Monday, September 29, 2008

Shulman Campaign on the Bailout Bill

Here's the statement from the campaign of Dennis Shulman:

"This debate and crisis are the direct result of George Bush and Scott Garrett consistently battling against all efforts to reasonably regulate greedy special interests, especially the corrupt predatory lenders like Countrywide Financial that fund Garrett's campaigns and run his congressional office. For Garrett to attempt to duck responsibility for the mess he created while taxpayers pay Countrywide Financial's former lobbyist to run his office is disgraceful, and that's why 5th District voters must and will fire Scott Garrett.

Dennis Shulman guarantees that his office, unlike corrupt politician Scott Garrett's, will be run on behalf of NJ taxpayers and not the special interests, and painfully flawed bills like this will never again be required. For Bush's loyal foot soldier to inveigh against the Bush Administration from the floor of Congress the day before Bush's former mega-lobbyist White House counsel comes in to raise tens of thousands of dollars of scandal-tinged money for him gives the word "hypocrisy" a bad name."

Official Statement from Garrett

This is the official statement of Representative Scott Garrett on the failed bailout bill:

"Congress has been faced with making a grave decision for the future of our country and the welfare of American families. Citizens across the country are anxious for the current economic crisis to end, however I had serious doubts about the ability of the Bailout bill to accomplish that goal. What I am certain of, however, is that this bill would have set a precedent for government intervention in the marketplace, added to the ever increasing national deficit, and increased the chances that inflationary pressures would impose what is surely the cruelest tax on families.

"As a result of these concerns, I have voted against the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. I have instead chosen to join with over 30 of my colleagues in cosponsoring the Economic Rescue Alternative Plan introduced on the floor today.

"Prior to this bill coming to the floor for a vote today, I was very outspoken about the need for in-depth discussion and hearings among Members of Congress to determine the best plan of action for the American taxpayer. It is my hope that we can now progress forward in productive bipartisan negotiations to formulate a better piece of legislation."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Garrett on the Bailout

This is from the Los Angeles Times:
"This morning we should be very much alarmed," said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), addressing taxpayers directly. "Obviously, Washington is not listening to your wishes. Those who used to work for Goldman Sachs will support this deal. . . . Those who have blocked reform in the past will support this deal. I will not support this deal."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If I Could Sue Garrett I Would

Representative Scott Garrett may have earned some praise from me lately regarding the bailout, but that doesn't mean it doesn't aggravate me to see him use my party name from 2006 yet again. In the first campaign mailer of his I've seen, once again he uses my "An Independent Voice" as his own, albeit, tagging on "For Change" at the end. For both infringement on my brand and false advertising, if I could sue Garrett I would.

At the heart of the matter are my own undecided political intentions. If I ever were to run again at any level, An Independent Voice is my brand. Over 100 people signed my petition stating that and about 2,600 voted for that brand. First time out of the gate, with no budget, we felt we had done pretty well with that. Yet Garrett's campaign uses my brand as it's own.

There's also the "truth in advertising" aspect that I feel is very important to fixing what's wrong with politics. Garrett votes the party line over 90% of the time, so he's hardly independent. When Garrett doesn't, he is often one of a few dozen lawmakers voting AGAINST CHANGE in the form of improvements to programs.

The Washington Post keeps a record of such votes and here a few recent ones:
  • Garrett was one of 28 Representatives to vote against Elder Abuse Prevention.
  • Garrett was one of 47 Representatives to vote against parity for coverage of treatment for things like autism and alcoholism.
  • Garrett was one of 55 Representatives to vote against improving bridge inspections on interstate highways.
  • Garrett was one of 59 Representatives to vote against improving Medicare.
  • Garrett was one of 23 Representatives to vote against establishing an FBI mortgage fraud investigator to investigate the types of fraud that have contributed to the financial meltdown.

There are a number of examples of this, and I plan to do a more comprehensive review later. However, it really points to what most people hate about party politics when a campaign piece like Garrett's makes completely unfounded claims about their candidate. His claims of accomplisment within the mailer will take more time to discect as false, however they're stretching the truth or flat out misrepresenting his record as well.

