Juan and BlueJersey.net in Star Ledger Article

The Star Ledger today had a follow-up article on Peter Biondi’s award winning legislation

The most important part:

Others in the Internet community had plenty to say.

“This is overkill. This is just designed to have a chilling effect” on free speech, said Juan Melli, a Princeton graduate student who started the political site BlueJersey.net last fall. Technically, Melli said he had no idea how to verify identities of site users. “It just seems absurd.”

Way to represent, Juan!

Is Tom Kean Jr. Already Overtaxed?

Tom Kean Jr. has been handed a lot in his time in politics.  Since being beaten by Mike Ferguson in the Republican primary in 2000, Kean Jr. was appointed to fill a vacant NJ Assembly seat, won an election and then appointed to a vacant NJ State Senate seat.  In each case, he had to be appointed to the seat before he could win it from the electorate.

Now Kean Jr. is running for the United States Senate, a seat that Bob Menendez was appointed to when Jon Corzine vacated it to become Governor.  The challenge appears to be pretty tough on the young State Senator, since Kean Jr. is giving up an important committee seat he holds as a State Senator to take an easier, less controversial gig.

With a U.S. Senate campaign to wage, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R- Union) is giving up his seat on the powerful but time-consuming Senate budget committee for a spot on the judiciary committee.

Kean will trade seats with one of the major forces of the judiciary committee: Sen. William Gormley (R-Atlantic), who has served on that panel for 22 years and was once its high-profile chairman. …

  After Gov. Jon Corzine presents his budget March 21, the budget committee will hold nearly two months of hearings as other lawmakers take a break. The annual June budget scramble follows. Without his budget responsibilities, Kean will have more far time to devote to his statewide race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

The switch has other implications. Kean will be able to duck some politically dicey budget talks …

If Kean Jr. doesn’t think that he can do his job as a State Senator and run for the United States Senate then he should resign and campaign full-time.  But this halfway measure, giving up a plum assignment that can deliver resources directly to his constituents, in order to duck tough choices and hard work just shows he is already overtaxed and we haven’t even reached the primary yet.

Bob Menendez, on the other hand, accepted a tougher position by moving up from the House to the Senate.  Instead of representing 650,000 people in a small area of Northeast Jersey, he now represents 8,400,000 people in the entire state. 

NJ7 – Linda Stender for Congress

My name is Linda Stender, and I’m running for Congress in the 7th Congressional District against Mike Ferguson. I wanted to introduce myself to BlueJersey readers and let you know why I’m running.

I am currently in my third term as the Assemblywoman for the 22nd Legislative District, which includes parts of Union, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. I served as Union County Freeholder from 1994-2002, Mayor of Fanwood from 1992-1995 and Councilwoman in Fanwood from 1988-1990. I have lived in Fanwood for 29 years, where my husband Richard and I have raised our three children.

I think many will agree that we desperately need a change in Washington, and that’s why I’m running this year. We’re embroiled in a war in Iraq with no plan and no end in sight. Congress has succumbed to a culture of corruption where too many of our elected representatives spend more time on lobbyist-funded golf outings that they do working on the people’s business. The Republicans in Washington are pushing to privatize Social Security. The new Medicare part D “plan” is doing nothing but confusing seniors and giving millions to the drug companies. And every step of the way, Mike Ferguson has remained a loyal rubber stamp to the Republican leadership – willing to do their bidding even when it directly conflicts with what his constituents need. Our nation is headed in the wrong direction, and Mike Ferguson continues to support the failed policies of the Bush administration.

As the only woman candidate running for Congress in New Jersey this year, I have a unique opportunity to talk about the issues most important to women, none of which is more important to me than reproductive freedom. In my career I have been a consistent supporter for choice because I trust women to make the right decisions. Mike Ferguson’s radical anti-choice position is clear. He supports a complete ban on abortions except to save the life of the mother, even in cases of rape or incest. He continues to support a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He opposes the life-saving promise of stem-cell research. He even voted to allow the government to intrude on the private medical decisions of families in the Terri Schiavo case.

