Tuesday, February 28, 2006

We want out

A Zogby poll released today shows:

Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay “as long as they are needed”
While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.
The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

"The troops want to leave. The Iraqi public wants them to leave. The American public wants them to leave. The only people who don't want them to leave are elected Republican officials, their apologists, and a handful of loser Democrats in leadership roles (many of whom are running for President).This poll should be broadcast from every news outlet in the country to every corner of the country. Support the troops--bring them home." says Chris Bowers at MyDD, from whom I lifted most of this post.

Combine this poll with today's CBS poll showing Bush's approval rating at an all-time low of 34%, and it's not looking good for the chickenhawks in DC.

More on the Transportation Trust Fund

The Times of Trenton has an editorial today about the revealed elements of Gov. Corzine's Transportation Trust Fund plans. They said pretty much what I've been sayin', but them bein' professional writers an' all, they said it a whole lot better:
Gov. Jon Corzine has decided to put off for now an increase in New Jersey's gasoline tax as a way to help bail out the Transportation Trust Fund. Instead, he proposes to refinance $1.8 billion in trust-fund debt to save $105 million in annual debt service and to direct an additional $90 million from existing gas taxes and tolls into the fund. These steps would enable the state to increase the fund's present indebtedness and keep the highway and mass-transit programs viable for another five years.
This newspaper has advocated a gas-tax hike as a way to channel more money to the fund. We've pointed out that the New Jersey gas tax is one of the lowest in the nation, that a substantial portion of it is paid by out-of-state motorists, and that the tax is a classic user fee, benefiting most directly those who pay it. To that extent, we find the governor's decision to defer a gas-tax hike disappointing.
But his plan to dedicate all revenue raised by the gas tax to transportation is a good step, and so is his intention to create an independent oversight panel to ensure that trust-fund borrowing is not diverted to short-term expenses, a common abuse in the past. Moreover, there are plausible reasons behind his strategy -- reasons beyond the not insignificant detail that he promised during the campaign not to raise the gas tax this year (a promise we criticized), and he is keeping that promise.
The governor acknowledges that a gas-tax increase -- and mass-transit fare hikes, as well -- may be necessary before the end of the five-year stay that this plan will win for him. It would be better if the state took those steps now instead of relying on a temporary remedy. The bottom line, however, is that doing nothing is not an option.

As I've said before, I support a gas-tax increase and I hate the idea of increasing debtload. I expect someone to label me a tax-and-spend liberal in the comments (it could be worse; I could be one of the cut-taxes-and-spend-hand-over-fist-increasing-debt-exponentially Republicans) but I don't truly believe we're taxing adequately on our gas as we should. But I understand why the Governor has proposed doing this now, and I can only hope his finished proposals for the TTF include more to get us out of the hole which we've dug.

NJ's Friday Cat Blogging

In today's Times of Trenton printed edition (but not online, for reasons I couldn't explain,) on page one of the Living Section is an article about the phenomenon of Friday Cat Blogging. Not to be confused with Saturday Westie Blogging or the now-defunct Wednesday Naked Frog Day, Friday Cat Blogging is a large phenomenon and many blogs are involved. NJ progressive politics sites Poetic Leanings and Brilliant at Breakfast are both prominently featured in the article, even though it doesn't look like PL has done a lot of feline focus lately. The article also mentions the Infinite Cat project, which is kinda cool too.

Being an article about an online craze, you'd think the Times would put the article on their web site, wouldn't you? Oh well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Homebrew update

I'm just not in the mood to get worked up about politics today, so I'll talk about beer instead. I do so love beer.

We have an ESB in fermenter we put down this past weekend; nice color and really active yeast so far. We plan to dry-hop with some Styrian Goldings next week, and bottle not too long after that.

A while back I mentioned a holiday ale and a pilsner we did; they were both great. The only problem is our homebrew supply shop, the Brewer's Apprentice, accidentally mislabeled the malt extracts- so we have a nice amber pilsner and a beautiful pale holiday ale. No big deal. The flavor on both is wonderful, and both came out with a lighter body than we used to brew- which was our goal. Happy happy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More TTF plan and budget info

In an interview yesterday, the Philly Inquirer is reporting that Gov. Corzine took the Turnpike privitization off the table in the scramble to fund the Transportation Trust Fund before it goes broke in July. He plans to announce his solutions for the fund before March 21, the day that his total budget will be presented.

