Friday, June 24, 2005

I'm still here

I'll be out of the blogosphere for a few days. I shall return.

Don't forget to check out the NJ Carnival of Bloggers, over at Reihl World View this week.

Corzine's Plans

When I posted about wanting real property-tax reform, Matt Stoller from Corzine's campaign got back to me pretty quickly, and recently came through with some newer links. They are:

Property Tax Relief
Economic Growth
Ethics Reform

I like the economic plans, and true ethics reform is needed in Our Fair State.

But let's talk about the property tax plan for a minute. It still focuses on sending people a check of their own money back. It's a simple redistribution of wealth, plus I'm paying to have the state administer a program to send me my own money. I just can't accept that this is the best way.

I'm warming up to the idea of a Citizen's property tax convention, which Corzine is for. I'd love to have the lawmakers enact real property tax reform, as is their job. But- they just aren't going to do it. They've had decades and lots of promises and it's gotten worse, not better. No one wants to be the lawmaker who took the checks away. I've heard it said that all a convention would be is political shelter for the legislators, but maybe we have to accept that that's the only way any real changes will come.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Life intrudes on the CoNJL

So, a half hour ago I'm trying to formulate a comment, one which I'd like to be accurate, thoughtful, and articulate. I'm not sure I succeded in those goals because in the middle of composing it, my oldest spilled a bottle of red paint on the rug. School's out for summer!

PS (for the co-owner of the rug:) I got most of it out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The final hurdle!

First Energy approved us- that was the last inspection. We're officially SOLAR!

Of course, they say I got a new meter box on 6/14. I didn't, so there will still be some issues on which I have to follow up. But it's running, just in time for the next heat wave!!

Monday, June 20, 2005

And now for something completely different

We saw The Sixth Sense last night, finally.


What a good movie.

A truly well-done movie. It grabbed me and held on tight. And, contrary to what I expected, I didn't have nightmares, but I did have to watch every single special feature on the DVD while I calmed down a bit.

Wow, what a good movie. (Thanks to the folks who lent us the DVD about a year ago- we'll be returning it now.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Carnival of Bloggers 5

Enlighten-NJ has put up this week's New Jersey Carnival of Bloggers. He's also thinking of taking it on the road, which is a great idea. Check it out! See what fellow residents of Our Fair State are saying!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Why Care about the Downing Street Memo?

There are three major issues brought up in the DSM that I think are worthy of public hearing. These are:

1.The statement that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of military action. This really sounds as if Bush and the hawks were aware that the war wasn't very justifiable, so they publicized what they wanted to push their end. It even alludes to outright lying. The only way we'll ever know about that is a true investigation.

2."Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." The Bush adminin. knew the justification was weak, and that there were bigger threats to our national security, but they chose to go into Iraq. (Remember Richard Clarke and his assertion that Rumsfled wanted to strike Iraq back in 9/2001?) This should also be investigated.

3. "...but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.” This sickens me. They wanted to go to war based on a timeline of political gain? Tell that to the families of the approx. 1800 (as of today) soldiers who bravely gave their lives. (Not to mention the untold thousands of Iraqi civilians.) This HAS to be investigated.

There are a lot more issues the memo brings up, including questions of post-war planning, and the fact that the Bush admin. was privately saying one thing and telling another story publicly at the same time. (Some like to call that "lying to the American People.") Will these and the other statements hold up to strong legal and public scrutiny? I'm not sure. But the only way to find out is to get that strong scrutiny. A true Congressional investigation is in order.

The point has also been made that Conyers is leading the Democrats into oblivion, presumably since nothing will come of the DSM. I will admit, I don't truly think this will lead to an impeachment of Bush. But why is the White House so scared of it? This admin. has never been interested in justifying their claims, true, but they've ignored Conyers' letter signed by 122 congressmen, and the Republicans in the House scheduled 11 major votes to coincide with Conyers' forum. Bush's little pat dismissal of the whole thing when standing with Tony Blair the other day did him no favors. Especially in a news cycle dominated by reminders of Watergate.

So I'll keep arguing to get the issue heard. The national news medias basically blew it off in May when the story broke in the Sunday Times in London, and only recently have picked up steam in covering it. This memo and its allegations should be investigated thoroughly, not dropped because the news media is onto a new trial or missing person story.

Related reading:

The entire Downing Street Memo
The Sunday Times article, May 1
CNN article, June 16th
Why Care?
Conyers letter
Teflon Dubya, Did I Say That Out Loud?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Latest Gubernatorial Poll

Corzine leads Forrester by 10 points, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. That's the big number that makes headlines, but some of the other numbers are more interesting to read.

