NJ5

Warren County Built a Courtroom Wrong. Freeholders Won’t Admit Fault.

There has been a dispute in Warren County for the past few years, ever since they built a courtroom with a pillar that blocks the defense tables’ view of the jury and witness stand.

How can a defendant be afforded a fair trial if his lawyers are not allowed to see the witness stand, much less a jury?

It was a boner of a move by the county to pay for a courtroom that can’t be used, but these things happen.

There have been too many delays in an already crowded courthouse. It’s a very frustrating thing. Anyone who has made a similar mistake can sympathize, but the all-GOP freeholder board should have known better.

The rules were available to the county and to the architects they hired when they decided to build it anyway. They should admit their mistakes and rebuild. But no, here come the talking points: “It’s about taxpayer money!

The County’s solution?

A state senate bill proposal would give the County the power to decide that denying a defendant’s right to full access to the courts is “suitable” solely because they don’t want to be responsible for raising the money to fix it.  

Jan wants Bill Maher to Flip the 5th District & Get Rid of Scott Garrett

This is Jan Bidwell. She’s seen Bill Maher tell his viewers he wants to Flip a District, and she wants that district to be CD5, to get rid of Scott Garrett. (Don’t know Flip a District? Daily Beast will explain). You can make one of these, and send it around – to get rid of Garrett or anybody else you think should go. Let us know if you do.

Anti-social Media

promoted by Rosi

Many members of Congress (and other politicians) engage in some or numerous forms of social media – some are more prolific than others and some in more forms (twitter, facebook, etc.) than others.  Some engage their followers with comments or replies to tweets.

 

And some, like NJ’s Rep. Scott Garrett, use it to broadcast relatively meaningless quotes, veiled insults at Democrats and President Obama (some not even being accurate on basic facts) and other false choices or equivalencies.  His page on Facebook has been around for a while but not one (as far as I have ever seen) comment to a post and no engagement with the roughly 3,200 people who “like” his page (both fans and haters).

 

His Twitter account, started way back in late November 2012, is similar.  Retweets of the Heritage Foundation or Politico or Republican Party talking points, many of which are thinly veiled swipes at someone or repeated on his Facebook feed.

 

If this is outreach, his followers and constituents should be outraged.  This is not joining the 21st century – this is not engagement and this is not listening.  Hell, it is about as little social interaction and still saying that you are using social media.

 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – nor should anyone who he “represents”.  This is exactly how he has dealt with his constituents for close to a decade now.

Garrettown- Mass Murder Capital of the USA

In reality, we can pick one of a number of New Jersey Republican Congressmen, especially over the past few years with many lockstep votes, but Scott Garrett has the most consistent voting pattern when it comes to policies that favor environments like the Aurora movie theater massacre, the Sikh temple mass murder in Wisconsin, the Oregon mall murders, the should-be-unfathomable murder of more than 20 elementary schoolchildren, along with teachers and other school officials and the shooting in an Alabama hospital over the past few weeks.

To those who think that this is not the time, they are right.  It is long past time.  To those who think that it isn’t fair to point fingers at Congressmen, voting records, like elections, have consequences.  And Scott Garrett has made it easier for all of these massacres to occur, as well as the ones that preceded them – not to mention those that have yet to occur, but most certainly will occur.

As Bill Orr noted this morning, NJ has decent gun laws as compared to other states, but they fall far short of what they could be.  Scott Garrett, however, might as well be for terrorists being able to stock up on as many of whatever mass killing machine they want without anyone so much as looking into whether they are highly likely to use it to commit mass murder.

His voting record, as noted here, is pretty much a checklist of the biggest factors that can lead to a culture that consists of mass murder after mass murder – and in public places that you, me, kids, families – are all very likely to frequent on a regular basis.  It is no different from living in any country where “terrorism”, bus bombings, suicide bombings or any other mass public murder takes place far too regularly.  This list includes allowing someone to carry a concealed weapon into NJ (even though NJ doesn’t allow it) if they are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in that state, loosening restrictions on interstate gun purchases, banning a gun registration and trigger lock law in Washington DC (even though he always argues against federal overreach to states) and allowing loaded guns in national parks.  He even voted against including those who are on terror watch lists, pedophiles, stalkers and those who have committed domestic violence from the lax concealed carry laws he supported.

