Thursday, August 28, 2008

What a McMoron

I've disagreed with Representative Scott Garrett and his stand on a number of health insurance issues (SCHIP primarily); however, I don't recall seeing him give as idiotic a suggestion as one of Sen. John McCain's closest advisers did yesterday. In response to the Census Bureau's latest figures on the uninsured, one of the architects of McCain's health plan put in his two cents (h/t Blue Jersey).
But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American - even illegal aliens - as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.
"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

Obviously, that's not a solution nor does it do anything to deal with rising health care costs. Glossing over the differences between functional coverage and coverage of last resort would make costs worse. Those of us with health insurance take the first hit, as our costs are artificially higher for insurance and care because hospitals hedge their fees to deal with unneeded uninsured emergency room visits. Then, as taxpayers, we're smacked again when the hospitals guess wrong.

Access to a doctor's office saves money compared to emergency room visits. This has been shown in study after study. For example, this is part of a policy study conducted at Duke University back in 2001 of the then 1.2 million uninsured in North Carolina:
The average charge for a non-urgent emergency room visit is roughly 2.3 times more than an office-based visit, meaning that an emergency room visit costs $58.36 more than an office-based visit ($103.25 versus $44.89) (ACP-ASIM, 2000). If the additional 26,000 persons who would be able to access primary care in an office-based setting under the first policy reduced non-urgent emergency room visits by 100 percent as earlier estimated, a cost savings of $1.75 million [$58.36 x 30,000] would be realized. In addition, if the number of preventable hospitalizations were reduced by 6.0 percent as previous estimated, a cost savings of $3.3 million would be realized, assuming that the average cost of one preventable hospitalization was $7,565

As with any issue, you need good numbers to see how big of a problem you have and how best to deal with it. Lumping functioning government insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP) with rescue payments for charity care would make determining the best course of action difficult to say the least.

If the Republicans want to reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility and point toward lower health care costs, shutting this guy up should be priority number one.

I have to believe that Garrett is smarter than to agree with McCain's McMoron, but Garrett and his colleagues have to come out against this idiocy or they are giving tacit endorsement with their silence.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patterson Praises Shulman

NY Governor David Patterson spoke very highly of Dennis Shulman to PolitickerNJ:
“I’m really proud of him. He’s a great person and we’ve got a lot of similar experiences, and it was a lot of fun to have some kinship,” said Paterson, who like Shulman has been legally blind since childhood. “There are a lot of African-American elected officials, but the only blind elected official I ever met was the former Lieutenant Governor from Maryland."

Matt Friedman's article says that Patterson has already hosted two fundraisers for Shulman, and a third is in the works.

Rothenberg Slams Shulman's Chances

This is probably the most hostile piece toward the chances of Dennis Shulman in his quest to unseat Representative Scott Garrett in November that I've seen.
Perhaps that’s why I get bothered by claims from candidates who have little chance of winning but sound as if they too are on an undeniable path to victory.

In New Jersey, for example, two Democrats, John Adler and Linda Stender, have an excellent chance to win in November, while 5th district hopeful Dennis Shulman does not.

You can read the whole piece here.

The only thing about it is this: what's Shulman supposed to say? "I'm going to lose?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BCDO Politicizing the Police

With all of the news about the Democratic convention, it might have been easy to miss this story in the Record today. For those that hadn't heard about what's going on in Paramus, the town is being sued by a retired police office who alleges retaliatory action was taken against him for not selling fundraising tickets for Papa Joe Ferriero's BCDO candidates.

At the center of a deposition handed over to the Record, town clerk Ian Shore points to BCDO attorney Dennis Oury being part of the process from the beginning:
During the deposition, which was taken Aug. 14, Borough Clerk Ian Shore told lawyers that the discussion occurred in a closed council session and that Dennis Oury, the former borough attorney, brought up the idea.

When asked if any borough official or employee discussed taking steps to "hurt, harm, damage or inflict any type of suffering" on former Sgt. John Ward, Shore responded, "Yes."


During his deposition, Shore described two instances of being approached by Democrats to sell fund-raiser tickets. He testified that he decided to sell tickets for former Councilman Michael DeMarse because he wanted to keep his job.

"I thought it would take some of the pressure off me," he said. "He used to bust my chops, like he wanted me out of here."

This is flat out wrong. The pressure on civil servants is already intense, however being coerced into fundraising for one political party or the other is beyond the pale. Knowing that the politicians seek retaliatory action for not playing ball against police officers should be a crime (I'm not sure it's not). These are people's careers, not political appointments.

