Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Didn't We Know Then?

So now we're finding out.
Finally, we're discovering all the "dirt" about Campaign 2008.
And finally, we're beginning to get the full story about the hypocritical poseur known as John Edwards.
We're finding out about Bill Clinton's dismissive disdain for Barack Obama. We're discovering that Obama and Biden never really got along and that Obama (once he got to know Biden) really wanted no parts of Biden. We're learning about Harry Reid's 1950s attitude toward "Negros." And now we know more perhaps more than we ever wanted to know about John Edwards' affair with his mistress and his sexual appetite and recklessness.
But why did we have to wait this long to discover all this?
Why wasn't the Obama/Biden split reported during the campaign?
Why didn't we get all the details about Bill Clinton's real view of Obama?
Why didn't we know that Reid was still judging Negros by the lightness or darkness of their skin?
And why was Edward's shameless philandering hidden from us?
In fact, why hasn't anyone ever questioned Kerry's judgment in picking Edwards as his running mate in 2004 and launching him onto the national stage in the first place?
Surely there were people in the media who knew about these things.
That seems quite clear now.
After all, this wasn't 1950 or 1960 or even 1970. This was 2008!
The answer seems clear: People in the media covered for Clinton and Obama and Biden and Reid and Edwards and many others. The predominantly liberal, mainstream media didn't want us to know about these things. They didn't think we needed to know. It's that simple.
They covered then and they're covering now.
Yes, I know that two big blockbuster books are revealing these "secrets." And I know it's all part of the book hype.
But where was the responsible journalism here?
So-called journalists have become too cozy with the famous and powerful. They've been seduced by power and access to power.
This is why people are turning away from WaPo, NYT, ABC. CBS, NBC, Time, Newsweek and the like. This is what makes these outlets dinosaurs. They bob and weave and loaf and cover. They don;t dig anymore. And when they do, they save what they've found until it's too late.
So, don't ask why people are turning away from mainstream sources and turning to alternative media.
The answer is there for everyone to see.
And if we have to go to Drudge or even the National Enquirer to gain insight into what is really happening, we will.
But the truth will out.

Obama Gives GOP The Finger

Look at the above clip from Friday's Republican retreat in Baltimore.
Certainly, it seems President Obama is giving the assembled Republicans the finger as he addresses them.
You might be thinkin: "Is that really what he's doing? He just seems to be tapping or scratching his head."
Well, yes. And we might let this pass. We might.
But, as Gateway Pundit and others have noticed, Obama seems to have a habit of doing this when talking about his political enemies.
You can check it out.

54 Democrats Betray Israel

54 Democrat U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama to urge him to pressure Israel to loosen security measures on Israel's border in Hamas controlled Gaza.
Israel's security measures were implemented to counter the threat from terrorism.
PA Congressmen Chaka Fattah: 202-225-4001 and Joe Sestak: 202...-225-2011 were among those Democrats who signed this letter.
Call them & tell them NO.
These 54 Democrats expressed no concern whatsoever about the consequences their ideas might have for Israelis living under the threat of terrorism from Gaza!
Call now and tell the "Gaza 54":
As Americans and supporters of Israel's right of self-defense, we reject your call for pressure on our beleaguered ally. And we demand that you take a firm stand against terrorism.

The 54 Congressmen who signed this letter are:

Raul Grijalva: 202-225-2435

Lois Capps: 202-225-3601
Sam Farr: 202-225-2861
Bob Filner: 202-225-8045
Barbara Lee: 202-225-2661
Loretta Sanchez: 202-225-2965
Pete Stark: 202-225-5065
Michael Honda: 202-225-2631
Lynn Woolsey: 202-225-5161
Jackie Speier: 202-225-3531
Diane Watson: 202-225-7084
George Miller: 202-225-2095

Jim Himes: 202-225-5541

Andre Carson: 202-225-4011

Bruce Braley: 202-225-2911

John Yarmuth: 202-225-5401

Elijah Cummings: 202-225-4741
Donna Edwards: 202-225-8699

Michael Capuano: 202-225-5111
William Delahunt: 202-225-3111
Jim McGovern: 202-225-6101
John Tierney: 202-225-8020
John Olver: 202-225-5335
Stephen Lynch: 202-225-8273

John Conyers: 202-225-5126
John Dingell: 202-225-4071
Carolyn Kilpatrick: 202-225-2261

Keith Ellison: 202-225-4755
Betty McCollum: 202-225-6631
James Oberstar: 202-225-6211

New Jersey
Donald Payne: 202-225-3436
Rush Holt: 202-202-225-5801
Bill Pascrell: 202-225-5751

New York
Yvette Clarke: 202-225-6231
Maurice Hinchey: 202-225-6335
Paul Tonko: 202-225-5076
Eric Massa: 202-225-3161

North Carolina
David Price: 202-225-1784

Mary Jo Kilroy: 202-225-2015
Marcy Kaptur: 202-225-4146

Earl Blumenauer: 202-225-4811
Peter DeFazio: 202-225-6416

Chaka Fattah: 202-225-4001
Joe Sestak: 202-225-2011

Peter Welch: 202-225-4115

Jim Moran: 202-225-4376
Glenn Nye: 202-225-4215

Jim McDermott: 202-225-3106
Adam Smith: 202-225-8901
Jay Inslee: 202-225-6311
Brian Baird: 202-225-3536

West Virginia
Nick Rahall: 202-225-3452

Tammy Baldwin: 202-225-2906
Gwen Moore:202-225-4572

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's Your Favorite Steakhouse?

Among all the chain steakhouses, which is your favorite?
We want to know.
We've listed 10 of the best known steakhouse chains on our survey at the top right corner of this page.
Vote for your favorite.
Remember, you can only vote for one.
Vote now.
We want as many votes as necessary to assure a good, representative sample of views.
What's your favorite steakhouse chain?

BTW: Our apologies for spelling Capital Grille without the "e" at the end. The system will not allow us to correct the error on the poll now that polling has begun. We're not allowed to make any changes without starting all over again. That's what keeps our poll tamper-proof. So, for now the error will have to stand to guarantee accuracy.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Republicans DO Have Solutions

I'm tired of people saying that Republicans have no plan for health care, no plan for jobs, no plan for clean, affordable energy or no plan for the economy.
For months I've been trying to answer my liberal friends with specifics.
The GOP does have a plan.
The Republican Party has proposed clear, smart solutions on energy, jobs, the economy, health care, even housing.
For example, the GOP plan on health care would increase competition and lower costs by allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines and it would also prohibit an insurer from canceling a policy unless a person commits fraud or conceals material facts about a health condition. And these are just two specific elements of the Republican plan which contains 10 detailed proposals and is backed up by legislation that is ready to be acted upon by the Congress.
And the GOP No-Cost Jobs Plan would stops wasteful spending and tax hikes, help small businesses, and removes unnecessary barriers to American energy production. The Republican road to more jobs is business-friendly because the GOP understands that jobs created by the private sector are the best way to grow the economy.
There is no secret to the Republican plans.
They've been there all along.
They can be found at
But if you listen to President Obama and the Democrats you might think that the Republican Party has never advanced an alternative, never proposed legislation and never contributed constructively to the debate.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
In fact, the GOP has been trying to get some traction for its proposals but the fact is that the White House, Pelosi and Reid have shut Republicans out.
President Obama would rather call the Republican Party "the party of no" than acknowledge smart, common-sense Republican proposals. And Reid and Pelosi would rather would convene secret Democrat meetings and schedule midnight votes.
If the President and the Democrat Congress are truly serious about bipartisan cooperation they will contact House minority leader John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and sit down with them and begin the dialogue. And the President and the Democrats can get the dialogue off on the right foot by acknowledging that the GOP has put forth sound proposals that are worth consideration. Would that be so dreadful?
Clearly, the nation is trying to give the President a wake up call.
Unquestionably, the GOP has provided a way forward.
But seriously, will Obama do the right thing? Seriously?

