Open Letter to Cory Booker - from Take Back NJ
Why do you go to political bosses George Norcross & Joe D to raise money for your 2020 campaign?
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Teaneck Council refuses to fly the Pride flag.
NJ climate crisis activists lobby Congress
Ananya Singh is 16.
The climate crisis is a very real threat to my generation.
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NJ ranks 12th-highest in income inequality.
And NJ has a budget crisis.
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Green New Deal is PRIORITY.
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Do you know your commentator?

‘Propaganda’ tactic riles Democrats
Friday, October 07, 2005


WASHINGTON — Democratic senators, including Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, yesterday pressed for a criminal fraud investigation of the Bush administration’s hiring of a commentator to promote its agenda.

Congressional auditors concluded last week that the Education Department engaged in illegal “covert propaganda” by hiring Armstrong Williams to endorse the No Child Left Behind act without requiring him to disclose he was paid.

That review by the Government Accountability Office did not come with any penalty.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Lautenberg and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said questions of fraud remain for the department and for Williams.

The department paid Williams, a commentator with newspaper, television and radio audiences, to produce ads promoting Bush’s law. Work orders show he also was to provide air time to department officials and persuade other black members of the media to discuss the law.

Yet the department provided the GAO with almost no evidence of the work that Williams cited in his monthly reports. In their own search, GAO auditors either could not find the work Williams listed or could not connect the work they found to his contract.

The deal occurred during the tenure of Education Secretary Rod Paige. His replacement, Margaret Spellings, has pledged stricter oversight of department spending.

Regardless of whether it is illegal, doesn’t the viewing public have a right to know that a commentator has a vested interest in supporting his or her view.  I am not naive enough to think that the large media outlets do not have their own interests, but shouldn’t the individual commentators on those networks inform the viewers of the basis for their support of the issue.  They may have supported the issue before they were paid to, but should the viewing public have the opportunity to know this?

I have seen title’s such as Democratic Consultant or Republican Consultant to describe someone.  How about paid operative responsible for promiting their position? I realize that this label could make people question the intentions of the speaker, but maybe they should be questioning the speaker anyway.

The Two Most Unfair Minutes of Your Day

This post was originally guest-blogged at Old Town Review Chronicles and recently re-posted at The Art of Gettting By. It is the first in a series of posts about health care costs and Medicare B.

The first two minutes of every hour you, and every American who has a job, work is dedicated to one specific government program – Medicare.  If you are self-employed, you pay the equivalent of four minutes of every hour for Medicare tax.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that means one hundred forty million people will pay three percent of every penny they make to make sure that Medicare has enough money to provide health care for the aged, disabled, and dependent.  Even setting aside the fact that Congress has decided to cut ten billion dollars over the next four years, Medicare still qualifies as the most unfair tax paid by many Americans.

It is unfair because about three and a half million self-employed persons and well over fifteen million employees do not have health insurance for themselves.  Yet every week, these employees donate an hour and twenty minutes of their pay to providing someone else with insurance.  What could be more unfair than to ask someone to give up money they desperately need to provide a benefit they don’t receive themselves to someone they don’t even know?

Don’t for a minute think that it is only part-timers or teens working after school, either.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a statistical report earlier this year that debunks that favorite Republican myth.  In Texas, up to a third of all employees do not have health benefits.  Almost a fifth of the states have more than a fifth of their employees that are ineligible for benefits.  Somehow, I don’t think there are that many kids working after school.  If there are that many part-time workers; then our economy is seriously about to crumble.

Let’s not forget the kids, though.  In more states than not, employees with kids but without insurance outnumber employees with kids and insurance.  That puts a strain on the states’ Medicaid program – which provides insurance to poor children.  That, in turn, puts a strain on the states’ budgets.  That would normally mean that state governments take higher taxes from their citizens – but everyone knows that all taxes are evil.  So, what it really means is that money that should go to education and other vital programs are short-changed.  In other words, the pain gets spread around further, but not necessarily any thinner.

What makes it even more unfair is that it is totally unnecessary.  The federal government already runs a program that would alleviate this problem.  It’s the very same program these people are already paying taxes for but are barred from participating in.  It’s Medicare.  Medicare B is an HMO-like program where recipients pay a small monthly participation fee – currently around eighty dollars a month.  The government matches this at a rate of three to one to provide health insurance.  For those that don’t like “big gubment” running their lives, Medicare C offers buy-in to privately run HMOs for slightly higher costs.

