If only the Star-Ledger had the moral mettle of the Atlantic City Press.

Once upon a time in America… newspapers provided a safe space for the exchange of ideas.  They kept the drama in check, maintained a rational balance, and never let their emotions get the better of them.

You need only read an editorial written by the Star-Ledger’s Julie O’Connor to know that those days are long gone.  Today’s media is all wrapped up in the moment and very, very emotional about it.  There is no civil exchange of ideas, just the daily line that the Establishment media is right… and the average working man and woman is wrong.  And if you disagree with them, they call you a “racist”. 

Once upon a time in America… newspapers didn’t tip their hand as to whose side they were on.  You couldn’t tell if they were leaning Democrat or Republican – and they tried not to give it away until their endorsement a few days before an election.  Now there’s no hiding who they support and what they are.  As the Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran wrote last year:  “Voters will be standing in the booth Tuesday, and our core mission is helping them decide which lever to pull.”

With a “core mission” like that, it sounds like the Star-Ledger needs to register itself as a political action committee.

Of course, there are still a few – very few – old style newspapers.  About the same time the Star-Ledger was publishing its “core mission”, the Atlantic City Press wrote: “Telling readers how to vote, however, is contrary to the mission of newspapers and other media, which is to extend the public’s experience and perspectives.  Newsgathering organizations give the public eyes, ears and memory beyond the capability of an individual.  People want them to be reliable and credible.  When the media start making judgments, their audiences wonder if they’re altering their content to support that judgment too.”

Once upon a time in America… colleges and universities were safe spaces for the exchange of ideas.  Freedom of thought and of speech was respected – even when disagreed with. 

Now look at them.  They threaten those they disagree with and – if they show up anyway – they get violent.  Who would have believed that students would one day get violent over the idea of being exposed to a different point of view?  The parallel to another time, and other students, is an exact one.  And that ended in book burning.

Recently a Sussex County Democrat wrote:   "Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."  He went on to explain that Fox News should be banned because, in his view, it was “propaganda”.  The idea that this Democrat is aligned with an institution of higher learning – in this case the Sussex County Community College – is chilling. 

The safe space for civil discourse, the safe space for the exchange of ideas, is fast disappearing.  And when society’s “betters” behave irresponsibly – equating words with violence – what do we expect from the “unhinged” elements of society?  Who is teaching society how to hold a civil, rational discussion with someone with whom they disagree?

Instead, by equating words with violence, the editors, reporters, faculty, and administrators are telling society that they engage in violence (with words) and so it is okay for others to engage in violence (on their terms).

The problem with writers like Julie O’Connor, Tom Moran, Matt Arco, and Matt Friedman is their lack of humility and lack of intellectual curiosity.  Their moral certainty has closed the book on considering any viewpoint but their own.  They are good… everybody else is evil.  That makes for a pretty darn predictable writing style.  Pretty darn boring. 

There has been a lot of social change in America.  O’Connor-Moran-Arco-Freidman and the like are in a rush to make everyone conform to those changes.  They believe it to be a moral imperative that any diversity of opinion be labeled and then stamped out.  But they are acting out at a very dangerous time in the world. 

Democracy defeated the older models of totalitarianism because it produced both freedom and prosperity.  Totalitarianism failed to produce either freedom or prosperity.  Now there is a new model of totalitarianism – Chinese fascism – that is quite good at lifting people out of poverty and making them prosperous.  Prosperous… but not free. 

If we lose our safe spaces for civil, rational discussion.  If we lose the ability to exchange ideas.  If we convince our people that they must be “protected” from the freedoms in Bill of Rights – from being exposed to speech they disagree with, from the right to self-defense.  What will we be left with?  Will we embrace the Chinese model if it ensures prosperity and protects us from the “threat” of freedom?

We have been warned before about the inorganic imposition of new cultural ideas on society.  We have been warned about what happens when you are not patient, by that old-fashioned liberal, Mrs. Lillian Smith.  A Southern writer, she was a pioneer in the battle to end segregation. We recommend her book, The Winner Names the Age.  In it, you will find this passage she wrote when she accepted the Charles S. Johnson Award for her work:

“It is his millions of relationships that will give man his humanity… It is not our ideological rights that are important but the quality of our relationships with each other, with all men, with knowledge and art and God that count.