Had Garrett's people just stolen my brand, they still could say he's bucked the party from time to time. However, adding for change on the end, when it seems the only time he bucks the party is to vote against change to improve programs is a complete misrepresentation of his voting record and patently disingenuous.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Press Covers Shulman Ad

Herb Jackson of the Record does a nice piece on the factual aspects of Dennis Shulman's attack ad on Representative Scott Garrett. One thing really jumped out, though:
Garett's land in question is 9.88 acres in Wantage Township that was originally owned by his father, now deceased.

Public records show the land was assessed at $6,100 in 2007.

I didn't know you could find land in NJ for less than $1,000 an acre. Does this strike anybody else as odd?

Jessica Coomes of the Express-Times also covered the ad, posting Garrett's campaign's response and an interesting tidbit:
Gasperino said residents deserve policy proposals, not "unfounded political gimmicks," and she said Shulman is attacking open space. Gasperino did not respond to follow-up questions to identify which statements she deems untrue.

Now this is going to get interesting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Better Bailout?

I'm not sure if my office is typical in how freely we talk about politics, but the bailout proposal has dominated our lunch conversation lately. What's interesting is that no one I know, and I mean no one, is in favor of this thing.

Along with our own Representative Scott Garrett, the skeptics are getting more press and growing louder:
"It's a tough sell to most of our members," said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., after a closed-door meeting with Paulson and Bernanke. "It's a terrible plan, but I haven't heard anything better."

There are a lot of plans out there, and most that I've read or heard are better than putting $700 billion in the hands of those that mismanaged the funds they had. Here's one we talked about at lunch, and while I can't take credit for it, it's an alternative that may appease those concerned about throwing more taxpayer money down a pit:
  1. Let the stupid and greedy fail. That's the way capitalism is supposed to work; there are consequences for bad choices.
  2. Make the $700 billion available to small banks who didn't get stupid and greedy. This would give them the capital they need in order to meet a greater demand caused by the failure of the stupid and greedy. It rewards discipline and it also would be repaid to taxpayers with interest.
  3. Eliminate the tax incentives for being stupid and greedy.
It's far from perfect, but it's an idea. There are options out there, and Congress must consider them all before putting taxpayers on the hook. My hope is that the President's awful image among the American voting public, and general belief we can't trust the guy, will doom this plan when he goes on TV to sell it tonight.

Shulman Karchers Garrett

Back in November of 2007, I pondered if it would be possible for Representative Scott Garrett to take the same sort of hell for his farming tax deduction that failed candidate Ellen Karcher did. Today, the campaign of Dennis Shulman answered the question with gusto:

Let the games begin...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Toll Roads and Bailouts

I'm kind of glad that economists are starting to take a breath and realize the bailout program being crammed down Washington's throat as a "the only way" situation may not be. Governor Corzine told us here in NJ the only way to balance our state's budget was to lease or privatize our toll roads. Didn't happen, and we're still kicking.

People need to raise questions, loudly, about the wisdom of this plan. Simply deferring to Treasury Secretary Paulson's experience with Goldman Sachs as being all knowing is a dangerous path to take. So far, this is one of my favorite challenges to the plan:
For somebody like me who believes strongly in the free market system, the most serious risk of the current situation is that the interest of a few financiers will undermine the fundamental workings of the capitalist system," wrote University of Chicago Business School Economist Luigi Zingales, in a short essay titled "Why Paulson is Wrong" cited by Mallaby and a raft of other economics blogs across the ideological spectrum. "The time has come to save capitalism from the capitalists.

Should these large companies fail, the idea that other smaller competitors won't step up and give those with good credit loans runs counter to our American experience and the nature of our economy. This bailout plan is awful, and while still is likely to go through, it seems the reason they're trying to rush Congress through it is to prevent people from asking questions. The reality is, it's a handout to the bad actors on Wall Street who put profit over prudence. They made this bed.

Garrett Beating Shulman in Kos Poll

The folks over at Daily Kos paid for a poll of our Fifth District. If the election were held today, Representative Scott Garrett would beat Dennis Shulman 49-34%. Granted the interview pool was relatively small, however those don't look like promising numbers.

