Monday, February 28, 2011

Tea Party Group Sets School Choice Debate

Independence Hall Tea Party Association
The Great School Choice Discussion, Debate
and General Membership Meeting
 6th and Market Streets
Sunday, March 6, 3-5 PM

Moderator:  Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT 1210

3:00-3:15 PM    Presentation: NJ School Choice Bill
                            State Senator Michael Doherty (R-23)

3:15-3:30 PM    Panel Discussion: Vouchers v Tax Credits v 
                            Educational Saving Account

3:30-4:30 PM    Debate: PA SBI
Supporter:  State Senator Anthony Williams (D-8),  PA SB1
                      Prime Sponsor 

Opponent:  Christopher Freind, Friendly Fire Zone
                      columnist; former Executive Director,
                      Reach Alliance (school choice advocacy group).

Supporter:  Rev. JoeWatins, Pastor, Christ Evangelical
                      Lutheran Church; Chairman, Students First.

4:30-5:00 PM   General Membership Meeting 

Please RSVP:  Teri @ 215.690.4043 
Suggested Donation: $5
Soft Drinks Provided    

O'Donnell: No Dancing With Stars, For Now

Christine O’Donnell released the following statement on her decision to decline the opportunity to participate on Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars:

“I’m honored to have been invited to participate in one of the few uplifting TV shows out there. The physical challenge made it all the more appealing. Meeting challenges head-on makes us stronger. Yet, for now, I have another challenge before me; to complete a book that tells the story of the 2010 election cycle with the dignity and respect it deserves.

“Many referred to the 2010 elections, and all the activity leading up to them, as the start of the Second American Revolution. This is because so many everyday Americans found themselves engaged in the civic process for the very first time. It’s humbling to have an opportunity to write a book that tells their story.

“It is my hope that this book will serve as a clarion call to my fellow citizen-activists by taking the reader beyond petitions and protests and articulating not just what we should do, but why we must do it.

“My goal is for the book and the new PAC I’m starting to serve as resources to activate and motivate those in this middle-class movement who worked so hard to launch the new revolution. If either of these projects were further along, I would be lacing up my dancing shoes right now.”

Revealed: Secret FBI Files On Teddy Kennedy!

Judicial Watch has obtained portions of the FBI files on Teddy Kennedy.
Click here to enlarge the page and read it.
It's quite an eye-opener!

Naked Bike Ride Photos, News - Philly, 2011

The Philly Naked Bike Ride will be back again this year. The organizers have announced the date and are looking for volunteers to join in this unique celebration.
Above find some additional photos from the 2010 Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride.
And here is a special message Philly Naked Bike Ride (PNBR) about this year's bike ride (set for 9-4-11) and what you can do to help:
We ride yet again, 9.4.2011, put PNBR on your calendar and tell your

Philly Naked Bike Ride would like to thank the nearly 2000 riders that
rode the in 2010. if the upward trend hold true we should double the
size to 4000 riders!

With such great growth requires re-thinking and re-tooling the ride to
meet the needs of the riders. 

We have tons of work to do and everyone has a chance to better the
ride and the riders' experience, if you rode and would like to help
out with PNBR 2011, please contact us. 

The volunteer roles we need your help to fill can be anything from
planning and organizing to helping out on ride day. 

What are we looking for? and what can you do? If you're committed to
helping PNBR continue to grow, you have all the qualifications you
need to join us. As to what you can do for the PNBR: any and every job
that you can think of, from organizing riders, planning, painting,
writing, setup, to just helping out new riders on ride day. Everyone
has a skill to contribute to this event. Your chance is now to help
better the ride.

If you want to be a volunteer, please contact

Naked Bike Ride Video: More From Madison

Madison, Wisconsin is much in the news these days, what with protests and Sixties-style sit-ins.
But the town has always been surprisingly open, edgy and a haven for counter-culture types.
For instance, here's a video from last summer's naked bike ride event in Madison. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Duke Snider Remembered In Photos


Duke Snider, Baseball Great Dead At 84

Duke Snider, the Hall of Fame center fielder for Brooklyn Dodgers is dead at age 84.
Snider helped bring the Dodgers their only World Series crown while in Brooklyn.
Snider reportedly died early Sunday of natural causes at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif.
They called him “The Duke of Flatbush”  He hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two titles. Snider was an eight-time All-Star.
In the 1950s the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise was filled with stars such as Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges.
Snider hit at least 40 home runs in five straight seasons and led the National League in total bases three times.
Click here to read more.

Israel: An Astounding, Inspiring Success Story!

Israel is the 100th smallest country, and has about 1/1000th of the world's population.
One of the smallest countries on earth, with 1/1000th of the world's population.
Only 62 years old, 7 million people strong (less than Virginia), and smaller in size than New Jersey, surrounded by enemies, under constant threat and possessing almost no natural resources, and yet...

Two Of Hollywood's Most Beautiful Stars!

People keep asking me all the time: Are there any Hollywood stars today who rival the great beauties of another era?
Well, it's hard to find another Sophia Loren or Elizabeth Taylor or Ava Gardner.
But two of the most beautiful women in the movies today are Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane.
Hathaway was wonderful in The Devil Wears Prada) and in the retro hit, Get Smart.
Diane Lane was stellar in Under The Tuscan Sun and Nights In Rodanthe).
These two fine actresses epitomize grace, beauty, talent and class. 
They know what they're all about. They understand that they are stars and their careers appear to be well managed. 
They are not overexposed - not in your face. And so, when they do show up on the screen it's all the more exciting.
Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane: Bellisimo!

Oscar Favorites Really Are Likely Winners

All of the Oscar favorites tonight really are likely winners.
Melissa Leo seems a cinch to grab the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Fighter.
And, also from The Fighter, Christian Bale is a sure bet as Best Supporting Actor.
It's hard to see how the Oscar will be denied to Colin Firth for Best Actor for The King's Speech as he has won every other major award.
And everyone seems to agree that Natalie Portman will win for Swan Lake.
If there are upsets tonight, there will be two, at most: Annette Bening may win for The Kids Are All Right, thus besting Natalie Portman. Bening is overdue for an Oscar. And, director David Fincher may win for The Social Network and top Tom Hooper for The King's Speech.
But after all is said and done, many feel it will be a night for the favorites, across the broad -- no surprises.
BTW: I'm delighted that the Academy has chosen two young, vibrant, attractive hosts: Anne Hathaway and James Franco. I love them both. And yes, I'll be watching.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Here's A Rare Musical Gem Worth Finding!

