Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tell These House Members 'No!' On Obamacare

If you live in any of the states from which these swing Congressmen come, please call them. Let them know your opposition to health care changes. The phone for Congress is 202-224-3121. Here’s the list:

Vulnerable Democratic Congressmen Who Voted FOR Obamacare The First Time Around

These are the folks we need to pressure to switch their votes!


Harry Mitchell (Phoenix suburbs) Call (202) 225-2190!
Gabrielle Giffords (Tucson) Call (202) 225-2542!
Ann Kirkpatrick (most of rural Arizona, NE part of state) Call (202) 225-2315!


Jerry McNerney (Stockton and Pleasanton) Call (202) 225-1947!


John Salazar (Pueblo) Call 202-225-4761!


Jim Hines (Fairfield County) Call (202) 225-5541!


Alan Grayson (Orlando) Call (202) 225-2176!


Bill Foster (Dixon, Batavia, and Geneseo) Call (202) 225-2976!


Baron Hill (from Kentucky border up to Bloomington) Call (202) 225-5315!


Mark Schauer (Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee & Washtenaw counties) Call (202) 225-6276!
Gary Peters (Oakland County) Call (202) 225-5802!


Dina Titus (Las Vegas) Call (202) 225-3252!

New Hampshire:

Carol Shea-Porter (Portsmouth, Manchester, Lakes Region) Call (202) 225-5456!

New York:

Tim Bishop (Suffolk County) Call (202) 225-3826!
John Hall (Northern Westchester) Call (202) 225-5441!
Bill Owens (Plattsburgh up along Vermont border to Canada) Call (202) 225-4611!
Mike Arcuri (Utica and south central NY) Call (202)225-3665!
Dan Maffei (Syracuse) Call (202) 225-3701!

North Dakota:

Earl Pomneroy (at large) Call (202) 225-2611!


Steven Driehaus (Cincinnati west to Indiana border) Call (202) 225-2216!
Mary Jo Kilroy (Columbus and west to Indiana border) Call (202) 225-2015!
Zach Space (Dover, Zanesville, Chillicothe) Call (202) 225-6265!


Kathy Dahlkemper (Erie) Call (202) 225-5406!
Patrick Murphy (Bucks County) Call (202) 225-4276!
Christopher Carney (NE Penn) Call (202) 225-3731!
Paul Kanjorski (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre) Call 202-225-6511!

South Carolina:

John Spratt (rural SC between Columbia and Charlotte) Call (202) 225-5501!


Tom Perriello (Charlottesville, Bedford, Timberlake, Martinsville & Danville) Call (202) 225-4711!

West Virginia:

Alan Mollohan (Wheeling, Morgantown) Call (202) 225-4172!
Nick Rahall (Huntington) Call (202) 225-3452!


Steve Kagen (Green Bay) Call (202) 225-5665!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joe Frazier: Always A Champion!

I don't usually make a habit of posting my photos with celebrities here.
But last night I met someone who is far, far more than a celebrity.
Last night I met a true Philadelphia Legend.
Last night I met The Champ.
Of course I'm talking about the former Heavyweight Champion of the World, the great Joe Frazier.
Joe Frazier was the first American boxer to win both the Olympic gold medal and the professional world title in the heavyweight division.
He was always a grappler -- a guy you could never count out. And his story has inspired millions.
In fact, some of the most memorable moments in the 1976 boxing-themed feature film, Rocky - such as Rocky's carcass-punching scenes and Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of his training regimen - are taken from Joe's real-life exploits, for which he received no credit.
Also, Joe Frazier has operated a boxing gym in North Philadelphia since the late 1960s, used by fighters such as Michael Spinks, Meldrick Taylor, his son Marvis Frazier, and Bernard Hopkins.
Joe Frazier is known all over the world.
He's a great champ, a great ambassador for Philadelphia and a true American success story.
You can read more about him at his official web site by clicking here.

Obama: That Sinking Feeling

Democrats laughed and hooted and howled when President Bush's approval ratings started to hover in the low 40s even though it took Bush quite a few years in office to reach that point.
But now that Barack Obama has fallen to the same lows after just a year in office, all's quiet on the liberal front.
You can almost hear a pin drop.
None of the liberal cognoscenti and nobody in the mainstream media wants to wants to talk about it but the numbers tell the story better than words: Obama has lost traction. Independents are deserting him in droves. Seniors have pretty much given up on him. Middle class voters are disenchanted. People disagree with his policies. And, perhaps worst of all, a lot of people just don't believe him anymore.
Credibility is a rare commodity in politics. Once lost, it's hard to regain.
It's so bad that fewer than one in four voters strongly disapprove of the way the President is handling his job. And nearly twice as many strong disapprove.
Counting all levels of disapproval, more than half of all voters strong disapprove of Obama's performance thus far.
And the President didn't help himself at the highly vaulted healthcare summit. He came across as brusque, presumptuous, arrogant and peevish.

Here are all the numbers from the latest Rasmussen poll:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 22% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for President Obama.
The only other time the Approval Index was this low came in late December as the U.S. Senate prepared to approve its version of health care reform (see trends). Most voters continue to oppose the proposed health care plan.
The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve.
Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That is the lowest level of total approval yet measured for this President. Fifty-five percent (55%) disapprove. The President earns approval from 76% of Democrats while 86% of Republicans disapprove. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 38% approve and 61% disapprove. The President earns approval from 37% of men and 49% of women.

Breaking News: Catastrophic 8.8 Quake Hits Chile

Our thoughts are with the folks in Chile.

From USA Today:

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast, said President Michele Bachelet. Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand,

"It has been a devastating earthquake," Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.

Bachelet said the death toll was at 78 and rising, but officials had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile.

"We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks," Bachelet said from an emergency response center. She urged Chileans not to panic.

"Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We're doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately," she said.

In the 2½ hours following the 90-second quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, five of them measuring 6.0 or above.

The Aptly-Named RUNyan

Pro football standout Jon Runyan is running for Congress in South Jersey and even before his official announcement he's generating lots of positive buzz.
Runyan is a big, tough guy.
And he needs to be because he's up against a tough and well-funded competitor in Democrat John Adler.
But Adler remains vulnerable and Jon Runyan has lots of natural assets.
Runyan comes across as endearing and irrepressibly human. He seems like the proverbial big guy with the tender heart -- the sort of guy any scrawny kid would want on his side when the bullies come looking for prey. He's part of a fresh new wave for the GOP, not just in New Jersey but all over the nation.
I like the way Runyan greeted people at the door when they came to the Camden County (NJ) GOP event the other night. I like the hand-printed name badge that he wore. I like his ready smile and relaxed manner.
And I also like the fact that he's easing his way into the race. I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that he's got a lot to learn.
So, my guess is Runyan's really going to listen to people. He'll actually hear what they have to say. He understands that he doesn't have all the answers. And he'll take direction well.
That's what the best football players do, isn't it? They listen. They learn. They study. They absorb. They practice. Then, they go out and do.
Plus, athletes are disciplined, too. Right? And we all know that, above all, it's discipline that wins elections.
Scott Brown proved that. And Runyan has a Scott Brown quality to him.
Like Brown, Runyan seems refreshingly unimpressed with himself. But I'm guessing that Runyan is a quick learner and that his heart's really in this thing.
Heart. That's something that's liable to make a big difference here.
Still, even with all that, I'd say that Jon Runyan doesn't mind if you underestimate him. Not at all. In fact, go ahead and underestimate him.
Then, just watch and wait.