The civil rights movement has done a magnificent job but it is now faced with the ancient choice between good and evil, between love for all men and lust for a group’s power.”

“Every group on earth that has put ideology before human relations has failed; always disaster and bitterness and bloodshed have come.  This movement, too, may fail.  If it does, it will be because it aroused in men more hate than love, more concern for their own group than for all people, more lust for power than compassion for human need.”

“We must avoid the trap of totalism which lures a man into thinking there is only one way, one answer, one option, and that others must be forced into this One Way, and forced into it Now.”

Leftists threaten to “stab” Senator. Where is the media?

“Stab the Mother F**ker in the heart!”  So say the Antifa warriors and their political allies here in New Jersey.  Tucker Carlson reports…

So where are the outraged women of the one-percent?

Why no comment from mega-wealthy one-percenters like Lisa Bhimani (who, in addition to her million dollar home, owns a $1.6 million dollar nook in Manhattan for when she happens to be there) or Darcy Draeger or Stacey Gunderman or Lisa Mandelblatt?

Where is Sussex County Democrat Chairwoman Katie Rotondi?  She’s good at trash-talking Disabled American Veterans.  Why no comment about this? 

Why the silence? 

Hypocrisy.

Sussex Fair: Murphy recall gets over 1,000 signatures in an hour

Adding to the joyful hoopla of a genuine country fair, people have been lining-up to sign the petition to recall Governor Phil Murphy.  At its high point last weekend, petitioners were getting more than 1,000 signatures an hour. 

“Murphy is wildly unpopular,” said one Second Amendment supporter.  While a Republican candidate described it as the “best day of campaigning” he’d ever had. 

The recall petition is being hosted by the Sussex County Republican Committee.  It is being run by the Skylands Tea Party, under the leadership of Bill Hayden.  The Fair runs through Sunday, August 11th.  

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Could Fred Snowflack pass a lie detector test to prove his moral superiority?

It’s bad enough Fred Snowflack writes for a blog owned and operated by a government contactor – an insurance operation no less – part of that grease-machine for which New Jersey is so famous.  Back in the day, when Snowflack was employed by actual newspapers, those journalists had a phrase when describing what you got from the grease-machine… they called it the “corruption tax” that made everything your tax dollars paid for more expensive.

But Fred doesn’t criticize the folks he works for these days.  These days, he argues against the Bill of Rights.  Snowflack claims that any time some Internet mob decides somebody has done anything they consider to be “offensive”, the mob has the right to have that person fired.  And Fred doesn’t seem to think this kind of extra-judicial mob “justice” will have a chilling effect on Free Speech??? 

Hey, if somebody broke the law… charge him.  If somebody broke the rules… discipline him (or her).  But if we are really going to demand someone’s head every time somebody writes or says or even “re-tweets” something somebody else finds offensive… then we better have pretty darn perfect people to start out with.  Because the Internet mob can be fickle about who it destroys… just ask former United States Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota). 

We think it time to break out the polygraphs.  Lie detector tests for everyone! 

Every member of the Board of Trustees of Sussex County Community College (SCCC) should be made to take a lie detector test.  They should be asked every question under the sun to cover every possible kind “offensive” behavior that could be imagined at some later date by some Internet mob.  From adultery and bad words to excessive drinking and the veracity of how they file their taxes… have they ever lusted after one of the SCCC students (even in their mind, because thought crime is the real crime, didn’t you know).

We should make Fred Snowflack take it too… and the monsters he works for.  It would be a blast…

Speaking of monsters.  There’s an old saying among machine politicians in Philadelphia.  It goes like this, “If you say you’re the boss, and nobody says you aint the boss, then you’re the boss.”

John F.X. Graham probably heard it back in the day, when he was prowling around amongst the ward healers in that sainted city of brotherly love.  Back when “ethnic” meant second or third generation Irish or Polish or Italian and individual neighborhoods developed their own dialects (yes, people really did talk like Rocky back then).

John F. X. moved to New Jersey where he followed the yellow brick road of selling insurance to government entities.  Unlike South Jersey’s George Norcross, John F. X. wasn’t really interested in building a political machine.  He was content with a money machine – the old-fashioned kind, the grease machine that uses campaign contributions to lube the representatives of the taxpayers, so that their money pumps out in a nice, steady stream.