Corzine still wishes not to increase the gas tax, but the article does not state that he has ruled it out. He has not ruled out increasing the sales or income tax to fight the projected $4.5 billion hole in the budget.

Here's the part I didn't want to see, re: The TTF:

Refinancing the fund's debt of approximately $7.3 billion and pushing payments further into the future to pay for projects now is "a fiscally responsible" strategy, Corzine said. He has likened the strategy - used by past administrations - to stretching a home mortgage over 30 years instead of 20.
But critics argue that refinancing is only a temporary fix and will cost the state more in the long run. Yesterday, Corzine would not discuss specifics, saying only that the added hit that the state took depended on what revenue proposals he floated to lessen the blow.
"This will not be the only action we take" to fix the fund, he said.
New Jersey, which has the third-highest per capita debt in the country after California and New York, has done "too much borrowing for all kinds of crazy purposes," Corzine said. But issuing bonds to raise money for capital-transportation expenses is appropriate, he said.
"The idea of borrowing money to build 30 or 50 or 100-year assets, I think most intellectually honest individuals would say that's a good thing," Corzine said. "It spreads out the cost of who's paying for something and associates it with who gets the benefit."

Yes, it's like stretching the debt over 30 years instead of 20. That means you pay for ten more years, and pay interest for ten more years, and spend way more money over ten more years. It better not be the only action taken for the Fund; at this rate, maybe it'll take ten more years before we have this crisis again.

Seriously, do most roads and bridges really last 100 years? They'll need serious maintainence if we expect them to, and that takes serious funds- something we'll be short on in the future too, if we're still paying down the debt from decades gone by.

I'm disappointed that refinancing is a part of the plan for the TTF, yet I understand that it may be crucial to keeping the fund solvent in the near future. So, I'll wait until the final plan is announced next month before I get upset. The other elements of Governor Corzine's proposal may be bold and effective, and should be viewed as a complete package.

I sure hope the plan is bold and effective, because refinancing is simply shoveling off more debt payments onto my and my kids' backs.

Meet Nathan

Meet Nathan. His picture is over there on the right side of this blog (he's the bigger one with no hair.) Nathan is lending his hair to help Cure Childhood Cancer through St. Baldricks, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness of childhood cancers and raising funds for research for the Children's Oncology Group.

So, click through on Nathan's links there on the right, and learn more about this group and how you can help. Thanks!

Koufax Awards

BlueJersey, one of the other places I get to rant at you lovely fans and friends, has been nominated for a 2005 Koufax Award for Best Blog Community as well as Best State and Local Blog. Blanton's and Ashton's (another place I get to prattle on occasionally but is really the brainchild of DBK) was nominated for Best Single Issue Blog AND Most Deserving of Wider Recognition. How cool is that?

Also, basking in reflected greatness, I must mention that The Opinion Mill, to whom I very much lost the Screaming Carrot Award, was nominated for Best Writing. Dump Mike, who also lost to The OM for that carrot, was nominated for Best State and Local as well.

Voting will be open later this week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fun Lazy Link Tuesday

What song was number one the day you were born? Find out!

And, since I know you're going to ask, mine is Honky Tonk Women by the Rolling Stones. I've always been kinda proud of that. I always spend a week or two around my birthday every year haunting the classic rock radio stations, hoping to hear my song.

(hat tip to Sluggo)

Astonishingly bad use of the checks-n-balances idea

Bush backs Dubai port deal, vows veto
Lawmakers seek more thorough look at takeover by UAE firm

"No one can understand it, Democrat or Republican," said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and a leading critic of the agreement. "Average citizens, everywhere we go, are stopping us and saying, 'What is going on?' "
Critics say the takeover raises security concerns, noting that two of the hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington came from the UAE, and that the hijackers drew funds from bank accounts in Dubai, the financial center of the Persian Gulf.