The first time I heard it I was transfixed.
I was listening to SIRIUS satellite radio in my car when the song began and I found myself mesmerized.
Here was a captivating, mellow (though nonetheless intense) voice singing a song I had never heard before.
At first I thought it might be the late Chet Baker. But there was no brass accompaniment and the voice wasn't quite as sweet or wispy as Baker's.
The song was Trust In Me written by Milton Anger, Jean Schwartz and Ned Weaver.
The singer was Harry Nilsson
Nilsson's stunning, rhapsodic sound put me in mind of late greats such as Billy Eckstine or Peggy Lee.
Nilsson achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s.
On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as 'Nilsson' and is known for the hit singles Without You, Coconut and Everybody's Talkin. he's also known for songs appearing in numerous movies and television shows.
He was awarded Grammys for two of his recordings; best male contemporary vocal in 1969 for Everybody's Talkin', the theme song to the Academy Award-winning movie Midnight Cowboy, and best male pop vocal in 1972 for Without You.
Hearing the song Trust In Me led me to the album that contains the song: A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night.
In  "A Little Touch . . ." (1973) Nilsson performs pop standards (by the likes of Berlin, Kalmar and Ruby) in front of the London Symphony Orchestra arranged and conducted by veteran Gordon Jenkins in sessions produced by Derek Taylor.
Many believe that "A Little Touch . . . " was really the first crossover album ever produced. It is lush and totally enthralling. Nilsson's distinctive voice is in fine form throughout.
I had to search for this album but I finally found it through Amazon. I'm so glad I got my hands on it.
Get yourself a copy of it -- but make sure you get the expanded album with the extra tracks, for that is the only version that contains the inimitable Trust In Me.
You're not likely to hear anything like this anywhere.

AP: The Christie Phenomenon

The Associated Press' Beth DeFalco and Geoff Mulvihill have this to say about our great Governor Christie:

Happy to wield a veto pen, seemingly eager to lambast anyone and anything that stands in his way and apt to use sarcasm to make his points, Christie is a phenomenon , and not just in New Jersey. He's become a talk show regular, a star on YouTube and Twitter, a headliner at campaign events for conservative candidates, the favorite of some Republicans looking to the 2012 presidential race.

All on the basis of his first year in office , a year defined by the fights he'd picked.

He's sparred with the federal government, the Legislature, the public workers' unions, the state Supreme Court, and the authorities and commissions that oversee components of daily life like sewer fees and bridge tolls.

No one seems off limits, including citizens who dare question him in his series of town hall meetings or those who question his policies on Twitter.

What most call fighting, he calls having a conversation , Jersey style. Which is to say, brash, loud and direct.

Read the rest of this interesting article here.

'Keep It Green' Likes Christie Budget

Members of the Keep It Green Coalition (KIG) reacted favorably to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed 2012 budget, which provides a modest increase in funds for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), calls for an increase in parks and forestry appropriations and continues funding for several programs charged with protecting the state’s natural resources.
According to a release, "When state budget figures were released Tue., Feb. 22, it appeared that funding for the DEP was being cut by 9.8 percent. Due to the restructuring of the department’s debt service burden, which declined by nearly 90 percent, available funds for programs, staffing and operations actually would increase 5.3 percent, from $329.2 million to $346.9 million. No program or staffing cuts are proposed.
"In addition, $6.2 million in funding for the operations of the state’s parks and forests is being restored from the state’s general fund, assuring that all state parks will remain open.  . . .
“New Jersey’s parks and natural areas are a smart investment,” said KIG chairman Tom Gilbert of the Trust for Public Land. “In these tough economic times, it is even more important for our citizens to have inexpensive places to recreate close to home, and parks provide that. Park improvement projects can also create jobs and help to revitalize struggling communities.”
Several sources of funding for environmental programs that in the past had been diverted to other purposes will be stabilized, restored or even increased in Gov. Christie’s budget. . . .
Tom Wells, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy, stated that stabilization of funding for environmental protection was a move in the right direction. “In light of deep reductions over a period of many years in funding for DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry, the proposed budget is a good first step,” he said. “The budget will begin to stabilize funding to protect and preserve New Jersey’s vast natural resources on which we all depend for clean water, clean air and outdoor recreation.”
"The commitment to parks funding was well received," the release stated, "even while advocates pointed to the need for greater long-term investments to address impacts from declining appropriations over the past two decades."
“We applaud the administration’s commitment to keep state parks open for the benefit of all residents of New Jersey,” said Gilbert. “However, the chronic lack of adequate funds to care for and maintain our parks and natural areas is severely undermining their ecological and recreational value. A long-term stable funding source is needed for the stewardship of these lands so that we can do more than keep the gates open.” . . .
KIG has long advocated for a stable, long-term source of funding that would provide reliable and adequate support to acquire, improve and maintain the parks, forests and watersheds that provide priceless benefits to all citizens.
“We are pleased that this Administration is taking a step in the right direction with this budget. We are glad to see that, combined with stabilizing funding for DEP, the Governor is moving steadily forward with the next round of funding for preservation of open space in response to the voter mandate of the 2009 Green Acres Bond Act,” said Kelly Mooij, NJ Keep it Green Coalition Coordinator. “These are lands that help to protect our water, conserve habitat and provide us with fresh, locally grown food and places to recreate. They are a vital part of what makes New Jersey attractive to residents and businesses and are an important part of the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren.”

Christies Makes Horse Racing More Self-Sustainable

Governor Chris Christie yesterday moved forward with his commitment to making horse racing in New Jersey a self-sustaining industry by signing legislation to expedite the establishment of off-track wagering facilities in New Jersey. Another step forward comes early next week, when the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will issue a request for proposals to bring a long-term solution to Monmouth Park through private operation.
On December 17, 2010, Governor Christie announced a break-through agreement to end public subsidies of operations and purses for Standardbred racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack through the lease of that facility to the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (SBOA). Governor Christie is looking forward to similar progress with Monmouth Park and Thoroughbred racing there with the RFP for a private operator.
“We were successful in the Meadowlands, and we can do the same for Monmouth Park to the benefit of New Jersey taxpayers,” Governor Christie said. “I want to see a vibrant but self-sustaining horse racing industry in New Jersey, but that can be accomplished without tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies every year.”
Assembly Bill 1705, which Governor Christie conditionally vetoed on January 31 and the Legislature subsequently amended to include the Governor's recommended changes, removes barriers to the establishment of OTWs by permitting persons other than racetrack operators to run OTW facilities, making OTWs a permitted use in all municipal land use zones, and increasing the accessibility to liquor licenses for OTW operators.
Despite enactment of an original OTW law nearly a decade ago, only three of the 15 facilities allowed by law were established. Governor Christie’s conditional veto was necessary to preserve the NJSEA’s ability to transfer licenses in connection with the sale or lease of the state’s racetracks. It also eliminated a 1 percent fee on OTW operators, but expressly noted that the Administration will work with the Legislature to find an alternative source of revenue for OTW host municipalities

Shocker: FRD's Warning About Collective Bargaining

"... Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. 
"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations ... 
"The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for ... officials ... to bind the employer ... The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives ...
"Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees
"Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people ... This obligation is paramount ... A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent ... to prevent or obstruct ... Government ... Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government ... is unthinkable and intolerable."

-President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
in a letter to the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, 1937

Christie Moves On Water Supply, Passaic C'ssns.

