User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: 2011

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From Out of the Horse's Mouth

Want to find out what CWA 1038 has to say about Christie's health insurance reform package.  Want to learn the details of the plan.  Then read the following memo issued by the union.  Hope to keep things fair and balanced and post the state's response to it soon.

While some of the "what to do" as far as choosing a plan is a matter of opinion, the rate charts shown and thegeneral structure of the plans including deductables and copays are true.  Take a look at the big jump in rates between year 2 and year 3 when deciding to vote on Christie's Democratic allies in the legislature this November including Sheila Oliver and Stephen Sweeney.  I think you will agree with me having real Republicans (who everybody knows don't like us) is better than having fake Democrats such as that Ironworkers president from West Deptford that gave us a royal screwing.

Mike Mulligan for Senate in District 3.

(Just click on the following document.  If you are running Microsoft products it will open in a photo viewer and you will be able to see each whole page and resize them so you can read them.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hope You Are Enjoying Your Pay Cut

Right now I am looking at my pay stub for the period ending September 30th.  On the stub is a message to encourage workers to participate in something called TaxSave, which allows health insurance premiums to come out of pre-tax money.  While workers won't pay federal income tax in the premiums, they still have to pay state income tax on this money.  One other very big problem, no Social Security tax will be taken out either, which reduces your eventual Social Security retirement benefit.

In the past, this wouldn't have made much of a difference, because we only had to pay 1.5 percent of salary for our health coverage (plus about $20 more for dental), but when the premiums start ramping up next year, look out, people who participate in TaxSave will find themselves saving themselves out of Social Security.

By the way, how about that new lighter check with the increase in pension cost.  That's Pension Reform.
And with  elections coming up this November, we no doubt will remember who made that plan happen.  Why Sheila Oliver in the assembly and those notorious South Jersey Norcross Democrats.  So be sure to vote for real Republicans if you are now represented by Oliver, Sweeney, Norcross, Whellan or any of the other Benedict Arnold Democrats.  We can always dump the Republicans the next election cycle, but we must put them in to let Sweeney and Co. know that their actions have consequences, and in their case the consequence is having to loose reelection. 

By the way, what do I shell out for pension.   About $200 per pay.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trenton, a Modern-Day Dodge City, Courtesy of Governor Christie's Municipal Aid Cuts

The Baldassari Regency, located at 140 Morris Ave in Trenton, in better days was known for its fine food and great banquets.  Now the property is up for sale.  Gee whiz, another lightning bolt moment.  Why sell such a wonderful business!  Perhaps because they have had a series of burglaries there in recent months and last Thursday night, four people were shot outside the establishment at closing time.  This is a copy of the photo on an ad for the property that I found online.
It used to be, that if you wanted to go to Dodge City and you lived around Trenton, you probably were in the market for a new car and were planning on traveling to a certain Chrysler products dealership in Willingboro.  Nowadays, if you are a Trenton city resident, you wouldn't have to travel any farther than your front porch because you are sitting right in the middle of it.

I believe it has been about two or three weeks since the mayor laid off 105 cops, which amounts to about a third of the city's police force.  And yesterday, one of the headlines on the front page of the Trenton Times read "Six are Shot in 12 Hours in Trenton".  Four of those shootings took place after Dance Night ended last Thursday at the Baldassari Regency on the corner of Morris and Division streets in the Burg.  The business owner, who held a well publicised anti-crime meeting at his establishment in the middle of last month to protest the layoff of a third of the police department and deteriorating conditions in the once-safe Chambersburg section of the city, says he believes the shootings occurred because the extra police which normally show up at closing time were not available because of the layoffs.  He also says his staff takes precautions when holding dance night, such as frisking guests for weapons, however the shooting started outside, and the guests who returned fire probably retrieved their guns from their cars.

To make matters worse, the bar sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood across from an elementary school.  The shootout spilled over into the school's parking lot and a few rounds hit the school.  Check out this link to video from Channel 6 News which shows interviews with the owner, Eddie Baldassari as well as neighborhood residents.

The Baldassari's shootout was no freak occurrence.  Multiple shootings have been happening on a daily basis since the police layoffs.  The Trentonian blames Mayor Tony Mack for the layoffs.  However, the record will speak otherwise.  Mack was under pressure by the governor to get rid of the cops back in July of 2010, when other major cities in the state such as Newark and Camden laid off their police, but Mack refused to do so.  He tried to get federal money to keep the police on.  This year, when the governor slashed state municipal aid to almost nothing, the mayor tried to pass a massive tax hike to save the police, but city council refused to go along.  As far as I am concerned, no mayor could have saved the police jobs.  Rather the blame falls square on the shoulders of Governor Christie because he refused to pony up the money which he believes is better spent on property tax rebates for suburbanites and tax cuts for companies and the rich.

This is not to say that Tony Mack is not a pretty sad case.  He has a penchant for hiring the incompetent and criminals for top positions in his administration and allowed his brother to run a criminal enterprise from the city water works, while trying to cover it up by harassing the employees who blew the whistle on "Muscles" and his private plumbing business which kept its costs down by using city employees and city equipment to do the work. He should be recalled and replaced.

However, Governor Christie is no saint either.  His aid cuts have contributed to hundred of shootings and dozens of murders across the state because the police can no longer protect the public in New Jersey's cities.  Perhaps the national media should take their rose colored glasses off and expose this charlatan for the fraud he is rather than trying to build him up to become the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There Ain't No Bugs On Me! (Or In My House Either)

Cute, isn't he.  The common bedbug can really make your life hell.  Anybody who has the unfortunate experience of sleeping in a bed full of these bloodsucking pests surely wants them dead.
In yesterday's post I let the world know that I worke up to find bedbugs eating my wife and I alive in bed.  It was obvious that something had to be done, like then and there.  So I took action.

I threw out the mattress cover.  The inside of the mattress cover was filled with this gross-looking grayish mass which included egg casings, bug droppings and bedbugs at all stages of development.  (They start off as little dots and grow up to be oblong creatures about 1/10th an inch long.  The bugs I had were brownish red.  As far as the sheets went, they were thrown in the wash by themselves which seemed to work to remove the few stragglers they contained.

Next I took some 58% pure Malathion an organophosphate like DDT, recommended for outside use only, mixed it 50/50 and put it into a spray tank like exterminators use.  I sprayed it around the perimeter of all rooms in the house and misted it over the outside of my mattress and box spring after I removed them from the bed.  (I would not recommend using Malathion indoors, but I was desperate.   Get Onslaught or some other modern broad-spectrum insecticide that is effective on bedbugs and rated for indoor use.)

Next, I set off 12 BioSpot flea bombs that I purchased at Petsmart.  They are a little pricey, it cost $100 for 12 bombs.  I put 3 in the bedroom and spread the rest out throughout the rest of the house.   Then I went out, had a nice meal, got a haircut and visited friends.  It takes about four hours for the stuff to dissipate from a sealed house.

After I went home, I opened up all the windows, brought the pets back inside and made my bed with new linen that I just bought at the store.  I can promise you that there are a lot of bug carcasses in here, but no live insects.  I got to sleep in peace.

The BioSpot flea bomb has a nice feature.  It contains an insect growth feature and keeps killing for for up to seven months after application according to the label.

Just to insure I don't have any more surprises in this house waiting to hatch, I plan to go online to my state agricultural extension service website and read up on the life cycle of the bed bug.  When the next brood is due to hatch (probably a week from now, I will bomb again.

This procedure works, but the bug bombs leave an oily residue on everything that evaporated overnight.  (I mean walls, floors, ceilings, everything).  Don't worry, it went away with no apparent harm to my property.  The other thing is that you are dealing with poison, so I would wash your dishes before using them again and clean off your food counters.  (Don't want to consume any bug killer you know).  Also, the gas in bug bombs is poisonous.  Seal the house by closing all doors and windows THEN LEAVE FOR FOUR HOURS. (Like they say on 1000 Ways to Die, if you stay inside YOU WILL DIE)  Also, don't forget fluffy and Fido.  Remove all pets.

