User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: 2015

"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.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Oil is Ours

Yes, the Oil is Ours.  It's a slogan from Brazil in the 1950s, but it is equally appropriate today in the United States.  The environmentalist assholes were telling us back in 2009 or 2010 that "we can't drill ourselves out of this one" and we shoved it up their collateral assholes.  We now produce more oil than Saudi Arabia and are the number 1 oil producer in the world,  Now those assholes want to take our very successful weapon away. They want to kill fracking.

Now you are probably thinking that I am somehow beholden to the oil companies.  Yes, I own a few shares of oil companu stock, but that is because oil is the "lavor of the month" for us value stockholders.  You can blame Saudi Arabia for that.  They contunue to pump their hearts out when they really should cut back and r=drive prices back up.

Before I get bac to the gist of this story, I want to say a few things about the pirates that market their products to seniors.  They think they know us, but in fact they do not.  I had some jerkoff at Investors Bank try to sell me an anuity for 8 percent with "no risk"{/  Of course I told him to go to hell.  Why?

First, I am not risk adverse, rather I love risk.  Som 19th century capitalist, I don't know who, once said the time to invest is when blood is running in the streets.  I am of that ilk.  You want to make the real money, you must have brass balls.  And that is from an American senior citizen.  Maybe its time for the jerkoffs in charge to retoll their marketing strategy.

Back to "The Oil is Ours".  We were able to access the other half of America's oil that is still in the ground.  Why give it away to foreigners?  Mr Obama oppooses lifting restrictions on exporting American oil because of the global warming theory.  Whether man casuses climate change or not, it doesn't matter.  It is occuring.  The meterological data tells us that the eart is getting warmer.  I just don't think it is ourt obligaton as the second-largest catbon emitter to do anything about it.  In fact, there is no direct proff that catbon hioxide or man has anything to do with the warming at all.

Moving New Jersey to the climate of South Carolina.  Sounds like a wonderful idea.  I love golbal warming.  Notice I'm not stupid enough to buy a house at the shore.

Yes, as someone with a Bachelor of Science degree, I take my degree title literally.  I won't dismiss the ideas of global warming advocates literally/  I think we ought to develop alternative energy scource (wind and solar) so they become practical.  We also must use the most practical solution to minimizing our carbon footprint that is avalilable tofay.  In oned word, that is natural gas.

I am a stong supporter of the PennEast pipeline.  I make no secret of the fact that I got thousands of dollars invested in PSEG.  But does that have anything to do with my decision to support the pipeline proposed for Hopewell Township?  Perhaps, but perpharilly, I invest where value is and that can change in a heartbeat.

No, I actually care about the environment and that's why I support the PennEast pipeline.  So why would I support something that RiverKee[er and the Sierrs Club oppose?  Just let me answer the question.  Can we reduce carbon emmissions from converting the Duck Island PSEG gemerating plant from coal to gas?  Of cource yes.  But in order to do this, we need a plentyfuk and reliable source of gas.  And that is embodied in the PennEast pipeline.  So let's build it..

And that is from a guy who owns several several hundred shares of Associated Resources Partnership (ALRP).  Yes, I love coal too.   But I lopve my planet more.  Let's build the pipeline and move on to the future.  And for now, that's natural gas, not wind and solar.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Who Reads This Thing Anyway?

To answer the question in the headline, some things are expected while other things are surprising.

I get about 15 to 20 hits on most posts, and most of those hits are within the first week or so.  It looks like I got a small group of followers who actually read this thing.  That's not all that surprising, I wasn't expecting to have much of an audience.

However, certain articles, primarily the stuff written in 2010 and 2011 have attracted hundreds or even thousands of hits over the years.  By far the most popular is "Christie Contributors Outted" which is a list of Chris Christie's contributors for the first governor campaign as posted on the state's website.  It no doubt has found new life since he is now running for president.  Not all the popular stuff has to do with politics.  The article on Rosa Luxemburg  probably was researched by every 6th grader in Germany writing a term paper on one of their country's leading historical figures.  Also popular are writings about Packards, my water filtration system, the dirty house with the roaches and Mayor Janice Miranov.