In an effort to increase transparency and disclosure in the activities of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, the Christie Administration yesterday sent letters to the each of the seven Commissioners demanding that they produce all relevant information relating to the hiring practices at the NJDWSC, as well as all relevant information concerning compensation awarded to individuals or companies in connection with the activities of NJDWSC. Additionally, a separate letter was sent to Commissioner Albert Manzo requesting an explanation of discrepancies relating to his stated address of residence, which may have influenced his nomination process in the Senate.
An additional letter was sent to NJDWSC Executive Director Michael Restaino demanding explanation for inappropriate hiring, promotion and salary practices, including salary line-item increases in their 2011 budget and “pay disparity adjustments” contrary to Governor Christie’s stated opposition to such increases in the current economy. Further, the letter to the NJDWSC Executive Director made additional requests for disclosure and transparency in connection with NJDWSC business.
Despite the Governor’s current lack of veto authority over the NJDWSC, the Administration has continuously pressed the Commissioners to institute reforms to provide greater transparency and accountability in the commission’s activities.
The letters come on the heels of the action taken by Governor Christie in January and February to remove six of the seven Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, and subsequent efforts to clean up the patronage practices, mismanagement and associated waste of ratepayer dollars, including at least 71 firings, an overhaul of the organization, the freezing of fees paid to outside attorney and other reforms. This action has already resulted in savings of $10 million at the PVSC.
Governor Christie has called on the Legislature to act on bipartisan legislation to grant the Governor veto authority over both the PVSC and the NJDWSC.

On The Catholic Church Abuse Scandal

Is there a real, sustained, anti-Catholic bias in our midst? Absolutely. 
And it's not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Should we be nonetheless outraged at the crimes and the coverup? You bet! 
Are the Church and its leaders responsible? Yes
Is it likely that the coverup reached the very highest levels of the Church? It certainly seems so. 
Has the Church really come clean on this notorious and disgraceful chapter in its history? No. I don't think so.
What has happened is indefensible. It is an affront to all human decency and sensibility. And yes, it makes me VERY angry. 
In the name of those who were abused -- and in the name of the faithful --I say: Go after every last one of the culprits. Ferret them ALL out.
And the sooner the better.

The Reality Of The Choice We Face

We live in a nation that has a two-party system.
This is the way it is. Yes, third parties occasionally emerge but they do not generally take hold. Instead they merely wind up influencing the direction of the two major parties.
OK, let's put aside personalities and focus for a moment on political philosophies.
We are still called upon to choose between two broad sets of principles: One generally embraces less government, more local control (robust federalism), fewer regulations, individual initiative and a free-market capitalism that looks to business and the markets to create jobs and sustain growth.
The other generally embraces bigger government, organized labor, more regulation, more centralization at the federal level, rigorous market monitoring and controls and government as the employer of not-quite-last resort.
One is more individualistic.
The other is more collectivist.
These are the choices that we have. This is the reality of our democracy.
In my formative years I was certain that government was the answer. But over time I came to believe that Ronald Reagan was right when  he said that less government, fewer regulations and lower taxes was the way to go.
That's my choice. You may not agree. You may embrace the other set of principles. That's fine. That's America.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Union Bosses Fight Reform Efforts

Democrats and public employee unions continue to obstruct Republican reforms to tackle the debt at all levels of government and move the country forward. 

Can They REALLY Chuck The Legalease?

I haven't spoken to a large group of lawyers for quite some time.
But I did spend years talking to and for lawyers. And I did write my share of letters, memos, speeches, columns and related matter for them.
Over the years, I've always tried to get them to chuck the jargon and speak and write simply and clearly.
In a little while I'll be giving them a message here at the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Conference of County Bar Leaders on the campus of Penn State University in State College, Pa.
Here's part of what I want to tell them:
1) As much as possible, try to rid your language of qualifiers. Qualifying adverbs, adjectives and other words and phrases muddy the meaning of what you're trying to say.
2) Be specific. Wherever and whenever you can, replace words like "often" and "sometimes" and "maybe" with more specific words.
3) Get rid of prepositional phrases. These phrases (like "in order to") bog down your language.
4) Use active verbs. Ditch the passive voice and avoid the verb to be. Remember: Something that's happening now is always more interesting than something that happened yesterday.
5) Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs.

The REAL Story Behind The Oscars

I don't usually get involved in the perennial Oscar brouhaha but this year presents us with an unusually fine crop of flicks to choose from.
And apparently a huge controversy is brewing in Hollywood that's pitting traditionalists against those who feel that Tinseltown desperately needs to reach out to new generations.
You know what I'm talking about -- and yes, I'm talkin to YOU.
It's the battle between The King's Speech and The Social Network.
On one hand we have a movie that would seem to be as current as the medium you're presently using and as up-to-the-minutes as today's headlines.
On the other we have a costumed, British-accented, faux highbrow drama detailing the supposed backstory of something that happened more than 70 years ago.
Hey, we know that Hollywood has always had a royal love affair with all things British. The town -- and the industry -- that was created by scrappy ethnic hucksters has always wanted to appear classier than it actually is. So, The King's Speech would appear to have a lock on the Oscar, right?
Well, wait a digital nanosecond.
The Social Network is a fast-paced, sexy, captivating tale peppered with fresh lingo and no small share of lithe and attractive young bodies. And, all of the action swirls around smarts, cash, business and high-tech deals -- shifting from the Halls of Ivy to the sun and phrenetic pleasures of Silicon Valley. It's hip. I's hot. It's happening.
Insiders tell me that The King's Speech still has to be considered a favorite. It's a safe bet and it's also a feel-good crowd pleaser. And Hollywood has been known to play it safe. Playing it safe is, after all, good for business. And during times like these nobody likes to take risks.
Still . . . with ten movies now nominated the field would appear to be more open.
Will that leave room for a flick like True Grit to emerge?
I doubt it.
But I will tell you this: As far as I'm concerned, True Grit IS the year's Best Picture.