(all numbers are of registered voters unless noted)
Better job reducing property taxes? 37% say Forrester and 35% Corzine (statistical tie.) 40% believe the biggest problem facing NJ is taxes, 31% specify property taxes. But Corzine's still ahead.

Is it a "good thing" for candidates to use their own money to finance campaigns? 48% say yes, 41% no. (68% say candidates who do are free of lobbyists' and special interest groups' influences.) Yeah, see, I dunno if I agree. It also means the biggest spender usually win the seat, and non-multi-millionaires don't stand a chance of ever seeing the inside of Drumthwacket.

73% say political corruption is extremely or very important in choice of governor. Hmm. Remember, these are the same folks who think taxes are our biggest problem. Clearly, we are not one-issue voters. That's nice to know. Property taxes get a lot of attention but we care about more than just that.

Corzine is honest and trustworthy according to 50%, Forrester is to 40%. But 46% associate the Democratic Party with corruption, 27% associate the GOP. That's not what the Assembly Dems wanted to hear.

41% of voters, 25% of Republicans, haven't heard enough about Forrester to form an opinion. Forrester has already spent a fortune of his own money, and 25% of Republican voters haven't even formed an opinion? That's not what Doug's camp wanted to hear.

And the Battle of the Multi-Millionaires rolls on...

Downing Street Forum

My clock radio woke me up early this morning with a news story about today's Downing Street Forum being held by Rep. John Conyers. Not quite a hearing, since they can't get an official hearing with the Republicans in charge of the House, Rep. Conyers could not have his forum on the House floor. But it's still news.

Keep it coming, fans and friends. Keep pushing to get this heard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Screwed up priorities

I'm trying to form a well-reasoned, articulate post on this. But so far, all I've come up with:

"What the hell are they thinking?"


"Seriously, what the hell are they thinking?"

Here's the article from today's paper. "Looking for money to restore property tax rebates, Assembly Democrats have targeted a fund used to help the poor pay heating bills and to promote cleaner energy, raising concerns less money for such needs will push more poor families to the brink and scuttle renewable energy plans. "What a disaster that would be," said Connie Mercer, executive director of Homefront, a Mercer County organization that advocates for and helps the poor. "I don't know what else to say but disaster." "

Screwed. Up. Priorities.

If there's extra money in the fund already that isn't needed for the charity heating bills, use it! Use it to make our state buildings and vehicles fuel efficient, saving us money in the long run. Use it to go solar, saving us even more money in the long run. Give it directly to municipalites to help with our energy efficiency plans, saving towns money in the long run. Invest it in cutting our state and muncipal energy use, saving money in the long run. (Anyone see a theme here?) But don't touch what is needed for our poorest citizens.

This money comes from fees the utilities pay, not even from property taxes. Using this money to restore the gimmicky rebate plan is just wrong.

I think I've decided. I'm going with, "Seriously, what the hell are they thinking?"

Pull the crickets

I have to remove the crickets from the soundtrack to Monday's post. Matt Stoller, with the Corzine campaign, emailed me yesterday evening:

"Here is a post on Jon Corzine's agenda.He has outlined specific steps and cuts to make to state government more efficient, as well as a comprehensive health care proposal to expand access to care.

He also has an aggressive ethics reform proposal which spells out how he intends to change the structure of NJ government to eliminate corruption:

In addition to his tax plan, he has called for a property tax citizens convention to address the structural roots of the problem, which is the funding of our schools through a regressive and unfair property tax."

Right now, those links just aren't working properly. As soon as I see that fixed I'll post it. I'd like to read exactly what they have to say. I've read the overview on Corzine's site, as well as what I can find on Doug Forrester's site. But, I must again refer to the Tom Hester Jr. article as a comprehensive compare-and-contrast, and I'm not seeing what I'd hoped to see- true reform of the system. (I may be cynical but I still have hope.)

No one from Forrester's camp has contacted me, but I would be surprised if my blog was on their radar for any reason. (I was more than a little surprised that Matt Stoller emailed me!)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Property Tax Plan Round-up

Once again, Tom Hester Jr. is our go-to guy with state news. His article in today's Times of Trenton is the best compare-and-contrast on the gubernatorial candidates' property tax plans that I've read so far. He tells us that we shouldn't expect actual property tax reform, certainly not on the level that is needed. But both plans expect to cut lots of corruption and waste. (Wow! No other politician has ever talked of doing that!)

