Tag Archive: nj-5

Who Will You Be Voting for in November?

Cross-posted from RetireGarrrett.com

It’s still early, but if you have literally 10 seconds available, please give us an indication of who you will be voting for this November. This isn’t a Quinnipiac or Gallup poll, but it will produce a fairly accurate and unbiased result and may help us get an idea of Scott Garrett’s vulnerability. Please send the poll to friends, family members, and others interested in the NJ-5 race. Thanks for participating!

Vote Here

Scott Garrett’s morally bankrupt pattern of deceit

After the initial amusement of watching Congressman Garrett get schooled by Rep. Weiner for citing a memo that was proven to be a hoax, more information started to trickle out about just when the memo was determined to be fake – or at least the distinct possibility that it was not real.  And with that, I started to wonder if Garrett knowingly cited a fraudulent memo on the House floor – or if he should have known and was irresponsible in his actions.  

I’ll look at two things in this post: (1) Garrett’s past history of being deceitful with his constituents on healthcare and (2) the timeline of events on Friday leading up to his House floor speech.

For starters, Garrett’s own website cites a study by “The Lewin Group”, which is supposed to show just how evil health care reform is and how bad it is for the American public.  Garrett also cites The Lewin Group in other pieces as “proof” of his views.  What Garrett fails to mention is that The Lewin Group is WHOLLY-OWNED by United HealthGroup, so he is citing the insurance industry for his support without disclaiming that there is a tremendous conflict of interest, at best.  

Garrett also disingenuously referred to the health care bill as “having bipartisan opposition”, yet the Medicare Part D bill in 2003 (which he voted for) was (1) grossly and willfully underestimated in terms of cost; (2) was a giveaway to big Pharma (noting that Garrett was one of a handful to vote for allowing insurance companies to continue collusion and price fixing a few weeks ago) and (3) had the vote kept open for HOURS while deals were cut to pass by a single vote – and had bipartisan opposition.

So, to say the least, there is a history of him being deceptive and taking the moral low road in order to push his personal or political agenda.

On the events from last week, both Brilliant at Breakfast and Talking Points Memo have good summaries on this, but the timeline goes something like this:

  • 12:30PM – Republicans first “learned about” the memo.  Interestingly, some Republican offices did nothing with this information since the origin could not be verified;
  • 12:30PM Democratic Senate offices started receiving inquiries as to whether the claims were true (not whether the memo was real or fake though);
  • 12:45PM – Politico story posted about the memo (also posted on right wing sites like Washington Times and Breitbart).  Picked up by Drudge;
  • 1PM – Rep. Boehner’s office sent the memo to reporters, without verifying whether it was fake;
  • 2:40PM – After Democrats verify memo didn’t come from any offices, they pushed back on it;
  • Mid afternoon – The Atlantic posts apology for posting the fake memo, Politico takes down the memo and The Hill tweets that it opted against posting the memo;
  • 3:40 PM – Press conference with Eric Cantor and other Republican leaders indicating they knew the memo was fake but dismissed its importance (after pushing it hard all afternoon);
  • 5:15PM – Scott Garrett makes remarks on House floor

Now, Garrett’s excuse was that it was distributed by a “reputable Capitol Hill newspaper” and he didn’t know it was retracted.  But neither Politico nor Washington Times would have issued this in a print version, so he had to have received it online.  And with his House colleagues/leadership all knowing a few hours earlier that this was at a minimum, not necessarily a real memo (not to mention the fact that there was no name and nobody could source the memo), it is incredibly irresponsible for him to cite something that could not be verified, was only received electronically, was taken down and refuted by numerous sources throughout Washington at various points throughout the day, and Garrett – someone with a history of bending or cherrypicking his facts to suit his agenda “didn’t know” about the retraction, the updates on every blog and publication, the press conference by his own caucus or even the hint that this memo was fraudulent?

Tod Thiese on Blue Jersey Radio

Tod Thiese, NJ-5 Congressional Candidate
Tod Thiese, Candidate for Congress, NJ-5

Each week, Blue Jersey Radio streams LIVE with New Jersey’s latest political buzz, interviews with newsmakers, and your stimulating calls.

This week: We’re joined by NJ-5 Congressional Candidate Tod Thiese seeking the democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 5th District, for a chance to take on Scott Garrett in November.

Sure, it feels like we’ve been through this before. So, what’s Tod got in mind to change it up this cycle? Find out from the candidate himself.

Have your own ideas? Drop ’em in the comments, then tune in and join the conversation!

It’s all LIVE tonight at 8:00 p.m..

