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NJ’s largest paper endorses Chris Daggett for Governor and rejects the two party system

Chris Daggett, Independent Candidate for NJ Governor

Chris Daggett, Independent Candidate for NJ Governor

Man-o-man, I should’ve been paying closer attention.  Guys, this is the Big Kahuna.  The Star-Ledger, one of New Jersey’s largest papers, has endorsed Independent Chris Daggett for governor.  The reasons for this endorsement are spectacular.  Let’s have a read:

The Star-Ledger today endorses independent candidate Chris Daggett and recommends his election as the next governor of New Jersey.

The newspaper’s decision is less a rejection of Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie than a repudiation of the parties they represent, both of which have forfeited any claim to the trust and confidence of the people of New Jersey. They share responsibility for the state’s current plight.

Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor’s office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.

New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett’s election would send shock waves through New Jersey’s ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.

It would signal the entrenched leadership of both parties — and the interest groups they regularly represent — that an ill-served and angry electorate demands something better.

The lamentable fact is that the two parties are, themselves, little more than narrow special interests. Their competition for short-term political and/or monetary gain has jeopardized the state’s long-term economic health and left it with a tarnished national reputation.

For disappointed Democrats and Republicans, a decision to vote for Daggett will mean a break with party loyalty — no easy thing. What we’re suggesting is a temporary suspension of that loyalty as a way to begin changing the corrosive culture of Trenton. Daggett would owe nothing to either party establishment; he’d be free to recruit best talent wherever he found it. As he told The Star-Ledger editorial board, he’d feel no obligation to honor the traditional Democratic-Republican deal that requires bipartisan balance on the Supreme Court. He’d apparently take the best he could find regardless of party affiliation — or lack thereof.

Just go read the whole thing.  This is potentially a shot heard round the country.  Daggett is still polling behind Jon “I’m awarding all of Hillary’s delegates to Obama” Corzine and Chris Christie.  But in recent weeks, he’s gone from nowhere to capturing almost 20% of the vote.  It wouldn’t be the first time a state has elected an Independent for Governor, think Jesse Ventura in Minnesota.  But New Jersey is huge compared Minnesota.  There’s still several weeks left for Daggett to make up ground.  I’ve seen Daggett/Esposito signs on my way to work and I understand that his performance at the first debate was really good.

I do worry about Daggett’s intention of taking on the unions, especially the teacher’s union.  But having served on a NJ Board of Ed, I also understand that the union wields a big stick but doesn’t always deliver results.  Lifetime tenure is granted to teachers in my district after 3 years with little or no expectation that they will acquire new skills or expertise for a changing global marketplace.  It does concern me when Daggett pledges to take on the pensions of public servants.   We also need to demand more of NJ’s wealthiest  residents who like the tax system as it is- balanced on the backs of middle class homeowners.  I hope he will address this problem.  The last thing we want is to hobble the unions so much that they cease to be examples of labor strength.  Daggett needs to find a happy medium.

As the Star-Ledger says, here’s the way to take back your government.  What our current crop of politicians need right now is discipline and for the voters to hold them accountable for their bad behavior.  With the election of people like Daggett, we are capable of issuing the parties a warning.  Shape up or it’s four years on the Naughty Step.  And then we keep putting them back on that step until they get the message and do what we tell them to do.  All we lack is the courage and determination to carry through on our warnings.

If we end up with better politicians in the meantime, so much the better.

If you want to help send shockwaves around NJ and the rest of the country, you can contribute to Daggett’s campaign here. The next debate for Governor will be October 16 and will be broadcast on October 18.

Oh, and one more thing for our NJ readers out there.  Jon Corzine and the Democratic party has absolutely no respect for you as a voter.  Don’t forget that Hillary Clinton won our state by 10 points but didn’t get a single delegate from our state at the 2008 Democratic Party Convention in Denver.  Instead, Jon Corzine handed all of our votes, every last one of them, over to Barack Obama.  They didn’t listen to us last year.  That’s why they aren’t listening to us this year.  Corzine is sadly mistaken if he thought we would ever forget the disgraceful behavior of our superdelegates at the Convention.  If you want your vote to actually mean something again, start by throwing this guy out of office:

Thursday Morning Breakfast

A month from now, I will have lost the muffin top and will be lounging around somewhere in Maui drinking Bad Ass Coffee for breakfast.  I will toss my red hair in the trade winds and laugh, “ha-hahhhh!”  Until then, four more weeks in frickin’ New Jersey with an eighth grader who is making my life miserable because I decided to do an academic intervention and send her to an intense five weeks of algebra this summer.  (No, she didn’t fail anything.  She’s just an underachieving G&T kid who refuses to do her homework).  Seven more days of adolescent sturm and drang before she aces the final and killing her becomes a lot less attractive as a coping mechanism.  I can’t wait.

Bad Ass Coffee

Bad Ass Coffee

In the meantime, lean your surfboard against the wall, grab a cup of kona and read the news.

