Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blog Predicted Obama's Popularity

Just about a year ago, a majority of the readers of this blog accurately predicted where Obama's popularity would be now.
Remember -- Obama's popularity was exceptionally high when he took office. He was scoring in the 70s.
We asked: "What will Barack Obama's popularity be in January, 2010?"
About 52% felt his popularity would be 50% or less.
And, indeed Obama's popularity has dropped below 50%!
Nearly a quarter (23%) said his popularity would be only 30 to 40%.
And then another 12% saw him at less than 30%.
So, more than a third -- 35% of the respondents -- actually saw President Obama's popularity at 40% or less. That's quite low. But, as we move toward the first anniversary of Obama's inauguration, his popularity may actually drift into those low 40s and high 30s.
That's a real danger zone.
For now, though -- congratulations to our readers for accurately pegging the President's popularity one year out.

10 People To Watch in 2010

With the new year upon us, here are 10 people to keep an eye on as we move through 2010.
The fate of these 10, and others, may determine what lies ahead. I list them below in no particular order:

1. Harry Reid - With Reid and other weary old Congressional Democrats, we may be watching the final sequel to Grumpy Old Men. Harry has already faltered, but if he falls they will topple like a row of dominoes.

2. Mitt Romney - He'll have to start speaking up and making his moves soon if he hopes to make another run at the presidency. This will also be his year to back key GOP aspirants and build up more IOUs.

3. Chris Christie - The new Governor of New Jersey faces huge hurdles but if he succeeds in getting the Garden State to turn the corner and move away from tax 'n spend recklessness, he will chart a new path for the GOP.

4. Arlen Specter - Snarlin Arlen played a wildly risky game in '09. But in the real world, it's not so easy to have nine lives. And right now, the calendar says 10. Times up, Arlen.

5. Janet Napolitano - She made it into 2010 but just barely. She may very well be the first Obama cabinet member to go Kabooom!

6. Eric Cantor - This bright shining start of the GOP faces a Huge Year. If everything falls into to place he could be one of the most formidable members of Congress in the new decade.

7. Blanche Lincoln - This Arkansas Senator who voted for the Obamacare swindle is high on the Republican target list. Things don't look good.

8. John Runyan - If Big John really does run for Congress in Jersey's third congressional district, he just may make freshman Congressman John Adler's $2 million dollar war chest look real small, real fast. It could get dicey.

9. Rahm Emanuel (pictured) - If the Obama slide continues, more and more attention will be focused on this guy. Hey, somebody's gonna have to take the blame and it won't be Mr. Cool, that's for sure.

10. Sarah Palin - We know she likes to surprise us and you gotta admit, she's fun to watch most any year. In any event, she ain't goin away.

Yes, 2010's destined to be a fun year.
Don't you just love it when things heat up?

Rush Resting Comfortably

Rush Limbaugh's web site says he's resting comfortably in the hospital in Hawaii.
Rush was admitted yesterday after suffering chest pains while golfing during his annual Christmas vacation.
Rush Limbaugh's spokesperson says that El Rushbo will keep us up to date on his web site.
You can bet that Rush will make every effort to be back on the air as soon as possible, consistent with his medical condition. He is due to return January 4 but if he can't, there is no shortage of outstanding conservative talkers who would be more than happy to fill in for him.
Still, there is only one Rush and our prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery.
Finally: Is it necessary for us to tell our liberal friends and assorted Rush-haters to behave themselves during this period? We hope not.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mickey Rooney Deserves Honor

The Kennedy Center Honors recently bestowed its 32nd annual annual awards. Many great luminaries of stage, screen, music and the movies have been honored by the Kennedy Center over the years.
But one of Hollywood's greats has been neglected year after year.
Crawling onto the stage during his father’s Vaudeville act at 18 months in 1922, Mickey Rooney began a truly legendary career - one that has spanned nine decades.
Now celebrating his 85th year in show business and with more than 200 films to his credit, Mickey Rooney is one of the last great stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Recently he appeared in the hugely successful movie comedy "A Night At The Museum."
Mickey earned an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, a special Juvenile Oscar he shared with Deana Durbin in 1939, five Oscar nominations, one Emmy Award, five Emmy Nominations and two Golden Globes. Mickey's career has extended through many generations and in many different directions.
Mickey Rooney is also an American patriot who served in the Army during World War II. As a regular GI, during the war he entertained frontline troops with the "Jeep Shows". The "Jeep Shows" consisted of three men in a jeep who delivered much needed entertainment to the troops in foxholes at the front. For his services in the war, Mickey was awarded the Bronze Star with clusters. In 2004 he braved the cold weather to ride with fellow World War II vets in the Inaugural Parade honoring President Bush. He has been welcomed to the White House by nearly every American president since FDR.
But Mickey Rooney has never been chosen for Kennedy Center Honors.
How long will the Kennedy Center wait to recognize this great American talent?

As Napolitano Turns . . .

What is it with Cabinet members named Janet whose last names end in "o"?
First came Janet Reno, the Clinton attorney general who helped set the fire at Waco (with some help from the ATF) and had trouble with an illegal Elian.
But as wacky as she was (wrestling with crocs, both real and rhetorical), she looks positively competent compared to Janet Napolitano, the Obama administration head of homeland security who declared in the wake of the foiled terror attack on Christmas Day that "the system worked really very, very smoothly." (She also oversaw a report that equated political opponents of President Obama and some veterans with terrorists and hate groups. Apparently, she has a tenuous grip on reality.)

To read the rest of Christine Flowers' wonderful column from today's Philadelphia Daily News, click here.

Lure Of The Live Oak

One of the joys of the South is the lush greenery enjoyed throughout the year -- even in December, January and February.
This would not be possible without the live oak tree.
Though they do shed leaves, live oaks remain green throughout the year. They replenish their tiny green leaves constantly. So, they never go bare. They retain their fullness, their greenness, their lushness.
Naturally, Hilton Head abounds in live oaks, many of which are truly magnificent.
Live oak or evergreen oak is a general term for a number of unrelated oaks in several different sections of the genus Quercus that happen to share the characteristic of evergreen foliage. The "live" comes from the fact that the leaves don't die in the autumn. They remain live.
The name is used mainly in North America, where evergreen oaks are widespread in warmer areas, along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida, west along the Gulf Coast to Texas and across the southwest to California and southwest Oregon.
But the live oak is mostly associated with the South. The tree has been depicted in so many movies, photos, paintings, stories and novels about the South that it is even the official state tree of Georgia.
Live oaks are magnificent natural treasures. And as I write this I'm looking out over more than a few of them just outside my window.
Like the South itself, the tree retains a timeless allure.
Photo by Dan Cirucci

A Dumb, Dumb New Year

About all the silly hoopla over the new year: I just don't get it. Never have gotten it, in fact.
New Years Day is a dumb "holiday." It signifies nothing. It's merely the first day of the year - just a unit of measurement, that's all. It's just a way to keep time.
New Year's Eve is equally as dumb if not dumber.
Just because the clock moved ahead an extra second we're supposed to get all worked up? I don't think so.
This is simply an excuse for clubs and restaurants to make a big deal of nothing and charge you big bucks for it. The rudest, loudest, most obnoxious people come crawling out of the woodwork on New Year's Eve. These are the people who don't get around very much (and don't go out very much) during the rest of the year. Trust me, you don't want to be around these people.
This is a sadly artificial holiday - a holiday that reeks of beer, tobacco and lost dreams; a holiday plagued by sticky champagne stains, stale leftovers, weary Christmas decorations and nothing to look forward to but cleaning up and getting ready for the two dreariest months of the year.
Happy New Year, everybody!

New Year's Wrench Drop?

