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Life in post apocalyptic NJ: gougers and bipartisan bullshit

Running off Generator Power!!
Riverdaughter’s — Free Charging Station

Courtesy of The Confluence

I’m about to head out for gas and firewood but not very confident about finding either. Last night,the lights flickered briefly, then went out again. The high voltage transmission lines cut through this section of new jersey about a mile from my house. The road beneath them is blocked off and it now occurs to me that there must be a major problem with one of the towers.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to the news on WNYC and everyone is marveling over the amazing bipartisanship display between Chris Christie and Barack Obama. Allow me to be cynical here. Christie is the governor who cancelled the new rail tunnel project underneath the Hudson between Hoboken and manhattan. That tunnel wouldn’t have saved Hoboken or the rail line this year but in future storms, it would have had modern anti flooding and pumping mechanisms so the catastrophe we’re now looking at with the rail system would be avoided.

Governor Christie has a particular loathing for NJ Transit. His budget cut $300 million from NJ Transit in the first year of his administration, causing fares to skyrocket and improvements to be cut. Instead, Christie’s administration gave $300 million to the developers of a white elephant shopping mall extravaganza in the Meadowlands. Those developers lost their shirts in 2008 before they could finish the mall that nobody wanted. So, to recap, NJ rail customers – 0, rich developers – 300. This is the same governor who yells at teachers and makes the rest of us feel like parasites. He belongs to the party that cut back unemployment bennies for people in this state by 26 weeks. Let’s not make a hero out of Christie.

And let’s not pretend that it is above Barack Obama to milk this disaster for all that it’s worth. Sometimes, I wonder if there really is a Satan and Obama is his guy. First there was the financial collapse of September 2008 and now this. In both cases, Obama looks like he’s cruisin for a bruisin and then voile! Catastrophe and loss. It’s perfect. Lots of free airtime with Obama hugging displaced elderly ladies in a shelter and distributing packs of White House stamped m&m’s to poor little kiddies missing Halloween. Did Michelle know he was going to do that? Message, “I care”.


Here’s what I imagined happened. Christie reads the signs on the national hurricane service maps, which his party is dying to privatize, and sees sandy heading right towards us. Knowing that re-election campaigning for him starts in January 2013, he swallows his pride and calls the White House. Obama drives a hard bargain. If you want a quick response, you’d better say nice things about us from the very start. You will appear at my side and fawn all over me. You will say I’m the nicest, bestest, most efficient and empathetic president you have ever met and my administration is on the ball.

So, Christie is.

I don’t expect Obama’s attention to New Jersey to last beyond election day. After that, Christie is on his own and so will the rest of New Jersey. If we’re going to get this state up and running again, it all has to happen before next Tuesday or we’re screwed. By the way, to change the date of a presidential election takes an act of Congress. Please let me know if you hear of representatives rising back to make the election fair for those communities at the shore who were obliterated.

In the New Jersey Hall of Shame add AT&T. Their response has been pathetic during the aftermath. Unlike the electric and gas utilities, they have been very tight lipped to reporters about the extent of damage to their cellular network. Service has been spotty at best although it looks like the local cell tower is finally back on line. But considering the fact that we still don’t have cable or any electricity and are living in a black out zone as far as news goes, I was more than a little infuriated that AT&T sent a “you only have 20% left on your data plan” message to my iPad. Amazing how they can keep track of that in the midst of a catastrophe that they are partially responsible for. I’ve heard that AT&T was finally forced to join forces with Verizon to get the data/cellular network going and the first thing they send out is a data limit notice.

In this emergency when we don’t know what’s going on or whether to boil our water or not or where we can get cheap firewood, the idea that AT&T is still putting artificial limits on the data plans is outrageous. Not only that but from what I heard in WNYC last night, back in 2008 after another cellular network failure in the aftermath of a catastrophe, there was a bill pending in Congress that would have mandated that the cell towers have an 8 hour back up generator plan and the telecoms killed that bill. Yep, they killed it. This is when many people such as myself have ,given up our landlines so the only way we can call first responders after and emergency is by using our cell phones and the immoral bastards killed the bill with their army of lobbyists.