For the record, Our Fair State's Senators Menendez and Lautenberg, along with Senators Clinton and Boxer, sent Majority Leader Frist a letter urging his support of legislation they are proposing to stop "a company owned by a foreign government controlling operations at U.S. ports." Ful text of letter here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Headline follow-up

Last Tuesday I posted a bit about a headline that was bothering me in the Times of Trenton: Corzine Plan would hike TTF debt. I was annoyed because Corzine is being blamed for something he hasn't done; he hasn't put forth a plan for the TTF or any budget issue!

Well, in today's Times, a Tom Hester Jr. article corrected that mistatement:
"What the TTF needs is a thoughtful, fiscally responsible, long-term solution," said state Sen. Robert Littell, R-Franklin (Sussex County). "What the governor is proposing is none of those things."
Corzine actually hasn't proposed anything, though he has said he wants to solve the TTF problem before his March budget address.
Today, in Hester's Capital Talk column, he also writes:
Never a group to let facts get in the way of a good story. Americans for Tax Reform blasted Gov. Jon Corzine for breaking a campaign promise not to raise taxes. Firstly, Corzine hasn't raised a tax, though it seems likely. But he also specifically refused numerous times during his campaign to make a no-tax-increase promise. Americans for Tax Reform conveniently ignored that fact.

Sometimes I think "never let the facts get in the way of a good story" is a media mantra these days.

Of course, Corzine may still propose a budget that includes a tax hike and a refinancing of the debt (bad idea!) or both. However, he hasn't yet. I'm glad to see that the Times of Trenton remember that today, especially on page one above the fold.

Senator Menendez podcast

Bluejersey has a short interview with our new Senator in a podcast. Go check it out, and subscribe if you haven't done so yet!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 40

Submitted for your approval... The Jersey Zone, over at the award-winning Opinion Mill.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Elections tomorrow in Central NJ

UPDATED 5pm- added new links and more townships

No, I'm not kidding. Franklin Twp. (Somerset), The Hopewells, Pennington, Lambertville, Plainsboro, Montgomery (article), Washington Twp. (Mercer), Erial, Beverly, Evesham, Florence, Moorestown, Edgewater Park, Mount Holly, Delran, Chesterfield, Bordentown, Delanco, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Florence, Mount Laurel, Tabernacle, Eastampton, (article) Howell, Millstone, Manasquan, Ocean Twp., Plumstead, Brick, Dover Twp., Piscataway, South Brunswick, East Brunswick, Monroe, Hazlet, Minotola, all the Woodbridge districts (Fords, Colonia, Sewaren Hopelawn, Iselen, Menlo Park) have Fire District elections tomorrow. These elections directly affect your property taxes via fire budgets, and your fire protection and officials, so read up on the issues and make your voice heard. Polls are open 2PM to 9PM at the fire houses.

The list of towns above is by no means comprehensive. It includes the info I could find on Mercer, Hunterdon, Ocean, Monmouth, and Burlington Counties only. Check with your local paper to find if your district also has an election tomorrow, and familiarize yourself with the candidates and budgets.

The Asbury Park Press today has an editorial about how the turnout is expected to be mighty low for these elections. S1188 has been proposed by State Sen. Leonard Lance to combine fire district elections with the school elections held in May to increase voter turnout. I wonder if it wouldn't save a bit of taxpayer money, too. The bill is sitting in the Senate State Government committee. This bill should get passed. Let you state senator know you support the combining of these elections.

Don't forget to vote!

Equality, for all

This week, the NJ supreme court heard arguments for equal marriage rights for homosexual couples in Our Fair State:

As activists for both sides rallied outside, the lawyer for seven same-sex couples yesterday urged the New Jersey Supreme Court to declare they have a right to marry -- not just to form second-class civil unions -- and to base that ruling on the state constitution.
"This is a historic case for civil rights in New Jersey," David Buckel, a lawyer with the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, told the justices.
A lawyer for the state countered with an argument that has carried the day in two lower courts: Only the Legislature can make such a radical change to the millennia-old definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Gay couples "have to take their claims to the legislative and executive branches and compete in the democratic process," said Assistant Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida.
For just over an hour, the seven justices listened to the arguments and questioned both lawyers. As usual, the court reserved decision.
It was a day of high-stakes litigation poker, with neither side hedging its bets. Buckel insisted on full marriage equality for same-sex couples. DeAlmeida was equally insistent that only the Legislature can grant it, staking his entire case on that argument.