I would like to digress a little here.  I put the posts up about Ms. Miranov not because she is a lousy mayor (25 years in office, the voters must like her) or any particular dislike for transgender people or her decision to become a woman.  Its more because she is a public figure that represents herself as a genetic woman when that is obviously not so.  Mot many gals I know have a baritone voice or have an Adam's apple.  And besides a man in a dress trying to present himself in a serious light just comes off funny.  The audience from China to America thinks so too.  One favorite was the video of Ms. Miranow with the police in formation standing at attention.  One wonders how the police chief was able to keep a straight face.

Of course most of the traffic that doesn't come here directly comes from Google.  I would like to express my gratitude to Trenton Katt for linking to my site because she was also an important source of traffic.

The most common country where visitors come from is the United States, of course.  Do you knw what #2 is?  Why it is Ukraine.  Why, I really can't say.  Perhaps it has something to do with this unlikely site that links to mine.  It is, a porn site written in the Cyrillic alphabet.  I don't know what the connection is between this site and Ukrainians or Russians seeking out dirty movies, but perhaps they find some value in the stuff that is posted here.  I also get steady visitors from Russia, France, Germany and the UK.  Can't figure it out, where are those Canadians and Aussies?

Ban Smoking in City Parks?......Really?

Do you inhale?  Like next to the guy with the big stoogie when walking in the park?  I hope not, but I still never thought smoking outdoors was that big a deal.  We now have people trying to ban smoking everywhere - even on solitary walks i  the park.  I don't smoke, but smoking outdoors doesn't bother me.  In any event, with the crime problem here, we have bigger fish to fry.

A few years ago, an anti-smoking group ran a commercial on national TV featuring cartoon characters.  I don't remember the content of the commercial exactly, but fanciful claims about the benefits of smoking were made, then one character says in response to the other "Really?".

The implication of course is that any claims that smoking is beneficial are pure fantasy, just as talking cartoon characters are also fictitious.  Perhaps the anti-smoking group lobbying city council for a law against smoking in city parks should take heed to their own propaganda and realize they are coming across like a bunch of idiots.

For the third year in a row, the anti-smoking ordinance has been introduced to city council.  The first time, in 2013, it was voted down.  In 2014 it was tabled after several residents objected.  Maybe they should take a hint, but the cigarette Nazis never seem to give up.

The rationale given for this law is that a majority of people responded "yes" to a survey at National Night Out asking whether or not they wanted smoking banned in parks.  The group also mentioned that smoking is banned in parks at about a quarter of all municipalities in New Jersey, including Princeton and it is time for Trenton to get with the program.

So why not then?  For one thing, several city councilmen stated that they never got any complaints from residents about smoking in the parks.  And the 50 survey participants at the National Night Out event are not representative of the city's 60,000 or so residents.  They are likely to be more politically engaged and probably wealthier and more educated than typical people who live here.  After all a sizable minority of city dwellers are at least occasional users of illegal drugs such as marijuana.  And reefer is normally smoked, isn't it.

So what, who cares what the unwashed masses think.  We need this law to "protect the children" and "for people's health".  My response is that our children have seen a lot worse things than a few people smoking tobacco outdoors and "health" is often the excuse given to promote a puritanical agenda.  After all why can we buy paint and can smell the fumes to our heart's content if we are painting something, but if we put the paint in a bag, then breathe from the bag in a deliberate attempt to get high, that's illegal.  I don't recommend that anyone sniff paint, but one gets you just as sick as the other.  The point is not to protect people the ill effects of paint fumes but to keep people from using the product to get high.  The same can be said about this law.  It is not to protect anybody's health but to take away one more place where we can still legally smoke.

Of course there's the most practical reason of all for not passing this law.  Trenton doesn't have the manpower to enforce it.  To prove my point, I will list the headlines from the three police blotter entries from the July 3rd edition of the Trenton Times.  They are, "Boy Wounded in Drive-by Shooting", "Two Hurt by Gunfire on N. Broad Street",  and "Argument Ends in Early Morning Gunfire".  Now let's see, the suburban towns have police blotter entries about things like cut car tires and nothing less than a shooting that results in a wounding makes the police blotter in Trenton.  Perhaps our police should be concentrating on arresting people involved in violent crime rather than looking for people lighting up in the parks.