Tell CBS: Air The Ad!

Last year fought hard to have its “Life: Imagine the Potential” ad shown during the Super Bowl.
After several days of negotiations, NBC rejected the ad.
This year Focus on the Family has had success with a different network, as CBS is poised to show their own ad celebrating the accomplishments of college football star Tim Tebow next Sunday.
In 1985, Tebow’s mother Pam was advised to abort her child.
She decided against it citing her Christian faith as a source of hope that her son would be ok. Her son, Tim Tebow, won the Heisman Trophy in 2007.
While the ad has been approved, pro-abortion groups are now urging CBS to censor the Super Bowl ad!

Sign a group letter to CBS. Tell them not to give in to pressure and show the ad!

And tell your friends to visit to join us!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Toomey On Bernanke: 'No'

U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey announced that, if he were in the U.S. Senate today, he would vote against confirming Ben Bernanke for Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Mr. Toomey expressed a number of reasons for his opposition, chief among them was the Fed’s central role in precipitating the economic recession we are currently undergoing.
For three years, from 2002 through 2005, the Fed maintained negative real interest rates, taking the nominal Fed Funds rate to a low of 1% in June 2003. These unnaturally low interest rates created a powerful incentive for individuals and institutions to leverage excessively, which created a credit bubble. This, in turn, created the residential real estate bubble, the collapse of which precipitated the crisis.
Mr. Bernanke was a member of the Fed Board from 2002 until he was sworn in as Chairman in 2006, and was a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the committee directly responsible for setting short-term interest rates.
“This was a difficult decision,” Mr. Toomey said. “I have great respect for Chairman Bernanke’s intellect and expertise, and I believe he has tried to do what he believes is best for the country and its economy. However, Chairman Bernanke’s refusal to acknowledge the role the Fed played in creating the current financial and economic crisis leaves little assurance that the Fed will not repeat those errors under his continued leadership.”
“In addition, I have concerns about Chairman Bernanke’s participation in the extralegal activities in the fall of 2008 and the recent politicization of his confirmation, which raises question about his potential susceptibility to political pressure. I have a lot of respect for Chairman Bernanke, but it is crucial that we learn from the mistakes that led to this economic crisis. Without that acknowledgement, I cannot give him my support.”

Obama's Attack On Supreme Court

President Obama's attack on the United States Supreme Court last night (in the presence of six justices) was presumptuous, beyond brazen and shockingly disrespectful.
In front of the justices themselves, the President moved to politicize the high court. Here's what he said:
"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."
Below, find a clip of the stone-faced court members and Justices Alito's expression of dismay.
BTW: Senator Chucky ("Grandstander") Schumer stood up just behind the jusitces and applauded wildly in a disgraceful partisan display.

Christie Begins Exercising Vetoes

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie exercised his veto power for the first time related to a $1.267 million change order approved on January 6 by the board of the Schools Development Authority.
Including the vetoed amount, change orders for construction of a new addition to the Burlington City High School in the Burlington School District total $18.825 million.
The original contract price was $28,723,000, meaning that the project has now increased by 66 percent to $47,548,791, according to figures provided by the SDA.
“We will be placing far greater scrutiny than ever previously imposed on contracts and expenditures like these,” said Governor Christie. “This is symbolic and symptomatic of a much larger problem at the SDA when you have change orders that increase a building contract price by a staggering 66 percent.”
“This careful and critical review is precisely the role that my Authorities Unit will undertake during my administration to ensure that taxpayer money is not being wasted,” Governor Christie said.
The Governor’s veto letter was delivered to the SDA yesterday afternoon.
The Governor also vetoed action taken at SDA’s January 6 meeting, in which the board approved the readoption of certain regulations of the New Jersey Administrative Code. Executive Orders 1, 2 and 3, issued by Governor Christie on January 20, require that all pending and proposed rules and regulations be reviewed by the Red Tape Review Group prior to adoption by any state agency or authority.

L -O-N-G State Of The Union

President Obama spoke for more than 70 minutes last night in what was one of the longest State of the Union speeches on record. In fact, it rivaled the long winded speeches of President Clinton.
Here are the lengths of State of the Union speeches of some recent presidents:

Gerald Ford

Shortest—Jan. 15, 1975: 41 minutes

Longest—Jan. 19, 1976: 50 minutes, 38 seconds

Jimmy Carter

Shortest—Jan. 21, 1980: 32 minutes, 4 seconds

Longest—Jan. 19, 1978: 46 minutes, 4 seconds

Ronald Reagan

Shortest—Feb. 4, 1986: About 31 minutes

Longest—Jan. 25, 1983: About 46 minutes

George H.W. Bush

Shortest—Jan. 31, 1990: 35 minutes, 43 seconds

Longest—Jan. 28, 1992: 51 minutes, 4 seconds

Bill Clinton

Shortest—Jan. 25, 1994: 1 hour, 3 minutes, 44 seconds

Longest—Jan. 27, 2000: 1 hour, 28 minutes, 49 seconds

George W. Bush

Shortest—Jan. 29, 2002: 47 minutes, 49 seconds

Longest—Jan. 28, 2003: 59 minutes, 35 seconds

Remember: A speech does not have to be long to be good. It merely has to be good. And it's worth noting that Ronald Reagen, the great communicator, never gave a State of the Union speech that exceeded 46 minutes. In fact, most of Reagan's speeches came in at about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vote For Your Favorite Steakhouse!

Among all the chain steakhouses, which is your favorite?
We want to know.
We've listed 10 of the best known steakhouse chains on our survey at the top right corner of this page.
Vote for your favorite.
Remember, you can only vote for one.
Vote now.
We want as many votes as necessary to assure a good, representative sample of views.
What's your favorite steakhouse chain?

Christie: Crack Down On Waste

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie released the following statement today in response to the Office of Comptroller's report on fiscal mismanagement and abuse in Atlantic City:
“Today's report only reinforces the fact that there is irresponsible waste and abuse at every level of government. It is completely unacceptable that when our state is facing a gaping budget deficit and New Jerseyans are the highest taxed in the nation, Atlantic City is being reckless with taxpayer dollars. This audit is a good first step toward putting Atlantic City's finances in order and exactly the approach we plan to take across the board."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lush Lessons Of Young Victoria

The Young Victoria is the story of a young, inexperienced leader who thinks she is ready to take on the world.
And she truly does have the world at her feet.
She presides over the world's most powerful nation and is the heir not only to the world's most prestigious throne but also to a vast empire.
This lush, extravagant costume drama works on so many levels that it's hard to figure out where to begin.
Emily Blunt is marvelous as Queen Victoria; halting at first and then ever confident and she gains and loses and regains her footing. She is an extraordinary young actress.
Rupert Friend is dashing, intense and nothing less than compelling as Prince Albert.
And Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson also shine as Lord Melbourne and The Duchess of Kent, respectively. Their performances are mature and richly subdued.
If you are at all interested in history, romance, the British empire or royalty, this movie is for you. Even if you think you know the story of Victoria and Albert you will find much to discover in The Young Victoria.
Though Queen Victoria has long been depicted on film and on stage, this is an entirely new story told from a new vantage point. This is the story of the events that led up to Victoria's coronation -- the struggle for power within the British royal family and indeed within the royal families of Europe.
This is also the story of how Victoria came to terms with her monarchy, how she met and fell in love with Albert, how she and Albert carved out their roles separately and together and how she learned to face personal and political struggles and endure as Britain's longest reigning monarch.
The film is a joy to watch, beautifully directed by Jean Marc Valee and written by actor, writer, director and producer Julian Fellows.
The Young Victoria is absolutely enthralling. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best movie of the year. Run out to see it as fast as you can!