It will likely be months before a decision is reached. We can only hope they make the right one. All people are equal, and everyone deserves the equal protection described under the law.

Jay over at Lassiter Space went to the rally outside the court on Wednesday. His post about the rally and the arguements is here. From what I've read, the progressives and civil rights proponents are cautiously optimistic about the decision; keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tuesday lazy blogging

I would have to go back and reread a lot to verify if this is true, but it seems that my worst blogging days are Tuesdays. If I have a lazy linkin' day, it's usually a Tuesday. I only have a few small things to blog about today, none big enough to stand on its own, so we'll do it all in one big post:

1. This ticked me off a little this morning reading the paper: Corzine plan would hike transportation fund debt. It's a Tom Hester Jr. article about the proposed debt refinancing for the soon-to-be-broke Transportation Trust Fund. Why am I annoyed by it? Well, besides the fact that refinancing will, in fact, hike the debt and just push off the problem instead of solving it, I mean. I'm annoyed because of the article's title: It's not Corzine's plan. He hasn't proposed a plan to do this (yet.) It's one of several options being considered by Gov. Corzine, including the leasing of the toll roads. Titiling the article like this is inflamitory and somewhat inaccurate.

2. The Westminster Kennel Club dog show continues tonight, with the Sporting, Hound and Herding groups. I only really want to see the hounds, of course. The're the least likely to ever take best in show, and the greyhound has never done it, if I remember correctly. But they're my favorite.

3. Miss Tata over at Blanton's and Ashton's has two posts, here and here, about the Bush administration's plan to sell $1 Billion in public lands over the next ten years. As she says, "Shout, and don't quit. You have thirty days."

4. Harry Whittington, who was shot in the face by Dick Cheney, has had a "silent heart attack." Here's hoping he's ok, but a 78-year-old man getting shot in the face and then having a heart attack is a very bad thing indeed. We all wish you good luck, Harry.

5. In the meantime, the comedians went nuts with the Cheney shooting yesterday. If you haven't seen The Daily Show from last night yet, go. Now. The Onion is having fun too. Yesterday, WXPN's Top Five at Five segment- where they suggest a topic and have listeners suggest appropriate songs, then playing the top five at 5PM- included Bungalow Bill by the Beatles, Shotgun by Southern Culture on the Skids, and the number-one requested song: Lawyers, Guns and Money by Warren Zevon.

6. Happy Valentine's Day. Dial back on the chocolates, stay out of overcrowded restaurants, skip paying $4.50 for a card. Just tell someone you love them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Public service announcement

This morning, heading across Our Fair State on Rt. 33, I drove through blizzard-like conditions- so bad you could barely see in front of you!

No, it wasn't more snowfall. I was stuck driving behind morons who didn't clean off the roofs of their SUVs. The eighteen inches of built-up snow blew off at sixty miles an hour while the inconsiderate drivers sped off, either unaware or uninterested.

For the safety of other drivers, and to prove you're not an uncaring jerk, please CLEAN OFF THE TOP OF YOUR DAMNED CAR!

Thank you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 39

eCache has this week's Carnival of the NJ bloggers, and it's a long one.

We have 16 inches of snow here in Central NJ (as of 1PM) and it's still falling. So, stay in, and catch up on your blog reading!

Friday, February 10, 2006

What should be happening

Mercer county freeholders are looking to consolidate the oversight of the Mercer County Special Services School District and the Mercer County Technical Schools. Other aspects of the district administration would be merged eventually, according to County Executive Brian Hughes. The two districts only have 1270 students combined.

