Tag Archive: Robert Menendez

Has Gottheimer Got It?

With the midterms less than four months away, Democratic Representative and incumbent Josh Gottheimer (CD 5) doesn’t have the race wrapped up, but the potential is there. A recent poll indicates Democrats are more enthusiastic about voting in the midterms. The…
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Pope Francis in Cuba

A leading official Cuban newspaper is called Adelante: Primero con la Revolucion or in  English Forward: The first in the Revolution – a nice name for a progressive paper. However, it’s not progressive and most true revolutionaries reside in prison or outside the country. Its current issue leads off with “Cuban President Raúl Castro is at the José Martí Revolution Square, attending a mass by visiting Pope Francis.” Note which individual is mentioned first.

When Pope Francis landed in Cuba on Saturday, he quickly called on Cuba to “open itself to the world,” while praising its recent restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States. The articles in Adelante do not mention this plea from the Pope.

Back at home candidate Chris Christie has said, “President Obama is “dead wrong” for permitting the United States and Cuba to open embassies in their capital cities.” Not exactly a helpful approach to strengthen the relationship between our two countries, nor after 50 years to encourage a more democratic government there. Our Senator Robert Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, also has been a fierce critic of Obama’s Cuban policy.

Fortunately, this humble Argentine Pope speaks to an audience far wider than just certain American politicians or the doctrinaire Cuban press.  

A step toward a new Hudson River railroad tunnel

A new trans-Hudson train tunnel is absolutely essential, but the estimated cost, as high as $20 billion, is huge by any standard. As NJ and NY Governors Christie and Cuomo said in a letter yesterday to President Obama, “The key step is to secure federal funding and design a viable financial plan.”  The governors’ request is that the feds provide grants to pay for half of the cost ($10 billion) with NY, NJ and the Port Authority to fund the other half. While in previous conversations U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx had suggested he could help with federal loans, Governor Cuomo has emphatically said in the past he seeks grants from the federal government instead.

This is a positive step forward. President Obama is supportive, but he can not commit to grants of $10 billion. Getting a Republican/dysfunctional congress to agree will be difficult. Our senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez along with Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY and both NY and NJ representatives will have to lead the effort. Booker is on the Senate Transportation Committee. On the House Transportation Committee there are five NY members and two NJ members – Frank LoBiondo and Albio Sires. As Amtrak needs the tunnel to enter and leave Manhattan on its Boston to Washington route, legislators throughout the northeast should be concerned.

News Roundup and Open Thread for Saturday, August 22, 2015

Labor Data through July 31

NJ Unemployment: 5.9% (NY: 5.4%, PA: 5.4% DE: 4.7%).

NJ Employment: While employment increased in 34 states, it decreased in NJ by 13,600.

Roll Call says about Republican Rep. Scott Garrett: NJ Democratic strategists believe he is uniquely vulnerable … We’re moving the race out of Safe Republican to Favored Republican.

A&P tells over 5,000 workers: They may face Thanksgiving layoffs.

Dangerous drones over NJ airports: In August alone there were two incidents near Teterboro airport, one with a drone flying about 15 feet above a plane near Newark Airport, and another in Sewell in which the plane reported turning to avoid a black drone.

In Camden in the summer only about 1,500 children receive free or reduced-cost school lunch. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.) says, “We are confronted with a lot of reauthorization needs here, but none are as important as feeding our kids.”

A London-based betting parlor lists the odds of Trump becoming the Republican standardbearer as 7 to 2. Gov. Chris Christie, who slipped out of the top 10 in the latest opinion polls, had the 11th lowest odds at 25 to 1.

Three citizen groups sued Chris Christie and Chris Christie for President, Inc.: alleging that the Christie campaign has inappropriately forced New Jersey taxpayers to cover the cost of the Governor’s security and other key expenses while pursuing the presidency.

Deal or no deal? So far in the NJ House delegation regarding Iran, six Republicans are opposed, as are Democrats Donald Norcross, who visited with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for two hours, and Albio Sires. In the Senate Robert Menendez is opposed and Cory Booker, who recently held a conference call with the JCRC and Jewish Federation of Southern NJ, is in the wind.

The missing link in new US AIDS strategy: It lacks one crucial element: “the criminal justice system’s role in fueling HIV and AIDS.”

Ever wonder about those planes flying over the beach? Read on.

News Roundup and Open Thread for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TRANSPORTCLUSTERF*

  • After yesterday’s Summit Meeting in Newark on a new trans-Hudson Tunnel, Christie, Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and U. S. Transportation Secretary Foxx said in a joint statement that they had a “substantive and productive meeting” and “all of us are committed to working together on a path forward on this critical project.” In other words they told us nothing.

  • Christie’s office followed up with a statement on the Governor’s press release site. In an unusual move, instead of a Christie press release, there appeared a reprint of NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique Hakim’s letter to The Record of August 13 in which she says, “Governor Christie and his administration support building a new tunnel.” She goes on to enumerate the same conditions that Christie has mentioned before. In effect our governor, trying to thread his way through a campaign in which he now ranks 11th, is not speaking forthrightly and “telling it like it is,” but rather  letting someone else provide a vague and unsatisfactory statement.

  • A NY Times editorial says clearly and simply, Build a New Hudson River Tunnel. In this editorial its second photo of the tunnel is scary: decrepit, crumbling concrete, and exposed wiring.

  • Another rush hour in Hell: An NJ Transit train broke down on the Amtrak line under the Hudson River Monday at 7 a.m.

  • How to make the tunnel a reality: Elect a majority Democratic Congress next year. (Some NJ incumbent Republican Representatives would not be missed.) But first some agreement on the estimated total cost and a reasonable buy-in from those affected. That includes NY whose governor did not attend the summit.

    As if his position on Cuba is not bad enough, Sen. Menendez yesterday “went on offense savaging the Iran nuclear deal backed by President Barack Obama.” Sen.Booker appears undecided so far. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th) endorses it, and Rep. Albio Sires (D-8th) opposes it. The opposition at this point is substantial, but less likely to be sufficient to over-ride a presidential veto.

    More about 14 year old Radazz Hearns, voter expansion, a Christie paradox, Moody’s credit rating, and what would you pay for this meal?  

  • Here it is. Your Moment of Zen

    Bob Menendez is done. The once powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is now a back bencher, under indictment, and may or may not serve out the rest of his term which ends after the 2018 election.

    What are the desired characteristics of a successor? He or she should be to the left of center politically to match the sentiment of New Jersey’s blue state voting bloc. Our next U.S. senator should be someone who is well-known and well-connected to donors who can provide the necessary funds to fuel an aggressive election campaign. Ideally, he or she should be disconnected from the political patronage machines that are pervasive in New Jersey politics.

    One such person, who appears that he will have some time on his hands, is the recently-departed host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart. While there’s a lot we don’t know about him beyond his television persona, his intellect, wit, and probing interview style demonstrate he has the capacity to join Al Franken as a comedian-turned-statesman in the U.S. Senate.

    If Stewart decides on a political career as his next life experience, how should he run? As a Democrat? Or as an Independent?