Flags: What they stir in us, what we fly, what we never would
Above, artist rendering of astronaut wearing a patch of a proposed international Flag of Earth
Camden postcard
George Norcross expects Camden residents to move “to the Suburbs”
That’s tone-deaf, on what’s beneficial for Camden residents, and also the potential role that NJ’s cities can play in a state desperate for more urban innovation
Transgender rights activist Babs Siperstein
loses seat on the DNC
House Republican tax overhaul
Check out what it would mean at your house. Photo: AP/Alex Brandon
How much would we have to give up to get what we’d get?
If Amazon builds HQ2 here?
Phil Murphy, Kim Guadagno
Murphy & Guadagno on the Issues
Taxes, education, health care, marijuana, gun control, the economy ...
Impeachment Explained
Are we there yet?
Probably not. But Robert Reich is ready to walk you through how it works

Latest Posts

Support Laurel Hester on Wednesday

Laurel Hester, a police officer dying of lung cancer, has been denied her pension benefits by Ocean County’s freeholders because she is a lesbian. Her struggle and the freeholder’s grotesque decision has spread to over 140 papers across the country and the world.

On Wednesday, Laurel Hester and her partner will attend the Freeholder’s meeting in Ocean County and speak to them face-to-face.

Laurel’s courage has already resulted in two counties passing domestic partner benefits, yet her own freeholders cowardly throw up morality as a smokescreen for denying her the same benefits they have double-dipped into.

Please come out and show your support for Laurel. The meeting is this Wednesday, December 7 at 4:00 pm, in Room 119 of the Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Avenue, Toms River.

Ocean County freeholders
Ocean County freeholders

The Big Tent Party

You may or may not remember Bob Novak getting upset over this, but Hester Jr. points out an interesting factoid regarding how the Republican Party treats their own members:

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-Hamilton, banished as House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman during a House Republican inquisition a year ago, isn’t deterred. Smith wants to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee when its chairman retires next year.

Smith is the committee vice chairman and has competition from two others, but hopes time has vindicated his stint leading the veterans committee, one widely praised by veterans.

After all, Smith was dethroned for advocating a need for more veterans’ care spending, notably for health care. Since that didn’t fit in well with the Republican’s mantra of cutting spending, even if they haven’t actually cut spending, Smith was sent to his room without a chairmanship.

But, surprise, the Bush administration conceded over the summer that, yes, indeed, they needed more money for veterans’ care. Somehow, that shortfall was just about exactly what Smith had said was needed.

“The budget controversy proved that we were right,” Smith recently told The Hill newspaper. “That should count for something.”

The “Big Tent Party” beats on its own clowns? Why do Republicans like Smith hang around their party? He worked hard for 10 years on the committee.  Doesn’t the Republican mantra automatically qualify Smith to reap the rewards for his hard work?

It is like that time when those rumors were flying about Dave Drier (R-CA) not getting the top spot in the House because he is gay.  If true, how do gay people associate with the Republican party?

Why was Smith kicked off the committee?  All he wanted to do was “support the troops.” Alas, it must have been the spendthrift conservatives (like those now facing indictments and such) that kicked him off the committee.

Budget Deficit

Thanks to the New Jersey Media, I am throughly confused as to what the budget gap for fiscal year 2006 will be.

$4 billion?

$5.3 billion?

$12.1 billion?

So which is it?  Media folks, this is your job, to seperate the wheat from the chaff so us underlings can understand the issues of the day.

So if you are going to quote numbers like those above, please provide context (as the $5.3 billion source does) as to where you got them. This is rather meaningful to readers since it can help us know which number more closely reflects reality.

If Kean the Father is Saying Bush & GOP Screwed Up Protecting Us…

What exactly is Kean, Jr. going to run for Senate on as a GOP candidate and defender of the White House party in 2006?

The more I read the news accounts about how 9/11 Commissioners Tom Kean Sr. and Lee Hamilton are critical of the US government for not implementing any of its recommendations, it doesn’t jive with the NJ story I’m hearing about Kean’s son.  I’m wondering why his son would want to go join the national GOP party that, according to his father, has screwed up our basic security. 

I think Kean Jr’s could have a future as a state politician, but going for Federal office in 2006 will be a terrible way to squash a budding GOP career (OK, I’m not THAT sad about it.)

OK, Dad didn’t exactly come out and say Bush messed up, but he’s basically saying that the US is not doing enough to implement his recommendations.  Last time I checked, that US government being run completely by GOP in the House, Senate and White House.  Therefore his is the party that is not implementing any of the 9/11 commish recomendations he worked so hard on.  Dad seems real legit with this, he seems real concerned. 