Doug, Jon, listen to me. Here's what we voters really want. We want the gimicks stopped. We don't need catchy titles or special legislative sessions. We want the state to stop trying to put bandaids over gushers, we want our budget balanced, and we don't want any more revenue tricks. We want a leader who will make hard decisions, often unpopular decisions, and follow through on what needs to be done. No more houses of cards; we want actual TAX REFORM. Tell me how you plan to do that.

(crickets chirping in the background)

We're waiting.

Carnival of Bloggers

EnlightenNJ has put up this weekend's Carnival of Bloggers. It's a great way to find out who's posting about life here in Our Fair State.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

New Jersey Treasure #3

There are so many good things about living here in the center of NJ, I could go on and on about them. And I've decided to do just that. Periodically I'm going to pick something that has recently made itself a pleasure in my life and tell you why it's a NJ Treasure, in hopes that you'll enjoy it too and have more pleasures in your life.

This installment features: Day Hikes. Here in the Center of NJ we have some forests and open space left, and there are a lot of places to take short hikes. We favor hikes that are 1-4 miles and not too hard, because two of the hikers in my family are under age 8. A week or two ago we visited Clayton Park in Upper Freehold, and it was just great. The trails were easy to follow, maintained and it was a good place for families with young kids or dogs. A big favorite: Plainsboro Preserve, part of the NJ Audubon Society, perfect for all ages. We recently hiked through Herronton Woods in Princeton, and while we enjoyed it, I would not recommend it if it has recently rained. It was a swamp, really. We've hiked up Sourland Mountain and had a fantastic time. Be sure to bring binoculars, because at the top you can see NYC, proving how flat NJ really is. The D-R Canal offers hiking opportunities through a big stretch of Central NJ.

Being family day hikers, we really appreciate well-maintained and marked trails. The only place we've found poor trails was Watson Woods in Hamilton. We tried to hike there yesterday, and while it was cool to be able to hike under the highway that cuts across the marsh, we left in about twenty minutes. The trails were not maintained at all, unmarked and horribly grown over with poison ivy. (We got the kids washed off quickly and seem to have escaped unscathed.)

There are a bunch of good NJ hiking books, such as Best Hikes In NJ with Children and Fifty Hikes in NJ, both probably available at your library. Check out NJ Trails site too. Get out and take a hike- one of New Jersey's Treasures.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wildlife gone wild!

This week so far we had a shark attack and a bear home invasion. No people were killed, but a bear cub was shot to death.

Not too long ago, a coyote was seen here in the center of Our Fair State; while in Millstone Twp. dog owners are being warned about increased coyote activity. "Agressive residential development" is being blamed there. (Are there any places in central NJ where there isn't agressive residential development these days?)

Every now and then, the animals remind us that they need some space too...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Primary's over

... and now the real fight begins.

A couple interesting results from yesterday:

Jun Choi, who was insulted by NJ101.whine, took the nomination from incumbent George Spadoro and will run for mayor of Edison.

Robert Schoeder, Paul DiGaetano and Todd Caliguire each received fewer votes than Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Kelly, Jr. Kelly resides in a group home for the mentally ill. That's gotta hurt even more than the Pete Vincelli thing.

Downing Street Memo & Senator Kerry-no, Kennedy

The other Mass. Senator brought it up first. Between that and this weekend's Meet The Press, it's still being heard! Click through on Senator Kennedy's site and contact your senators. Keep the word out there.

UPDATE- Well, Bush got the question, and no big surprise, he denied the allegations. Dan Kennedy at the Boston Phoenix said it very well: "On Tuesday, both Bush and Blair attempted to play down its importance during a joint news conference, a sign that the issue may finally be gaining traction."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Downing Street Memo & Senator Kerry

John Kerry is planning to 'present' the memo to congress. No note in the article on when this will happen.

The Republicans have their anti-aircraft fire ready. The article mentions the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which President Clinton signed into law, which "Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government."

Ok, sure, but it doesn't state that it's ok to LIE to the American People to achieve that end. Which is what this is all about.

I entreat you again, please, contact your legislators and favorite media outlets to get them to push this issue. We were lied to, and those at the top should be accountable for it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Tomorrow's Primary

Latest Quinnipiac poll: Forrester 35%, Schundler 33%.

No word on Vincelli's latest numbers.

If you are registered with a party, VOTE! You can declare at the polling place if you wish. Polls are open tomorrow until 8PM.