I can see it now, a squad of cops diverted to the anti-smoking patrol while the bodies pile up on city streets.  Perhaps the extra money brought in by those $500 fines for lighting up in the park can go to hire more cops.  That's revenue enhancement at its finest.

So let's get back to reality and kill the anti-smoking bill.  Our cops have more important things to do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What Is It About Anyway?

This is a plaque located at the Confederate cemetery in Pennsville, New Jersey.  The cemetery was used to bury prisoners who died at Fort Delaware, located on Pea Patch Island in the middle of the Delaware River.  Conditions at the camp were so bad it came to be known as the Andersonville of the North.

Last Wednesday, a 21 year old youth, Dylann Roof decided it would be a good idea to go to the oldest African Methodist Episcipal church in the country and kill nine parishioners.  We know he recently got a gun given to him by his father on his 21st birthday.  He also was a loner who had few friends in high school, took a lot of drugs, did not work, and lived at home with his parents.  He also surfed racist websites especially the one run by the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is a reconstituted white citizens council like those that existed across ACmerica in the 1950s and 1960s.  He also had his own Facebook page where he posted a manifesto as well as pictures of him burning American flags and waving Confederate flags.

I think he might be a racist.  No duh!  Think he might have a little mental problem.  Probably.  Were his parents living with their heads stuck in the sand, not noticing anything  was wrong in their son's life.  Most certainly.  Why else would you buy someone in his state a mind a gun.

Perhaps the whole situation could have been prevented if someone stepped in and got him the help he needed.  Intervention doesn't always work with the mentally ill, but we do know that if you do nothing, the outcome can't be good.

So let's say for now that these murders were the work of a disaffected youth and that this was all about what happens when someone feels powerless and sees no alternative but violence to get their point across.  Maybe he was mentally ill.  Perhaps he was just as normal as any revolutionary, but he didn't have the organizational skills to put an army together and realized there was no way that the establishment would allow people with his viewpoint to have legitimate access to the political process.  More about this latter,

What the problem is not about is the Confederate flag.  Also, it is not about the lack of strict gun control.

The liberal establishment, as epitomized  by the mainstream media, are not interested in solving the problems of violence or of racism.  Instead, they grasp at straws and try to use acts of violence that shock the public conscience as a means to advance their agenda.  On Thursday morning CNN was already reporting about "public outrage" and why we should sharply restrict gun ownership as they did in England or Australia.  In a couple days they saw this wasn't catching on so they latched onto the NAACP's wagon and pounded  us constantly about some so-called national movement to get rid of the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, SC.

When they showed the "crowds" protesting the flag, it was clear they were made up only of a handful of people, probably no more than 100.  The network's announcers and guests spoke about how the flag is a symbol of "hate" and doesn't belong on public display in 21st century America anywhere, much less at the state capitol.

What they neglect to mention is where on the capital grounds the flag is located, which is at the Confederate civil war monument which was erected in honor of the veterans who fought for South Carolina.  They also don't mention how the flag got where it is today.  It used to fly from the statehouse dome, but the NAACP, as they are doing again now, argued that the flag doesn't belong on a government building.  After a boycott against tourism to the state among other NAACP actions, the state legislature in 1990 voted to move the flag to a more fitting spot, which is the memorial.  There it represents the past and honors the veterans who fought for it.  It no longer is an endorsement by the state for present-day support for slavery or other ideas supported by the Confederacy.

Civil War memorials are a common-sense place to display the Confederate flag.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is made up of the descendants of Confederate soldiers supports this use.  You will even find Confederate flags flying in New Jersey at the Finns Point National Cemetaey located near Pennsville in Salem County.

But the opportunistic bullies behind the attack on the Confederate flag don't care about what was agreed on the South Carolina state house flag in 2000.  They don't even care that the flag didn't have anything to do with the deaths in Charleston.  They want to get rid of all Confederate flags everywhere and will use whatever tactics necessary to do so.   Yesterday, Sears, Walmart, Ebay and Etsy all announced that they will no longer sell the flag either in stores or on their websites.  Of course they didn't do this out of the kindness of their hearts.  They probably were threatened with a boycott by the NAACP or whoever is orchestrating this crap.  They want the controversy to end so they can get back to selling what they sell.  Getting rid of the flag is the easiest way to get there.