There should be congressional hearings when this is all over. There need to be limits on how little regulation utilities and telecoms should be getting away with. We are talking about public safety now.


33 Responses

  1. No time to edit. Sorry.

    • Do you still need firewood? Is your electric still out? Are there other people in your neighborhood who need firewood? We might be able to help with that.

  2. I figure Obama is just making the most of happenstance. Couldn’t care less otherwise. He did promise to repair New Orleans, another of his blithely discarded campaign sweet nothings.

    I have another take on this l’affaire Christie. Christie, of course, has 2016 presidential ambitions. Not breaking news. But Obama, now, Obama has been suspected of closet Republicanism since he assumed office. What if this smooch fest is a prelude to Obama coming out of the closet in 2016? I can see the More Effective Evil declaring his Republican conventions once there’s nothing more to be gotten by lying about it. (He and Colin Powell can appear together at the press conference.)

    And for anyone who thinks that’s all too gimmicky and conspiratorial, Obama does nothing, NOTHING, that isn’t about and for himself.

    • Would the Republican Leadership be such brand self-destroying fools as to accept Obama into their party?

      • That’s your perception of Obama. I have no idea what the Republicans would think were it to happen. Nor do I know how it would be perceived by the broader public.

        Colin Powell, after all, has endorsed Democratic candidates and he’s well known to be, and remains, a Republican. I don’t think Obama would be asking for a Republican key card, rather endorsing candidates and ideas. He’s already subsumed some of the Republican agenda.

        In any case, it’s speculation.

  3. RD – I hope everything will be up and running very soon for you!! You certainly share my loathing for AT&T. They recently came out and fixed my landline and then sent me a $200 bill later – no warning whatsoever. I’m very close to ditching their cable service because I watch TCM, Science Channel and Food Network and it’s $90 a month. I mostly stream movies from Netflix on my Roku box. I have kept my landline because I’m an old fart. I’m so old I remember when AT&T was a model company that took care of it’s employees and Bell Labs was the premier research facility on the entire planet. Well thanks Jimmy Carter for getting the ball rolling to destroy all that and to everyone since who’s piled on. F}#^ers indeed.

  4. Found a new firewood source. Should be enough to keep us warm for a few days. Will add the guy to the hall of fame as soon as I find out what the damage is to my wallet.

  5. RD:
    I have tons of firewood from trees in my property that I would love to beam them up for your use.
    Here in Texas we use the firewood for barbecues instead of heating, but lately we don’t use it even for that for the danger of fires. The irony of life. Take good care.

    • We’re sliding into third rate nation status. If you remember when Russians were starving, the problem wasn’t food stuff shortages. It was transportation infrastructure and vehicles to get food from where it was grown to where it was needed. Harvests were going unused.

  6. Obama didn’t fix New Orleans (ever been there BTW?) Obama is Satan’s Guy! Wah wah wah. You know what’s called for to pull us out of the this 3rd world USSR death spiral. Another War and a 33% increase of the Military-Industrial-Complex Budget!

  7. Riverdaughter, didn’t you say that in New Jersey an attendant has to pump gas?

    • Yes, the gas stations are full service by law. You can’t pump your own gas.

      • How is your free charger service going?

      • RD:
        What is the rational for the gas station full service law?
        this is new to me…! Never heard of it before.

        • Well, whatever the purported reasons are, here are several that I can think of off the top of my head:

          1) Older folks, handicapped folks, parents with fussing toddlers to look after are not going to be inconvenienced or bilked when they are forced to a) wait for slow service, or b) gouged by higher costs for their fuel because, ya know, somebody might have to actually deliver a service

          2) You don’t run the risk posed by some fucking idiot with a lit cigarette or cigar dangling from his lips while clumsily dispensing flammable liquids. I would venture that service station attendants don’t do this, while some half-drunken yahoo just might, and in so doing succeed in starting a conflagration. Even you might die. Food for thought.