Couple that with Garrett’s vote, for example, on mental health parity with physical illness or how he voted against first responders like those who acted on 9/11 and you have you have a caustic mix of dangerous factors, ignored warning signs, lack of ability to spot and deal with a mental health issue properly and where someone who is a clear and present danger to themselves, their family or society as a whole can  go on a massive killing spree without getting detected until “no one could have known” except for all of the clear warning signs.

Voters across Garrett’s district, as well as other voters in NJ and across the country have a right to know what their Representatives are voting for in their names.  The votes have consequences, and in Garrettown, USA, those consequences are a deadly epidemic.

Adam who?

I’ve gone back and forth about promoting this excellent diary over the last few days. Why? Because even though my lifeblood is going to the actually viable campaigns of upstarts Upendra Chivukula (NJ-7) & Marie Corfield (LD-16), I believe in conceding no vote, no town, no district – wherever we are. But is Adam Gussen doing that? – Rosi

There have been many underfunded, longshot candidacies launched against Scott Garrett over the past decade. Some of the candidates – names are unimportant – contributed to their own wounds and left their supporters bitter and upset.

But Adam Gussen may take the cake for the worst, most embarrassing, and downright shameful candidacy ever run against Scott Garrett.

While we knew he was a longshot, unlikely to put together a serious challenge, he has proven that occasionally even the cynics can be too hopeful.

With two weeks to go, and following the most recent round of FEC filings, Adam Gussen has failed to prove that he has raised a single dollar. His FEC filing page is a testament to his consistency, 0, 0, 0, 0. (I would link to his FEC page, but when I try to access it, the FEC responds: “The candidate you have selected has not reported financial activity.”)

PolitickerNJ this week put Gussen in their “Losers” column:

No one expected the Teaneck Deputy Mayor to be ultra competitive in his general election campaign challenge of U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5), but the Democrat to date has supplied no evidence that he’s spending any money.

I am not trying to humiliate Mr Gussen, but a failure on this magnitude, a campaign of this inadequacy, is inexcusable. The 5th should be one of New Jersey’s most competitive House seats. He has had nearly a year to raise money, nearly a year to figure out the basics of running for Congress. He faced an uphill challenge, but we didn’t expect he would take out a shovel and dig an even deeper hole.

Out of the many candidates who have dissapointed Democrats and activists in the 5th before, Gussen may be the worst. Partially because there was a real opportunity wasted.

 

Why Garrett Loves the Fifth District Primary Process

Yeah, we’ll be discussing NJ-5 for a while. Again. Still. – promoted by Rosi

Every two years we all jump on Blue Jersey to discuss if we can find a candidate to beat Scott Garrett.  So far it hasn’t happened.  In my humble opinion, one of the big reasons that we haven’t been able to find a good candidate to stand up is simple: The party line on the ballot.

The BCDO line candidate won the fifth district primary yet again yesterday.  Looking at the numbers of the Democratic Primary in the Bergen County part of the  Fifth is a near useless endeavor.  The reason Gussen did so well in Bergen is simple: the party line.  This is a sad but very real reality.  In years where there is a low primary turnout, the majority of primary voters are uneducated on the candidates.  So what they do instead of educating themselves and making an intelligent choice, is vote straight down the line.  Time and again we have seen Fifth district candidates be able to put their campaigns into cruise control and coast to victory on the line.  The result of the line is that potentially good candidates are scared away from running.  While the candidates that do run don’t let themselves get fully invested in their campaigns, because everyone who has been around Bergen politics long enough know that you have to get the line and not getting it puts months of hard work to waste.

My mother (Camille Abate for anyone that doesn’t know) is a perfect example of why the line dilutes potential fifth district candidates.  Following her first run for Congress in 2006, she wrote a less than tactful email that was “leaked” stating that Joe Ferriero ran the BCDO like a mob.  She then decided she was going to run again in 2007–this time with a much more professional campaign.  At the BCDO convention that year Mr. Ferriero told every committee member in his pocket to vote for Dennis Shulman, the vast majority of them did.  Even though we didn’t get the line, our campaign didn’t think much of the results.  After all we were running a real campaign this time and had raised a bunch of money ($290K by primary day).  We were very confident, feeling we had marketed our campaign significantly better in 2008 than in 2006.  However the result–much like this year–was nearly identical to 2006.  I’m not saying whether she should have won or lost the primary–thats old news–but to spend that much money and have the result be basically identical is telling.  We had campaigned from June 2007-June 2008, spending 40-60 hours a week raising money on the phones, and spending the rest of our time canvassing (usually to a positive response).  Despite all of that, the line still proved to be more powerful.  

