Saturday, September 29, 2007

Candidate Sites

I'm in the process of putting up the candidate sites for next year's race, as well as this year's races. If I'm missing a link, please send it to me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Garrett's Chance Not to Be A Hypocrite

Representative Frank Pallone of NJ has thrown down the gauntlet to Republicans, including our own Representative Scott Garrett, to ensure they hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard as (h/t BlueJersey).

After's ad attacking General David Patreaus, Garrett said to My9 News that the ad was "disgusting," saying it was wrong that our General with the boots on the ground was being called a traitor.

Well, now Rush Limbaugh has called those "boots on the ground" who come forward calling for a change of direction or withdrawal "phony soldiers." This blanket statement from the conservative mouthpiece who has been called a "big fat idiot" in the past, would therefore include the members of the 10th Mountain Division planning on protesting in Syracuse tomorrow (Saturday). This proud Division has been involved since the beginning, and currently have 7,500 of their brothers and sisters serving in Iraq.

So that the "Limbaugh is being taken out of context" argument is not perpetuated here, this is a transcript of the conversation. You can listen to it here:

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --

CALLER 2: A lot of them -- the new kids, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir.

As soon as I see public comments from Garrett I'll post them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Garrett & Popcorn Lung

In the latest 12-Garrett vote, Representative Scott Garrett was the only Representative from New Jersey to vote against legislation requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop safety standards for workers exposed to Diacetyl.

Excessive exposure to Diacetyl seems to lead to a condition commonly referred to as Popcorn Lung, because Diacetyl is commonly used in butter flavoring used on microwave popcorn. Doctors have given Popcorn Lung the more scientific name of Bronchiolitis obliterans, which WebMd reported on a couple of weeks ago:
It's a rare disease, first seen in 1985 in workers in food-flavor factories. In 2002, the disease was seen in workers making microwave popcorn -- in particular, those exposed to a buttery-tasting chemical called diacetyl. There have been many other reports since then, with at least three deaths and many patients awaiting lung transplants.
The damage from Popcorn Lung is irreversible, if the "awaiting lung transplants" part wasn't clear. OSHA has been petitioned several times to develop a standard, yet no action has been taken. If Garrett said anything on why he thinks it's a bad idea for the OSHA to develop a safety standard regarding a chemical that causes irreversible lung damage, when OSHA's purpose is to develop such safety standards, I'll post it here.

Garrett Really Full of SCHIP

As I pointed out in an earlier post, our Representative Scott Garrett voted for every deficit inflating Republican budget he's had the chance to vote for (FY 2004, FY 2005, FY 2006, FY 2007). Yet, on the House floor the other day he had this to say:
Even though it is our own administration on these issues, I voted against a budget that has come before this House, even though it is one of our own budgets, because I thought we were spending too much. So I believe I come to the well here with a track record to stand on, as does the gentleman from Texas, as well, when it comes to saying we want to be fiscally responsible.
I'm not sure what budget Garrett is talking about, but his voting record certainly doesn't match his words. Considering this is the basis he has given for his vote against renewing the State Children's Health Insurance Program yesterday, he really is full of it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger's remarks

This was a great introduction:

I would like to begin by thanking Dean John Coatsworth and Professor Richard Bulliet for their work in organizing this event and for their commitment to the role of the School of International and Public Affairs and its role in training future leaders in world affairs. If today proves anything it will be that there is an enormous amount of work ahead for all of us. This is just one of many events on Iran that will run throughout this academic year, all to help us better understand this critical and complex nation in today’s geopolitics.

Before speaking directly to the current President of Iran, I have a few critically important points to emphasize.

First, since 2003, the World Leaders Forum has advanced Columbia’s longstanding tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues. It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.

Second, to those who believe that this event never should have happened, that it is inappropriate for the University to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable. The scope of free speech and academic freedom should itself always be open to further debate. As one of the more famous quotations about free speech goes, it is “an experiment, as all life is an
experiment.” I want to say, however, as forcefully as I can, that this is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech, the American university, and Columbia itself.