          3) You don’t have to waste time like in Pennsylvania by pulling up to the pump, and then having to walk up to the station attendant inside to either give them cash or a card before they will enable the relevant pump so that you can then return back to your vehicle and dispense the fuel yourself. And in the process, getting to handle the nozzle that has drug-resistant tubercular sputum on it from the previous customer, not to mention the joy of getting gas on your hands or dribbling same on your clothing while replacing the nozzle in the cradle. (Remember that fussy toddler in the car? The one whose pacifier just fell out of their mouth which you can now restore to its position with your germ-covered, gasoline-reeking hand? Yeah, that one.) Oh, and if you gave them a charge/debit card to pay for the transaction, you can now walk back to the attendant’s station and retrieve it. And at the same time, keep out the weather eye for some White Rabbit (they’re now late for a very important date as a side effect of all of this staggering efficiency) as they peel out through the pump islands. Yes, the Very Soul of Efficiency!

          4) And now we get to the nub of the matter: this gives the station’s owner a free shot at disemploying workers, Just like those handy self-service lines at the supermarket? So some high school kid won’t have a job hopping the pump, making some money, and learning about responsible work habits.

          I know, I know, you’re just jonesing to do all of this in a driving rain storm, or maybe on some scorching hot summer afternoon. And here I am admonishing you that maybe – just hypothetically – there is social value to be gleaned from that passé service thingy. What a troglodyte, gumming up the wheels of Maximally Efficient Capitalist Enterprise, guarantor that we all live in the best of all possible worlds.

          Sometimes change is not progress. Like keeping that landline, and the old-school phone that requires no external power to operate, only the voltage in the system that makes the landline work. I keep my landline, and one of those phones for that very reason. Luddite me.

          • Lol! So true. When I first moved here, I thought it was the stupidest thing to not be able to pump my own gas. It cuts down on the number of places to buy gas. If you’re like me, you have a running algorithm in your brain, trying to calculate if you have enough fumes to get to the nearest gas station and a database of all of the gas station locations in a 10 mile radius. Admit it, you do. There is a trade off for not being able to pump your own gas.
            And then I started to get used to the comfort of never having to leave my car in the winter to pump my gas. It feels so decadent I actually tip the attendant on really cold days.
            But the safety issue is probably overblown.
            It’s just one of those Jersey things.

  8. When you hear a gop voting fool grousing about the poor cell phone service remind then republicans got government out of the way of the Telcoms and Wall Street.

  9. Early today before I left for work I got a phone call which I answered. It turned out to be an Obama volunteer and we had a nice couple minutes chat. His voice sounded way older than you would expect for a member of the Obama Youth.

    I can’t remember every word for word thing we said but it basically came to this: I was grateful for the American Car Industry Rescue and I don’t regret my vote for Obama in 2008. But certain things disturb me enough to have me suspecting I will vote maybe Green or more likely Anderson. I led off with ObamaHolder’s studied refusal to even investigate any major financial sector leaders for possible indictment for favorably prosecutable crimes. I said I also considered Obama’s so-called “desire” to raise taxes on “the very richest Americans” merely a cynical ploy to keep the issue in contention long enough to prevent the sunsetting of the Bush Tax Cuts in order to make them permanent if he could. I believe I used the word “conspiracy”. He said he respected my views and his tone of voice sounded like he really did. I then said that Obama’s free and unsolicited creating of the Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission to destroy my Social Security that I have been paying for since 1983 fills me with quiet rage and hate. He said that he is 59 years old himself and he understands that concern very well, but he is more afraid of the radical destruction which Romney would seek. I admitted that Romney’s desires are indeed more radically destructive right away but I then said that if Romney were President, the Democrats would be less likely to let Romney destroy Social Security than they would be likely to HELP Obama destroy Social Security because they want one of their own fellow Democrats to get the credit for destroying Social Security. They don’t want a Republican President to get that credit. I said that Obama would pursue a sneakier slow death for Social Security through cleverly staged and paced Simpson-Bowles salami tactics. I then said that since Stabenow was one of 28 DemSenators signing that “don’t touch Social Security” letter, I would be voting for her in hopes she means what she signed. I hoped that would make him feel better after my depressing-for-him position on Obama.

