Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton to NJ March 29
Registration for non-Rutgers personnel opens TUES, March 20. Click for how to attend.
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NJ statehouse
Gov. Murphy presented his first state budget last week.
Bill Orr’s latest series digs into the issues, recommendations, and political climate
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The president is wrong. Let us not harden our schools. Instead, let us soften the world. – Kauffman
You should read this piece by Ronen Kauffman. So should Donald Trump.
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Zombie Apocalypse
In the midst of blaring, daily headlines of an unstable White House
We can’t miss the consequences of Trump’s predatory moves on healthcare. There’s trouble ahead.
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Latest Posts

Weedman Bails

The Weedman, perennial candidate and stoner, is leaving New Jersey for California.

The kicker is that he is going to become a guru at a pot club.

That left one alternative: to accept an offer to manage a “cannabis club” in the Los Angeles area, on Ventura Boulevard just across from a Ferrari dealership. He will also provide spiritual guidance, he said.

And he’ll keep copies of his autobiography, illustrated by a comic book artist, at the ready “just in case” a director drops by.

Ferguson’s Ties To Lobbyist Cloud Position on Student Loans

As noted a few weeks ago, the Bush administration’s proposed 2007 budget includes huge cuts to student loan programs totaling $12 billion.  These cuts will make it harder for middle class students to go to college, and will increase the interest rates on existing loans people are struggling to pay off.

Calls to Congressman Mike Ferguson’s offices to see if he supports these cuts have gone unanswered for more than two weeks.  Staffers from both the Washington, DC and Warren, NJ offices are unable to give a direct answer to a number of calls seeking an answer.  Not one person who called the office has received a written response, either.

We may now have figured out why.  One of the side effects of the reduction in funding for student loans noted above is that interest rates for existing college loans are likely to rise, creating a windfall for companies that process and manage student loans.

This includes companies like the College Loan Corporation owned by Cary Katz of Poway, California and the Student Loan Consolidation Center (now Goal Financial) owned by Ryan Katz of Alexandria, Virginia.  The two are brothers in their mid-30s who started their companies in the past 10 years and now manage more than $7 billion of student loans nation-wide.

What does this have to do with Mike Ferguson and his position on student loans? 

The Katz brothers and their wives have contributed $18,500 to Ferguson between 2002 and 2005.  That’s an average of more than four grand a year in Ferguson’s campaign coffers from two families from California and Virginia. 

News Roundup

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Are they useful?

  • 60% of New Jerseyans give Bush two thumbs down. 37% haven’t been paying attention. Among women, his numbers get even worse: 28%-68%.
  • Dick Cheney was in Newark today for a fundraiser for Tom Kean, Jr. No word yet on whether Kean Jr survived. “This gives new meaning to a campaign shooting itself in the foot” – Brad Lawrence, Menendez consultant.
  • Why does NJ support a $1.6 billion plan to deepen the NY-NJ harbor but oppose a $500 million plan to do the same in the Delaware River? The official answer is environmental concerns. Hmmmm….
  • A memorial mass for Laurel Hester will be held at noon March 4 at St. Mary’s By the Sea Episcopal Church in Point Pleasant. (NY Times obituary)
  • Corzine won’t be raising the gasoline tax. “You can’t even say it’s on life support,” said one legislative official. Instead, he’ll borrow billions to refinance the debt. A short term fix, for sure.
  • You’ve got mail! And if you’re Corzine, you’ve got 13 people to read the 7,000 letters you’ve gotten in the past month.
  • Jersey City’s got a serious chromium problem: “On a field trip earlier this month to a known chromium waste site on Garfield Avenue – that was supposed to be covered with a protective liner – the researchers found chunks of chromium sitting on top of the liner, a block from homes.”
  • Check out our mini-podcast with Sen Menendez. Then, subscribe to the podcast.
  • Links of the day: Tom Wyka for Congress, running in the 11th district. Learn more about his opponent Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen at MeetRodney.com. NJ-11 and Blue 11th are keeping an eye on Frelinghuysen, too.
  • Why I support Rich Sexton for Congress (NJ-3)

    I am running for Congress because we need strong leadership for a new course in Washington and representation for the citizens of New Jersey’s 3rd District that is more in tune with mainstream America and working class families, not the hard right wing agenda from the Bush-Cheney-DeLay-Saxton team.

      -Democrat Rich Sexton

    Why are we in the pits in Cherry Hill NJ? You would be too if your voice in Congress was Republican Jim Saxton. Unfortuately the good people of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional district have repeatedly been let down by Congressman Saxton, whose right-wing politics seem better suited to Texas than here in moderate-to-progressive New Jersey.

    Your Liberal Media: NPR Edition

    So I am barely waking up this morning and I hear a blathering Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborn Boggs a.k.a. Cokie Roberts talking about how the Katrina Report was all Republicans as is the opposition to the UAE owning the port system.