BTW: These two wonderful lines in the film are worth recalling: "You should never have to apologize for your passion," the young Victoria says at one point. And at another point Victoria's aunt admonishes her that "You are confusing stubbornness for strength.
Watching this film I thought the President of the United States should now remember never to confuse stubbornness for strength. Stubbornness will not serve him well just now. And, he should certainly show less cool and more genuine passion (if he has any). He should stop apologizing to everyone except perhaps, the people who elected him.

Your Grade For Obama: Failure

Our readers have graded President Obama on the first anniversary of his inauguration and the votes are in.
More than 160 of you voted in our unscientific poll and, by a wide margin, you have rated President Obama a "failure." You say he has earned an "F."
Here are the results:
A Excellent - 5%
B Good - 7%
C Fair - 3%
D Poor - 16%
F Failure - 67%
Lest you be tempted to dismiss these results, please note that just a year ago our readers correctly predicted that President Obama's popularity would fall to below 50% at the end of his first year on the job. That was a daring prediction since the President's popularity at that time was hovering near 80%. And yet, one year later it turns out that our readers were right.
Who'da thunk it?
Note: Percentages do not total 100% since percentage figures are rounded off.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Christie Appoints Wirths, Grifa

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued to create a strong, experienced team with the announcement of two cabinet positions today. Christie nominated Hal Wirths as Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Lori Grifa as Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
Gov. Christie said, “It is important we have a strong team who is willing to be creative, think outside the box and do what needs to be done to get results. There is no disputing we have a series of difficult challenges we must tackle and overcome and I am confident that with this team in place we will fundamentally change the way New Jersey government operates.”

Hal Wirths, Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor
Hal Wirths is a founding member and on the Board of Directors at the Highland’s State Bank and has been with the firm since 2004.
He is Chairman of the Loan Committee and a member of the strategic merger team. Since 2000, Mr. Wirths has been Freeholder Director for Sussex County. He serves as the Chairman of the Budget Committee, which oversees a budget of over $100 million. From 1986 until 2004, Mr. Wirths was a successful small business owner of the Oak Shoppe Furniture store.
As owner and operator of two locations, Mr. Wirths oversaw sales, acquisitions and advertising. Mr. Wirths has been a member of a number of organizations including: Rotary International, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Branchville Businessmen’s Club and an Honorary Member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Mr. Wirths resides in Wantage, New Jersey.

Lori Grifa, Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Lori Grifa was most recently a member of Wolff & Samson’s Government and Regulatory Affairs Group.
She focused on the areas of administrative, regulatory and government affairs, and handles commercial and employment litigation.
From 2002-2003, Lori served as chief of staff to New Jersey Attorney General David Samson. In that capacity, she was responsible for managing the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, a department comprised of more than 9,500 employees (including 800 attorneys), as well as for the civil representation of the State of New Jersey and overseeing the state’s criminal prosecution efforts.
Before joining Wolff & Samson, she was a special assistant district attorney in the Homicide Investigation Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office for two years and was a senior assistant district attorney in the Office of the Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney from 1989-1997, where she specialized in homicide and gang-related prosecutions.
Lori received appointments by the chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court to a number of important committees, including the Committee for Women and the Courts and the State Domestic Violence Working Group.
Most recently, she was appointed to the District V-A Attorney Ethics Committee for a four-year term that began in September 2008. She is listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Administrative Law and was named by NJBIZ in 2008 as one of New Jersey’s “Best 50 Women in Business."
She has received Martindale Hubbell’s highest AV® rating. A graduate of Boston College School of Law, Lori served as law clerk to Judge Elbert Tuttle of the Superior Court of Massachusetts. She also earned her B.A., cum laude, from Rutgers University, where she was a Henry Rutgers Thesis Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Obama Most Polarizing President

The 65 percentage-point gap between Democrats' (88%) and Republicans' (23%) average job approval ratings for Barack Obama is easily the largest for any president in his first year in office, greatly exceeding the prior high of 52 points for Bill Clinton.

Average Difference Between Republicans' and Democrats' Job Approval Ratings of Presidents During First Year in Office

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Will Harry Reid Step Down?

There is much talk in Washington that, one way or another, Harry Reid's days as Senate Majority Leader are numbered. Indeed, his days in the United States Senate may be drawing to a close.
Either Reid will take the lead of Chris Dodd and choose not to run for re-election in November or he will be removed by the voters of Nevada and replaced with a Republican. And there is still the possibility that Reid will resign as Senate Majority Leader while trying to retain his seat.
Harry Reid is 70 years old and he's been through a lot. So much so that he actually looks older than his already advanced age.
He's been involved in Nevada politics for 43 years and he's served in Congress for nearly 30 years.
Reid has held some type of public office or been on the public payroll nearly all his life. That's all he knows.
In 2006 Reid suffered a mild stroke but he was soon back at work and there seemed to be no further complications.
Still, one wonders how long Reid can maintain the pace.
The past year has not been kind to Reid.
He ramrodded the health care bill through the Senate with a series of secret meetings, midnight votes and backroom deals. And now, he's lost his Senate super majority and the health care bill appears to be dead.
On top of it all, Reid's comments about Obama being "light skinned" and not "speaking a Negro dialect unless he wants to" have proved to be very embarrassing. Reid seems to be of another era and hopelessly out of touch.
In the Congress many Democrats are beginning to suggest that Harry Reid should pack it in. Members are beginning to wish that the Democrat Party had a new face, a new image in the Senate.
And, back home, Reid's popularity is at all time low. Either of the front runners for the GOP Senate nomination in Nevada would easily defeat Reid if the election were held today.
Harry Reid is now widely viewed as damaged goods.
In Washington, when the sharks begin to smell blood it's hard to recover.

Pizza At Treno

In our unending quest for the Perfect Pizza we found ourselves at Treno in nearby Westmont last night.
Treno, by the PJW (PJ Welihan's) Restaurant Group is the successor to Kitchen 233 which operated on the same site on Haddon Avenue.
Treno bills itself as a "pizza bar" and advertises pizza, pasta and vino with 30 wines by the glass priced at $5, $7 and $9.
The place is vast and encompasses two spacious bars, two huge rooms and limited parking.
We had to wait awhile as Treno was teeming with customers. Well, the place is new and it was a Friday night. Plus, there were six in our party so we needed a larger table.
We were shown to a cavernous, unadorned area with huge windows, garden style chairs and tables and no soft surfaces. With loud, rather unpleasant music piped in, it was necessary for everyone to raise his or her voice and that simply made it all the more cacophonous. Under these circumstances conversation was difficult at best.
Treno offers a variety of "small plates" including salads. These run from $4 for the meatballs to $11 for the cured meat and cheese plate. We opted for wood oven romaine salad with creamy garlic dressing for $6. The wood fired pizzas are 12 inches (more like a personal pizza) and are priced from $9 for the simple margherita to $12 for the house made sausage and peppers pizza. Pasta runs from $9 to $16.50 depending on the type of pasta ordered and the size of the plate.
Pizzas here are gourmet style and thin-crusted. We enjoyed our margherita pizza but we must note that it was merely warm and not piping hot when it arrived. Also, the middle of the pie was soggy and lacked the crispiness we prefer. An authentic, thin-crusted Italian pizza needs to be hot and crispy. Otherwise, what's the point?
The salad was fine -- warm, with a zesty, creamy, mustard-colored dressing. It was like a Caesar salad hybrid.
Four of us chose a bottle of Dantello pinot griggio which seemed to go well with the rest of the meal.
Is Treno worth another visit? I'm not sure.
It might be fun on a weeknight when it may not be so crowded and noisy. But we asked the waitress if the more cushioned room near the entrance was quieter and she told us it wasn't. And then again there was that loud music.
Pizza, wine, a salad, tax and tip will run you about $60. a couple here.
Is it too much to ask that the pizza be hot and crisp, that there be a warm ambience and that the volume be reasonable?

