Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rush Holt supported by Trenton Times

Today in editorial of the Times of Trenton, Rep. Rush Holt was given a lovely endorsement and commentary on his ability to fill Governor-Elect Jon Corzine's seat in the Senate, entitled "Why Not Rush Holt?"
In our view, the governor-elect could find no better qualified individual for the Senate seat than Rush Holt. His integrity and reputation are unquestioned. Smart and hard-working, he takes a studious approach to public policy, examining pros and cons of issues with the intensity he brought to the problems of nuclear fusion during his days as assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Like Sen. Corzine, he had the courage to vote against the congressional resolution to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq because he didn't believe the evidence supporting invasion was compelling enough; that decision looks more prescient with each passing day. He favors an "immediate, incremental withdrawal" of U.S. forces from Iraq coupled with a phased turnover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi government and a clear declaration by the administration that the U.S. has no intention of building permanent U.S. military bases in that country - steps that he believes would help the new Iraqi regime gain legitimacy in the eyes of the public. He has attracted national attention as the leading congressional spokesman for mandating that electronic voting devices be equipped to provide a verifiable paper trail. He's a dedicated environmentalist and a strong advocate of the improvements in science and mathematics education that will be essential if the United States is to compete in the global economy.

Rep. Holt is the primary sponsor of HR 550, the mentioned bill to require verified voting with a paper trail. If you haven't signed the petition yet, go now, then write your representatives so they know how important it is to you.

Rep. Holt is not actively campaigning for the seat, as are Rep. Bob Menendez, Rep. Frank Pallone, and Rep. Rob Andrews. I doubt that Gov-elect Corzine is much impressed with active campaigning, anyway; I'm sure he's done his own research into the records and political implications of all possible choices on his list. I feel Rep. Holt would be an excellent choice for the seat and have hope for his chances; apparently, I'm not alone in that. Holt was the winner of the New Jersey for Democracy online poll, more or less (Codey had the numbers and Holt was second, but since Codey removed himself from list...) , and the winner of the BlueJersey.net online poll.

Besides the Congressman's myriad qualifications, important political positions and integrity, aren't you just dying to have one of those cool bumper stickers that would say, "My Senator IS a Rocket Scientist"?

(cross-posted at BlueJersey.net)

More HR 550 posts

Updated 12/06 5PM Several other posts on the verified voting blogswarm are up now, here's the list (as I've found, anyway.) Note that while many are lefty or centrist blogs, some from the right are in there too. This is not a liberal or conservative issue; this is truly an American issue.

Here's my post.
Blanton's and Ashton's
Did I Say That Out Loud?
Running Scared
BlueJersey.net
The One True Tami
Crumiller
Brilliant at Breakfast
Dump Mike
Big Brass Blog (Big Brass Alliance's weblog)
Pandagon
Spontaneous Arising
Shakespeare's Sister
Pam's House Blend
Daily Kos
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
A Mockingbird's Medley
Blondesense
Xpatriated Texan
Patridiots
The Opinion Mill
Scrutiny Hooligans
The Blogging of the President
Comments from Left Field
Alternate Brain
Loaded Mouth
Poor Impulse Control
Vegacura
Democracy for New Mexico
MyDD (x2)
Media in Trouble
In Search of Utopia
Seeing the Forest
Word of Blog
Rhetoric 101
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
NeoAlertz
FatCat Politics
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Stump Lane
Sisters Talk
OneWomanWreckingCrew
Geek Matters
Laughing at the Pieces
The Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog
New Jersey for Democracy
Avedon Carol Presents: The Sideshow
Brother Kenya's Paradigm
gotv
It's Intuitively Obvious
Correntewire
Blue Texas
Cynical Nation
Middle Earth Journal
Come and Take It
Entangled Thoughts
BattlePanda
Blognonymous
Agitprop
Election Fraud Blog
Evil Mommy (no, not me)
Neocontrarian
ftbfs.org



More to be added as they come along- Wow!

Write your Congressman! Now! After you sign the petition, of course.

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HR 550

"Anything of value should be auditable. Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge-and the confidence-that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill (H.R. 550) will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic." -Bill sponsor Rep. Rush Holt

House Resolution 550 that is, called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act.

As I'm sure you know, many current electronic voting machines leave no paper trail and no means of recounting the votes, resulting in situations like we see here. At the same time, these voting machines have been reputed to be easily hacked and there is no accountability- whatever the machine says, goes. H.R. 550 would address those problems in a way that would make the security issues with these voting machines less relevant because you could have actual recounts- there would be a paper trail! There also would be random, unannounced audits on machines in 2% of the precints in each state.