My mother said afterward she didn’t think she would ever run again.  She couldn’t afford to spend that much time of her life campaigning only to have it potentially be torpedoed–at the BCDO convention–before the primary ever takes place.  I think many potential fifth district candidates feel the same way.  In the two election cycles (counting this one) since 2008, no candidate has made a full time committment to running for congress.  I believe the party line has a lot to do with that.

As I said in a post earlier today, Adam Gussen raised no money, had almost no social media presence, and did almost no campaigning.  Yet Adam Gussen won 55% of the vote.  If it isn’t clear now, I don’t think it ever will be: we need open primaries throughout New Jersey.  We need to force citizens to educate themselves on the candidates.  Until this happens, our party bosses will continue to hand pick our candidates, and much of New Jersey (and most of Bergen) will essentially continue to be a Democratic Oligarchy.

If we really want to beat Garrett, we need a system that encourages potential candidates to make running for congress a full time gig, encourage them to take the hours, days, weeks, and months it takes to adequately fundraise, and promote primary competition.  I believe open primaries and eliminating the line would do this.

We expect better than this from Democrats

“I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to my death your right to say it” – Patrick Henry

You may be familiar with that quote, or the one below:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to The United States Constitution

These are very basic guiding values in this Country. Free speech – regardless of how popular or unpopular it may be viewed as, not suppressing voices that you don’t agree with. But up in the Fifth Congressional District, at least one Candidate, Adam Gussen, seems to think that “free speech” should be based on an artificial and undefined “filter”.

A bit of backstory for those who aren’t familiar with the Fifth District – as of now, there are three candidates, Gussen (the Deputy Mayor of Teaneck, which is new to the District), Jason Castle, a veteran who did not obtain enough signatures to be put on the Bergen County Democratic ballot, and Diane Sare, a LaRouche Democrat who is running in the primary because the LaRouche Party couldn’t get a separate line on the ballot. But all three are running.

Now, Sare’s views aren’t all that popular with the Democratic establishment, and they may not be all that popular in general – she is calling for the impeachment of Obama but also is looking to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which has a lot of merit. But I don’t want to discuss her candidacy here, since I don’t know enough about it. I want to discuss the defense of free but objectionable (I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt as objectionable for now regardless of whether it actually is) speech by the Democratic Party – especially those who are running for Federal office.

In the article linked above, it was reported that Gussen said the following about Sare:

“I find the LaRouche platforms and their candidates to be offensive and destructive.

“I think that the Democratic Party, while honoring and giving life to the ideals and concepts of free speech, that there is a reasonable level of filtering that could take place. This is noise that should be filtered out,”

Now, I’m not sure where there is a way to find out exactly where the tipping point is for “reasonable filtering” of free speech. For example, let’s say that Sare is calling for impeachment of Obama, and cites his signing of NDAA, which allowed for the indefinite detainment of US citizens on American soil without trial. Did Gussen think it was ok to call for Bush’s impeachment for that very same thing, but it isn’t ok if it is Obama? What is so destructive and offensive that it can trump the suppression of First Amendment rights – especially by a Congressional Candidate?

Now, this isn’t to say that I am supporting Jason Castle or Diane Sare. But it does set off an alarm that a DEMOCRATIC Congressional Candidate supports the suppression of free speech based on arbitrary adjectives such as “destructive” or “offensive”. Perhaps it is the mere calling for suppression of free speech that is destructive and offensive.

The importance and impact of Congressional races

I’ve been meaning to write something of this nature for a while now, and while my thoughts are somewhat general and somewhat specific to my hometown Bergen County, I’ll try to mix in both specific thoughts as well as general views.

 

The Congressional race is every other year – the only National level race that is so frequent.  The Congressional candidate (or sitting Congressman/Woman) is probably one of the highest profile politicians in the County Democratic Party.  This person has a somewhat direct line and potential influence with the State Democratic Party, the County Democratic Party and in many instances, the US Senators and Executive Branch (not to mention the DCCC or DNC).

 

When a County Party is in disarray, there is a ripple effect both up and down ballot.  There is an enthusiasm gap that impacts the County races (Freeholder, Clerk, Sheriff, County Executive) and also races from Town Council to School Board – who can become the next Town Councilperson who can become the next Freeholder Candidate who can become the next State Assembly or Senate Candidate or….the next Congressman/woman.  On the other hand, depressed enthusiasm and lower volunteering lead to lower voter turnout and can tip elections on a local, County, State or even the US Senate or Presidential race – if you look at a County that is as large as Bergen for example.