From Inside DC: Grim News

President Obama now faces a State of the Union address with an agenda in tatters.
For Democrats, the word out of Washington is grim.
Many members of his own party are now deserting Obama. Those who want to get re-elected are quickly and clearly putting distance between themselves and the President. And they're not shy about it.
On the heels of the stunning Democrat meltdown in Massachusetts (not to mention NJ and VA) the stock market plummeted (triggered by Obama's badly timed announcement of new investment regulations veiled as "reform") and now even federal reserve Chair Ben Bernancke is in trouble.
My sources in the nation's capital tell me that you can expect even more Democrats to announce that they will not seet re-election to Congress and that there could even be some Democrats (particularly in the south) switching over to the GOP.
"They're afraid," one person told me. "They see this as much worse than they feared. They're looking for cover, for a way out, anything. They feel trapped. They want options."
There is also much speculation in Washington that Hillary Clinton may eventually resign as Secretary of State to challenge the President for the 2012 Democrat nomination for President. At the very least, a resignation would give Hillary new options. And there's little reason why she would want to remain on a losing team and be part of a besieged administration.
There is also some talk of a challenge to Obama (within his own party) from the left. Those on the far left are not happy with the President -- not happy with the backroom deals, all the compromises, the vacillation, the broken promises and the failure to stand firm.
And then there is much chatter about who will have to pay for this mess.
Consensus: One or more top White House operatives will have to go.
The President himself has admitted that he's done a bad job of articulating the agenda.
He says he wishes he could have spoken more directly to the American people.
Who will pay for this. Certainly, David Axelrod's strategy has not worked. The widely-praised image guru has failed.
And Rahm Emanuel's dealings with Congress have come under increasing attack. Many House and Senate members have had it with Emanuel's take-no-prisoners approach. They feel they've been made sacrificial lambs at the alter of Obamunism.
And Robert Gibbs has succeeded in taken a largely-friendly (if not adoring) press and made them, at the very least, increasingly suspicious. Gibbs is a dud.
Valerie Jarett? Many blame her for the embarrassing gate-crasher mess and for whispering into the President's ear with too much bad (and often paranoiac) advice.
The Chicago gang is under fire. And more and more it seems like one or more people will have to take a fall for the boss.
But the real worry in DC is this: That Obama hasn't learned a damned thing.
That he's stubbornly insisting on his failed agenda. That he still thinks he's campaigning. That he's still blaming Bush. That he's still hunkered down. That he still hasn't learned how to open up, reach out, lead and govern like a leader.
Those close to the situation say the President is icy and detached.
The temperature now is suprisingly mild and we're enjoying a nice January thaw here in the northeast.
But The President hasn't gotten the message.
He's never warmed up.
Theory: His own vaulted self-protectiveness and deep-seated insecurity prevents him from changing his ways.
It's what he knows.
It's what works for him.
It's what has nurtured and fed his hard-shelled ego.
And he's loathe to abandon it because he knows no other way.
Botton line: Grim.

BTW: Seen not far from Capitol Hill at Wolfgang Puck's The Source -- Rahm Emaunuel at the bar chatting with another man. A rare sighting of the increasingly barricaded Chief of Staff. Was Rahm shopping his resume?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Camden County's Cronyism, Nepotism

From the CCGOP Chairman's Blog:

Nepotism Beneficiary Sen. Donald Norcross

Nepotism Beneficiary Sen. Donald Norcross

In today’s piece on the power of the independent-(and fiscal)-minded voter, Alfred P. Doblin, editorial page editor of The Record, brought to light something we here in South Jersey and in political circles across the state already know – the South Jersey Norcross Machine is chock full of cronyism and nepotism, and the state suffers from a districting system that is crumbling under it own weight. But, the author points out, people are waking up, and they – not legislators – are making changes for the better.

One clone is replaced by another clone. In New Jersey, the democratic process is on life support. Consider the meteoric rise of Donald Norcross, the brother of South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross. He was seated in the Assembly just last week. This week he became a state Senator, replacing Dana Redd, who was elected mayor of Camden. Next week, who knows? Joe Biden might not want to call in sick anytime soon…

Norcross – George and Donald – may be able to do what they want for now, but if New Jersey’s silent majority mobilizes, I’m not so sure. New Jersey must eliminate its ruling political class. It does not require legislative action on term limits. It involves voter action on term-limiting elected officials.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hear Me On 1210 Tonight!

I'll be on the radio tonight (Thursday) at 10 PM on the Christine Flowers Program on The Big Talker, 1210 radio on the AM dial and at
So, you can listen wherever you are as long as you have a radio or a computer.
We'll be talking about the political upheavel of the past few days -- the election of Scott Brown and the new troubles that Obama and the Democrats are confronting.
Chris and I willl also be taking phone calls so you can call in and be part of the conversation.
It's gonna be a fun discussion.
Tune in!

Kean: Christie Open, Accountable

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said he is pleased by executive orders that Governor Chris Christie signed [Wednesday] to revive the state’s economy, help businesses create jobs, and bring refreshing openness and accountability to government.
“These steps show that New Jersey citizens have chosen well and voted in a man of character and decisiveness,” Senator Kean said.
“On his first day on the job, Governor Christie used his first executive orders to take absolutely critical steps to get New Jersey’s economy moving and create jobs,” Senator Kean said. “He showed we have a governor who will pay more than lip service to openness and accountability in government.”
Senator Kean said it was unfortunate that Governor Corzine chose not to warn taxpayers or lawmakers about revenue projections that indicate the state’s budget deficit this year has swollen to $1.9 billion from an earlier reported $800 million.
“Sadly, only on the first day of his administration was Governor Christie allowed to learn the true size of the huge deficit faced by New Jersey,” Kean said. “The Senate Republicans stand ready to work with him in his efforts to bring New Jersey back to solvency, and to bring about the kind of government our state deserves.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What? Republicans Not Sexy?