New Jersey Treasure #2

There are so many good things about living here in the center of NJ, I could go on and on about them. And I've decided to do just that. Periodically I'm going to pick something that has recently made itself a pleasure in my life and tell you why it's a NJ Treasure, in hopes that you'll enjoy it too and have more pleasures in your life.

This installment features the Trenton Thunder. This past weekend my family and I enjoyed spending Sunday watching the Thunder beat the Binghamton Mets at Waterfront Park. We had cheap seats, so no shade for us. (Note I didn't say "bad seats," because really, there aren't any in Waterfront Park.) We had our hats and sunblock, and a lot of water. We walked around in the shade and snuck over into good shady seats in the 7th inning when folks started to leave.

The Thunder has Boomer the mascot and Chase that Golden Thunder (the golden bat retriever) who keep everything entertaining. Even the ground crew came out in grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts, dancing to Jimmy Buffet's "Fins." There were dozens of distractions and giveaways during the game to keep the kids occupied. There's a Kidcessions stand selling kid-sized food portions for $1, and the rest of the concessions were reasonably priced for attraction fare. Bonus- Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale on tap!

Understand that we are not big baseball fans. Really, we don't follow it at all. And we still had a great time, for under $40 including tickets and parking. I'm told the Blue Claws and the Patriots are cool too, but my heart belongs to Chase that Golden Thunder and the Trenton Thunder. So, enjoy a fun summer day and go out to a minor league ball park- one of New Jersey's Treasures.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Weekend update

On solar: we got our rebate approved by the state. Yay! Now, once JCP&L gets out here with the new meter, we're in business.

On Schundler IS Dean: The publicity firm took responsibility, saying Schundler had no idea. It's always some "junior staffer," isn't it?

On Downing Street Memo: Apparently, John Kerry is going to raise it on Monday, and there's been a bit of national media coverage- CSpan, and MSNBC is supposed to be planing to put it on their program Connected early next week. Keep getting the word out.

Hope you have a good weekend.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

Fans and friends of this blog know I'm always entreating everyone to write letters to their assemblymen or other lawmakers when something is important. Our voices always need to be heard, and loudly. This subject is no different- but is not being heard by enough people, and should be heard by all.

The Downing Street Memo is minutes of a meeting held in July 2002 and clearly indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed to attack Iraq, well before Bush and his chickenhawks even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify their pre-planned war.

A most heinous quote: "he (Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfleld) thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections." Have no illusions, kids, this was planned to the minute politically. But wait- see the Tom Paine article for even more hilarity! John Prados concludes the war was decided by Feb. 2002!

Unfortuntely, main stream media hasn't really gone off on this like they should. This memo should be the smoking gun showing the chickenhawks' deliberate lies, and those in charge should be called to the carpet on it. Are we so cowed that we can't even question authority anymore?

Today I joined Big Brass Alliance, an organization of bloggers who feel the word must go out about this. This group supports, "ADS is a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. " Today I wrote to all the news outlets linked on the BBA's website- they have a few targeted media outlets for each day- and requested they produce detailed reports regarding the DSM. Thursday I mailed letters to my senators and congressman urging a formal investigation. I'll probably email them as well, as mail takes forever to get to their offices (security measures.) I signed Rep. Conyers' letter the other day as well (after Christian reminded me how important this all is.)

And yet, I feel I haven't done enough.

Fans and friends, we were Lied To. We need to get to the truth. Write your own letters, add your blogging voice to the growing crowd, and push for formal legal action. Get active in this.

Our voices need to be heard. And loudly.

Bret Schundler IS Howard Dean!

This is almost too good to be true, but it's for real. Check this out. Make sure to see the side-by-side images at the bottom.

I guess Bret couldn't amass enough supporters to get a picture like this for himself.

Now, the fun part is how I found this on politicsnj. If you go there in the near future, you'll get hit with a full page containing a lot of anti-Forrester rhetoric and a bunch of Schundler's video ads. Not having watched a lot of TV lately, I hadn't seen these, so I chose to sit through all four ads. And there's the little blurb at the bottom of the ad page, stating

"*** By “documented” – in the case the Forrester campaign doesn’t understand the use of the word “documented” – we mean documented WITH FACTS, not things you just make up out of whole cloth and slap on your ad, in the belief that no one will bother to check."

Two clicks away we find the Bret-as-Howard pictures. Guess what, Bret? Someone's checking on you, too.