Author Archive: tabbycat31

Karl Rove in New Jersey

On Monday night, I sat in the overflow room at Rider University watching the man that is responsible for bringing us 8 years of George W. Bush, Karl Rove.  As a Democrat, I cannot stand the guy but did hear what he had to say.  And yes I did go into the event knowing that I was severely outnumbered, and thankful that I was not in the main room, but instead the overflow room.

With the exception of telling us how New Jersey broke his heart by voting for Kerry in 2004, he did not talk much about the Garden State, but instead mostly focused on the 2012 presidential election and the future of his party.  I for one found it very interesting to hear (and now know) the other side’s strategy.  He also spoke of three major events that will influence the outcome of the presidency this year— the Wisconsin special election in the Scott Walker recall, the Supreme Court’s decision (and the President’s response) to health care, and Iran.  

When asked about Citizens United, Rove (obviously a supporter because of his Crossroads SuperPAC) went on a rant about how unions, environmental groups, etc have been running ads on behalf of Democrats for years and it levels the playing field (funny how he conveniently left out groups like the NRA that traditionally support Republicans).  I wish I knew how to use the video feature on my new phone because what I witnessed was messaging at its finest (a skill in which Democrats traditionally lack).  

Given concerns about how Republicans are quickly becoming a party of older, white men, he was asked about the future of his party and how they can continue to be successful.  He said that they need to start running candidates that are not 72-year-old white men (as they ran in 2008) and run diverse candidates in order to appeal to those demographics, later saying that in a diverse state like Texas, the GOP holds all 28 elected statewide offices.  

I do apologize for being a day late in this writeup, but I think it was a healthy experience for me to see the spin master in action and a good introduction to opposition research for me.  Even though I was fuming at some of his responses on the inside, I did not let it show at all.  While there are a lot of questions that I would have liked to ask the man, I was polite and did not ask one myself (they had to be asked in writing and were selected by moderators).  

A challenge to marriage equality opponents

I spent two days in two weeks (and preparing for more) at the statehouse listening to testimony on marriage equality.  While I have yet to give a testimony myself (as a straight ally, I don’t have as good a story as the LGBT community does), I did give a written testimony on why it is important to me that this bill is passed (unfortunately I probably live in the worst district in the state when it comes to marriage equality).  

In the two days of testimony, all of the opposition’s arguments against marriage equality had to do with religion.  And in a country with freedom of religion, there are many various religions (and lack thereof) practiced in the United States, let alone a diverse state such as New Jersey (which is not exactly in the Bible Belt).  Quoting the Bible has absolutely no meaning to a non-Christian.  

Now by posting this challenge on Blue Jersey, I know that I am not exactly preaching to NOM’s choir, but I will post to any lurking marriage equality opponents.  Pretend that the legislature is 100% atheist.  Any arguments you make mentioning God, the Creator, scripture, etc are irrelevant.  Give ONE compelling reason why a non-believer should oppose marriage equality.

Looking forward, looking back

promoted by Rosi

Two years is a long time.  Just two years ago, I was at the beginning of my political career and just starting to see the ins and outs of campaigns.  That winter was my first experience going to the state house to lobby the legislature an issue that does not affect me, but I care deeply about.  Now, fast forward two years later, and I am still heading to the same state house to lobby a slightly different legislature (with a very different governor who promises to veto the bill) on the very same issue-marriage equality.   The general population has grown more accepting of the issue, as students who formed gay-straight alliances in school are now old enough to vote and a large state like my home state of New York passed marriage equality through their legislature (as New Jersey is now trying to do.)

Unlike two years ago, my schedule allowed me to attend the hearing where testimonies from both sides were heard.  On one side, I heard heartbreaking stories about how our “separate but equal” civil union law was not recognized by medical facilities and funeral directors, and the financial pain and hoops that civil unioned couples have to jump through to have their relationship recognized.  On the other side I heard sermons (including a direct reading of the Mormon Church’s teachings on marriage and family), and even a rant about how recognizing same sex marriage would lead to the government controlling circumcision.  And of course nothing on gay rights is complete without a Rick Santorum’s protégé comparing same sex marriage to marrying a dog (Perhaps I should get his name and give it to Dan Savage).  The one common theme I noticed among the opposition was their issue with the word “marriage” as if the definition has never changed over the years (that is a diary coming later this week as I further research the history of marriage).

Thankfully, unlike two years ago, not a single senator gave a disgusting “foot in mouth” speech about the LGBT community (that senator, Sean Kean, is now my assemblyman and will be as long as he wants to be as the district is one of the most Republican in the state) and even the opponents were respectful of the problems that civil unioned couples go through.  However, while there was a lot of talk (then and now) about the inequality of the civil union law, not a single marriage equality opponent introduced legislation to strengthen the civil union law by making healthcare providers recognize them (someone please correct me if I am wrong).  

