NJ Republicans must have the courage to engage on the Second Amendment

There are three kinds of people who favor gun control: (1) Those who do so in reaction to horrific events and the media coverage of those events. (2) Those who emotionally or intuitively dislike guns or the idea of weapons. (3) Those looking for power, whether in the form of votes or other forms of power as would come from the confiscation of firearms.

Conservatives like United States Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) are taking a lead in the process of finding common ground with the first group and engaging with the second, which represent most of those who say they want stricter gun control. Here, Senator Cruz meets with prominent gun control advocates…

Senator Cruz has given a lot of thought to the Second Amendment and he knows who he is, where he stands, and why he stands there. This is important, because in order to have a conversation with those who hold a different position, you must first have a position of your own.

Most New Jersey Republicans get nervous around the Second Amendment. Most, not all, but most. This is an institutional thing that goes back decades. Sad to say, but even Bernie Sanders had a better voting record on the Second Amendment than did many New Jersey Republicans. When President Bill Clinton pushed a bill through Congress that required a seven-day waiting period for the purchase of a hand gun, Congressman Sanders (Socialist-Vermont) voted “NO”, while all but one of the Republicans in the New Jersey congressional delegation supported the bill.

Forget the Trump Revolution, New Jersey Republicans never really embraced the Reagan Revolution The brain and nervous system of the party tends to reject new stimuli. Nevertheless, the world has moved on, and the body of the party – those who identify or who could identify as Republicans – bears no resemblance to the past. Too often, the brain and nervous system reacts to them as outsiders and actively rejects them, looking, as they often do, like the Democrats of old.

So the Republican Party in New Jersey – the brains and nervous system of it – needs to adjust itself to its new body, for just as the body cannot function without a brain, the brain is fairly useless without a body to command. Step one in this process is an intellectual one. It requires engagement – brain with body – to learn again who it is and what it wants to do.

Before attempting to convince “swing” voters or Undeclared voters or “soft” Democrats… New Jersey Republicans must first know who they are, what they stand for, and what they would do in power. Only then can they engage in a dialog and adjust their message to sell their beliefs more effectively – that’s sell… more effectively, not scrap. And it really does help to get literate about this and to write it down, as an outline or a platform or whatever you wish to call it, so that it may be referred to and passed along.

As for the more tactile branches of the body – the activists – it is good to keep in mind the advice of Benjamin Franklin to the citizen who wished to know the form of government that we’d got. “A Republic,” he answered, “If you can keep it.” By this Franklin was instructing that citizenship is a daily duty. It does not end with a victorious election but begins there. The body sends a continuous flow of messages to the brain. It does not celebrate and then go dormant. Neither can the activist – or the good citizen.

SPJ: There is a better way of ranking journalists.

For those of you who think investigative journalism is dead… well, you haven’t been following a blog called Real Jersey City, where blogger-in-chief Michael Shurin has actually made a difference getting the bad guys removed from office and those in danger of going bad to straighten up and fly right.  Ideologically, Michael is a cross between Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, so he doesn’t let ideology get in the way of ferreting out corruption and holding those responsible to account.  Check out his latest coverage of an important corruption trial that you won’t find anywhere else… https://www.realjerseycity.com/

Now you won’t find Real Jersey City or Michael Shurin on the pages of the recent InsiderNJ take on who’s who in New Jersey’s media.  No, you won’t find Michael sandwiched in between all those pricey advertisements from lobbyists, lawyer-lobby firms, vendors, greasers, and assorted politicians.  Yep, they paid for it.  And the firm paying for the whole thing – Fairview Insurance Agency – is so wrapped up in the Jersey City political establishment that they might as well use the Board of Education’s collective ass as its forwarding address.

You also won’t find the County Watchers blog – which keeps an eye on the critters who run Union County.  Yep, that’s everyone from his Lordship, the former Senator, Ray “Lord of Ass” Lesniak, to those magnificent Devanneys all bellied up to trough with both trotters stuck in.  Such nuggets as this are observed, investigated, and reported on by these citizen journalists…

With all the bombast over shared services we still have this in Union County:

2018-872: Authorizing the County Manager to award the proposed contract obtained through advertised public bidding in accordance with the Local Public Contracts Law, NJSA 40A:11-1 et seq: Engineering, Public Works & Facilities Management, Division of Facilities Management: T. Farese & Sons's, Newark, NJ, for the purpose of providing Waste Disposal Services at various locations throughout the County. The contract period shall be for twenty-four (24) consecutive months with the provision for one (1) twenty-four (24) month optional extension commencing upon contract extension. The contract will commence on November 1, 2018 through October 31, 2020, with a total contract amount not to exceed $424,728.91.