Here's a report from Cynthia Burton at the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Towering above about six dozen Republicans who braved [Thursday] night's snowy mix to meet him, former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan made his debut as a candidate for the U.S. House, shedding his football uniform for a dark-blue suit.
"I think we can go out and run an awesome campaign," he said as he met and chatted with a friendly crowd of Republicans in his first public appearance since deciding in November to run for office.
Speaking at the Camden County GOP's annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser at the Mansion in Voorhees, Runyan bristled at being referred to as what he called a "celebrity athlete millionaire."
He said he had grown up working-class in Flint, Mich. His father was out of work for two years, and when he had work, he took on three or four jobs to support his family.
"There wasn't anything that was given to me," he said.
Runyan, though, probably will hear worse things said about him as he runs in one of the nation's most competitive House races.
He emerged this week as the top organization candidate when his chief rival dropped out of the race to unseat freshman Rep. John Adler, a Democrat.
The Third District, which had been in Republican hands for more than a century, runs through Ocean and Burlington Counties and includes Cherry Hill in Camden County.
The three county Republican organizations plan to endorse Runyan by mid-March, and he then plans to formally start his campaign.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gotta Have A Wawa

Last night I saw a commercial that took my breath away. It begins with a couple on a deserted beach. They lay back in lounge chairs, warm and content, golden and glowing. They have the world in their hands, you just know it. Not to mention good weather and all the implicit joys that come with it which we in Philly have been missing for a while. The camera pulls back and we see a boat parked on the shore. Oh, so they’ve sailed to this personal paradise? As if anticipating your next question, “I wonder where they are?” A banner pops up and a deep voice extols the virtues (as if it was really necessary) of Florida’s Paradise Coast. And without fail I think to myself, like a child who asks the same question over and over again: “why?” In this case “why” as in “Why don’t I live there?”

And my answer magically appears in the form of the next commercial. The one for built to order breakfast hoagies priced at $2, $3, and $4. And I think “oh yeah, that’s right.” You see there aren’t any Wawas in Florida. So I won’t be moving any time soon. If you live in Florida you may think this is strange. If you live in NY, PA, DE, MD, or VA, you probably understand. In my case the tagline rings true: gotta have a Wawa!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Add Image

Rush Reads From Dan Cirucci Blog!

Christie To Mayors: "Jump, Jump!"

Say what you will about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he sure as hell knows how to use a metaphor.
Facing a huge state budget deficit inherited from his spend-happy predecessor wacky Jon Corzine, Christie has begun slashing the Garden State's bloated budget. And yesterday he told the state's mayor's that they've got to follow the state's example and mend their own big spending ways as well.
Citing the famous scene from the 1969 Paul Newman/Robert Redford film Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Christie offered this challenge:
"When they [Butch and The Kid] were running and got to the edge of that cliff, they had a seminal decision to make -- are they going to get shot from behind or are they going to take the chance to jump off the cliff and hope that when they land, they survive. I don't suggest either are attractive options, but they are the options we have left . . . We have to hold hands at every level of government and jump off a cliff. I firmly believe that we will land and we will land fine. The ruination of New Jersey's economy and the quality of life we want all our citizens to have is certain if we don't take this course."
Not all of the Mayors liked the alternatives as posed by Christie.
But the Governor is an equal-opportunity straight talker and budget cutter.
He's slashing every budget he can get his hands on. He's taken on the state's school districts as well by ordering that they must use up their mounting surpluses. And he's also cracked down on the state's many free-spending boards, authorities, agencies and commissions.
Chris Christie is a man on a mission. He daring to go where no New Jersey Governor has gone before.
And he's convinced he'll be able to make this leap and land on his feet.
Take a deep breath, New Jersey.
Hold on tight.
And get ready to fly!

What Rush Said About Us

Here's the actual transcript of Rush Limbaugh's reference to the Dan Cirucci blog yesterday:

And then, of course, we go to Chris Christie. This is from a blog yesterday, Dan Cirucci blogspot:
"New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today signed a sweeping executive order directing a comprehensive review of all state authorities, boards and commissions and taking immediate action to reform abusive fiscal practices at those authorities, boards and commissions by strictly limiting the hiring of lobbyists, eliminating 'golden parachutes' to departing executives and employees and capping travel expenses at $250. Executive Order 15 also institutes a wide review of all state authorities and requires recommendations by May 15 to the Governor’s Office on whether each such authority, board or commission should continue or cease to exist. In the case of those that continue, the review would further determine whether positions at such entities should be compensated in any way or operate on a strictly volunteer basis."

So this guy is rolling up both sleeves, he's putting on the overalls, and he is getting into the muck that is the State of New Jersey's fiscal situation, and he's going to fix it and this guy McDonnell in Virginia is doing the same thing

Limbaugh Recognizes Dan Cirucci Blog

Yesterday at 2:10 PM over the huge Excellence in Broadcasting Network, Rush Limbaugh told his millions of broadcast listeners about the Dan Cirucci blog.
You got that right - RUSH LIMBAUGH.
Limbaugh cited a piece that we ran about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cracking down on free-spending state boards, authorities, commissions and agencies.
You can read the item by clicking here.
We've been Rush Limbaugh fans for more than 20 years.
But we never, ever thought the day would come when Rush would recognize us and actually mention us on his program.
We should have known better.
Because this proves that El Rushbo really does pay attention.
Rush knows. Rush Cares. Rush dares to go outside the beltway again and again to get the pulse of thought and opinion where it really lives -- right down here with you and I, among citizen journalists, everyday activists and real taxpayers.
This is why Rush is successful -- not because he mentioned us or this blog but because he'll look for information and insight wherever he can find it.
He's not a media or information snob.
Rush Limbaugh understands that power still rests with the people who work and pay taxes and vote and he knows who those people are.
We're gratified and humbled that Rush mentioned us.
Thank you, Rush.
And finally, we promise all of you that we will continue to give you the very best day after day.
We're goin places, folks.
Come on along for the ride -- and bring all your friends.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Christie Cracks Down On Authorities

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today signed a sweeping executive order directing a comprehensive review of all state authorities, boards and commissions and taking immediate action to reform abusive fiscal practices at those authorities, boards and commissions by strictly limiting the hiring of lobbyists, eliminating “golden parachutes” to departing executives and employees and capping travel expenses at $250.
Executive Order 15 also institutes a wide review of all state authorities and requires recommendations by May 15 to the Governor’s Office on whether each such authority, board or commission should continue or cease to exist. In the case of those that continue, the review would further determine whether positions at such entities should be compensated in any way or operate on a strictly volunteer basis.
Such semi-autonomous authorities, board and commissions – of which there are hundreds large and small – control billions of dollars in capital and operating budgets yet operate without many of the safeguards applicable to all other agencies of state government.