Christie Budget Message Wins Plaudits

Star-Ledger Editorial Board, “Legislators should take deals offered by governor”:
“In his budget address, Christie offered the Legislature two deals: • If lawmakers pass health care reform by the middle of next month, Christie will double the property tax rebates for middle-class families and seniors. • And if lawmakers pass pension reform, Christie immediately will funnel $500 million into the severely underfunded pension accounts. Both reforms have to pass his muster, of course. Still, these are good deals. Legislators should take them. We have supported the governor’s pension reform.”  (“Legislators should take deals offered by governor,” Star-Ledger Editorial Board, 2/23/2011)
The Record, “…this is a grown-up approach that we hope does much to unravel a culture of spend now, pay later that has laced Trenton's air and water for generations”:
“GOVERNOR Christie on Tuesday proposed a state budget that would cut business taxes, double homestead rebates for some middle-class homeowners, increase school aid and even pay into New Jersey's lagging public employee pension fund. His $29.4 billion spending plan is a series of reasoned, urgent and important decisions, he said, the product of a zero-based budgeting mind-set that sets priorities and refuses to protect long-held sacred cows. …He urged legislators to follow those leaders and pass reforms by March. A worthy goal. …this is a grown-up approach that we hope does much to unravel a culture of spend now, pay later that has laced Trenton's air and water for generations. … We are glad to see increased support for job-boosting biotechnology and research tax credits, expanding NJ Transit bus service and grants for low-income college students. … There was some happy news in the budget address — insofar as flat funding can be a happy occasion.”  (“The new normal,” The Record, 2/23/2011)
Asbury Park Press, “The long-term fiscal health of New Jersey depends on the Legislature passing Christie's pension and health care reforms”:
“He called his budget "a line in the sand" and "the new normal." Whatever it is, the budget does contain welcome news for some. It increases school aid to every district. It doubles funding for the Homestead Rebate Program to provide direct property tax relief in the form of a property tax credit. The budget increases hospital and student financial aid by $20 million each. It fully funds the fiscal year 2011 increases to the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold Prescription Assistance programs without increases in co-pays or eligibility. It provides $200 million in "job-creating, strategic tax cuts" — and Christie gave assurance that these tax cuts would be paid for by spending cuts. The governor also said he would make an immediate $506 million payment to the state pension fund, if the Legislature gets pension reform to his desk by mid-March. Obviously, pension and health benefit reforms are vitally needed. Public employees need to start kicking in much more to these benefit programs, until their contribution is more in line with what folks in the private sector are expected to pony up. Christie said he plans to see public workers pay 30 percent of their medical plan costs by 2017. That will be a welcome day. … The long-term fiscal health of New Jersey depends on the Legislature passing Christie's pension and health care reforms. …And we hope the bipartisan spirit on display yesterday in the Statehouse will continue when the green eyeshades and fine print come to the fore.”  (“Gov's budget talk big on bravado, broad strokes,” Asbury Park Press, 2/22/2011)
Courier-Post, “It's real fiscal discipline, something that's been lacking for too long in Trenton”:
“Governor right to push for cost-saving reforms and more money for property tax relief. …We're pleased to see that, for a second straight year, the governor has put forward a budget which isn't built on a foundation of tax and fee increases and irresponsible borrowing that past budgets of recent years relied upon. … Those days of undisciplined budgeting in Trenton have been replaced with mind-set of constraint under Christie. It's a mind-set that had to be adopted in light of the recession and revenue reductions that have befallen governments at all levels in New Jersey and beyond. … The governor says this is the new normal for budgeting in New Jersey, that old spending commitments must be revisited and, if they aren't essential or haven't been effective, the spending will be cut. It's real fiscal discipline, something that's been lacking for too long in Trenton.”  (“Budget represents further restraint,” Courier-Post, 2/24/2011)
Home News Tribune/Courier News, “…Christie does have New Jersey headed in a more responsible fiscal direction”:
“… there appears to be much by which to be encouraged in this budget's broad brush strokes — at least given the dire circumstances. Aside from the school aid increases — which will affect every district — and the flat municipal aid, higher education aid will be maintained while student financial aid will be increased by $20 million. Christie is also proposing $200 million in business-tax cuts designed to promote jobs. …But in the end, Christie does have New Jersey headed in a more responsible fiscal direction.”  (“It's all relative - budget's pain feels like small gains,”, 2/23/2011)
Daily Journal, “Christie has laid out a solid blueprint for sustainability and growth”:
“… it's hard to argue with the overall tone and message delivered by the governor in his budget address Tuesday. The overall budget is down 2.6 percent from the current fiscal year, which reflects the economic realities of the times and the new norm in which governments must operate. He increases state aid to education by $250 million, which is good news for school districts because it will provide them some cushion against program cuts and layoffs. State aid to municipalities will remain at 2011 levels, which had to be a relief for mayors around the state. … The governor's proposed budget will provide $200 million in "job-creating" tax cuts for now and in the future. The state has to start doing what it can do to make up for the loss of 108,500 jobs in 2008 and 121,000 jobs in 2009. Christie said his philosophy is not to provide tax cuts that aren't paid for, and that's the kind of fiscal responsibility we have come to expect, if not demand, from the governor. … The governor also is right with his call for state workers to contribute more toward their pension and health care benefits. He also is calling for long-term reforms, as the pension system has an estimated deficit of $54 billion with the health benefits liability at $67 billion. The current system just isn't sustainable -- for taxpayers or state workers. Christie has laid out a solid blueprint for sustainability and growth.”  (“Governor's budget plan sets right tone,” Daily Journal, 2/24/2011)
The Times of Trenton, “it's also an object lesson in continuing "to make the hard choices" as the state's fiscal outlook inches toward improvement”:
“The governor has offered a $29.4 billion budget that includes a $250 million increase in school funding and more tuition help for college students, as it keeps municipal funding aid stable. But it's also an object lesson in continuing "to make the hard choices" as the state's fiscal outlook inches toward improvement. Those hard choices are apparent in the across-the-board cuts to almost all state government departments. Those cuts will hurt; unfortunately, they are necessary as the state continues to try to cover the huge distance between revenue and spending.”  (“Budget sequel,” The Times of Trenton Editorials, 2/24/2011)
Press of Atlantic City, “The Legislature should - must - pass comprehensive pension reform to head off fiscal disaster”:
“Christie heralded his budget as a "new normal" that "cuts and spends responsibly." And the $29.4 billion budget appears to be appropriately austere without being devastating. … The Legislature should - must - pass comprehensive pension reform to head off fiscal disaster. … Certainly, public employees should pay more for benefits.”  (“Christie's budget plan / New normal, old normal,” Press of Atlantic City, 2/24/2011)
The Express-Times, “… this budget plan is innovative in its give-some, get-some approach”:
“… this budget plan is innovative in its give-some, get-some approach. In an interview Wednesday, Christie said he thinks New Jersey can get back on track without trashing collective bargaining — a refreshing note following angry labor demonstrations in Wisconsin and Ohio. Yet he made it clear he and legislators should tackle employee benefit changes through legislation, not deferring them to contract negotiations, as former Gov. Jon Corzine chose to do. “There can no longer be two classes of citizens — one that receives rich health and pension benefits — and all the rest who are left to pay for them,” Christie said. Amen to that …”  (“Christie offering a reasonable deal on benefit reform,“ The Express-Times, 2/24/2011)
The Gloucester County Times, “… Christie still gets some credit for the improvement here”:
“With more radical versions of Christie's tough- love approach creating friction in Wisconsin and Ohio, our governor has a compelling reduced-spending story, a year ahead of the pack. And, if lower unemployment is a national trend, Christie still gets some credit for the improvement here. … the good stuff: Overall spending, by Christie's measurement, will decline by 2.6 percent, to $29.4 billion, with a slight increase in allocated state (as opposed to federal) dollars. He proposed no new direct state tax increases for a second year. …Targeted business tax cuts that Christie proposed could actually create jobs. … Christie promised to make a mandated $500 million state pension contribution early, so it can earn interest, after stiffing the pension fund last year, IF lawmakers pass public-worker pension reforms by mid March. He noted that this is a schedule that was announced by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney. It sounds like a workable tradeoff.”  (“Grim budget a bit less grim,” The Gloucester County Times, 2/23/2011)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mmmmmm . . . Penn State's Creamery!