The Times Square Ball Drop is a New Year's Eve tradition -- a dumb tradition, but still a tradition.
But did you know that many other cities have their own midnight "drops" on New Year's Eve? No joke.
Here is a list of some of the other drops:
Raleigh, N. C. - Acorn drop
Carlisle, Pa. - Car
Miami - Orange
Atlanta - Peach
Marion, Ohio - Popcorn
Harrisburg, Pa. - Strawberry
And my two personal favorites:
Mechanicsburg, Pa. - Wrench (Whoa - Watch out when that wrench drops!)
Dillsburg, Pa. - Pickle (Beats me why anyone would celebrate a "pickle drop" or droop.)
Groundhog Day. And strawberry, car, wrench and pickle drops. The Mummers. Something about Pennsylvania seems to attract sometimes silly faux-folk customs.

John Adler Wants You To Know

I recently encountered freshman Democrat Congressman John Adler of New Jersey's third congressional district at a holiday social event and we had a pleasant chat.

I asked John Adler what he wants the readers of my blog to know about him.
He told me that he wants you to know that he's working very hard in Washington, that he's trying to do the right thing, that he wants to make the right decisions, that he wants to provide the services and good judgement and commitment that you expect from a public official. Unspoken, but nonetheless implied was this: He wants to be viewed as an independent-minded Congressman who doesn't put party first. He understands that he's serving a district that has almost always been Republican.
For my part, I thanked John for voting against the House version of Obamacare and effectively defying the House leadership under Speaker Pelosi. Alas, the measure passed anyway.
It's been quite a number of years since I first met John when he came to my door to solicit my vote in Cherry Hill, seeking his first public office. I have no doubt that he's a good vote counter. He knows the realities of politics in the trenches. He realizes that he faces a tough fight for re-election in the new year.
But anyone who comes up against John Adler is also going to face a tough fight. He's smart, quick, clever, tenacious and determined. That's how he got where he is.
Still, we live in a time when we expect to know not just where politicians stand on any given public issue but also who they are -- how they feel, how they live, what they value, and what, if anything, they're passionate about. We want to know what makes them tick and that means seeing through to the heart.
I suppose you could say that in a plastic age more than a few of us crave "realness." It's not enough for us to know where you stand. We want to know the why of the equation: how you're wired, how you're grounded, what anchors you, who you really are.
I know that this might seem like a Big Question to have to answer. But if you don't want to answer it (or if you can't answer it) you have the option of not climbing into the public arena in the first place.
If you put yourself out there, we have the right to know the answer.
And when all is said and done, this may be the most important factor in the upcoming district contest and in so many others across the country.
Of course, John Adler has a significant war chest and more than a few people (I'm sure) who are advising him and will advise him (quite strategically) on this and other matters.
I simply told him I'd relay his message to you, and so I have.
And I extend to John Adler and his family best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Year's Biggest Jerks

From Joe Biden's messups, misspeaks and gaffes to Charlie Sheen's inability to stay out of trouble with the law, you could call 2009 The Year of The Jerk.
Goodness knows (though goodness had nothing to do with it) there were more than enough jerks to go around.
Rudeness, crudeness, infidelity, boorishness, arrogance and the near epidemic flaunting of bad behavior all characterized the past year.

So, in no particular order, here are the Biggest Jerks of 2009.

Harry Reid - Jerk on a power trip, complete with wild allegations, lies, middle-of-the-night schemes, secret deals, the seizure of one-sixth of the US economy and the first Christmas Eve Senate vote in more than 100 years. It's hard to top this guy.

Tiger Woods - "Transgressions." Need we say more?

Barbara Boxer - Madame bitch slaps decorated Army brass who offers her nothing but respect and snaps: "Call me Senator!"

David Letterman - Dirty old man jerk tosses out sick, snide references to Palin's younger daughter, then tries to back away and then finally admits his own indiscretions with much younger staff members.

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Pulls rank on a police officer who's simply trying to do his job, prompting Gates' friend, The President to trip up almost as badly as Gates himself. Kabooom!

Alan Grayson - Congressman says GOP want sick people to "die soon," compares health care system to the Holocaust, calls Cheney a "vampire" and refers to female federal reserve official as a "whore." Maybe the gentleman from Florida has spent too much time in the sun.

Kanye West - In this case "attention deficit disorder" means "I can't get enough attention and I will continue to make a fool of myself until you recognize me for the jerk I am."

Mark Sanford - Governor finds soul mate on the Applachian Trail or in South America or in South Carolina or in the rain forest of Brazil or in Argentina or in Panama or in Mexico or . . . awww, shutup!

Arlen Specter - Hypocritical jerk says he'll never leave the party and then, just days later, he does. Take that to the bank -- or the voting booth, Pennsylvania!

Al Franken and the People of Minnesota - Franken for his peevish, disgusting, repulsive behavior and the people of Minnesota for allowing the election to be swiped out from under them. Not since Jesse "The Body" Ventura . . .

2009's Notable Deaths

2009 marked the loss of many luminaries in politics, the arts, the media, sports, etc.
Here is a partial list of some of the notable losses:
Author, novelist John Updike.
Broadcast pioneer Paul Harvey (pictured).
Congressman Jack Kemp.
Actor David Carradine.
King of Pop Michael Jackson.
Pitchman Billy Mays.
Anchorman Walter Cronkite.
Author Frank McCourt.
Philippine leader Corazon Acquino.
Philanthropist Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Musical pioneer Les Paul.
Journalist extraordinaire Robert Novak.
TV producer Don Hewitt.
Lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy.
Author, social critic Dominick Dunne.
Actor Patrick Swayze.
Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss.
Evangelist Oral Roberts.
Actress Brittany Murphy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Kennedys Called 'Chintzy Bunch'

I've just finished reading C. David Heymann's Bobby and Jackie, A Love Story.
This is sad and tragic story and we all know how it ends.
Indeed, those of us who lived through that era of American history know the story all too well. Or at least we thought we knew at the time.
But there was so much that we didn't know.
I suppose it was inevitable that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy would be drawn closer and closer together after JFK's assassination. Each would not have made it without the other.
And no one should be surprised that their attachment became more than platonic.
But this book is about so much more than the untold story of Jackie and Bobby. It's also about the vast dysfunctional family of Kennedys.
At one point in the book, contrasting the family with Jackie herself, the author describes the Kennedys this way:
"The Kenedys were chintzy when it came to their personal lives. They never tipped. Their homes were always in need of repair. The interior of all of their houses looked liked the inside of a Howard Johnson's motel. Their household employees - gardeners, drivers, cooks and maids - were undocumented illegals, mostly from the Domenican Republic, and were paid the minimum hourly wage. Members of the family never carried cash with them. They charged everything and took months, sometimes years, to repay their debts. They went to Stop n Shop supermarkets in search of bargains. They spent generously on clothes but this had more to do with outward appearance - a necessary feature of the political arena - than it did with any intrinsic interest in fashion."

Help Us Hit 100,000!

Our goal is to hit 100,000 visits by midnight, December 31.
And you can help us.
Keep visiting our site.
Keep logging on.
And tell others to visit as well.
Send out some e-mails with links to this blog.
Ask other blogs and web sites to mention us, link to us and place us on their blog rolls.
Tell your friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers to vivit us now.
Keep spreading the word.
You brought us this far. You made us one of the top blogs in the region.
Now you can put us over the top. Help us hit 100,000 before 2010 dawns. We know you can do it!

Hilton Head's Tranquil Beach

The beach at Hilton Head this morning was absolutely tranquilizing under a panoply of bright sun, blue, blue sky and just a wisp of a sleek cloud to frame the scene. Positively dreamy!
Last night we dined on creamy mushroom soup, French dip and Hogan's Black 'n Blue salad at one of our favorite spots, the intimate British Open Pub in Wexford Village.
Today there are people cavorting on the beach and in the pool. Easy to take!