Third, to those among us who experience hurt and pain as a result of this day, I say on behalf of all of us we are sorry and wish to do what we can to alleviate it.

Fourth, to be clear on another matter - this event has nothing whatsoever to do with any “rights” of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak. We do it for ourselves.

We do it in the great tradition of openness that has defined this nation for many decades now. We need to understand the world we live in, neither neglecting its glories nor shrinking from its threats and dangers. It is consistent with the idea
that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament. In the moment, the arguments for free speech will never seem to match the power of the arguments against, but what we must remember is that this is precisely because free speech asks us to exercise extraordinary self- restraint against the very natural but often counter-productive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear. In this lies the genius of the American idea of free speech.

Lastly, in universities, we have a deep and almost single-minded commitment to pursue the truth. We do not have access to the levers of power. We cannot make war or peace. We can only make minds. And to do this we must have the most full freedom of inquiry.

Let me now turn to Mr. Ahmadinejad.


Over the last two weeks, your government has released Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and Parnaz Axima; and just two days ago Kian Tajbakhsh, a graduate of Columbia with a PhD in urban planning. While our community is relieved to learn of his release on bail, Dr. Tajbakhsh remains in Teheran, under house arrest, and he still does not know whether he will be charged with a crime or allowed to leave the country. Let me say this for the record, I call on the President today to ensure that Kian Tajbaksh will be free to travel out of Iran as he wishes. Let me also report today that we are extending an offer to Dr. Tajbaksh to join our faculty as a visiting professor in urban planning here at his Alma Mater, in our Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. And we hope he will be able to join us next semester.

The arrest and imprisonment of these Iranian Americans for no good reason is not only unjustified, it runs completely counter to the very values that allow today’s speaker to even appear on this campus.

But at least they are alive.

According to Amnesty International, 210 people have been executed in Iran so far this year – 21 of them on the morning of September 5th alone. This annual total includes at least two children – further proof, as Human Rights Watch puts it, that Iran leads the world in executing minors.

There is more.

Iran hanged up to 30 people this past July and August during a widely reported suppression of efforts to establish a more open, democratic society in Iran. Many of these executions were carried out in public view, a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.

These executions and others have coincided with a wider crackdown on student activists and academics accused of trying to foment a so-called “soft revolution”. This has included jailing and forced retirements of scholars. As Dr. Esfandiari said in a broadcast interview since her release, she was held in solitary confinement for 105 days because the government “believes that the United States . . . is planning a Velvet Revolution” in Iran.

In this very room last year we learned something about Velvet Revolutions from Vaclav Havel. And we will likely hear the same from our World Leaders Forum speaker this evening – President Michelle Bachelet Jeria of Chile. Both of their extraordinary stories remind us that there are not enough prisons to prevent an entire society that wants its freedom from achieving it.

We at this university have not been shy to protest and challenge the failures of our own government to live by these values; and we won’t be shy in criticizing yours.
Let’s, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

And so I ask you:

Why have women, members of the Baha’i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?

Why in a letter last week to the Secretary General of the UN did Akbar Gangi, Iran’s leading political dissident, and over 300 public intellectuals, writers and Nobel Laureates express such grave concern that your inflamed dispute with the West is distracting the world’s attention from the intolerable conditions your regime has created within Iran? In particular, the use of the Press Law to ban writers for criticizing the ruling system.

Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?
In our country, you are interviewed by our press and asked that you to speak here today. And while my colleague at the Law School Michael Dorf spoke to Radio Free Europe [sic, Voice of America] viewers in Iran a short while ago on the tenets of freedom of speech in this country, I propose going further than that. Let me lead a delegation of students and faculty from Columbia to address your university about free speech, with the same freedom we afford you today? Will you do that?


In a December 2005 state television broadcast, you described the Holocaust as a “fabricated” “legend.” One year later, you held a two-day conference of Holocaust deniers. For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda. When you come to a place like this, this makes you, quite simply, ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.