Their abuses and the unfettered largess bestowed on employees, board members and political patronage appointees were long eyed for serious reform by the Governor long before he took office in January.
“Business as usual at these authorities ends today,” said Governor Christie. “Unbridled rip-offs from ratepayers and taxpayers who fund these entities have been condoned and perpetuated by the political class for decades. Golden parachutes and unjustifiable entertainment and travel expenses have all been the norm. This executive order restores sanity and requires mandatory review and approval of all of these types of contracts and expenses.”
In addition, Governor Christie called for legislation extending gubernatorial review of agency actions and minutes, which is currently required for 38 authorities, to additional authorities including sewage authorities throughout the state. “I look forward to working with the legislature to swiftly bring the needed oversight and accountability that is lacking in these hidden layers of government,” added Governor Christie.
Executive Order Number 15 directs the following:

--Unless expressly approved in writing in advance by the Governor’s Office, it prohibits hiring of lobbyists to lobby the Executive Branch, Legislature or federal government (as seen most recently in the case of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission attempting to lobby the Governor’s Office when it came under the Governor’s scrutiny).

--All such existing lobbying contracts with authorities shall be terminated as soon as legally permissible; if that is not possible, then all such contracts must not be renewed upon expiration.

--All authority heads are directed to immediately identify all contracts with lobbyists and provide a list and copies of them to the Governor’s Office my March 1.

--Travel expenses by any authority board member or employee in excess of $250 are prohibited without advance approval from the Governor’s Office; any unapproved amount above $250 will be borne by the employee or board member.

--Any approved travel must be directly related to the employee or board member’s official state duties.

--No state authority shall include in any contract any financial incentive to be received upon termination or separation from employment, unless authorized by the Governor’s Office.

--All such contract incentives shall be terminated as soon as legally permissible; if that is not possible, the contract shall not be renewed upon expiration.

--The Executive Order further requires that all state authority heads immediately identify all such contracts for compensation upon termination or separation and provide them to the Governor’s Office no later than March 1.

--A Cabinet-level review will be conducted of all authorities, boards and commissions to provide recommendations to the Governor’s Office by May 15, regarding whether each entity should continue to exist or be eliminated. Those reviews will also include recommendations of whether positions on authorities should be compensated or unpaid and whether reimbursement for expenses will be permitted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Apple Store Wedding

Apple madness has hit new levels with the Valentine's Day wedding (perhaps more aptly called an iWedding) that took place in an Apple store and included a Steve Jobs quote in the ceremony. Check out the video below. Hey, Apple, I think these folks earned some free product so get them a wedding gift, would ya?

Knowing When To Say When

Betty White is amazing.

She’s never stopped working in the more than six decades she’s been in Hollywood.

And yet, at 88, she’s still remarkably hip, funny and appealing to people of every age.

But Betty White is the exception.

And the truth is that most public figures simply don’t wear as well as this feisty old character actress. Sadly, they don’t know when to leave the stage.

Here are a few of them:

Larry King – Watching Larry King these days doesn’t even rise to the level of nostalgia. Instead, Larry King Alive (as it’s been derisively termed) alternates between grimly funny and damned embarrassing. King mispronounces names, botches questions, loses his way and comes across as hopelessly out of touch. The huckstering, the suspenders, the inane questions – the whole thing is terminal.

Harry Reid – Lets face it: Harry Reid looks like an undertaker. How can he be a leader when you take one look at him and you know you’re just not goin where he’s fixin to take you? Why did anybody think that this man could be the face of hope and change in the United States Senate? His jokes are bad, His anecdotes are dated. His timing is laughable. And now the scent of flop sweat follows him everywhere.

Jay Leno – He’s OK with giving up the spotlight. But no, he’s not retiring. Well, he’s not quite retiring. Check that, he’s definitely not retiring. In fact, he’s happy to brazenly snatch the job from the very successor that he once blessed. This is beyond sad. It’s shameless. Jay wants you to think that he’s your friendly neighbor from down the street. And he’s not shy about it. “I’m a nice guy, right?” he bellows. “Right?” Wrong!

Newt Gingrich – Newt was on top of the world in 1994, and with good reason. He engineered one of the most stunning upsets in American political history. But then he stumbled. And he’s never quite recovered. Now, he comes across as a weary relic of the Reagan era. I know he wants to be President. I know. Just like I want to spend every winter in Tahiti. Ain’t gonna happen.

Barbara Walters – Queen Elizabeth isn’t available. The Pope still won’t grant interviews. Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Jackie and J. D. Salinger have all died. So now Barbara is reduced to interviewing the likes of Lady Gaga. Puhhhleasse!

Brett Farve – Someone once said, “A setback is nothing more than a setup for a comeback.” Bret Farve has had his setbacks and now he’s had one of the greatest comebacks that anyone could ask for. He’s endured long past the playing age of most pro athletes. He proved his point. Case closed.

Arlen Specter – It’s been a long time since Specter was called “younger, tougher and nobody owns him.” Now Specter is dour, inappropriate and stalked by his own hubris. It’s gotten so bad that when he’s not telling someone to “act like a lady” Specter’s stumbling over the names of state political leaders. It’s time for the voters to show this guy the door.

Tony Bennett – Quite some time ago I watched Tony Bennett hold a huge theater audience spellbound without a microphone. But that’s not about to happen now. This old crooner had crooned one croon too many. I know that Bennett always revered Sinatra. But does he really want to follow that far in Ole Blue Eyes’ footsteps?

Once Marlene Dietrich realized that she could pull her corsets no tighter and stretch her face no further she came off the road and went into seclusion in Paris. She knew when it was time. The same is true of the great Lena Horne and countless others.

George Burns was a model of grace and dignity even into his nineties. And Don Rickles is still doing classic shtick with incredible timing. Ditto, Jackie Mason.

Also, some public figures are able to transition smoothly from one endeavor to another. When she could no longer sing, Julie Andrews opened new doors as a spokesperson, author and supporting actress.

But these are the rarities and that’s why we love them.

Burns thought it was the end when he lost Gracie.

But that wasn’t the end.

The end comes when you lose your grace.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

By George, What Day Is This?

Quick: Why was February 15th a holiday?
What do we observe on that day?
Why is the holiday February 15th this year when it was February 16th last year?
Something to do with George Washington, you say? Or Abraham Lincoln? Or is it Presidents Day?
Do you know the traditionally accepted date of Washington’s birth? And what really is the relationship, if any, between Washington’s birthday and the birthday of Abraham Lincoln? It all seems rather murky. But a bit of investigation reveals an interesting tale.
According to calendars used since the mid 18th century, Washington was born on February 22, 1732. This date consequently became the generally accepted date for observances of Washington’s birth.
Public celebrations for George Washington's birthday actually predate his term as president, and were originally intended to honor his service in the War for Independence. By the early 19th century, Washington's Birthday had taken hold in the American experience as a full-fledged national holiday. Its traditions included Birthnight Balls in various parts of the country, speeches and receptions and revelry in taverns throughout the land.
The story of Washington’s life was widely taught and legends about Washington began to grow.
Then, Abraham’s Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, emerged as an important national event. The birthday of our 16th President was first observed in 1865, one year after his assassination. But Lincoln’s birthday was never officially declared a federal holiday as Washington’s was even though Lincoln’s birthday was an official holiday in several states.
For decades, February was a grand month for celebrating Washington and Lincoln, our two greatest Presidents. Schools, stores, banks, libraries and other public locations were festooned with portraits of Washington and Lincoln. The profiles of both men were instantly recognizable and stories of Washington and the cherry tree and Lincoln the railsplitter abounded.
Then, in 1968 Congress passed something called the Uniform Holidays Bill which made Washington’s Birthday a Monday holiday. Starting in 1971, the third Monday in February became Washington’s Birthday. It’s been that way for 39 years now.
But a funny thing happened along the way. Washington’s Birthday somehow became Presidents Day. Nobody declared it. Nobody proclaimed it. It just happened. And that’s what the third Monday in February has been called even though the federal government still officially lists it as Washington’s Birthday.
The result is that we now have a day that stands for nothing.
Some people actually think Presidents Day honors the current president. Some people think it honors all the presidents. Some people think it honors their own favorite president or presidents. Some people think it’s just a shopping holiday.
And the sad part is that school children seem to be as confused as anyone else. If you ask a kid today about something as basic as Washington crossing the Delaware or the legend of the cherry tree he or she would probably respond with total bewilderment.
And nobody seems to even understand how we got to this point. There has even been an urban legend that in 1971 President Nixon officially designated February 22 as Presidents Day. But it never happened.
So, here’s my solution. Let’s start celebrating February 22 as Washington’s Birthday again and give the father of our country his due. This means no disrespect to Lincoln or any other president. It simply recognizes the greatness of Washington and his paramount role in our history.
At a dinner honoring the centennial of Washington’s birth in 1832 Daniel Webster said that Washington’s legacy was nothing less than “the edifice of constitutional American liberty.”
It’s time to resurrect that legacy, acknowledge that edifice and restore George Washington’s rightful place in our national life.