Top Ten Heroes Of '09

Amidst all the scoundrels and scandals of the year, there were some real heroes -- people who stood out for their bravery, persistence, endurance, successes or just plain, old common sense.In no particular order, here are our 10 heroes and heroines of 2009.
Political Hero - Chris Christie. The tough prosecutor took on the enigmatic zillionaire and liberated the Garden State with a refreshing authentic style that captivated Joisey's hard-edged voters.
Broadway Heroine - Angela Lansbury. The unsinkable octogenarian returned to the Great White Way for back-to-back triumphs: First in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit and then in Sondheim's Send In The Clowns. Bravo!
True Life Hero - Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger. The US Airways hero of Flight 1549 restored our faith in people who put service ahead of self and naturally seem to do the right thing. What a way to start the year!
Music Hero - Beyonce. Her grace and dignity in handling the callous treatment of Taylor Swift at the MTV Awards will long be remembered.
Hollywood Heroine - Meryl Streep. The multi award winning star boasts boffo box office hits Julie & Julia and It's Complicated, proving that there's still a future for sophisticated, adult comedies.
Everyday Heroes - The passengers aboard Northwestern Flight 253 flying from Amsterdam to Detroit who helped to subdue alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Literary Hero - Michael Chabon. The Pulitzer Prize winning novelist turned to non-fiction with a remarkably candid and engaging series of essays entitled Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. It's a great read!
Legendary Heroine - Sophia Loren. Nearly a half century after her movie debut she re-emerges as a calendar pinup gal and dazzles in her return to the big screen in Nine.
Sports Hero - Brett Favre. Love him or hate him, you can't ignore his list of achievements which continued into 2009 when he made his 500th career touchdown. He probably holds more sports records than nearly any other pro athlete.
Grassroots Heroes - The Tea Party Goers. While the mainstream media drank the Obama Kool Aid, these courageous, ordinary citizens awakened America to the dangers of Obamunism and ignited a new populist movement that continues into 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 10 Scrooges Of '09

This was surely the Year of the Scrooge.
So compiling our list of Top Ten Scrooges of the year was difficult because we had more than enough choices.
Anyway, here are the Top Ten meanest, most selfish, most despicable jerks of the year:
10. Nancy Pelosi: Private government jets, limos and other perks while the unemployment rate continued to soar and she continued to hoard her own $$$ for more cosmetic surgery.
9. Jon Corzine: Spent this year as he did most others -- lavishing $$$ on his own campaigns and self-glory. Alas, we finally sent him packing.
8. Senator Ben Nelson and Senator Mary Landrieu - You pay for extra $$$ for their states while they sell their health care votes to the highest bidder.
7. Timothy Geithner - Prints $$$ at an alarming rate, yet forgets to pay his own taxes.
6. Wall Street Bonus Boys - Those big, bloated bonuses seem to have no end, especially at Goldman Sachs.
5. Jon Gosselin - Drenched in instant fame, he allegedly neglects the support of his own family.
4. Major airlines - forcing us to pay for baggage and incidentals while adding other fees and raising fares.
3. Barack Obama - Laps in the luxury of a $9 million Hawaiian mansion while lending little or no support to unemployed and/or destitute family members.
2. Entertainment Ticketing Services - Hey, that $75 ticket is likely to cost you $20 or $30 more after you add on services fees and other charges while you do all the work, including actually printing your own ticket.
1. HARRY REID - Raises taxes, cuts Medicare, name-calls, threatens and intimidates while he feathers his own Nevada nest with sweetheart deals. This scoundrel even looks like Scrooge!

Joy Of Goin South

"Good Mawnin!"
It's so nice to hear that lilting greeting once again.
Yes, we've headed south.
We're here at our southern comand center on beautiful Hilton Head Island. And we're lovin it.
We just took a long walk under lush live oaks and tall pines.
You see, after the thieves in the United States Senate passed the dreaded "health care" bill we felt a need to head to a red state as soon as possible.
And what better choice is there than South Carolina?
After all, this is the home of Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. Senator DeMint is a new favorite of ours. And while we don't always agree with Senator Graham, he is a damned sight better than Senator Frank LOUTenberg or Senator ROB Menendez -- not to mention those horrid neighboring Senators: Benedict Arlen and Clueless Casey.
The sun has just appeared here on Hilton Head and we notice that the Democrat House Whip, Congressman James Clayburn is on Face the Nation and he's here in Hilton Head as well.
Democrats and Republicans can agree that surely, this blessed island retains its alluring appeal.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Obamas Luxuriate As Nation Suffers

Snow and ice abound in much of the nation.
The unemployment rate of 10% is at a 26-year high.
The greatest economic slowdown since the great depression drags on.
With President Obama's vigorous support the Democrat Congress continues to spend money, raise taxes, increase government control over our lives and raise the debt ceiling to new heights.
And, on Christmas eve the Senate passed a health care bill that does an end run around the prohibition of government-funded abortion. On Christmas eve!
But none of this stopped the Obama family from renting an 8.9 million Hawaiian mansion for the holidays, along with houses on either side of the lush, palatial property.
The mansion comes with every conceivable luxury.
And, on Christmas, the Obama's began the day with worship at the secular alter of vanity: an early morning workout. Christmas gifts waited till later in the day and traditional church worship was nowhere on the agenda.
Here's a report on the President's super-fancy digs from ABC News:

Video: Queen's Christmas Message

Among all nations, America has no greater friend in the world than Great Britain. Along with this treasured ally, we are also supported by the commonwealth of nations that are united with Great Britain.
It is with this knowledge and deep appreciation that we bring you this informative and inspiring Christmas message from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nochumson Firm Holiday Party

Last night our round of holiday parties concluded with a party at Tavern 17 in the Warwick Hotel hosted by Philadelphia lawyer Alan Nochumson and his partners at the Nochumson firm.
We were delighted to see Alan and our dear friend Natalie Klyashtorny who is Of Counsel to the firm (both shown above).
Among the many guests that we saw and/or chatted with were Sheryl Axelrod, Eric Weitz, Harold Datz, Kim Jessum, Ken and Lisa Carraway and Mark Tarasiewicz.
We enjoyed an open bar as well as crabcake, vegetable, tuna and beef sliders and as a host of other treats.
It was great seeing Alan and Natalie again and chatting with old and new friends -- a warm respite on a bitterly cold evening in the city.

Magical NYC Christmas Windows, 2010

Christmas would not be Christmas without the Christmas windows at Manhattan's speciality and department stores from Macy's on Broadway all the way up to Bergdorf's on Fifth Avenue and Barney's on Madison Avenues.
We enjoyed all the windows this year but none more than Bergdorf's which focus on Alice in Wonderland (above). The Bergdorf tableauxs from the story of Alice rekindle your imagination and excite the senses. They are absolutely lush -- rich in texture, color and design.
Bravo to Bergdorf's for pulling out all the stops this year.
Here's a roundup of the others:
Macy's - A delightful animated story for children that follows the journey of an old-fashioned snail mail letter to Santa. This nostalgic subject is updated with hi-tech features.
Lord & Taylor - Once again, a traditional Christmas story that features Lord & Taylor turn-of-the-century and Victorian favorites. Many classic elements stressing the comfort and security of home and family. As always, the most Christmas of Christmas windows.
Saks - The tale of a snowflake and its journey from the heavens to New York City teases us with a touch of political correctness as it stresses the joys of diversity amidst the vast community of snowflakes. And just to make sure the lesson is now lost on the little ones, a children's book is available for purchase as well.
Henri Bendel - No decorated windows but the entranceway is a sight to behold -- all sparkle and aglow with flash and glitter. Sure to pull you in.
As always, the Rockefeller Center tree dazzles but we were somewhat put off by all the corporate sponsorship and shameless promotion of Swarovski. Well, somebody's got to pay the bills.
We also visited the beautiful nature-inspired tree at Astor Court in the New York Public Library -- always a favorite.
And, we dropped by the new shops at The Plaza. We weren't bowled over but we did enjoy the new Eloise store featuring paraphernalia celebrating the famous little girl who lives at The Plaza.
We mourn the loss of the Palm Court at The Plaza just as we mourn the loss of the wreaths that adorned the lions in front of The Library. The Palm Court gave way to the Plaza rehab and the wreaths were dumped because apparently some enviro-nut decided that they were harmful to the stone lions.
We lunched at Redeye Grill, one of our new favorites. If you haven't been there, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Christmas In Italy!