Right now, this important bill is sitting in committee. Here is a list of House Administration Committee Members (their names are linked to their web contact page, so you can click the name and write an email, but you can only write to the Representative you live in his or her district...you will need your nine-digit zip code, which you can find out here):
Representative Robert A. 'Bob' Brady (Democrat - Pennsylvania, 1st District)
Representative John T. Doolittle (Republican - California, 4th District)
Representative Vernon J. Ehlers (Republican - Michigan, 3rd District)
Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat - California, 16th District)
Representative John L. Mica (Republican - Florida, 7th District)
Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald (Democrat - California, 37th District) Ranking Member
Representative Candice S. Miller (Republican - Michigan, 10th District)
Representative Robert William 'Bob' Ney (Republican - Ohio, 18th District) Chair
Representative Thomas M. Reynolds (Republican - New York, 26th District)

Address to write a letter to the committee: 1309 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-6157. Phone or FAX the Committee: Phone: 202-225-8281 Fax: 202-225-9957

Unfortunately, my Congressman isn't on that list. However, Congressman Rush Holt has estabilshed an online petition here. As always, though, it's important to get your voice heard by the people who've been chosen as your representative- so after I've signed the petition, I'm writing my Congressman this very day, and I urge you to do the same.

Note that at the bottom of the petition page there is a list of co-sponsors of this bill. It has bi-partisan support. This is not a blue vs. red issue, don't make this an us vs. them. This is about accountability, and access, for everyone. This is the right thing to do and we should support it.

(hat tip to DBK at Blanton's and Ashton's for much info in this post.)
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tester

having problems w/blogger

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Oh yeah, by the way...

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers 28 is up at Gigglechick. Sorry I forgot to post this link yesterday. Have fun!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The costly indoor smoking ban

Some members of the Assembly are worried that the proposed indoor smoking ban will cut into state revenues from cigarette taxes.
But during a recent meeting of a state budgeting panel, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, worried the smoking ban might affect how much money the state earns from that cigarette tax.
He said the ban, if approved, could cut into cigarette sales, especially in indoor public places such as hotels, bars and restaurants.

Yeah, it will. I thought that was part of the point.

Here's some interesting numbers:
Under New Jersey law, the first $150 million raised by the cigarette tax goes
into a health-care subsidy fund used to help pay for medical care for those
lacking health insurance.
The next $390 million goes into health programs,
the next $50 million to the Economic Development Authority to pay debt on school
projects and the next $45 million to anti-smoking initiatives.

So, we're using the tax on sales of a deadly product to fund health care, school construction and anti-smoking programs. That's nice.

Here's what I'd like to see. If they enact an indoor working-place smoking ban, how many people are estimated to quit smoking? What's the savings to Our Fair State for not having these folks in the health-care system? Cross that with the numbers of the loss of their cigarette-tax revenue. I can't find the numbers or I'd do the math for us.

Let's face it though, I don't care about the tax savings/costs. The ban is simply the right thing to do. Smoking is deadly, there is no doubt about it, and anything we do to discourage this behavior is great. Anything we do to lower exposure to second-hand smoke for nonsmokers is great. Someone's right to smoke doesn't trump my right to good health, not when there's an easily available venue to smoke called "outside" (and "your own home.")

Enact the ban. S1926 and A3424, if you should want to write your legislators to voice your support (or even if you want to voice your disagreement. Write your legislators to let them know how you feel.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mercer County steps up, too

The Times of Trenton reported today that the Mercer County Freeholders passed a resolution last night to extend health coverage and pension benefits to cover same-sex domestic partners. County Executive Brian Hughes saw the storm brewing in Ocean County (over a police officer with a terminal illness whose request to leave her pension benefit to her legal domestic partner was denied,) and wanted to avoid ever having a similar scandal in Mercer.

Domestic partnerships which are registered with the state are eligible, as are partnerships certified from other states.

One more step in the right direction! Now, if only Ocean would do the right thing...

(cross-posted on bluejersey.net)

The state steps up

The Times of Trenton reports today that the state has provided $1 million in emergency funding to state food banks.

That's the good news.

The bad news is it's not enough. Donations are off as much as 40% this year, and statewide food banks need help. Please don't forget.

Happy Thanksgiving, fans and friends.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Holdin' it together

Today I dropped off my younger greyhound for her fourth round (of six) of chemo. The particular drug is toxic to the kidneys, so they keep her for a full day- flush with fluids for three hours, adminsiter, flush with fluid for three hours, come home. It's a long drive to the oncology vets and we have to stop several times on the way home to let her "use the yard."