And its not just flags.  The State of Virginia is taking steps to get rid of SCV-endorsed vanity license plates that contain the SCV emblem, which is based on the Confederate flag.  I guess this is another attack on the descendants of Civil War vets.  After all, we're not talking about a KKK plate or anything like that.  This is a veteran's organization similar to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

What's next in this silly wave of attacks?  I bet if we give in, the monuments will be gone, the street names will be gone and all vestiges of the Old South will be erased .  Already an attempt was made in Congress to have the statues of Confederate heroes removed from the Capitol in Washington.  At least that idea is on ice for now.

If we really want to stop the few nuts that do what Dylann Roof did, why not pass a national right to carry law.  Here's how it works.  Anyone who can pass the standard federal background test will be able to buy a handgun.  States and localities would be unable to have their own more restrictive laws.  Everyone who can pass the background test can get a federal concealed carry permit, which will work pretty much anywhere except for maybe airports and post offices.  Again, states won't be able to interfere.  Then there will be a lot more people packing heat just about everywhere.  Since we have had no success keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and nuts, we can cut down on crime by arming more people.  Then the criminals and nuts would be less likely to pull their guns on innocent people because there will be a high likelihood that they will get shot by the people they are trying to kill.

It may sound crazy, but the gun crime is lower in places that allow the right to carry than it is in places with strict gun control.  That's because only normal honest people obey laws.  The criminals don't care and will carry guns anyway.  The nuts also seem to get guns regardless of what the laws are.  Allow people to be adults and defend themselves.   Also, please leave the Confederate flag out of this.

Here's a picture of Dylann Roof doing what he does best.  Now this's what I call a real patriotic American.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Constitutional Surgury

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an opinion today siding with the governor who has been saying that the parts of the 2011 pension reform law that require state and local government employees to pay more for their pensions and to suspend the annual cost of living raises are binding but the part that requires the governor to make annual contributions to the fund is not.

Basically the court said that one legislature cannot make a promise to bind a future legislature to appropriate the money and also that the legislature cannot bind the public to pay a debt without a referendum on the election ballot.

To see the full text of the court's decision click here:

Forget the legal mumbo jumbo.  What the court says is that Christie can walk away from a deal he made with the unions to give up  our cost of living raises and to put more into our pensions but he doesn't have to put up the money to pay us.  That's the same thing as allowing a car dealer to enforce a contract to make payments on a car without actually giving you the vehicle. 

Would you pay for a vehicle the seller refuses to provide because he says he got a bad deal and now wants more money.  No, a deal between private parties is a deal and you are not supposed to walk away from it.  In fact a court would almost most certainly require the dealer to produce the car on the original terms in this example.

If you have been following this blog for a few years, you would know that I have portrayed Senate President Steven Sweeney as a villan in the past.  Yes, I thought at the time that the 2011 pension reform bill was a bad deal and Sweeney joined hands with the governor and supported it.  However times and alliances change and Sweeney is now on our side.  After all, the legislature voted to put the money in the budget to fully fund the pension for the last two years, but the governor used a line item veto to take it out.  The legislature was willing to pay, but the governor refused.

So why not override the veto.  It is not that simple because at least a two-thirds vote is required in both houses to override but only a simple majority to pass a bill.  Problem is the Democrats don't have the necessary 2/3 vote and the Republicans refuse to break party discipline and vote against the governor.  In fact under Christie, the legislature has never overrode a veto.

So remember, if you are a public worker or pensioner and you like the Republicans because they are against abortion, support family values, oppose gay marriage or want to "protect the taxpayer" don't cry when your pension goes bye-bye or your kids or grand kids can't get a state job with a pension.  Only blame yourself because you chose to vote against your economic self interest.

The rich as a group never vote against their self interest.  That's why the Republicans are against a millionaire tax and support reducing welfare, Medicaid and food stamp benefits.  (By the way these programs cost very little in comparison to things that benefit the rich like corporate welfare or the middle class like homestead rebates for senior citizens.)