And, of course – you can always give us a call and have your say. That number again is: 646-652-2773.

Talk to you then!

Blue Jersey RadioListen to Blue Jersey Radio on internet talk radio

Scott Garrett will not run unopposed

As I’ve written in the recent past, the BCDO has been hesitant (to say the least) in endorsing anyone to run for Congress against radical right winger Scott Garrett.  And it wasn’t too long ago that State Senator Paul Sarlo said that it was time for a change – to let a candidate from Warren or Sussex County emerge to take on Garrett.

That time is now, as Warren County resident Tod Theise has answered the call and announced his candidacy against Garrett.  In his statement to the press, Thiese noted the following contrast between him and Garrett:

“I don’t think he represents working families in the district,” Theise said. “He voted against extending unemployment benefits … he voted for every [George W.] Bush budget.”

A former Republican, Theise became an independent in the early part of the last decade and then migrated to the Democratic Party. He said his reasons for the leaving the Republicans were the spending policies and lack of Wall Street regulation under Bush.

His criticisms of Garrett are similar.

“What I find lacking is that he gives the people on Wall Street a complete and utter pass,” Theise said. “He is basically bought and sold by Wall Street.”

Now, I’ve met Tod and spoken to him numerous times over the past few months as he has been moving towards a run at Garrett.  There are a few things about this candidacy that I like personally – for starters, it will be interesting to see how a non-Bergen County challenger plays out – especially in the current climate where being associated with the BCDO isn’t the best of associations right around now.  Additionally, I’ve always thought that lowering the 60%+ of the vote that Garrett routinely gets in Warren and Sussex counties is imperative – that this race cannot be won in Bergen alone.  I also like the views and approach that Tod is taking on a number of issues – but this will come out over the next few months as the campaign gets under way.  

Of course, this is one of the most uphill battles in general, as Garrett has never gotten less than 55% of the vote in his 4 previous races.  But you never know what can happen in an election, and there has been unprecedented focus on Garrett by a number of grassroots organizations in the District (ahem….).

Garrett himself didn’t have any comments on Theise’s candidacy, but “FakeGarrettNJ5” on Twitter had the following to say:

A challenger? I will crush him like I crush the souls of hardworking struggling families in the District.

Calling out MSNBC and Chris Matthews for enabling the radical right

I’ll start by saying that anyone who uses the sentence that “MSNBC is the only counterpart to FOX and the right wing noise machine” has their head completely up their ass.  Two hours per day (Olbermann and Maddow) do not make up for the countless hours of “fair and balanced programming” that Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough or much of the daytime programming comprises – certainly, this is a mixed bag at best and nothing near the ridiculously and blatantly skewed programming on FOX – or even worse, the “supposedly neutral” but SO NOT neutral CNN.

But I digress….

A couple of weeks back, Chris Matthews had two Congressmen on Hardball to discuss health care reform and how the issue could be moved forward in a bipartisan manner.  The Republican Congressman appearing was New Jersey’s own Scott Garrett.  At the end of the segment, Chris heaped effusive praise on Garrett, calling him his type of Northeastern Republican, which I guess means the most radically rightwing kind.  He even invoked the word “moderate” to describe Garrett (at which mention Garrett visibly cringed).  

To grasp the abject stupidity of Matthews’ misplaced admiration, you have to understand who Scott Garrett is and what he stands for.  As we have documented here time and time again, Garrett is arguably THE most radical right-wing member of Congress.  His illustrious legislative record includes, among many other things:

  • Voting against aid for victims of Katrina,
  • Voting against extending unemployment benefits for American families,
  • Voting against extending the Voting Rights Act,
  • Voting against providing health care to poor children,
  • Voting against anti-price gouging legislation holding big oil accountable,
  • Voting against taxing bonuses for Wall Street execs (he actually argued that they “deserved” them),
  • Voting for every bloated Bush budget, and
  • Voting for every dime spent in Iraq.  

Oh, and by the way Chris – He’s also catering to the birthers – if not necessarily an outward one himself, having said at a public meeting that he wanted to see Obama’s birth certificate.  Garrett further distinguished himself following the earthquake in Haiti.  His message on his Congressional web site said the he was praying for those constituents of his affected by the quake.  No mention of the thousands of Haitians who were dead or injured.  Garrett also opposed abortion even in the case of rape or incestallowing a rapist to choose the mother of his child or a molesting father to force his daughter to bear his own grandchild.  And he referred dismissively to the push to eliminate DADT as a “side issue” not worthy of his consideration.  That’s Chris Matthews’ kind of Republican.