The glimmer of hope or the final nail in the coffin would be that 38% of those polled had no opinion of Shulman. As with every election, Independents will carry the district, as their 48-35% pro-Garrett stance so closely mirrored the poll results.

Should Garrett's campaign use my lines again, or something close, independents may believe they're getting someone other than the Garrett that's actually voted the Republican line 90.7% of the time. It also doesn't help Shulman that Garrett's sentiments on the bailouts so closely mirror every person I've talked to so far. However, should Garrett fail to prevent this thing or get protections for taxpayers added it may provide an opening.

Responding to the post on Kos, Jeff Hauser (Shulman's Campaign Manager) had this to say:
Stay tuned -- by the middle of the upcoming week, you'll begin to see outreach to independents that in no way compromises Dennis' values.

We're going to tell the truth about Garrett in a direct manner via every possible medium, from viral video (check out our star interns, the Texas Oilmen for Garrett, in this parody of the Office -- ) to cable tv to direct mail to, as mentioned above, old fashioned door knocking/field.

There's still time yet, and it will be interesting to see how this thing all turns out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why Can't We Get the Good Loans?

Am I the only one with a sense of deja vu regarding the urgency being pressed by the White House for the American taxpayer to accept $700 billion in bad loans as their own? I'm sure others can recall previous instances where the Administration told us of impending doom where the threat didn't materialize.

It seems an awful lot like the bad actors on Wall Street, who pursued profit over prudence, are being given one last reward for their actions. I haven't spoken to one real person, or heard one talking head, who thinks this is a good idea. It doesn't sit well with anyone I know that we're about to bailout these guys to the tune of $700 billion, leaving them their profit margins and good notes.

If the bad actors need $700 billion in capital, why aren't taxpayers buying $700 billion in good loans? Then at least we'd know we're going to get most of our money back. Why are they shafting taxpayers and telling us it's for our own good?

We're being told the alternative is much worse, well the American people deserve to know what that alternative is. There are enough good actors, small local and regional banks and insurers, who didn't get greedy and stupid. If these institutions are capable of picking up the slack, why not give them a shot first? Or let them buy $700 billion in good loans from the bad actors. The people that made the bad loans shouldn't be able to simply wash their hands with taxpayer sanitizer and move on.

I have little doubt this raping of the taxpayer is going to go through, but as voters and citizens, we have to dedicate ourselves to ensuring that these sorts of things don't happen again. Unfortunately, in the era of special interests first Washington leadership, we the taxpayer will continue to be bent over the barrel and told it's for our own good.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When Do We Call BS?

With bailout after bailout after bailout being announced, when do we as taxpayers get to call bull manure?

Very rarely do I praise something Representative Scott Garrett says, but in a press release reported by the Express-Times I think he hit the nail right on the head:

We were assured that the government intervention on behalf of Bear Stearns was necessary in order to avoid a complete financial collapse," Garrett said in a press release. "Rather than stem the tide, the government bailout of Bear Stearns opened the flood gates.
Now, with a massive fund being assembled for even more bailouts, the American taxpayer could be on the hook for upwards of $500 billion when you add all the bailouts together. That's roughly the same amount as the Iraq War, and neither expenditure has proven an effective use of our money. What's even more frightening is the fact a trillion is not unthinkable for both the bailouts and Iraq.

Here's how the Washington Post describes the massive fund:
The plan involves using hundreds of billions of dollars in government funding to buy bad loans, leaving banks with more money and fewer problems, according to two sources familiar with what was said at the meeting.

Do you get that? We the taxpayer are sending money down a hole, with no chance of being repaid as we were with Crystler. What do we as taxpayers want with a bunch of bad loans? Those that made these bad decisions, based on greed over principle, are being rewarded because they're having their good loans left in their hands.

This is where the American people need to call bull manure.

First off, it represents the end of capitalism as we know it. The idea that Wall Street firms will no longer have to worry about whether they're making good decisions, because now everybody knows the Treasury will bail them out if they don't, won't have any restraint on bad decisions.