Philly: Put Young Thugs Behind Bars!

'Rude and disorderly behavior."

That's how James Golden, chief safety officer for the Philadelphia School District, described the conduct of some teens who have been congregating at the Gallery's food court over the past months.

Mr. Golden needs to go back to school and crack open the dictionary to where it says "criminal."

The hooligans who trashed Macy's earlier this week in what has been called a Facebook-orchestrated flash mob are simply the latest outburst of the mini-felons who have infested this city. They've apparently just changed their shopping habits, moving westward.

It's beyond frightening - and frustrating - to think that this is what is being spawned in our urban incubators these days, clueless, rudderless and amoral boys and girls who don't give a damn about private property and the safety of others. Their anti-social, criminal behavior shouldn't be cleaned up with euphemisms.

To read the rest of Christin Flowers' column in the Philadelphia Daily News click here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Commenting On Tiger Affair on CBS 3

You can watch my appearance on CBS 3 news earlier tonight night by clicking here.
Watch closely. It's ever so brief.

From CBS 3:
After making his first public statement in months on Friday, golfer Tiger Woods is expected to head back to rehab, reportedly for sex addiction.

Woods said he was in therapy and it has been reported that it is for sex addiction.
Experts say therapy for a sex addiction is long and complicated. On Friday, Woods said he was committed to getting better.
Experts watching the Woods' statement on Friday felt he was sincere.
"I think this was a critical first step and it was very full. It came across as a complete contrition," public relations expert Dan Cirucci said.
Woods reportedly had a series of mistresses.

Governor Wishes Lautenberg Well

Reacting to the announcement today that New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg is battling stomach cancer, Governor Chris Christie said: "As he’s proven through the years, Senator Lautenberg is a tenacious fighter. I wish him the best for a speedy recovery and a successful fight against his illness, so he can get back to doing what he loves most, helping New Jersey and its people."
Senator Lautenberg's doctors said today that the Senator is expected to make a "full and complete recovery" after undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Christie Appoints Baroni To Ports Post

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today announced the appointment of Senator Bill Baroni to the post of Deputy Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
"Senator Baroni is a distinguished leader with a record of putting the public first. He brings with him the right experience and leadership needed to help lead the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey into the new decade. I know that Bill shares my commitment to accountability and ending wasteful spending throughout state government. I am confident that Senator Baroni will do an excellent job and look after the public's interest and New Jersey’s interests while serving at the Port Authority.”
Senator Baroni was elected to the New Jersey State Senate in 2008, after serving four years in the New Jersey Assembly.
In the Senate he sits on the Judiciary, Health, and Human & Senior Citizens Committees. Senator Baroni is concurrently an attorney with Fornaro and Francioso and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seton Hall University.
Previously, Senator Baroni was an attorney with Blank Rome, LLP, where his practice included campaign finance and election law.
Senator Baroni holds a BA, Magnum Cum Laude, from George Washington University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Senator Baroni currently resides in Hamilton, NJ.

Tamed Tiger's Contrition: Will It Hold?

We have a saying in public relations: "A setback is nothing more than a setup for a comeback."
Today, Tiger Woods set the stage for his comeback.
No, he's not ready for his closeup -- not quite yet.
But, pending good behavior he could be fully rehabilitated and back in living rooms all over the country faster than you can say "hole in one."
Was Woods' news conference a perfect performance? Hardly.
Tiger looked puffy and somewhat weary. He certainly did not look like the Tiger we've come to know -- the one shilling for Accenture and Buick and Nike and Tag Heuer.
And at times, Tiger's defensive and vaguely arrogant side seemed visible; like when he chastised the media for following his wife and kids.
Yo, Tiger -- We can understand some sense of protectiveness regarding your family but you should have thought of their well-being before your first sexual escapade. Certainly, this is no time to goad (or blame) the media.
Also, Tiger seemed hopelessly scripted at times, especially when he looked intently, straight into the camera every time he said "I let you down" or "I'm sorry."
And let's not forget that he refused to accept any questions while whole performance was tightly controlled.
But overall, Tiger performed well today.
He did what he had to do.
His contrition seemed full and complete.
He spoke like a man who really has been in therapy, who honestly learned something from it and who wants to get back to it and learn more.
He was credible.
The American public is, if nothing else, compassionate. For the most part, we are a forgiving lot. And we aren't into knocking a guy when he's down.
Tiger came down today. Way down.
He humbled himself.
When a judge takes an oath of office he is sworn in for the life of his term or "so long as he shall behave himself."
This is Tiger's challenge now.
He must behave himself from here on in.
It won't be easy.
But the public will not deny him this chance to set things right. They'll cut him some slack. They want him to succeed.
want him to succeed because we love a comeback.
And yes, if he does succeed he could come back bigger than ever.

Christie Vetoes Spending Increases

Late Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie exercised his veto authority to curb spending increases, his fourth such action since taking office. Demonstrating his long-term commitment to ending the practice of excessive, profligate spending in every part of state government, Governor Christie vetoed the budgets of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey and the Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey at the New Jersey Racing Commission’s January 20, 2010 meeting.
Governor Christie said, “As when I have previously exercised veto authority, my Administration will continue to scrutinize the actions of the many Board and Authorities in our state and root out waste. As we face serious fiscal challenges, savings are being identified and realized in every part of state government, including spending reductions. Board and Authorities are no exception to this, and my Administration will continue to rein in spending increases in these entities.”
The proposed 2010 budget for the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey represents a 19.8% increase over 2009 expenditures, and includes excessive line items such as $10,000 for an annual awards banquet, $42,500 for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival – a $22,500 increase over 2009 to pay for additional promotional giveaway items - and $40,000 for lobbyists costs.
The proposed 2010 budget for the Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey represents a 5.6% increase over 2009 expenditures.
This represents the fourth time Governor Christie has exercised his veto authority to combat wasteful spending. Previously, Governor Christie vetoed blanket spending increases in the budget of the Delaware River and Bay Authority, excessive expenditures by the UEZ for street cleaning, and a change order at the Schools Development Authority.
No veto power was exercised as to any other action taken by the Commission at its meeting on January 20, 2010.