On Christmas Eve in Italy, Christmas trees are decorated, but the focal point of decoration is the Nativity scene.
Italians take great pride in the creation of the manger, which was thought up in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted to involve the peasants in celebrating the life of Jesus.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City possesses a presepio from Naples that contains figurines carved from wood and dressed in garments of satin, along with 30 gold-trimmed angels of the Magi, all framed by majestic columns.
Bagpipes are the most common Italian Christmas sound. The zampognari, the shepherds who play the bagpipes, come down from their mountain homes at Christmas time and perform in the market squares. The playing of bagpipes is popular in the regions of Calabria and Abruzzo, and in the piazzas of Rome.
The melodies played are adapted from old hill tunes. Modern zampognari wear the traditional outfits of sheepskin vests, leather breeches, and a woolen cloak.
The tradition of bagpipes goes back to ancient Roman times. Legend says that the shepherds entertained the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
On Christmas, the zampognari perform their own private pilgrimage, stopping before every shrine to the Madonna and every Nativity scene.
Children in Italy believe in a female version of Santa Claus called La Befana, an old woman who flies on a broom and brings presents.
According to Italian legend, Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem. La Befana was asked to join them but declined three times. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late.
She never found the Christ child and has been searching ever since.
On January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana goes out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats to all the sleeping children of Italy.
Just as children in America leave milk and cookies for jolly Santa Claus, La Befana collects messages and refreshments throughout the night.
Buon Natale e tutti!

Gerlach: Obamacare Bad For PA

Republican Jim Gerlach on Wednesday sent letters to Gov. Ed Rendell and the Commonwealth’s two senators, Robert P. Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter, urging them to stand up for Pennsylvania's families and businesses by opposing the health care bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is frantically pushing to a vote on Christmas Eve.
“This bill is bad for Pennsylvania," Gerlach said. "That's why I made one last appeal for commonsense to prevail and for the governor and our two senators to put Pennsylvania's interests ahead of partisanship. Majority Leader Reid spent this past weekend cutting deals to benefit Nebraska and other states at Pennsylvania’s expense. If enacted, this legislation would lead to higher taxes or significant cuts to services for Pennsylvania residents. The governor needs to speak out and our senators should not be rubber stamps for Harry Reid's severely flawed bill.”

Below is the text of the letter sent Wednesday morning:

The Honorable Ed Rendell
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
200 Main Capital Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter
7711 Hart Office Building
Washington DC 20510

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.
363 Russell Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


I am writing to urge you to oppose the U.S. Senate health care bill due to the huge burden it would place on Pennsylvania families and employers and the fiscal peril it poses to the Commonwealth’s already-strained budget.

Chief among my concerns is the federal Medicaid mandates contained in Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 2,000-plus pages that call for expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The National Conference of State Legislators has estimated that this expansion would increase state Medicaid spending in Pennsylvania by approximately $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

Asking Pennsylvania families and employers struggling to shoulder this huge, unfunded federal mandate would be bad enough in the midst of one of our nation’s greatest economic recessions. But to make matters worse, the Senate bill would force taxpayers in
Pennsylvania to underwrite an estimated $1.2 billion Medicaid bailout for Nebraska, Vermont and Massachusetts. This is an incredibly bad deal for Pennsylvanians who will either pay higher taxes or possibly see important state services significantly reduced.

In addition to the unfunded Medicaid mandate, the Senate bill would include a $2 billion per year tax on our Commonwealth’s thriving biotechnology and medical device manufacturing industries. Pennsylvania has approximately 600 medical device manufactures that employ roughly 20,000 people in jobs that often pay more than $50,000 per year. Executives at these companies have been very clear that this tax would hamper their ability to hire new workers and siphon money away from life-saving research and product development.

It is extremely disappointing that the Senate bill is laced with sweetheart deals and certainly appears aimed more toward scoring political points than making insurance affordable or improving the quality of health care in our Commonwealth. That’s why I am respectfully request that you oppose this severely-flawed legislation.

With kind regards, I am


Jim Gerlach
Member of Congress

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bribing Senators With Public Funds

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Gerlach has issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate's attempt to pass a health care bill before Christmas:
"As your families and loved ones gather to celebrate this joyous Holiday season, the U.S. Senate is plowing ahead toward a critical Christmas Eve vote to radically change our country's health care system. The vote will occur thanks in large part to what should be known as the Harry Reid Blizzard of 2009. While Mother Nature was blasting much of Pennsylvania with a record-setting amount of snow this weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his colleagues in Democrat leadership unleashed a blizzard of taxpayer dollars in a frantic attempt to pass a health care bill that has more to do with scoring political points than making insurance affordable and improving the quality of health care. Believe me, taxpayers will still be trying to dig out from this spending squall long after the snow melts.
"Pennsylvania was directly in the path of the Harry Reid Blizzard. The backroom deals Reid struck with his Democratic bretheren will force Pennsylvania taxpayers to help finance a $1.1 billion Medicaid bailout during the next 10 years for Nebraska, Massachusetts and Vermont. That hefty amount is in addition to an estimated $2.2 billion increase in Medicaid spending that Pennsylvania taxpayers will have to cover during the next decade if the Democrats' health care proposal becomes law.
"This avalanche of spending would be a heavy enough burden for Pennsylvania taxpayers. But the Senate bill also retains the same job-crushing taxes and big government bureaucracy contained in the House health care bill, which I voted against on November 7th. Taxes would climb by about $400 billion per year. That includes a $2 billion per year tax on medical testing products that help detect ovarian, breast and pancreatic cancer; products used in hip-replacement surgery and to help patients heal broken limbs; heart stents used in life-saving operations; and other medical devices.
"This tax would hit Pennsylvania particularly hard because of the approximately 600 medical device manufactures in the Commonwealth that employ roughly 20,000 people in jobs that often pay more than $50,000 per year.
"All of this taxing and spending will result in a bill that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed would raise health insurance premiums by $300 per year for individuals and $2,100 per year for middle-class families. That's why I will not support the Senate bill if it comes to the House floor for a vote."