It will simply be a get as much money as possible before crashing, call Uncle Sam for help at the crash, and continue forward. Don't think that's how Wall Steet sees it? Then how else could anyone explain an 800 point increase over the last two days with no nuts and bolts economic data out. It's all based on the knowledge they can go back and do what they've been doing.

Sure, there are those like Representative Barney Frank who will say "oh, the Treasury won't use this authority." He said that with Fannie and Freddie, and he was being disingenuous then and those advocating this plan are being disingenuous now.

People have got to learn, whether it is with stuff like the Patriot Act or these bailout bills, if the government is asking for the authority to do something they are going to use it when they get it.

Our Representative's job is to protect us, and represent our voice on the Hill. As much as it pains people to give him credit at times, and as wrong as he often is; Garrett being against government getting bigger is exactly the perspective we need now. The more bad debt we assume, the less government is going to be able to do and the more of our taxes are going to simply pay off bad loans and decisions made in the private sector. It's lunacy.

We're already massively in debt. Roughly 30% of our taxes go to pay off debt (a lot of which Garrett voted for). Now, with the hundreds of billions in lending we're having to borrow from China and Russia to loan to companies who made bad decisions, with no discipline, that 30% could easily top 50% of taxes. What school of business teaches this as a prudent economic model?

People who want things like national healthcare or a stronger defense establishment or whatever, have to recogognize that Washington going forward with this plan is going to destroy our ability to pay for the things we need and want. We shouldn't be throwing good taxpayer money after bad private sector decisions.

But the greed goes on...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ruth Elizabeth (Bonter) Van Steveninck

This is the official obituary:

VAN STEVENINCK Ruth Elizabeth (nee Bonter), 86, passed away September 13, 2008. She was a 55 year resident of Midland Park. Born at home in Paterson, to Elizabeth (nee Locker) and William Bonter on New Year's Day in 1922, Ruth worked in the silk mills of Paterson and was a quality control inspector for Curtiss Wright during WW II. She owned her own business on Godwin Avenue in Midland Park and became a Real Estate Broker in Bergen County for many years.

A full time mother and wife of Wilber A. Van Steveninck, a Bergen County Police Officer, Ruth was an active member and officer of 'Friends of the Library' and Midland Park Republican Women's Club. She also participated in the local chapter of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Valley Hospital Auxiliary. Before becoming homebound she was an active member of the Preakness Baptist Church.

As a devoted Christian, Ruth was a selfless wife, mother, grandmother, as well as faithful friend and neighbor. She was a fantastic cook and an accomplished seamstress and needle worker. Ruth was predeceased in death by her beloved husband, Wilbur and her brothers, George and Leonard Bonter. Cherished mother of Arlene and Bill, beloved mother-in-law of The Reverend Robert Fretz and absolutely adored grandmother of R. Matthew, David and Christopher Fretz of Upper Saddle River.

Friends and family are welcome to visit Tuesday, September 16th from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the C.C. Van Emburgh Funeral Home, Ridgewood. The Reverend Robert Fretz will conduct a funeral service at 8 PM. Interment will be at the Fair Lawn Memorial Cemetery. In Ruth's honor, donations may be made to The Old Stone Church (Saddle River Reformed) at 500 East Saddle River Road, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I never read Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation. I'm not sure I need to having seen the example set by my mother's parents.

My family lost my grandfather twelve years ago. An only child of the Depression Era, he was always telling stories about when people looked out for their neighbors to help them get through that period. When World War II came around, he served with pride as a Marine in the Pacific.

After the war, he worked as a Bergen County Police Officer, among other jobs, so as to provide for his family. When the organization heard of his passing, they sent a color guard and it meant the world to me because I know how much he loved the job and the honor he felt in serving the community. He gave so much to me and spent so much time together that losing him felt like losing one of my best friends. He adored life, and truly loved my grandmother, Ruth.

My grandmother passed yesterday, and hers was the life so few of those born in the last few years can relate. She left school early, because she was big enough to work and help out at home. When the war came, she went from working in a silk factory to being an inspector in a factory in Patterson, ensuring our planes would fly. We actually took a trip to a museum in Paterson when we were kids and saw a picture of her there. And when the men came back, already married to my grandfather, they began to make their life together.