Politicization of the police department, on any level, is a dangerous path to walk. People who are called to be police officers (I do believe it's a calling) cannot be placed in a position where their career is impacted by external political power brokers. Sure, they have inner-office politics like the rest of us, but external politicians have no place behind the police desk.

Simply said, if partisan politics is placed behind the police desk, it could lead to selective enforcement of the law. Folks noticed when I went to court for the lawn sign placement in Paramus that no Democrat was listed as receiving a ticket, even though their signs were next to mine. I shrugged it off, because I thought maybe they had a different appearance date. Now I'd be curious to know if they were actually ticketed.

While I doubt there's anything there, these are the sorts of questions that can be raised when the process is corrupted. How many other towns has mega-town attorney Oury turned into a wrongfully politicized environment?

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Good to be King

While Dennis Shulman is going around in Denver this week working to convince his fellow Democrats that Representative Scott Garrett can be brought down this fall; a couple other Jersey Boys are going to be in town (from Wally Edge):
...two Monmouth County Democrats are expected to get a prime slot on Thursday, when Barack Obama accepts his party’s presidential nomination. Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi will be the opening acts for Obama’s concert.

The reason I say it's good to be king is this was how Barack Obama answered a question to People Magazine back in February (after our Primary):
Bruce Springsteen. He strikes me as a good person.

Let's see, he told his elementary school teachers he'd run for President, and now the one person he'd most like to meet has agreed to perform at his nomination ceremony. I'd say he's having an okay year ;)

I wonder if the Shulman campaign could get the Boss to do a show for them. That would definitely raise the profile of the race.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paper Vote Verification Now

Back in September, our Representative Scott Garrett took to the floor to argue against a voter-verified paper audit trail. The crux of his argrument was that it opened up the potential for votes to be sold, as if as a member of Congress he had a special understanding of how that worked.

Fortunately, most of us don't live in a world where that kind of activity is the norm. However, we all live in a world where the ability to verify the integrity and accuracy of a vote count is at the core of how we function as a society.

Now, we find out that Premier Election Solutions Inc. (Diebold) has confirmed people's fear about their electronic voting machines dropping votes and the validity of concerns about our electoral process in the electronic age.

From the AP:
At least 1,000 total votes were dropped in nine Ohio counties over the course of a handful elections back to 2006, including the March presidential primary, though the error was in all cases discovered and corrected within several hours. Premier Election Solutions Inc. previously had said complications with antivirus software caused the problem, but on Tuesday the company said in a product advisory that the problem is with the machines themselves.

And from the Washington Post:
Unlike other software, the problem acknowledged by Premier cannot be fixed by sending out a coding fix to its customers because of federal rules for certifying election systems, Rigall said. Changes to systems must go through the Election Assistance Commission, he said, and take two years on average for certification and approval -- and that is apart from whatever approvals and reviews would be needed by each elections board throughout the country.

We're heading into the biggest Election in modern political history, and the machines used in 34 states drop votes? And they happen to be more problematic in "high density" areas (read urban)? And the company has known about the problem for 10 years?

It's bad enough that the machines have been shown to be hackable, now we know they've had a known programing bug that drops votes. Our process is too important not to have a paper trail to audit.

My hope is, with yet another revelation of how at risk our process has become, Garrett and others who have opposed the efforts of Representative Rush Holt to provide simple vote verification might actually see the error of their ways. I doubt it, but one can hope.

Garrett: Bring the Pain

In a good interview with Representative Scott Garrett on Fox Business this afternoon he was once again discussing the likely bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

As you may remember, about a month ago Garrett was rewarded for his consistent call to reign in the GSEs by becoming a media darling and extreme dark horse in the Republican Veepstakes (I had to).

So, it makes sense that Garrett was back talking about the companies' latest woes. While the host kept arguing that failure by Fannie and Freddie would cause a lot of pain, Garrett clearly articulated the fact that with an issue like this there is going to be pain and that it's part of the process. I think it's fair to say Garrett would rather have a shock to the system as opposed to a prolonged Chinese water torture.

What I really would have liked to have heard them talk about is short selling and how it's turning the collapse of Fannie and Freddie into a self-fulfilling taxpayer soaking prophesy.

If we take Fannie for example, which is faring better of the two, they have lost nearly 45% of their value since the order against short selling expired seven days ago. Granted, it's not all that great, but the company had dropped 41% over the 16 days the ban was in place.