    First off, in fairness, the Republican committee that issued a report on Wednesday is totally Republican. However, when asked on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Gene Taylor said that they didn’t bother to subpoena White House records, for fear of being stonewalled and thus delaying the report. I guess the report just HAD to come out February 15th so that folks planning Mardi Gras could prepare special floats with Chertoff bullseye’s painted on. Either way, the Republican committee failed to really scathe the White House because, the White House wouldn’t let them see their records. Good job Committee. In other words, the reasons Democrats boycotted the committee in the first place came to fruition in the Republican’s version of the GAO and DHS Inspector General reports. I won’t even get into how screwed up our country is when Republicans get stonewalled by their own party’s leader.

    Besides, this is only the first of 3 reports on Katrina. The next one to come out is from a BI-PARTISAN Senate Committee. Too bad Cokie forgot to mention that.

    However, Cokie wasn’t done lifting the Republicans above all ills.

    She then went right ahead and blatenly lied.

    Cokie went on to say that Republicans were the only one’s outraged over the UAE takeover of our Port system. This as we all know, is what Washingtonian Press Folk would potentially call, blatant disregard for the truth. Isn’t it enough that Bob Menendez has to issue rapid responses to Michael Chertoff?  Go ahead give it a listen, not one mention of Menendez, Clinton, or any legislation that they happen to have already introduced! Though there was a tone of belittlement when she mentioned Chuck Schumer using 9/11 familes to highlight the issue. You can almost hear her think “politicizing 9/11.”

    However, NPR wasn’t done with their Republican cheerleading effort just yet. Immediately following Cokie Roberts’ wankery, Peter Overby filed this report, which basically tried to explain the already debunked convoluted way that Harry Reid shares guilt in the Abramoff scandal. The explanation itself is totally convoluted, then again, most baseless accusations come accross this way.

    This Morning Edition’s pyloric parastolsis gives credence to the idea that NPR really stands for Nice Polite Republicans.

    Is Gay Marriage Already Legal in NJ?

    That’s the question raised by the Times of Trenton editorial board today and by Chief Justice Deborah Poritz during questioning of the attorney for the plaintiffs last week. The state statute (37:1-1) regarding prohibited marriages does not mention same-sex couples:

    37:1-1.  Certain marriages prohibited
      A man shall not marry any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sister, or the daughter of his brother or sister, or the sister of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood. A woman shall not marry any of her ancestors or descendants, or her brother, or the son of  her brother or sister, or the brother of her father or mother, whether such  collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood. A marriage in violation of any of the foregoing provisions shall be absolutely void.

    Yet the attorney for the plaintiffs preferred that the court find a stronger constitutional guarantee for the right to marry.

    Port Sale is Classified?

    Michael Chertoff on This Week just said that the sale of our ports to the United Arab Emirates is “classified.” Michael Chertoff approved the sale of these ports to a country that supports terrorism. Besides the hypocrisy this move obviously generates for Bush doctrine (you know, “with us or against us”), why would the sale of the Operations of our ports be considered “Classified?”

    What is it about the sale of any business function to any entity that makes it a “classified” transaction?

    Does anyone else feel funny about this?

    UPDATE: Apparently Senator Menendez does:

    “Secretary Chertoff demonstrated again this morning that the Bush administration just does not get it.  No matter what steps the administration claims it has secretly taken, it is an unacceptable risk to turn control of our ports over to a foreign government, particularly one with a troubling history.  We cannot depend on promises a foreign government has given the administration in secret to secure our ports.  Congress needs to pass the legislation I am developing with Senator Clinton to ban foreign governments from controlling operations at our ports.”

    Menendez Delivers Response To Bush

    Yesterday Senator Bob Menendez delivered the response to President Bush’s weekly radio address where he slammed the President’s budget priorities for the pain the will cause the middle class.

    It will increase the cost of college by locking in the largest student aid cut in the history of our nation.

    It will increase health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs through new schemes that will expand tax shelters for the healthy and the wealthy and drive up costs for the rest of us.

    It will leave many in colder regions, like my state of New Jersey, with higher heating costs, by underfunding the one federal initiative designed to help.

    And it rejects Democratic proposals to crack down on oil company price gouging, even though Big Oil has reaped record profits while gas prices have shot through the roof.

    Laurel Hester Passed Away This Morning

    Laurel Hester, partner of Stacie Andree, and described as “New Jersey’s Rosa Parks”, passed away this morning at their home in Point Pleasant. Although I never met Laurel, I will remember her for her unselfish, relentless courage – from her 24-year career in the county prosecutor’s office through the most physically and emotionally painful last year of her life. Laurel always fought for justice and her bravery inspired countless others to join in that fight. Without a doubt, Laurel left the world a better and more just place than she found it.

    Stacie Andree:

    “She meant the world to me. I’m glad what we went through is done with. It was the fight that kept her going. … She’s at peace now. There’s no more pain.”

    Dane Wells:

    “She really did make a gigantic impact on literally the world. She was a very, very private, guarded person. Something like this was the absolute last thing she wanted. It took a lot of absolute courage to do what she did.

    She was perhaps best known for her dedication, integrity and dignity. She was really a pioneer among women in law enforcement and as such faced an uphill climb. She very quickly earned the respect of men in her profession.”

    Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality:

    “Make no mistake about this. Laurel Hester was the Rosa Parks of New Jersey gay and lesbian civil rights. She gave a face and a name to our struggle for equality, particularly in marriage equality.

    It was as if the role was always destined for her even if she didn’t already know it. History sometimes taps on the shoulder heroes who never anticipated they would be heroes. Laurel Hester is one such person.”

    Rosi Efthim:

    Like any person who knows they’re dying, Hester was interested in providing for the person she loved, her partner of many years, Stacie. How ordinary, how everyday, how remarkable.

    Hester, who was gay, was blocked by her employers, the Ocean County Freeholder board, from making sure Stacie could receive Hester’s benefits. And the Freeholders resisted – because the law allowed them to.

    It doesn’t surprise me that a woman in law enforcement would fight what she saw as an injustice, and she did that, gracefully. But as she faded and grew weaker, other people began to show up and fight first alongside her and then for her, and in her name. And the pressure was too much for five local Freeholders. They relented, they reversed. Stacie will inherit what Laurel fought for her to have. And towns and counties all over New Jersey are suddenly more open-minded about what defines family.

    The woman who focused a movement in New Jersey has died. But before she did that, she triumphed.


    Laurel Hester’s battle for justice was thoroughly inspiring. After such a long period of what at times has seemed like fruitless activism – her courage and determination – and success – were acts of love, not just for her partner Stacie, but for everyone fighting for justice in an unjust world.

    May she be remembered long after her passing.

    Michael Jenson at The Big Gay Picture:

    I’ve little doubt Laurel lived as long as she did not only because she had something to fight for, but because she believed she was fighting for every one of us. Her passing is a terrible loss, but know that Laurel died content having finished her life the way she had always lived it–doing the right thing in the most honorable and ethical way possible.

    New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition:

    “The board and membership of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition join in sorrow with all of New Jerse’s LBGTI community as we honor the passing of Laurel Hester, the heroic woman whose dramatic battle for equal rights touched lives around the world.”


    New Jersey should be sadder for her passing, but is a better place for her having lived.


    All of us owe her a debt of gratitude for fighting (and winning) an important battle in the struggle for equality. 

    That she and her partner undertook this effort while battling cancer at the same time is a remarkable example of courage and tenacity under even the most trying circumstances. 

    I salute the Liuetenant and her partner, through tears of appreciation. Heroes in the true sense of the word.


    We will honor and remember her with gratitude for her life lived in service; for her courage to the end in fighting for what’s right; and for her passing at her home in the presence of those she loved.


    I grieve for Stacie, and for all of Laurel’s friends and wellwishers, those Lt. Hester knew and those she had never met, including me.

    But I rejoice in the following thought: We would all feel much worse, had Stacie’s and Laurel’s and our fight been in vain.

    It was NOT in vain. Hester, Andree, and all of us fought against bigotry and injustice, and we ALL won. Out of the tragedy of Lt. Laurel’s struggle and death, we have all won a victory for equal rights, and a promise of hope for the future, for every LGBT person in the world.

    Every such victory enhances and advances our world and our species. Each victory is a light against the darkness of fear and prejudice. Any victory for justice means one less injustice in history.

    For myself, every time I think about Laurel Hester’s cruel last year, I will remind myself that Stacie Andree gets to remain living in their own house. And I will smile through my tears.

    The Star Ledger:

    Her plea put a poignant face on the gay rights movement in New Jersey and around the nation. The freeholder board, which initially turned her down, ultimately acquiesced last month, and other counties began changing their rules as well.

    Asbury Park Press
    Associated Press
    Press of Atlantic City
    New York Post
    The Star Ledger
    Ocean County Observer

    Everything’s a Horse Race

    Matt Stoller at MyDD has a great post on the disservice done by the press when they fail to do their job by reporting the relevant facts and instead talk about appearances:

    I really like Wally Edge of PoliticsNJ.com, but this post is a classic example of how the press can screw up public policy in their quest to report on the optics of every situation.  The issue is that a proposal to open a for-profit medical school by two disgraced New Jersey citizens is being considered by the state of New Jersey.

    Corzine is in a bad spot. One of his aides complained that the medical school plan began when James E. McGreevey was Governor and progressed under Richard Codey’s tenure in office; Codey declined to make a final decision, leaving it up to Corzine — who was criticized by Republicans last year for his interest in purchasing the New Jersey Nets with Kushner in a deal brokered by the sometimes toxic Torricelli. If Corzine approves plan, which may not necessarily be bad public policy, the headlines of his doing favors for Kushner and Torricelli may be unavoidable.

    There’s no question that this looks bad. But that’s what the friggin’ press exists for, to explain matters of public policy. If this is good policy it’s good policy.  If it’s bad policy it’s bad policy. But if there’s corruption here, prove it. Don’t pull this ‘it’s good policy but it looks like Corzine is corrupt even though he’s not’ line; that’s not fair to anyone, especially the people of New Jersey.

    I mean, the headlines are not some mystical force with a pull of their own, as words like ‘inevitable’ portend to. You write them.