Meet the new Senator from Massachusetts.
And you thought Republicans weren't sexy.
But Scott Brown's always been a hunk - just as he was here at age 22 when he posed for Cosmo as a law student at Boston College who was cramming for finals.
In fact, Brown worked as a model to help pay his college tuition.
Well, he is taking the seat that was once held by the young, dashing and handsome John F. Kennedy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yes, It's Obama's Defeat

Even before the Massachusetts election was over the Democrats were spinning it as a loss for Coakley and no one else. They blamed Coakley for the whole thing. She was too slow, too detached, to confident, in short - clueless.
It's all her fault; all her fault.
Even before the President departed from his campaign stop for Coakley, White House operatives were spinning it this way.
Then the mainstream media got the memo and picked up on the same talking points.
But, make no mistake about it, this is a loss for Obama.
Obama comes in to campiagn for a candidate and the candidate loses: Deeds, Corzine, Coakley. Obama even lost the Olympics for Chicago.
I think part of the reason lies in the fact that the President is not a joiner, not a "connector" not a people person. He's often been called "cool." But he's beyond cool. He's cold. He generates no warmth. He's a man without passion. He's detached; disconnected.
I go back to something I posted here in August, 2008 when I was commenting on and quoting from a column by David Brooks in the New York Times. Once again, here it is:

Like many pundits Brooks wonders why Obama isn't running away with this thing; why he hasn't pulled way ahead. But Brook has an answer to the question that few others have offered. He believes America hasn't fully engaged with Obama because Obama himself is not an engager, not a committer, not a person with clear, deep, identifiable values and roots. And Americans sense this. They get it.
Brooks describes Obama as a sojourner: someone who stays for awhile and then moves on; someone who doesn't put down roots or make commitments; a journeyer.
And Brooks gives plenty of examples to back up his claim. The enigmatic Obama is a man who nobody quite knows because he's never been anywhere long enough or been part of anything long enough or been intimately involved enough in any one cause or institution for anyone to get to know him.
This may account for Obama's inability to reach rural and small town voters. America's small-town sensibilities and homespun traditions make us suspicious of drifters. On Main Streets across the country Americans seem to be furrowing their brows and wondering: "Who is this guy? Where did he come from, what does he really believe and where is he planning to take us?"

Brooks says: There is a sense that because of his unique background and temperament, Obama lives apart. He put one foot in the institutions he rose through on his journey but never fully engaged. As a result, voters have trouble placing him in his context, understanding the roots and values in which he is ineluctably embedded.
And when Obama shifts positions on issues or disavows former friends and advisors (as he's done a lot of both recently) he only reinforces suspicions and solidifies voters' reluctance to embrace his campaign.
Placed in context, this is all very understandable.

Brooks again: When we’re judging candidates (or friends), we don’t just judge the individuals but the milieus that produced them. We judge them by the connections that exist beyond choice and the ground where they will go home to be laid to rest. Andrew Jackson was a backwoodsman. John Kennedy had his clan. Ronald Reagan was forever associated with the small-town virtues of Dixon and Jimmy Carter with Plains
It is hard to plant Obama.

Brown + Blue = RED!

They said that the Republican Party was destined for permanent minority status.
They said the GOP was too radical, too conservative, not mainstream.
They said that Republicans were out of touch with ordinary Americans.
They said that the Grand Old Party could not win the votes of independents and Democrats.
They said that the Republican Party was a captive of far-right loonies.
They laughed and mocked Republicans and called them anachronisms.
They said the GOP could not win suburban districts, could not attract women, could not win the votes of soccer moms.
They said the Republican Party was a "regional party" -- that it couldn't win votes on the coasts or in the northeast. They said its appeal was confined largely to the south.
They said Republicans were clinging to "guns and religion" and that the party was just a bunch of angry old people.
They said the Republican Party could not attract young, new, bright, independent-minded candidates.
They were wrong.
They didn't know what the hell they were talking about.
They were wrong in Virginia.
They were wrong in New Jersey.
And now they're wrong in -- of all places -- Massachusetts!
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Three strikes and you're out.
This is big.
This is seismic.
This is cataclysmic.
But if they still don't want to see what's happening, that's just fine.
Because what "they" say isn't important anymore.
The people have spoken. America is still a democracy. The people are on the march.
And the Republican Party is alive, vital, invigorated and thriving all over America!

Seen And Heard At NJ Inaugural

We saw so many familiar faces and chatted with so many New Jerseyans and prominent figures from around the nation at Governor Chris Christie's Inauguration that it's hard to know where to begin.
But here is a rundown of some of our observations:

--New Jersey's new, young first family looked great today. Chris Christie, First Lady Mary Pat Christie and their three children epitomize the renewed spirit of our state. The Governor was so proud when his two youngest children stepped forward to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance that, at first he looked at his kids instead of looking toward the flag. But he quickly checked himself. Ahh . . . a father's pride!

--All former living New Jersey Governors were on the platform today save one: Governor Jim McGreevey.

--Chris Christie took the oath of office in a strong, clear, determined voice. Chief Justice Rabner administered the oath beautifully. There were no flubs on either end. And that's impressive because New Jersey's oath of office is quite long. Wisely, the oath ends (as all such oaths should) with the words "so help me, God."

--New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells performed the ceremonial task of handing the Great Seal of the State to Governor Christie and she did it in an manner that barely hid her sense of disappointment. Our new Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno will serve as the new Secretary of State.

--Of all the former Governors in attendance ( Whitman, Kean, Byrne, Florio) none seemed more pleased to be there than Jim Florio. Chatting with Jim, we reminded him of his first run for office when he sought an Assembly seat from Camden County. We supported him at the time and worked on his campaign. Now, that was along time ago!

--Governor Tom Kean was amiable as usual and attracted a large crowd at the post-Inaugural luncheon which was dotted with notables from throughout the state and nation. He remains a hugely popular and respected figure in the state and beyond.

--Governor Brendan Byrne remembered us from our days in Trenton when we worked for the New Jersey State Bar Association and he was Governor. It was great to see Governor Byrne again and to share pleasantries with him.

--Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele towered above most others in the crowd at the luncheon. Steele was in a jovial mood and told us he's very, very upbeat about the GOP this year.

--We thanked former [acting] Governor Don DeFrancesco on his fine service to the state after Governor Whitman left office to join the Bush Administration. DeFrancesco was happy to see that many of us remembered his contributions to our state.

--New Jersey GOP Senate Leader Joe Kyrillos played a huge role in the Christie victory and Kyrillos happily greeted both Democrats and Republicans throughout the day.

--Our new Lt. Governor Kim Gudagno looked absolutely radiant as she accepted congratulations from so many in attendance. We gave her a big hug and she, in turn offered mucho thanks.

--The post-inaugural luncheon was themed to tastes of New Jersey and included pastries and cookies in the shape of the state as well as clam chowder, mini-hoagies, rigatoni, fresh salads and a variety of soft drinks among other treats. The event was designed by Fabulous Foods of Paramus.

--We spotted Judge Andrew Nepolitano from Fox News in the crowd at the post-inaugural luncheon inside the War Memorial Building.

--The effervescent Assemblywoman Dawn Marie Addiego from Burlington County greeted us warmly. It was great to see her once again. Dawn is a bright shining star in the Republican party.

--Yes, we did see New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg but we never got around to chatting with him. Ain't it a shame?

Christie's Address Stirs Big Crowd

Above, you can see the panoramic view inside the War Memorial Building in Trenton today as New Jersey's new Governor Chris Christie took his oath of office as the 55th Governor of the Garden State.
The War Memorial was jammed to the upper reaches of the balcony with joyous celebrants who gave the Governor many extended, standing ovations and hooted and hollered every time he pledged to do "exactly what you elected me to do."
The new Governor's theme was "Change Has Arrived." And Christie hammered home the theme in every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph of his stirring inaugural address.
"You voted loudly and clearly for change and you have entrusted us with what may be our last, best hope for a stronger New Jersey—the New Jersey of our youth, full of hope and opportunity," Christie said. "New Jersey, you voted for change and today change has arrived—right here, right now," he added.
In a dramatic move, Christie called the Democrat Speaker of the State House and the Democrat President of the State Senate to the podium and asked them to join hands with him as a solemn pledge to work together for the people of New Jersey.
Taking a page from President Ronald Reagan, the new Governor introduced five "New Jersey heroes" -- ordinary people who have made a big difference in the lives of their own communities through charitable and civic endeavors.
Governor Christie then said that these five "should serve as models for" the leaders of the state. "If they can accomplish this much, then think of how much we can accomplish if we work together," Christie told state legislators on both sides of the aisle.
"Let us shake hands as a symbol for our citizens of all that is possible in a future that demands that who gets the credit finally takes a back seat to doing something worth getting credit for," he added.
Christie said he came to the Governor's office out of a deep love for the people of New Jersey and with the intent of serving the people rather than himself. He pledged bold leadership and a new approach to old problems. "On thing is clear," he said "the old ways of doing business have not worked."
Christie expressed what he called "supreme confidence" that he can get the job done by embracing new policies and marshaling support from the people of New Jersey.
"Yes, we will have to cut some programs and transform others to get our budget in balance," he explained. "Yes, we will have to curb spending in municipal governments where there has been too little control. Yes, we will have to restrain State government, even as we invest to be prepared for the economic competition ahead," he added. "But we can do these things—and once again be a home for growth."
Here are some other key lines from the Governor's remarks:

Either to work together to move our State forward, or to get out of the way of those who will.