We heard all of Congress, the President, and every talking head say that Fannie and Freddie are too big to fail. They go down, it wrecks the economy. We bail them out, we're potentially on the hook for trillions of dollars, and it wrecks the economy.

Forcing them to fail, however, is not exactly what people had in mind when talking of the consequences or having Congress put taxpayers on the hook. However, that seems to be exactly what's going on.
Hedge-fund manager Doug Kass, who has placed big bets that Fannie Mae shares will fall, said on Wednesday that the depressed stock of the two companies will drop to zero, dismissing Mudd's comments about its capital adequacy.
Yeah, and he probably will make a killing on this road to national ruin.

These are the guys that are speeding up the decline of Fannie and Freddie in order to make a quick buck before the bailout hits the fan. They don't care how many people they're screwing over in the process, as long as they get theirs. These are also the guys the Republicans, including Garrett, decided to protect against paying their fair share in taxes so we could start to get rid of the AMT.

If we've learned one thing over the last few years, in addition to the fact that nations like our friends in Russia own a lot of our debt, there is no economic patriotism anymore.

And the greed goes on...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

USDA Disaster Designations

From this week's Garrett Gazette:
Due to the losses caused by hail, high winds, and excessive rain on June16, 2008, parts of Bergen, Passaic, and Sussex counties have been designated as agricultural disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a letter released last week. As a result, many residents in our district may be eligible for Farm Service Agency emergency loans. These emergency loan funds can be used to restore or replaces property that is deemed "essential" by the USDA, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation, and refinance certain debts. For further information on eligibility, loan terms, and applicationdeadlines, please contact any of my offices.

Here's the office information:

Washington, DC
1318 Longworth House Office Bdg.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4465 Fax: (202) 225-9048

Eastern District Office
210 Route 4 East, Suite 206
Paramus, NJ 07652
Phone: (201) 712-0330Fax: (201) 712-0930

Western District Office
93 Main Street
Newton, NJ 07860
Phone: (973) 300-2000Fax: (973) 300-1051

Garrett's Campaign on Texas Oilmen

Okay, although I was trying to channel Ralphie May a bit there with the stache comment, I don't want to skip the first response to the Texas Oilmen for Garrett. Of note in the article regarding their event is a quote from the campaign manager of Representative Scott Garrett:

Garrett's campaign manager, Amanda Gasperino, said she is not amused.

"We're taking this a little more seriously," Gasperino said. "The energy crisis shouldn't be used as a political football. Instead of using it as a political ploy for games, you need to address the issues."

I've been saying stuff like that for the last month, especially regarding the fauxtest and Garrett's participation.

Personally, I'd rather have a bunch of interns goofing around in a harmless manner, with no real negative impact; than a bunch of Congressmen standing telling the American people inflating their tires to save gas is a dumb idea, which is the fastest way to ensure as a nation we improve fuel economy at least 3%.

When File Photos Attack

The Express Times has articles regarding Representative Scott Garrett and his 8% score, as well as a protest staged by the Texas Oilmen for Garrett.
One thing of note, the file photo in heralding these stories on their blog is a bit dated:

Well, I suppose if the Shulman campaign pulls this off, Garrett has at least one person of note who shares his ability to rock that special stache:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shulman on Mr. 8%

The campaign of Dennis Shulman released a statement regarding Representative Scott Garrett scoring 75 percentage points below our Congressional Delegation's environmental average. My personal favorite part of the release was this:
As illustrated by the admirable scores of Garrett's Republican colleagues, what matters is not whether an idea is Democratic or Republican, but whether it is good for the country.

Obviously, looking to your right, this is a big part of my personal beliefs.

You have to contrast Shulman's sentiment with the one Garrett offered after the State of the Union; as well as his verbally assaulting moderate Republicans for putting the nation above partisanship; or the fact Garrett refuses to recognize bi-partisan support for bills backing things from AIDS prevention in Africa or health insurance for low income children that he doesn't like.

Shulman is still considered by all the pundits to be a long shot, however one can only imagine what it would be like to go back to the days of Marge Roukema; where a certain amount of partisanship was present, but where it took a backseat to good policy.

Garrett: Mr. 8% Environment

After Representative Scott Garrett openly chastised those concerned about the environment, this report should come as no surprise: Garrett gets an 8% pro-environment grade from Environment New Jersey. This is a 7% drop from his score in 2007.