It’s time for a new voice in Washington – a voice that will challenge the leadership and the President, ask the tough questions, shout for necessary reforms, fight for reproductive freedom, protect our nation against terrorism and work to return the right priorities to Congress.

Every day, I am putting my heart and soul into this race. In the coming months, I will continue to make the case for a new voice in Washington, by letting the voters know what I intend to do when I get to Congress. Come November, I believe the voters will vote for me, and vote to change the direction of our nation.

During the campaign, I ask for your input – your ideas, your opinions and your hopes for America. You can email me at Linda@lindastenderforcongress.com. My website, www.lindastenderforcongress.com, will be up very soon, and will include a blog for people to post their comments and chat about the campaign.

I am excited about the campaign, and the opportunity to put forward my vision for America’s future. I ask for your support.


Linda Stender

Mike Ferguson Wants To Cripple Your iPod

[Cross posted from Dump Mike]

Congressman Mike Ferguson introduced a bill in Congress yesterday which will make it impossible for you to record a radio show and play it back later on your iPod or other music device.  The bill essentially forces manufacturers to implement features on satellite, high-definition and regular radios that allow broadcasters to block consumers from recording shows.

Rep. Mike Ferguson, R., N.J., will introduce the “Audio Broadcast Flag Licensing Act of 2006” on Thursday (March 2). The bill includes an HD radio component and a satellite radio component, according to staffers in Ferguson’s office, who spoke to Billboard Radio Monitor on condition of anonymity.

The HD component requires any private company that plans to manufacture an HD radio must incorporate technology in that radio that works with a broadcast audio flag “or something similar.” The satellite component imposes similar audio-flag requirements on equipment manufactured for both XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Back in the 1970s when VCRs were first gaining popularity the film and TV industries screamed and yelled that they would destroy their ability to make money, and movies would suffer.  That threat never materialized, and now when you want to record a movie or sporting event to watch at a more convenient time you can.

Ferguson, apparently, doesn’t like that idea for radio.  He wants to let the Recording Industry Artists Association (RIAA) decide when you will listen to radio shows instead of letting you make that decision for yourself.  That’s why the RIAA endorsed the bill.  They say it is necessary as “technological developments make it easier for consumers to capture and retain digital-quality audio without paying a fee for the content.”

Ferguson’s Constituent Services Leave A Lot To Be Desired

Members of a New Jersey group traveled to Washington, DC to advocate for more action in stopping the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.  They received warm welcomes from a number of Congressman from New Jersey’s delegation, but not Congressman Mike Ferguson’s office

They came to ask for more humanitarian aid and military support in a land where hundreds of thousand of Darfurians have been slaughtered, raped, wounded, driven from their homes, and attacked again while struggling for survival in the refugee camps of neighboring Chad.

Delegates met with NJ Reps. Steve Rothman (D-Dist. 9) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Dist. 11), both of whom signed on as sponsors to the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, a bill the lobbyists believe is vital to the salvation of the Darfurian people.

At the office of Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-Dist. 7), the delegates were seen by Amanda Tharpe, the congressman’s legislative aide. Ferguson has not signed on as a sponsor of the bill.

Describing Ferguson’s aide as “very cool” and not “terribly sympathetic,” Linda Kohl of Short Hills, president of AJC’s Metro NJ chapter, said both Frelinghuysen and Rothman were “very positive. They are really on our side. That was obvious from everything they said and everything they did.”

This is not the first time that people have reported Ferguson’s constituent services have been weak.  A number of people have told Dump Mike that when they call to get information from Ferguson’s NJ and DC offices they are told that the staffer doesn’t know the answer, and that an answer can be expected in two to three weeks.  Others say that their questions by phone and submitted on Ferguson’s web site go unanswered.

This is unacceptable.  The people who Ferguson represents have a right to know where he stands on the issues important to them, and waiting three weeks or receiving no answer is poor constituent support. 