 

This leads to a stronger (or weaker) bench, directly impact the viability of the next County, Statewide or Congressional race and also indirectly impact these races for the next few cycles at a minimum.  Banking on “the other side being worse” is a short term fix at best and shows no long term vision (case in point:  tell me where there is any platform or agenda on the BCDODCBC website).

 

Taking this to the example I know so well – let’s take a look at a few things.  The Ferriero-led Party blew up and crashed under the weight of pay-to-play, corruption and a focus on keeping certain Democrats elected at the expense of the good of the County (and State) Party.  There was little focus or support on the Congressional race – even though Bergen is home to the overwhelming majority of Congressional District voters.  The lack of an articulated vision is still lacking from any visible correspondence or as noted above – the County Party web site. 

 

After the 2008 election, there was no desire to recruit or groom a Congressional Candidate – due to many factors but even in good times (see 2012’s “good times” as an example), this is hardly a focus.  Redistricting played a role, but the “bench” got swept out of office in 2009 and 2010 (which was an unmitigated disaster on the Congressional level).  I’m not sure how this impacted the Town Council races but I don’t believe there were any gains made on the State level to go along with the highly touted “comeback sweep” in the 2011 County elections. 

 

But I can say this:  even with 2010 being a “wave election”, another 10,000 votes overall or so (or a swing of 5,000) could have turned the Republican clean sweep into either a mixed bag or a near full hold by the Bergen County Democrats.  And while that seems like a lot, this article notes that less than 50% of close to 500,000 eligible voters in the County actually voted in the County races – and the Congressional Candidate received a bit more than half of the votes that were cast for either the County Executive or the Sheriff race.

 

Tell me that you don’t think that the potential wasn’t there to at least have a much better showing – even with all of the inherent flaws and forces working against Bergen County Democrats?  Certainly, the Congressional race was a lost cause and yes, those totals didn’t include the entire County but really?  The other Congressional race – with an incumbent who had the “highest profile Democrat in the County” status – is now a heated primary with yet again, nobody that stepped up or was groomed from 2010 (redistricting aside as you HAVE to plan for something like this) we now have a similar situation on the Congressional level, where the only candidate to appear on the County ballot is the Deputy Mayor of a town that was just added to the Congressional District. 

 

What’s more, word is already circulating about Democrats in Sussex and Warren Counties hesitant to back this candidate now.  There is a real chance to regain a couple of the Countywide Freeholder seats in November.  In fact, a strong Congressional candidate and a strong platform for the County Party would have gone a long way towards helping Senator Menendez and President Obama in their re-election efforts.  It would have had a ripple effect on the County and local races, and could build momentum for the next wave of leaders.

 

But it takes commitment and dedication to ideas and values – not just winning some of the next races in the upcoming election.  That will motivate people to get involved.  And the Congressional race is the lynchpin of all of this – it is the only thing that has such an impact up ticket and down ballot with such consistency.  It is the only race that can bring activists together to help and get involved on a local and national level.

 

Look at a strong County Party and you’ll likely find good solid Congressional races, incumbents or candidates.  Look at County Parties in disarray and you are likely to see a lack of consideration for fielding consistently strong Congressional candidates. 

 

All politics is local, but this year’s local officeholders are next year’s potential leaders.

 

Despite What Scott Garrett Says, Tax Cuts Don’t Pay For Themselves

cross posted at http://retiregarrett.com

Scott Garrett would have you believe tax cuts don’t need to be paid for because they pay for themselves in the form of additional revenue to the Treasury generated by the expanded economic growth.  Unfortunately that’s simply not the case.

Ronald Reagan used that logic in the 1980’s when he slashed taxes primarily for the wealthy arguing that money left in the hands of job creators would lead to an expanded economy.  Such an expanded economy would create new jobs and generate so much revenue for the Treasury that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.  The federal deficit increased 189% during the 8 years of the Reagan Presidency.  In actual dollars, the deficit went from $992 Billion to $2.8 Trillion.  George H.W. Bush was correct when he opposed this strategy labeling it “Voodoo Economics.”  “Trickle Down” economics became the punch line to jokes across the country and even Ronald Reagan’s Director of OMB, David Stockman blamed the ever-expanding deficit on the Reagan tax cuts.