If Medicare B were open for buy-in at full cost (paying all four dollars instead of just one); then a completely portable and cost-efficient basic medical coverage would be available to every American.  If this were enacted in conjunction with a one dollar an hour minimum wage hike, plus a tax incentive of equal value to small employers, the cost would be fully recovered by both employer and employee.  It still wouldn’t cover the cost of prescription medicines or hospitalization, but it would be a step in the right direction.  If existing insurance companies were allowed to compete through Medicare C; then competition will still work to keep costs down.

More workers covered, small businesses better able to provide benefits (which results in fewer missed work days and less job turnover), and more money flowing into Medicare.  Someone please tell me where there is a downside to this!  

Rather than tearing Medicare apart, what needs to be done is to expand it.  Insurance works best when very large groups exist to defray average costs.  What group can possibly be bigger than the entire population of the United States?  (Okay – technically, the world’s population, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.)  Another aspect of Medicare B is that it automatically adjusts the monthly premiums to be revenue neutral.  That means that as more people enter the insured group, driving down the average cost of insuring each one, individuals are rewarded by paying a lower monthly fee.  Wow!  We can actually maintain benefits and lower the out-of-pocket expenses for seniors.  

 It isn’t wrong to stand up for those who are striving to make their lives better.  In fact, it is morally reprehensible to kick them in the teeth by refusing to allow them a means to take care of them selves and their families.  Medicare B is not a perfect plan.  It does, however, take the injustice out of the first two minutes of every hour fifteen million Americans will work today.

Way too much is happening

with this administration to go about business as usual. The intimidation and perversion of our media, nominating his faithful, friend, defender, and lap dog as a supreme court justice, so many dangerous lies about so many issues, treasonous acts, and perhaps most insidious of all the attemepted destruction of our democratic rights.
Nov. 2nd is a day that right now lives in infamy, and must be reclaimed. Don’t just do your usual thing on that day this year! Our world really can’t wait. World Can’t Wait

Codey for Senate?

A recent Inside Edge column from PoliticsNJ sizes up the behind-the-scenes machinations going on in Democratic Party circles that could put Acting Governor Codey in the U.S. Senate. Much of it seems to be Edge trying to kick up controversy in the field, with vague talk of interference from Bob Torricelli, Corzine’s “national political ambitions,” and Corzine sending Codey to Washington as a way of “consolidating power in Trenton.” There are quite a few cross-currents of Democratic intrigue he brings up, but one that he does not.

Democrats in South Jersey have not been overly pleased with Codey’s performance as Governor. Earlier this year, Codey proposed a state budget that would suspend NJ Saver property tax rebates for everyone but the elderly and disabled. Assembly Leader Joe Roberts immediately rejected the proposal, saying “I will only consider scaling back the property-tax rebates when I’m convinced we’ve cut every aspect of state spending to the bone…. And I’m not convinced we’ve done that yet.”

And a likely secondary reason that Roberts opposed the plan is that he felt Codey was selling out South Jersey Assembly members facing reelection. While the seats up in Codey’s native North Jersey are relatively safe, the South Jersey seats are not as safe and could be threatened by the elimination of the popular rebates. One South Jersey Democratic operative said that “South Jersey will not go along” with a Codey appointment to the U.S. Senate. If Codey was to be Corzine’s pick and wanted the job permanently, there would almost certainly be a primary battle next year.

In general, Codey’s been known to openly defy South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross. Most recently, when Casino Reinvestment Development Authority head Curtis Bashaw stepped down last month, Norcross saw an opportunity to pressure Governor Corzine into naming an ally to the position. But Codey immediately named Thomas Carver to the post with a four-year contract. Norcross was locked out of the process.

Interestingly, the logic behind all of this inside baseball works in the favor of Rush Holt. While a Holt appointment would certainly grate on some of the Democrats who have been jockeying for the position, there’s less chance that it would flat-out offend anyone as well. As Jenny noted, a Holt appointment also sends a strong message to the state’s progressive activists that Corzine is listening and is serious about reform. I’m confident that’s something we wouldn’t mind seeing.

NJ The Superfund State – Part I

Cross Posted at Media In Trouble

I fell upon this story in the Bergen Record totally by accident.  While listening to an WNYC report yesterday about how GE had bamboozled the government into cleaning up the PBC’s they had dumped in the Hudson river, I remembered something about Forrester wanting to do the same “Superfunding” in Ringwood, NJ.  My first thought was to write just a quick snarky post on how Forrester’s stance was politcally expedient but incomplete and potentially wrong on all fronts.  