This will work.  Just do the whole house and repeat about two weeks after in order to break the egg cycle.  Then you won't see this batch of bedbugs again!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's Inside Your Mattress?

For me, the answer was, "Better not ask".  I noticed for the last few weeks an itch sensation when I laid down in bed and my wife said things were biting her.  This morning I did a little investigation and found what looked like large flea carcasses on the sheets, so I tore the mattress cover off.  The inside of the cover was filled with the bane of Trenton...bedbugs!!!

Yuck, human bloodsuckers.  The recommendation from the city is to throw away all clothing, carpets an upholstered furniture, including mattresses.  I don't think my homeowners insurance company would like that, so I am trying an intermediate step.

W eill spray my bedroom especially the mattress with a good old school oganophosphate insecticide (of the DDT class, though not full-blown DDT), then bomb the place real good with store-bought flea bombs.  I will also be treating the yard with lawn insecticide. (I have a stockpike of chlorodane purchased in the 1970s).  I also ordered some heavy duty bug killer from Georgia which should show up later in the week.  I'll let everybody know how it all works out.

Let's get on our politicians about repealing the "Silent Spring" bug killer laws.  Rather take a small chance on getting cancer later in life than a 100% chance of getting eatten alive now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Faces May Change, Everything Else Remains the Same

Here is a picture of Dolores Del Rio, a famous Mexican actress from the 1920s to 1970s.  As you can ses, celeberties always presented themselves to the public in the best possible light.
I remember that about 20 years ago or so I read "The Way of Perfection" by Saint Teresa of Avila and she went into great detail talking how horrible it is living in a convent with a bunch of chatty nuns always gossiping abot each other.  Sound familiar.  My experience is if you put three or more women together for a long enough period of time they will be takling about each other and stiring up trouble.  Problem is Teresa lived in Spain in the 1500s.  Some things never change.

So perhaps you would rather hear about something else besides nuns from 500 years ago or the beginings of the Discalced Carmelite order.  Sometimes moving away from people and living with nobody but myself and God sounds appealing, but I don't think the monastic life will ever become part of my life.  Anyway that's not what I here to write about.

I was just surfing the web in one of my semi-drunk trances (Obviously not worrying about what future employers will find out about me on a deep web search, am I?)  I was looking at videos of turn-of-the-20th century recording and theater stars in South America, like Dolores Del Rio (just as sexy as Vanessa Del Rio I promise).  Of course I got to listen to Charlo (Madonna was not the first recording star to go by one name, you know).  What did I find?  The music was not very appealing.  While I like tango, the flamanco-type stuff that was in vogue in the 1900s and 1910s doesn't do anything for my ears.  What I did find impressive was the quality of the plublicity shots and the coreography in the short videos that appear on the computer.  Fantistico !  And even harder to make in the day when they did not have the equipment (I dare not say technology) we got today.  I mean these posters are good enough to appear on album covers today.

Not everyone in South America was Juan Valdez working on his coffee plantation, even in 1900.  There was a lot of wealth and talent down there as well.  And I was supprised that Latin America had just a vibrant film and recording industry as we did from the very begining, with just as many stars as we had, producing hundreds of records and films, yet none of us up north got to see them until recently.

Thank God for the Internet.  It helped save our history, contrary to what people were saying a decade or so.  (Back then they believed that contemporary culture would be inaccessible to future generations, because they wouldn't have the equipment to view it.)  Who said the stuff couldn't be migrated over to contemporary media just like happened to dolores delrio.

This Cat Always Lands on His Feet

The modern workplace is a jungle.  In order to survive there, you must be like this guy and be able to land on your feer after you get tossed around.

From my previous posts you may remember that I was getting transferred from my long-time position in the Bureau of Labor Market Analysis to a very different job in the State Data Center.  To bring everyone up to speed, my old job originally was working as a "field analyst" or somebody who was supposed to be an expert on the economy in a certain part of the state.  In my case, it was Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.  I got to read newspapers so I could take notes on the comings and goings of companies and other trends in business in the area.  I got to go out and cruise around on the state's dime to monitor the progress of these events and to promote the Division of Workforce Development so they could get job listings and help our state's unemployed transition to new work.

Last November, Christie's boys decided to upset the apple cart and roust me from my happy home.  I stayed at the same desk under the same supervisor and received the same pay, but my new job was covering the construction and transportation&distribution industries.  This meant writing new publications from scratch.  We at the state almost never get to create anything new from scratch, but we did and I saw it through for 10 months.  My industry report (over 60 pages long) on the transportation, logistics & distribution industry will soon be published on line.  For a guy with 20 credits or so in economics (my bachelor's degree is in agriculture), I consider that an outstanding achievement.

The man responsible for uploading and downloading stuff to the web, in addition to writing databases and making maps took a new job as an administrator in our IT department.  So my director came to me and "asked" me to take over his position.   I said "asked" because it was implied he would very much like me to say yes.  I was skeptical like, "what did I do wrong?" but I took it.   I thought it might be a setup to get me out the door or something, but felt it was best to go along, even though my qualifications in IT are nill.

Well, they kept me on my old job until last friday so I could finish my report.  On tuesday, my old boss and new boss called me into the back room.  It seem my old boss wanted me back to present my paper at the annual analyst's meeting.  I turned him down, but it still felt good that I was worth enough to bring back for one last performance.  I agreed to show up at the meeting to answer questions about my findings.

So how is this webmaster thing going.  So far swimmingly.  I get on well with my new boss who is pleasant to work for.  So far there hasn't been much to do because I don't know much yet, but I believe that will change soon.  The new supervisor noticed I have been picking up rather quickly and even figured out how to assemble a bunch of .pdf pages into a single .pdf file without any help on his part.
(It's amazing what you can do with the Help menu, especially after what I have been through since the begining of the year.

It seems that when they hire someone from off they street, they ask the world in what they want in a new employee.  Almost nobody meets the standard, so very few get hired.  However, since Christie has allowed the state only to backfill a few positions, the qualifications to move from one job to another can be sumed up in one phrses:  "Are you breathing?"  If yes, then they will retrain you.

That's why I stressed in an earlier article that what counts in the workplace is adaptability, not route knowledge of particular tasks.  Ovet time, the route knowledge becomes obsolete, but the ability to learn new things always remains in style. 

The best preparation I got was a good liberal arts education and that is what I woruld recommend to anybody coming up today.  Because I am adaptable, nobody can kill me off, I will always be in demand.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keynes Was Right

Majorska Vodka, a nasty distilate one notch above radiator fluid, is the liquor of choice among the welfare and food stamp crowd.  Read on to find out why even welfare clients who spend all their money on cheap booze help stimulate the economy and create jobs for the rest of us.
I was reading an editorial in the Trentonian a few weeks ago that I thought was interesting.  It said that it was their opinion that the government can't create jobs by spending money (although many economists would disagree).

Well, they're right about one thing.  Many economists, including this one would disagree with the above statement.  But before I go ahead and attack it, I think it is important to explain first what I think the Trentonian is trying to say.

According to the paper (and many conservative Republicans), jobs are created by businesses, and businesses can do this best if the rich (who own the businesses) are allowed to keep as much of their money as possible.  Therefore they advocate minimal taxation of the rich because they are America's job creators.

They claim that once the government takes in money through taxation and spends it, it is gone in much the same way your paycheck is gone if lets say you spent it on a trip to Paris.  The spending is only productive to the extent it goes toward purchasing capital goods such as machinery which can be used to produce future wealth.  And for the most part, the type of spending that the government does (such as welfare benefits, Social Security or unemployment compensation) is pure consumption and the money is destroyed just as soon as it is spent without any further benefit coming from it.