Yo, Governor: What About Bloggers?

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened the floor to the news media yesterday at his well-received small business roundtable in nearby Lumberton, I patiently waited my turn and then raised my hand to ask a question.
"Hey, wait a minute," Governor Christie said "You're not a member of the news media."
Of course, I didn't need to remind the Governor that I am a blogger.
He's aware of us and he's aware of our blog. But, just for the record, I identified myself and this blog and our ever-gracious Governor not only accepted my question but gave me a thorough and cogent answer that is already making news.
Yes technically, the Governor was correct. I'm not a member of the news media.
But I am part of the NEW media.
And let's give the Governor and his communications staff credit: They've been very good about keeping those of us in the new media (aka social media) informed. As far as I know, we receive the same media alerts as the rest of the media and we are treated courteously and respectfully.
But this whole thing got me to thinking.
So here's my suggestion to the Governor's Communications Director and Team Christie: Why not have a Governor's forum just for bloggers?
There are quite a few Jersey bloggers who oversee blogs that focus mostly, if not exclusively on politics. And we attract a ton of visitors every day, week, and month.
Furthermore, Chris Christie made very effective use of social media and blogs during the campaign. He's well aware of their value.
So -- here's hoping the Governor can find some time just for us in the near future.
Chris Christie is such an open, forthright and gregarious guy that he's bound to enjoy a go round with bloggers. And I know we'll ask good questions. The give-and-take will be beneficial and fun.
We citizen journalists have a knack for identifying the issues that real people are concerned about.
I think it would be a great session.
Wh'dya say, Governor?
PS - Are you listening, Mike Drewniak?

Nets, Jersey Reach New Agreement

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced that a positive agreement has been reached with the New Jersey Nets to allow the team to complete the next two years of its lease at the Prudential Center in Newark. After years where an agreement could not be reached, Jon Hanson, Chair of the Governor’s Transition Committee on New Jersey Gaming, Sports, and Entertainment, worked diligently to achieve an agreement that better positions the sports industry in the state for the future.

“I’m pleased to announce a mutually agreeable resolution with the Nets organization that moves the sports industry forward, while protecting the public’s interest and the future of professional basketball in the state of New Jersey,” said Governor Chris Christie. “I am pleased that Jon Hanson was able to negotiate an agreement that has finally brought this long standing issue to resolution. Now the Nets will remain in New Jersey for the next two years and play in a state-of-the-art facility, while taxpayers will see revenue from the agreement. This is a win-win for both New Jersey and the Nets organization.”

The agreement, approved today in a meeting of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, authorizes the Nets to break their lease with the Izod Center and play the next two NBA seasons at the Prudential Center in Newark. The Nets agree to pay the Sports and Exposition Authority $4 million over the next two years as an early termination fee. Under the terms, the termination fee may be off-set by various credits including: up to $250,000 each year for the guarantee of proceeds to benefit the Newark Symphony Hall; up to $100,000 each year for the leasing of two Prudential Center suites to the Sports and Exposition Authority, one during Nets games and one during general events; and, up to $100,000 each year in advertising credits.

Additionally, the Nets agree to amend their territorial rights and allow another NBA franchise in the state of New Jersey.

“This is a good agreement for the Nets and a good agreement for New Jersey,” said Hanson. “I’m happy the Administration and Nets organization could come to a mutually beneficial resolution that affords the state fair compensation, while allowing the Nets to move to its desired facility. Moreover, basketball fans in our state can be pleased that the future of professional basketball in New Jersey has been addressed in this agreement.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Christie Answers Critics In South Jersey

Calling one of his critics "the paragon of easy choices" New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today told a group of South Jersey small business owners that "I'm the Governor and I have to make the tough choices." Referring to Democrat State Assemblyman Lou Greenwald of Cherry Hill Christie reminded his audience that Greenwald is "the same guy who said 'you must have the courage to spend.'"
Along with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Christie spoke at Radwell International in Lumberton (Burlington County). Christie made a campaign stop at Radwell last fall and said he came back to explain his 2010 budget solutions and update his audience on his first month in office.
"I said I would come back and I did," Christie explained. "I always try to do what I say I'm going to do."
While outlining his 2010 Budget Solutions agenda to tackle New Jersey's fiscal woes Christie said that it's impossible to speak about the economy and job creation without talking about cutting the size of government.
"Cutting the size of government is about creating jobs," Christie said.
The Governor lambasted the budget that was in place when he assumed office. "This budget assumed that sales tax revenues would increase by five percent. Only in Trenton would they assume that. Instead, sales tax revenues dropped by five-and-a-half percent," he noted.
"So, we have to act to trim the budget and trim state spending and that's what we're doing," the Governor said. "I knew we couldn't wait any longer so I took direct action," Christie said as he explained the 14 executive orders that he has signed thus far. "And this is just the beginning. More will have to be done," he added.
Pausing to chat for a moment about his public persona, the Governor observed: "They say I'm direct, blunt, combative. And you know this is all foreign to Trenton. And they wonder how this will play or if people will get tired of it. But I don't worry about that. I just try to tell the truth. And I don't think people get tired of someone who tells the truth."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Christie Praises COAH Action

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today released the following statement in response to yesterday’s passage of a resolution in support of Executive Order 12 by the Commission on Affordable Housing:
“I’m extremely pleased that the Commission on Affordable Housing has itself joined the call from across our state recognizing the need for sensible planning reform. I welcome the Commission’s input and cooperation as the Task Force conducts its review and provides recommendations for my Administration to swiftly and responsibly take action.”
The Commission’s resolution to endorse Executive Order 12 passed by a vote of 5-2 on Tuesday.
Additionally, Governor Christie announced the appointment of the four remaining members of the Housing Opportunity Task Force created in Executive Order 12. Rutgers University Professor James Hughes, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz, Morris Plains Mayor Frank Druetzler, and former Executive Director of the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Ira Ostrowsky will serve with former senator and Task Force Chairman Marcia Karrow as the five member panel. Issued on February 9, 2010, Executive Order 12 provides for the creation of the Housing Opportunity Task Force to review the Commission on Affordable Housing and its continued existence.

The Governor’s Executive Order 12 can be accessed here.

Scottish Terrier Haunts Obama

As if things could not get worse for President Obama, a Scottish terrier has gone and won Best of Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
The elegant Scottish terrier named Sadie overcame dog-eat-dog competition last night and wowed the crowd at Madison Square Garden to take top honors.
It was an historic win as Sadie became the first winner of the dog-show Triple Crown.
She had been named top dog at the National Dog Show in Pennsylvania in November and the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December.
Looking at Sadie, one could not help but thing of Barney and Miss Beazley, the treasured pets of the President and Mrs. Bush.
Surely, you remember Barney and Miss Beazley.
Both Scottish terriers, Barney and Beazley were the subject of books and videos and they were also featured at White House events and celebrations. The only way to describe them is, well -- too cute for words!
Scottish terriers are favorites at Westminster. In fact, Sadie's triumph marks the 46th victory for a scottie in the 134 years of the show.
But Sadie, Barney and Beazley stand out among all the dogs in this adorable breed.
They are superstars.
And as she accepted her honors last night Sadie looked like Barney or Beazley saying "Miss me yet?"
Of course the current White House canine is a Portuguese water dog.
But when all was said and done, the water dog wasn't even in the running last night.
No real competition.
Surely, there's a message in there somewhere.