We are in beautiful State College on the campus of Penn State University and after dining this evening at The Corner, we stopped by the Penn State Creamery.
If you ever find yourself here in what is affectionately known as "Happy Valley" you owe it yourself (and your taste buds)to stop in at The Creamery.
Getting ice cream at The Creamery has been a Penn State tradition since 1896.
Creamery ice cream is so fsh that only four days elapse (on average) between the cow and the ice cream.The Creamery also serves as a laboratory for food science faculty and students conducting dairy research and for dairy industry professionals testing solutions to technical problems.
To learn how to make quality ice cream, dairy manufacturers come from as far away as Brazil to take The Creamery's famous "short course".
Much of the milk used at The Creamery comes from the University's 225-cow heard at the PSU Research Center.
Each year The Creamery makes about 225,000 gallons of its famous ice cream.
If you really, really, REALLY like ice cream, this is the place for you!

Voters Don't Support Union Thug Tactics

A new Rasmussen Poll says that three out of four voters do NOT support the "take to the streets" confrontational tactics currently being employed by Democrats and union organizers in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
And the poll also says that even Democrats are not fully behind this strategy. In fact, Democrats are about evenly divided on this approach.
So what's really behind the sixties-style approach that the liberals have launched?
It's actually all about energizing the radical leftist base of the Democrat Party.
The President's base hasn't been riled up lately. The zealots just ain't zealous like they were in 2008. The President and his people know this. They get it.
And they also know that since an election is coming up soon, they've got to get the base energized.
And of course, big time campaign bucks are also involved. Big Time.
The unions funnel zillions of bucks into the Democrat coffers. Unless union leaders feel they have LOTS to lose by not supporting the Dems, they aren't gonna contribute the way they need to and/or they're not gonna get the donations from their members and friends that they need.
Energy. Money. The base.
This is what it's all about.
Obama beds to raise A BILLION DOLLARS for the upcoming campaign.
Much of this will come from AFL/CIO, AFSCME, NEA and other big buck sources including Move On, George Soros, Silicon Valley fat cats, Goldman Sachsen, etc.
With Obama it's all about the money, the power and HIM.

NJ First Lady Marks Black History Month

New Jersey's First Lady Mary Pat Christie today unveiled the New Jersey born artist Jacob Lawrence’s famous “Clown” painting during a ceremony at Drumthwacket celebrating Black History Month.  The artwork, which is on loan from the Newark Museum, will be exhibited at the Governor’s Mansion for one year.
 “I’m so proud to be able to showcase the cultural and creative diversity of New Jersey through the talents of homegrown artists like the renowned Jacob Lawrence,” said Mrs. Christie.  “My thanks to the Newark Museum for enabling us to share this remarkable piece of art and our Jersey Pride with all those who visit Drumthwacket.”
Born in Atlantic City, Jacob Lawrence settled in Harlem where he studied art as a teenager. His instructor, the painter Charles Alston, recognized Lawrence’s talents early on and as a result Lawrence was able to further work with his mentor in the government supported Works Progress Administration (WPA), which employed artists to create public works. It was there where he developed a unique method of detailing the African American experience in a multi-panel series format and portraying images from his community. 
“Clown,” which he painted in 1963, is part of the series of colorful prints he began producing in the early 60’s. This particular painting is based on Lawrence’s childhood memories of performers from Harlem theaters such as the legendary Apollo and is a brightly colored tempera on masonite panel that depicts a vaudeville clown.
Lawrence created many other paintings during his lifetime including Harriet Tubman (1939–40) and Migration (1941). He also designed a mosaic mural that was installed in New York’s subway system in 2001.
The Drumthwacket Foundation has an active art loan program in partnership with many New Jersey museums. The program provides the opportunity to feature the works of New Jersey artists and New Jersey themed works of art to the public at the Governor’s Mansion.
For more infromation:

Is The Obama Administration Meeting Lobbyists On The Sly?

The Obama Administration is holding secret meetings with lobbyists.

The President's aides are arranging these meetings away from the White House at nearby townhouses.



It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.

“They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none.

The White House scoffs at the notion of an ulterior motive for scheduling meetings in what are, after all, meeting rooms. But at least four lobbyists who’ve been to the conference rooms just off Lafayette Square tell POLITICO they had the distinct impression they were being shunted off to Jackson Place — and off the books — so their visits wouldn’t later be made public.

Obama’s administration has touted its release of White House visitors logs as a breakthrough in transparency, as the first White House team to reveal the comings and goings around the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building.

The Jackson Place townhouses are a different story.

Read more by clicking here. You can also click the video below.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Tax Dollars Repairing Mosques In Egypt!

Billions of dollars for appeasement!

Boehner: Reject Democrat Debt-Ridden Status Quo

A special message from Speaker of the House John Boehner:
Last week House Republicans passed a bill to keep the government running for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes the largest discretionary spending cuts in modern history -- keeping our Pledge to America. Our goal is to create a better environment for private-sector job creation by cutting spending and reducing the size of government, not shutting it down.

This week, I'll continue to urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to allow this bill an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Due to Washington Democrats' historic failure to propose their own budget last year, a short term funding bill must be signed into law by March 4th to keep the government running for the next seven months.
Thus far, Senate Democratic leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near 10 percent. That is not a credible position.
The American people are demanding that Congress put an end to Washington's job-crushing spending binge. Senator Reid and the Democrats who control Washington should stop creating more uncertainty by spreading fears of a government shutdown and start telling the American people what – if anything – they are willing to cut.
John Boehner
Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives

Christie On 'Today': Time To Say 'No!'

New Jersey's Governor Christie was on NBC's The Today Show talking about his budget address and the New Normal.

Sen. Kean: Christie Budget 'Restores Sanity, Boosts Jobs'

New Jersey State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union) issued the following statement on the Governor’s budget:

“Governor Christie presented New Jersey with a budget that creates permanent, private sector jobs by forcing the state to live within its means and not balance wasteful spending on the backs of businesses. Restoring sanity to our state budget is the most powerful action we can take to put people back to work- far more effective than any cleverly named, haphazard package of one-shot legislation.”
“I am exceptionally pleased the Governor has made Senate Republicans’ priority of increasing school aid his own this year. School budgets are the single largest part of New Jersey’s property tax burden, and the Governor’s proposed $250 million increase in aid is welcome relief- particularly in long-shortchanged suburban districts.”
“This must be the year of meaningful reform for state pensions and benefits- key unfinished elements of the Governor’s toolkit that will give near immediate relief to property tax payers. Overly generous promises of the past have put the system on the fast track to insolvency, and put the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of state workers in jeopardy.”
“New Jersey’s economy was pushed to the brink in the last ten years- our state’s ‘Lost Decade’ of 115 tax increases, $11 billion in new spending, a doubling of state debt, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the region under Democrat leadership. The damage can not be undone overnight, but this budget is part of the road to recovery on which Senate Republicans will join the Governor.”