My grandmother had a quiet confidence about her. The awkwardly tall teenager had grown into a stunning wife, mother and friend to many. Her dedication to service was never lost on any of us. In addition to running her own business for a few years and then working in real estate, when they couldn't give away land in towns like Saddle River, she volunteered for the library, the hospital, her church, worked the polls, and was a faithful Republican of the old type.

When my youngest brother was born, at the age of 60, my grandparents gave all the time they had to us. My grandmother was often the one picking me up on school days when Chris was in and out of the hospital. Nothing was quite as good as the iced tea she'd give you after school out of the pitcher she probably bought when they bought their home.

As I got older, I've realized how important that time was too all of us. Grandma's quiet strength lifted us all. As I got older, I really grew to appreciate her sense of humor and the stories she told. She also had a healthy dose of spunk. For example, when our family took vacations up to New Hampshire, I often rode with my grandparents. Once I was old enough I would drive, and once my grandfather fell asleep she would encourage me to pick up the pace.

In addition to a deep sense of patriotism, my grandma loved New Jersey. We often said she should have worked for the tourism board and the chamber of commerce. She would often give a near dissertation on all the wonderful things our state had to offer, from culture to the rivers, lakes and mountains to the urban and suburban areas and the shore. All within a three hour drive she'd point out.

I also owe quite a bit of my idealism about politics to her and her belief that service of community was the purpose of political office. She was so proud when I got to go to the Republican National Convention in 1996, among the keepsakes I got for her, the magnets are still on her refrigerator. When I decided I was going to run against Representative Scott Garrett, although she wasn't so sure about the Independent thing, she was the first to sign my petition.

Her body has been failing in recent years, however, her mind was never lost. We visited as often as I could make it and it was always filled with spirited conversation about the events of the day, stories of old, and the goings on in my life. Granted, some of our political talk would probably bore other folks, they were great conversations for us.

I may never have read the Greatest Generation, but I've been so very fortunate to learn from them first hand. Even though I know my grandmother is in a better place now, I am going to miss her dearly. She was a wonderful woman, and even after all these years, I feel she had so much more wisdom to impart. I'd like to think she and my grandfather are together sitting in rocking chairs, sipping on some of that iced tea.

Is Garrett Joking?

I understand that Representative Scott Garrett wants to vote for off-shore drilling in the House. However, try and follow this logic for being one of 29 to vote against funding bridge construction and road maintenance:
The bill is headed to the White House, where President Bush has said he would sign, reversing a veto threat earlier this year.

All but one of New Jersey's 13 House members voted for the bill. Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, voted "No," arguing Congress should instead vote on a broad energy package.

I understand that Garrett's idea for reforming transportation dollar appropriation is never going to get out of committee, as well as opposed to by major heads of mass transit. However, when we've had massive bridge collapses, as well as our own studies here in NJ saying we have major problems, what kind of Representative votes against fixing things? Furthermore, what kind of Representative makes up some lame/disingenuous reason for doing so?

There's a world of difference between doing what is right for the people you're supposed to represent and being an ideologue (read: sore loser). Garrett seems, on this vote at least more than any other recent vote, to have put his ideology above his constituents.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The House Corruption Built

Most Democrats in Bergen County that are part of the indicted Joe Ferriero's inner circle are remaining mum on the charges. That is to say, all except County Executive Dennis McNerney:
“This is a sad day for all those involved, but at the same time, I’m confident that the strong Democratic organization [Ferriero] built and nurtured will move forward and crush all of our Republican opposition this year and in future elections,” McNerney said.
"Built and nurtured" is an awfully nice way of saying bribed and stole. Granted, it took nearly ten years as chairman to get the party to where he is today, but Ferriero had a lot of help with the indictment and guilty plea of another Bergen County chairman to jump start the process. It was only 4 years from when the guilty plea was entered until the Democrats became a powerhouse. McNerney may be right this time around, but 2010 may be a different story.

Never Forget

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Greatest Diet Ever

This is something to laugh about: A man in Wisconsin claims he has eaten 23,000 Big Macs.