World's Cutest Dog!

It's Westminster Kennel Club week and you know what that means: The world's cutest dog is back.
The world's cutest dog is Moose. He's a Lancashire Heeler and his master is Adam Cirucci.
Moose lives in the charming borough of West Chester, PA where he is well known to many residents
Moose has grown a bit since you've last seen him.
But he'll never get much bigger than he is right now.
This heeler is a small herder dog. It's called a heeler because it heels to its master, walking just behind the master and looking for the master to take the lead.
These dogs are very bright and inquisitive.
The Lancashire Heeler declined in numbers when herders were no longer needed and almost became extinct. Today's Lancashire Heelers are a re-creation of the originals. This dog looks like a combination of the Welsh Corgi and the Manchester Terrier. These recreations are nearly identical to the Lancashires of long ago.
As with most Lancashire Heelers, Moose has a lot of energy and likes to be taken out on long walks.
He keeps his master very busy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

YOU Made Us Number One!

Once again, you made us Number One.
Yesterday, our op-ed column (Folks Who Don't Know When to Fold 'Em) was the most-viewed piece in the opinion section of the Philadelphia Daily News.
Your interest and support inspires us. Thank you!
And if you still haven't read the column, just click here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Knowing When to Say "BuhhBye!"

Betty White is amazing.
She's never stopped working in the more than six decades she's been in Hollywood.
And yet, at 88, she's still remarkably hip, funny and appealing to people of every age.
Most recently, she starred in one of the hottest commercials on the Super Bowl telecast and now a Facebook page has gathered more than 150,000 fans who want her to host "Saturday Night Live."
But White is the exception. The truth is that most public figures simply don't wear as well as this feisty old character actress. Sadly, they don't know when to leave the stage.
Here are a few of them:
To read the rest of my column from today's Philadelphia Daily News click here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

US Wins Back America's Cup

From Bernie Wilson at the Associated Press:
Still bundled against the cold in his white foul-weather gear, software tycoon Larry Ellison hoisted the America’s Cup high in the air, then planted a kiss on the oldest trophy in international sports.
“Valencia—muchas gracias!” the self-made billionaire screamed, following the ride of his life across the Mediterranean on one of the most remarkable boats ever built.
After sitting out Race 1 due to a weight limit, the 65-year-old Ellison was onboard his trimaran Sunday as space-age craft with a gigantic wing for a sail sped ahead of two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland to complete the two-race sweep.bring the America’s Cup, once again, after a long absence, back to the United States of America,” said Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp.
Syndicate CEO Russell Coutts, who has quite a bit of experience at winning the America’s Cup, popped the cork on a magnum of champagne and sprayed his boss, as well as tactician John Kostecki and skipper-helmsman Jimmy Spithill of Australia.
Blue and silver confetti blew across the stage and fireworks went off across Port America’s Cup, a festive ending to a tumultuous 2 1/2 -year period that dragged the 159-year-old event to one of its lowest points.
Ellison and rival Ernesto Bertarelli had been locked in court since July 2007, and it looked for a while like the result of this race was going to be contested off the water.
Alinghi raised a red protest flag on its giant catamaran late on the first leg of the triangle course during Race 2, leaving everyone wondering what it was about since there’s no communication off the boats.
The Swiss dropped the protest after the race, confirming Ellison’s win.

'Impeach Obama' Billboards Appear

From Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
An “Impeach Obama” sign was spotted on Highway 41 outside of Green bay, Wisconsin this week. It’s become a popular place to pull over and snap a picture. The billboard will be up for at least 6 months.
FOX 11 reported the story:

This latest billboard follows the “Miss Me Yet” billboard in Minnesota and the Marxist billboard in Missouri.

Christie Means What He Says

From Lori Zingato at Right Wing News:

I was born and raised in New Jersey; moved down to South Carolina 5 years ago. Prior to that, I lived in New Jersey my entire life. I left because it became impossible to make ends meet there, primarily due to an insanely high cost of living. That can be blamed, in part, on the excessive taxation levied on New Jersey residents, which is a direct result of rampant and grossly irresponsible Democrat policy and spending.

Enter Governor Christie, who said No More. And he isn’t wasting any time arguing with ideologues who will not listen. He did it by executive order. Good for him! As you may have expected, the response by Democrats was stompy foot whining:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie freezes spending in New Jersey and you’d think the world had ended. Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly criticized Governor Christie for taking such hard stance. However New Jersey is facing a $2.2 billion dollar budget shortfall and tough stances are needed. Perhaps other states or heaven forbid the federal government would follow Chris Christie’s lead.

Within the New Jersey spending freeze, Christie even had the audacity to cut money to school districts which enjoy surpluses. One whiney democrat said that the districts would be forced to raise property taxes to make up for the shortfall in state aid. I suppose the terms “budget crisis” and “financial emergency” don’t resonate if you have a D beside your name, no matter where you’re from.
That’s right; a $2.2 BILLION deficit. So, Christie cut money to school districts who have a surplus. What? Asking people to spend their own money ?? That’s unheard of! Sadly, it has been unheard of in New Jersey, hence the problem. I suppose that makes too much sense to the power crazed Democrats in New Jersey.

The Trouble With Valentine's Day

I hate the ballad, My Funny Valentine.
To me the song is sad and preachy.
And we're forced to hear it every year around this time.
The truth is that Valentine's Day is a damned stupid "holiday."
I don't want to be a spoil sport but this is a classic Hallmark Holiday. It was created to generate commerce after Christmas, in the dead of winter when nobody really wants to go out.
And over the years Valentine's Day has been pumped up into something so much more than it really is. It requires you to be loved, to have a sweetheart, to be wanted, to feel that you belong.
And if you don't fit one of those categories, you're pretty much left out.
Cupid passed you by. Tough luck. Stay away. Don't show your face. Don't spoil the day.
For guys, Valentine's Day involves enormous anxiety and pressure.
Hey, guys don't like to shop and they often have no sense of romance whatsoever.
So they seldom know what to do for their sweethearts.
Candy? It's too fattening. Flowers? They die. Cuddly bears? They lose their cuddliness and wind up as part of the clutter. Jewelery? Often too expensive.
Even this morning, many guys are still in a quandary as to what to do, I see them roaming aimlessly at the CVS or the Walgreen's looking for something, anything that will do that trick.
And then there's the whole dining out thing.
The restaurants will be jammed with roses for the sweethearts, special menus (usually pricier) and lots of fawning and feigned affection.
And since Valentine's Day comes on a three-day weekend this year there will be bigger package deals at area hotels, resorts and casinos. And you better believe these attractions will make sure they get every penny that's coming to them.
Hey, capitalism is wonderful. And I don't begrudge them whatever extra bucks they make. Especially this year when most businesses have been hard hit by the recent storms.
Still, there's something beyond merely silly -- something desperate -- about Valentine's Day.
And there's nothing romantic about desperation. Nothing.
So, if you have somebody that loves you, be thankful every day and never take that person for granted.
And if you love somebody, let that person know that he or she is loved. Do special things spontaneously and enjoy life's special moments and unexpected treats.
And if you don't have somebody right now, be thankful for what you do have and enjoy the day anyway. Indulge yourself away from all those forced funny Valentines
But above all -- don't wait till Valentine's Day.
Try to be a warm and loving person every day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Does Greenwald Miss Corzine?