I mentioned her illness a while back but haven't been posting too many updates on it- this little thing, an election, took most of my blogging energy. Anyway, she's doing remarkably well. She adjusted to life on three legs quite quickly. Now that all wound issues are cleared up and she's used to it, she's the happiest dog. She's really quick to push for affection which was never really her way before. We now know that she must have been in a lot of pain, and for a while, before this all happened; she's pain-free and joyous these days.

I left her with the caring oncology techs at Red Bank Vetrinary Hospital. I walked out as they were taking her into the back and she kept pulling to go with me. I had to stop and talk to other people there- she's a strikingly beautiful dog, a rescued retired racer, and with only three legs people ask about her all the time. I get in the parking lot a few minutes later and try not to cry. She's going to be fine today, I keep saying to myself. The chemo isn't so bad and she's had no major side effects. Her prognostic factors are all good, and she should remain a happy dog for hopefully at least another year or more. It's just that I can't think about losing her. So I won't (I'll just write about it instead. Yeah, that'll work.)

I've gotta hold it together, especially when the kids go with me this evening to pick her up. It does no one any good to see Mommy crying over a dog who doesn't even seem sick. She's going to be fine today, her joyous self. We must enjoy this as long as possible.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Homebrewing update

We got a holiday batch in fermenter yesterday; it's already bubbling away. It will be an amber with ginger and orange, brewed with a belgian-honey tone. With French hops, no less. Should be interesting.

Our last batch was a lager, which needs to do a secondary fermentation in cold temperatures. We decided to do that in the garage, which shouldn't freeze but will remain cold- right? Well, it's been darned warm, up to 75 degrees last week!, can't wait to see how that goes. Now it will be a steam style pilsner.

We're finishing off a few batches from our stock in the basement. It's always great to get another batch in bottle on the shelves.

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 27

Carnival 27 is up over at Tami, the One True. Go check it out.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The need season

I ran into a neighbor in the grocery yesterday. She asked, "Thanksgiving shopping?" and commented about how it was better to get this all out of the way this week because the stores are packed next week. I agreed; yes, I was shopping for Thanksgiving, but not for me. I met her in the canned veggies isle. I was stocking up for donations.

This year, it's even more important. We're experiencing "donation fatigue" after two hurricanes, a tsunami and an earthquake all in one year. Our local food banks are feeling the pinch, which means our neighbors are in need.

Now, we all know times are tough. Gas and oil prices shot way up this year, and pay raises were a lot harder to come by. But somehow, my "tough times" rarely include making a decision of whether to feed my kids or pay the electric bill, which means it ain't so tough for me after all. If I can afford high-speed internet to sit here and talk to you nice people, I can certainly afford to buy extra cans of food and some more books for the church and school holiday drives. There are kids whose parents do have to make that decision, and they need a bit of help.

It's also good for my kids to help us do this. I ask them to carry the bags in, put them in the donation boxes, help pick out food in the store. I want them to grow up knowing that helping others is a natural part of life. So, the food banks get cans of soup and I get a nice little parenting moment out of it. We're both winners there.

New Jersey is the best state in the Union. By far. We are one of the richest, most educated groups of people ever assembled. We should also be one of the most generous.

So, I've got a couple of bags of stuff in the car to take to church tomorrow. I'm realizing that I need to buy a couple more. Or, more accurately, that someone else needs me to.

"It's the difference between thinking of oneself as an accumulator of objects and material wealth, and imagining oneself as part of the fabric of problems and solutions." - Tata from Poor Impulse Control.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Runoff voting

The Times of Trenton yesterday posted a letter about runoff voting from Steve Welzer, which discussed the Green Party's impact on recent elections. He mentions that the Green Party candidates each received more than 2,000 votes; if those votes had gone to the Democrat Robert Morgan, the outcome of the election would have been different. This is a great argument for Instant Runoff Voting where voters can rank their choices. To quote Mr. Welzer's letter:
Under IRV, ballots get re-allocated to alternative choices in such a way that, at the end of the vote count, all votes go to the top two candidates. A voter can rank a minor party candidate No. 1, and a major party candidate No. 2, knowing that his or her ballot will never "spoil" for the major-party candidate.
Our electoral system could be opened up to accommodate "more voices and more choices," as Ralph Nader said, and everyone could benefit, even the major parties, if reforms like instant runoff voting were adopted.

Since the 2000 presidential election that was spoiled by the Florida votes that went to Ralph Nader (Oh- and by a stopped recount, and a flawed electoral college system which is not relevant anymore, and other things, but let's maintain focus here) there has been discussion of runoff voting. Bill AJR99 in the Assembly was proposed by Bill Baroni to create a commission to investigate IRV, but it stuck in committee in 3/04. The time has long since come to at least explore IRV for Our Fair State, and I plan to write to my Assemblyfolk to urge them to study then enact this reform.