Garrett being labelled outside of the mainstream by his opponents is nothing new, and hard to quantify at times. That point is often raised by his supporters as well as the traditional press. This provides such a quantifiable example.

The entire NJ Delegation, with Garrett's score included, averaged 83% of the reviewed votes. To make matters more interesting, with a larger sample, the national average is 58%. Garrett is a full 50 percentage points below the average.

I find it hard to believe that somebody who grew up in Sussex County could have such a horrendous environmental voting record. However, that's what we've got. There was an impassioned plea over on Blue Jersey not to cede the environmental issues to Garrett. How could the Shulman campaign with results like this?

Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt's understanding that in order to protect hunting and fishing for both sustenance and sport, you need to protect the environment, the modern conservation and environmental protection movement was started. Environmentalism used to be a Republican ideal. However, like so many things, the Conservative mold from which Garrett comes apparently is no longer concerned with supporting such things.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shulman: Oilmen for Garrett

Dennis Shulman's campaign has kicked into the creative realm and lit the blogosphere on fire with their new microsite going after Representative Scott Garrett (, complete with a video featuring the campaign's interns. Here's the video:

Markos Moulitsas (of Daily Kos) wrote about the video himself.

I think the most amazing thing was Garrett giving the thumbs up to the intern thanking him for oil subsidies, and saying something to the effect of "we're keeping up the fight." I'd be curious to know if he realized what was being said and just playing along or not. However, in the age of macaca moments, so feared by the GOP they issued policies about avoiding them, it's kind of unreal.

Cue the attack ads...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We Need to Demand Better

Abortion seems to be finally showing up in the Presidential race. With the seminar at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church on Saturday night, the question has been most directly asked of each candidate. As reported by the AP:
Obama said he would limit abortions in the late stages of pregnancy if there are exceptions for the mother's health. He said he knew that people who consider themselves pro-life will find his stance "inadequate."

He said the government should do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to help struggling new mothers, such as providing needed resources to the poor, and better adoption services.

McCain expressed his anti-abortion stand simply and quickly, saying human rights begin the instant a human egg is fertilized. McCain, who adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, also called for making adoption easier.

Fair enough, and clear. People can take from that what they may and people on each side can actively support or oppose a candidate's position honestly.

However, there is a group out of Virginia that wants to be anything but honest in their discussing the campaign. A group called The Real Truth About Obama is planning on running ads against Sen. Obama that are flat out fake:
The ad features an "Obama-like voice" saying he would make taxpayers pay for all abortions, ensure minors' abortions are concealed from their parents, appoint more liberal Supreme Court justices and legalize the late-term procedure that abortion opponents call "partial-birth" abortion.

Other than the liberal Supreme Court justices (a given), this is complete garbage, and the group knows it. It's a classic case of taking one truth, combining it with a bunch of misrepresentations or exaggerations, and packaging it as one statement. Because the piece of truth is there, people give more credence to the rest of it.

The reason this is even hitting the news now is because the group is trying to be exempted from donation limits. Therefore, it's another moneymaking proposition Barry Goldwater used to warn us all about.

I would love to see a truth in advertising requirement for groups and candidates running political ads. If you want an exemption to limits, you have to submit your ads in advance to a non-partisan, confidential committee to establish whether or not what you're saying is true. Otherwise, limits it is.

Sure, there are those that might say it infringes on free speech, but to be telling such patently false assertions in order to pad your own wallets has nothing to do with strengthening the Republic as intended by the First Amendment. How many Representatives or Senators who would stand on the Floor of their respective Houses and say we must defend the right to lie to voters or constituents?

However, such a piece of legislation is unlikely to ever get to the floor, let along through Congress. Unfortunately, both parties have groups at the fringe who benefit financially from false attacks, and voters still get suckered into this stuff.

It then falls on us as voters to stop responding to it. Whether that will happen any time soon is obviously up in the air, but we have to take our responsibility as citizens seriously and not put up with this garbage.

Friday, August 15, 2008

CQ: Garrett Favored

CQ Politics reviewed the race here in the Fifth as part of a bigger piece on NJ predicting the Democrats should bode well this year:

Republican Scott Garrett is a solid but not slam-dunk favorite in his bid for a fourth term in conservative territory at the top of the state. The Democratic challenger is Dennis Shulman, a rabbi and psychologist. We rate this race Republican Favored.
I personally prefer Stephen Colbert's description of the District ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shulman vs. Garrett: Social Security

Dennis Shulman's campaign has had a couple interesting strategies it's rolled out over the last week. First, there was telling donors how many donations of how much to offset PAC money going to Representative Scott Garrett. Then today, the campaign released a kind of "do you still feel this way" question about privatizing Social Security:

Scott Garrett's statements suggest that he would like to privatize Social Security on behalf of the special interests that fund his campaign, just like his leader, President Bush. I call upon Scott Garrett to state, once and for all, if he would like to hand Social Security over to Wall Street.