One person can make a difference. I will make a difference. And each of you will make a difference too, if you believe in a better tomorrow.

Believe me, I did not come to this office for failure. I came here for success, the kind of success that only comes from putting public service ahead of self-service.

I will heed the message I have heard over and over again from our citizens as I have traveled around the State in the last 11 weeks—simply put, they have told me to do what I said I would do. So let there be no doubt in this hall, or in any corner of this State: I will treat that promise to the people of our State just as solemnly as I will treat my oath of office. I will do exactly what I said I would do over the last year, no matter the obstacle or trial.

This is not a time for just another season of cynicism. With a State in crisis, we must cast aside blame and embrace action.

We can restore pride in our State. We have the talent, the natural beauty, the rich history, and the even richer character as a people, to be proud of New Jersey again. It is time to bring our pride back.

The era of expensive and sometimes thoughtless mandates from Washington must end. After all, the States are supposed to be “laboratories of democracy”, not guinea pigs for failed federal experiments.

Photo: Star-Ledger.

New Jersey's Bright New Dawn

Governor Christie and
Lt. Governor Guadagno!

We welcome a new dawn and a new era
for our beloved Garden State.

Rebuilding New Jersey Together.
Pride Through Service and Community.

Charcoal Pit Still Satisfies

We journeyed to Delaware yesterday to enjoy the beautiful weather and engage in some tax-free shopping.
While we were there we stopped at the Charcoal Pit on Concord Pike (Route 202) in North Wilmington.
We often passed this retro drive-in eatery but we never stopped.
Yesterday we stopped and wow, are we glad we did.
Founded in 1956, the Charcoal Pit is not some recreated 1950s burger joint. Rather, it's the real deal. And little has changed at the Pit since it first opened its doors. Sure, there have been some updates and the sort of functional modernization you'd expect. But the concept is the same and, for the most part the surroundings, the food and the service embrace the approach that made this place a success from day one.
The Charcoal Pit's burgers have been chosen among the top 100 burgers in the whole nation and the Pit is one of only a few burger places in the entire region to achieve this distinction. As the name implies, all of the burgers are char broiled. The Pit boasts that charcoal broiling "just tastes better naturally" and indeed it does.
Burgers are available in four or eight ounce sizes. We ordered the eight ounce deluxe cheeseburger which came with all the trimmings: crisp Bermuda onion, lettuce, beefsteak tomato slice, pickles and just a bit of mayo. And of course we opted for American cheese. The patty is served not on a soft, flaky roll but on a larger, crisper kaiser roll. It's delicious! The fries and onion rings were good, too.
Just one caution: If you're ordering a burger well-done you may want to opt for medium-well as a char broiled burger well-done might be a bit dryer them you're accustomed to. These burgers will not be as juicy and/or sloppy as some others you might have enjoyed elsewhere.
Though there are several other Charcoal Pits in Delaware this is not to be confused with any burger chain. This is an old-fashioned roadside eatery with great food, friendly, personalized service, a distinctive atmosphere and great prices. The eight ounce deluxe is $5.49. The four ounce deluxe is $3.79. A chocolate sundae is $3.49 and an old-fashioned, hand dipped milk shake is $3.79. All kids meals (for children under 10) with fries are only $3.99. And kids clown sundaes are only 99 cents.
And the Pit also char broils steaks and features a full lunch and dinner menu.
You owe it to yourself to hop on down to the Charcoal Pit and enjoy a unique, fun dining experience. Hurry!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Imperative Inspired By King

Today, New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno released the following statement:
“As we reflect today on the inspiration and legacy of Dr. King, he would want us to be relentless in our fight for equal education opportunities for our children, no matter where they live in New Jersey. Dr. King would no doubt want us to overcome the powerful interests that seek to preserve the status quo in our schools, especially in our urban centers, where too often the result has been mediocrity or failure.
“This will not be just a hope or a wish, but an imperative of my administration that I will fulfill through the creation of high-quality charter schools, school choice, and other reforms, so that all children can have the same hope and opportunity that comes from a top-notch education.”

Winter Book Buzz

USA Today highlights some of the books expected to heat up the bestseller lists this winter. Cold winter weather and crackling fires rival sizzling beaches for the best reading spots. I just received an ARC of one of the books included on USA Today's list, One Amazing Thing which I plan to sink my teeth into and then review. What's on your nightstand?

Some of the other books highlighted by USA Today:

- Jenny Sanford's memoir,
Staying True, out Feb. 5
- Elizabeth Kostova's just-released The Swan Thieves, a novel about an artist who attacks a painting in the National Gallery of Art

Karl Rove's Courage and Consequence, out March 9

- Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend by James Hirsch, out Feb. 9

Solar by Ian McEwan, out March 30, about an aging scientist who is offered an opportunity for personal redemption.
Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain During Its Darkest, Finest Hour by historian Lynne Olson, out Feb. 2.

No 'Avatar' For Me

I won't be seeing 'Avatar.'
I don't usually do sensationalistic sci-fi, fantasy or fantastical movies.
You see, I find real people and real life to be much more interesting.
Oh, I know that Avatar won the Golden Globe and it's made a lot of $$$ and it may win the Oscar.
I understand. And I appreciate the fact that a lot of people like this stuff.
But I'm gonna pass on it.
Besides, I'm not a big fan of James Cameron flicks, anyway. I thought Titanic was hugely overrated.
Enjoy Avatar if you wish.
But don't look for any review of the film (at least by me) here on this site.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Conan's Ratings Surge

This recent news from AP via USA Today isn't surprising, however it sounds like too little too late for Coco. The real question is whether it will affect Jay Leno's ratings upon his return to the time slot:

Conan O'Brien's battle with his network certainly hasn't hurt his ratings. NBC network executives apparently resonating in a country filled with the unemployed, viewership has soared.

O'Brien's ratings have been rising through the week, which was an extraordinary one in late-night television and saw O'Brien and David Letterman hurling barbed remarks at Jay Leno, and Leno firing back.

Tonight ratings Friday were 50% higher than they've been this season, and O'Brien beat CBS' Letterman, according to a preliminary Nielsen Co. estimate based on large markets. In the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that NBC relies on to set advertising prices, O'Brien even beat Leno's prime-time show.