Christie Signs Some Bills, Vetoes Others

On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took action on the following legislation:

A823/S1122 (Albano, Milam, Amodeo, Riley, Moriarty/Van Drew, Beck) – Requires DEP to establish free recreational saltwater fishing registry
A1458/S2286 (Wisniewski, Spencer, Watson Coleman, Conners, Chiusano, Coyle, Quijano/Cunningham, Norcross) – The “Banking Development District Act”
A2360 /S168 (Schaer, Coyle, McKeon, Munoz, Schroeder/Gill, T. Kean) – Regulates captive insurers

S2398/A3594 (Madden, Sarlo, Buono/Giblin, Voss, Jasey, Lampitt) - ABSOLUTE – Directs New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Commission on Higher Education to promote the establishment of higher education and business partnership
A3143/S2183 (Greenwald, Quijano, Lampitt, Ramos/Norcross, Beach) – CONDITIONAL - Expands treatment of mixed use projects under urban transit hub tax credit
A3308/S2314 (Gove, Rumpf, Conners/Connors, Beach) – CONDITIONAL - Creates State contract set-aside program for businesses owned and operated by veterans

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christie Presents Budget Based On 'Fiscal Discipline'

Advancing his vision for a New Normal in state budgeting, Governor Chris Christie today presented a $29.4 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2012 that cuts real spending for a second consecutive year. The Governor’s Budget proposal includes $200 million in focused tax cuts, provides additional property tax relief, increases school aid and funds a reformed state pension system, while preserving or increasing funding to protect our state’s most vulnerable citizens. The Fiscal Year 2012 Budget marks a departure from the Trenton tradition of budgeting to meet deficit projections that embrace wish-list spending by legislators and assume continuous funding increases that irresponsibly ignore actual revenue sources and the fiscal health of the state.
The Governor’s Budget – which reduces real spending by 2.6 percent from the current fiscal year – hits the reset button on the state budgeting process and starts with the refreshing assumption that budgeting and spending must be reality-based and zero-based. The New Normal means developing a bottom-up approach – establishing priorities and funding them based on revenue that is actually available and predictable versus the old approach of assuming every line item and program will automatically be funded at the same or higher level than prior years.
“The old way of budgeting and thinking must be stricken from our collective minds if we are to successfully emerge from this fiscal crisis with permanently reformed budgeting and spending habits,” Governor Chris Christie said. “This is a new paradigm for state government – a New Normal – that cuts and spends responsibly, incentivizes our local governments to do better with what our taxpayers entrust to them, and causes businesses to feel welcome and want to stay and expand or relocate to our state.”
The Governor’s Budget proposal adheres to necessary spending and budgeting discipline, but also meets New Jersey’s most vital spending priorities. Among those priorities in the budget:
  •  Increases education aid to every school district in New Jersey by a total of $250 million;
  • Fulfills the statutory commitment to make a $506 million payment to a reformed state pension fund, representing the first funding to the defined benefit plans since fiscal year 2009;
  • Provides $200 million in job-creating, strategic tax cuts that are responsible and sustainable;
  • Doubles funding for the Homestead Rebate to provide direct property tax relief in the form of a property tax credit under the newly named Homestead Benefit program;
  • Protects municipal aid and keeps funding at fiscal year 2011 levels to help towns meet the new 2 percent property tax cap (while decreasing by 10 percent the category of Special Transitional Aid to cities, in keeping with the Governor’s pledge to end cities’ reliance on the aid as they adopt best-practices budgeting to improve fiscal and management reforms); and
  • Increases and secures New Jersey hospital funding by a total of $20 million, and increases funding for student financial aid by the same amount.The Governor’s Budget takes all possible steps to maintain the safety net for New Jersey’s most vulnerable and at-need individuals and families. From prescription drug aid for seniors to helping low-income tenants stay in their homes, the Governor’s Budget includes billions of dollars and:
    Preserves critical spending and fully funds the fiscal year 2011 increases to the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold Prescription Assistance Programs without increases in co-pays or eligibility – keeping it one of the most generous such benefit programs in the nation;
    Allocates $20.4 million to help the developmentally disabled lead richer, happier lives through new community placement and services, and funds day programs and other services; similarly, the budget continues and expands funding for the requirement that the state expand the number of residential and community settings for New Jersey’s mentally ill;
    Preserves the current level of support for higher education, after years of cuts, while increasing student aid programs by $20 million and providing $15 million for capital improvements at community colleges;
    Provides resources to keep 4,300 low-income citizens in their homes and apartments, including $25 million from the New Jersey Affordable Housing Agency Trust Fund and $9 million from the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; and
    Avoids an increase in NJ Transit fares and expands bus service to select growth markets.
    The damage caused by years of fiscal mismanagement, coupled with the lingering effects of the national recession, will continue to restrain state spending for years to come. The reality is that the New Normal of the current economic and fiscal climate necessitates more painful choices in how the state allocates finite taxpayer dollars. Facing up to those realities, the proposed budget continues on the path of making difficult, often painful choices in nearly every department. Funding in even worthwhile, popular programs is reduced or eliminated in order to fund priorities.
    Governor Christie will continue to insist that the shared sacrifice be spread among state employees as well, including in payment of a fair share of medical costs. By increasing co-payments and premiums to levels still below what federal employees pay, the state will save $323 million that will be used to pay for other critically important programs – and prevent increases in some of the highest sales, income and property taxes in the nation.
    Finally, to pave the way for the best possible outcome for our state and its people as we deal with the New Normal and emerge from recession, the Governor intends to better position our businesses and attract new ones with tax cuts, reform and incentives to spur job growth and business expansion. To that end, he proposes a comprehensive but phased-in program of $2.5 billion in job-creation incentives over the next five years. As part of the program, Governor Christie is proposing for Fiscal 2012 tax cuts and reforms resulting in approximately $200 million in savings for businesses.
    The package outlined by the Governor increases the state’s competitiveness in a responsible and sustainable manner by providing critical tax reform and incentives across a variety of tax-policy areas, including: loss carry-forward relief for small businesses, a reduction of the S-corporation minimum tax, increasing the credit allowed for research and development investments, exemptions for business software technology reinvestment, increasing funding for economic development programs, and the phasing-out of the Technology Energy Facility Assessment to provide needed relief from New Jersey’s already-high energy costs.
    Governor Christie has committed to only putting in place tax cuts and incentives that are paid for within the context of a Constitutionally-balanced state budget. By providing for a phase-in of the program, the fiscal impact rises with the expected expansion of the state’s economy while minimizing the impact on the state budget each year.
    The budget proposal, a representation of the Governor’s commitment to maintain fiscal discipline, also outlines a bold reform agenda to take on the big issues facing New Jersey, including the Governor’s comprehensive reform plans to restore fiscal sanity to out-of-control pension and health benefits systems, make 2011 the Year of Education Reform to bring the opportunity of a high-quality education to every child, and the pro-growth, responsible package of tax reforms and incentives to create Jersey Jobs and increase New Jersey’s competitiveness, as outlined above.