Ferriero & Oury

I'm late to this for a various number of reasons, but PolitickerNJ and Blue Jersey have coverage going.

The thing is, no matter how many years these guys get and no matter how large the fine, the taxpayers can never be made whole from their corruption.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Garrett Statement on Bailout

This is Representative Scott Garrett's statement on the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

"While hindsight is 20/20, as we make plans to move forward, it's important to recognize the system under which these GSEs failed. The Congress has long provided ambiguous and conflicting direction to the GSEs and the investing public. On one hand, the GSEs were expected to support affordable home ownership for low-to-moderate-income Americans. On the other hand, it was their fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder return. Without a doubt, these conflicting obligations helped to createthe mess taxpayers are currently facing.

"Since my election to Congress, I have consistently fought to reduce theexposure to GSE failure and believe we must take aggressive steps to prevent additional government bailouts in the future. Going forward, we must implement major changes to limit the size and scope of the GSEs and ensure that free markets are given the opportunity to work on behalf of all Americans.

"In addition, Congress must provide leadership in this time of economic crisis. Several of my colleagues and I called for hearings on the Bear Stearns bailout in March. These hearings did not take place until July of this year. As the Fannie and Freddie bailout proceeds, vigorous oversight is needed so that American taxpayers understand how their government is spending their tax dollars."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Garrett was Right; The Bailout's On

Update: It's official, we're on the hook for "tens of billions"

As I've mentioned before, as well as Herb Jackson, Representative Scott Garrett has been one of the most consistent critics of the government's backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. With the news that the government is planning on taking over the GSEs tomorrow, confirmed by Representative Barney Frank, it looks like Garrett will get to say the "I told you so" I'm sure he never wanted to say.

On the other hand, Frank has the problem of having to deal with the fact he stood on the House floor and said the legislation they passed back in July, making this bailout almost inevitable, probably wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime. Now it seems we'll be on the hook for at least $25 billion.

What I find most troubling is this decision is not based on all those reports telling us the companies had plenty of cash, but instead seems to be on all those hedgefund managers who would have lost millions if they couldn't short sell the stocks. Now we've got ourselves the largest bailout in American history.

And the greed goes on...

Garrett Award from Those Accused of Fraud

I completely forgot about this: While poking at the award Representative Scott Garrett just received, the folks over at Retire Garrett pointed out that back in 2006, the folks at Citizens Against Government Waste were cited in a Senate report for committing fraud against taxpayers. From the Washington Post in 2006:
Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.

The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.


The report bolstered earlier revelations that Abramoff laundered money through the nonprofits to pay for congressional trips and paid Norquist to arrange meetings for Abramoff's clients with government officials including White House senior adviser Karl Rove.

This reaffirms my criticism of Garrett turning to Grover Norquist for talking points after I exposed the New York Times study he was citing as being fabricated.

While it doesn't change the fact that I like CAGW's Pig Book, this does shed some light on why they oppose those deficit neutral bills. While it appears no charges were ever brought, considering this was at the height of the Bush Administration's politicization of the Justice Department, we can't be surprised.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Garrett on McCain

Representative Scott Garrett gave an interview to the New Jersey Herald regarding Senator John McCain's acceptance speech.
"You have to recognize that, in all the time he's been a senator, at times he's been a thorn in the side of his own party," he said.


"I've been willing to stand up to the (Republican) party and the president of the United States, when I felt what was in the best interests of the district might not be what the president was asking for," he said.

Actually, I remembered this morning that the "scolding" section of McCain's speech was very similar to one that Garrett gave at CPAC in 2007. Here's part of what I wrote at the time:
Anchoring a group railing against earmarks, in a matter of fact manner he attacked the President and the big government conservatives who cost the Republicans the Congress.

I think my favorite part of a today's long morning in the car was listening to Rush Limbaugh have a coronary over McCain scolding the Republicans for losing their way.

Granted, Garrett is no McCain. For starters, Garrett vehemently opposed McCain's immigration reform and attacked moderates in his own party for not falling in line. However, on the issue of Republicans only being able to blame themselves for what they did to Washington, it seems Garrett and McCain see eye to eye.