In December 2017, the Observer wrote about John F.X. and his operation – the Fairview Insurance Agency – in a “special report” about “How Insurance Brokers Reap Public Funds Without Disclosure.”  It makes for interesting reading:

Insurance brokerages that make political donations are declining to disclose large amounts of money received indirectly from public entities.

One of the biggest goldmines for contractors in New Jersey is selling insurance plans to public entities, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers across the state.

But an Observer review of dozens of public documents shows that in some cases, it’s difficult or impossible to get a complete accounting of the money going back and forth between insurance brokerages — some of which are deep-pocketed campaign donors — and the public entities that award lucrative insurance contracts.

For instance, Fairview Insurance Agency Associates is one of the largest political donors in New Jersey, giving more than $120,000 to various candidates and committees in 2016, the ninth-highest among businesses in the state, according to the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency.

The Verona-based brokerage is also a big contractor, raking in at least $1.1 million through public contracts or agreements across New Jersey in 2016.

Under state law, the firm is required to report annually all of its political donations and public contracts to the Election Law Enforcement Commission, provided it gets at least $50,000 in public contracts and makes at least one political donation of any amount. Curiously, however, some of the money Fairview gets indirectly from public entities is then reported to ELEC as $0.

The effect is that, to the average observer reading ELEC reports, Fairview would appear to have made much less from public entities and institutions than it actually got — directly and indirectly — in a given year.

Observer reviewed ELEC disclosures for five companies, only three of which were required to itemize their contracts and donations.

A review of six ELEC disclosure forms, 29 invoices, four contracts and eight resolutions by school boards and local councils revealed a loophole in state law that allows brokerages such as Fairview to not report to ELEC tens of thousands of dollars, or more, that they receive as a result of working for governments or public entities.

In 93 cases, three brokerages reported receiving $0 from public agreements in 2016 on their disclosure forms filed with ELEC...  In one case, Observer found that Fairview was paid $54,000 indirectly from Jersey City’s school board but later disclosed $0 to ELEC.

It works like this. Brokerages — which sell insurance plans to local governments — are often paid commissions or fees by third-party companies. In this scenario, the actual contract does not go to the brokerage, but to the third-party company, while the brokerage still gets a cut of the business.

In some cases, the dollar amount of these fees or commissions can be traced back by filing public records requests with local governments. Some public entities that answered such requests from Observer provided copies of the original public contracts, which in turn detailed the actual fees or commissions paid to insurance brokerages that were reported to ELEC as $0.

In other cases, there is no mechanism to piece together what a third-party company paid to a brokerage in commissions. Some public entities did not disclose or could not say how much their brokers were paid indirectly by their contractors.

In March 2015, the Jersey City Board of Education passed a resolution to award Fairview a $54,000 contract to be the school district’s prescription insurance broker for fiscal year 2016.

Fairview did not end up receiving an actual contract. The school board struck a deal two months later with Express Scripts to manage its prescription benefits plan, and in that contract, it directed Express Scripts to pay Fairview $4,500 per month on its behalf, according to a copy of the contract provided by the Jersey City school board. The school district essentially paid someone else to pay Fairview.

In the end, Fairview reported that it received $0 in 2015 and 2016 from its work for the Jersey City Board of Education, according to its annual reports filed with ELEC. The firm noted that the amounts it disclosed “do not include commissions received from the insurance carriers.” (Observer, December 6, 2017) 

Campaign contributions flowing one-way, huge contracts flowing the other… minimal to no transparency. That’s New Jersey.

The problem is… the Fairview Insurance Agency owns the news agency (InsiderNJ) that hands out the designations as to who is who in New Jersey media.  And so we come to the quote used earlier…

“If you say you’re the boss, and nobody says you aint the boss, then you’re the boss.”  It is a scam, perpetrated by a bunch of b.s. artist insurance salesmen.

John F. X. Graham owns both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ (he holds titles of founder and publisher, respectively).  Michael J. Graham is Chief Operating Officer of both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ.  Ryan Graham is the Director of Business Development for the Fairview Insurance Agency and the Associate Publisher of InsiderNJ. 

That’s it folks… John F.X.’s grease machine has its own media mouthpiece with which to skew perceptions.  And that’s a handy thing to have in an age of hollowed out local coverage and a dearth of what was once called “investigative journalism.”  The press is now routinely used to punish the whistleblower, the taxpayer advocate, citizen activist, the underdog.  It’s easy to see why.