Settlement talks continued Saturday on a deal that would let O'Brien leave NBC and restore Leno to the 11:35 p.m. time slot he occupied for 17 years through last spring.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NJ Inaugural Guests Are 'Everyday Heroes'

The New Jersey Inaugural 2010 Committee announced today the five New Jersey Heroes selected to attend the Inaugural festivities of Governor-Elect Chris Christie and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Kim Guadagno.
Created in the spirit of the Christie-Guadagno Inaugural theme, “Rebuilding New Jersey Together: Pride Through Service and Community,” New Jersey Heroes allowed citizens from around the Garden State to nominate the everyday heroes in their community.
Hundreds of nominations were submitted through the inaugural website, representing a cross section of men and women from all corners of the state who quietly serve others and their community. The five nominees selected will represent all of the nominees at the three inaugural events on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 and were selected by a committee headed up by New Jersey’s future First Lady, Mary Pat Christie.
“The interest in the New Jersey Heroes program was greater than we ever expected and we were overwhelmed by the excitement with which people offered up their friends, relatives and neighbors for this simple honor,” said New Jersey Inaugural 2010 Committee Chairman Todd Christie.
“The stories shared with us over the past weeks have been inspiring and humbling and are truly a reminder that anyone can do amazing things for others and their communities. Choosing only five people out of all the extraordinary nominees to represent this program was an immense challenge. I offer my thanks to all who were nominated for their work and dedication to their communities. New Jersey is a better place because of these men and women.”
The Five Heroes are:
Carolyn B. T. Wallace of Newark: Forty years ago, Carolyn Wallace and her late husband, James, founded the International Youth Organization (IYO) in Newark as a way to help youths from in and around Newark. Since then, Wallace has dedicated her life to helping Newark’s children and teens, creating an organization that transforms lives through an emphasis on education, community service and personal empowerment. As one person who nominated her said, she transforms “instead of seeing a brick wall at every turn, the young people at IYO find a path to a healthy, rewarding future.”
Dave Girgenti of Cherry Hill: In 2007, lifelong South Jersey resident Dave Girgenti created Wish Upon A Hero, a website that empowers anyone to be a hero. The largest social helping site in the world, Wish Upon A Hero allows anyone who visits the site to either make or grant a wish. Wishes range from seemingly small requests, such as clothing and groceries, to near impossible dreams, like Lasik surgery for an Iraq veteran and reuniting a family that had been separated for thirteen years. Wish Upon A Hero uses social media and the internet to harness the spirit of charity and goodwill around the world and channels that spirit into the powerful medium of granting wishes. To date, over 48,000 wishes have been granted.
Tammy Evans-Colquitt of Pennsauken: Ten years ago, Tammy Evans-Colquitt created a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping improve the image and self-esteem of economically disadvantaged women and men. Her organization, Image and Attitude, provides women transitioning from welfare to work with professional clothing and job-interviewing skills. Image and Attitude also works with men transitioning from incarceration to the workplace. Tammy and her organization have helped thousands of people in the Camden County area.
Jim Benedict of Freehold: Jim Benedict started and runs a lunch kitchen out of a hall donated by St. Peters Church in Freehold. For over ten years, Jim has been cooking and serving hot meals to approximately 200 people three days a week. He does this with no formal funding and is totally dependent on donations to keep the kitchen afloat.
Chip Paillex of Pittstown: Chip Paillex is the founder of America’s Grow-A-Row, a nonprofit organization that seeks to feed the hungry through the cultivation and donation of fresh produce to local food banks. The idea originated in 2004 when he learned his local food pantry was seeking donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. Upon hearing this, Chip began his own garden and working with local farmers to secure the donation of surplus produce from their farms as well. In 2008, with the help of nearly 700 volunteers, America’s Grow-A-Row was able to donate 225,000 pounds of produce to area food pantries.

Christie To Help Hockey Effort

The New Jersey Inaugural 2010 Committee announced a special event occurring in conjunction with the celebration of Governor Chris Christie and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno’s inauguration. On the evening of the 19th, the ice at the AmeriHealth Pavilion will be open to The Hockey in Newark Program for a scrimmage and clinic, with representatives of the New Jersey Devils joining the event.
The Hockey in Newark Program, established in 2003, provides hockey equipment, instruction and facilities to youth in Newark as a way to encourage physical activity, teamwork and the positive benefits of organized sports. The AmeriHealth Pavilion is located within the Prudential Center, and is the practice ice of the New Jersey Devils. The hockey scrimmage and clinic will take place between 5pm and 7pm on the ice, with a pizza party to follow. Governor Chris Christie will stop by to meet the young players.
Hockey in Newark is a non-profit organization that was conceived out of a desperate need to supply a feeder source for East Side High School’s ice hockey team. As the only urban high school program in the state, the team had struggled for decades relying on the pure athleticism of its students who joined the team with absolutely no playing experience.
Now, due to the program’s popularity and success, a varsity and junior varsity hockey team has been established at East Side High School, its roster full of Hockey in Newark alums.
Recently, a traveling team, the Newark Americans, was established. Hockey in Newark is a NHL diversity program and is sponsored by the New Jersey Devils.

Christie Inaugural Gala Details

The New Jersey Inaugural 2010 Committee has announced details of the Inaugural Evening Celebration at the Prudential Center in Newark on Tuesday, January 19.
The evening will include a “Taste of New Jersey,” in which regional favorites from the Garden State will be featured. Partners of Rock and Wrap It Up!, a nonprofit organization that saves unused food destined for landfills and delivers it to local shelters, will collect leftovers from the event.
Regions represented in the “Taste of New Jersey” will include: Newark, Trenton, Camden, Hammonton, the Skylands and High Point regions, North Jersey and shore destinations such as Cape May, Atlantic City and Point Pleasant. S
ome of the local businesses participating in the “Taste of New Jersey” include: Jimmy Buffs Italian Hot Dogs and Hobby’s Delicatessen, from Newark, Joe Leone’s, an Italian specialty store based in Point Pleasant, and Campbell’s Soup, originally from Camden.
“We all know New Jersey is home to the best and most diverse food in the world and we are excited to offer everyone a sampling of that on inauguration night,” said New Jersey Inaugural 2010 Committee Chairman Todd Christie.
At the end of the evening, affiliates of Rock and Wrap It Up! will collect leftover food and deliver it to local shelters.
Founded in 1991, Rock and Wrap It Up began collecting prepared but unsold food that would otherwise end up in landfills and bringing them to local shelters. Since then, the organization has expanded its efforts, collecting food from sporting events, schools, college campuses and hotels. Its efforts have helped feed over 100,000,000 people. For more information, call (877) 691-FOOD.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Perils of Becoming Your "Best" Self

Among the least important news stories of this week is the People Magazine cover story devoted to reality star Heidi Montag's revelation that she is "obsessed" with plastic surgery. Since she recently had 10 procedures in one day I am bound to agree that she is indeed "obsessed." "Sick" and "sad" are also words that come to mind. The money that went into her new (boobs, butt, nose, chin, cheeks, stomach, thighs - take your pick) would have been better spent on some serious therapy or a large donation to the folks in Haiti who have a legitimate need. She is after all 23 years old. No one needs cosmetic surgery at 23 years old. It's a simple fact of life like death and taxes. 23 year olds are uniformly young and spry and gorgeous and if we've lost sight of that what will come next, 7 year olds wearing thongs? Oh wait...

Sadder than the surgery itself is the impetus behind it. People reports that Heidi chronicled her journey to be "the best me" and then, of course, she sold it to People. Or more aptly, her new best self sold it to People. Unfortunately when Oprah (who has done much good) birthed this idea of being the best version of yourself she threw us into a constant self-help spin cycle. Instead of living up to its intent this focus on making ourselves "better" puts us squarely in the spotlight of our own psyche and dims the lights on everyone else, forcing those around us, even our loved ones, to take a supporting role. If you've ever heard someone say "I deserve to be happy" to justify an affair you know how this concept can backfire.