I just wish my Assemblymen were still Panter and Morgan, instead of Panter and Beck. They probably would be, too, if we had IRV.

(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Update on the 12th and Mercer County

The Times of Trenton notes today that Michael Panter's lead over Declan O'Scanlon is up to 70 votes, unofficially. Vote tallies are not certified yet, and I figure we can bet on a demand for recount.

Also, in Mercer County, Republican County Clerk Cathy DiCostanzo will be looking for a recount, since she lost her seat by 237 votes out of 94,000.

And I thought election season was over!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Senate Poll

Over at bluejersey.net, there's an instant run-off poll of possible apointees to fill Jon Corzine's senate seat. Head on over and vote.

(Please, only vote once.)

By One Vote- Update on the 12th LD

According to Politicsnj.com, Assemblyman Michael Panter has defeated challenger Declan O'Scanlon by one vote once all the provisional ballots in both Monmouth and Mercer county were counted.

Don't expect that this is over; There will almost certainly be a recount and a court battle. Keep your fingers crossed for Michael Panter.

(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Still waiting on the 12th.

From PoliticsNJ.com (sidebar):
In the 12th district Assembly race, Republicans say that Declan O'Scanlon leads
Michael Panter by 69 votes and Democrats say that O'Scanlon's lead is 12
votes. From the GOP campaign: "We want to keep you up to date with
the election results. As you know our race was extremely close!
Jennifer (Beck) won by enough votes to ensure her victory and we are excited to
announce that she will be working on all our behalf in Trenton. We are
still awaiting final results for Declan. As it stands now Declan is ahead
by between 69 to 107 votes (out of over 60,000 votes cast!). We are still
waiting for the provisional ballots to be counted and for final tally
certification, all of which should happen by Tuesday."

Hopefully tomorrow the provisional ballots will be finished and we'll know who both of the Assemblyfolk from the 12th are.

Now, there's talk that State Senator Ellen Karcher from the 12th may just be on the list for potential Senate nomination by Governor Corzine. Could be a total shake-up for the 12th.

Thanks, Rob

Rob is regularly seen at Laughing at the Pieces.

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 26

In two parts, one and two, at No-w-here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where I Stand, and Where I Turn

I don’t know if I’ll get another chance to post here, since the weekend goes so fast and I’m actually at one of my satellite locations in Pennsylvania. But I wanted to give one more (fairly) newcomer’s impression about Our Fair State, and give you and idea of where I’m coming from, politically.

I used to be registered as an independent in Pennsylvania, although I would tend to vote for the more liberal candidate. Then, after the 2000 election (or whatever it was), as the Republican party got more and more conservative, I felt the only way to fight their hard-line fire was by having a strong party to oppose them, so I registered as a Democrat – first in PA, and then once I moved here. And I’m happy to say that the Democrats are finally showing a little of the backbone I’ve always dreamed of them having. I thought Reid’s closed session maneuver was magnificent, and like how the terms of the debate in Washington is changing.

Now, that’s all national stuff. On a local level, I have to confess – I’d vote for anyone, Democrat, Republican, or Satanist Party of America, who would let me make a left turn on Route 1. One of the biggest shocks of living in NJ is that, after a year and a half in Edison, I still feel like I don’t know how to get anywhere. I know a few different ways home from the train station, but my brain just doesn’t connect these routes with my home. I don’t have a visual map of any kind – it’s almost like some form of teleportation – just make a left, a right, a left, keep going, a right, and ping! I’m home.

There’s a ton of traffic out there, and I know that it’s not just a problem in New Jersey. There are more and more cars on the roads everywhere in the Northeast, on roads that in many cases weren’t built for that sort of capacity. Solutions to this problem fall into three different categories:

Civil Engineering: Widen the roads, adjust traffic patterns, that sort of thing. These are the most common solutions. This, of course, means giving more space to our roads – space that is almost certainly being used for something else. New public transportation might also fit into this category, or the next, depending on what’s being proposed.

Technological: Change what it is we drive on the roads. Smaller vehicles need less space. The Segway is an example of this – although since the President and then Gob on Arrested Development have made it a laughingstock, it certainly won’t take off like its inventors intended.

Sociological: This is, in a certain way, the most drastic sort of solution – but it leaves no physical footprint at all. If we were to shift into a 24 hour lifestyle – with almost every job having a second and third shift, with almost every workspace shared by one or two other people – there’d be no more rush hour. Or rather, there’s be three rush hours, each cut down by a third, and traffic would unjam as the roads operate at the proper capacity.

