Why is a journalist on a sexual-identity “power” list?

Some people still subscribe to newspapers in the hope of providing themselves with basic information on the current events of the day.  And once upon a time, newspapers did just that.  Older journalists worked very hard to keep their personal opinions, emotions, feelings, and biases away from their job of reporting the news. 

Not anymore.  Now newspaper reporters publicly celebrate their biases – flaunt them – and, as a result, journalism as a career is on life support. 

Readers today expect reportage to be grossly untrue and biased and they are guided accordingly.  More and more, newspapers bore voters.  Most voters can tell you today how the newspapers will report on each and every debate next year between Donald Trump and whoever the Democrat candidate is.  You could place a bet on it if anyone would take a bet on it but nobody will because everybody knows.  So very predictable.

What happened to intellectual curiosity?  Back during the day before yesterday, a reporter approached a story with an open, interested mind – excited by the prospects of where the story might take it.  Not today.  Now it is “time to make the donuts” – the work of drudgery – a fine cabinetmaker reduced to nailing together crates.  Reporters have everything arranged in advance.  The story is written before they write it.  There are those with the white hats and them with the black – with 95 percent of the story slanted against the designated “baddies” and praising the “goodies” – and 5 percent reserved for a “response” from the “baddies” (which, in the course of a conversation with the reporter, is often turned into the worst bit).  Journalism today is like writing while sleepwalking.  A fiction produced through automatic writing.   

Many reporters – the Star-Ledger’s Jonathan Salant comes to mind – cannot get their brains out of their comfortable suburban surroundings, the cozy press club, the shared prejudices and opinions.  Never meeting another soul who is unlike them, they cannot imagine any way but their own.  A machine stuck at one speed, one function, doing the same thing, grinding on until it burns out. 

Then there are the activists.  These are the so-called journalists who think it cool to show that they are compromised from the start, their minds made up.  The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran laid in out last year when he wrote:  “Voters will be standing in the booth Tuesday, and our core mission is helping them decide which lever to pull.”  Sounds more like the “core mission” of a political operation than of journalism.

Of course, there still are some genuine journalists out there.  A month before Moran wrote that stunning admission, the Atlantic City Press published an editorial which included these reassuring lines:  “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.”

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Which brings us to Matt Arco of… you guessed it, the Star-Ledger.  Why is Matt Arco number 34 on a list of 100 “LGBT Power” brokers?  Why is that kind of self-defining celebrity necessary for a journalist?  We thought he was covering the news, and here he is a power broker making the news.  What is a journalist doing cheek-by-jowl on a list of politicians, lobbyists, and political operatives?  

And why is he described as a “voice” when he should be a conduit of information, which is the heart and soul of journalism.  Is anyone really looking for another celebrity “voice” shouting to be heard, telling us their feelings, thoughts, opinions – or do we want to be informed about what’s really going on?  The title “political reporter” shouldn’t be meant literally. 

How can a journalist who allows himself to be placed on a celebrity “power” list be taken seriously?  As one of the top named members of a political identity group, how can we expect Matt Arco to fairly and honestly cover stories concerning religious groups with theological traditions that don’t line up with the policy agenda of his political identity group?  Groups such as Biblical Christians, Torah Jews, and adherent Muslims. 

How can Matt Arco be expected to fairly and honestly cover a candidate or  political organization whose positions or platform is not in agreement with the positions and platform of his political identity group – of which he is the 34th most powerful operative in the state?  Having Matt Arco cover the Republican Party is like sending Ann Coulter to cover the Democrats.  It’s not fair or honest.

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Did Star-Ledger collude with Murphy A.G. to produce anti-ballot question headline?

Journalism isn’t what it once was.  Today, there is a revolving door between journalism, government, politics, and lobbying.  Today’s journalist is likely to be tomorrow’s political director.

Look at the case of Mark Magyar, one of Senate President Steve Sweeney's top aides.  In December of 2014, Magyar was hired as the Democrat's new Director of Policy and Communications.  Magyar had been a statehouse reporter for the Asbury Park Press and the Bergen Record, as well as the editor of the New Jersey Spotlight.

The corporate and political empire of Democrat Party boss George Norcross – the political machine of which the Senate President is a part – has a history of co-opting or attempting to co-opt local and regional newspapers in that part of New Jersey where his authoritarian rule is almost uncontested.  The machine is in the process of solidifying its rule in its southern New Jersey base, while expanding its power across the state – and beyond.

Mark Magyar is the spouse of Elizabeth K. Parker, Co-publisher and Executive Editor of the New Jersey Hills Media Group.  The group is controlled by the Recorder Publishing Company, a privately held entity in Bernardsville, that owns and publishes 17 local newspapers in Republican Morris County, Somerset County, and Hunterdon County -- and in Republican towns in Essex County.  Their readership comes from towns that usually get the short end of the sick from the Democrats in Trenton.  The company also sells other services, including website development, search engine optimization, "Reputation Management", and "Social Media Management".