You should know that Columbia is a world center of Jewish studies and now, in partnership with the YIVO Institute, of Holocaust studies. Since the 1930s, we’ve provided an intellectual home for countless Holocaust refugees and survivors and their children and grandchildren. The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history. Because of this, and for many other reasons, your absurd comments about the “debate” over the Holocaust both defy historical truth and make all of us who continue to fear humanity’s capacity for evil shudder at this closure of memory, which is always virtue’s first line of defense.

Will you cease this outrage?


Twelve days ago, you said that the state of Israel “cannot continue its life.” This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the last two years, including in October 2005 when you said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

Columbia has over 800 alumni currently living in Israel. As an institution we have deep ties with our colleagues there. I personally have spoken out in the most forceful terms against proposals to boycott Israeli scholars and universities, saying that such boycotts might as well include Columbia. More than 400 college and university presidents in this country have joined in that statement. My question, then, is: Do you plan on wiping us off the map, too?


According to reports by the Council on Foreign Relations, it’s well documented that Iran is a state sponsor of terror that funds such violent group as the Lebanese Hezbollah, which Iran helped organize in the 1980s, the Palestinian Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

While your predecessor government was instrumental in providing the US with intelligence and base support in its 2001 campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, your government is now undermining American troops in Iraq by funding, arming, and providing safe transit to insurgent leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr and his forces.

There are a number of reports that also link your government with Syria’s efforts to destabalize the fledgling Lebanese government through violence and political assassination.

My question is this: Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and civil society in the region?


In a briefing before the National Press Club earlier this month, General David Petraeus reported that arms supplies from Iran, including 240mm rockets and explosively formed projectiles, are contributing to “a sophistication of attacks that would by no means be possible without Iranian support.”

A number of Columbia graduates and current students are among the brave members of our military who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like other Americans with sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and wives serving in combat, rightly see your government as the enemy.

Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi’a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?


This week the United Nations Security Council is contemplating expanding sanctions for a third time because of your government’s refusal to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. You continue to defy this world body by claiming a right to develop peaceful nuclear power, but this hardly withstands scrutiny when you continue to issue military threats to neighbors. Last week, French President Sarkozy made clear his lost patience with your stall tactics; and even Russia and China have shown concern.

Why does your country continue to refuse to adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification in defiance of agreements that you have made with the UN nuclear agency? And why have you chosen to make the people of your country vulnerable to the effects of international economic sanctions and threaten to engulf the world with nuclear annihilation?

Let me close with this comment. Frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do. Fortunately, I am told by experts on your country, that this only further undermines your position in Iran with all the many good-hearted, intelligent citizens there. A year ago, I am reliably told, your preposterous and belligerent statements in this country (as in your meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations) so embarrassed sensible Iranian
citizens that this led to your party’s defeat in the December mayoral elections. May this do that and more.

I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.

Garrett on Ahmadinejad

These are Representative Scott Garrett's prepared remarks for a rally today at the UN.
I thank you for being here today and appreciate the opportunity to address this matter.


It’s a principle that all the world’s major religions respect and in most cases demand. It’s a subject I would like to discuss with the President of Iran.

He has come to the world forum of the United Nations where he will no doubt tell everyone that the intentions of his nation are peaceful. That they are reprocessing uranium with no intention of using it in weapons. That they have no hidden nuclear facilities. That they are not funneling weapons into Iraq .

And my question for him is: “Do you have any respect for the truth?”

The Koran says: “do not mix up the truth with the falsehood, nor hide the truth while you know it.” President Ahmadinejad, you know the truth and we demand that you stop feeding the world falsehoods.

The truth is that there is no reason to reprocess uranium unless you wish to build a weapon. The truth is that you wish to see Israel and the West in flames—at any cost.

You claim that you only want to use these materials for peaceful purposes and yet you say you will give your nuclear technology to: “those who are determined to confront the bullying powers and aggressors.” A peaceful nuclear weapons program has nothing to do with confrontation.