That last idea may be a crackpot solution – it’s certainly a Rube-Goldbergesque way of solving a specific problem, turning every aspect of our lives upside down to stay out of traffic jams (and maybe make a left turn on Route 1). But I can’t help think that we’re almost at a tipping point, and our current car and road system won’t be viable much longer without some changes. Maybe those changes are coming – with higher gas prices, people might drive less, or combine trips when they do. Traffic certainly isn’t Public Enemy Number One – but I hope someone comes up with some options while we still have some room to maneuver.

Rob

(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Main Street

The first place I’d like to highlight in NJ – and frankly, at the rate I’m going, it may be the only one I get to) is downtown Metuchen. Metcuchen has one of my favorite main streets in the world. A couple of highlights:

Afghan Kebab House #7: This is fantastic Middle Eastern food, served in a cozy atmosphere. There’s a dish that comes with this pistachio rice that’s to die for. I recommend opting for the lamb over the chicken; the do a really nice job with it.

Main Street has a couple of nice ice cream shops, as well as CafĂ© Paris, a neat little French bistro. My wife and I honeymooned in Paris, and it’s great to have a local source for crepes. We haven’t really been able to master them at home yet.

There’s a liquor store on the corner that I’ve only stopped in once, but I had a great experience when I did. I bought a saki set for a housewarming gift for some friends. When we were picking it up, the proprietor (an Indian man) asked if I liked saki. I said I hadn’t had it in years, but this set was a gift – and what really drew my eye to that corner of the store was the soju. He told me how much he loves a cold shot of soju after coming home from work on a hot day. He keeps it in his freezer. I’ve still got to go back and buy a bottle from him, because man, that’s good stuff.

But my point is: one Saturday afternoon, an Indian guy and a Caucasian mutt stood around for a minute, talking about Japanese and Korean liquor. That’s America, right there, boys and girls. Cheers.

Probably my favorite place on Metuchen’s Main Street is a bookstore called the Raconteur. Their motto is “Get Lit,” and I think that’s a great example of their attitude. More than simply a bookstore, they’re becoming more and more of a cultural hub in the town. They show old movies in the back of the store (or, in the summer, in the parking lot), and serve complimentary snacks and drinks. They sponsored the first annual Metuchen Film Festival (which I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a chance to go). They have readings and meetings (a new Sherlockian Society is starting up Nov. 29th) in the store, and on top of that, they’ve got a great selection of new and used books. Give it a look.

Rob

(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)

America, the Beautiful

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo offers about a hundred and fifty reasons why, with his 100 Greatest Americans list. There are some nice surprises there, and it's a great list all-around. (And Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. made-it -- woo-hoo!)

Congratulations on hopping to the finish line, Skip.

Rob

(cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)

Friday, November 11, 2005

12th Leg. District up in air

According to the Star Ledger, we should know who are the assemblyfolk from the 12th LD are sometime on Monday. There was a malfunctioning machine in Marlboro (say that five times fast) and the provisional ballots will need to be counted, which could change the outcome as originally reported.

Keepin' my fingers crossed...

God to smite Dover, PA

From MSNBC:

WASHINGTON - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting intelligent design and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.
...
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

But remember folks: The (recently voted out) Dover school board argued that intelligent design is NOT creationism! ID does not name God as the creator, and is not a religous teaching! So God really shouldn't be angry at Dover, right?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Senator Boss?

Will Bunch in the Daily News has a suggestion:

The Democrats need someone with a name even more magical to New Jersey voters than Kean, who would draw thousands of normally disaffected and alienated voters out to the polls. An outsider who would shake up a corrupt and contented New Jersey Democratic Party and shake up folks on Capital Hill, as well.

Jon Corzine needs to appoint Bruce Springsteen to the United States Senate.


I don’t think the Dem’s list of candidates is as bleak as Bunch makes it sound, but I can’t say I’d be sorry to see the Boss enter the political arena as more than a commentator. (I would prefer if Senator wasn't an entry-level position, but whaddyagonna do?) I’d just be wary about a backlash if he gets in via an appointment – it might seem like he’s afraid to run on his own merits.

I also worry about hearing “Born to Run” until my eyes bleed.

Rob

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Please allow me to introduce myself...

Let’s see…wealth? Nope. Taste? Get real.

But I’ve got a connection to Sharon that goes back almost 20 years (ulp!), and she has apparently lowered her standards just enough to let me limbo in under the bar anyway.

I’m Rob Staeger, a longtime friend of Sharon’s, and one of the people who was encouraging her to start this blog—and like anything she does, Sharon went at it with both guns blazing. But you know that.