Newspapers were never as pure and disinterested as their cheerleaders would have us believe, but at least – once upon a time/ just yesterday – they did constitute a locus of power independent of political machines.  Not necessarily of their corporate advertisers (per Herman and Chomsky), but certainly of base political machines.  Those days are drawing to a close.

We saw evidence of this on Saturday, when the office of Gurbir Grewal, the state Attorney General appointed by Governor Phil Murphy, conspired with Star-Ledger/ NJ.com reporter Rob Jennings to concoct a news headline the Murphy administration could use to undermine the people of Sussex County’s right to vote on Murphy’s Sanctuary State scheme.  At issue was a public question on the November ballot, passed by the Freeholders in April, that asks the voters their opinion on whether Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada should follow American law on illegal immigration – or the directives of the Murphy administration.

The Democrat Murphy administration is arguing that Sussex County taxpayers should not have the right to vote on issues that affect the performance of county functions that they pay for entirely out of their highest-in-the-nation property taxes.  Taxation without the right to vote sounds pretty un-American to us.

Concurrent with plans to allow illegal aliens to have drivers licenses and to give incarcerated violent criminals the right to vote and hire lobbyists, the Murphy administration is using Grewal in an attempt to bully and intimidate the elected Freeholders of Sussex County into ending plans to allow the people the right to vote on a public question on the November ballot.  Popular sentiment across the state has been running against Murphy, so Grewal’s office was charged with finding a reporter who would provide them with a headline they could use.

Jennings, a former intern with Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo, was used to provide it.  Grewal’s office leaked confidential correspondence to Jennings, who promptly wrote a story with the headline:  “Sussex County caves to Murphy AG, will not put immigration question on ballot.”  It was the journalistic equivalent of performing fellatio for Grewal’s office.

Of course, the headline was false.  Jennings lied.  The Star-Ledger printed fake news.  Only the County Clerk had “caved”.  In fact, the County Freeholder Board had hired a conservative attorney less than 48 hours before to fight the Murphy administration.  This special counsel was charged with creating an updated ballot question with language that defeats the legal objections raised by the Murphy administration, so that Murphy and his cronies cannot hold up its placement on the ballot through legal maneuverings.

Jennings refused to write about it.  Even after he was contacted by Freeholders and the Special Counsel, Jennings refused to correct or update his story.  The lie remained published.

Not only did Jennings break the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), but Grewal’s office may have broken its professional code as well.  Word is that both may face ethical enquiries.

Despite the false headline, the Sussex County Freeholders remain resolved to fight the Murphy administration, with or without the assistance of the County Clerk.  And the Freeholders could always bring a lawsuit to compel the Clerk to place the public question on the November ballot.

New Jersey is unique in its forms and ways of political corruption – especially of systemic corruption – in that it rides the wave just ahead of the rest of America.  Sadly, it appears that what we once called journalism is on a rapid descent into the realms of propaganda and in future will be little more than coarse party broadsheets -- advertisements using histrionics worthy of Pravda or the Völkischer Beobachter.

Repeal the income tax and provide quality education

By Professor Murray Sabrin

In a recent Star Ledger column conservative pundit Paul Mulshine argues that Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposal to increase the income tax to 10.75% for individuals making more than $1 million a year so he can hike property tax rebates is terribly flawed.  Right on. 

The property tax rebate would only available to a senior homeowner or a disabled citizen making no more than $75,000 annually.  In New Jersey that would exclude a substantial number of homeowners, even those who make $75,001. 

New Jersey's income tax, which was enacted at the end of Gov. Brendan Byrne’s first term in 1976, although politically unpopular, set the stage for the governor to send out property tax rebates in 1977 just before his reelection.  In short, the governor deftly used homeowners’ own money to bribe them to win a second term. This is a classic example of democracy in action – – fooling people that they're getting something from the state, when in fact what the state was doing was taking money from the people’s one pocket and putting it in their other pocket.

The current debate over hiking income taxes on millionaire earners and increasing property tax rebates underscores the fundamental issue that both political parties are unwilling to address, namely how education should be funded and who should pay for it.

Although the state Supreme Court effectively imposed the income tax on the people of New Jersey, because the New Jersey Constitution calls for the state to provide a "thorough and efficient education" to all students especially in urban school districts, with the promise of property tax relief, the more than four decade experiment in the income tax has been a colossal failure. 

The first question that needs to be tackled is who is responsible for a child's education?  In a free society that means parents using all the skills and tools and resources at their disposal would educate children up to a certain point, when schooling would become more appropriate. 

The current model of public—compulsory--education is nearly 200 years old.  At one time public schools did a relatively outstanding job of teaching youngsters the 3Rs so they could become productive and financially independent individuals.  Under the auspices of so-called educational experts, social justice cultural warriors and massive political interference, especially from the federal government, public schools have become “politically correct” institutions for the past several decades.  In addition, the cost of public education in New Jersey has skyrocketed well above the rate of inflation since the income tax was enacted more than four decades ago.

The results in New Jersey urban school districts, where the cost of education rivals that of elite private schools, have been abysmal. Unfortunately, the clamor for more taxpayer dollars to prop up the expensive and relatively ineffective urban school systems needs to be questioned.