What's wrong with this picture?  For one thing, when money is spent, so long as it is spent here in America, it creates a "multiplier effect".  What this means is that even money spent on welfare benefits creates jobs.  Why?  The poor spend every dime they get their hands on because they are poor and need stuff.  Let's say Joe Welfare Recipient goes to the liquor store and spends his whole check on Majorska Vodka (an American product).  The liquor store gets to keep the difference between the wholesale cost of the vodka and what they sell it for.  Some of this money is used to pay the liquor store clerk, some of it is used to pay for upkeep of the building and property taxes (or for rent if the store is rented). And the rest of the money goes to the liquor distributor which uses it to pay its staff, pay for equipment and buildings and provide a profit to the distributorship.  Finally, the distributor doesn't get his liquor for free either, so some of the money goes to the distillery which uses it to pay for materials, wages, equipment and business profits.  So even a frivolously spent welfare check helps create good private-sector jobs and provides additional business to private sector companies.

And what about the part that only private businesses are capable of producing productive wealth.  Consider the case of Josef Stalin.  This Soviet dictator was a ruthless, uncompromising Communist who opposed private ownership of even the tiniest businesses.  He also didn't give a darn for individual rights or individual happiness.  He'd lock up common people for the slightest infraction (such as being late to work by 5 minutes) so he could get a steady supply of free labor at his prison camps, which produced a variety of products ranging from roads and canals to cameras.  And Stalin was responsible for bringing a medieval nation into the 20th century and turning it into a world power in three short decades.  So much for the theory that the government can't create wealth.

The GOP likes to claim that Keynes was wrong because the New Deal programs did not bring the nation out of the depression.  All this meant was that the New Deal stimulus was not big enough.  For when World War II started and government spending accelerated, the nation was propelled into several decades of unprecedented prosperity.  And the social utility of war is probably even less than Keynes's famous example of hiring men to dig holes in the desert and filling them in.  Even destructive spending can provide economic stimulus if the money is used to pay wages to workers who would otherwise not be employed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In Memory of the Fallen. (No, not the World Trade Center Cops, But the Trenton Cops That Were Just Laid Off)

Police process the scene of the shooting that occurred on Mercer Street in Trenton on September 15, 2011.
So much has happened this week, so its hard to figure out what to write about.  Let's see, we had a series of shootings such as the car that got shot up on Mercer Street at about 4:00 in the afternoon on Thursday.

I found out about this....sort of anyway in real time.  I was coming home down Market Street around 5:00 P.M. with my wife and she said, "What are all the police doing on Mercer Street."  I said in jest that it probably has something to do with some tripple homicide or something.  I knew something at least as serious as a big car accident or a nonfatal shooting occured, too many cops for anything else, but I didn't know what. 

It turned out somebody got killed after their car got shot up down there.  Probably (or let's say likely) some kind of a hit on a street gangster.  Another criminal taken out for offending some other criminals, it appears.  Thank God, it didn't occur about an hour later and a little closer to Market Street.  Then I just might have had to dodge bullets to get home.

We had more than one shooting last week.  Most of them were non-fatals and none of the others directly affected me, but another one stands out as memorable, more for the name of the place where it occurred, and why it happened, rather than anything else.  On the corner of Southard and Ingham (also the location of the now-closed but long-time landmark Romeo & Juliet bar), a bodega opened about two weeks prior to the shooting.  It is called D&A Deli.  I saw the picture of it and I thought, DOA Deli, what an appropriate name for the scene of a shooting.  Just think, the locals probably say "Dear, I got to go down to Dodge City to go to the DOA to pick up a pack of smokes."  She replys, "Make sure you make it home alive, now put on your bullet-proof vest, you'll probably be needing it."

At the time of the shooting, the DOA was just opened for two weeks.  It had already been robbed twice and some other criminals were trying for time number three.  I big Spanish guy was there waiting.  He was the owner, armed with a pistol.  He grabbed the bandits and turned them over to the police when they arrived without incident.  A silver pickup rode by and the occupant stopped and got out.  He was an off duty cop.  The store owner, thinking he was part of the robbery pulled his weapon and fired,  The cop returned fire.  Nobody was hit.  The store owner was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.

Now let's see what a jury would think.  This guy was robbed twice in the two weeks he was opened and a third robbery was just attempted.  Someone in a civilian vehicle and civilian clothes comes up and tries to interfere just after he turned the bobbers over to the cops.  Another robber, right?  That's just about what anybody would think, even if he identified himself verbally as a police officer.  Just remember criminals are not above a little deception, jike saying they are police, just to be able to get in there and carry out their crime.

The  store owner did nothing wrong as far as I am concerned.  We should all have the right to defend ourselves, particularly in a proven high crime area and a proven high crime situation (like operating a bodega in the ghetto.)

Another fly in the ointment.

Just when we all thought it was too dangerous to go outside, the Mayor lays off 106 police officers.  That's right, yesterday was the last day for a third of Trenton's police force.

There were let go because Governor Christie could not find enough money in his budget (or should I say brains in his head) to give the city sufficient funds to keep them on.  We are in the middle of a perpetual crime wave and the governor wants to save money for a few rich bastards by getting rid of a third of our police.

Now, this will really make businesses WANT to expand in the capital of the Garden State, won't it.  T
he city fathers can use this fact in literature promoting our city.  "With a crime rate rivaling East Saint Louis, Detroit and Compton, can you think of a better place for opening your business."  Well yeah, unless your business is a funeral home, car bullet-proofing shop or something like that.

Not that there isn't money to be made in a now relatively cop-free high crime environment,  Look at what the Bloods can make if they could kidnap some high-ranking state official and collect the ransom.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A little update

I haven't posted anything in the last couple months.  Right now, I want to bring my readers up to date and share some information.

Monday is my wedding anniversary.  I been married 24 years, and I took my wife out today to Malaga, which is a nice Spanish restaurant on Lalor Street.  It is Spanish as in Europe, not Mexican or anything like that.  It is fairly formal, with a Terra cotta floor and white tablecloths.  A big chandler hangs in the front dining room.  We had something fairly simple and very un-Spanish.  Pork Chops.  They give you three nice sized pork chops for $20.  You get with them string beans and carrots , Spanish rice with saffron and homemade potato chips.

The place is owned by a woman in her 50s who works as the hostess.  I don't know if she still does it, but she used to put on flamenco dancing shows.   Well our dinner conversation turned to flamenco dancing and the the name Carmen Amaya came up.  So  you haven't heard of Carmen Amaya.  She was only probably the best flamenco dancer of all time.  Here is a clip of her in action

I came home and looked at a few clips of her dancing and also listened to Ada Falcon, another late great star from south of the border.  She had an interesting life.  Her first lover was a politician and he was assassinated by a hit squad sent out by the president of Argentina.  Her second lover was her bandleader.  He cheated on her.  She then fell in love with a homosexual and caught him in bed with a man.  So in 1942 she did the only thing you could expect from somebody with that much bad luck.  She joined the convent and became a nun.  When she died a few years ago, she was in her 90s.  She once owned a diamond that was a gift from the majaraja of India that was worth millions (another Liz Taylor special).  She was rich back in the day and was noted for buzzing around Buenos Aires in her bigh car showing off her flashy clothes and furs.  Yet when she died she was penniless and only 3 people came to her funeral.

Here is one of her songs, Besos de Miel.   Her stuff sounds old as dirt because the bandleader Francisco Canaro was very conservative musically and still used a small chamber orchestra at a time when most bandleaders went to big bands.  But she probably has the best voice of the old time tango singers.

So much for the dead "girlfriends".

At work, the job is real hectic.  Cristie brought in a gentleman from the Heldrich Center to be our director and he basically tried turning us into real research economists rather than the half-ass hacks we used to be.  So far I wrote something called an Industry report, the one on Trade, Logistics & Distribution is nearly finished and comes in at over 50 pages long.  I also wrote another 20 pages on the construction industry.  That took about 2 months.  The project was complicated by getting a new computer with Office 2010 on it.  My old one had Office 2003.  Nothing like fighting Power Point to make graphs and charts.  That on top of researching a whole bunch of crap.

