join DFA right here.) You just need to want an amazing progressive Democratic woman to represent New Jersey in Congress.

Winning this thing would throw a big national spotlight on Stender and New Jersey. Last year’s winner of DFA’s Grassroots All-Stars competition, by the way, was Jerry McNerney. That’s Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11). He lost his first congressional race, then ran a second time, and beat the dastardly Richard Pombo.

Stender’s already weakened Mike Ferguson. And New Jersey has zero women in the Congressional Delegation. We can change that. Let’s start early and send Linda to Congress!

Sad News from Virginia Tech

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Michael Pohle, a 2002 graduate of Hunterdon Central High School, was apparently among the students killed in yesterday’s campus tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Michael death still hasn’t been confirmed by officials at the Blacksburg, Va. campus, but classmates and friends are already beginning to gather at the Pohle home near Flemington, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat newspaper.

Michael was in his fifth year Tech, majoring in biological sciences. At Hunterdon Central, he played both football and lacrosse.

Thirty-two students killed in the deadliest shooting spree in this country’s history. Virginia is the second-easiest state to buy a gun in, by the way. Think on that while you look at this boy’s face. Our thoughts are with his folks tonight.

50-State Strategy kicks ass in Flemington, NJ.

Tonight, in my tiny town of Flemington, New Jersey, Mark Legato (D) beat out Julie Luster (R) for a contested Borough Council seat Legato won in November by just one vote and Luster has contested ever since. We won by 30 votes tonight.


Our secret weapons were two young women in sneakers and blue jeans who pounded out our GOTV program over a sleepless two days in the inadequately-heated Hunterdon County Dem HQ. It was more efficient, more productive and frankly, one hell of a lot more fun than anything we have ever done. The Republicans didn’t know what hit them. And it drove the win. 


One of the fundamentals of Gov. Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy is Show up everywhere. And that doesn’t mean just mayor’s races in Salt Lake City, state contests in Alaska or gaining ground in the Show-Me State. For this to work it also has to mean that we concede no vote even in the most crimson portions of very blue states. Places like Hunterdon County. 50-State Strategy = 21-County Strategy.


So here’s the thing: Next time you hear some self-serving dinosaur like James Carville spin bullshit about replacing Howard Dean as DNC Chair, remember the paradigm shift Dean presides over. Money lifts from the hands of Beltway consultants, and pays for organizers like Mary Campbell and Colleen Montgomery who fan out and help generate victories powered by us. Boom. Out of those victories emerge better government and better direction.


We won in Flemington tonight. If James Carville or Rahm Emanuel or anybody else wants to take down Howard Dean, they have to knock me down first. And I’m in a feisty mood. Did I mention we won?

UPDATE & Postscript, later that same year: On the night of this victory, our next candidate stood on a chair and announced that she was running next: Linda Mastellone, the first-ever candidate to emerge directly out of Hunterdon DFA. We won that race too, in a blitz of DFA-intensive work. And with Linda’s win, the Democrats took control here, here in this town where Republicans outnumber Democrats two-to-one. Boom! – – Rosi

One Million

Congratulations to everybody in the Blue Jersey community: Our little bloggie …. right … this … second just turned one million!

That’s 1,000,000 page views. Woo hoo!

Shout outs, congrats, and best wishes gratefully accepted. But here’s the deal, this enterprise wouldn’t have soared the way it has without the lively, contentious, and vivid commentary from everybody in the Blue Jersey community. Thank you, you rock it like a rocket.

I have issues with MLK Day

The most-visited grave in Arlington National Cemetary is that of John F. Kennedy. I know where it is, but that’s not who I visit. At the base of one of two broad paths up to Kennedy’s eternal flame, is a much simpler plot, with a much simpler marker: Civil Rights Advocate.

You have to walk around to the back to see who that is: my hero Thurgood Marshall. The first African-American on the Supreme Court didn’t want that splashy title staring out at mourners. He wanted his life’s driving force known.

I’ve got a problem with the way Martin Luther King Day is observed in much of the country. Yeah, I hate seeing it commercialized. But more than that, I take issue with the way MLK is remembered in the minds of a lot of white people. The Reverend was a smart tactician, a tough-as-nails organizer who knew what worked, and particularly in his last years, a man came to see the Vietnam War as an enemy of the poor. It’s hard to teach that to kids in the age of conservatism, because MLK would have taken issue with many of their teachers, their parents, and the people who represent them in Congress. He’d have spoken in fury. So instead, we’ve dumbed-down the memory of a complicated genius. And in some places we don’t do much more than teach him as an expression of pure-love, a kind of inoffensive Black Jesus. He was so much more.

Hey – La Igualdad del Estado del Jardín te está buscando.

UPDATE: Okay, the translation site is imperfect. Translated back, that means: The equality of the state of the garden is looking for to you. No disrespect intended to the lovely language, but you get the idea…

My high school Spanish is rusty, so I used a translation website to hit you with this:

Hey – Garden State Equality is looking for you.


Continuing its well-orchestrated outreach to the fullest spectrum of Jersey communities, Garden State Equality is now looking for people willing to speak about LGBTI issues in Spanish,  Chinese (several dialects), Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, Italian, Russian, Greek, French, Flemish, Dutch, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Aramaic, Ethiopian, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi among others.

This is just so smart. The success of progressive movements here will depend on our working together, across lines that typically divide us. Garden State Equality’s first smart move was to reach out to straight folks and frame  marriage equality clearly as a civil rights issue that anybody who values freedom, commitment and family stability can understand.