Pretty strongly worded, and it is an interesting point. However, there is no "suggest" regarding Garrett's previous statements and Social Security privatization: It's a firmly articulated belief.

Back in 2005, Garrett joined a number of his colleagues in signing this letter (still using the E.) urging the President to push private savings accounts. Here's what they stated:
As such, we urge you to continue to pursue a permanent solution that would allow workers to take a portion of their social security payroll tax and put it into personal accounts. These accounts would ensure a secure retirement for all Americans, while simultaneously increasing the rate of return for younger workers.

Although I'm not sure I count as a "younger worker" at this point, among my peers who I've talked to about our 401Ks, I'm the only one who is only down a single digit percentage over the last year. That's a big reason you don't hear a lot about private savings accounts or privatization these days. People have looked at their 401K and realized there is nothing secure about it.

Granted, Garrett may have also realized the systemic economic risk of millions of Americans relying on the private accounts and retiring during a down cycle in the market. However, I kind of doubt it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McMoney over McPrinciple

Well, this cinches it. Those of us hoping for a different campaign on both sides have firmly received our answer from the John McCain Campaign: You're SOL.

The idea that McCain would embrace a fundraiser being given by the biggest scumbag in modern American political history is proof positive the straight talk express has left the tracks. As the ads have gone increasingly negative, it seemed we were headed down this path anyway, however doing a fundraiser with Ralph Reed is a whole other issue.

For those that don't know, or remember, Ralph Reed helped Pat Robertson launch his Christian Coalition, which McCain once called "agents of intolerance." Then, Reed was such a "good Christian", he funded faith driven opposition to casinos using money from competing casinos.

Part of me really hopes the Democrats, but more importantly the traditional media, beat the garbage out of the McCain campaign over this.

Shifting policy positions, as both sides have done is one thing as they dance toward the center. However, McCain's embrace of the very corrupting, completely disingenuous, and blasphemous forces he's spent the better part of the last decade fighting against is a whole other ballgame. These guys don't do anything for the glory of God, they do it for the glory of greed.

There are a lot of views out there people change their minds on, however to go from a clean government crusader to openly embracing corruption and those who perpetrate it is wholly irreconcilable. A conversion one way or the other on abortion or guns is one thing, but how does someone tell their conversion story to say they now believe corruption and taking advantage of people is a good thing?

If there was any hope of the McCain administration being any different than the Bush administration in terms of letting the foxes guard the hen house we now know it just isn't going to happen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Garrett vs.Squirrels

Jessica Coomes over at the Express-Times blogged about the fauxtest participation of Representative Scott Garrett. The end is probably the most interesting part of the piece:
After his speech, Garrett was hoping his car would start so he could drive home to New Jersey. The car's been sputtering, and he suspects squirrels have been chewing the car's wires -- again.
Garrett normally takes the train, so I'm sure his car sits idle quite a bit.

I said before I'd like a vote, so we could move on, and it now appears a vote on off-shore drilling as part of a larger package will happen. So maybe it wasn't a fauxtest afterall.

Garrett deserves credit for risking life and limb driving down there in an unsafe vehicle to speak at the fauxtest. The only thing I could recommend for the Congressman is to get the wiring fixed and inflate his tires, as AAA cites these as ways to save some gas. (There may or may not be a bit of sarcasm in there somewhere).

Shulman Hits Garrett on Warming

Dennis Shulman has ratcheted up his criticism of Representative Scott Garrett on the environment. The Shulman campaign started a new website in an effort to get Garrett to acknowledge global warming is a threat. They also put up a video of Garrett, apparently at the State Fair, being asked why he voted to remove language from a bill saying global warming is a problem.

Back in December, Garrett was quoted by the Record regarding his view on global warming:
Asked if Tuesday's recommendations seemed feasible, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, would say only that he will "consider all sources" in the global warming debate.
For a guy that went to law school to be an environmental lawyer, one would hope he'd have more discerning research habits. "All sources" includes the fantasy "Day After Tomorrow" on one side and reports from scientists that have been paid to dispute global warming on the other. Even President Bush has acknowledged climate change is a problem, two years ago, before Garrett voted to strip the language.