Rare Film: JFK's Last Night Alive

Did Christie Trigger Union Busting Trend?

Is the current union-busting trend that seems to be sweeping through statehouses across America really the work of New Jersey's tough-talking Governor Chris Christie?
Did this all begin in Trenton?
And was Christie the catalyst?
This question is examined in an opinion column in the Washington Times.
Here's a portion of the column:
Every time Gov. Chris Christie plays another round of smash-mouth politics with New Jersey’s public-sector unions, conservative voters across the country lead the cheers.

“When he speaks to the unions and the other parasitic special-interest groups ripping off the taxpayers, you want to applaud,” said Mark Kevin Lloyd, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation. “Think about the first time you heard [Clint] Eastwood say, ‘So, you feel lucky, punk? Go ahead — make my day.’ Remember how everyone cheered?”
A poll finds that Republicans and independents have warmed quickly to the governor’s in-your-face style with teachers unions, state government workers, police and firefighters — so much so that they propelled him to the front among possible GOP presidential nomination contenders in 2012 despite Mr. Christie‘s frequent assertions that he won’t run.
Click here to read the entire column.

Hey, Hey, The Monkees Are Back, Touring!

After more than 40 years the rock group sensation The Monkees are back.
And they'll soon be touring. The news was announced by the London Daily Mail.
Here's an excerpt from the story:
Given their advancing years, you’d be forgiven for doubting whether there’ll be much monkeying around.

Yesterday The Monkees announced they would be reforming for a 45th anniversary tour of the UK.
The band, who broke up in 1971, were put together by music executives in 1966 to star in a TV comedy and to be the U.S. answer to The Beatles.
Despite now being of pensionable age, three of the four members – Peter Tork, 69, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, both 65 – revealed plans for a ten-date UK run starting in May.
Fourth member Michael Nesmith won’t join in because, Jones said, he doesn’t like touring.
Jones, the only British-born Monkee, said the trio met over dinner in London on Sunday. ‘We need to share this music once again,’ he added. ‘According to the fan mail, they want it – and so we’re going to do it.’
Click here for the full story from the Daily Mail.

Allen: Keep Strong Witness Tampering Rules

Troubled by legislative efforts to weaken witness tampering rules adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court, New Jersey State Senator Diane Allen (R- Burlington/Camden) says she will work to nullify the proposed changes.
"The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted witness tampering rules that match those used by the federal judiciary and more than 20 states," said Senator Allen. "Reports show that witness tampering is a serious, and growing, problem for New Jersey prosecutors. Defendants must not be rewarded in any case- criminal or civil- for any effort to make a witness against them unavailable. I am specifically concerned about gang related offenses, which we know are an increasing threat to the safety of New Jersey residents. My amendment will nullify the proposed changes to these rules and preserve the right of prosecutors to submit out of court testimony from witnesses who have been proven victims of intimidation by the accused."
State crime statistics show that gang membership and/or activity exists in every county and nearly half of municipalities.
In State (of NJ) v. Byrd, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that witness intimidation is preventing the prosecution of serious crimes, including homicide, in some parts of New Jersey. A 2007 report by The New York Times cited severe problems encountered by the New Jersey State Police's gang unit in lining up civilian witnesses to testify due to fear of intimidation ("Building Cases Without Witnesses", NYT, 11/19/2007).
"I have to ask those attempting to change the court's rules what they know that the rest of America does not," Allen continued. "The proposed resolution rewards criminals for threatening those who could provide evidence against them at trial. That is inexcusable, and should in no way be condoned or tolerated in New Jersey."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stripper's Revealing Photos; Legendary Gypsy Rose Lee

This year marks the centennial of the birth of the legendary stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee. She may have "stripped" but she was demure. And she always did it with style and class.
Here are some photos we thought you might enjoy!

Jarrett's Growing Influence: Cause For Concern

The Chicago Tribune is out with a major story on Valerie Jarrett and her growing influence at the White House. As other Obama cronies have come and gone, Jarrett remains a Chicago standby at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Jarett is a longtime Obama confidante but she lacks any significant Washington or governmental experience. Any gravitas that she claims to have at the vortex of the nation's power seems to be strictly of her own making. She just doesn't seem to have the chops to do the job.
But that doesn't seem to matter because she's managed to ingratiate herself to both the President and First Lady. And new she's such fast friends with the First Family that she even vacations with them. Many say she's a surrogate mother to the President. The Obamas are her life.
And excerpt from the Tribune story:
It was all in a recent day's work for Valerie Jarrett.
She reassured Jewish leaders about White House strategy on Egypt, helped the First Lady sync her spring agenda with her husband's, ushered a former Fed chairman into the Oval Office, soothed Rev. Al Sharpton's concerns about education policy and took a stroll with President Obama across Lafayette Park to patch things up with some irritated CEOs.

The schedule illustrates why no one else in the White House now has a range of responsibilities equal to Jarrett's. When Obama took office she was the least seen of his four senior advisors. Now chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and chief political strategist David Axelrod have returned to Chicago, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has also departed. Jarrett, 54, remains, picking up new duties from each of them. Long the closest personal confidante of Barack and Michelle Obama, she is steadily becoming more visible at Obama's side.
Jarrett is said to be "very political" and she strikes such fear in the hearts White House insiders and outsiders alike that no one is willing to speak ill of her on the record. It's been said that if you work in the West Wing and she appears at your door, it probably means you've been fired.
Click here to read more from the Chicago Tribune.

Shame On 'Em: Columbia Students Heckle War Hero

The students at Columbia University who heckled an alumnus who is also a war hero ought to be ashamed of themselves. I have nothing against honest debate but it seems to me that such crass, ignorant and disgusting behavior has no place in an environment designed to promote such debate and healthy discussion allowing all sides to be heard.
Here's an excerpt from the New York Post story on this:

Columbia University students heckled a war hero during a town-hall meeting on whether ROTC should be allowed back on campus.
"Racist!" some students yelled at Anthony Maschek, a Columbia freshman and former Army staff sergeant awarded the Purple Heart after being shot 11 times in a firefight in northern Iraq in February 2008. Others hissed and booed the veteran.
Maschek, 28, had bravely stepped up to the mike Tuesday at the meeting to issue an impassioned challenge to fellow students on their perceptions of the military.
"It doesn't matter how you feel about the war. It doesn't matter how you feel about fighting," said Maschek. "There are bad men out there plotting to kill you." 

