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Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:08 PM PDT

Bridgegate Silliness

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I watched the live stream of the hearing before the judge in Trenton who will decide how and with what Stepian and Kelly will comply with the Legislature's subpoenas, or not.

I have two observations.  First:

From the beginning of "time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee," it was clear to anyone with a brain that when the traffic problems materialized, there HAD to have been other communications.  Right, people, like there was a PLAN. Kelly's email meant "start the plan."

The key questions remain the same as ever:

Who was in on the conspiracy that developed the plan?

Why was this being done?

Who ordered the plan enacted and who else knew it had been?

Who hatched and enacted the cover up.

These are really simple questions.  The fact that Christie hasn't publicly asked any of these is quite telling.  It appears to me that Bridget Kelly can answer all or most of these questions.  It is unlikely that she was in this alone.

A second observation:

The hearing was full of legal citations, jockeying, hair-splitting and such.  However, both Kelly and Sepian were State employees at the time, being paid by the taxpayers of New Jersey to do work in the executive branch.  Their "job"-related communications should be part of the public record, with exceptions, perhaps, for national security.  These emails, texts, phone call records aren't private matters or private communications.  Or is this incorrect?

The notion that the 5th amendment covers communications related to and produced in the normal course of government business seems odd to me.  While I understand that public employees do not surrender all their rights, I don't see how the claim that documents (both paper and electronic) produced in the course of their supposedly public work can suddenly become their private property to define, destroy, or withhold. I'm not trained in anything legal, but hasn't the Supreme Court ruled on this in at least a few cases?

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Mon May 13, 2013 at 12:55 PM PDT

Our States Value What?

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h/t: Reuben Fischer-Baum
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Mon May 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM PDT

Rags and Riches - She'll Sew No More

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If you shout into a full force hurricane, your words go nowhere. With overwhelming tragedies surrounding us, and our ability to sharpen the pointless and blunt the too sharp, some things hit me hard. As corporations sever whatever shreds of morality, accountability, and responsibility they once took for their supply chains and workers, but still get the right to buy politicians, I want to crawl under a rock.

Our need for the latest fashions at the lowest cost helped crush nearly 1000 people last month. We were distracted because, well because Benghazi and Boston. But, if we westerners don't buy clothes, some people can't feed their families, even though there is enough food and enough world income so no one should starve.

So, yesterday we learn this incredible story of hope and survival as a young woman is pulled from the rubble of the collapsed factory. And, today, we learn that she's done with the garment industry.  

Building collapse survivor never gave up hope.

Good move. Maybe Massey can offer her a job in one of its mines? Until we treat workers as people and corporations with responsibility, this is the kind of story that will repeat itself like Groundhog Day or Republican obstructionism.

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A few years ago, the New York Times Book Review section used to have some fantastic, occasional, non-review features. I remember one that was famous opening lines:

•    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....

for example, and the reader's job was to match them with the book. Same for closing lines:

•    …tomorrow is another day.
•    That's all there is, there isn't any more.

But my favorite was a page where they had fantastic modern quotes and you had to match them up with their authors.


•    A healthy adult male bore consumes one and a half times his weight each year in other people's patience.


•    A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

•    Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's hard to get it back in.  

If you want some fun, just try guessing where each of these came from before you hit the links.

For some subset of Americans, two quotes have been prominent since the election of 2008 and the carnage at Newtown.

•    They who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

•    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

I think the NRA needs a new, catchy slogan that better represents their leadership position concisely; that Second Amendment Firsters can stand up for; and that the Senators who vote against background checks and other gun control measures can wear as lapel pins, on the other side of the jackets from their American flag pins.


•    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of children.

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IEDs. Are improvised explosive devices covered by the right to bear arms?