Sharon and I have a lot of things in common, but there’s one crucial difference (for purposes of this blog, anyway). She’s lived in New Jersey all her life. I only moved here from Pennsylvania a few years ago, and the longest I’ve stayed in one spot since then is…(shuffling though my files to find the mortgage paperwork)…a year and five months. I’m here for the long haul, but the long haul has pretty much just begun.

Sharon knows so much more than I do about local and state politics. That comes with putting down roots in an area, and mine are just an inch deep. I’m afraid that any malfeasants will be able to malfease their malfeasances with impunity while Sharon’s away, although they certainly shouldn’t expect to get away with anything in the long run. She’s not going to Mars or anything.

What I hope to do is offer some snapshots of things I like about living here, and maybe some things that need improvement. And I’ll try not to drop the f-bomb as much as I do at Laughing at the Pieces, since I know Sharon uses it more judiciously than she did in college.

To make a long, plotless story short, I’m pleased as Punch* that Sharon invited me to guest-blog. I’ll try to make it worth your while.

Rob

*And who knew that such an innocent phrase could have such dark origins? Fun!

Out of the blogosphere

I'll be out of the blogosphere for a few days. In the meantime, I've asked Rob from Laughing at the Pieces to guest blog. Rob is a Central NJ blogger whom I've known for many years- since back before we had blogs and actually had to talk to each other. Yep, the Dark Ages.

Have fun, y'all.

Half is better than none

Michael Panter has retained his seat in NJ 12th legislative district. Dr. Robert Morgan, however, was defeated, and Republican Jennifer Beck will take his place on a split district.

I live in the 12th and have great respect for Panter and Morgan. I'm disappointed that we have to lose Dr. Morgan, but half of the team is better than none.

This brings the Democrats a total gain of two seats in the Assembly. It still looks like the 2nd district could be disputed, though.

(Hat tip to jmelli at bluejersey.net)

Creationism votes

Voters in Dover, PA, yesterday voted out the entire school board who supported the teaching of Creationism in schools, replacing them with Democrats who hopefully care more about teaching than preaching. A ruling in the creationism trial isn't expected until January, when there will be a new school board in place. The people have spoken and it sure sounds like they want acutal science taught there.

Unfortunately, on the same day, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt new science standards which are critical of evolution and include "redefinition of science itself so that it is not explicitly limited to natural explanations."

So, if you live in Kansas, the supernatural can now be considered "science!" Call Mulder and Scully!

Acording to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat:
"the vote (is) "the latest in a series of troubling decisions" by the state board.
"If we're going to continue to bring high-tech jobs to Kansas and move our state forward, we need to strengthen science standards, not weaken them," Governor Sebelius said in a statement. "Stronger public schools ought to be the mission of the Board of Education, and it's time they got down to the real business of strengthening Kansas schools."

One step up, one step back.

(tip o' the hat to Rob)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Corzine wins

We have a new governor in Our Fair State.

Governor Jon Corzine.

It's over. Forrester has conceded.

Local election results

Several New Jersey counties will have their election results posted on county web sites starting this evening after 8PM as those results become available. Information is here:

Atlantic County results available here.
Bergen County results available here.
Burlington County results available here.
Cape May County results available here.
Cumberland County results available here.
Essex County results available here.
Gloucester County results available here.
Hudson County results available here.
Hunterdon County results available here.
Mercer County results available here.
Morris County results available here.
Ocean County results available here.
Union County results available here.

Several counties are advising that they will update by the minute, so check back frequently.
(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)

Slammin'

I discovered yesterday that I was being slammed by another NJ blogger for not having blogged about the riots in France.

No, I'm not making that up. I don't think I could have made that up.

I'm in good company, too. The Opinion Mill, Sloppydawg, Xpatriated Texan, Bluejersey.net (where I also am fortunate enough to blog,) and big guys like Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Big Brass Blog- we were all dissed. I nearly choked on my Freedom Fries.

An interesting point about this: the post has been changed. It was also wrong in that some of the blogs in question had posted on the riots, especially Daily Kos. Yesterday Bluejersey.net was listed but today it seems to be gone, and the Kos posts which someone listed in the comments are now integrated. Every time I've checked it, the comments have been changed and mostly deleted. Can't have dissenters now, can we?

There are two main reasons why I haven't blogged about riots in France:

1. Anyone read the name of the blog? It's the Center of NJ Life, not Central France Life. There's a big thing going on today in Our Fair State and I've been a little focused on that. Vive New Jersey! Vive Jon Corzine!