However, my initial research made me realize just how big this Ringwood issue really is.  As such, I think it deserves a more detailed approach to nailing our potential governor with this story.  I have been rather dismayed by the lack of environmental platforms put forth by both candidates for governor.  This is one of the most polluted states in the country, it deserves to have an environmental agenda at the top of any political platform.  

The Big Question

Holt could be good fit for Corzine


Almost all of the would-be senators favor the aggressive approach to courtship.  Hence the always blistering, sometimes intellectually dishonest attacks on Doug Forrester that Robert Menendez, Rob Andrews, and Frank Pallone happily serve up at the snap of Corzine’s senatorial finger.

You can’t blame Corzine for playing along.  A good surrogate is a good surrogate, after all.  But what if he’s secretly turned off by their please-please-pretty-please neediness?  What if he actually prefers the shy, quiet type?

Then maybe Rush Dew Holt has a chance.

The article goes on to emphasize Holt’s relative independence from the NJ State Party machine and his smaller warchest.  He doesn’t trade favors with the good-old-boy network, which manages to run our party without much interference from voters and activists.

Corzine’s choice for senator will send a strong signal about his sincerity about reforming the party and “connecting” to citizens.  Right now I can live with his sleeping with the party bosses if he has to do that to get elected.  But not after the election.

Franken + Forrester = Fun

Al Franken will be at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick next Tuesday to provide live commentary of the radio debate between Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester. The audio of the debate will be broadcast over the sound system, and Franken will provide commentary and jokes. In an email sent out last night, Franken says that in the highly unlikely event that Forrester happens to lie and distort during the debate, he – “a board-certified debunker – will be ready to give him the mocking of a lifetime.” It should be a great time. Tickets will sell out soon, so get ’em while they last.

Tom Kean Featured in New Forrester Ads

Cross-posted from

Note: A lot of the background in here is meant for the MyDD community and is not really news to us Jerseyans, but I thought it was relevant for Blue Jersey as well.

New television spots running here in New Jersey feature former Governor Tom Kean pitching GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester. I’ve got to admit I was pretty disappointed to see Kean, someone I somewhat admire, stumping for such lame candidate like Forrester. But then it occurred to me that the reason I like Kean is that he’s always done his job well. He was a very competent and capable Governor. Sitting on the independent 9/11 Commission, Kean set partisan loyalty aside to get answers for the families of the victims. And that’s what he’s doing now for Forrester. Kean is a partisan Republican campaigning for another partisan Republican.

The ad features Kean touting Forrester’s credentials as a moderate reformer. One thing it does not feature is Forrester himself. Sure, he’s there in a few bits of background footage, but you never see him in a natural setting, nor do you hear him speak. This has been the case throughout the campaign. His campaign recognizes that Forrester, who reminds many of Richard Nixon, is perhaps his own worst spokesman. But forget the retail politics for a minute. What about the claims Kean makes about Forrester….

How Progressive is Jersey?

Hi.  I don’t live in Jersey.  I’m a software developer in Colorado who created SoapBlox, and a political junkie.  SoapBlox is currently trying to fulfill the ’50 state strategy’ by helping progressive bloggers focus more of their attention on local politics.  

The way I see it, time spent on national politics has the least Return on Investment for any sort of activist.  The constituencies are too huge (especially for Senators), and most of what DC does has a very negligible impact on most people’s day to day lives (well, accept pay day).  Sure, the feds can make huge sweeping decisions that affect us all, but most of the time, our daily lives are dictated more by the acts of our state and local governments.

So Jersey is a Blue State, right?  But how blue?  How progressive?  Does the NJ state house or senate have rabidly lefty/progressive leaders?  Is their at least a recognizable caucus at the state level whom “hard core” progressives could support?  Are their safe “blue” state house districts where we as Progressives could get behind more progressive candidates (and kick out ‘old guard’ Dems who don’t share our beliefs?), and try to fill the legislature (and the future bench for national politics) with leaders who are anything but Republican-lite?

That’s what I think these State blogs should try to do: fight for more progressive candidates throughout the entire state legislature, to try and pass progressive legislation that can serve as a template for other progressive policies in other states, then on a national level.

I’m going to be stopping by here all the time to see how a blog running on me software is doing, so I might as well get to know y’all, and your state a little better.

Weinberg-1, Zisa-0

If you havent heard by now, Lorretta Weinberg beat Ken Zisa in the State Senate race in the 37th legislative district. This win comes after a tomultious battle against the Bergen County democratic party leadership. Weinberg lost the party convention vote, but five sealed ballots were opened, giving her the win by one vote (116-112), and therefore a win in the contest for the Democratic nomination in November.