The amount was substantially higher than the last contract.
So why can't the municipalities pick up the county garbage at a little extra cost instead of having the county bill their taxpayers for this special pickup?


Of course, the folks who own InsiderNJ are themselves vendors working the grease machine of campaign contributions and contracts… so they have no interest in promoting at all those pesky citizen journalists who, unlike the paid-professional corporate types, are not forced to keep one eye on the want ads (and the government relations or public relations jobs, in particular).  You can’t blame someone for needing to feed a family (nevertheless it is sad when good people fall under the power of vendors, lobbyists, and political machines).

Now the old Editor of the once mighty PoliticsNJ – where the likes of Friedman and Kornacki and Moe of Moe got their training – is proposing to do his own “best of” series.  Will the media really take this? 

So here’s our proposal for rating the journalists who cover New Jersey politics and government.  Enter their names into one of the many awards given out each year by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).  Instead of highlighting the banal droolings of an Alan Steinberg… propose someone real for an honor that is reviewed and provided by other JOURNALISTS – not one handed out by the mouthpiece of some scumbag vendor.  Then, if they make it, or get runner up, or an honorable mention, it will mean something besides the lawyer-lobbyist-vendor-political machine Establishment imaginings about how they would like them to lick their arses. 

Here are some awards – real honors—to consider:

The Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award, made annually, honors a collegiate journalism educator and recognizes outstanding teaching ability, contributions to journalism, journalism education and contributions toward maintaining the highest standards of the profession.  Deadline for nominations: March 18, 2019

The Ethics in Journalism Award honors journalists or news organizations that perform in an outstanding ethical manner demonstrating the ideals of the SPJ Code of Ethics. It also honors especially notable efforts to educate the public on principles embodied in the code or hold journalists ethically accountable for their behavior. The Society may present one Ethics in Journalism Award in any given year unless there are no worthy candidates. Nominations are open. Self-nomination is permitted.  Deadline for nominations: March 18, 2019.

The Sunshine Award recognizes individuals and groups for making important contributions in the area of open government.  The SPJ board of directors selects honorees for the Sunshine Award based on recommendations from the national SPJ Freedom of Information Committee. There is no predetermined number of honorees for selection. Deadline for nominations: March 18, 2019.

The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award to honor a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.   Mr. Pulliam, who died in January 1999, was publisher of The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News until his death and was well-known for consistently supporting activities which educated the public about First Amendment rights and values. The Foundation has established this annual award to honor those committed to the same goals and as a tribute to the professional contributions that he made to journalism.  Deadline for entries: June 21, 2019.

The Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship was established to enable a mid-career editorial writer or columnist to have time away from daily responsibilities for study and research. The cash award allows Pulliam Editorial Fellows to: Take courses, pursue independent study, travel, pursue other endeavors that enrich their knowledge of a public interest issue. Deadline for entries: June 21, 2019.

Real Journalists critiquing the “best” journalism New Jersey has to offer… what a novel idea!

Vanity Fair: Democrats the Party of the 1 Percent

A must read for anyone interested in the shift occurring in politics today.  Just as African-American voters came to embrace the Party whose annual fundraising events were billed as Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners, working class voters are coming to understand that they have been rejected by both parties but that they have a better chance at forcing the gates of the GOP than they do the "globalist" dominated Democrats.  So will the "party of the rich" become the party of the working class?

jc post homeless.jpeg

The story appeared yesterday (April 20, 2016) in that mainstay of the mainstream media, Vanity Fair, under the headline:  "Why Democrats Are Becoming the Party of the 1 Percent".  Below are some excerpts:

Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million. But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.

And what about Donald Trump? Will rich people suffer if he is elected president? Well, yes. Yes, they will. Because we all will. But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things. Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything. Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class. Rich people do not like that idea.

In a world of Trumpism and Clintonism, Democrats would become the party of globalist-minded elites, both economic and cultural, while Republicans would become the party of the working class. Democrats would win backing from those who support expanded trade and immigration, while Republicans would win the support of those who prefer less of both. Erstwhile neocons would go over to Democrats (as they are already promising to do), while doves and isolationists would stick with Republicans. Democrats would remain culturally liberal, while Republicans would remain culturally conservative.