2. I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said. What did he want me to say? Is he angry because I haven't adopted a stance contrary to his own? As Steve Hart at The Opinion Mill said:
As for me, I'm an old school type who likes to read up on something, think about it and make sure I know what I'm talking about before I post something. And since I write a blog and not a newspaper of record, I find that if I don't have anything of value to add, I'll post about something else. This is obviously an alien way of behaving for somebody like Snitch, but I'm always amazed at the ability of winger bloggers to start instantly foaming at the mouth en masse on a selected topic.

In conclusion, I hope the riots in France end soon. Thanks for listening.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The end is in sight

The voting booths open in about 18 hours. A little over fourteen hours after that, the first returns will be reported, and hopefully before we all go to bed tomorrow night we'll know who's our new governor, if we have to piece together a lieutenant governor, what's up with the assembly, and who's on the town council.

The end is in sight. None too soon.

Recently I was asked at a gathering why I got into blogging. I gave the cocktail-party answer: I would talk to my blogger friends and we'd discuss national politics but when I mentioned state or local issues often no one knew beyond the vauge news line item. I started as a way to get friends involved in the local process, started writing more opinions, and off it went. It's a good story and sounds good when said out loud.

There's more to it than that. I got into blogging for this race. The Governor of NJ is a powerful person in a heavily populated state. Only one other governor's race is going on this year so I expected a lot of national attention by the parties and the pundits. I hoped for a lively discussion of the issues, especially in a state loaded with problems- if you live here you know them well. Property taxes, school funding and construction, overdevelopment, corruption, home rule- I could go on and on.

And I have gone on and on. So have a lot of others. We've written and talked about the issues, trying to get people to hear about the solutions we feel are worthwhile and criticizing the ones we dislike.

Now, in the beginning, the race was- let's say- slow. I believe I used the word "snoozer" at least once. Many took this opportunity to discuss the issues. After a while for things began to heat up, as they invariably went negative and the issues went out the window. Sleazy tactics make for good headlines, and we got some big ones in the last month or so. Do these really change minds? I'm sure somewhere there are studies saying how much they do and that's why it happens, but I think it turns more people off to being involved in the political process.

But here we are at the end. We've made up our minds and are ready to vote (and some mailed their ballots already.) Some people are annoyed at the political process and won't vote in protest, and we'll have a low turnout, as always. That makes me sad- people in other countries all over the world are fighting and dying to have a say in their government, and we stay home on voting day because we're annoyed, and besides, there's something good on TV.

I won't. I'll probably vote first thing in the morning, breathe a heavy sigh of relief, then go about my normal day. I'm ready for this to be all done. I've talked and written until my jaw and fingers are sore.

Last night my husband joked with me that I'll need something new to focus on as of Wednesday. He's right. I'll be focusing on the Trenton players and what's going on in the Assembly. We'll have a new governor to watch and, I'm hoping, a new senator to follow. I'm not going anywhere, but I'll have to change that blurb up there on the right that says this blog is about the gubernatorial race.

Because the race will finally be over. The end is in sight.

Slimy to the end

Jmelli over at bluejersey.net has the story of rumors from the top of the Forrester campaign, and professional commenters being outed. None of it is surprising, unfortunately; it's what is expected these days. Usually it's not so transparent, though. Give it a look-see.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I get searches

Right now, my most common search terms are "Jon Corzine's life and background" and "biography of doug forrester." Sorry, folks, I'm not your source for their histories. I think I can tell their futures, though, plus or minus 5 points. (Their campaign web sites are linked from the sidebar, if you want more information. Vote Corzine, and thanks for stopping by.)

I've also had several searches in the recent past on Jeffery Pawlowski. The problem here is, his name is Jeffrey, not Jeffery. I misspelled his name in a post in September; if you search on the misspelling I'm right near the top. Sorry, dyslexic Libertarians, I'm no help to you either. Try his web site.

On a side note, I propose we all start a new habit. If you comment on a post that's more than a week old, please mention which post it is in the comment. I got a comment this morning on a post that was rather old, and it takes a while to hunt it down.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Have you been polled?

We've responded to three polling phone calls in our house for this election. I don't think we've ever been polled before. (insert rude joke here)

So what?

In case you've been out of Our Fair State for the last day, I'll update the gubernatorial race news for you.

Jon Corzine's ex-wife isn't supporting him.

I'm shocked! Really shocked! Everyone I ever knew who got divorced has remained supportive of one another! Right? Right??

Sarcasm aside, I think Joanne Corzine has every right to say what she wants. I can't imagine (and never anticipate having to find out) what it feels like to end a 33 year marriage. She may have seen all sorts of changes in her former spouse and have bitterness toward him. She's perfectly entitled to her feelings and shouldn't be expected to be silent just because her ex-husband is running for governor.

Is it news? Hardly.

Should it be touted by the Forrester camp? Hell, no.