On that horrible day last December, I walked into a grocery store in Connecticut, found everyone, staff, customers, delivery people, crying without pause and learned what happened in the nearby town of Newtown. Since then, I've been really troubled about the scope and logic of the second amendment and its zealous advocates. Since more people died from gun violence and gun accidents the day of the Boston Marathon, or today, or tomorrow, than died from the Boston blast. I don't want to call my discussions with my Second firster friends abstract or philosophical, but I have been troubled wondering about the semantics of "bearing arms." I used as my example: Say a few of us mounted the RPG things on top of pickups, like the pictures we used to see of Afghanistan during the Russian occupation or the Taliban period, and parked them in front of a state capitol building, let's say Madison, Wisconsin, just for discussion.

Is this covered by our Second amendment rights? Do they have to be concealed? Do I need a special permit? If I buy this on the internet, do I need a background check? Nobody had answers.

Then, way, way, way less abstractly, is an IED covered by "arms"? If so, is it ok then to carry one as a concealed weapon, maybe in a backpack, as long as the person carrying it (I was going to use I there, but thought better of it) has no intent to use it?

I'm sure this community will have lots of guidance on this topic, but maybe, with Boston in mind, today would be a good day to see what Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Antonin Scalia, Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell and that whole crew have to say?  

I really fear for my country, my loved ones, and all my fellow citizens if the answer here is yes.

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Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:48 PM PDT

The Pledge for America

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There's lots to be done, but we've seen several years of Washington gridlock. This is something beyond what we've seen in the past, perhaps, as they like to say, an order of magnitude worse. Many Bush initiatives had support from Democratic Senators and Congress people, but the current class of Republican House members seem more committed to conflict than compromise. Many of them seem, and perhaps are, fiercy partisan, to the extent, even, of putting party before country.  

We've learned that on the very evening of our President's inauguration, with the nation already reeling from the worst fiscal crisis in 80 years, a group of the Republican House leadership, several radical Senators, and a few special invitees, met and pledged to fight to block and obstruct everything and anything the new President would propose.  Many of this group had already signed onto the Norquist Pledge ("never raise taxes….drown government in the bathtub"), but this pledge was, again, something beyond a pledge or a contract with America.  In fact, some have likened this pledge to treason, in that these people, elected to serve the COUNTRY, were willing, indeed gleeful, to put party before country and leave the US economy damaged for political ends.  The former Senate majority leader, Mr. McConnell, said it clearly when he claimed his goal was to prevent the re-election of the President.  Actually, while these folks are free to have private agendas, their elected role is as stewards of the country, to do what's best for the country, in fact to do many things FOR the country.  I've lived through eleven Presidencies and I have never seen anything like this crew's willingness to damage the country's economy, let alone the lives of vast numbers of Americans, including large numbers of their actual constituents, by this pernicious pledge.  

So, here's a modest proposal, that should be enacted swiftly.  Every single Republican running for the House and Senate should be asked and required to answer a simple question.  Given that Republicans have consciously and deliberately conspired to harm the country for partisan advantage, and have done so for four years, can they now pledge that, if the President is re-elected, they will take off their partisan hats and, rolling up their sleeves, start honest work on the real problems we face?  I'll call it the Pledge for America.  Voters should ask their aspiring incumbents and newbies alike:

If the President is re-elected, will you pledge to work, as a representative not of a political party but of the American people, to find real solutions to our real problems?  
Enough is enough.  If candidates can't commit to something this simple, why should anyone, Republican, Independent, or Democratic voters, agree to send them to Washington and put or keep them on a path to becoming private millionaires while they are unwilling to work to advance the American cause?  

So, let's make our representatives take this pledge.  We can start by asking for responses from those who, on January 20, 2009, pledged to block anything that President Obama proposed.  In fact, since he was a ring leader, we can start by asking Paul Ryan to take this pledge, if, as seems likely, he wins one of the two campaigns he's running for federal office this year --- his fallback race for his current House seat.  It's really simple Paul, Kevin McCarthy, Eric Cantor and the crew.  

If the President is re-elected, are you really going to spend EIGHT years trying to block anything and everything that might be good for the country but not precisely perfect for your party?  
Make them take the Pledge for America:  If the President is re-elected, I will pledge to work as a representative of the American people, not a particular political party, to find, advance, and enact real solutions that work for the United States of America.  If they can't take this pledge, why would we want them to represent anything or anyone?  
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