    Oh . . . somewhere in there he said that realistically . . . one of the two was going to become President. I said I know that, and I have decided that a President Romney doesn’t scare me the way a President McCain (and a President Palin after that) did. If the Rs were running Palin/McCain all over again, I would vote Obama all over again, but they aren’t so I won’t. But I will be voting for Stabenow and Dingell and I hoped that made him feel better. Oh, and . . . I also said that I have read hundreds of thousands of words about Obama over the last couple years and I cited two blogs that he might read if he had any time in the next 6 days. I cited The Confluence and Naked Capitalism and he said he would look into them. Maybe he was just being polite as many Midwesterners are . . . and that’s fine. He has the names now. We respected eachother’s opinion and thanked eachother for eachother’s time and mutually ended the call. Perhaps I have planted some seeds of doubt.

    Now, as to Obama perhaps regaining some support in the few days remaining . . . I think Romney’s crashingly stupid vulgar lie about Obama “selling Chrysler to an Italian who will outsource the Jeep production to China” will end up revolting more than just NPR listeners.
    It will also revolt Chrysler-GM car workers and workers and/or tiny bussinesspeople who make their money from the healthy functioning of the Chrysler-GM Industrial Complex. Romney’s bold-as-brass LIElielie was so revolting that Marchioni had to go on the record saying in the most diplomatic way possible that there was no factual content to Romney’s statements and no cause for concern that Chrysler-Fiat would be outsourcing any American Jeep production to China. The fact that the Romney campaign then took out radio ads repeating the same lie may well offend some people who will suspect that the crass stupidity of such disprovable lies may signal a crass disrespect for the intelligence of the targetted audience. Obama is a much better liar, more practiced, more slick, more hard to catch and prove. Dawg . . . he SMOOOooove . . .
    Can anyone say the same for Romney?

  10. Here is a new story about Marchionne’s reply to Romney’s LIElielie about Chrysler outsourcing Jeep production to China.

    • “new” story? Of course I meant “news” story.

    • Not that I give a flying duck.
      I’m voting for Rocky Anderson and there’s not a stupid, inconsequential story about either main candidate that will change my mind.
      The absolute last thing I want to see in nj right now is for republicans and democrats to get all bipartisan and as far as outsourcing jobs, both parties do it.
      Seriously, RU reddy, I don’t care and is rather not read any more petty stories from the democrats slinging dirt at the Republicans here. Please don’t.

  11. RD. Hope you are doing better. In this frustrating time.
    What is your take on this?

    Just mho but Help Is Help??? 🙂


  12. RD: I’ve been following your blog on and off for about a year now. I live in -ville,NJ, which you mentioned in an earlier post, and now that the power has returned in the LV, my neighborhood in -ville, I find myself with some excess fuel. If you need any, I would be more than happy to give you some, as a thank you for all these posts. I have a 2 gallon container I can part with. I know it is not a lot, but you won’t have to wait in line, pay anything for it, or go very far (if I have determined your general geography correctly). Or you may know someone who needs it more. We can meet up at a public place of your choosing. Let me know.

    • Richard, thank you so much for your generous offer but we are holding up fine here. We have firewood, fuel and food. If there is anything you need, let me know, I have several extra boxes of parmalat and a ton of nuts and fruit.

  13. I just heard from my sister in South Orange, that is suburban Newark, and she was told power will be back by Nov the freaking 9th. Luckily she and her family has gas for cooking and hot water. She’s hooked up with a neighbor for firewood . Lower Manhattan is starting to look like the Super dome post Katrina.

    Instead, Christie’s administration gave $300 million to the developers of a white elephant shopping mall extravaganza in the Meadowlands. Those developers lost their shirts in 2008 before they could finish the mall that nobody wanted. So, to recap, NJ rail customers – 0, rich developers – 300.

    yup…the problem with the tunnel /rail project underneath the Hudson between Hoboken and manhattan idea was it was too useful and might actually happen instead of being a $$$ black hole……clearly not deserving of funds!

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