If our current governor gets his way, he will dance around the marriage equality issue (as it would damage his presidential hopes by doing the right thing and signing the bill) by making this a ballot initiative, thus opening the airwaves to misinformation spread by the Mormon Church (as they did in California in 2008).  Marriage is a civil right (see Loving v. Virginia) period.  I am sorry Chris Christie, but civil rights should not be on the ballot period.   Could you imagine the society we would live in today had racial issues been decided by the people?

Fighting back against a bully governor

promoted by Rosi

Normally a story about a teenager in Kansas tweeting does not get my attention.  When 18-year-old high school senior Emma Sullivan was at an event with her governor at the statehouse last week, she used her cell phone to send the following tweet to her then 65 followers “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot”  (As of this writing, Emma has over 13,000 followers to her governor’s 3000)  In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback has staffers who monitor the Internet for content mentioning their bosses name.  Emma’s tweet was reported to her principal and the school was set to take disciplinary actions and make her apologize to the Governor.  Governor Brownback was using his position of power to bully a high school student for saying something negative about him online to her 65 Twitter followers.

But Emma did not back down and refused to apologize to the governor.  Today, instead of Emma apologizing to the governor, he apologized to her and her freedom of speech being under attack.  

Now imagine if Emma were a high school student in New Jersey instead of Kansas.  Now I admit that I do not know much about Governor Brownback and if he has a reputation as a bully or not, but Governor Christie DOES have a reputation as a bully.  He’s used his position of power to bully teachers, Democratic state senators, and the media (into fawning all over him).  Are New Jersey taxpayers paying someone to monitor the web for tweets like Emma’s?  How would Chris Christie handle a courageous high school student who refuses to back down?  

Unless there’s a high school student who is willing to tweet @govchristie and tell him that #heblowsalot, we may never know how he would handle such a situation.  However hopefully Emma’s courageousness will teach the Garden State that they can fight back against a bully governor– and win!

Spring Lake’s New Deal

promoted by Rosi

As most of you know just by looking around, New Jersey was damaged during Hurricane Irene this weekend. Some communities were hit harder than others. In my neck of the woods, no municipality was hit harder than Spring Lake– a wealthy resort community. When Mother Nature strikes, she does not know the difference between rich and poor. The boardwalk was destroyed during Irene and unlike many shore towns, Spring Lake cannot rebuild in time for the influx of tourists this weekend.

Who helped Christie weather Irene?

No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, most people will agree that Chris Christie stayed on top of everything when it came to Hurricane Irene and evacuating key areas in her path, such as the entire Jersey Shore (particularly Long Beach Island, Cape May, and Atlantic Counties).   (I am writing this from New York as a Jersey Shore evacuee.)  What many do not realize is that Christie could not have done his job without help from the very people that he will go back to demonizing as soon as the storm fades from our news cycle– public employees.  

When most people in the shore communities left and sought safe shelter elsewhere, a few stayed behind because it was a part of their job.  Police and firefighters put their own lives in danger for the sake of keeping to make sure the few that stayed behind and the communities would survive the storm.  They could have been like everyone else and left, but they answered the call of duty to serve the community.

As this fall’s legislative and next year’s presidential election cycles heat up, you can bet that Chris Christie will hit the campaign trail as a hero for his response to Irene (although many speculate that he acted the way he did because he visited with Mickey Mouse the last time a disaster hit New Jersey).  The media, still pushing him to run for president will say that he acted presidential.  

But very few will recognize that he could not have done it without the public employees putting their own lives at risk to help the communities in which they serve.   The public employees should get the respect they deserve.  They are not “union thugs.”  They do not milk the taxpayer dry.   They risked their own lives to make sure you were safe.  After all that, is protecting their right to collective bargaining too much to ask?

Why Wisconsin’s elections matter

promoted by Rosi

Back in the spring, I posted a diary about my time in Wisconsin recalling a Republican state senator who voted on a “budget-repair” bill that ended collective bargaining for public employees.  I felt then that the chance to be a part of history and participate in a recall.  Should things work out today, and the Wisconsin Democrats time things right, I very well might be back in Wisconsin this fall to recall Scott Walker himself.

Democrats were successful in Wisconsin for the first two rounds of the recalls.  We successfully filed recall petitions against 6 of 8 eligible Republican state senators and all of the “fake Democrats” lost in the primaries (Wisconsin does not have partisan voter registration).  Our ultimate success or failure comes down to today– election day.  If Democrats do not vote, then the Koch brothers get the message loud and clear that they can use their money to tamper with elections.  They’ve funded some dirty tricks in Wisconsin lately, and don’t assume that we will not see them in November, as Christie is an ally of theirs.  