Your own words show how dangerous it is for the free countries of the world to sit by idly as Iran develops nuclear weapons. Some say that the principle of mutually assured destruction will keep a nuclear Iran contained. But that tried and true
principle will not work with an enemy who glorifies suicide attacks.

And as Americans stand in harm’s way in the Middle East, I find it shameful that an American institution of “supposedly” higher learning would invite this man to our shores to speak. In Ahmadinejad’s world, the global war on terror in a holy war against the United State and against our ally, Israel . He should not be given the opportunity or the credibility that Columbia today affords him. We must all stand with our troops today—united against our foreign aggressors and their apologists.

We should not put faith in the words of a man who has no sense of truth. We cannot be safe with a nuclear Iran . The free nations of the world must stop buying Iran ’s lies and prevent them from acquiring and using the most fearsome weapons of war.

I thank you for being here today and appreciate the opportunity to address this matter.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Garrett: Housing Market is Good

Representative Scott Garrett and Representative Paul Hodes appeared on C-SPAN yesterday for nearly an hour. Among many points: Garrett said he believes the overall housing market is in good shape (you have to see it to believe it); said he supports the PAYGO rules he voted against; and stared a hole in his notepad while being asked and then completely dodged a question at the end about the fairness of non-working people making $9 million a year from trusts being taxed at 15%.

For perspective on that last one, the median household income in our District is $84,443, putting those households in the 28% tax bracket. With the disproportionate amount of families within our District paying the AMT, that number does not drop off due to deductions.

For those not having time to watch the show (here's the link again), or the inclination, the folks over at Red Jersey have started their own video channel on YouTube. Their first Garrett video has him talking about Iraq, partisanship, No Child Left Behind and the fact he doesn't want Bush to campaign for him next year.

Blame Canada

Well, the US dollar closed below the Canadian dollar yesterday for what I believe may be the first time in my life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Official What Squad Returns

Representative Scott Garrett returned to the House floor earlier this week for another installment of the the Official What Squad. He and Representative Price seem to be the only members of this crew, and what they say often isn't true.

This week, they were discussing spending by the Democrats. Garrett said the following:
If you additionally listened to the other side, they will talk about and applaud themselves and pat themselves on the back about PAYGO, which you have already discussed, which is a good term described in a very elementary way to say pay-as-you-go, something that all families have to do in this country, and we wish Congress could live by that as well.

Now, as readers know, Garrett voted against re-instating PAYGO. He has also voted against bills that used PAYGO principles to cut corporate welfare to pay for new programing. Once again, the Official What Squad misrepresents the truth of their actions and the outcomes.

How Garrett Sees a Terrorist Attack

This from Representative Scott Garrett on the floor yesterday (emphasis mine):
Even beyond the horrific human toll, terrorists could inflict real pain by melting our infrastructure and economy down.

I'm pretty certain the families of 9/11 would say the real pain was the loss of their loved ones.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Update on the Campaigns

For the Democratic nomination to take on Representative Scott Garrett:
  • Camille Abate opened her office in Glen Rock on Sunday. She has pictures up on the blog and sounds like she had a good crowd.
  • Dennis Shulman has his website up, and to the individual who asked if anyone knew his stances on the issues, his positions are there.
The State House races:
  • 24th Legislative District -Republican State Senate Candidate, Freeholder Steve Oroho is the first to reach the threshold of $10 donations to qualify for maximum financing as part of the Clean Elections program. According to the New Jersey Herald, here's how the rest of the field shakes out: Assemblywoman Allison Littel McHose, $6,000; Freeholder Gary Chiusano, $6,790; Ed Selby, $5,130; Toni Zimmer, $4,940; and Pat Walsh, $4,730.
  • 38th Legislative District - The BCDO has picked Assemblyman Bob Gordon to run for Joseph Coniglio's State Senate seat, and Freeholder Connie Wagner to go for Gordon's vacated position on the ballot. It never ceases to amaze me that in New Jersey it doesn't seem to matter who wins the primary. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had to run for Senate, and lose, against a dead man; yet here in New Jersey we can replace people six weeks before the election.
Campaign links coming soon: I'll be putting up links to all the campaigns that I know of in the near future. I'm a little behind in this, but it will be done shortly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan slams GOP: Will Garrett Understand?