The combination of super-rich Democrats and poor Democrats would exacerbate internal party tensions, but the party would probably resort to forms of appeasement that are already in use. To their rich constituents, Democrats offer more trade, more immigration, and general globalism. To their non-rich constituents, they offer the promise of social justice, which critics might call identity politics. That’s one reason why Democrats have devoted so much attention to issues such as transgender rights, sexual assault on campus, racial disparities in criminal justice, and immigration reform. The causes may be worthy—and they attract sincere advocates—but politically they’re also useful. They don’t bother rich people.

It’s a costly arrangement. The more that Democrats write off the white working class, which has been experiencing a drastic decline in living standards, the harder it is for them to call themselves a party of the little guy. The more that the rich can frame various business practices as blows to privilege or oppression—predatory lending as a way to expand minority home ownership, outsourcing as a way to uplift the world’s poor, etc.—the more they get a pass from Democrats on practices that hurt poorer Americans. Worst of all, the more that interest groups within the Democratic Party quarrel among themselves, the more they rely upon loathing of a common enemy, Republicans, in order to stay united.

Things get darker still, for, if the G.O.P. becomes ever whiter, failing to peel away working-class voters of other races, then partisan conflict could look more and more like racial conflict. That is the nightmare. Our politics are bad enough when voters are mobilized mainly by culture-war issues, such as abortion, because compromise is often impossible. But when voters are mobilized by issues of identity, something most people can’t change, then nothing works. It’s just war.

Seen in this light, Bernie Sanders suddenly looks quite different from his counterpart, and quite shrewder a politician than many give him credit for. One effect of focusing on economic conflict, as Sanders has done, is that it helps reduce other types of conflict. With his calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and helping young people with tuition, Sanders is uniting people across lines of identity by directing them to a cause that has nothing directly to do with identity. Moreover, while economics cause serious and passionate fights, compromise is possible. Maybe Bernie supporters will have to settle for less tuition help than they wanted, or Wall Street will have to give up more than it expected. But people will be left standing. With economic negotiations, adversaries can arrive at something other than total victory or annihilation.

This is a perspective worth considering -- especially in New Jersey -- where the state's number one political website, underwritten by Trump-Kushner money, appears to be wholly wedded to the cause of identity politics and absolutely hateful towards the working class.  Go figure... then again, it is the plaything of a very rich Manhattanite looking to be an ever bigger player in the Garden State.

Trump/Sanders and the two Americas

Look at these two graphs.  They illustrate the two Americas.

The first shows the ratio between employee compensation to gross domestic product in the United States.  It is at its lowest point in history.

The second shows corporate profits.  They are at an all time high.

These graphs mark the end of America's social contract, according to economist Steen Jakobsen.  The agreement between the ruled and the rulers is broken and marks the rise of heretofore "fringe" candidates like populist Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders.

This may be why new polling shows little taste for such measures as increasing the charitable deduction on taxes paid by wealthy individuals and corporations.  In a time when clearly the rich keep getting richer, voters have become skeptical of letting those rich direct how their potential tax dollars are spent instead of leaving it up to "democratically" elected legislative bodies.  New research by writers such as Jeremy Beer and others suggests why this is so -- and we will be examining Beer's findings in depth next week -- but for now, just consider this passage:

"Even though it sits on $42 billion in resources, and despite the fact that homelessness is one of its strategic areas of concern, the Gates Foundation will not provide direct assistance to any of the displaced people sleeping outside its $500 million Seattle headquarters... modern philanthropy is more concerned with problem solving than with people, more invested in 'high modernist ideology' than in particular human beings... contemporary philanthropy seems more enamored of generic anthropos than of the flesh-and-blood poor we encounter face-to-face. Indeed, twenty-first century philanthropy seems allergic to charity."

Many have noticed the deeply undemocratic, narcissistic nature of the twenty-first century rich.  They worship at the altar of a high church peculiar to themselves.  Charity becomes a form of self-worship. 