Unfortunately, aside from going to the US Supreme Court and again arguing impairment of contract, there is little the unions can do.  That is because our state constitution makes the NJ Governor the most powerful governor in the country.

Perhaps we could somehow convince the public to vote to accept our pensions as a public debt.  In the past it was looked on as deferred wages payable based on a promise to provide a lifetime pension at the time of hire.  There was a state supreme court case from the 1950s that said so.  Its nice to know that the men in the dresses (read robes) chose to ignore their own precedent.

Men in dresses.  That may be why they did what they did here.  See judges have no real power if the governor refuses to play ball.  A Republican lawmaker was proposing that the governor should defy the court and refuse to pay up if the court ordered him to.  And how would the court enforce it, have the governor arrested or something.  And suppose they did and the state police refused to arrest him because they work under the authority of the governor, not the judiciary.

This is why judges tend to avoid these situations.  Because vis-a-vis the executive branch they are powerless (unless the executive branch chooses to obey).

So how do straighten out the judges and the governor.  Very easy, pass two constitutional amendments.

The first would eliminate the line item veto and force the governor to sign and approve or veto and reject bills as a whole.  That is the way things work on the federal level in Washington.  It forces political leaders in both parties to compromise if they hope to get anything done.  If there was no line item veto, simply drawing a line through the pension appropriation a d counting on party discipline to prevent an override would not work. That is because a veto would mean no budget and a government shutdown.  The Governor would be forced to work with the legislature to come up with budget both can live with even if it is not what the governor wants.

To do this is only right.  We elect our lawmakers to pass laws that benefit us.  Let's let them do their job even if the governor doesn't like the results.

The second amendment would provide for the election of judges every four years.  Judges would have no tenure.  They would be responsible to the public to keep their jobs by standing for election just like the governor and legislators.  They have this system in Pennsylvania and most other states.  In New Jersey, judges are appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate.  After the first four years, they must be reappointed and reapproved by the senate to keep their jobs.  After that they got their jobs for life.

Tell me if that sounds like democracy to you.  You get judges you don't get to pick and once you get them twice you are stuck with them forever as long as they want the job.  Conrade Stalin didn't even have it this good.  (Someone would have blown off his head if he went too far against those who mattered, meaning the Communist Party.)   Actually, one theory was that he was assassinated by omission, Beria and his other aides didn't call the doctors right away after he had his stroke.

I would go one step further that Pennsylvania and most other states.  American Bar Association rules prohibit judges from taking positions on issues or criticizing sitting opponents on how they voted on a case.  That is because the law is supposed to be pure and rulings should not be influenced by political ideology.  Hogwash.  We know that judges vote their political beliefs, that's why there are fights between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate every time a judicial appointment comes up.

Let judicial candidates campaign on the issues.  Let them stand before the public for their jobs and let them be accountable to their public for their beliefs and actions.  That's how democracy works and that's how the courts should work too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Baby on the Barbie

Here is a story that's sicker than fiction.

What do you do when you commit incest on a 14-year old girl and realize she's pregnant.  Of course you get your family together, then hold the girl down and beat her in the stomach until she miscarries.  Then you dispose of the body, and the best way to do that is barbecue it on the family grill until it is good and crispy.  Or at least that's what this Dallas family recently did.

To read the local TV station's account of the event read here:

When you can read about this stuff happening in real life, who needs horror movies.

Anyone up for (human) baby back ribs?  Now that's my idea of good barbecue.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Going Past My Expiration Date

My wife was going to retire effective June 1, but I talked her out of it.  I believe she won't be able to deal with being alone each day with nothing to do.  So I advised her to keep working and we'd eventually retire together.

She works at the Labor Department as a clerk and has been there for almost 39 years. She believes that she put in her time and wants out.  Sounds reasonable, since she started the job back in 1976.  That may seem like a long time to you, and I guess it is, until you look at my secretary.  She started with the department back in 1969, when I was dealing with my 6th grade teacher. Mrs Griswold at Kuser School in Hamilton.

Although my wife didn't leave this time, her coworkers arranged an in-office party for her over the lunch hour.  I saved a copy of the flyer advertising the event, which was sitting on the library table in my living room.  Over last weekend I picked it up and put it in an old dresser which is in the attic where I put keepsakes.