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernancke showed up for his first hearing in front of the Financial Services Committee last year, on which our Representative Scott Garrett sits, Garrett made the following comment:
"We can actually understand your answers," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., during the generally cordial hearing.

It was portrayed as a warm welcome for Bernancke, but with a new book coming out from former Fed Chair, Alan Greenspan, I'm wondering if it was being truthful as well. It seems the White House and the Republican run Congress either didn't understand, or didn't care what Greenspan said. Now, Greenspan seems to be taking them to task.

The Greenspan quote from this book that is lighting up news sources around the world is this:
"The Republicans in Congress lost their way," Greenspan wrote. "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

Here's how the New York Times described the passage:
Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere.

Those rules referred to were PAYGO, which the Republicans had implemented as part of the Republican Revolution of 1994, then abandoned in the "Tax Cut" revolution of 2002, and were reinstated by the Democrats earlier this year. While the quote seems to be Earth shaking, Greenspan started calling for a return for PAYGO more than two years ago:
However, the brief emergence of surpluses in the late 1990s eroded the will to adhere to these rules, which were aimed specifically at promoting deficit reduction rather than at the broader goal of setting out a commonly agreed-upon standard for determining whether the nation was living within its fiscal means. Many of the provisions that helped restrain budgetary decision making in the 1990s--in particular, the limits on discretionary spending and the PAYGO requirements--were violated ever more frequently; finally, in 2002, they were allowed to expire.

Reinstating a structure like the one provided by the Budget Enforcement Act would signal a renewed commitment to fiscal restraint and help restore discipline to the annual budgeting process. Such a step would be even more meaningful if it were coupled with the adoption of a set of provisions for dealing with unanticipated budgetary outcomes over time.

I suppose that's one of Greenspan's answers Garrett didn't understand. As those that read this blog or follow Garrett's website know, when the Democrats reinstated PAYGO, Garrett argued against it saying the following:
"Regrettably," continued Garrett, "the Democrat leadership also chose to approve a change to budget rules that could have no purpose other than to justify tax increases. And, that I could not support. It is a shame that in taking the step forward with strong earmark reform, the Democrat leadership chose to take two steps back in fiscal discipline."

On this one, I'll go with Greenspan. Back in January, I laid out the effects PAYGO actually had on Federal spending:
Under the PAYGO rules of the 90's, the government actually ran surpluses for a short time and held average increases in government spending under 4%. PAYGO expired in 2002 before Garrett entered the House, and since then new spending averaged over 10% and we've had record deficits. Garrett, the "fiscal conservative" recently voted against the reinstatement of PAYGO.

Most reasonable people would say that what has been going on since Garrett arrived in Congress is not fiscally responsible. Although Garrett's often given credit for holding the line on spending, since arriving in Congress, Garrett has voted for every one of the Republican budgets he could (FY 2004, FY 2005, FY 2006, FY 2007). It should be interesting to see how he and the others on the Hill respond to this book.

Kind of like Lee Iacocca's must read Where Have All the Leaders Gone?; Greenspan has nothing to lose with this book. At least one other quote cited by the AP seems to make you think Greenspan's not holding back:
Of the conflict in the Middle East, Greenspan said: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Honestly, I can't wait to read this thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Garrett Protested, Chairmen Miss the Point

As promised, the Humane Society showed up at the office of Representative Scott Garrett yesterday to protest Garrett being one of 39 representatives to vote against the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. I've talked about the bill before, but the Star Ledger does a good job of describing what Garrett voted against:
The law upgrades the penalties for illegal transportation of animals for fighting -- one of the crimes to which football player Michael Vick has pleaded guilty -- from a misdemeanor to a felony, with jail time increasing from one to three years.