"We believe that over time, these savings will be significant and will set a model of regionalization that other school districts may replicate to combat the ever-growing tax burden we all share," Hughes said. "While this proposal may raise concerns among people who are concerned about change, it is reassuring to know that this model has been successful in Bergen and Gloucester counties."

At the same time, the tiny borough of Hightstown is beginning to discuss consolidating its police activities with the surrounding township of East Windsor.

Acknowledging that the topic is a "hot potato," Councilman (Walter) Sikorski asked if the borough has had any discussions on consolidating some police work with East Windsor. Mayor Bob Patten responded that the borough is always looking at consolidation and not just with East Windsor.

Consolidation! Oh my, it would put a pin in the inflated long-standing principle of Home Rule in Our Fair State, but with spiraling taxes we have no real choice. Kudos to Hughes and Sikorski for being willing to talk about it. One can only hope such cost-saving measures are enacted.

Winter in the Center of NJ

Damned groundhog was right; winter's back, full force. We're under a winter storm watch from Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning, with estimations ranging from 6-12 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

I love the snow, especially when it doesn't affect most commuters. I have plans for tomorrow but I won't mind too much to cancel them. We'll put on the snowsuits and have a grand old time.

What I'm dreading? I have to go to the grocery store. I have no choice, we're out of too many things. Luckily, I don't really need bread, milk or eggs- why does everyone stock up on those when snow is coming? Are they planning to stay home and make French Toast?

I've talked to a number of folks who feel like they're in a funk lately. We all have separate reasons but it seems too many to be coincidental. Maybe a change of scenery will help us all; a change to a pretty white snowcover.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Flag stolen from Alito's mom

Reported in today's Times of Trenton, but I can't find it in the online edition:

Rose Alito, whose son Samuel A. Alito Jr. was recently confirmed as a US Supreme Court Justice, woke last week to find the American flag that had adorned her lawn for years was gone without a trace.
"I usually put it up in the morning and take it down at night," she said. "But when I went out to find the flag, it was gone."

Some of us are afraid of the same thing happening to our civil liberties, Rose.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let's talk about the gas tax

The title read, in today's Times of Trenton: Search continues for ways to save transportation fund. There is much talk in the article about refinancing the Transportation Trust Fund's debt, which will only increase the total of the debt, and should be avoided as a gimmick that increases the load down the road. Refinancing the debt in the past has increased the total debt load and length, basically helping to put us where we are now.

So, should we raise the gas tax?

Our Fair State currently adds 14.5 cents to every gallon of gas bought here, which sounds high until you realize that we have one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation. (Alaska, in case you're wondering, takes the least. Table here. ) That's why everyone you know from out of state buys their gas on the turnpike, because it's so cheap! (I never have the heart to tell them that if they got off the turnpike, it'd be even cheaper.)

The arguments against raising the gas tax are varied but they come down to these:

1. Disproportionate to the lower income citizenry: a regressive tax

A wonderful report by New Jersey Policy Perspective titled Perspective on The Gas Tax and Car Registration Fees discusses this in full, but essentially it comes down to this: No, it's not regressive. The idea that a resource consumed equally by persons at all economic levels will disproportionately affect lower-income people is not applicable here- gasoline is not consumed at the same rate amongst economic distribution. The report quotes a study from 1997:

People from low-income households are more likely to walk to work and are more likely to use public transit - buses as opposed to trains - to get to work.
People in low-income households are nearly twice as likely to walk for other than work activities as well. Because so many trips are made by walking, the space in which people in low-income households travel is more constricted than for others. For low-income single parent households, about 66 percent of trips are three miles or less.
John Pucher, a professor of transportation planning at Rutgers University, used the same NPTS data to show that 80 percent of households with annual incomes of less than $15,000 either own no car (32 percent) or own only one car (48 percent). In contrast, only one percent of households with annual incomes that exceed $80,000 are without a car. And nearly 90 percent of households with income above $80,000 own two cars or more.
It is starting to become clear, then, that the vehicles that cost the most and, arguably, take the heaviest toll on the roads upon which they are driven, are owned by the people best able to pay higher taxes and fees.

So, to this argument: not really, no.