Inside the dresser I found a wooden box which says Euphoria Chocolate Company on the lid.  It came from a gift I got from my sister in the early 1980s when she lived in Eugene Oregon which is where the chocolate company is still located.  (The advertising on the box worked, I ordered 4 pounds of chocolate yesterday.)

Inside the box was a bunch of junk dating from the 1980s including a Holland for Mayor button (Trenton's mayor at the time) as well as a union button from American Standard.  They were represented by the Glass, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers union.  Lastly, there was a work ID from the Mercer County Board of Social Services.  It was dated May 13, 1983 and listed my job title as IMT.  I was an Income Maintenance Technician at the county welfare office and took applications from potential clients and either approved or denied benefits based on the information I obtained.

Looking at the young man on the ID, I suddenly realized that the picture was shot 32 years ago and that my career in government service is drawing to a close.  It is not a question of if I will retire, but when, and that the time remaining on the job will probably be measured in months, not years.

By the way I went to a retirement party last week which was for my former supervisor when I worked as a field analyst.  Another analyst, who assigned NAICS codes to companies announced last Tuesday that he would be gone on Friday.  Since he went to my old supervisor's party, that party was for him too.

Yes, they are falling out all around me, and soon I will be gone as well.  I can only hope that the state supreme court rules that Christie  has to obey his own pension reform law and fully fund the pension.  Then maybe it will still be around to support me in retirement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Here's Something We Can All Agree On

Coal rolling is the latest fad to hit rural America.  It involves taking a diesel pickup truck and modifying it by putting exhaust stacks in the bed and rigging it with controls that allow it to burn extra fuel on command.  The result is a cloud of black smoke,perfect for gassing environmentalist fairies that drive Priuses, Mini Coopers and the like.  Sounds like real fun!
One of the things we miss out by living in an urban state like New Jersey is learning to appreciate the latest trends of the trailer park set.  If we lived in the rural  South, we would certainly be familiar with the latest fad to be adopted by pickup trucking gearheads.  And that's coal rolling, which is a guranteed way of terrorizing city slickers.

It seems that the New Jersey legislature got wind of this trend and decided to protect the motoring public from pollution-loving yahoos.  They passes a new law which makes it illegal to modify a vehicle for coal rolling.  It also makes it illegal to coal roll.  Since it already is illegal to drive a smoking car, I not sure what this part of the  law will accomplish beyond what present laws do.  But is nice to know that people won't be able to rig their trucks to spew clouds of black smoke and have them pass inspection in this state.

Governor Christie signed this law so for once he did something I can totally support. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We Had it First

For as far back as there were churches up until the early 20th century, swastikas were common fixtures in Christian religious buildings.  Here is a Byzantine mosaic in modern Israel.

Today is Sunday, and although I have gotten out of the habit, I decided to go to church today.  I'm a Catholic and happened to be riding down South Broad Street around 10:30 this morning.  I noticed people entering the church and guessed that mass was about ready to start.  I was right.

This church was built sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century, and from its Gothic design with decorated wood timbers up by the ceiling, I believe it probably was originally a congregation of people who hailed from northern Europe.  The church as a brown mosaic tile floor, which was probably made locally back in the days when Trenton was a center of the pottery industry.

What struck me as strange is that in the border of the tiles in the center isle there are swastikas as well as other iterations of the cross such as the Maltese cross.  I did a Google search and found out that swastikas were often used as decorations on buildings prior to the 1930s, when the symbol became associated with Hitler and the Nazis.   Prior to the Nazis, the swastika in the west was considered a symbol of good luck and to this day remains a sacred symbol for Hindus in India.

For those who are concerned with sourcing, here is a link to the Wikipedia article:

Another strange practice which has found its way into the Catholic mass in the last 10 or 15 years is the Hitler salute.  The priest says "Hold your arms out in gladness to the Lord" and the congregation responds with the Nazi salute.  No it doesn't happen in all churches, but I have seen it in some places like St. Ann's in Lawrenceville.  No, it is not really the Nazi salute.  They stole it from us.  It is the old Roman salute from the days of the empire.