The celebrity Bono, reportedly worth $600 million, is a world-class tax avoidance artist who off-shores his business enterprises to avoid paying taxes while he operates a charity, called the One Campaign, that lobbies governments to use the tax money of working people to do what Bono wants done.  Meanwhile Bono links his for-profit musical tours with One Campaign initiatives and derives free positive publicity that translates into increased sales.  The One Campaign has been criticized for "using only 1.2% of their funds for charitable causes."  in response, the One Campaign admitted that it "does not provide programs on the ground but instead is an advocacy campaign for their funding."

They left out that they also make Washington, DC insiders rich with consulting fees.  One such insider is Sue McCue, the Rutgers University Governor who runs the Democrat Party SuperPAC that is responsible for collecting the heads of GOP Assemblywomen Donna Simons, Caroline Casagrande, and Mary Pat Angelini; and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi. 

The One Campaign's latest initiative was the Electrify Africa Act, signed into law by President Obama on February 8, 2016.  Money from the One Campaign created an Astroturf  campaign that collected 360,000 names in support of the Act and a twitter-based lobbying effort aimed at Congress.  One Republican opponent of the legislation noted:  "American taxpayers spend more than $40 billion per year on foreign aid... Given America's out-of-control deficits and accumulated debt that threatened our economic future, I cannot justify American taxpayers building power plants and transmission lines in Africa with money we do not have, will have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back."

It was also attacked from the Left, with one prominent critic writing in the Huffington Post that "the Electrify Africa Act has merely demonstrated that Congressmen neither know much about nor have a plan for Africa's energy industries."

Increasingly, average Americans are noticing how rich corporations devalue the democratic process and how their corporate charitable arms are just an extension of their public relations lobbying.  For example, the elected Legislature of the State of Georgia recently passed legislation designed to protect "religious freedom."  In response, some unelected but very rich Hollywood types protested what the elected Legislature had done.  Hollywood was joined by Big Business, in what has become an almost annual ritual (Arizona, Indiana...) to threaten and bully a Governor and convince average Americans that corporate money is more powerful than citizens' votes.  Reporting on the Georgia Governor's veto of a bill he had formerly supported, the Associated Press wrote: 

"Within days of its passage, Coca-Cola and other big-name Georgia companies joined prominent Hollywood figures urging Deal to reject the proposal. The Walt Disney Co., Marvel Studios and Salesforce.com threatened to take their business elsewhere. The NFL said it would be a factor in choosing whether Atlanta hosts the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl."

Until last year, this same NFL called itself a tax-exempt non-profit organization and used its charity status as an excuse to get taxpayers to build its stadiums.  If anyone wants to know why people give up and quit voting, this sorry episode is it.

But something has happened and it shows itself in more ways than just Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  People are done putting up with it.  As Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board said, "We're not going to quit.  We definitely don't want to have Gov. Deal listening to Wall Street and Hollywood over the citizens of the state of Georgia who expect him to support religious liberty."

A conservative Baptist attacking Wall Street?  Looks like the old Republican coalition is starting to break up.  When it does, we can't imagine who is going to support all those business tax breaks.

Trump is taking Sanders' voters

Today is the Ides of March, memorable for its connection to Gaius Julius Caesar, a Roman politician with parallels to Mr. Donald Trump.  Like Trump, Caesar entered politics during a period when the working class (the Roman Plebeians) were being squeezed out of the labor force by imported foreign labor.  In Caesar's day, the imports were slaves from newly conquered territory (Gauls, Germans, Greeks, and Spaniards).  Today the imports come from human trafficking (a modern euphemism for a form of illegal slavery) and porous borders.  Both undercut the price of labor by glutting the market.  Caesar's murder at the hands of a group of rich Patrician Senators was due, in part, to his efforts to limit the importation of slaves and secure work for the citizens of Rome.

Like Caesar, Trump is a rich oligarch who has betrayed his class to gain the affection of the common people.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that 46,000 Democrats had switched to Republican.  That's half of all the new voters the Democrats have gained since the 2014 congressional elections.  This mirrors huge party-switches in other states, with exit-polling indicating that the candidacy of Donald Trump is the reason for much of the switching. 

Many of these voters would otherwise have been voting for Bernie Sanders, but when the Vermont Senator screwed up and told them that they don't exist, apparently they started jumping to Trump. 

"When you're white, you don't know what it's like to live in a ghetto".