Is that the last-ditch effort of a losing campaign? Sure looks like it.

Does it matter in the least? Nope.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Panter and Morgan

Today, the Times of Trenton came out in support of Democratic incumbents Dr. Robert Morgan and Michael Panter. The 12th LD used to be Republican and of course the GOP wants it back, making this a race where there’s some money and time being spent.

I count myself among the lucky who have Panter and Morgan as representatives in the Assembly. They are primary sponsors (along with John Rooney) of the Assembly bill to repeal the Fast Track development law, which let developers rush through developments before all issues are studied. They support consolidation of small school districts, a move that has potential for actual property tax relief for some residents of Our Fair State. They have a true interest in reform of campaign financing.

Right now one of their opponents, Jennifer Beck, is fighting off a rather odd accusation of lobbying against Holocaust reparations. as well as accusations that she lobbied against drunk driving laws. Re-reading these accusations, I doubt they will stick and are simply examples of that attention to this district that I mentioned. Mud is being thrown back at Panter and Morgan, with nothing substantial there either. I can’t tell you how much mail advertising I get in a week from both sets of candidates trying to contradict each other.

The thing is, Beck and running mate Declan O’Scanlon may have had a chance if they weren’t running against Panter and Morgan. The Times calls Beck and O’Scanlon “attractive and knowledgeable challengers,” and they have the endorsement of the Asbury Park Press. Panter and Morgan are simply examples of what we want in our Assembly, and if we could get more like them, we’d see some changes in Our Fair State.

Undoubtedly, the Times is backing the right set of candidates.

(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)

Speaking of deplorable...

From today's Star-Ledger:

Paying to the crowd?
As Doug Forrester accepted the endorsement of a black minister on a Newark street corner yesterday, more than 100 local residents were on hand to hold up campaign signs and cheer him on.
According to more than half a dozen of them, they had been promised $20 apiece for their enthusiasm.
"I don't know a whole lot about who is running, but they are offering $20 and I came out to work for whoever needs help," said Sheree Baker, 50, of Newark.
Shakirah Jones, 22, also said she was promised $20 "to scream out his name, I guess."
And scream they did as Pastor Thomas Reddick praised Forrester in front of his storefront Renaissance Church of Newark. But after Forrester left on his campaign bus, many in the crowd grew angry as word spread that in order to collect they would also have to show up outside last night's radio debate at the WBGO. "We got duped!" yelled one man who declined to give his name.
One woman who asked her name not be used said, "they told us we were going to come down here for an hour and we would get paid, period. I have a family to get home to." She said she was one of dozens of people who were driven on two buses from Forrester's local campaign office in Vailsburg to the event. She said she was stranded without a ride home. Her account was echoed by three others.
Sherry Sylvester, Forrester's campaign spokeswoman, said that "about 40" local residents in Newark were paid $20 yesterday for hanging up signs, knocking on doors and putting literature in mailboxes. She said they attended the rally voluntarily.


Unbe-frickin'-leavable.

Rumor running rampant?

Last week a rumor was started about some damaging information which will surface for Jon Corzine. A popular NJ conservative blogger has gone out of his way to push the rumor, insisting that a tape would surface within 48 hours.

That was last Thursday. Nothing has surfaced, of course. It's a last ditch effort to slam a decent, leading candidate. The blog in question is being called on it.

Rumormongering is the lowest form of negative campaigning. With negative ads, both print and broadcast, some reference is put into it. It can be substantial or really, really vauge and spun like crazy, but there has to be some event or statement for referral or it's libel and legal action is possible. Rumors, however, can be started by just about anyone about just about anything. Substance is unnecessary, and if no element is demonstrable, the rumor morphs into a cover-up!

A whisper campaign is deplorable in such an important race. If there is something big to show, out with it. If you think there's something to show, research it and get back to us. But to start a negative rumor this late in the campaign is a desperate attempt to change a losing outcome, and I believe the voters in Our Fair State are smarter than this.

(cross-posted at Bluejersey.net)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

No justice in fashion

Driving through Freehold today, I spotted a fashionable young couple walking down the street.

The girl had on cropped short jeans, very tight, low-rise hip huggers. She wore a short shirt so her belly would show, and one of these currently popular little sweater things which only covers the top half of the back. She was completely in the current style; it looked like she'd bought clothes two sizes two small and then shrunk them in the dryer.

The young man was also dressed entirely in the latest fashions. He had on an extremely oversized hoodie sweatshirt that hung to his knees, and baggy XXL cargo pants which hung off him and pooled at the ankles. A family of four could have made clothes out of the fabric in his outfit and still had leftovers.

There is no justice in fashion.