2. Out-of-state drivers buy gas in NJ, and they'll stop if we raise it.

Weak at best. First, here's the gas taxes in our neighboring states: Pennsylvania adds 31.1; New York, 31.9, plus county sales tax; Delaware, 23. Even if we add a 10 cent tax on to ours now, we're still substantially lower than NY and PA. (DE residents won't cross the bridge to buy gas then, of course; but I have to doubt sincerely if they ever really were, with a $3 toll on the Del Mem Br.)

3. We don't like it.

Oh, here's a big argument: We hate the gas tax, and we don't want it raised. Apparently, this is a big deal; the Quinnipiac poll in January shows that 69% of residents of Our Fair State don't want to raise the gas tax even to pay for roads and road work.

Unfortunately, of the arguments presented here, this one probably carries the most weight in Trenton. The people who vote on the increase in gas tax need you to vote for them, and we don't like raising taxes here in Our Fair State. Even though our State and Local Tax burden ranks 14th in the nation but our personal income ranks fourth, we feel we are unfairly, highly taxed here and we demonize anyone who tries to increase taxes.

Should we increase our gas tax in the face of a failing Transportation Trust Fund? We haven't raised our gas tax in New Jersey since 1988, and we're out of other gimmicks. Even if there are other viable options for the TTF, it's the best decision in the face of a crushing debtload. It will be damaging politically, yes; but folks, it's time. Raise it.

(cross-posted at bluejersey.net)

Lower Property Taxes? Go Solar!

Well, not quite- but if A1882 passes, you won't pay property taxes on your solar system. A press release on PoliticsNJ reports that the bill was released from committee to go to Appropriations for further consideration. From the release:
The bill would allow for a tax exemption for solar energy systems that provide heating, cooling, or general energy.
"Property owners who install certified solar energy systems, from cooling towers to solar cells, should be rewarded with tax exemptions for their environmental stewardship," said McKeon (D-Essex).
According to the Department of Energy, an estimated 50,000 American deaths per year are caused by airborne particulate matter of which one-third is generated by power plants. Solar energy is a clean resource that produces little or no air pollution or waste which reduces global warming and protects the environment.
"By supporting the use of renewable energy, we are protecting New Jersey's clean and healthy air. The state's most vulnerable residents, including children and seniors with asthma and allergies, will have less respiratory problems once we have reduced our reliance on power plants that generate particulate matter known as smog," said Gusciora (D-Mercer).

If this bill passes, it will be one more way to cement Our Fair State's position as a leader in alternative energies. And, good for those of us who made the investment in our solar systems. Hoody Hoo! Write your legislators!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Some Sunday evening fun

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. Go now.

(Note: not family-friendly. Hat tip to Rob.)

Carnival of NJ Bloggers 38

The carnival is up over at Philomathean.

I noticed looking at the main carnival post that there are hosts signed up through Feb. 19th, but none beyond that. It's a lot of fun to host a carnival! It is a bit of work, but if you participate as a submitter you should take your turn as a host. Send an email to sign up to host.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Better than I could say it

I wanted to post something today about the budget vote in Congress, but Blanton's and Ashton's and the Times of Trenton beat me to it, and better said than I would have. (Am fighting a head cold and not in a great mood. The bad mood could be from the general state of things in the US today or the head cold, probably both.)

Interesting for those of us in the 4th district: Rep. Chris Smith voted against the bill, joining twelve other Republicans who crossed the line to vote against the damaging bill that Bush has said will become law. I'm glad to see Smith on the good side.

(Why are we in red today? Find out here. Then understand your enemy and do something about it.)

Fun with Lautenberg

jmelli at Bluejersey.net reports:
Sen Lautenberg filed an amendment today (2/2) to rename the "Tax Reconciliation Act of 2005” to “More Tax Breaks for the Rich and More Debt for Our Grandchildren Deficit Expansion Reconciliation Act of 2006.” "This bill will stuff the pockets of the rich and pick the pockets of our grandchildren. The American people want straight talk from Congress. Let’s start by telling them what this bill will really do."