It is important not to let others destroy the symbols of our past by hijacking then and using then for evil purposes.  We as Americans own the swastika as part of our collective heritage and the Catholic church owns the outstretched arm which we got from ancient Rome.  So why not use them and be proud of them 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Only Gets Better

Since Tony Mack was elected mayor in June 2010, he has certainly found his place in New Jersey political infamy.   Itt would be hard for someone else to top the antics that have gone on at city hall sine he took office.

Just when it looked like things were returning to normal, in July the crap hit the fan.  First, the headlines screamed that the FBI raided Mack's home on Berkeley Square, as well as one of his brother's houses and the home of a financial backer and personal friend, Jo-Jo Georgiani, who owns a sandwich shop and was convicted of raping a 14 year old girl in the early 1980s. 

At the time JO-Jo weighed 550 pounds and his defense was that she wanted it and could have run away from such a fat man if she wanted to.  Well the law changed in 1982 and the age of concent was raised to 16 so if it happened today, he would be considered a sex offender whether she wanted it or not, but back in the day the prossecutors had to prove coersion which they did.   After the conviction, he managed to get released from prison because he was too fat and jail would likely kill him.  He was sent back after being caught on camera smoking a cigar at an Atlantic City Boxing match.

What Do You Think Now?

Back a couple of years ago when I was blogging a lot, I was in the habit of criticizing both Governor Christie and Mayor Tony Mack.  Well if there was any doubts about Mr. Mack, that was settled last year when he was shipped off to federal prison last year.  He'll be cooling his heels for five years for his role in a scheme where he collected "commissions" for approving actions by the city that benefited the people who put up the money.  This of course included the deal to approve a fake parking garage that was proposed and greased through by FBI agents posing as developers.

You got to hand it to him.  He was one enterprising dude who even associated with a corpulent Italian-American sandwich shop owner and  mobster wannabee who collected the money and passed it along to the mayor.  He once famously stated in a wiretapped phone conversation that the setup was just like Tammany Hall.  That just about says it all.

The people he appointed to key positions were just as sleazy as he was, including the municipal court judge who is now getting ready to go to federal court for extortion for shaking down immigrants by threatening them with deportation if they didn't pay up or the city manager who was caught buying heroin a block from City Hall.  Yes, these people of sterling character are what every town needs for leaders.

With Christie, the verdict is not as clear.  According to the latest polls, about a third of the state's voters still support the governor and approve with the way he is handling the state's affairs.  Perhaps this is a little higher than the approval rating or our convicted felon mayor, but still not impressive.  It reflects the share of state residents that are hard-core Republicans that would support and vote for anybody with an R behind their name, no matter what.

So what about the other two-thirds of the electorate, and why do they disapprove.  Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that many people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 still haven't gotten their money yet, while many others who have gotten paid still can not rebuild due to the state's Byzantine building permit approval process.  Or it might be due to Bridgegate, the scandal revolving around blocking off traffic to and from the George Washington Bridge because the mayor of the town on the Jersey side of the bridge wouldn't endorse the governor's reelection campaign for governor in 2013.  OK, so far no written record has connected the governor to the people in the Governor's Office and New York Port Authority that ordered the lane closures.  But no written records connect mafia dons to their subordinates when they do hits either.  No way did the bridge closures take place with the knowledge and consent of the governor.  He was just careful enough not to leave a trail.

Maybe some of the opposition also has to do with how our governor, who together with his wife, made $650,000 last year, wants to treat retirees.  No, his contempt for retirees goes deeper than a desire to cut benefits for folks who worked for state and local government in New Jersey.  While campaigning for president in New Hampshire, Christie proposed his fix for Social Security.  He wants to rails the retirement age to 70 and cut benefits for most retirees by as much as 20 percent.  True, he says this will only affect top wage earners, but what is exactly a top earner.  No they are not just CEOs and the like, but many middle class people as well.  In order to max out Social Security, workers need only earn a little over $100,000 a year, which is not exactly millionaire wages for someone in an urban state like New Jersey.  And we still do not know what the cutoff is for top earners.  Is it $60,000 a year or $50,000.  Some bus drivers make more than this.