It will be interesting to see how Garrett's campaign spins this challenge, if they even acknowledge it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day at the Fair

Yesterday, I went with some friends for the annual trip to the State Fair in Augusta. There's always a lot of fun things to see and do. The Branchville Rotary Club still has the best deal, with their commemorative cup and dollar iced tea.

Although I was hoping to bump into Representative Scott Garrett, or some of the local officials, it didn't happen. However, I did find evidence of Garrett supporters attending:

I still think it's funny that the Fair places the Sussex County Republicans and Democrats right across from each other. I guess it's kind of like McDonald's and Burger King being near each other in most areas.

One very interesting thing I learned was that monthly ridership on the fixed bus routes in Sussex has increased 37% since the beginning of the year, and 21% overall. I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that as a county Sussex needs more transit options.

It was a great time as always, and I'm already looking forward to next year. Here are some other pics:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cause of the Month

I've posted a link off to the right for the 2nd Annual Edison, NJ Hydrocephalus WALK and Family Fun Day. I hope those who can will help this important cause.

This event was brought to my attention by Michael "AJ Sparxx" Illions, over at Conservatives With Attitude. He has a 3 year old son name Cole who has Hydrocephalus, which is an abnormal accumulation of liquid in the brain. At this point, while there is treatment, there is no cure.

Michael was on Comcast Newsmakers explaining the condition back in April:

Michael's personal goal is $3,000 ($100K+ for the event) and I hope more than a few folks will be able to help out.

Garrett: Damn the Earth

Representative Scott Garrett seems to have gotten a little caught up in the moment down in DC during the fauxtest. US News & World Report quoted him talking about Nancy Pelosi:
"Her goal is to save the planet," Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey intoned. "We need her to save the American family and the American taxpayer and to save the American middle class."
They're not mutually exclusive goals.

If Garrett had an ounce of forethought in his being he'd know that. This is one of those frustrating partisan things about Garrett, and the Republicans running the show lately. President John F. Kennedy had a pretty good quote on this problem:
Extreme opposites resemble the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead.

I've made my feelings clear that both parties are to blame at this point, and Garrett's language only adds to the problem. No person rationally thinking about this issue doesn't see the benefits of a greener economy, and Garrett painting it as an either/or proposition doesn't add anything constructive to the debate.

Since I get new people everyday, it's important to restate that Garrett is the only Representative from New Jersey to vote against every single major energy bill since 2007. It's also important to note that the "drill here, drill now" (DHDN) philosophy will help you out at the pump in about 8 years.

Oh, and there are millions of acres of land the oil companies aren't using, at all. So, unless the DHDN folks get behind the use it or lose it land leases they already voted against, there's no guarantee DHDN will make a drop of difference.

This sort of rhetoric may provide an insight as to why Garrett's voted the way he's voted, since obviously he doesn't seem to put much stock in green energy in terms of strengthening the middle class. Let's go over a few things real fast:

Toyota is building a Prius factory here, creating jobs. Spray-on solar panels are a booming business in Germany, already creating manufacturing jobs here. It would create a lot of construction jobs if Congress incentivize installation like the Germans do. We've got the Pickins Plan, the Paris Hilton Plan, and countless others that point to the job benefits of a greener economy.

Saving the Earth is saving the middle class, as there is no greater manufacturing boom on the horizon.

Words have meaning, and Garrett knows it. Maybe he was caught up in the moment. Maybe he believes you can't have one with the other wholeheartedly. Whatever the case may be, Garrett's sentiments shared during the fauxtest showed, at the very least, a disregard for voters who want real solutions and a penchant for delivering to those voters false promises.

Ferriero's War Chest

Oshrat Carmiel of the Record, who sadly is leaving for Bloomberg, delivers yet again in holding BCDO boss Joe Ferriero accountable. It seems Ferriero has one heck of an unregulated slush fund.
Ferriero has maintained and controlled a fund called “Ferriero for County Chairman” since 2004, according to four years of disclosure forms he filed with the Internal Revenue Service last month.

The fund — which is not subject to state campaign disclosure laws because Ferriero is not a publicly elected official — collected tens of thousands in unlimited donations from some of the county’s and state’s biggest professional contractors. They include partners in the Teaneck law firm of DeCotiis Fitzpatrick Cole & Wisler, PMK Group and Neglia Engineering.
This is a loophole that needed to be closed yesterday. As a county and a state we cannot have faith that our leaders are serving our best interests when this sort of activity persists. Every decision is brought into question, and with good reason.