The View from Wisconsin

Promoted by Rosi. Another fascinating view of Wisconsin is ‘Countering the Siege’, NYT’s profile of AFSCME leader Gerald McEntee.

In February, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker did what a guy like Chris Christie only dreams of.  He pushed a bill through the legislature ending collective bargaining for public employees such as teachers.  The people in Wisconsin were not happy about it and took to the streets of Madison (and throughout the state).  People in New Jersey even took to the streets of Trenton, and that was as much about Walker’s heavier clone as it was about Walker and Wisconsin.

Flash forward two months and the Wisconsin protests have largely fallen out of our short attention span news cycle.  Wisconsin Democrats have done something that I think that the national party (and New Jersey party) should take a lesson from.  They located and used their spines by leaving the state and later filing recall papers against all eight Republican state senators eligible for recall (an elected official in Wisconsin must serve for at least a year before being eligible for a recall).  So this campaign staffer, always in search of her next gig, watched the recalls like a hawk and landed in the smallest city to have an NFL team.   As of this writing, the paperwork has been turned in to recall Republican state senators Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper.  The Democrats need to flip three state senate seats for control.

Before heading to Wisconsin, I always wondered how the same state can give us a gem like Russ Feingold and an idiot like Paul Ryan.  Now being here in this political climate, the state is as divided as ever.  The only thing that people agree on is their Super Bowl champions.   Unless you are a completely apathetic college student, everyone has an idea of what went on in Madison and has a strong opinion about it one way or another.  I’ve never before seen a campaign with so few undecided and/or persuadable “voters” (recall petition signers must be eligible to vote in Wisconsin).  So far I have braved the cold and snow (I swear it was spring when I left New Jersey), confrontational teabaggers and College Republicans, and countless encounters with security and law enforcement to fight a historic battle that I believe my (hypothetical) kids will read about in their history books.  After an undeclared 30 year war on organized labor and the middle class, we are finally starting to fight back.  The tide has the chance to turn around and Wisconsin has the potential to lead the way.

The most common question that I am asked here in Wisconsin by fellow staffers, voters I am talking to, and people in general is “why are you here all the way from New Jersey?”  Putting aside the fact that my chosen career field takes me all over the place, my main reason for driving over 1000 miles is that New Jersey has a similar governor to Scott Walker and the only thing that is holding him back is a Democratic controlled legislature (although one can make an argument about exactly how much the legislature is holding him back).  If the GOP takes control of Trenton in November, I see him trying to push an identical bill through in Trenton as what Walker pushed through Madison.  The middle class and Democratic Party in Wisconsin did everything in their power to stop Walker.  It is about time that the middle class and Democratic Party in New Jersey show Christie similar treatment.  This November, the New Jersey Democrats must use Wisconsin as a strong GOTV message.

Twas a year into Christie

This took me longer than I thought as I am still playing catch-up with New Jersey politics.  Happy Holidays Blue Jersey 🙂

Twas a year into Christie, when all through the state

Every worker was stirring, fearing this could be the date.

The pink slips were hidden in the cabinet with care

In hopes that the unsuspecting employee would not be aware.

The children were nestled in their overcrowded classes,

In a ploy to make the teacher’s union look like jackasses.

And high school students walked out all over the map,

Signaling to him they would not put up with his crap.

Christie’s lesson to Democrats

This is my first diary since coming back from the campaign trail (in Kentucky) after the Great Democratic Shellacking of 2010.   In my opinion we Democrats lost for one reason alone– that we lack the spine to stand up to the Republicans and call their bluff on all the lies that they’ve spread about the President, the party, and major legislation.  There are a few with spines (unfortunately the man with the biggest spine lost big time) but where we need the spine is at the top.  President Obama is deadset on compromising away his base while trying to reach people who will never vote for him.  

In January Obama will not have the House anymore and really needs to start to stand up and fight.  If only there were someone in politics who faced a legislature controlled by the other party and gets his own party to march lockstep with him…… Wait……there is…..

His name is Chris Christie.  A man so bold that he will blame everyone but himself on a simple error that cost his state millions.  A man who got every moderate member of his own party to vote lockstep with him when it came to a veto override funding women’s health.   And when it comes to “bipartisanship” he does not care.  He’ll steamroll over his opponents.  

As one of Chris Christie’s strongest opponents I hate to give him credit for anything, but I will when it is due.  It’s long overdue.  President Obama, it’s time that you learn a lesson from a man who wants to kill public education.  If you don’t learn your lesson, he might just take your job away from you in 2012.