Corzine *still* trails Christie by 10+ points in the NJ Governor’s race.  {{smirk!}}  Karma’s a bitch, Jon.  Oh, by the way, Hillary hasn’t completely ruled out running for President but she says it’s really unlikely.

Obama has pulled out all of the stops and is asking the public to support his health care plan. First bloggers, now a direct appeal to the rest of us.  What’s the hurry?  It won’t take effect until 2013 anyway and as reform goes, it isn’t that great.  As long as we have four years to implement it, why not take it niiiiice and sloooow and work all of the bugs out of the system.  if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  Color me suspicious on the rush job.  For instance, take this “Oh, really?” bit of BS:

With Republicans and some moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill balking at both the specifics of the legislation and Mr. Obama’s timetable for House and Senate passage of the bills, the White House is now trying to rally legislative support and public opinion by linking health care to the nation’s economic health and offering the promise of tangible benefits to Americans.

“If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit,” he said. “If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket.” He acknowledged that Americans were anxious, saying, “Folks are skeptical, and that is entirely legitimate.”

Folks are skeptical because for the vast majority of us, reform ain’t gonna happen.  We’ll be locked into our current plan and insurers can continue to maximize profits.  Costs and deficits are going to continue to rise for four more years until this baby takes effect and eve the Congressional Budget Office says the current plan will do nothing to curb costs.  The insurance industry seems to be getting a great deal out of this one.  Maybe that’s why they want to seal this deal before anyone finds out.  Call it Son of TARP.

And this is just silly:

At first, House Democrats were weighing a tax on Americans making more than $280,000 a year; now there is talk of imposing the tax on those households earning $1 million or more, an idea Mr. Obama said he favored because it would not put the burden of paying for the bill on the middle class.

“To me, that meets my principle, that it’s not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time,” he said.

Mr. Obama also signaled that he might be open to another idea under consideration in the Senate : taxing employer-provided health benefits, as long as the tax did not fall on the middle class.

I don’t think the middle class who make less than a million a year would mind a small tax increase if the quality of the health care insurance that everyone received improved.  You can make a small tax very attractive if the results are significantly better than what we’ve got.  Think Social Security.  That’s not what this bill proposes.  But it doesn’t surprise me that Obama would throw out this not-very-well-thought-out, disjointed statement. He doesn’t lead from principle.  He doesn’t lead.  He follows.  And it’s becoming clear that he is worried about media driven public opinion but not terribly worried about doing the right thing.  So what else is new?

Meanwhile, back in Sudan, Iraq, Iran, China and Kyrgystan (Kyrgystan??)…  There are a heck of a lot of foreign news stories on the frontpage.  What’s up with that?  Are these all turning into hotspots or are they just bright shiny objects?

The Birthers are back. Birther prophylactic: we are not nor ever have been associated with the birther movement.  It’s a pointless distraction.  I figure that the Clinton Campaign would have been perfectly within its rights to have Obama disqualified if he were not a natural born citizen.  It wouldn’t have been character assassination.  It would have been a constittuional issue.  But Bill Clinton himself said that Obama met the minimum requirements for being president, which I interpret to mean that they looked into it and there’s no THERE there.  I don’t know why Obama needs to produce the exact original of his birth certificate to satisfy the birther crowd but I can think of a really good reason why he wouldn’t: it makes the birthers look like a bunch of complete loonies if he occasionally stirs up the issue.  Birthers, please don’t try to defend yourselves on this blog.  We’re really not interested.

For those of you who are getting blindsided by the shifting frames of the media on who’s who in the Democratic caucus and who’s screwing up health care reform, check out The Blue Dogs Flunk Obedience School. In summary, Obama, who doesn’t have a political philosophy but for some reason really, really likes bipartisanship for its own sake, has ignored his progressive base and has now become hostage to conservative blue dog Democrats.  These DINOs come from conservative districts where voters are vulnerable to media messaging about tax and spend liberals.  So far as I’ve seen, our current Congressional session skews heavily to the right.  There’s still a lot of taxing and spending going on but nary a liberal intiative in sight.  And as long as the blue dogs remain unprimaried, that’s the way it will stay.

H1N1 is laying low for now but could be a real problem in the fall.  Still no need to panic.  Get your flu shot if you’re offered one, have your doctor’s phone number available if you get sick, ask your employer about plans in case of a public health emergency and follow your public health official’s guidelines to prevent spread of infection.  Let’s hope our precautions make this the biggest non-story of the year.