When the party boss can solicit funds to host meet and greets between his chosen and the donors they need in the name of his Committee Chairmanship re-election fund, the old wink & nod is clearly at play here. Taxpayers end up suffering because of it.

As a state we have the highest tax burden in the nation, and so long as we turn a blind eye to this garbage it won't get any better.

Friday, August 8, 2008

NJ Fair Coverage

The New Jersey Herald has a good write up of Representative Scott Garrett and challenger Dennis Shulman hitting the New Jersey State Fair.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thoughts on the Fauxtest

Yesterday, Representative Scott Garrett and others were fauxtesting on Capitol Hill. Here's how TRN described it:

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) returned from Missouri to participate in the protest. Blunt said it takes only five minutes for a representative in their home state to realize that the most important and urgent issue is the economy.

The Congressmen at the news conference posed with tire pressure gauges to mock Senator Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) new push for Americans to properly inflate their tires for better gas mileage.
Okay, now I know this little stunt is intended to score partisan political points. However, doing it at the expense of sound recommendations to save people some money only hurts those the Republicans are trying to win over. Mocking Obama for making sense shows a certain level of idiocy in the way Republicans think the problem will be solved.

Here's what AAA says about tires:
Inflate all of your tires to their proper inflation pressure. Each tire should be periodically spun, balanced and checked. Properly inflated tires are safer, last longer, and can improve your gas mileage by more than 3% per tire. Check your tire pressure, at a minimum, once a month.

Even John McCain has backed off his criticism of Obama on this point, because he realized what an ass he was making of himself.

Politicians of all affiliations should be singing conservation from the mountaintops, not mocking it. Absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, Congress can pass will have as much immediate impact on fuel supplies as if the entire nation adopted AAA's recommendations to save gas.

As an example, this little nugget should also be heralded by those with the ability to influence public opinion and habits:
After filling up, be sure the gas cap clicks three times. Improperly sealed gas caps allow approximately 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the United States.
So yes, little things like inflating tires and making sure the gas cap are closed are important.*

There is plenty of time for the partisans to be bickering over how best to fix things in the long run. In the meantime, Garrett and his cronies do a great disservice to the nation by belittling sound advice. In a time of crisis, we have to expect our leaders to serve the national interest and not simply their own.

*Paragraph edited, the number I had was off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Garrett on Mancow

Update 1: They haven't posted anything for free yet with Garrett, and may not. If I can find a link somewhere I'll throw it up here.

Well, the Representative Scott Garrett media blitz is continuing. Tomorrow morning he'll be on Mancow's Morning Madhouse at 7:20 AM to discuss the fauxtest over gas prices.

For those that are unfamiliar, Mancow was huge in Chicago before getting kicked off of Q101 (he knocked Howard Stern off the air). Offensive to as many as he is adored by, even though he doesn't have a presence in Chicago at the moment, Mancow still ranks 14th on Talkers Heavy Hundred. That's the highest ranking of any primarily FM DJ if I'm reading it right.

In addition to hosting things like pay-per-view hardcore midget wrestling, Mancow does interviews where he wears his hardcore Libertarian beliefs on his sleeve. He's done some pretty wild interviews with folks like Representative Ron Paul and Gene Simmons.

I'm not going to lie, this is one I'm looking forward to hearing. I'll post a link to Garrett's podcast as soon as it's up.

Paris for President

Paris Hilton's response to John McCain made me laugh...

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Garrett Joining "Protest"

Well, it seems Representative Scott Garrett will be joining in the Republican Falsepromisepaloza going on down in Washington. There's been enough written about the false promise of off-shore drilling's impact at the pump, I shouldn't need to link at this point.

However, despite the facts, Garrett's jumping in with his colleagues anyway. From this week's Gazette:
I have established a special email address, Email me and tell me about how high gas prices are causing hardships for you and your family. I will share your comments with my colleagues on the House floor.

In addition, I will be on the House floor tomorrow from 11:00am to 1:00pm and I encourage you to join me here in Washington, D.C. I would be happy to escort you on to the floor so you could participate in this effort. Please contact my office at (202) 225-4465 for more information.

I'd still like to know why Garrett's the only Representative from NJ to vote against every major Energy bill since Democrats took control of the House (even the ones Bush signed).

I guess I would like off-shore to make it to the floor, so it can be shot down, and we can move on. This posturing isn't doing any of us any good. However, since the Democrats won't do that, we're stuck with the Republicans doing this.