If more bills were named accurately, I bet they wouldn't pass. How about instead of the name "Patriot Act," it was called the "Sacrifice Liberties in Exchange for No Increase in Security Act of 2001?"

Yay, Lautenberg.

(Why are we in red today? Find out here. Then find your numbers and do something about them.)

Go Red for Women Day

Why are we in red today? Why, it's National Go Red for Women Day! Eight million women in our country are living with heart disease right now. Heart disease is the leading cause of death of American women and kills 32% of them. It's the biggest killer of women in this country, more than all cancers combined. More women than men will die from a first heart attack. (via womenheart.org.) The worst thing is much of this is preventable, but we just don't do it. Here is some info about how to save your heart.

Exercise, eat better, weigh less, quit smoking- and stick around to see your kids grow up.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

National Wear Red Day is Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Feb. 3, is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness of heart disease for women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States- far bigger than breast cancer or any other cancer. Indeed, it's a bigger killer than all other cancers combined. More women than men die of heart disease every year. Did I get your attention?

So, why am I going on about this today, when tomorrow is Wear Red day? First, because, if you're like me, you'll forget to wear red unless someone reminds you, so I just did. Second, it will explain why any posts I get up here tomorrow will be in this nice shade of red. Third, it's one more time I get to ask you- male or female- to know your numbers and to do something about them. We care about you here at TCoNJL.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The real problem here

I watched the SotU last night, and the Dem. response. Of all the things that were said, of all the things that were implied, and all the times I was angry, there's one particular issue that is still sticking with me. W said:
"Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success,
and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone
is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy."

Boy, I was angry. What unmitigated gaul, to smack at his dissenters in the speech. W, You ignore responsible criticism in the same way you ignore anyone who isn't in your groupthink- how would you know the difference? By the way, hindsight may not be wisdom but learning from your mistakes is, and hearing second-guesses is a good way to find alternatives.

I remebered these words of W's when I listened to Gov. Tim Kaine's response. I was disappointed. No, wait, that's not fair- more accurately, I thought it was horrible. He didn't address much of the SotU, spent forever trumpeting how well his state of Virginia has done, and had weak presence. My husband argued with me here extensively; he felt Kaine had done a pretty good job and addressed many issues. For anyone who knows us personally, it's no surprise how this went next- we quickly found the text of the Kaine's speech online and argued our points using the individual words from the speech.

The more I read the speech, I realize Kaine did address some of the points in the SotU. He talked about Medicaid cuts, the war on terror and the related issue of border security, veterans' benefits, underfunding of No Child Left Behind- he hit on a lot of the highlights. So, why did I despise his speech so much?

The Mr. Rogers-like stance. The arguing of how poorly the Repubs have done. The permeating theme of "Together, we can do better." That's what was really bothering me.

There's no strength in it, no leadership, no real message.

The phrase "Together, we can do better" is the theme for the Dems this year, so we'll be hearing it a lot. They're right; it can be technically argued that truly, if we bind together we can do better than the Repubs have given us these last years. However, it's not a message or a leadership stance- it sounds like we're begging for a chance. It defines the Dems based on what they are NOT- the implied object to "do better" is "than the Repubs have done."

Americans crave leadership. That's why we elect the people we do- we want them to LEAD US. We follow morons because they step up and take the reins. We vote in corrupt liars because they show strength when we are afraid of weakness. We don't want another policy wonk in a sweater explaining why his way is better- we need someone to show some backbone, dammit, and push through the pack to the front and LEAD.

This is what has bothered with me since last night's speeches: the president was right. Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy. Right now, that's how the Dems seem to moderates, undecideds and Repubs; instead of steping up to the front of the class and taking charge, the Dems seem like kids in the back passing notes about how stupid the teacher is. It doesn't matter at all that that's not what the Dems are doing; that's how they are seen, and that does matter. When will the Democrats learn what the Repubs figured out a long time ago- all the good policy in the world, all the noble intentions and brilliant plans mean nothing if you can't get elected? If you can't present a coherent message that people can get behind, no one will hear about your good candidates and excellent bills.

For goodness sake, LEAD already.