The lessons of the past four decades regarding funding New Jersey public schools should be obvious to any objective observer. First, the income tax should be repealed.  Two, teachers and parents should create nonprofit educational organizations in their communities to provide high-quality education to youngsters from K-12.  In addition, school property taxes should be repealed as well. There is absolutely no compelling reason for taxes to fund education.  Funding would come from fees, tuition, grants and other voluntary means.

The assertion that education is a "collective" responsibility is a bogus proposition. If this assertion is true, then the state should not stop at education but provide healthcare, housing, transportation, supermarkets, entertainment, and all other goods and services that people want.  In other words, is socialism the answer as Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez assert? 

Socialism is not the answer whether in education, housing, transportation, medical care and the dozens of other programs that all levels of government currently fund.  In a free market both the nonprofit and profit sectors would provide all the goods and services the public wants. That has been the history of America for more than 200 years.  But government has co-opted the free market for decades. 

Gimmicks like property tax rebates to soothe the pain of income taxes are counterproductive. The state income tax has become a political football and avoids the most important question in our society: what is the role of government in a free society?

With another financial crisis on the horizon as the current "everything bubble" will burst in the not-too-distant future, it is imperative that we look at the big picture, how can we create a free and prosperous society with an educated young generation without an income tax?  This is the debate that should be front and center in Trenton.   

Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and author of the forthcoming, Why the Federal Reserve Sucks: It Causes Inflation, Recessions, Bubbles and Enriches the One Percent.  Sabrin was recently interviewed about his new book, http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com/2019/05/cottogottfried-does-federal-reserve.html#more

Why did Murphy aide leading anti-Sweeney effort try to kill Hebrew school?

Late yesterday afternoon it emerged that Action Together NJ – a Democratic Socialist group closely aligned with LD25 Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger – was organizing to counter a bi-partisan effort to cut property taxes and make New Jersey more affordable led by Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Gloucester County Democrat.  That’s right, the whacked-out Democratic Socialist wing of the New Jersey Democrats is out to derail an effort to cut property taxes, led by fellow Democrats.  This is how nuts they are.

The move appears to be an attempt by embattled Governor Phil Murphy to divert attention away from hearings into why he and his top lieutenants allowed an apparent predator to sexually assault multiple female Democrat Party campaign workers.  After which they rewarded him with a taxpayer-funded state job.

The Star-Ledger reported:

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“A top aide to Gov. Phil Murphy, in a conference call with liberal activists, suggested ways to push back against state Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s big plan to fix New Jersey’s long-term fiscal problems, NJ Advance Media has learned.

The aide — Deborah Cornavaca, Murphy’s deputy chief of staff for outreach — said during the call Wednesday that Sweeney, a frequent Murphy rival, is pushing ‘a false narrative’…

The conference call, organized by advocacy group Action Together NJ, came 24 hours before Sweeney is scheduled to host a town hall in Sewell on Thursday night to discuss his ‘Path to Progress’ report, which he commissioned to find ways to save the state government money.”

Curiously, Ms. Cornavaca has yet to speak out against the sexual assaults made on her fellow Democrat women who had the misfortune of working on the Murphy for Governor campaign.  Say what you will about Steve Sweeney, but if anyone molested a woman on his campaign… well, let’s just say the perpetrator would find himself in great need of dentures.    

It doesn’t surprise us that Ms. Cornavaca has been selected by Governor Murphy to lead the attack on Democrat Steve Sweeney’s bi-partisan solution to save money and cut property taxes.  As a local elected official, Cornavaca defended raising property taxes in 2008 – in the face of record joblessness, foreclosures, and child poverty.  Government is a beast and the beast must be fed – no matter who falls victim to its appetites. 

And like the Governor, Cornavaca doesn’t mind rubbing up to some rather questionable sentiments.  In 2012, she fiercely opposed the efforts of the Jewish community in Middlesex County to open a school to help preserve the Hebrew language and Jewish culture.  Ms. Cornavaca opined:  “The school is not a need, but a want for a small subset of the population.”  Ouch. 

Well, there’s a lot of that going around these days.  Just look at who has taken over the Women’s March…

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Caution on that poll from Let’s Drive NJ Campaign

The Pro-Illegal immigration lobbying group, Let’s Drive NJ Campaign, recently released the results of a poll they paid to have done.  The poll purports to support claims that New Jersey voters are wildly in favor of handing over a New Jersey driver’s license to anyone who decides to over-stay their visa or who sneaks across the border illegally.  

The poll is being used to stampede frightened Democrats into opening up new employment opportunities to illegal, non-union transport workers – and to silence squeamish Republicans.  No doubt the Star-Ledger will make use of such a law to further drive down the costs of distributing its newspaper.

That said, before taking the poll too seriously (and it did sample just 561 people statewide), take a moment to read how the questions were structured.  Actually it is more of a messaging development document than a poll on what people actually believe.  In other words, if prompted by questions X and Y, would you respond to question Z in such and such a way.  Here is a humorous send up on how it is done…