If this was a real protest, it wouldn't be 20 Reps a day showing off for the tourists like some modern day Colonial Williamsburg. No, the whole Republican Caucus would be there. But, it is what it is. Regardless of it's ineffectiveness, Garrett's going to take his turn with the "protest."

To be honest, I can't believe he'd be missing the NJ State Fair in Sussex for a pointless publicity stunt down in DC. But that's just me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blame (Insert Party) on Gas Prices

Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or some other affiliation, we're all getting burned at the pump. To use a phrase, we have all heard that giant sucking sound from our bank account into the gas tank at this point. Just as we are all feeling the pain, we must all accept the truth that neither Party in Congress is actually willing to do anything to help us.

Republicans are blaming Democrats for not allowing a vote on off-shore drilling, disingenuously selling the idea that such a move would provide relief at the pump. Republicans went so far as to stage a protest that the House went into recess without voting on their plan to help you ten years from now. At the same time the Repubs have blocked initiatives to regulate speculation, force companies to use the land they already have for drilling instead of sitting on it, and release oil from the strategic reserve.

Dems, on the other hand, are laying blame squarely on the Repubs. However, because of how they structured the votes on Energy, requiring supermajorities to pass, nothing got through. So they can stand there and blame the Republicans for not voting with them, but they never wanted them to in the first place.

It's this nefarious political stance that the Dems are comfortable waiting until after the Election to try and accomplish anything. Instead of attempting to work with some Repubs, the Dems are telling families to hang in there for at least another six months, and if enough families vote Dem in November maybe they'll be able to help you.

This is part of why I hate partisan politics, and I know I'm not alone.

Both parties are guilty of using gas prices for their partisan gain while the average American is suffering. This sort of self-serving bull manure is dragging the entire nation down.

While they're busy counting campaign contributions, wages aren't coming close to keeping pace with the cost of living. This is the latest from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on wages:
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings increased by 3.4 percent and average weekly earnings rose by 2.8 percent.

Then there's this on prices:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)increased 1.0 percent in June, before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The June level of 218.815 (1982-84=100) was 5.0 percent higher than in June 2007.

Catch that? Weekly earnings are trailing the cost of living by 2.2%. Energy prices are the driving force behind this problem.

Once winter rolls around, and people in the Northeast have to heat their homes, we could be heading into an even worse economic crisis (either that or Citgo is going to give away a lot of oil, since our own oil companies can't be bothered).

That's part of the reason the idea of waiting until at least the end of January for something to pass is ridiculous. Unfortunately, it seems both parties are more concerned with their six figure paychecks and campaign war chests than with the lives of their constituents.

There's no motivation for them to do anything as long as they're rewarded for "standing up to the obstructionist (insert party here)". The whole lot of them, Republicans and Democrats, they're both guilty. Until voters are willing to take a stand (a tough one) on inaction, ineptitude, and indifference, we're never going to see a difference.

No Pundit Love for Shulman

Dennis Shulman keeps getting positive press both locally and nationally. However, after the Chuck Todd comments earlier, I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise to see Stuart Rothenberg not showing any love for Shulman in his race against Representative Scott Garrett:
Can Shulman, a blind rabbi and psychologist, upset conservative Rep. Scott Garrett (R)? The challenger’s June 30 cash-on-hand of $258,000 is not encouraging. Nor are the district’s recent election results: John Kerry drew 43 percent in the district in the 2004 White House election, ’06 Democratic challenger Paul Aronsohn drew 43.8 percent and ’04 Democratic challenger Anne Wolfe drew 41.1 percent. Looks like a trend, doesn’t it?

It also doesn't help that the DCCC, with all of their money, isn't committing to help Shulman. Part of this has to come from the description Garrett uses to describe himself:
''My opponents every single year I've been in office will always try to label me with a broad brush and say I'm just part of the party and go along. But the reality is that on many of the major issues that we're working on down there, I've been willing to buck the trend,'' Garrett said.

Garrett's being honest with that sentiment. However, most folks aren't going to realize that part of his bucking the trend in the last year is often being one of less than 50 or 30 Representatives voting (among other things) against 10 years of tax cuts for small business; against rural home ownership; against grants and scholarships in the sciences and vocational education; and against improving programs like Head Start.

The tricky part for Shulman's campaign is explaining this to voters. Maybe if Shulman starts getting some traction on these issues the pundits will come around.