Garrett has repeatedly given the explanation that he doesn't think the crimes should be upgraded, because dog fighting is a felony in all fifty states. However, no one has been able to get him to explain his opposition to Congress regulating the interstate aspect of the operations, like Vick's, which is clearly Federal jurisdiction.

One still has to wonder why Garrett co-sponsored the bill 25 days after it was introduced if this was how he felt, but that's a question only he can answer.

In an attempt to help their embattled Representative the chairmen of the Republican organizations in both Sussex and Bergen counties chimed in.

From the New Jersey Herald:
"It's always easy in politics to go along with the majority," Sussex County Republican Chairman Rich Zeoli said. "It's difficult and takes a lot of courage to be the lone dissenting vote on something."

Somehow, I don't think Garrett will get the Profile in Courage award for this one. That's reserved for people like Representative John Lewis, who nearly died trying to gain the voting rights Garrett voted against renewing, or President Gerald Ford whose pardon of Richard Nixon lost him the 1976 election, yet helped move the country beyond Watergate.

Then from The Star Ledger:
Bergen County GOP Chairman Rob Ortiz chalked up the Humane Society's criticism of Garrett to politics.

"I believe that virtually everyone agrees that any act of hurting an innocent animal is inexcusable and intolerable," Ortiz wrote in an e- mail. "The fact remains that the Humane Society has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions last cycle, nearly 70 percent of them to Democrats. They wouldn't picket Scott Garrett's office for this vote if he weren't a Republican. Partisan politics will not solve the problem they claim to care about."

Considering 95% of the Republicans in Congress voted for this, and the Humane Society endorsed every Republican running in NJ last year except Garrett, calling them partisans or trying to make this a partisan issue doesn't quite work. The Humane Society also made sure to include Democratic Representatives Ruben Hinojosa of Texas and Dan Boren of Oklahoma in the press releases criticising the 39 Representatives who voted against this bill.

Garrett was neither brave nor a good Republican on this one; it's simply an indefensible vote.

Abate to Open Office

On Sunday, Camille Abate will open her campaign headquarters in Glen Rock. The public is welcome to check it out. Here are the details:

We are going to have a Grand Opening party at our new campaign office, and everyone is invited!

September 16th - Sunday afternoon - 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

536 S. Broad StreetGlen Rock, NJ

Shulman Seems to Make it Official

Well, since Monday, it seems Rabbi Dennis Shulman has gone from exploratory committee to full fledged candidate. He's seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Representative Scott Garrett. While his website isn't finished yet, he does have an Act Blue page up and running, where he also placed his statement of candidacy. He's raised over $2,000 the last few days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Read: Jackson Interviews Garrett

Herb Jackson of the Record has a good interview with Representative Scott Garrett about the Iraq letter and General Patraeus's testimony.

Here's how the interview starts:

Q: Tell me why you're going against the president?

A: When did I go against the president? Did you read my letter?

It's a good read.

Rep. Scott Garrett on Gen. Petraeus

“I first want to commend General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker for their work on behalf of our troops and on behalf of our nation’s security into the future. The safety and well-being of our troops and the security for our nation that their mission now provides must always be our guiding objectives, and I am confident that these men share that belief.

"And, this is all the more reason that the Democrat leadership needs to stand with their Republican colleagues in calling on to apologize for its despicable ad in today’s New York Times, which sought to discredit General Petraeus personally and on the basis of his anticipated report before his report was presented. This ad was disrespectful and utterly uncalled for. I believe in free speech, but this was an irresponsible use of such a sacred right. Not only did it fail to move us toward a bipartisan consensus on progress in Iraq; it may have actually set us back a few steps.

"I was pleased to hear that General Petraeus expects that we can safely bring a brigade home by December of this year, and shortly thereafter he will drop the troop numbers down to the pre-surge level. The men and women who risk their lives for our nation and our security, and the families that await their return, have earned this, particularly given the progress that appears to be being made in Iraq.