Well the man who used to work in the state data center and handled our web stuff got promoted and left the floor at the End of July.  Walter was the third webmaster we had that got promoted.  Since Christie doesn't believe in hiring anybody to replace the people that left, I got drafted and will become the new webmaster on  September 12.  No it wasn't my idea.  The director offered me the job, said he wouldn't force me to take it but made it very clear he wanted me to take it.  I know zip about making webpages or uploading material with Interwoven or writing SAS programs or doing work in Foxpro and Fortran.  Sounds like the job from hell, doesn't it.  (By the way, do you know any other place on God's green earth that uses Interwoven instead of Dreamweaver or that still uses Foxpro or Fortran.  I don't.  So I'll learn antique software and become a computer guy for my last 15 months on the job. 

Target date for retirement is December 31, 2012.  That's when I plan to hand up the spikes.

Hey it could be worse.  Lots of people in the real world get laid off and don't have jobs.  Instead, I got an ex-bar manager turned director of a floor that does economics and statistics who butters me up and convinces me (a farm operation and Agronomy double-major) to take a job as an IT guy.  My qualification is supposed to be that I am a quick learner.  I know I didn't get picked because of my education or work background.  The worst that could happen is I get bounced out of that job and sent back to the Bureau of Labor Market Information.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In District 3, It's Mike Mulligan for State Senate

Mike Mulligan will be our next state senator from District 3, if public employees have anything to say about it.  He represents our best alternative to Stephen Sweeney,
If you believe State Senate President Stephen Sweeney is a self-serving scoundrel, you aren't the only one that believes this.  Of course, you know I have been saying this for some time.  But who am I anyway?  Don't take my word for it and you don't have to.  It appears that Brian Donohue from the Star Ledger says the same thing too.  (Click here for the Star Ledger article.)

Also, check out this video from the Star Ledger.  After watching this video, I'm pretty certain George Norcross suffers from one of the worst cases of potty mouth I ever have seen in either an insurance salesman or a public official.

Basically it appears that Sweeney and the rest of the South Jersey Democrat legislators that went along with the pension bill are in the hip pocket of George Norcross III, who had the bill larded with provisions to line his pockets and enrich his hospital and health insurance company.

No, Sweeney doesn't have to go just because he has the morals of a 19th century Chicago alderman.  He's also a bad negotiator.  Remember how I said in the last posting that a politician's positions are more about respect than his personal beliefs.  Well Christie had no respect for Sweeney.  He gutted the Democratic budget and cut programs that were near and dear to the senate president such as aid to the state;s cities (Witness our recent 12 cent per $100 property tax increase made necessary by the aid cuts.), family planning and Medicaid.  If these programs were so important to the Democrats, shouldn't Sweeney have worked out a quid pro quo with the governor that the Dems would back his plan to screw over public workers if Christie would go easy on aid to the cities and the state's lower income residents.  No, Sweeney chose instead to trust Christie.  Why on God's green earth would anybody trust a former prosecutor?

The end result was Christie got everything he wanted and the working people and poor people of this state got screwed over double.

There is an alternative to sending this jerk back to the senate this fall.  It's called Mike Mulligan.  Voting for Mulligan would more about getting rid of Sweeney than standing for anything Mulligan is for.  He is an attorney from Pilesgrove Township in Salem County and is your basic cookie-cutter Republican.  He would back up the governor on just about anything he wants.

OK, then what's the difference between Sweeney and Mulligan?  Well, Mulligan will be a freshman senator with little power.  Sweeney is the senate president.  Mulligan won't have the ability to push through legislation like Sweeney does.  And besides by getting rid of Sweeney, we are sending a powerful message to the rest of the Democratic legislators.  That message is that attacks against unions will not be tolerated.  Anyone who attacks unions will get thrown out of office.

Here is a video where you can see and hear Mike Mulligan in action.

Why not vote for a third party candidate with views more in line with ours.  The answer is because Mulligan has a chance and third party candidates do not.  When was the last time that someone other than a Democrat or Republican got elected to the legislature anyway.  Besides, we can simply remove Mulligan during the next election and replace him with a REAL Democrat, someone other than Stephen Sweeney.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about George Norcross, here is his Wiki article.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just Hanging Around (At Least Until January 2012)

In April 1945, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini thought he'd play it safe and hightail it for Germany in a German military convoy.  The vehicle he traveled in was captured by Italian partisans.  He was caught because he was wearing a private's overcoat with general's pants (which have a red stripe going down each leg).  His mistress was picked up a few days later along with about two dozen other high ranking fascists.  The communist-dominated partisan council decided on public executions.  After the dictator was killed, he was hung upside-down next to his mistress from the Esso gasoline station on a square in downtown Milan.

One of the benefits of living in the USA is that we get to elect our leaders.  What this means is that when we want to get rid of a politician we can just vote them out of office, which is a lot less messy than what the Italians did to change their government around in1945.

Of course don't actually hang anybody, but our politicians still get to "hang around" a while anyway.  After we vote out Sweeney and his crew in November, they will still be around stinking up the statehouse until the middle of January.

By the way, here are the names of the state senators who voted for the Sweeney/Oliver/Christie pension bill.  All Republican senators voted "Yes".  In adition to the Republicans, the followers of Democratic bosses DiVenenzo of Essex County and Norcross of Camden County voted for it.

This included Van Drew (D-01), Whelan (D-02), Sweeney (D-03), Madden (D-04), Norcross (D-05), Beach (D-06), Ruiz (D-29) and Stack (D-33).  In the Assembly, the Democratic traitors were Milam (D-01), Burzichelli (D-03), Riley (D-03), Moriarity (D-04), Fuentes (D-05), Wilson (D-05), Greenwald (D-06), Lampit (D-06), Conaway (D-07), Angelini (-11), Rible (D-11), Spencer (D-29), Coutinho (D-29), Oliver (D-34) and Ryan (D-36).

All the other Democrats in the Senate and Assembly voted against the bill.

Since all seats in the Senate and Assembly are up for grabs this November, this is how I would vote.  If you are currently represented by a Republican, vote to replace him with a Democrat. (All Republicans voted for the bill).  If you are currently represented by one of the Democrats listed above, vote to replace them with Republicans.  Otherwise, vote Democratic.

See, its not just about party.  It's also about respect.  The Christiecrats that voted for this bill do not respect the rights of public employees or the power of their unions.  You see the Democrats trying time and time again to put funding for Planned Parenthood back in the budget.  That is because they both respect and fear the pro-choice vote.  The same for environmental or anti-discrimination legislation.  Democrats Never want to be seen as anti-environmentalist or anti civil rights.  That is because they fear the wrath of the voters from these constitutanties.

Yet for some reason, some of these same Democrats were willing to accept public employee union money and helpers when they ran for office last time, but nonetheless were willing to vote against us.  They need to be taught the hard way that the union vote must be earned.  It can not be taken for granted just because you are running as a Democrat.

Even if we just succeed in removing Sweeney and Oliver, we would have succeeded in decapitating the Democratic legislative leadership.  That should get the rest of the Democrats to wake up and smell the coffee and get to work on the repeal of this bad law.

Repeal the pension law.

Restore the cost of living adjustment and restore collective bargaining.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Who Gave to Stephen Sweeney's Campaign

As you already heard, the South Jersey Democratic Machine, led by George Norcross III, provided the muscle to push the bill which will drastically raise health insurance and pension contributions for the state's half million public employees.  This includes everybody, including state troopers and judges.  The bill also eliminated cost of living increases on pensions.

As with every thing else, Mr. Sweeney and his boys voted the way they did because it was good for Mr. Sweeney and his friends.  To hell with the constitutants, let alone loyalty to organized labor.  Remember, Mr. Sweeney is the Ironworkers president.

The bill originally contained a provision which would have required public employees to get all their health care in New Jersey, because with few exceptions like emergencies on vacation out of state, the policy would not pay to out of state providers.