From the CCGOP Chairman's Blog:

NEWS FLASH TO LOU GREENWALD: Jon Corzine is no longer the Governor of New Jersey. The public put Chris Christie in office because they could no longer afford to pay for Jon Corzine’s liberal ideology and wild spending. It seems Lou Greenwald is still wondering what happened to his big spending buddy.

Glory Days of Past: Corzine and Greenwald

On Thursday, Governor Christie delivered his emergency plan, complete with details, to reign in runaway state spending for this fiscal year. Our Governor wasted no time in reforming the remainder of the Corzine budget he inherited. Smart thinking. Christie will have a very difficult time preparing next years budget and the rest of this years spend, spend, spend budget is not going to help.

Sure as the sun rises in the east Assembly Democrats gave vocal opposition to cutting state spending. Lou Greenwald just cannot help him self. His reaction to reduced spending? You guessed it. Hearings! Yawn! Lou announced Friday, that the Assembly Budget Committee, which he chairs, will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Statehouse Annex in Trenton to hear testimony on Christie’s plan to close the deficit. Still not excited?

Lou will inevitably will waste countless hours questioning numerous witnesses and at the end of his hearings will still not get it. It is as if he believes the more hearings he holds the easier the financial mess becomes.

Earth to Lou; It’s Simple, Listen to the People: Cut Spending! When the Budget Committee meets the first question to every witness should be, “How can we cut the amount New Jersey spends?” It would be wonderful if after the hearings are over Greenwald could propose additional spending cuts. Do not worry New Jersey taxpayers have little faith in Greenwald. Unfortunately, New Jersey is ready and expecting Lou to continue to whine about not being able to spend and waste seemingly unlimited taxpayer dollars.

We understand it is not much fun being the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee if you cannot spend like a gin soaked sailor on shore leave. While Lou Greenwald is out of touch with voters, if Wayne Bryant was still the Senate Budget Committee chair he would share Lou’s attitude and unbridled lust for spending.

Remember Cherry Hill Mall Birdcage?

The Cherry Hill Mall opened on October 11, 1961.
Can you see the S. S. Kresgee store there in red lights? Kresgee was the predecessor of K Mart.
Anyway, in front of the store you can see the huge modernistic birdcage. It's very 1960s.
And the cage contained colorful (and sometimes loud) exotic birds
The mall was the first enclosed shopping center of its kind east of the Mississippi and when it opened it envisioned itself as a kind of tropical paradise.
So, all of the plants that you see in this 60's photo were real.
And the birds? Well, they were very real.
In fact, beyond the shrill noises they made there were reports that they weren't always very nice. Whether they may have been able to peck at a few onlookers, I'm not sure. But some people said the birds were downright nasty.
And the cage and the birds required their share of attention.
The birds had to be fed and things could get messy inside that cage.
When the mall was updated (after a number of years) the huge cage was dismantled and the birds were removed. I'm not quite sure where they went but they disappeared.
If you're old enough to remember the birdcage -- well, let's just say you're older than the Jonas Brothers; older than Lady Gaga; older than Ashton Kutcher and probably even older than Demi Moore.
But we won;t dwell on that.

Chris Christie's Straight Talk

Under New Jersey's constitution the governor of the state is granted enormous power.
In fact, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and commentator George Will has called the governor of New Jersey "an American Caesar."

New Jersey's new Governor Chris Christie promised bold and decisive action to halt runaway state spending and give the state a balanced budget.
While campaigning throughout the state, Christie said that, if elected, he would use all of the power of his office to impose fiscal common sense on the state government.

And he meant it.

This week, Christie took the first step to deliver on his promise by declaring a Fiscal State of Emergency in the Garden State, trimming many programs and freezing spending.

Chris Christie will not wait.

He knows that he's facing the legacy of years of mismanagement and fiscal recklessness.
He realizes that things may get worse before they get better.

So, he's taking direct action now.

Here are some excerpts from Governor Chris Christie's address to the State Legislature in Trenton this week:

“New Jersey is in a state of financial crisis. Our state’s budget has been left in a shambles and requires immediate action to achieve balance. For the current fiscal year 2010, which has only four and one-half months left to go, the budget we have inherited has a two billion dollar gap. The budget passed less than eight months ago, in June of last year, contained all of the same worn out tricks of the trade that have become common place in Trenton, that have driven our citizens to anger and frustration and our wonderful state to the edge of bankruptcy.

“Our Constitution requires a balanced budget. Our commitment requires us to begin the next fiscal year with a prudent opening balance. Our conscience and common sense require us to fix the problem in a way that does not raise taxes on the most overtaxed citizens in America. Our love for our children requires that we do not shove today’s problems under the rug only to be discovered again tomorrow. Our sense of decency must require that we stop using tricks that will make next year’s budget problem even worse.

So today, I am beginning the process of fiscal reform and discipline. Today, we are going to act swiftly to fix problems long ignored. Today, I begin to do what I promised the people of New Jersey I would do. Today, I begin to give them the change they voted for in November.

“I take no joy in having to make these decisions. I know these judgments will affect fellow New Jerseyans and will hurt. This is not a happy moment. However, what choices do we have left? The defenders of the status quo will start chattering as soon as I leave this chamber. They’ll say the problems are not that bad; listen to me, I can spare you the pain and sacrifice. We know this is simply not true. New Jersey has been steaming toward financial disaster for years due to that kind of attitude. The people elected us to end the talk and to act decisively. Today is the day for the complaining to end and for statesmanship to begin.

“The state cannot this year spend another $100 million contributing to a pension system that is desperately in need of reform. I am encouraged by the bi-partisan bills filed in the senate this week to begin pension and benefit reform. I commend President Sweeney and Senator Kean for leading the way to begin this long overdue set of reforms. I am sure our Assembly colleagues will follow suit with the same kind of bi-partisan effort.

“These bills must just mark the beginning, not the end, of our conversation and actions on pension and benefit reform. Because make no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government—state, county, municipal and school board. Also, don’t believe our citizens don’t know it and demand, finally, from their government real action and meaningful reform. The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word, which, coincidentally, is my nine year old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—“unfair.”

“The only principled path in light of these mountainous challenges is this—take these reform bills, make them even stronger and put them on my desk before I return here on March sixteenth for my budget address. And on this you have my pledge—unlike in the past, when you stood up and did what was right, this governor will not pull the rug out from underneath you—I will sign strong reform bills. “I ask of you in the Legislature to show the same frankness and commitment. For inaction is not an option. That was the path taken for far too long.”

Democrats Turn Against Obama

From Peter Wehner at Commentary:

When a presidency and an agenda are collapsing at the rate that President Obama’s are, it isn’t long before his party begins to distance itself from him. We’ve seen plenty of signs of this lately. has a story today titled “Family feud: Nancy Pelosi at odds with President Obama.” According to the story:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s increasingly public disagreements with President Barack Obama are a reflection of something deeper: the seething resentment some Democrats feel over what they see as cavalier treatment from a wounded White House.