How To Survive Winter

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year - the day with the least amount of daylight
Which means it seemed like the l-o-n-g-e-s-t day.
Here's how to get through the rest of December and the two dreadful months that lie ahead. Remember that starting today, it's all downhill to summer.
Each day that follows will now have more daylight. From that standpoint, each day will be a little bit nicer. And each day will have less darkness.
We've reached the low point. Now we're on the way back up again.
So, even though winter technically just began, winter's demise is already underway.
In other words, the dead of winter is really the beginning of the death of winter.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Specter's Disgraceful Performance

Over the next four days, Arlen Specter will vote for a mammoth health care bill, totaling 2,733 pages and nearly $1 trillion, providing the Reid/Pelosi Congress with the crucial 60th vote needed to pass the bill. Over the next four days, we will inspect the worst elements of this monstrosity, starting with the bill’s huge tax increases.
According to the Congressional Budget Office’s report released on Saturday, the Reid health care monstrosity will raise taxes by $518.5 billion and violates President Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on the middle-class.
The $518 billion in new taxes include:
  • A $149 billion tax increase on private health insurance plans that will affect many middle-class people in high cost areas.
  • $43 billion in new taxes and fines on individuals and businesses as part of the bill’s new health insurance mandate.
  • More than $100 billion in new taxes and fees on firms in the health sector, including a tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devises. According to the CBO, these taxes and fees “would be largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.”
  • $87 billion in new Medicare payroll taxes.
But President Obama was not the only one to break his pledge when Reid’s health care monstrosity was voted on in the wee hours of the morning today. Senator Arlen Specter had signed a Taxpayer Protection Pledge against raising taxes. Last night, he broke that pledge. (RC #385, 12/21/09)
Senator Specter was given the opportunity to vote separately against the huge tax increases in this bill, but preferred to be a rubber stamp for Harry Reid’s extreme agenda. Specter voted against an amendment to strip the bill of tax increases on people earning less than $250,000 a year. Even though five Democrats supported the amendment, Specter voted “NO.” (RC #376, 12/15/09)
“Over the past nine months, Senator Specter has gone from being opposed to a public option to being a rubber stamp for Harry Reid’s extreme liberal agenda,” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik said. “It is shame to see Specter putting his political career ahead of the needs of Pennsylvania taxpayers. Unlike Specter, Pat Toomey supports commonsense health care reforms that will lower health care costs and introduce competition into the system. These include comprehensive tort reform, allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, allowing the formation of health associations, and giving individually purchased health insurance the same tax benefits as employee provided health insurance.”
“Pat’s principled and thoughtful approach to health care reform is just one of the many reasons why Pennsylvanians are rallying to his side and rejecting Specter’s rampant political opportunism.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas With Dead People

It's Christmas, a joyous time of the year.
And here in the northeast, it's a white Christmas -- the traditional dream come true Christmas.
Yes, it's Christmas. And I see dead people.
They are all around me and they are here to celebrate Christmas with me.
I turn on the TV and Jimmy Stewart is racing down Main Street in Bedford Falls hoping to escape the confines of a small town but knowing that he never will.
And Alastair Sim, the quintessential Scrooge, is grimacing in the classic black-and-white version of everyone's favorite Christmas tale.
And in living color I still see Judy Garland and Bing Crosby and Perry Como and Dinah Shore and Andy Williams singing Christmas songs. Judy's still full of pathos as she tenderly sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Jack Benny is here too and so is Lucy in a tender episode that ends with two Santas where there should be only one. One of the Santas is clearly Fred (William Frawley) but who's that other guy?
And when I turn on the radio I hear Christmas carols by Luciano Pavarotti and Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and Mahalia Jackson and Mario Lanza.
On You Tube I watch President Reagan deliver a Christmas message from the White House. The President is warm and reassuring and he speaks confidently of faith in God and our Judeo-Christian heritage.
My mind tumbles back to the gritty, industrial city that I grew up in -- a riverfront city that didn't realize back then that its glory days were already behind it. It's a bleak, damp, gray December day but I'm warm and secure in the confines of my father's old Plymouth as we rush from place to place through narrow city streets marked by row houses and the occasional corner store.
We don't speak very much but I'm so happy to be with him. He's making lots of stops, picking up small treats and gifts from a variety of friends and businesspeople for whom he may have done odd jobs during the year. Whatever he manages to gather will help to make our Christmas a bit happier.
Even in the run up to Christmas, he's a tough negotiator. He barters with merchants and grocers. as he tries to select just the right provisions for our Christmas feast.
He maneuvers through and around streets, neighborhoods and landmarks with the swiftness of a true native.
His energy fills the room wherever he goes. He's not a big guy but he makes a huge impact. And I know that as long as I'm by his side, no harm can come to me.
On Christmas eve aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors come and go as the all-night feast of the fishes drifts into the wee hours of Christmas day.
On Christmas morning the uncles begin their ritual home visitations, gathering more participants as they move from house to house. Loud, boisterous and well-lubricated, they pass out silver dollars to the children. These will be accepted as treasured tokens and saved in a safe place.
Through it all I see my mother, full of wry wit, optimism and just a the right perspective on the whole panoply. She's got a sharp eye and she's a great mimic as she jokes about people, places and personalities.
If you press her, she may even remember some of the people from her own earlier Christmases but she'd rather dwell in the present. She's very much about her own family, right here, right now.
Of course, now I understand why she took that approach.
As you get older, this is what happens.
Christmas isn't totally joyous. It isn't always candy canes and sugar plums.
So many Christmas memories; so many Christmases past.
Christmas with dead people is bittersweet.
Not to worry, though.
The memories are good. And the sights, sounds and glad tidings live within me.
Plus, at this time of year all of these people seem to come alive once again -- alive in a very special way. They are with me. They are part of me. And I treasure them.
And I suppose that's one of the lessons of Christmas: Let all the people and the events and the memories of the Christmases past deepen and enrich your understanding of this wonderful holiday. Savor it all.
Bring them along with you. Let them walk by your side. Be strengthened by their presence and pass on what you know, who you are, how you feel, what you have learned.
And be proud, strong and tender -- especially for the children who watch you more closely now than at any other time of the year.
In that way, you'll keep the true spirit of Christmas.

Best Christmas Songs Ever!

In no particular order, here are ten of the best (and most original) Christmas songs I know:
This Christmas - This song has been getting more airplay in recent years. There are two good versions; one by Harry Connick, Jr. and another by Danny Hathaway.
Goin Home For Christmas - This haunting piece by Merle Haggard summons up so much feeling. It's a perfect pastiche.
Santa Baby - Don't buy any updated versions. Trust only the original by Eartha Kitt.
Christmas In Dixie and Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You) - Both by Alabama and both on Alabama's first (red) Christmas album. These are two of the best songs and this is one of the best Christmas albums you will ever find.
Christmas Was Made For Children - I really like the Mel Torme version on his album, Christmas Songs.
Christmas in New Orleans and Christmas Night In Harlem - Both feature the great Louis Armstrong with the Benny Carter Orchestra. Check them out on The Best of Louis Armstrong and Friends, The Christmas Collection.
When It's Christmas Time In Texas - By King George himself, George Strait. Full of wonderful imagery!
New York City Christmas - By the Cover Girls. This may be hard to find but it's got plenty of high energy. It turns up on a lot of compilation albums.
As you can see I like Christmas songs that evoke certain times and places.
That's because Christmas is a time for memories, dreams and imagination.
And these songs trigger memories, enrich dreams and enliven imaginations.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Northeast: White Christmas!

To say it will be a white Christmas here in the northeast -- well, that's an understatement.
It will be a very, very WHITE Christmas, indeed.
The above is a photo that I took just a few moments ago. And the storm is intensifying as I write this. Right now we're in a total white out situation.
It looks like we may get as much as a couple of feet of snow.
As I've said before . . . so much for global warming!

Don't Blame the GOP!