"I am encouraged by what I have heard, and remain committed to working with my colleagues to find a bipartisan strategy to stop playing politics with our troops’ lives and our long-term security; to complete our mission and to bring our troops home; and to ensure that no permanent occupancy of Iraq is established. There is simply no need for permanent US military bases in Iraq. And, given the broad bipartisan support that that position has enjoyed in each vote in the House, this may be the place to begin to build that much-needed bipartisan consensus.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

What About the Interest?

One of the things I often wonder is what happens to the interest accumulated by campaign accounts stuffed with tainted cash. When Jack Abramoff's millions were returned by most, it seemed only the actual donations were returned. Now, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign is returning $850,000 in tainted campaign cash from Norman Hsu.

What about the interest?

Not being certain of when the cash was received, it's tough to say how much they made. However, let's say they had it all. According to, the average return on a one month CD is 2.4%. That means another $20,400, on average, of tainted money. If they have better than average financial managers and got on the high end of the CD market, it's not beyond belief they could have gotten one of the 5.25% CDs, grossing $44,625 in tainted interest.

However, if the 260 donations the Clinton Campaign have identified were received around the same time as those the Wall Street Journal found; the campaign could easily have topped $100,000 in tainted interest by now.

So, what happens to that?

And then there were two?

Declared candidate Camille Abate seems likely to have company in the Democratic primary to take on Representative Scott Garrett next year. Dr. Dennis Shulman, a clinical psychologist and Rabbi, is rumored to be taking steps to set up an exploratory committee.

More on this when I know more.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Misrepresention 201: Garrett & The Iraq Letter

Over the last few months, those who have been paying attention have seen the level of misrepresentation of the truth by Representative Scott Garrett rise exponentially.

In some cases, it's bald faced lies like Garrett claiming he introduced an amendment to stop the FAA from implementing the airspace redesign they announced as official today; or using fear-mongering lies to oppose the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Other times it has been more subtle, sin of omission type stuff. Garrett's No Child Left Behind communications are an example, using people's justified dislike of certain parts of NCLB to attempt to defund the entire Department of Education; or Garrett using the tragedy of the Minneapolis bridge collapse to re-introduce his bill to defund the Department of Transportation when we face a multi-billion dollar national infrastructure crisis.

In all of these cases, Garrett has received either favorable headlines or placement of his untruthful op-eds. However, nothing compares to the grand-daddy of them all: the Iraq letter.

I've gone back and forth about this last one today, simply because I didn't know what the letter said. However, now that I've read the text, it's clear that Garrett is either backtracking from his support of the change advocated in the text or was being disingenuous when he signed it. Here's the letter:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner:

We ask that you, our leaders, work together to put an end to the political in-fighting over the war in Iraq and allow the House to unite behind a bipartisan strategy to stabilize the country and bring our troops home.

Since 2003, over 3,700 American military personnel have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than 25,000 have been injured. We have also spent over $400 billion in the course of this conflict. It is clear that the American people want a straightforward plan regarding our involvement and long-term interests in the region.

Next week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will submit a very important report to Congress regarding efforts to quell violence and reach political compromise in Iraq. While we are hopeful that their report will show progress, we should not wait any longer to come together in support of a responsible post-surge strategy to safely bring our troops home from Iraq.

It is absolutely crucial that we stabilize Iraq and transition the combat mission to the Iraqis. Any future legislative proposals considered in the House must reflect a bipartisan approach to this conflict. We ask that you join us in committing to a truly bipartisan dialogue on this issue immediately.

Certainly sounds like Garrett wants to work with the other side to bring an end to this thing, I even commented on the positives earlier. However, Garrett firmly said that wasn't the case, stating simply his signature reflected his belief the politics need to be taken out of the process. A noble thought I agree with, but the language of the letter has been picked up to mean a withdrawal and anyone reading it would come to that conclusion.
we should not wait any longer to come together in support of a responsible post-surge strategy to safely bring our troops home from Iraq.

That is the line that has gotten the attention and generated the headlines, radio talk show chatter, and blogposts like mine. It's likely that is also the line that caused senior Republican leadership to come together today and say withdrawals should be off the table.