Garrett Wins Award

Representative Scott Garrett has once again won the "Taxpayer Hero" award from the Citizens Against Government Waste. I'm actually a very big fan of this groups Pork Book. As reported by Herb Jackson:
Votes defined by the group as pro-taxpayer included extending tax cuts, blocking expansion of children's health insurance, and eliminating funds for a museum dedicated to the Woodstock festival.

It's important to remember, this is an award based on votes, and doesn't take away points for wasteful earmarks, like Garrett getting money for a research project the Army had informed the manufacturer they didn't want. That said, while so many groups base their rankings on a handful of votes, CAGW uses 100 to come up with their score. I don't agree with a handful on the list (they're against deficit neutral bills), but you can read the list here and decide for yourself.

Shulman Slams Garrett on Abramoff

The campaign of Dennis Shulman sent out quite a press release regarding the ties between Representative Scott Garrett and Jack Abramoff:
“Be it placing a key Countrywide Financial lobbyist on the taxpayer’s payroll as his Chief of Staff, fighting for tax breaks for Big Oil, or holding onto money from indicted Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and disgraced former McCain adviser Phil Gramm, Garrett seems to play a role in every Washington scandal. It’s about time we have a member of Congress who sees his job as fighting scandals, not participating in them,” noted Shulman.

Honestly, I don't understand why Garrett doesn't return the money as a symbolic gesture. Or at least donate a couple grand to charity. We know he's already spent it, but clinging to it doesn't make sense.

What if some crazy radical group sent him money, would he keep that, too? I understand that Garrett doesn't have the greatest fundraising operation in the world, but come on. Where's the principle in holding on to a couple thousand in dirty money?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain 1.0

When I watched the speech tonight, I felt cautiously optimistic we still may see and may get the race I hoped for months ago. Granted, he needs to fire the advisers that have strayed from this John McCain, but part of me really hopes we get that race based on issues and solutions instead of attacks and division.

Will Garrett Return Abramoff Money Now?

Back in 2006, people called on Representative Scott Garrett to return the $1,000 in donations his campaign recieved that were connected to Jack Abramoff. No dice to date, but with Abramoff getting another 4 years, this time directly tied to his Federal lobbying activities, maybe now will be the time.

Abramoff represents all that is wrong with politics today. Four years was way too light a sentence for what he did. The fact that Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist aren't going to jail with him is a travesty of justice. All those who see Garrett as a stand up, independent guy should demand more of their guy than to keep Abramoff's scum money. Granted, at this point that money is long spent, the symbolism of the act wouldn't be lost.

Garrett Feels Heating Oil Pinch

Representative Scott Garrett got his home heating oil delivered:
REPORTER: This is one issue that hits politicians the same way it hits their constituents. New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett got the bad news when his oil delivery man called him on the phone a few weeks ago.

GARRETT: It will be up an increase of over $100 per month to heat the house.

REPORTER: The Republican from northern New Jersey's Fifth District says he expected his oil bill to go up. But more than a thousand dollars for the year?

GARRETT: We’re gonna have to obviously turn the thermostat down for those cold nights and wear sweaters and all the rest.

Unfortunately, saying home heating oil hits politicians "the same way" is a bit misleading. While a $1,000 increase is roughly one half of one percent of Garrett's salary, for seniors living off of their social security of $26,220 per year, it's closer to four percent.

Garrett can turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater; however, there are over 100,000 families in NJ alone that will be doing that while also having to choose between heat, medication, and food.

While I doubt Garrett will change his opposition to low-income home heating assistance, maybe it will serve as a reminder that people making less than $169,300 are feeling a heck of a pinch this winter.

Fact Checking the RNC

Even though the speeches sounded great, there were many misrepresentations of the truth coming from the Governor Sarah Palin and the rest of the speakers at the RNC last night. The AP did a great write up you can read here. There are a couple of note:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation.


PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.


FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right -change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

Stretching the truth and misrepresenting the truth have become regular problems with Republicans as of late. I actually loved Palin's speech, but until Republicans purge those who are bought and paid for by the likes of The Club for Deficit Growth, it is going to be very hard to believe their actions once elected won't continue to bankrupt our future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Betting On Palin

People will gamble on anything. Marketwatch has posted the odds from Ireland's largest bookmaker regarding Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin:
Sarah's Next Surprise:
5/4 Driving Offence
7/4 Cheated in school or college exams
10/1 Arrested for flashing
25/1 Is a member of Church of Scientology
33/1 Moose burger addiction
40/1 Donated money to the Obama campaign
50/1 Wears Bill Clinton pyjamas to bed
250/1 Breaking and entering an Igloo
500/1 Abducted by aliens

US Election Betting Update Will McCain drop
8/1 Sarah Palin is dropped as the Republican VP candidate
20/1 Sarah Palin is dropped as the Republican VP candidate by Sunday
7th September

Next US President?
4/9 Barack Obama
13/8 John McCain

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blast From The Past

Charles Stile of The Record has a great profile of a pillar of the BCRO, Eleanor Nissley. Ms. Nissley was instumental in my attending and one of the people I got to know a bit when I went to San Diego in 1996. Granted, she probably wouldn't know me if she fell over me at this point, it was great to see she's still involved and still stands for the principles Bergen Republicans stood for back in the day.

Here's a bit of her wisdom she shared with Stile:
Despite the past battles, Nissley said politics were far more civil and less partisan than they are today. County chairmen from both parties often socialized and collaborated on relief efforts for a family who lost their home in a fire, for example.

"I feel people are getting lost in the process," she said. "Today it's more about, 'Can I get a job for Aunt Tillie?' " she said. "Patronage is not the name of the game. People are the name of the game."

I hope enough young Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, will look at Nissley's example as how politics used to be and can be now thanks to people like her.

Oilmen for Garrett Getting Noticed

The Record has run a story about the campaign of Dennis Shulman and their Oilmen for Garrett video. At almost 5,500 views, the video seems to have eclipsed every other video featuring either praise or attacks of Representative Scott Garrett. It also seems that the video has given a bump to Paul Aronsohn's 2006 video of Garrett, which up until a few weeks ago hadn't been viewed more than 1,000 times. If you take out the Aronsohn video, Texas Oilmen seems to have beat all other videos combined.
Where's my bump for Garrett in Under a Minute???????

Monday, September 1, 2008

Garrett on Palin

Update: It was pointed out to me that, although not the first female for Vice President, it is the first from the Republican party, so therefore should count as being historic. I still think that's a stretch, but if the Congressman meant that it's the first VP nominee from Alaska, I agree that it is historic.

I was away for a couple days, so for those like me who missed it, Representative Scott Garrett not only received a nice bio piece from the Express-Times on Sunday; he shared his thoughts on John McCain's selection of Governor Sarah Palin as his runningmate on Saturday:
"Today, America witnessed a historic event," said U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Warren/Hunterdon. "In making this selection, John McCain has once again demonstrated his desire to change the dynamic in Washington."

Garrett's sense of political history is a little off, as Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman nominated for Vice President in 1984. While Gov. Palin was a good pick for McCain in terms of appeasing the right wing of the party, Ferraro's run was the historic one. However, after listening to a fair amount of conservative talk radio this weekend, it became clear that those on the right seem to have forgotten that.

Shulman Gets Blue America Love

The four Blue America blogs (Crooks and Liars, FireDogLake, Digby, and DownWithTyranny) have launched an interesting fundraising contest that includes Dennis Shulman. From DownWithTyranny:
Today's the first day of a week-long Blue America contest, I'd like to invite you to participate in. Some of our candidates have been endorsed by the DCCC's Red to Blue program, which makes it easier for them to access institutional Democratic money-- big donors, labor unions, single-issue groups, incumbents, etc. And some haven't. Blue America wants to spotlight nine of our House endorsees this week who may eventually wind up in the program but who need campaign cash to compete effectively now.

Whoever gets the most votes gets a $5,000. Unlike other contests, to vote supporters actually need to donate at least a dollar to their candidate, as opposed to voting. As of this writing, Shulman is in a distant fourth, however the week is young.