Now don’t get us wrong, just because John F.X. is all about the money… and the money… and the money… and the money… That doesn’t mean he’s not above playing the part of the noble, the enlightened, crony capitalist.  Hey, didn’t some notorious mob boss put a roof on a church?  Doesn’t Johnson & Johnson make up for failing to warn women that their product could cause uterine cancer by being oh so woke on LGBTQ?  It pays to have fashionable connections and to assist those connections in the higher causes of fashion.

John F.X. is a friend of Hillary.  Yes, that old wind bag.  You could forgive him being a friend of Bill because, heck, who wouldn’t want a night out on the town with Bill Clinton?  He’d make a Saturday night seem like a month of weekends.  But Hillary?  You know that’s just fashion.

Nevertheless, John F.X. has been called “a top Democrat fundraiser” by newspapers like the Bergen Record and the Newark Star-Ledger.  In addition to Hillary Clinton, John F.X. raised money for John Kerry in his 2004 presidential race, and he’s been a big giver to United States Senator Bob Menendez.  In fact, it was John F.X. who pushed the idea of Menendez on a national ticket as vice president:

In January 2008, the Jersey Journal along with other media outlets reported that “John F.X. Graham, one of Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Co-Chairs, thinks that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez would make a great choice if Clinton wins the Democratic Primary… Graham fired off an email this morning to Clinton Campaign Manager Terry McAuliffe listing politicians who would make good vice presidential material, including the choices most often brought up:  Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards and Joe Biden.  But Menendez, a Clinton campaign national co-chair, would be the “most intriguing” choice, Graham wrote.”

“The name Richardson does not sound exactly Latino,” wrote Graham.  “The Latino voting block is becoming the most influential in this election, especially with the immigration and other economic issues confronting our prosperity.  For lack of a better term, he is the Latino Barack Obama with the experience.” 

Why would John F.X. think that encouraging people to vote along racial or ethnic lines is good public policy?  Has he not heard of the former Yugoslavia? 

Finally, John F.X. made his pronouncements while Senator Menendez was the subject of an FBI investigation.  Not that something like that matters when you are making a fashion statement.

Yes, so it seems that InsiderNJ can also be considered an outpost of the far-flung Clinton Empire.  Ahhhh, corruption at its most tasty. 

And it looks as though John F.X. is quite a big deal.  Even Wikileaks picked up loads of correspondence between John F.X. and his fellow Clintonistas.  Here is an example:

As far as the money goes, national contacts and a national reach does have its advantages.  We found dozens of John F.X.’s insurance agency’s outposts around the country.  All making him money – but northern New Jersey and Essex County in particular is his base.  It was reported in Politico (November 24, 2014) that Essex County Democrat Party boss Joe DiVincenzo’s son worked for John F.X.’s insurance agency.  He also held a full-time public job as well. 

So it was no surprise that the most corrupt political machine in the state – the Essex County Democrats – inducted John F.X. into their “Hall of Fame” in March of 2015.  InsiderNJ editor, Max Pizarro wrote the panegyric, which we suppose was less messy than the alternative. 

Now can we ask this again?  What are these people doing handing out the rankings on New Jersey journalists?  Shouldn’t some organization, like the Society of Professional Journalists, be doing it?  Or the Columbia School of Journalism?  Or anything but the god-damned grease machine itself!

Ten years ago, the authors of The Soprano State – two old-school investigative journalists – joined with journalists like Josh Margolin to decry the “corruption tax” that added to the cost paid by New Jersey taxpayers on everything to do with government.  Could they have guessed that, ten years later, not only would the tax be more imbedded and less transparent, but that the very news agencies responsible for exposing and reporting on it would now be wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same grease machine responsible for the corruption?

New Jersey… you can’t make this stuff up.

SCCC Trustees need to explain where they stand on the Bill of Rights

By Rubashov

Remember the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo?  They published something that, in this case, militant Islamists found offensive.  The militants demanded they get their way and, when they didn’t, they killed 12 people.  The trustees at Charlie Hebdo stood up for free speech and against threats – and 12 people were martyred for it. 

At the very start of our American experiment, Benjamin Franklin said:  “You have a Republic, if you can keep it.”  The battles to preserve our Bill of Rights are fought in the pages of newspapers and on the Internet and on the lips of people, no less than on the battlefields of war.     

