UPDATE: Since we posted this today, I’ve been told by two people familiar with the planning that both Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy did not attend a second September opportunity to talk with voters about racism, a program called A… Read more
Well, this should be fun. We’re hearing – here from Bob Jordan at APP – that Donald Trump will be joining us for a here in New Jersey for a rally sometime down the line. It’s Chris Christie saying so. This… Read more
In Wisconsin’s most respected daily, look what opinion writer Ernst-Ulrich Franzen is complaining about with 2016 hopeful Gov. Scott Walker; legislators in his own Republican party that can’t agree, a mess of a budget driven entirely too much by the pet projects and policy wants of GOP members, and serious problems that have worsened back home with him away.
The problem with being a party activist is that sometimes you get stuck having to defend people, or situations, before you’re in any kind of position to know whether you should.
Tonight, we saw:
an avalanche of clamorous, full-throated confidence in New Jersey’s senior senator, expressed in official statements from NJ Dem electeds.
Twitter account @IStandWithBob with only 35 followers (mostly reporters).
Calls for resignation The loyalty’s all very nice. And I hope to hell he’s innocent; he’s my senator, too. But – – at the same time, two powerfully-written editorials came out – Star-Ledger and APP – both calling for Menendez to resign. The Ledger calls him a “tarnished defendant,” notes the legal fight could go on for years, and implores Menendez to “spare us the drama.” APP’s is rough stuff, telling Menendez he’s “done,” and “don’t play the aggrieved public figure fighting for justice, and don’t pretend that you have some overarching obligation to your supporters to stay on the job.”
Ouch. But that’s what voters who read newspapers are going to be absorbing with their coffee in the morning. And I would bet that those sentiments will have a great deal more to do with shaping how voters see all this than the all the energetic Democratic party attaboys.
Backlash risk This Democratic display carries a backlash risk – if it ends up that Menendez is found guilty, or has to resign. New Jersey Democrats, particularly those from North Jersey, are already perceived by many voters as corrupt. And only some of that due to Gov. Christie’s political targeting as U.S. Attorney.
You’ve got to have sympathy for some of these folks who were so vocal tonight for Menendez. It comes with the territory. They have little choice. But Democrats, and the NJDSC itself, risk being seen as out of step with most New Jerseyans. Most people will either take a wait-and-see attitude, or outright want anybody staggering under that many federal corruption charges to step aside and let somebody govern who isn’t also battling in court.
2015 races And with every Assembly seat up in November, and even the looming question of who’s next for governor, this is not a good time for Democrats to be fundamentally out of step with NJ voters. Not on something as big as the leader of NJ’s congressional delegation. And not on something as sensitive to weary Jersey voters as corruption.
Wild clapping & hooting Tonight, I watched Menendez’ press conference. Have to say, it was a little weird. There was wild clapping, hooting and cheering at everything he said. And that’s because crowded in with the reporters were Democratic loyalists, plus people billed as anti-FEMA activists. The anti-FEMA folks were apparently organized by Menendez staff to rally at the same hotel one hour before the Senator’s statement, with flyers that promised “food will be served”.
I’m sure it was good staff work to make all that happen. But frankly, it struck me as kind of Hudson County. All this loud, unquestioning devotion seems dissonant. And I hope as Assembly campaigns heat up, and posturing begins in earnest to replace Christie, that voters don’t look at Democrats and remember a night they tripped over each other to support the powerful guy who … just … might … be …guilty.
Two years ago today, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey. More than 2 million households lost power. Almost 350,000 homes destroyed or damaged. Thirty-seven died. Gov. Chris Christie, a smart politician who’d already been criticized for failing to come back from Disney during a blizzard (with LG Gaudagno already out of state with her terminally ill father), put on a fleece and set off to redefine himself. Christie turned a moment of crisis doing nothing more or less than what his job required into a persona; the nation’s governor, fleece unwashed, brow sweaty, ready to help.
Sunday’s Star-Ledger carried a PolitiFact N.J. post by Caryn Shinske, whose “Truth-O-Meter” rated a (pullout from a) post here at Blue Jersey by Marie Corfield as “Half-True”. MediaBob already did a great job pointing out errors in how Shinske defined Blue Jersey, and why we’re dubious of all self-defined “fact-checkers”. But even more than that troubles me about PolitiFact N.J.’s post. And I think you should see who else makes the same assessment about Christie’s economic record, and with precisely the same word PolitiFact N.J. objects to. Hint: It’s not no Christie-hatin’ librul website.
ACLU-NJ just made their police accountability app available for Apple products iPhone & iPad. The app – called Police Tape – allows people to securely, discreetly record and store interactions with police. ACLU-NJ Executive Director Ed Barocas:
“Too often incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed. Here, the technology empowers citizens to place a check on police power directly.”
How does it work?
In an incident with police, activate the app. In stealth mode, the screen goes black while recording; police cannot see that you’re recording or stop you. You can store the encounter on your device and also send it directlly to ACLU-NJ which can store it safely and analyze it for civil rights violations. It’s free via app developer OpenWatch.
More than 35,000 have downloaded the Police Tape app since its first release in July for Android. New Jersey law allows citizens to record the actions of police officers in public, even without their knowledge. The app is designed for use in this state. (Read more about how courts have upheld citizen recording in public here. Download Police Tape for Android & Apple here).
Can you get yourself re-elected by lying to voters?
Of course you can. Candidates circling the ethics drain do it all the time. And that’s what Republicans Caroline Casagrande & Mary Pat Angelini are banking on; if they suggest to enough voters that rising Democrat Vin Gopal is a crook, maybe they can keep their jobs.
The GOP’s clearly concerned that Gopal might win. He’s an effective, eloquent and inspiring candidate. Gopal’s entire team, among other nods, won Democracy for America’s national endorsement (disclosure: it was my pleasure to alert DFA to their strengths). Asbury Park Press endorsed Gopal, too, urging voters to consider him over Mary Pat Angelini.
So. What did Casagrande and Angelini do? They sent mail , produced by NJ GOP but approved by the two of them, that attempt to tar Gopal with the crimes of Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas, who went to jail for corruption. This kind of crap is right out of the Karl Rove playbook; create a scary-enough bogeyman and the voters will do what you want.
Yesterday, right-wing video bad boy James O’Keefe (Rutgers ’06) gave a paid talk to the Bayshore Tea Party in Keyport, and barred a newspaper’s video journalist from recording him. Alesha Williams Boyd reports it here. She is fairer in her telling of it than O’Keefe deserves, given how he treats other people.
It doesn’t surprise me that the self-appointed king of video gotcha ‘journalism’ would want to control the cameras in the room. What I don’t understand – Asbury Park Press (APP), I’m lookin’ at you now – is why the video journalist/s in the room let him get away with that.
Given the ethical ease with which O’Keefe entraps people with his camera, this is an extraordinary video. Doug Hood, who shot it, deserves credit for recording the local Tea Party honchos defense of O’Keefe, but I wish he had done as he threatened – the ‘off-stage’ voices are hard to distinguish – just film O’Keefe, and let him storm out, covering that.
But what he did capture is the fear of Barbara Gonzalez, founder of the group he spoke to, that her draw, O’Keefe, would leave. After all, she says, “This is a guy who’s in trouble with the law, he’s got lawsuits up the kazoo (sic) for trying to help you with your freedom!”
I hope to hell somebody took this APP crew out for a round of quality tequila when they got back to the office after this encounter last night. They deserve it. Here’s the video:
Note: I’m in a busy, loud place when I got this video – hat/tip John S. – and the video is a little confusing in spots.