Who pointed out this provision?  Why, the Republicans.  It wasn't until then that Democrats from soutside the thrall of Mr. Norcross agreed to remove the provision.  Mr. Sweeney and his friends defended the provision because they said it would keep New Jersey insurance money in the state.  In fact Sweeney inserted the provision on behalf of his friend, George Norcross who is CEO of the Cooper Health hospital system and also owns a health insurance company.

Guess who would have benefited from keeping you fron going to let's say Sloan Kettering in New York for cancer treatment?  Why, Mr. Norcross and his insurance company and hospitals.  Nothing like having a captive audience to buy your product, even if something else that's better is available out of state.

Here is the list of Sweeney's contributors:

(Click on the link.  I tried to put the whole file up, but to no avail.)

I did the advanced search and this is what they gave me for the 2011 primary.  It looks like a list of 2007, 2008 and 2009 contributions.

Here is a list of all the individual reports filed by mr Sweeney, including some from 2011.  Here is the link to the state website.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sorry, But you know the drill

Sorry about the wrong number published in the last two posts.  I just fixed it and it should work now.

Yes, your thieving state senators voted to steal the cost of living increases away for all retired New Jersey public employees.  That part is a dead serious fact.

I also intend to publish the names of all senators who voted for this so-called pension reform bill on Monday and all assemblymen who vote for the same bill on Thursday under a picture of a hanged Mousilini along with the names, addresses and phone numbers of their major party opponents in November's election.

Yes, things are going bad for us.  Without massive public support It looks bad now.  Unless lots of people call their assemblymen between now and Thursday to let them know to vote no on pension reform, everybody who put in their 25 years with state, county , local government or a school board in New Jersey can kiss their annual cost of living increases goodbye for the next 30 years.

So call 888-875-6558 and tell your assemblyman how you feel about getting screwed out of your cost of living increases..

Com'on.  Help me out on this one, because I am nothing  without your support.  Let your assemblyman know if he votes yes, his name will appear under a picture of a hanged Mousilini and the text that follows will accuse him of being a thief and scumbag worse than Mousillini and that seniors everywhere should contribute time, talent and treasure to his major party opponent's November campaign.

Yes, Steven Sweeney, Mulligans ane not just for golf.  You have to deal with your Republican opponent Mr. Mulligan this fall.  With union time, talent and treasure from across the state, nation and world, (yes contributions from my friends in Abu Dhaubi are welcome) maybe I can just accomplish the impossible and take out the state senate president with absymetrical force.

Remember, it took just a few muslim terrorists with little boxcutters to send two Boeing 747s into the twin towers and shock the shit out of USA, the most powerful nation on earth.  It also took just a handful of Nazi commandos to rescue Mousilini from imprisonment by the allies and put him back in power for another three years.

Yes, I at Trenton-star.blogspot intend to be a terrorist and a commando.  I want to take down the New Jersey Senae President who voted for this stupid piece of shit.

Let's show Stephen Sweeney that Mulligans exist in other places besides golf and that all Mulligans are not jokes.

I'm sure Mr Mulligan is just as conservative and hostile to state workers as Mr Sweeney, but he won't have Sweeney's leadership abilities and won't be Senate president.  By getting rid of Sweeney, regardless of who he is replaced with, we would have succeeded in chopping off the head of the snake.

Just that action alone will send fear down the spines of any state legislator who thinks once about going along with Christie's union-busting schemes.

Help me, let's get Mr. Mulligan elected a state senator from District 3 (Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester counties) this November.

Kill off theTrenton Irish Gangster.

No Westies in Trenton!!!  Send the filthy mick back to Hell's Kitchen where he belongs (Along with his filthy mick buddy George Norcoss III).  If Hell's Kitchen (in Manhattan) is not to his liking, perhaps the South Jersey equivalent, Gloucester City will do as a retirement home for this creep.  He can then play with the other Irish Crip dope-pushing redneck creeps that live there.  (For more on gang activity in the working-class Irish American garden spot of South Jersey, click here.  To confirm its Irish-American ethnic makeup, click here,_New_Jersey ).
I actually an 1/8 Irish and don't hate Irish people.  I am calling this scumbag a mick because that's what he is, a filthy Irish gangster.  The expression is kind of like what John McCain said about Vietamese.  He called them gooks and when asked to clarify, he said his captors would always be gooks to him.

Harm us, and you made an enemy for life.
Remember that Mr. Sweeney in your dottage when you watch the value of your state pension dindle down to nothing.  (I'm shure you are really "concerned" (notice the sarcism).  You always got your Ironworkers pension, which is indexed to inflation to fall back on.  Most of us are not as fortunate as you to be getting multiple pensions.

You can't force us to eat cat food without escaping our wrath.

Remember the Windsor Thunder from the cell phone commercial.  They're pretty hopeless too, but the cell phone company is asking us to root for them.

Let's send Sweeney to the dustbin of history where he belongs!

This is in Italics, because I am  going off on a tangent here.  I just want to write about my good"friends" the Westies.  They are an Irish gang out of New York.  They also have a presence in New Jersey.  Contrary to what most people think (Hell's Kitchen has gone upscale and is not a down-and-out Irish enclave anymore), my personal sources the Westies still exist and are alive and well in New Jersey.  They are supposed to be involved in several businesses (including a famous restaurant in Atlantic City that curiously has never been organized by the Italian mob-dominated Local 54 and a well-known New Jersey-based fertilizer and grass seed company that's based in Monmouth County)  No specifics here, even butcher boy doesn't mess with the Westies.  For more on the "good old days and Local 54, click here and   ).
How does an Irish gang survive in the Land of the 5 Families?  They persisted when similar Irish gangs were knock`ed out of existence because they were more ruthless than the Italian Mafia.  The Mafia is afraid of the Westies.  Take this for example.  When the Columbian mob wants to get rid of you, they make sure your appropriately "dressed".  They give you a Columbian Necktie.  Well, the micks also know how to "dress up" their victims.  It gives them an "Irish Tux".  What's an Irish Tux, you ask?  Well after they kill you (hopefully you are already dead before this happens), they cut your gut open, puncture both your lungs, then attach cinder blocks to your ankles.  Then it's off to the East River, never to be heard from again.  (Don't worry, the catfish will consume your mortal remains before they ever resurface.  Since your gut has been cut open and your lungs have been pierces, there is no body cavity to accumulate gasses, so your body will never come to the surface and float on top of the water.

For more about the Westies, click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Jersey Senate Votes to Take Cost of Living Raises Away From All Retirees

Many seniors have unwittingly let thieves steal food from their mouths  by following the advice of Jersey 101.5, the Trentonian and other Republican media outlets and calling their legislators to urge them to pass the so-called pension and health care reform package for public employees.  No doubt, some of those that called were retired public employees that thought their benefits would be "grandfathered in"  Little did they know the bill that passed the Senate today calls for ending cost of living raises for all public retirees (including cops, state police, judges and teachers) for the next 30 years.  Nobody gets grandfathered in.  It is important to call your assemblyman NOW and let them know that you will "remember in November" if they vote to steal food out of the mouths of existing retirees.

You would not knowingly let a thief into your home to steal from you.  And most likely you would not encourage a politician to steal money from your own retirement check, but that's just what many seniors did when they called their state legislators and told them to vote for the so-called pension reform package.

Most of the major media outlets have come straight out with Governor Christie's promise to increase homestead rebates if the bill passes, but have not said anything about how it will affect existing retirees, regardless of when they retired.

There is a provision in the bill that says that there will be no cost of living increase for any retirees (regardless of when they retired) for the next 30 years.  That's right, urge your legislator to pass the bill so you can get a bigger homestead rebate and you will be cutting your own throat because inflation will eventually destroy the value of your pension.

Right now public retirees get annual cost of living increases based on the Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers.  This is the same CPI that is used to provide for annual increases in Social Security and veteran's benefits.  Most retirees of governmental entities went to work on their jobs and stayed there for their whole careers on the assumption that they will receive a good pension when they retire and the pension would retain its value because it would go up with inflation.