Don't blame the Republicans.
They did their best to stop this bill.
And they remained solidly united.
Our only hope now (and it's a long shot) is that the House and Senate will have a difficult time agreeing on a resolution of two widely different pieces of legislation passed in each chamber.
The Democrats will live or die by this bill. This is their choice. It's what they wanted.
As always, the people will have the final say. But we will have to wait till November, 2010. Don't let the Dems distract you. Remember December. Remember what they did this Christmas week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Justinians Christmas Party

On Wednesday evening we were back in Philadelphia at the spectacular Ballroom At The Ben for the big, gala Justinian's Christmas Party sponsored by the Justinian Society of Italian American lawyers.
For the Philadelphia legal community, it simply isn't Christmas without the Justinian's Christmas party and this year was no exception. More than 300 people attended the event and were treated to a two-hour, fully stocked open bar as well as colossal shrimp, crab claws, salad, pasta, turkey with all the trimmings and succulent roast beef followed by coffee and an array of wonderful desserts.
We saw so many of our favorite people at the event including Justinian Society Chancellor Gina Furia Rubel (shown above with National Italian American Foundation President Joe Del Raso). And of course we saw Rochelle Fedullo (shown above) who is the glamorous half of the talented lawyer team of Bill and Shelly Fedullo.
We also chatted with Matt DiDomenico, Judge Denis Cohen, former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Gabe Bevilacqua, Hank Lunardi, John Padova, Philadelphia Bar Association Vice Chancellor Rudy Garcia, Alex Giacobetti, Terri Italiano, Judge Anne Lazarus, former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Jane Dalton, Vito Canuso, Carmen Nasuti, the legendary A. Charles Peruto, Chuck Peruto and many others.
It was great to see so many familiar faces and share the sentiments of the season.
We particularly enjoyed sharing ideas with Joe DelRasso about how to combat stereotyping, on shows such as the disgustingly insensitive Jersey Shore. NIAF, UNICO and OSIA are all united in opposition to this piece of trash disguised as entertainment.
BTW: We hear that several Justinians are in line to become Chancellor of the Bar Association, including our dear friends Bill Fedullo and Gaetan Alfano. To that we say: "The more the merrier. Let Justinians reign supreme!"

Smirking, Franken Muzzles Lieberman

Senator John McCain came to the defense of Joe Lieberman on the Senate floor after far left Minnesota Senator Al Franken cut Lieberman off.
McCain says he has never seen this happen in his 20 years in the Senate.
But then again we've never had a Senator like Al Franken.
Al Franken is a disgrace to the people of Minnesota and an insult to sensible thinking people everywhere.
It's sad that the Democrat party is so desperate for power (and that all-important 60th vote) that it would embrace somebody like Franken.
Al Franken isn't fit to shine John McCain's shoes, let alone preside over the US Senate. Shame on him!

Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit and Michelle Malkin

Remarkable Swim Coach Tells Story

On Tuesday we attended the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill where we were welcomed by Chamber President and CEO Debra DiLorenzo and treated to a wonderful motivational talk by James Ellis, Swim Coach and Founder of the Philadelphia Department of Recreation Swim Team.
Jim Ellis was the subject of the extraordinary 2007 feature film Pride.
In 1971 Ellis formed the PDR (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) swim team which was the first African-American swim team and located at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in Nicetown, Pennsylvania, a neighborhood in Philadelphia. As of February 2007, Ellis still coaches swimming at the Marcus Foster pool and had begun a sabbatical from teaching mathematics at Bodine High School.
Ellis' protégés include Michael Norment, the first black swimmer on the U.S. national team. His program at the Marcus Foster pool has sent swimmers to the swimming trials for every U.S. Olympic team since 1992.
In May 2007, Jim Ellis received the President's Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Bringing a swimmer to the Olympics is still his great dream.
While at the luncheon we chatted with Deb DiLorenzo who has just been appointed Chair of New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie's Subcommittee on Labor and Workforce Development.
In just a few moments it was clear to us that Chris Christie has made an excellent choice.
Deb DiLorenzo impresses us as a dynamo. She's obviously done wonderful things with the Chamber and she cares deeply about the future of New Jersey. She's quick, smart, vivacious, and clearly passionate about her work.
If this is any indication of the type of people who will surround our new Governor, then Chris Christie & Co. are on the right track. And we're delighted he's choosing bright, independent-minded professionals from South Jersey.
BTW: Thanks to our dear friend Lisa Simon of the Simon Public Relations Group for inviting us to the luncheon.

PPRA Gives Gardner The Gold

We've had an incredibly busy week full of so many special events that it's difficult to chronicle everything we've done and everywhere we've been.
But we'll try our best and begin with the region's most illustrious media personality, Jim Gardner.
On Monday, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA) presented 6 ABC TV's Action News anchorman with its prestigious Gold Medal recognizing the distinction and acclaim that he has brought to Philadelphia and the entire region. The luncheon event was held at Philadelphia's Ritz Carlton Hotel on the Avenue of the Arts.
To call Jim Gardner an anchorman only begins to scratch the surface. Quite simply, Jim Gardner is to Philadelphia what Walter Cronkite was to the nation. He is the most trusted person in the Delaware Valley.
Shown above (in top photo) are PPRA President Bill Cowen, Gardner and Gold Medal Committee co-chairs Lisette Bralow and Mark Tarasiewicz.
Jim Gardner's career is a testament to his professionalism and his enduring appeal.
On June 1, 1976 Gardner became a reporter and noon anchor of WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
In November 1976 he became the anchor of the 5:30 p.m. broadcast. In 1977 he became the anchor of the coveted 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. time slots, a position he has held ever since. In the May 2009 sweeps, Action News was rated # 1 in all news broadcasts beating out rivals KYW-TV and WCAU-TV in all time slots.
Important events that Gardner covered include:
  • following John Cardinal Krol to Vatican City after the death of Pope Paul VI
  • the return of American hostages taken during the Lebanese Civil War to Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany
  • reporting the fall of the Soviet Union from Russia
  • reporting in Israel and the West Bank after the 2000 Camp David Summit
  • every Democratic and Republican political convention since 1980
  • interviewing every President and major presidential candidate since 1976

As main anchor, Gardner has also helped Philadelphians through the deaths of two popular Action News personalities: Jim O'Brien in 1983 and Gary Papa in 2009.
Gardner is active in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and supports several charities. He has sponsored the Jim Gardner Scholarship for journalism and broadcasting students at Temple University (since 1987), as well as awarding the Jim Gardner Scholarship at Columbia. With the exception of 2005, he has read the Declaration of Independence aloud at Philadelphia's Independence Hall every Fourth of July.
Gardner's remarks upon receiving the award were compelling and inspiring.
I cannot tell you how proud I was to serve on the Committee that planned this memorable event.
Bravo, Jim Gardner!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Favorite Christmas Classics

Here are more of our favorite Christmas classics:
1) Have A Holly Jolly Christmas - The original version by Burl Ives is still the best!
2) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Jimmy Boyd original is tops! It reached number 1 on the Billboard charts in 1952, and on the Cash Box magazine chart at the beginning of the following year. The song was commissioned by Neiman Marcus to promote their Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow, who drew for the New Yorker magazines for many decades.
3) Christmas Time's A 'Comin (and I know I'm goin home) - Don't settle for anything less than the Bill Monroe bluegrass version.
4) It's A Wonderful Life - If you miss this class Frank Capra Christmas movie, you've missed Christmas itself!
5) A Christmas Carol - Watch ONLY the black and white 1951 movie version of this classic tale starring Alistair Sims. No others can match it.
Christmas reached a sort of zenith in America in the 1950s. It was a glorious time for home, family and Christmas. Maybe it was the aftermath of the war and the prosperity that followed that made everything so Christmasy. Or maybe it was just those crazy 50s novelty songs, all that sentimentality and brave new inventions like spray snow that made the difference. Who knows?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christie Names Secretary Of State