As Jason notes below, Garrett also recently appeared on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show with guest host Ed Schultz.  Once again he performed his one man show designed to portray himself as the sincere moderate that truly wants to work across party lines for the good of the American people.  I can’t blame Ed because he was filling in at the last moment.  But I can blame the show’s staff for not doing even a modicum of homework on their guest.  Like Matthews, Schultz – someone who should know better – bought the well rehearsed charade hook, line and sinker.

By giving Garrett this kind of forum without challenging him on his record, MSNBC has aided and abetted an insidious political fraud.  It is incumbent upon MSNBC to make sure this journalistic incontinence doesn’t happen again.  First, try to actually do some research on your guests.  You know, like Rachel Maddow does so well.  Second, next time you extend an invitation for Congressman Garrett to appear on one of your infotainment shows, ask him why he voted time and time again to deprive Americans of their most basic civil rights.  Then ask him how we can buy into his fairy tale of working toward a bipartisan utopia when he questions the very legitimacy of our President to serve in office based on debunked crackpot theories.

Maybe then MSNBC can begin to regain some semblance of journalistic integrity.          

Scott Garrett to poor children: I just don’t care about you

Come check us out over at Retire Garrett

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As pointed out by our friends at Down With Tyranny, a vote was held yesterday in the House with respect to the National School Lunch Program – a program that is even more necessary now given the state of the economy:

H.Res.362. It expresses the House’s support for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program and “recognizes that our pupils deserve access to high-quality, safe, and nutritious meals in school.” It passed 403-13, every Democrat and 155 Republicans, including the entire GOP congressional leadership voting in favor.

And guess who was one of the 13?

Let’s look at some numbers.  There are approximately 200,000 children living in Bergen, Sussex and Warren Counties.  Of that, there are 12,400 children in Bergen who are on reduced or free lunch programs due to need, over 2,300 more in Sussex County and another 1,900 in Warren County.  That is one out of every twelve children in these three counties who can’t afford a decent meal and rely on the National School Lunch Program.

And this is too offensive for Scott Garrett to support.

Garrett is very good at explaining away his unconscionable votes with a caveat such as “I agree in principle but…” or “I would have supported this, but….”.  Quite frankly, actions speak louder than words.  Time after time and vote after morally reprehensible vote, Garrett shows where his loyalties lie.  This is about struggling families.  And just as his vote against clean drinking water shows, Garrett can’t keep explaining away votes that show a pattern of disdain for the health and welfare of those in his district that he is supposed to represent.

What makes this worse is the fact that the BCDO is choosing to give Garrett a pass without even so much as a challenger to a man whose actions and record are nothing short of abominable.

BCDO’s strategy fail – not just lose but lose badly

Say what you want about former BCDO Chairman Joe Ferriero, but he knew how to rack up Democratic wins in Bergen County.  As for his successor, Michael Kasparian, 2009 didn’t look too good but let’s not give him all of the blame for the loss of two freeholder seats and a near draw between Christie and Corzine in the backyard of the very popular Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate.  After all, he did have to come in on the heels of a cloud of corruption and it didn’t go away (probably still hasn’t).  That being said, Kasparian did say that he was not going to be the same type of leader as Ferriero and would have more transparency in the BCDO.  I assume he also had a goal of restoring the tarnished image of the BCDO.

Which makes the information I have been hearing that much more puzzling as well as maddening.  

Now, knowing that Scott Garrett is by far one of the most out of step Congressmen, tucked safely in a district that is hand drawn for a Republican to hold on the Congressional level and the desire for the Bergen Democrats to lay as low as possible, I can understand a level of concern, given the county and statewide election results last November.  But I have heard from at least four different people in four different parts of the county who have spoken to three very well known and high profile people high up in the BCDO – all of whom have indicated the chosen strategy of the BCDO (and I am paraphrasing):

We think it would be best to not run a challenger to Scott Garrett in the hopes that Republican voter turnout will be depressed and our local candidates will have a better chance of winning

Where to even begin here?  How about the following reasons why this is quite possibly the absolute dumbest and worst political strategy I have seen in a good long time:

  • Republicans are more motivated this year than in the past 6 years.  To think that they won’t be coming out stronger and hope they will forget there is an election is fantasyspeak;
  • Having no Congressional candidate will not “free up motivated volunteers” to help with, for example, Freeholder, County Executive, County Sherriff or other lower tier races – local races where quite frankly, most people don’t know or care enough to get involved;
  • Voter turnout in an off year (i.e., non-Presidential) is low as is – without giving the base a real reason to vote – and voting just for downticket races is hardly reason enough to get the full base out to vote – will only depress Democratic turnout further;
  • Sending a signal that you don’t even want to field a top of the ticket candidate is a message of fear – a losing message.  This will likely (1) depress the base vote further, (2) depress the motivated activists who would otherwise vote for an entire ticket, tell their friends and neighbors to do the same, volunteer and talk up the race and (3) create a backlash and resentment among those who know the damage that Scott Garrett does to the people of this district; and
  • Give the impression that an attempt to save their own personal political lives is more important than helping those constituents who they hope will elect (or re-elect) them to serve.  