And here's the second issue, specific to Heidi Montag but I imagine shared by many folks who resolved to be better versions of themselves in 2010. To put it bluntly: if a new nose makes you a better person, you weren't that good to begin with. Health is very important but there is a rampant belief that having a perfect body (which doesn't exist, by the way) is like having a winning lotto ticket - a pass to a place without worries. Unfortunately we all know what really happens to lottery winners and it's usually even worse than a botched boob job.

So I would implore you - whether you're 23 or 32 or 99 to look out, not in, this year. Instead of trying to find yourself, try to lose yourself - in a good book, a movie, an art exhibit, in friends and family, and Sunday brunch with stuffed French toast, in a run in the park, in holding someone who needs to be held and letting go of the one you want most to keep, in wrinkles more perfect than any tucked tummy, and sunsets that remind you that you're already better than you thought. After all, you were made by one who doesn't make mistakes. So don't mess up His work, okay?

Pat Robertson, Buzz Off

I've never much cared for Pat Robertson, or any of the other big-toothed televangelists who raise a hand in godly praise while counting change with the other.
Except for Billy Graham, they all had too much of the Elmer Gantry about them and too little of the lord. Still, I understand there's a market for their brand of religion, and I'd rather have them cavorting on cable than some of reality TV's over-sexed and underfed Barbies.
But Robertson, who's strained the limits of civil discourse by seeking the assassination of dictators (like Hugo Chavez), has put foot-in-mouth yet again by blaming the Haitian earthquake on Satan.
According to Praise the Lord Pat, Haiti has been "cursed" because of its "pact with the devil" throughout history. Well, at least he isn't blaming climate change.
You have to laugh. Robertson has the amazing ability to distill every human tragedy into a sermon on evil, even when it's the innocent who are victimized.
To read the rest of Christine Flowers' wonderful column from today's Philadelphia Daily News click here.

Christie Names Senior Staff

New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie announced today the senior staff team in the Office of the Governor. These key positions follow the December 3 announcement of Rich Bagger as Chief of Staff to the Governor, Bill Stepien as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Jeff Chiesa as Chief Counsel to the Governor and Kevin O’Dowd as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Governor.
Chief of Staff Bagger stated, “I am confident that the senior staff team we have assembled will work collectively to address New Jersey’s most immediate challenges. This is a talented, qualified group of individuals unafraid to voice their opinions and dedicate themselves to the hard work we have ahead of us.”

Governor-Elect Christie Senior Staff

Rich Bagger, Chief of Staff to the Governor

Maria Comella, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications*

Bill Stepien, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Wayne Hasenbalg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Planning

Lou Goetting, Cabinet Secretary

Rosemary Iannacone, Director of Operations

Jeff Chiesa, Chief Counsel to the Governor

Kevin O'Dowd, Deputy Chief Counsel

Michele Brown, Appointments Counsel

Deborah Gramiccioni, Director of the Authorities Unit

*Our personal congratulations to Maria Comella who has done such a wonderful job of keeping us informed during this trasition period.

Christie Appoints And Reappoints

Today, New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie announced additional appointments that further highlight his commitment to forming a bipartisan, highly qualified Cabinet.
These appointments make clear Governor-Elect Christie’s desire to put together a team with strong backgrounds, differing perspectives and a willingness to tackle the tough work ahead. Christie announced the reappointment of both Jennifer Velez as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Major General Glenn Rieth as the Adjutant General of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Christie also announced the appointment of Tom Considine as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI)
Velez has served as Commissioner of DHS since 2007, bringing to the department a fierce commitment to child welfare and advocacy. General Rieth began his military service in 1980, earning many awards and distinctions since graduating from the Citadel. Considine currently serves as Vice President and Government Relations Counsel at MetLife. In this role he oversees a broad range of state government relations and public policy issues for both the financial services and auto and home companies nationally.
Governor-Elect Chris Christie said, “My first commitment is putting qualified, strong individuals in positions where they can effect real change. Our government has and can provide meaningful services to New Jerseyans and I am confident that working together we will be able to address our severe fiscal challenges while delivering on priority programs.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Christie Announces New Appointments

Today, New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie announced the former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Andrew Eristoff (pictured), as New Jersey’s next Commissioner of the Department of the Treasury.
Christie announced Eristoff’s appointment along with Bob Grady as Chair of the newly created Council of Economic Advisors and Al Koeppe as Chair of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA).
New Jersey faces a severe fiscal crisis and the announcement of Eristoff, along with economic and financial experts Grady and Koeppe, signals a strong commitment to putting the state’s finances in order. Eristoff brings years of on the job experience under both the Giuliani and Pataki administrations, while Grady and Koeppe bring strong finance and business credentials to the task of improving the state’s economic vitality.
The Council of Economic Advisors will be created by executive order under the new administration and will be made up of experienced experts who are able to provide a unique viewpoint from outside government. The Council will work hand in hand with the Governor’s office, Department of the Treasury, the Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Partnership for Action to provide guidance and counsel on New Jersey’s tax and fiscal policy. The Council will serve as a way to bring different ideas and voices together and provide alternative perspectives.
The Council will continue the work of the Transition Committee’s Budget and Tax Taskforce. The Task Force has been developing recommendations to address the fiscal deficit that state experts have estimated at close to $10 billion for the coming fiscal year 2011, and respond to the shortfall in the current budget year.
The Council, under Grady’s leadership, will provide a blueprint for the Christie administration’s budget and tax policies to provide real relief that address the state’s economic challenges. Governor-Elect Chris Christie stated, “There can be no question that our state’s fiscal health is my first priority. We have already begun the work necessary to put together a realistic budget and address our skyrocketing deficit. This team of highly qualified team of fiscal experts is exactly the kind of leadership we need to enact meaningful fiscal and tax policy that will improve our economy and provide relief to struggling New Jersey families.”

PMC: Don't Defer Luzerne Inquiry

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) today called upon the Judicial Conduct Board to amend its policy of deferring investigations into complaints against judges when criminal investigations are pending. The Judicial Conduct Board announced this policy during the recent hearings of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice and adopted new Internal Operating Procedures at the beginning of the year formally permitting such deferrals. PMC questions the wisdom of the policy generally, its potential role in allowing the Luzerne County Courthouse debacle to continue as long as it did, and the Judicial Conduct Board’s ability to ensure that it will not permit another Luzerne County-type scandal to go unexamined and unpunished.
PMC is specifically concerned with the Judicial Conduct Board’s handling of cases that allege judicial misconduct in office – allegations related to the judicial role or function itself. According to the limited information that has been made public, complaints filed with the Board against the Luzerne County judges alleged such misconduct. PMC Deputy Director Shira Goodman explained: “Where there are allegations relating to subversion of the judicial role, the obligation of the Judicial Conduct Board to protect our system of justice from rogue judges should wait for no other process.”
“The people of Pennsylvania need and deserve certainty – certainty that the Board will investigate judicial misconduct in office, regardless of pending criminal investigations,” said Goodman. “The Board’s deferral policy does not provide this certainty.” According to PMC, the deferral procedures outlined in IOP 4.07 would not prevent the Board from tabling or deferring a future investigation into allegations like the ones that were made about the Luzerne County judges.
PMC urged the Board to take clear steps to adopt and implement a policy that will ensure that the Judicial Conduct Board will never again cede its jurisdiction and abandon or delay exercising its duty to protect the people of Pennsylvania. “Unless that occurs and the deferral policy is amended,” said Goodman, “we cannot be confident that our judicial discipline system is able to prevent a Luzerne County-type tragedy from occurring again.” Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to promote the reform of Pennsylvania’s judicial system.