Well the thieves under the golden dome want to take that away from you.  Now, your pension will be worth half what it is now in 20 years assuming the present low levels of inflation.  If we get a dose of 20 percent Jimmy Carter inflation during that time, your pension will be eaten up a lot faster.

It is still not too late to preserve your pension.  Call the following number, which is a call routing line operated by CWA 1038.  Your call will be routed to your state assemblyman's office.

To Save The Pension Cost Of Living Allowance Tell Your Assemblyman to Vote No on Pension Reform.


Your Call Will Be Routed to Your Assemblyman's Office

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hey Christie, It Ain't Over till Its Over

Yogi Berra was a famous New York Yankees baseball player and manager.  Today he's best known outside of baseball circles for his famous saying, "It ain't over till its over".  Like any other truism that catches on, it is true in many other areas beyond the context in which it was original said.  In a baseball game, all it takes is a rally in the bottom of the ninth and that big lead the other team had evaporates into thin air.  All the fans who left the stadium early then get to miss out on the show they paid to see, a come from behind victory.  The same is true in life and could very well happen in the unions' battle to keep health care a negotiated item, rather than something to be determined by legislation.  All we have to do is believe in ourselves, leeping fighting back, and let our local legislators know their jobs are on the line in the elections this November if they tick off the half million New Jersey public servents covered by the state's health plan.
It's all a question of "which side are you on" as the old union organizing song went.  If  you read the Trentonian  last Thursday, you would think it was all a done deal.  Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver agreed to post the Sweeney bill which will increase pension contributions for workers, require the state to make regular contributions to the pension fund and tequire public employees in state, county and local government, including school districts, to pay drastically more for health insurance.  In a speach Governor Christie made to his bosses at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, he was enthusastic and supportive of the proposal and said he can't wait to sign it.  His corporate masters greated the speach with applause.

Ditto for the Jersey 101.5 radio station.  Both claim passage of the law would be a great victory for taxpayers and help insure higher property tax rebates and lower property taxes.  If you read the Trenton Times on Thursday, you would have gotten a version a little closer to the truth.  This paper promoted the plan as a great victory over crybaby unions, but admitted that a majority of Democrats in both houses oppose the plan and that passage into law is a dicey proposition.   The only way it could pass in the legislature is if the Democratic leadership can strongarm a few other Democratic legislators to vote for it and all Republicans go along.

If you believe in unons and collective bargaining, you should be opposed to this bill.  Of course if you work for state of local government, the cost and quality of your health benefits are on the line.  For everyone else, remember te plan to cut retiree benefits and make everyone pay more is a national program being waged against government workers everywhere on all levels, federal, state and local.  (Remeber Wiscosin!).  Since state and local government happens to be the largest group of employees in NJ (500,000 strong) under the same health plans, don't think changes in their benefits won't affect what your employer offers you.  Believe me an increase at the state's leading employer will have a ripple effect to to private sector and you will pauy even more than you are now.  After all, why should you pay less than the 30 percent of salary government workers have to pay!  Suppose you buy your own health insurance or are retired.  The cuts are not just about employer provided health insurance, the Republicans are also going after Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  All will cost more and beless generous in coverage if the Republicans have their way.

Remember an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us.  Help back us in this fight because after all your Social Security is also on the line in Washington and Christie wants to eliminate Medicaid benefits for state residents with low-paying jobs and reduce them for all other Medicaid recepients.  (It's in the same budget that includes the increase in public employee health care contributions.)

So which side are you on?  The choice should be simple.  Is your home (or car) your largest asset.  Do you get most of your income from work, pensions or Social Security?  Then you should be with us.  Those who own large businesses or have big stock portfolios or trust funds to support them probably would benefit at least in the short term by being on the opposite side.  Since us working people outnumber the rich, we should win, if we let the politicians know we vote for our class interests and will not be swayed by talk of elusive savings on property taxes or paltry increases in homestead rebates.

Now for the meat of the matter.  CWA 1038 is operating a phone bank thatautomatically directs your call to the appropriate legislator.  Just call the number and enter your zip code and you will be connected with the appropriate legislative office.

Tell Your Legislators Not To Legislate Public Employee Health Benefits.




You wull be directed to the appropriate legislative office.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Unlikely Fact, Republicans Put 1st Minortiy Man In Vice-Presidency

Charles Curtis was Herbert Hoover's vice president.  He held office from 1928 to 1932.  As a Kaw Indian, he was the first non-white to hold the nation's number 2 political office.

No, this fact did not come from The Onion. It is a dead serious fact.  Charles Curtis,who was 3/4 American Indian and 1/4 white, was America's first racial minority in the Blair House.  He served as Herbert Hoover's vice president.  Here is Mr .Curtis's Wiki article:

His running mate, Herbert Hoover was also not all he is believed to be in modern folklore.  He was born to a poor Quaker family in West Branch, Iowa.  His father was a blacksmith .  He lived in a 2-room house.  Both his parents were dead by the time he reached the age of 9 and he went to live with relatives in Oregon.  He went to Stanford in California and got a degree in geology, but could not get work as a professional in his field when he graduated, so he took a job as a laborer in a California gold mine.

He met his future wife at Stanford, and she also graduated from the college's first class along with Mr. Hoover.  She had a degree in engineering. As you can imagine, a female engineering graduate from the late 19th century would be a ball of fire.  And she was.  Go the Hoover Library in West Branch and you can see the pistol she carried around New York City when she lived with her husband in the Waldorf.  A pistol-packing 1st Lady.  A true earlier-day Sarah Palin,

While working as a laborer in the gold mine, Hoover saved his money and bought a good suit.  He got a job interview with a British mining company and said he was the manager of the mine where he worked and secured a job as a manager of a gold mine in Australia.  On this job, he became a millionaire.  This story of resume fraud was told by the tour guide when I visited West Branch in August, 2000. (which a good part of it is now a restored site that looks like it did in Hoover's childhood, the Hoover Library as well as Hoover's grave, with an Eternal Flame, like Kennedy's.  The grave, fittingly is located next to a restored prairie adjacent to Interstate 80.)  As a child, Hoover would have played on that prairie, and in many ways his mind never left West Branch and its prairie during his whole life.

Who says resume fraud never pays?  I believe there was a line in the Shogun novel where one of the Japanese officials was talking to the Portuguese sea captain who was the subject of the book.  They were discussing the history of the  captain's homeland and the captain's life story.  The captain said his people, the Portuguese, fought the Spanish and secured their nation's independence.  The Japanese said it is wrong to go to war against your own emperor, but all is fine so long as you succeed. "So long as you succeed."  That is key.  And Hoover succeeded magnificently.  He had enough money by the time he retired that he was able to live in an apartment in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

So Herbert Hoover wasn't as honest as George Washington in the cherry tree story?  And Richard Nixon was also a paragon of virtue.  Running a government is a lot like running a Mafia family.  And presidents share some of the personality traits of dons as Nixon came to show.  Hoover showed us that Presidents can also be as underhanded as the most deceitful of 19th century robber barons.  He was a self-made millionaire and was not above cheating a little to get the upper hand. (Here is the best account I can find of Hoover's early life.  It glosses over the resume fraud, but does back up my claim that he worked as a day laborer in a gold mine after he finished college.

Nothing new here you say.  Hoover was a rich man.  It didn't matter whether he was self-made or not, fact is , he presided over the nation during the Great Depression and sat in the White House eating fillet Mignon while the working class starved.  A modern day Nero, you think.

What if I was to show you that the man was a noted philanthropist, even before he entered politics.  What if I was to show you that he cared a lot more about civil rights for minorities back at a time when many Democratic officials were members of the Klan.  More than a little surprising, you say.

As a young swashbuckling ex-patriot, he lived in the foreign colony in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion.  He served as a guide for the US Marines and helped them rescue the civilians who lived there against the anti-royalist and anti-foreigner Chinese rebels who attacked the compound where the westerners lived during the rebellion against the Chinese emperor.  (More of a real war hero than let's say George W Bush - who served in the National Guard to get out of Vietnam - or Bill Clinton - who also avoided Vietnam - or Barrack Obama - who also never served under fire.)