What message does it send to me – a motivated activist who has spent the better part of my four years living in New Jersey working to oust Garrett?  That I should not only suck it up and let Garrett walk to a win – even if he ends up embroiled in his own horrific scandal – but I should also be a sport and team player and have all of my friends and neighbors come out and vote for downticket candidates because why?

And I know that there are hundreds of people like me – people who can get hundreds more to vote for a whole slate of Democrats.  What the Bergen Democrats don’t realize, just like the New Jersey Democrats who don’t understand Garden State Equality’s stance on not donating to the Democratic Party as a whole, is that our votes, our time and our money is earned.

By not running a Congressional candidate, the Bergen Democrats are doing none of the above – and they will only lose by a larger margin than if they had a Congressional candidate.

Is Garrett fearful of a level playing field for healthcare?

As Jason notes just below, Congressman Scott Garrett is quick to use fear and hyperbole when talking about his views of healthcare reform.  And the interesting thing with all of his fearmongering is the  complete absence of some of the most basic underlying concerns on why health insurance providers are able to collude, deny coverage and hike rates by however much they feel like.

So, with it being time for him to actually put the considerable money he gets from Big Insurance where his mouth is on the bill that Congressman Pallone discussed on repealing the antitrust exemption for insurance companies, what does he do?

Yup – he votes for collusion and price gouging and less competition (one of only 19 House members).  

Here is some context:

Congressman Pallone recently posted about repealing the antitrust exemption that health insurance companies currently enjoy (linked above).  And while this may not be the only reason why rates have been hiked and competition is all but eliminated, the simple fact remains is that there are industry wide price and competition abuses that are fostered by the exemption.

Now, there is more than just the anti-trust exemption at issue.   There have been over 400 corporate mergers in the healthcare industry since the late 1990’s, and the Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission were about as hands off as could be with respect to the mergers and the elimination of competition that resulted from it.   Towards the back of this link is a summary of some major mergers and how they weren’t really challenged, just to provide more context.  As a result of this, the five largest providers of group health insurance companies controlled 75 percent or more of the market in 34 states, and 90 percent or more in 23 of those states, a significant increase in concentration over a six year period.

So, back to Garrett – he is always in favor of more competition and more “market forces”.  Even his own website section on healthcare talks about competition across state lines.  But without a removal of the antitrust exemption, this is close to a nonstarter.  And because of the lack of oversight on the hundreds of mergers that occurred, the competition that he talks about was bound to disappear rapidly.  It is clear that when it comes to standing up for the very principles he purports to have, Garrett is nothing more than a walking hypocrite and contradiction.

Another reason for Garrett not to like those activist judges

We told you last week about Scott Garrett’s conversion on the courts. Instead of trying to strip the power from those judicial activists in the federal courts, he was going to get them to rule in his favor and overturn the DC Marriage Equality vote. The court has not gone along with Garrett’s plan:

A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage opponents do not have a right to call for a referendum to determine whether such unions should be legal in the District.

The decision, a major victory for gay rights activists, makes it more likely that the District will begin allowing same-sex couples to marry in March.

It’s interesting to note why the court ruled the way it did, as a constant argument from opponents of Marriage Equality is that it should go to a referendum before the voters:

In the 23-page ruling, Judge Judith N. Macaluso affirmed a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision that city law disallows the ballot proposal because it would promote discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Macaluso also concluded that previous court decisions outlawing same-sex marriage in the District are no longer valid.

Of course opponents plan to file an appeal of the decision, but the clock is ticking:

Despite opponents’ plans to appeal, they are running out of time to block same-sex marriages in the District. Congress has begun the required 30-legislative-day review of the same-sex marriage law.

City leaders said that, barring intervention by Congress, marriage licenses will be available to same-sex couples around the first week of March.

Garrett may wait to try and take the power from the judges again until they rule on an appeal holding out hope, but no doubt he’ll be back to stopping those activist judges as soon as they don’t rule his way the last time.