So why allow your son to run to be ‘one more’ Senator from a party that can’t get done the issue that’s the most important to you?  Why send a message that the GOP is doing just fine and should increase its Senate total?  Why not have Sonny run as an independent, then?  (I know, cuz he’d get crushed…but it’s the morally right thing to do)

Its obvious to me that Tom Kean Jr will have to put up with a lot of stuff that the Tom Delay National Republicans are doing that will embarrass him in Montclair, Middletown and Livingston and Lincoln Park.  Their lack of action on his father’s commitments will be the most blatant.

Is Menendez The Choice?

The Fix — a political blog for the Washington Post — is reporting that Congressman Menendez rushed back from vacation to meet with Governor-elect Corzine.

Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) interrupted a trip to Puerto Rico over the weekend to return to the Garden State to meet with Gov.-elect. Jon Corzine (D), according to several knowledgeable sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the private nature of the meeting.

The sources would not discuss the nature of the meeting, though it seems likely to have been centered on Menendez’s possible appointment to the remaining year of Corzine’s Senate term.  Many informed New Jersey observers expect Corzine to announce his pick this week. Menendez has been mentioned as the likely pick, though Reps. Rob Andrews, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone are also in the mix.

Menendez’s political opponents — both within the Democratic Party and in the GOP — appear to be circulating negative stories about him in the press, such as a New York Times article from last week that mentioned Menendez’s relationship with a top aide.

Earlier I posted a link to an Inside Edge piece wondering about money Corzine had given to Albio Sires, widely considered Menendez’s successor should one be necessary.  But XpatT noted that Air America was saying Nia Gill was to get the nod.

At this point it is all quesswork and supposition.  I still think Juan Melli should get it.  Anyone who sets up a weekly political happy hour is definitely suitable for the US Senate, but that’s just me. 

I included a poll for the fun of it after the fold.  Vote for who you THINK will get it, not who you WANT to get it.  I included Mr. Melli!  If you choose OTHER, please say who it is in the comments.

Bear Season OPEN

Now go shoot enough bears to stop the bear hunt next season.  Use this as an open thread to post frustrations about Bear rugs, Bear heads, and Bear trophies of all sorts.  You can also join the poll to give us an idea of how many Black Bears live in New Jersey.  Since the state of New Jersey doesn’t seem to know or care about the official tally, maybe we can help them along…

Now load that shotgun and get your beagles on the ready… and of course be VEWWY VEWWY QUIET


Budgeting by pathology

Anyone who wants to get rich quick should study the ways of the laboratory rat.

In particular, study a classic experiment in which a lab rat must push down a lever in order to get food. If food arrives every time the lever is pressed, the rat will simply press the lever and eat until is no longer hungry, at which point it finds something else to do. If food never arrives, then the rat loses interest and ignores the lever.

But if the food arrives at irregular intervals, randomly and according to no obvious pattern, then the rat will push and push and push the lever until it is too exhausted to move, and even then its paws will twitch in eagerness to get back to the lever.

This behavioral quirk is called random reinforcement, and it is the vehicle that keeps casinos afloat and lotteries in business. And, as this Star-Ledger story makes clear, it fuels the purchase of lottery tickets so powerfully that the proceeds from ticket sales are now a vital source of income for New Jersey government. Trouble is, the lottery acts as a regressive tax that draws money from people in the lower economic tiers, who view the lottery as a kind of long-shot Wall Street investment.

New Jersey Politics 101 launches today

Update: The 101 guide is getting noticed. Hotline’s Blogometer:

NJ state politics too confusing? Not sure who Goerge Norcross is, or why you should fear him? Blue Jersey has a handy beginners’ guide to NJ politics, which will expand in the near future.

Matt Stoller at mydd:

Over the past few years, I’ve had discussions with lots of people in and around the party, and one thing is very clear.  No one knows how the Democratic Party works, especially newcomers.

Bloggers at Blue Jersey have done the most logical thing possible to fix this – they’ve written a guide called New Jersey Politics 101.

I’m sure there are errors, but there is no other place to get this information. Newspapers, take note of what’s been done here.

Today we’re finally ready to go live with NJ Politics 101 – a guide created by the Blue Jersey community which is intended to serve as an introduction to government and politics in the state of New Jersey. We hope that after reading this guide, you will feel comfortable reading about and contributing to the discussions on issues affecting the state.

The guide contains three main sections – Government & Politics, Issues and Important Names in NJ politics. It is intended to be updated regularly with current information. If you have comments, corrections, suggestions, updates or would like to contribute content for this guide, send us an email or leave a comment below.