New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie today announced Lieutenant Governor-Elect Kim Guadagno as New Jersey’s next Secretary of State.
Christie cited Lieutenant Governor-Elect Guadagno’s record as a tough, independent and experienced former prosecutor and Chief Executive of Monmouth County’s largest law enforcement agency.
Governor-Elect Christie said, “Kim has been an extraordinarily capable member of my leadership team and our transition efforts, and I’ve tasked her specifically with the critical task of leading my administration’s economic development efforts. Our campaign was about reviving our economy, creating good, lasting jobs and getting our state back on track. I am honored to have Lieutenant Governor-Elect Guadagno’s continued service in this expanded role as we put New Jerseyans back to work and meet the many fiscal challenges our state faces.”
Guadagno is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, where she served as Deputy Director of the Division of Criminal Justice and Deputy Chief of the Corruption Unit. Guadagno was elected as Monmouth County Sheriff in 2007, where she served as Chief Executive of the county’s largest law enforcement agency. This included managing an annual budget of $65 million, a 695 member team and three divisions including the Law Enforcement Division, Correctional Facility, and Youth Detention Center. Guadagno was elected as New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor on November 3rd, 2009.
In addition to the traditional duties of the New Jersey Secretary of State, Guadagno will be charged with leading the development and implementation of the “New Jersey Partnership For Action,” a new agency within the Department of State to consolidate the state’s fragmented economic development activities.
The New Jersey Partnership For Action will serve as a one-stop shop for new businesses to make opening in or relocating to New Jersey easier. This agency will walk new companies through the regulatory process and assist with tax incentives to make the process more efficient. By creating these public-private partnerships to implement economic growth strategies, New Jersey will more successfully foster private sector job growth.
Lieutenant Governor-Elect Guadagno said, “I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve my fellow New Jerseyans in this capacity. New Jersey faces great challenges, but I firmly believe that there are always opportunities in the challenges we face. Our state is in need of new, creative solutions to make it a place where businesses and the jobs they bring can flourish. I am confident that with the New Jersey Partnership for Action we will serve our new and homegrown businesses to create sustainable, quality jobs and grow our economy.”
The New Jersey Secretary of State oversees 16 separate departments and agencies within the Department of State, including the Divisions of Elections, Travel and Tourism, Community Service, Archives and Records Management, and the Governor’s Office of Volunteerism.
The mission of the Department of State is to advance and support the arts, heritage, and historic record of New Jersey through public participation in cultural programs, quality of life initiatives and community service activities. The Department is committed to educating and empowering the State’s citizens in the areas of faith and community based service, history, the arts, and the collection of fine and decorative art objects, ethnological and archeological material, and scientific specimens. The Department also provides records administration and records management services to the State’s citizens.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kean Praises Dow Nomination

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean congratulated Paula Dow on her nomination as attorney general, and praised Governor-elect Chris Christie for the selection of a well-respected, experienced prosecutor as his first pick for a Cabinet-level appointment.
“Paula Dow stands out even among the many talented New Jersey lawyers qualified to fill the post of attorney general,” Senator Kean said. “I applaud both the governor-elect for his choice in this key nomination, and Paula Dow for her willingness to serve the people of New Jersey.”
Senator Kean said he looked forward to the nomination process in the Senate and vowed to help it move forward in the smoothest and most efficient way possible.
“Paula Dow has years of experience after serving in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and as the manager of New Jersey’s largest county prosecutor’s office,” Senator Kean said. “Her record of competence and success should speak for itself.”
Kean also praised the highly experienced group of supporting managers named along with Dow to positions in the Christie attorney general’s office. In addition to Dow, the governor-elect will name Phillip Kwon, now a deputy chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney's Office, as first assistant attorney general; Marc Ferzan, another deputy chief of the criminal division, as executive assistant attorney general; and First Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray as counsel to the attorney general.

Christie Names Attorney General

Governor-Elect Chris Christie today named former federal prosecutors with proven records of battling corruption to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office leadership team. Christie appointed Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow as Attorney General; Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s office Marc Ferzan, as Executive Assistant Attorney General; Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s office Phillip Kwon, as First Assistant Attorney General; and First Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, as Counsel to the Attorney General.
The incoming leadership team at the Attorney General’s office will work hand in hand with the U.S Attorney’s office to make fighting corruption a priority. Dow has experience both in the U.S. Attorney’s office where she led the corruption case against former Irvington Mayor Sara Boas and as Essex County Prosecutor. Dow currently oversees the largest office in the state, managing 430 total employees, including investigators, assistant prosecutors and support staff.
Governor-Elect Christie said, “The only way we are going to change the culture of corruption in New Jersey is by making it a priority at all levels of government. I am confident that this strong team will only reinforce that corruption will not be tolerated in the Christie administration.
“I am honored to have Paula’s experience, know-how and tough approach leading this dedicated group of federal prosecutors who know exactly what we need to do to root out waste, fraud and corruption because they’ve done it before,” concluded Christie.

Paula Dow, New Jersey Attorney General
In October 2003 Paula T. Dow of Maplewood, New Jersey assumed the office of Acting Essex County Prosecutor. In this position, Prosecutor Dow oversees an office of over 400 assistant prosecutors, investigators, and support staff and serves as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in New Jersey’s busiest County.
Before joining the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Paula Dow worked for eight years in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. From 2001 to 2003, she served as Counsel to U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie.
As an Assistant United States Attorney, Ms. Dow previously handled criminal prosecutions in the Special Prosecutions Division and the Criminal Division of New Jersey’s United States Attorney’s Office. From 1987 to 1994 Ms. Dow served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Ms. Dow earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she majored in government and economics. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1980. Ms. Dow is admitted to the Bars of New Jersey, New York and Texas; the United States Supreme Court; the Second and Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeals; the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, District of New Jersey, and Northern and Southern Districts of Texas. Ms. Dow presently serves as President of the New Jersey Association of County Prosecutors. Ms. Dow is also a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, where she served as Co-Chair of the Judicial Administration Committee and previously chaired the Minorities in the Profession Section. She is also a member of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey, Inc. and the Garden State Bar Association. Before being named Acting Essex County Prosecutor, Ms. Dow served as the New Jersey U.S. Attorney Liaison for the Orange and Newark Weed and Seed programs. Ms. Dow and her two sons are active members of St. Paul Baptist Church in Montclair.
Paula Dow has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Essex County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, the Hispanic Law Enforcement Officers & Firefighters Assocation of Essex County Law Enforcement Award, the Clinton Hill Weed and Seed Outstanding Achievement Award, the Christian Love Baptist Church (Irvington, NJ) Community Service Award, the New Jersey State Law Enforcement Officers Assn. Outstanding Police Work Award, the Miller Street Academy Award for Service to Youths, the New Jersey Chapter Achievement Award from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the N.A.A.C.P. (Newark Branch) Leadership in Community Advocacy Award.
She has also received certificates of appreciation for her work in law enforcement and community outreach from many federal, state and local departments and organizations.

Marc Ferzan, Executive Assistant Attorney General
In August 2001 Marc-Philip Ferzan joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey where he’s held various positions, including: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chief of the Commercial Crimes Unit, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division focusing on the Office’s white collar crimes program, as well as Acting Deputy U.S. Attorney and Acting Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Before joining the U.S Attorney’s Office, Mr. Ferzan also served as a trial attorney with the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and a Senior Counsel with the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He has also spent time in private practice at law firms in New York and Philadelphia.
Mr. Ferzan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989 from Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey where he majored in political science. He graduated from Fordham University School of Law School in New York, New York in 1992. Marc is admitted to the Bars of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
During his tenure of more than fifteen years in public service, Mr. Ferzan has received numerous awards and recognitions in connection with the investigation and prosecution of violations of banking, securities, healthcare, tax and other economic crimes.

Phillip Kwon, First Assistant Attorney General
In September 1999, Phillip Kwon joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division, focusing on crimes involving drugs, gangs, counterfeiting, white-collar fraud, and immigration fraud. Mr. Kwon then became an AUSA in the Special Prosecutions Division where he worked specifically on corruption cases and trials, including those involving Robert Janiszewski, Nidia Davila-Colon, William Braker, Zachary Turner, and others. He also secured convictions of those involved in the sale of fraudulent birth certificates from the Hudson County Registrar’s Office. Mr. Kwon was also a prosecutor on the trial team that convicted Sharpe James and Tamika Riley in their federal corruption case.
In 2005, Mr. Kwon was named as the Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit where he supervised the Office’s gang prosecutors. In 2006, Mr. Kwon was named as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division where he directly oversaw the Commercial Crimes Unit, the Terrorism Unit, and the Violent Crimes Unit.
Mr. Kwon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. where he majored in history. He graduated from Rutgers University School of Law School in Newark, N.J. in 1994. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Kwon was an associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in Newark, N.J. From 1997 to 1999, he was a law clerk to the Honorable Harold A. Ackerman, a Federal District Court Judge sitting in Newark, N.J.