It's also likely that's the line Garrett will use to convince the District next year that he wanted change but the votes weren't there, similar to fighting the FAA plan. The question then becomes whether or not voters take the next step and ask themselves how well Garrett is representing them if he can't get anything done.

Or maybe between now and then voters will realize just how dishonest and/or disingenuous Garrett is being with them. However, if the main stream media doesn't pay attention and at least call Garrett out on the blatant lies, it will never happen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nope, Garrett's not for Withdrawal

Well, as I first saw at Blue Jersey and followed to the Star Ledger, Representative Scott Garrett was not in fact signalling a change in his position on Iraq:

Garrett, who has voted repeatedly against Democratic-sponsored measures to set timetables for bringing home troops from Iraq, said his signing the letter does not constitute a call for a troop withdrawal.

Instead, he said, he sees the letter as a recognition that politics need to be removed from the debate.
The Ledger is promising more tomorrow. We'll have to wait until then to see what he said.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Garrett Signs "Bring Our Troops Home" Letter

The Hill is reporting Representative Scott Garrett has signed on to a letter calling for a bi-partisan "post surge strategy." This is a big change for Garrett, and a step in the right direction.

From the Hill:
“It is absolutely crucial that we stabilize Iraq and transition the combat mission to the Iraqis,” the letter read. “Any future legislative proposals considered in the House must reflect a bipartisan approach to this conflict … We ask that you join us in committing to a truly bipartisan dialogue on this issue immediately.”


The lawmakers expressed hope that the much-anticipated Iraq report — due next week by the White House and prepared by Gen. David Petraeus — yields good news for the region. But they also noted “we should not wait any longer to come together in support of a responsible post-surge strategy to safely bring our troops home to their families.”
This move by Garrett is significant in the sense it is a complete reversal of his previous statements about the War. Previously, Garrett has supported the President as the decision maker, and argued against Congress legislating anything with regard to the war planning. Garrett also isn't known for bi-partisanship, with one of the highest party line voting records in Congress.

I still maintain that votes speak louder than words, so we'll have to see what the House comes up with and whether or not Garrett votes for it. However, as Whip of the conservative Republican Study Caucus, Garrett has now given political cover for his allies to start talking compromise. That in and of itself is huge.

Garrett Fighting the "Dog Hater" Label

As mentioned prior to Labor Day weekend, Representative Scott Garrett began responding to the charges being leveled at him by the Humane Society Legislative Fund. Obviously, Garrett's been feeling the heat for his vote against the bill to ratchet up the penalties for the interstate commerce aspects of organized dogfighting and cockfighting.

Not only did his action prompt a scathing Op-Ed from the HSLF I posted earlier, but now the HSLF is planning a rally at Garrett's Paramus office on September 12th. In a rare response, Garrett wrote his own Op-Ed to formally respond to the HSLF charges.
Some have asked why I voted against a bill to make these current federal crimes prosecutable as felonies. Simply put, my vote was to keep federal officers, courts and law enforcement dollars focused on the crimes against which only federal legal resources can be used. When Congress thrusts federal prosecutors, federal law enforcement and federal courts into the business of duplicating state criminal law enforcement, it decreases their ability to pursue crimes that are only prosecutable with federal resources.


My vote was certainly not to condone crimes against animals, as some have implied for political gain. In fact, I support the criminal statutes already in place.

My vote was to stop federal law enforcement from further creeping into state criminal statutes. Regrettably, with each passing year, Congress seems to expand the reach of federal law, overlapping significantly with state law in ways that diminish our ability to marshal federal resources to fight criminal activity.

What doesn't make sense with his explanation is that Garrett added himself as a co-sponsor of the legislation 25 days after it was introduced. Garrett had a chance to read it; decided at the time it was a good idea; never removed himself as a co-sponsor; and then became one of only 38 Members of the House to vote against the Bill.

So, what made Garrett really go from being for the penalties before he was against them? Maybe his staff can come up with a better answer in the next few days.