During the First World War after Mr. Hoover already made his bones (and millions) in business, he went to Europe and headed up the Commission for Relief in Belgium and helped with the effort to feed refugees along the Western Front.  After the war, he went to eastern Europe and headed up the Salvation Army's relief effort there.  When I was a kid, my uncle Frank, who lived in Lithuania during WW I, told me that it was the Salvation Army, not the Red Cross, that kept him and his sister and mother alive when they got trapped in Europe from 1914 to 1923.  He said the crap about the Red Cross in our high school history book was just a bunch of propaganda put there by middle class American writers that didn't want any credit going to a bunch of holy rollers.  He said the Salvation Army's assistance was invaluable, even if he didn't agree with their religious views.  For more about Hoover's role in feeding Eastern European refugees in in the post World War I period, see
  I forget the significance of the imagry, but at West Branch, there is a statue of the Egyptian goddess Isis, with a veiled face, in honor of Hoover's European relief efforts.

So Herbert Hoover saved my father's mother's life so I can be here to write this.  Thank God for Mr. Hoover!

Sadly, the record of Hoover on civil rights was somewhat mixed.  On the positive side, he actually believed in the Quaker belief that all men were created equal regardless of race and believed that the black man and the Indian could pull themselves up by self reliance and hard work.  He picked Kansas senator Charles Curtis, a Kaw Indian as his running mate for the 1928 presidential election.  Mr Curtis became the first non-white elected vice president, a fact that has been largely forgotten today.  He was a strong supporter of Booker T Washington, the man who helped found trade schools for blacks across the country such as the Bordentown Manual and Training School (Later Johnstone and now the Medium Security Juvenile Facility) in Bordentown, NJ.  I hope you can see the irony in an institution originally created to train blacks to succeed now being used to warehouse black juvenile prisoners.  For more on the Bordentown Manual School see

On the negative side, it was Hoover's opportunism and duplicity that caused southern blacks to break from the GOP.  He's why Martin Luther King and all the other civil rights leaders of the 1950s and 1960s were Democrats.  The story goes like this.  Under President Coolidge, Hover was Secretary of Commerce. (He and Howard Taft were the only two American Presidents who served as cabinet members prior to running for President. )  There was no FEMA back in those days and the Commerce Department was responsible for distributing government assistance after natural disasters.  In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded vast tracts in the South and Hoover was tasked with distributing the aid.  Hoover was aware that the money would go to the white landowners and never be used to help rebuild the homes of black sharecroppers who were wiped out by the floods.  Hoover made a deal with Booker T. and with the NAACP to keep quiet about the misappropriation of aid in exchange for increased participation in the government once Hoover took office as President.  Washington and the NAACP took the bait and the sharecroppers, as usual got screwed out of their government money.

Hoover then executed his "Southern Strategy" during the 1928 election and openly courted white voters in the South.  He carried several southern states, the first Republican to do so since Reconstruction.  The whites backed him because they didn't want Al Smith, a Catholic and northern liberal to make it into office.  Hoover agreed with white leaders to allow the "old south" status quo to remain in place if he was elected.

By screwing over the black leadership, Hoover forever caused the blacks to break from the GOP, which they have consistently supported from the Civil War up until 1928.  He's why most blacks are still Democrats today.

Hoover was a revolutionary.  He was the nation's first modern Republican president.  Besides inventing the Southern Strategy as a way to get southern whites to vote for the GOP, Hoover also helped pioneer open cooperation between government and business.  As Secretary of Commerce, he believed that the Commerce Department should help businesses become more profitable and believed in giving government money to businesses to help them out.  He was the father of "Corporate Welfare", a policy that is a hallmark of Governor Christie's administration today.

To be fair to Hoover, it is important to note he did not sit by idly and let the nation suffer during the Great Depression.  As a man who believed in hard work and self-help he saw noting wrong with using public works projects to create jobs for unemployed workers.  He was responsible for starting work on the Hoover Dam, outside of Las Vegas.  Originally the dam was called Boulder Dam, but it was eventually changed to Hoover, in honor of the man who commissioned it.  There would have been more public works projects, but Hoover, who was considered a liberal within the Republican Party at the time, was unable to get congress to go along with the idea of deficit spending to create infrastructure.  (Today that's standard policy during a depression).

Like him or not, it is important to know Hoover to understand modern Republican politicians.  He believed:

No direct handouts to individuals.  People should be encouraged to help themselves.  Setting up educational and training programs is fine.  Providing relief during times of war or natural disasters is fine, but otherwise direct assistance should never be given.  (Read this:  No Social Security, Medicare, Medicare, Heating Assistance, Section 8, etc.)

The government should become the partner of business.  Financial aid and tax breaks to businesses are essential to make American industry more efficient and competitive.  (Reads:  Corporate Welfare, such as Christie's $110-million tax break to Panasonic for a new corporate headquarters and $220-million break to the Revel Casino in Atlantic City are just the ticket for success.)

Blacks and other minorities are OK.  (Reads:  We don't believe in biological racial superiority such as the whites did in the Old South or the Nazis did in Germany.  However, if they can't pull themselves up on their own, then the deserve to rot in the gutter.  No affirmative action needed or allowed.)

I always had an interest in Hoover.  He was Iowa's only president and I spent several years living in that state.  They like Hoover there.  You can count the number of Democratic governors elected in Iowa since the Civil War on one hand.  They name buildings after Herbert Hoover there, that's how popular he is there.

I don't think he was a bad man.  He was a paradox.  He helped feed millions as a philanthropist.  He put the first non-white person into our nation's second-highest office.  However, his rural background meant he never really understood the realities of life for the urban  poor.  According to his own experience, a little hard work and brazenness was all poor people needed to rise to the top of the world.

Fact is, Hoover would never had succeeded if his relatives in Oregon never took him in and if Stanford was not tuition-free.  He got the benefit of having relatives who were successful businesspeople taking him and also benefited from the California tradition of free college to all comers.

Today, most poor people don't have benevolent relatives who will train their kids to be successful businesspeople.  Most poor people can't just run off to the state university on a free ride and get a 4-year degree either.  Also, we have gotten better on verifying things, so Hoover's adventure into resume fraud wouldn't work today either.

If we get rid of assistance to individuals and give all our tax money to corporations, we will create a very cruel world.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Have a Readi-Cat and a Smile

Readi-cat is a contrast agent used by x-ray technicians to make your innards show up better on film.  Believe me, the taste of this product can not be confused with gin martinis which are my favorite drink,  I would not recommend drinking Readi-cat unless told to do so by a medical professional.

Back in the 1970s, Coca Cola had "Have a Coke and a Smile" as its slogan.  Whis is a take on that.  Today I am going for a cat scan of my abdomen because I have been getting pains in my gut.  Probably they're just muscle spasums related to a fall I had about two weeks ago.  Readi-cat is a nasty-tasting liquid that the x-ray technicians use to make your guts stand out better on a cat scan.  You drink it in three parts.   The first part, which is enough to fill a 16-ounce glass goes down 2 hours before the procedure.  It contains barium and tastes a lot like the Maalox brand of antacid.


It's now Saturday morning.  I had my cat scan yesterday and it was no big deal.  On a scale of 1 to 10, cat scans rate about a 2 in the level of discomfort endured by the patient.  You drink some crap that tastes like chalk, then go through a doughnut hole type doo-dad that reminds me of the time machine on Stargate.  A wheel inside the donut spins around and you get to see some flickers of laser light coming through a piece of glass on the donut, but beyond that, nothing for the patient to do.  It takes all of about 5 minutes.  Compared to an MRI, a cat scan is a piece of cake.

Looking forward to getting back the results.  Hopefully, the docs find out what's wrong so they can fix it or at least I start to heal up on my own soon.