Podcasts of the day: I have heard it said recently that the world is undergoing a shift in consciousness in a way that is similar to the shift from polytheism to monotheism.  It is a shift away from traditional monotheism to a more logical, holistic vision of the universe and its source of wonder.  It was difficult to see this shift while the country was in the grips of the fundamentalist evangelical base and their Christ for Rich People stuff.  It’s funny that so many religious people vote for politicians who do not believe in holding people accountable for bad behavior.  I might be wrong but it feels like it is time for the country to regain its sense of ethical behavior.  And as we know from bitter experience, it isn’t always to be found in the pews of your nearest megachurch.  Here are several podcasts that have common themes though they aren’t all obvious at first. There is a lot of material to chew on about reason, first principles, inclusiveness and the evolution of the human spirit:

Melvyn Bragg’s in Our Time discusses the Vienna Circle’s Logical Positivism

Bill Moyer’s interviewed Robert Wright on The Evolution of God

Anything from Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith.  I have really become addicted to her podcasts. There’s something here for everyone, atheists included.  Tippet is the Terry Gross of the divine but what passes for divine these days may surprise you.   Most of her interviews are not overtly about religion at all but are more about how different faith and ethical  experiences allow individuals to view life, the universe and everything from a more holistic point of view. The Ecstatic Faith  of Rumi won a Peabody and it’s easy to hear why.  It’s poetic and beautiful.  But Tippett also explores The Biology of Spirit with neurosurgeon Sherwin Nuland, freelance monotheism with Karen Armstrong and a more modern form of logical positivism with Echard Tolle.  Her interview with Rick Warren and his wife Kay was fascinating.  The Warrens initially sound like shallow, corporate religious types and don’t quite shake that image with the listener in spite of all of their recent philanthropic efforts. Quite revealing in completely unexpected ways.  All highly recommended.

Heartless employer of the day: Drugmaker Wyeth, in the process of merging with equally heartless Pfizer, sent an email offering a resume writing workshop to all employees. (no link.  I was informed by some former colleagues) I love the way they are promoting the fiction that there are any companies, not in India and China, where their employees have any hope of actually finding a job.  All of the companies I know are in the midst of their own layoffs and endless hiring freezes, leaving projects short staffed and scrambling for outside contractors.  The Pfizer-Wyeth merger will result in the loss of thousands of scientific jobs, burdening further the unemployment rolls of NJ, PA, CT and NY.  I’m sure the workshop is  going to lead to greater productivity between now and when the real layoffs begin.  Just write off real drug development from that new behemoth for the next several years.  The Wall Street guys and the mega shareholders just won’t be satisfied until these companies are reduced to cheap, overseas scientific staff and a bunch of stateside marketers and executives.  So much for American innovation.  Contracting your brain trust from overseas is incredibly short sighted.  It’s like eating your seed corn.  Pretty soon, all that will be left are MBAs.  And what have they innovated lately?

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Thursday: Read it and Weep, Jon Corzine

Chris Christie (R) leads Jon Corzine (D?) in the polls for governor.

From RealClearPolitics:

Polling Data

Poll Date Sample Christie (R) Corzine (D) Und. Spread
RCP Average 04/17 – 05/18 44.5 36.8 14.0 Christie +7.7
Quinnipiac 05/12 – 05/18 2532 RV 45 38 13 Christie +7
Rasmussen Reports 05/12 – 05/12 500 LV 47 38 9 Christie +9
Monmouth/Gannett 04/23 – 04/27 609 RV 39 35 18 Christie +4
Strategic Vision (R) 04/17 – 04/19 800 LV 47 36 16 Christie +11

See All New Jersey Governor – Corzine vs. Christie Polling Data

Oh, I’m sure Jon will pull it out in the end.  Maybe.  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t had Republican governors before and nothing awful happened.  The state didn’t fall into the ocean or anything.  True, our property taxes didn’t go down, but then again, they didn’t go down under Corzine’s leadership either.  In fact, he was less than ineffectual in reducing them.  He just sort of threw up his hands and said the legislature should work it out.  Thanks, Jon.  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of more equitable ways to fund the state.  We have Pennsylvania, right next door, that has a mix of funding mechanisms as an example of how it could be done.   But WE, the homeowners of NJ, have to fund *everything*.  Excuse us for expecting you to hit up your friends in the business community and the wealthy feudal lords of Bergen and Morris counties to foot some of the bills.

Well, nothing ventured, nothing, er, ventured.  If Corzine isn’t going to do anything about moving the property tax issue off of dead center, NJ might as well punish him for giving away ALL of our delegates to Obama at the Democratic convention last year.  I’m not about to start campaigning for Christie, a former federal prosecutor who sucked up to the Bushies.  As far as I’m concerned, Republicans are intellectually and morally bankrupt and I’m not voting for them.  But Corzine’s going to have to go it alone on this one.  I want him to have to fight and fight hard for every vote.  I want him to OWE us big time.  I want him to realize how hard it was for Hillary last year when everyone in the world was against her and her friends were abandoning her left and right.  I want him to have a cathartic moment and finally understand that voters should be respected and their ballots are sacred things, not to be capriciously tossed away for some hot young thing with billionaire bankers funding him.

Let’s hope that Christie gives Corzine a run for the money and uses the clip from the Convention in his ads with something like this as a tagline: “He didn’t listen to you in 2008.  What makes you think he’s going to listen to you in 2010?”

Karma’s a bitch, Jon.