Besides, the governor said basically who cares about Social Security.  Everybody should or as he and his stockbroker wife do.  They should build up a portfolio of investments.  Fine for you Governor, but you make $650,000 a year.  What about the rest of us.  Did you think that this statement comes across like Marie Antoinette's quote "let them eat cake.".

So the governor promises to do for Social Security what he so far has done for the state's public employee pension funds.  In 2011, he signed legislation where he promised to fully fund the pension in exchange for pensioners giving up annual cost of living increases and for workers contributing more to the fund.  He made the required contribution in 2012 and 2013  and trumpeted the law as the salvation of the pension system.

Starting in 2014, Christie sharply reduced contributions and violated the law he once praised.  In 2014 he refused to make the required contributions, because he said the state did not have the money to do this, give homestead rebates to low-income residents and seniors, pay for Medicaid or fund school districts.  The union sued and in June 2014, weeks before the end of the fiscal year the state Supreme Court sided with the governor for that year, saying it would cause too much disruption to require the governr to come up with the money, but warned him to fund the pension in future years.

Now it is 2015, and the governor is out to test the old adage about not having to listen to men in dresses.  After that's all supreme court judges are, just men in dresses.  And just like Stalin who once asked how many divisions does the Pope has, Cristie has total contempt for the power of the judiciary.  So, just like the wiseass he is, he took the pension money out of the budget that the legislature put in.  See in New Jersey we have the line item veto, which allows the governor to go through the budget to eliminate the items that the legislature included and take them out without vetoing the whole budget.  His reason again is he'd rather spend the state's tax revenue on the general fund rather than pensions and he refuses to consider tax increases.

Of course the unions sued.  The governor's argument now is that the promise in the 2011 pension law that the state fully fund the pension is unconstitutional because the legislature can not tell the governor how to spend the state's money and it is unconstitutional because there was no state referendum where voters got to approve spending state funds on pensions.  Of course he says the part of the law that raised worker contributions and suspended cost of living raises is still binding on the workers.

He wants his cake and eat it too.  He wants to courts to say he doesn't have to pay anything into the pension fund if he doesn't want to, but the workers still have to accept benefit cuts and higher contributions.  And to add insult to in jury, a recent Star-Ledger said that the money workers pay toward their pensions isn't going into the pension fund, but rather is being put into the general fund as is any other tax revenue.  I n short, tis money coming out of our paychecks that is supposed to be going toward pensions  is being stolen from us.

So far the case has made it through the Appellate Division and is scheduled for the state Supreme Court.  The appellate court says the state has to come up with the money.  This is correct.  Christie wanted the dog, he bought the dog, now he has to pay for the dog.  And now it doesn't matter what he wants  if the Supreme Court agrees, he will have to swallow the dog and find the money to pay no matter what.  So much for the power of men in dresses.

Come on now Christie.  You bill yourself as being a regular Jersey guy.  And part of being a regular guy is keeping your word.  You wanted the law, you got the law.  Now honor the law even if it means a tax increase.

Suppose the governor ignores the judicial crossdressers and does not pay up?  The fund will go dry in nine year according to our union.  Does that mean the state can somehow get out of their obligations.  Not if no one allows it to.  Federal bankruptcy law doesn't allow states to walk away from their debts.  States can't go bankrupt now because they are considered sovereign entities with the absolute power to tax.  They are like Paulie in Goodfellows.  Don't want to raise taxes....Pay me!  Can't find the money.....Pay me!  No money for pensions.....too bad, Pay Me!   That is because states can dax the last dime, and the federal government doesn't care.

After al the federal constitution says that states do not have the power to impair contracts.  In other words, if a state agrees to something, they must pay up.  Of course, given the current Republican trend on the national scene, Congress might try to get a constitutional admendment through that will allow states to declare bankruptcy.  This is doubtful though, for any law that will allow states to abandon pensions and revoke union contracts will also allow states to walk away from the claims of vendors and private bondholders.  In other words if the pensioners don't get paid, the capitalists don't get paid either.

Lets face it Mr. Christie.  You already screwed up your chances of being president.  So do the right thing.  Keep your word and pay into the pension fund to save future New Jersey taxpayers untold grief nine years down the road.