It is Now Saturday June 11.  I got word back on Wednesday that I broke my sixth and seventh ribs on the right side.  The emergency room at Robert Wood Johnson - Hamilton missed this fracture when I went there Friday before Memorial Day.  It took Princeton Radiology's cat scan to find the problem.  According to my doctor, the stomach pain was what is known as "referred pain".  You have nerves that are attached to the back of your 5th, 6th and 7th ribs then go through your  belly in the front.  Break one of these ribs in the back and get pain in your gut.

Well problem found, but a little late.  I already have started healing.  Thanks docs, but no thanks for taking a couple weeks to diagnose my problem.  That's American insurance-company driven health care for you.  Slow and ineffective.  Thanks Corzine for getting rid of the Traditional Plan and switching all state employees to managed care.  I hope you are proud of saving the taxpayers a few pennies.  I will remember that the next time I have to be in agony for a few weeks as a result of managed health care.

How is managed care resopnsible, and how would traditional health insurance make a difference?  For those old enough to remember having such a policy, traditional Blue Cross/Blue Shield allows you to go to any healthcare facility anywhere in the world and get treatment without referrals,  Employer-paid health plans have dropped it in favor of managed-care options which restrict your choice of doctors and hospitals and also ofter require "pre-certification" before getting more expensive procedures such as cat scans and MRIs.

In my case, I went to the emergency room about a day or so after breaking my ribs, but the hospital only did an X-ray.  They couldn't find the breaks on x-ray.  Perhaps they didn't bother doing a cat scan because emergency rooms are overwhelmed with non-trauma patients, because people without health insurance get there knowing they will get to see a doctor.  Also, perhaps they didn't do a cat scan, knowing that would require precertification by the managed care provider.

In my case, I saw my doctor the following Tuesday after I was doubled-over all morning in an office meeting.  By this time I decided that maybe there is actually something wrong even though the emergency room said I was fine.  I couldn't get the cat scan done that Tuesday, because the procedure had to be precertified.  That meant I had to wait to Friday.  I couldn't get it done in a hospital either because of insurance company rules,  They wanted it done in an outpatient facility where it took me a few days to get the results back.

Altogether, everything slowed the process down and the diagnosis came too late to do me much good.

Now if I had traditional Blue Cross I could have insisted on a cat scan at the hospital when I first showed up and had an answer that day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Darwin Awards

Here is a picture of the dumpster on Freudenmacher Alley where Gladiz Polanco-Ramos's body was allegedly dumped by her ex-boyfriend.
I recall seeing a movie on TV about an insurance investigator which traveled the country to study deaths deserving of "Darwin Awards".  Basically, the Darwin went to people who did something so stupid to get themselves killed that they distinguished themselves as someone deserving of being taken out of the human gene pool.

Back in the first decades of the 20th century eugenics was popular.  Eugenics was the idea that medical professionals and scientists should take steps to keep all people with inferior genes from reproducing so that the quality of the human race could be improved over time.  Needless to say, after World War II, this theory went out of vogue.

The concept of people of inferior intelligence corrupting the human race by being allowed to reproduce still is a part of popular culture.  In addition to "Darwin Awards", another movie which humorously looks at the theory is "Idiocracy", which is about a rather dumb GI that is placed in suspended animation in a military experiment and wakes up in the distant future to save the human race from leaders who encourage the watering of crops with Gatorade.  It seems that in the future, the white hillbillies and minorities from the urban ghettos take over the world and need the help of the GI who happens to be the smartest person alive at the time.

Back to Trenton.  Well in recent weeks we have had a few people in the news that did monumentally stupid things that deserve awards,  Here they are:

Mayor Mack's former chief of staff Paul Sigmund gets the "clean living award" for getting caught buying heroin on East Hanover Street a stone's throw from city hall.  It seems he was noticed loitering on the corner of North Stockton and East Hanover by a cop that didn't recognize him.  When the cop approached him, he took off only to be stopped on East Hanover about an hour later with seven decks of heroin on his person.

Mr. Sigmund was on the job in the number two position in city hall for a few weeks before this.  Not only did Paul Sigmund hold a top position in Trenton city government, he comes from a long line of famous people.  His mother was Barbara Sigmund, who was mayor of Princeton back in the 1980s.  Her father was a congressman from Louisiana.  Barbara Sigmund's mother served out the remainder of the term after her husband died.  Paul Sigmund's father was a Princeton University professor and his aunt is Cokie Roberts, a reporter for National Public Radio and ABC News.  I guess the apple sometimes falls far from the tree.  Here is a link to the story from NJ.Com.

The "green living award" goes to illegal immigrant David Lopez who killed his ex-girlfriend Gladiz Polanco-Ramos and deposited her body in a dumpster a short distance from his house.  He recently broke up with Polanco-Ramos, but returned to her house at 12 Roebling Avenue and got into a loud argument with her, that attracted the attention of neighbors who saw him walk out the front door of his house, go around the corner and deposit her body about 200 feet from her house.  That takes brains you know.  Nothing like the cops having witnesses that saw you throw your ex's warm body in the dumpster.  Well, at least he was considerate of others and the environment and did not leave the body to rot in the house.  No he put trash in its place and disposed of it properly.  Here is a link to the story from NJ.Com.

The "parents of the year award" goes to Plesie Nicholas and her live-in boyfriend Anthony Roberson, who are accused of tying Nicholas' 8-year old daughter up to door knobs and their South Logan Street home's staircase.  The little girl sustained rope marks which cut through the skin almost to the bone and the child is in danger of losing one of her arms due to the abuse.

The child was discovered when Mercer County Sheriff's officers showed up at the house to arrest Roberson on an unrelated warrant.  The little girl approached detectives and asked them to take her away from her mother.  When asked why she wanted to be taken away, the girl said her mother doesn't feed her and she has to steal food and she said her mother ties her up.  The officer noticed marks on her arm and had paramedics examine her.  The paramedics found her injuries to be worse than originally suspected.  The sheriff's officers noted that the house was filthy and filled with dead rodents and garbage.  Here is a link to the story on NJ.Com.

Speaking of abuse and torture, there is the case of the 15-year old girl who was kidnapped by her boyfriend and held in the attic of an Ingham Avenue house for three days.  She was not given any food and received very little water.  The boyfriend sexually assaulted her druing this time.  In addition she was burned with cigarettes and beaten during her captivity.  After she escaped from the house by climbing out a window when the boyfriend left the property for a while, she was examined at a local hospital and her bruises and cigarette burns were documented.

According to the boyfriend's lawyer, the girl is just making up the story and that it is a "Trenton tradition" for disgruntled girlfriends to frame their boyfriends by alledging rape and abuse.

See the following link from The Trentonian for more about this story.

So there it is, we live in a wonderful city don't we?

Unlike the previous stories, the following incident did not happen recently, but rather occurred about 15 years ago.  Perhaps for that reason, I was unable to find any references to it on the Internet, but it shows the Darwinistic nature of some of the people in this town and is worth recounting.

An article appeared in the Trentonian about a woman and two men who lived at a house on the 700 block of East State Street.  I believe this happened sometime in the 1990s.  For reference, the 700 block is the block just after State and Chambers going toward town.  This is a pretty rough area and back then was home to scores of alcoholics, drug addicts and gang bangers.  A harder than typical ghetto area.

The woman was walking through a state parking lot and came upon a gallon wine bottle which contained a green liquid.  Her reaction was that someone left some moonshine and I am going to take it home.  So she went back to her room in a house where the men also rented rooms and drank some of the "wine".  She got sick and died.

The men heard about the wine and the death and decided to take the bottle before the police arrived to investigate the death.  From what I remember one of the men recounted to the Trentonian reporter. that he and his buddy were "aiming to get high" and that explained "where their heads were at."  So one of the men figured that if the wine killed the woman it must be really good stuff and if they drink just a few sips of it they probably would get real high.  So that's what they did and they got sick and went to the emergency room to have their stomachs pumped.

It turned out that the "wine" was discarded antifreeze containing ethylene glycol.  Small amounts of this sweet liquid have been known to kill. 

True Darwin material, these three chaps.