Ferguson: Out of the Mainstream on Contraception

Congressman Mike Ferguson’s opposition to contraception and family planning services is a lesser known cousin to his fervent opposition to abortion.  It is all tied up in the Right to Life community he is beholden to.  His positions on contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research and other issues are so far out of the mainstream that his colleagues in the House jokingly call him “Mr. Embryo.” He opposes such common sense programs such as requiring hospitals to inform rape victims that emergency contraception is available.

Recently a constituent received a letter from Ferguson that further illustrates his radical position, and his willingness to ignore facts and research to support it.  The entire letter is printed after this post, with the recipient’s name and address redacted, but here is the relevant part:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on June 16, 2005, offered an amendment to H.R. 2862, the annual appropriations bill that finances the State, Justice and Commerce departments, which would lift restrictions on U.S. taxpayer assistance to UNFPA. [United Nations’ Population Fund]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced July 17, 2004, that UNFPA helped China manage programs that involved forced abortions.  Powell said at the time that the administration would continue to help women and children around the world through other programs.  The United States is the largest donor of bilateral assistance to help improve the health of women and children and provided more than $1.8 billion in 2004 through a U.S. Agency for International Development fund

Rep. Maloney’s amendment failed 192-233, and I voted against the amendment in the House.  I believe it is wrong for U.S. taxpayers to subsidize a program that aids in coerced abortions and forced sterilizations in China.

It’s true that the administration claims that the UNFPA is involved in China’s programs, but it’s also true that they have no evidence to back up the claim. 

Ferguson’s Polluted Slide in Washington

We have long maintained on this site that Congressman Michael Ferguson presents a moderate face to the 7th Congressional District, but that when he goes down to Washington DC he removes the mask and votes as the true right wing conservative he truly is.  For a time, he could get away with it and even fool progressive organizations into believing they could work with him. 

As a result, early in his tenure Ferguson received endorsements from groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a non-partisan organization that endorses Democrats and Republicans.  In 2001, LCV gave Ferguson an impressive 71 percent rating for his first year in Congress and endorsed his reelection in 2002.

Then things changed, and Ferguson’s true voting patten emerged.  After starting well, Ferguson finished his first full term with a lowly 59 percent rating.  His second term score dropped even farther, slipping to 35 percent over 2003 and 2004 and losing the LCV endorsement.

Today the LCV ratings for 2005 came out and, as predicted last week, his environmental record plummetted to a lowly 17 percent

LCV 2005 Environmental Scorecard is out

The NJ delegation gets the following scores from The League of Conservation Voters:

Lautenberg  100%
Corzine  80%  (for missing votes)

1.  Andrews:  83%
2.  LoBiondo:  78%
3.  Saxton:  72%
4.  Smith:  78%
5.  Garrett:  11%
6.  Pallone:  100%
7.  Ferguson:  17%
8.  Pascrell:  89%
9.  Rothman:  94%
10. Payne:  83%
11. Frelinghuysen  33%
12. Holt  100%
13. Menendez:  100% 

The standouts with miserable voting records on the environment are Garrett and Ferguson.  Frelinghuysen’s is pretty lousy too.

Roll Call Puts 7th In Play

Roll Call, the newspaper for Capitol Hill (since 1955), has put the 7th District into play.

Outlook: Likely Republican

Ferguson has yet to solidify his hold on the swing 7th district, which extends from just outside the cities of Newark and Elizabeth all the way to the Pennsylvania border. But he defeated a highly touted Democrat fairly handily last cycle. This time, the leading Democratic candidate is state Assemblywoman Linda Stender, who just entered the race in December. If she can raise money quickly, she could be competitive.

Yeah, like in Charlie Cook’s analysis the 7th is “Likely Republican” but both major callers of the horse race say Ferguson has not been able to lock down his district after being given a gift in the 2001 redistricting. 

In short, we have a chance and we need your help.  Please take a membership in Blue 7th PAC at just $25 a year, and consider giving more!  [Form after the jump.]