Hey, doesn't Sanders know that twice as many white people are living on food stamps as are black people?  That there are more white people on welfare than black people.  Doesn't he know this?  Why would Senator Sanders diss the very working class voters he needs, in an attempt to pander to black voters?  Doesn't he know that racial and ethnic divides have historically been used to split the working class?  To pit group against group within the working class, to undermine it.  Is remedial Marxism in order?

Consider this:  Black Lives Matter's advocate Al Sharpton is managed by the same public relations firm that manages Governor Chris Christie.  Sharpton is a rich man, not a man of the Left.

Of course, Bernie Sanders' ideology was always closer to the 1960's New Left than to the class-based Old Left.  The New Left was dominated by academics and the children of the well to do.  Frustrated with the cultural traditionalism of the working class, it focused on the grievances of racial and ethnic groups, gender, and sexual identity.  Dominated by younger voices, the New Left was in a hurry to tear down the existing order in any way possible and deemed group-identity the quickest means to that end.  But of course, these younger voices grew up and, being who they were, inherited the establishment -- proving to be more greedy and rapacious than anything practiced by their parents.

Split along racial and ethnic lines, by gender and all the rest, working class jobs have disappeared overseas, the labor market at home has been glutted, and working class incomes have declined while the inequity between rich and poor is an ever-widening gulf.  Perversely, the rich have never been more "progressive."  Johnson & Johnson puts out a "progressive" LGBT video to take your mind off them selling products to children and women that cause cancer -- and covering it up for 30 years.  HSBC bank signs on to a pro-same-sex marriage brief to keep "progressive" support when it comes out that they laundered a billion dollars in drug cartel money.  "Vulture capitalist" billionaire Paul Singer pushes "gay rights" but off-shores his operations in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes and oversight.

Today's Democratic Party is controlled by these "progressive" rapists of the working class -- making the Democrats anything but an old-order party of the Left.  As for the Republican Party, it too has long embraced the same neo-liberal economic policies practiced by the corporate "progressives" who dominate the Democrats, while the unleashing of campaign and lobbying money has given rise to an all-encompassing regime of crony capitalism that makes corruption in both parties ordinary, usual, and customary.

The parties "clash" in a series of what Daniel Boorstin called "pseudo-events," everyone bemoans "gridlock," but behind the scenes everything functions quite well if you have the money to buy it.  A crisis is manufactured, the working class get taxed, the government spends money, rich lobbyists/ vendors/ consultants/ investors get richer, the solution fails miserably, the crisis is forgotten, the national debt has grown.  A recent Princeton University study reported that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

While equal to the Democratic Party in corruption, the Republican Party actually is more democratic than the Democrats, in that its leadership does not exercise the full control over the institution the way the leadership of the Democratic Party does.  Being "Republicans" and therefore "bad" in the minds of those who set such fashions, they can't get away with the same level of wrongdoing that the Democratic Party's leadership can.  Remember, the Democrats are fashionable and therefore "good."  You will never skunk a cocktail party by announcing that you're a Democrat.

So the Democrats get to crush their Bernie, even though the polls show he is the far stronger candidate in any match-up with Republicans. 


But the Republicans can't crush their Trump... or even their Cruz.  The Republican electorate has slipped their leash and gone off the plantation.  Can you blame rank and file Democrats for enviously eyeing this outbreak of freedom and wanting to join in?  After being lied to for so long, being told what to think, what to do, and what to feel, it is exhilarating for some to just raise their fist and let fly that middle finger. 

The real worry to the establishment class does not come from those who are temporarily free, who will soon tire and then be rounded up by their assigned keepers.  What keeps the establishment up nights is what Ralph Nader wrote about two summers ago in his book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.  It's what groups like Represent.Us are putting into practice:

Represent.Us: End corruption. Defend the Republic.

Unlike the pseudo-left movements funded by corporate "progressives," these groups do not divide Americans by race, ethnicity, or gender.  They don't pit this lifestyle against that religion.  This is about taking on corporate cronyism and the political class and cleaning up the Republic.  This is about the one BIG thing we need to do if any of the little things have a chance of becoming something good.  This is about the PROCESS and it's not unlike the coming together of Left and Right in the United Kingdom in that country's battle over who controls their PROCESS -- Parliament or the European Union.  This IS THE FIGHT and it has and will produce some interesting alliances, as you can see below.

London Mayoral Candidate George Galloway gets a standing ovation for his speech on leaving the EU, at a Grassroots Out event. @alondonforall @georgegalloway