Carolyn Murray, Counsel to the Attorney General
Carolyn Murray received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, in 1984, and her law degree, in 1987, from the New York University School of Law. She joined the law firm of Tompkins, McGuire & Wachenfeld in Newark, New Jersey, after graduation, and in 1988, she became an Assistant Prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
During the next seven years in Essex, she tried criminal cases in the Superior Court of New Jersey, including homicide, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence and aggravated assault cases. In 1995, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey where she continued to try criminal cases, conducted narcotics wiretap investigations, coordinated multi-agency enforcement initiatives, and served as Violent Crime Coordinator. In 2002, she was named Chief of the Public Prosecution Unit.
Carolyn returned to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in 2003 to serve as First Assistant Prosecutor.

Newest, Best Tiger Jokes!

I just figured out who the secret father of Octomom's kids is . . . Tiger Woods!

Tiger picked up two new sponsors. He took them for the money, even though he doesn't use the products...Trojan Condoms and Viagra.

Nike just announced they are producing a new "Elin Signature" line of golf clubs guaranteed to beat Tiger.

Tag Heuer watches announced it will continue its association with Tiger Woods. Although Woods had many affairs, he was never late for any of them.

Global consulting firm Accenture ended its relationship with Tiger Woods. Fortunately, Woods has a real knack for starting new relationships.

What's the difference between Tiger Woods and other married men?
Tiger is awesome at golf.

Elin Nordegren asked her marriage counselor why, next time, she should go after Tiger with a 9-iron instead of the 3-iron she used the morning after thanksgiving?
The counselor said “Because, now you’re closer to the green.”

Houston's new openly gay Mayor may be the only blonde in America safe from the sexual advances of Tiger Woods.

The Cousins At Christmas

The Cirucci Family cousins came together over the weekend at the huge Shawn and Danielle Senior Christmas party in Evesham.
Plenty to eat. Plenty to drink. Lots of kids. That spectacular Christmas tree. And Santa himself.
It's rare for so many of the cousins to be at one place at one time, so here they are.
Have you ever seen so many good lookin people in your life?

Pennsylvania Society Weekened, NYC

We headed up to New York over the weekend (along with Adam Cirucci) to attend the events surrounding the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Society at the Waldorf Astoria.
Since Adam is intimately involved with the workings of Pennsylvania government (as Communications Director for State Senator Andy Dinniman) we allowed him to take the lead in guiding us through the maze of receptions and events surrounding the Society's weekend confab.
Having maneuvered our way through a full day of Society events, all we can say is "Whew!"
We began on Friday at ESPN Zone on Times Square with the Pennsylvania Society Scrimmage sponsored by the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll. There, we met and chatted with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Buchanan partner and Philadelphia Bar Association Vice Chancellor Rudy Garcia and Dan Hirschhorn, reporter, editor and publisher of In the crowd we also spotted Philadelphia City Councilman Frank Rizzo.
Then it was on to the Jack Wagner for Governor reception at the Waldorf. While we enjoyed more eats and drinks as we met Jack Wagner and members of his family and we also chatted with former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Abe Reich and Philadelphia Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Dembe.
We then decided to take a brief break from our party rounds and we ran into Comcast honcho and honcha David L. Cohen and Charisse Lillie. Both seemed to be hurrying from one event to another.
Soon, we were back alongside Cole Porter's piano near the Waldorf lobby and into the Hilton Room where we enjoyed the Dan Onorato Reception. While there we chatted with Montgomery County Controller Diane B. Morgan and Philadelphia's newly elected District Attorney Seth Williams.
By this time one event was blending into another and we began to lose track of people, places and events.
We saw former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Michael Pratt rushing to the Cozen O'Connor law firm reception at the 21 Club. We ran into Frank Messina and Greg Cirillo and Ralph Wellington and Bonnie Squires and Scott Sigmund.
Then we found ourselves at the big IBEW Reception where we were welcomed by Johnny Dougherty and we chatted with Natalie Klyashtorny and Kera Walters and Jeff Jubelirer.
But soon it was time for the Blank Rome law firm reception at the Intercontinental Hotel. So we braved sub-freezing temperatures to leave the Waldorf and head one block south where we found former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Larry Beaser and Chancellor-elect Scott Cooper (both Blank Rome partners) along with Abe and Sherri Reich, Steve Sheller and Lynn Marks of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
By this time the parade of luminaries was becoming staggering: Judge Gene Cohen, broadcaster and Lt. Governor candidate Joe Watkins, Pennsylvania Society Executive Director Carol, Fitzgerald, Mark Alderman, former State Senators Rob Rovner and Bob Jubelirer, NAACP Director J. Whyatt Mondesire, Kim Jessum and Jim Wells, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, City GOP leaders Michael Meehan and Vito Canuso, State Representative Kathy Manderino and of course State Senator Andy Dinniman and his lovely wife, Margo.
Before we knew it midnight was approaching.
Yes, we were tempted to attend something called Joe Hoeffel After Dark at the W Hotel but we just couldn't make it.
If you've never attended Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York there is no way to explain it to you. Suffice it to say that it attracts thousands of participants to dozens of venues all over midtown Manhattan and it includes nearly all of the Commonwealth's movers and shakers.
And this was only Friday.
The events continued throughout the day on Saturday as well!

South Jersey Christmas Houses

There are always houses that Go All Out for Christmas.
Two of these homes are actually in South Jersey, on Mercer Street across from Town Hall in Cherry Hill.
Lights cover every available inch on these neighboring homes. The overall effect is nothing short of spectacular. You can find the homes on Mercer Street just off of Haddonfield Road between Chapel Avenue and Route 38. Don't worry: You'll see the lights (and the traffic) before you reach the homes.
Not far from Mercer Street, more spectacularly decorated homes are found on Deer Road in Cherry Hill just off of Chapel Avenue east of Kings Highway. Proceed almost to the end of Chapel Avenue until you see the lights. Then, make a right and a quick left onto Deer Road. An entire block is flooded with Christmas lights. Again, you will see the lights before you get there.
The owners of these homes have given us a wonderful Christmas gift. They are blessed with the Christmas spirit and we thank them and share in their joy.
Don't miss these inspiring displays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greatest Country Christmas Songs

There is no Christmas like a Country Christmas.
And somehow Christmas and country music just seem to go together.
So it should come as no surprise that many of the best Christmas songs you will ever hear are country Christmas songs.
To begin with the single best Christmas album I've ever heard is by Alabama and it's simply titled "Christmas." This is the first Alabama Christmas album issued in 1985.
Every song on this album is wonderful but some of my favorites include Santa Claus (I Still Believe In You), Christmas Memories, Tennessee Christmas and Christmas in Dixie.
I also like all of the songs on Clint Black's 1995 album "Looking for Christmas."
Favorites from a variety of other albums include: 364 Days to Go by Brad Paisley, This Is My Prayer by Reba McEntire, When It's Christmas Time In Texas and Christmas Cookies by George Strait, Goin' Home for Christmas by Merle Haggard, and Christmas Times A-Comin' by Bill Monroe.
Among non-country Christmas songs I like Santa Baby, the original by Eartha Kitt, When My Heart Finds Christmas and I Pray On Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr., It Happened In Sun Valley by Mel Torme and Christmas in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong.
A friend who takes a somewhat dimmer view of Christmas has asked that I add Merry Christmas From The Family by Robert Earl Keen and Granma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy Shropshire.
So there, I've added them.