As in the case of Charlie Hebdo, some people have demanded that an image they deem “offensive” be removed and the “perpetrator” – in this case, it was merely “re-tweeted” – be punished.  Now they are equating what they call “hate speech” with acts of actual violence.

By the way, when is a crime of violence – any crime of violence – not hateful?

When is a sexual assault not hateful?  When is assault and battery a cheerful crime? When is murder done without malice?  When is the rape and murder of a child not hate?

Officially, the rape and the murder of a child is not an act of hate.  “It is about what was going on in your mind at the time of the crime,” they explain.  In other words, the crime is in the thought, not the act.  So now we have “thought crime”.  The actual rape and murder isn’t the bad part – what makes it really bad, what elevates it to a “hate crime,” is the thought.      

Go to the United States Justice Department’s compendium of “hate crimes” for 2001 and you will find that the attacks on September 11, 2001, are not counted as “hate crimes”.  Yeah, sure, those boys who flew those airliners into the Twin Towers did it out of benign affection for America.

The fact that the official compendium of “hate crimes” for 2001 is short 2,977 victims is a testament as to how deep the rot of political correctness has gone.

In politically correct parlance, hate is what they say it is. 

And who are “they”?  Anyone who sets themselves up as a “victim” or a “victims’ group” or a spokesperson for such.  In short… any old mob.

The Democrats asked Leslie Huhn, a supporter of Governor Phil Murphy and the former Chair of the Sussex County Democrat Committee, to dig up some dirt on Jerry Scanlan, the Chairman of the Sussex County Republicans and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sussex County Community College (SCCC).  Murphy was concerned that his illegal Sanctuary scheme was getting bad press across the state – with a big part of the pushback coming from Sussex County.

On July 22, 2019, Leslie Huhn started “following” the Twitter page operated by Jerry Scanlan.  Huhn was looking for something to be offended by and she found it.  A mob was organized to storm the SCCC Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for later that same week.  Among its members was an outspoken, self-identified “anarchist”.  Sweet.

Initially, Scanlan drew attention to the timing of the Democrats’ carefully planned oppo-attack (which it clearly was).  Then the Sussex County GOP stepped in and took control of the Twitter account from Scanlan.  Scanlan issued an apology and said that the re-tweets were part of long twitter “trains” which he had not paid close attention to, but took responsibility for in his apology. 

In more “liberal” times, that would have been enough.  But this is not how today’s Left works. 

The way it works today is that a mob is formed, the mob calls for someone’s head, that person is taken out and publicly lynched by his colleagues, the head is ceremoniously removed and thrown to the mob, the mob beats it about and tattoos the forehead with words like the ubiquitous “racist” or the fast-becoming “Islamophobe,” and then, having been sexually satiated, the mob departs… until the next time.

There is no time allowed for rational discussion, legal due process, or civil deliberation.  The mob wants its head and there are always cowards who will give it someone’s head.  The cowards’ wish is only that it not be them.

Instead of succumbing to the mob.  Instead of participating in an act of extra-judicial punishment.  Perhaps this is a teachable moment?  

The mob fears rational discussion.  Maybe it is simply beyond people whose vocabulary is limited to a very few epithets?  But the Board of Trustees of the Sussex County Community College should not place itself at the disposal of a mob.  As an institution of higher learning, it should use this moment to broaden the discussion.  It should use this moment to teach the Bill of Rights, which are our greatest cultural, political, and legal inheritance. 

This is no longer about Jerry Scanlan.  He admitted he was in error and he apologized.  The calls for further punishment (and for physical violence against him) are superfluous.  They will not make him more in error or give further weight to his admission that he was in error. 

Curiously, these calls for further punishment (and violence against his person), come at a time when the Democrat Party is on record as supporting the decriminalization of actual criminal activity, the end of mandatory sentencing for actual crimes of violence, and the extension of rights (such a voting) to actual violent criminals.  The Democrats don’t wish to make anyone safer.  They just want to police your thoughts so that nobody is allowed to oppose what they say.

The Trustees of the SCCC have an opportunity to bring reason and knowledge to the table.  Let the Bill of Rights be their guide.  The SCCC can use this opportunity to teach.  And isn’t that what an institution of learning should do anyway?