Then there are the comments by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who said, “He [Obama] says ‘I’m for clean coal,’ and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in here. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me.”

Much of what President Obama has said hasn’t been believable to many of us for quite some time now. But when influential figures in a president’s own party begin to make statements such as these — especially when you’re only 13 months into a presidency — it’s clear that things are beginning to become a bit unglued. Party discipline is tossed aside; the intra-party sniping makes the situation even worse. And the vicious cycle Democrats are caught in merely accelerates.

It has dawned on many Democrats that in hitching their fortunes to Obama and Obamaism, they have put themselves at enormous political risk. They are all complicit in this; Obama himself outsourced much of his agenda to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The entire Democratic establishment is the architect of what is shaping up as an epic political failure. But Mr. Obama is head of the Democratic party, and so the responsibility lies with him more than with anyone else. He is primus inter pares. And he is now, with every passing week, the target of their unhappiness.

More is sure to follow. This isn’t going to end well for them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

1960 Ford: Wonderful New World!

1960 was a promising time for America.
American industry and ingenuity reigned supreme.
And Ford was right there introducing a "great, wide, wonderful world."
Many companies have come and gone. And two of the Big Three American car companies are barely surviving financially.
But Ford is still here -- and showing a profit.
After more than 100 years, Ford is still producing great cars, And BTW: I'm hopeful that the other two American car companies will soon be in the black as well.
Go on -- Go out and buy an American-made car from an American company.
A great, wide, wonderful world begins at home!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Most Popular Valentine Yet

You can send this or similar Valentine's Day cards to your friends.
Just click on the Valentine above.
Have fun!

Kean: Christie Shows 'Courage'

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean made the following statement about the uncommonly courageous leadership shown by Governor Christie in dealing with a $2.3 billion budget gap left by the past administration.
“It’s been years since New Jersey has had a governor who will talk about our state’s fiscal problems with decisiveness, honesty and courage,” Senator Kean said. “After less than two months in office, the governor has come up with a plan to close a $2.3 billion budget gap without tax increases, furloughs or disruption of our state’s schools.
“It’s also worth noting that his plan for balancing the budget, unlike proposals by other governors over the last eight years, contains no unconstitutional borrowing, tax increases or irresponsible accounting gimmicks,” Senator Kean said. “No other governor over the last eight years has proposed such a responsible and fiscally sound plan for closing a deficit.
“These proposals are a great start to a fiscal plan that will make New Jersey more affordable for our working and middle class residents,” Senator Kean said. “There should be no doubt now that the people of New Jersey have a leader who is committed to reducing taxes and reining in the ever-increasing cost of government.
“None of Chris Christie’s critics has offered a serious suggestion for balancing the budget that won’t put New Jersey in worst fiscal shape next year and for decades thereafter,” Kean said. “They are clinging to the failed and tired policies of the past that left our state with the highest unemployment in the region and the biggest fiscal crisis in its history.
“The governor’s critics should either come forward with a real, honest plan for cutting this budget, or stop with the transparently partisan attacks and join with our governor in making New Jersey the kind of state its residents deserve,” Senator Kean said.

Christie Declares 'Fiscal Emergency'

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today announced $2.203 billion in budget solutions to balance New Jersey’s current-year budget through a combination of savings from over funded programs, targeting of waste, and the capture of unexpended balances from accounts in every corner of state government.
“These are among the hardest decisions any governor could be called upon to make,” said Governor Christie. “But this process is also an extraordinary opportunity – a generational moment – where we confront the consequences of past failures while providing the solutions and permanent reforms we need to lead us to stability and better, more prosperous times.”
The Governor advanced his budget solutions during a special Joint Session of the Legislature, where he advised the members that he had signed an Executive Order before the speech and declared a “state of fiscal emergency” in recognition of the state’s looming deficit for the balance of Fiscal 2010. The Executive Order includes the authority of the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting to reserve or freeze funds at the Governor’s direction.
The budget solutions were derived from four general areas: targeting savings or areas of overfunding in programs and departments, targeting waste and ineffective programs, identifying areas for long-term reform and, above all, making hard choices in the form of program cuts, the use of unspent balances or withholding of aid. In all, 375 line items of cuts, efficiencies and program eliminations are found in the Governor’s plan.
Aid to local school districts and higher education institutions is being reduced, requiring them to use surpluses to fund operations for the balance of the school year. The school aid reductions do not impact any approved school budget funding. Other hard choices include eliminating programs across virtually all departments, including some very good but non-essential programs that simply cannot be afforded at this critical time in New Jersey’s history.
The cumulative impact of years of short-sighted budgeting and the failure to control spending or enact pension and benefits reforms left the new Administration with no alternative.
While the Administration will be forced to forgo $100 million in funding for public employee pensions, it proposes to move ahead with substantial pension reforms that will help reduce under funded pension obligations.
At the end of January, seven months into the fiscal year, the state government had $14 billion of unspent money remaining for Fiscal 2010. Of that amount, $8 billion was dedicated to such things as state employee contracts, maintenance of funds to keep federal funding, debt service and constitutional mandates.
Consequently, the new Administration – to balance the budget, as required by the state Constitution – was forced to find more than $2 billion in savings out of the remaining $6 billion.
For Fiscal Year 2011, the state will have to resolve a more than $11 billion gap at the outset – the largest shortfall per taxpayer of any state in the country by far.
Among some of the largest impacts from the budget solutions:

Withholding $475 million in local school aid for the balance of the fiscal year, with the amount of individual aid reductions tied to surpluses in the school districts. The withheld aid will not result in any reduction in approved school spending this year.

• A $62.1 million reduction in aid to county and senior public colleges and universities, also tied to existing surpluses.

• A $12.6 million reduction in hospital Charity Care, representing a 4.2 percent reduction.

• Capture of $158 million in unexpended balances from the Board of Public Utilities-administered Clean Energy Fund.

• Capture of $13.8 million in surplus balance from the Homestead Rebate program.

• Take a balance of $15.9 million in unused grant money remaining due to reduced service requirements in the Division of Youth and Family Services.

Delayed programs and capital projects total more than $115 million. There was no reduction in municipal aid.
Other programs that sounded good in theory but failed in practice are being scrapped and their balances used in the budget solutions.
InvestNJ was designed to spur job growth by giving out tens of millions of dollars to businesses at a rate of $3,000 per new hire. However, it experienced only limited success. Consequently, $57.9 million in InvestNJ funds will be used in the budget solutions.
Funding for the Office of the Public Advocate is being discontinued, and its present balance of approximately $600,000 will be used in the budget solutions. Necessary functions of the Public Advocate will be consolidated into other parts of state government.
Where possible, the Administration focused first on programs where there would not be any negative effect on programs. That analysis resulted in $454 million in savings or areas of over funding.
The targeting of waste and abuse resulted in approximately $70 million in savings. This is just the beginning – a down payment – on the Administration’s plan to go deeper in finding wasteful spending in the new fiscal year.
“As difficult as this is, with all the individuals and government operations that are effected, we must view this in a positive way,” said Governor Christie.
“All of it, the cuts, the savings, the use of unexpended balances and surpluses, amount to a down payment on a stable future for our children and their children. We just could not delay any longer without pushing our problems onto another generation.”