CLASH: Veteran Anthony Maschek (above, with fiancée Angela O'Neill) faced heckling from fellow Columbia students over ROTC (below).
Matthew McDermott
CLASH: Veteran Anthony Maschek (above, with fiancée Angela O'Neill) faced heckling from fellow Columbia students over ROTC (below).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Remembering Stanley Zysk

Carole Cirucci's father, Stanley Zysk (age 91) passed away quietly on Friday.
Stanley was my father-in-law and the grandfather of my children, Aimee and Adam.
He was a veteran of WW II and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He is also survived by his wife, Catherine and his brother, Frank.
Stanley was born in Connecticut but spent his formative years in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in what was then the Polish neighborhood of Brooklyn (aka Greenpoint) and learned the old ethnic values of hard-work, diligence and circumspection via what was almost certainly a hardscrabble upbringing.
He was very much defined by these values and by surviving the Great Depression and serving in the Army during World War II. Along with the enduring influence of his wife, Catherine, these experiences made him who he was.
Stanley never spoke very much about the lean years or about his experiences in the infantry. Like many members of The Greatest Generation, he kept most of these thoughts to himself. He was a good soldier. He served. He pitched in. He did his part and he let it go at that.
I remember being at an event once where all veterans in the audience were saluted. The anthems of each branch of the armed services were played and the members of the respective branches were asked to stand when their anthem was played. Stanley never stood up. He wanted no attention brought to his service. He felt he was owed no credit. He always said he was lucky to make it home alive. And there can be little doubt that he never forgot those he left behind.
Having served under General Eisenhower, Stanley supported the Republican Party that embraced Ike and twice nominated him for the presidency. Stanley believed in the free enterprise system and benefited from America's post war boom. He spent the bulk of his working life at Mobil's paint division in Edison, NJ. The company was later acquired by Valspar.
Like many Brooklyners, Stanley was a great fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But after they left town, he followed so many others in embracing the New York Mets. Even after he relocated to the Philadelphia area from South River, NJ (post-retirement) he remained a Mets fan -- though he did seem to enjoy the Phillies' World Series win in 2008.
Being born under the sign of Libra, Stanley scrupulously avoided confrontation. It just didn't seem to be his nature to bring matters to a head. And he was not demonstrative nor openly affectionate.
Sometimes, the thoughts he kept to himself could surprise you. I often found myself thrown off guard on the rare occasions that he opened up and revealed his innermost feelings on any one of a number of matters, including life and death. He was also a shrewd investor.
At work and in the community, Stanley was well-liked and respected. He made friends easily and enjoyed not only a long and productive life but a fruitful retirement.
Mass for the repose of  the soul of Stanley Zysk will be held Tuesday at 11 AM at St. Peter's, Merchantville. Internment follows at Calvary Cemetery.
Donations in his memory may be made to the USO. Go to

Guadagno Launches NJ Pro-Business Initiative

New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno has begun a statewide “100 Businesses” initiative to highlight the work of the New Jersey Partnership for Action and the Christie Administration’s ongoing, hands-on approach to economic development. The Lt. Governor’s new initiative follows Governor Christie’s “Creating Jersey Jobs Summit” held earlier this month at the Rutgers Business School in Newark.
The summit, moderated by Neil Cavuto of FOX News Channel, brought together Fortune 500 CEOs and industry leaders from New Jersey and neighboring states for a frank dialogue on how businesses can grow and create jobs in today’s economy.
“My conversations with hundreds of CEOs, executives, representatives from mid-sized companies and small business entrepreneurs has been invaluable to the success of the Partnership for Action and our Administration’s ongoing red tape review,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “Yet this progress requires a focused, ongoing dialogue with the economic stakeholders and job creators across New Jersey in order to continue. The ‘100 Businesses’ initiative will ensure just that. I look forward to continuing to hit the road and hear directly from job creators, share the resources the State has to available for businesses, and promote why companies should continue to choose New Jersey.”
Since Governor Christie took office, through the Partnership for Action, the Administration has continued to advance policies that will improve New Jersey’s business climate, including the need to exercise fiscal discipline and spending restraint. He has sunset the corporate business tax surcharge, put a hard, two-percent cap on property taxes, signed new, robust business attraction legislation, and protected businesses from an average $400 per employee, or 52%, increase in the unemployment insurance payroll tax. Those policies coupled with our recent Illinois ad campaign to promote New Jersey as a destination for businesses, all demonstrate that New Jersey is well-positioned for business expansion, economic growth and job creation as our economy recovers.
The “100 Businesses” initiative is a collaborative effort between the Business Action Center (BAC) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). The Lt. Governor’s visits will crisscross the state and focus on industries and companies reflective of the state’s unique appeal across industry sectors large and small, those that have traditionally been the foundation of New Jersey’s economic growth, and those that will be crucial to gaining an advantage in today’s highly competitive innovation economy.
“States are working hard for any advantage to gain a foothold in these critical markets, and to attract the jobs that come with it,” added Guadagno. “Not only will New Jersey outwork them, but we’ll show them that we have the incentive programs, the skilled workforce, unmatched infrastructure, and, most importantly, the leadership to prove firsthand that their future success lies in New Jersey.”

Egyptian Revolution Must Maintain Momentum

A friend has posted a comment on the plight of Egypt and the Egyptians. It's worth reading:
Momentum. That's what the people of Egypt have now, and that's what is going to guarantee that real change is accomplished.
I look back at the revolution in Romania, and the effect of timid steps after such monumental change. It took nearly a decade to bleed out the communists that slithered back into the new government.
The point is that the momentum and the appetite for change that are being felt in Egypt right now are going to help steel the people against the creeping feeling of insecurity that comes from not having someone in charge.
It's far worse to draw things out, to allow astute political players that made up the Mubarak regime to re-institute themselves in positions of power, or to allow any number of organized groups take hold of the government.
Anything that happens now must have the blessing of the Egyptian crowds; anything that comes later will be greased by the rising fear of uncertainty.
And if the outcome is not what we would hope, so be it. It'd time the word "we" disappeared from the Egypt debate. It's their fight, and it's their freedom. Let them decide.

Obamanomics: How Federal Spending Has Increased

Social Security $586 $748 $767
Defense $551 $768 $738
Unemployment Benefits/Food Stamps $366 $623 $554
Medicare $375 $494 $492
Medicaid $266 $388 $374
Net Interest $237 $207 $242
Education/Training $92 $115 106
Veterans Benefits $73 $141 $125
Transportation $73 $95 $105
Justice $41 $61 $59
Natural Resources/Environment $32 $49 $43
International Affairs $28 $55 $63
Commerce and Housing $0.5 $17 $24
Science/Space/Technology $26 $33 $32
Community/Regional Development $30 $26 $26
General Government $17 $32 $31
Agriculture $18 $25 $19
Energy ($0.9) $28 $23
Undistributed Offsetting Receipts ($82) ($90) ($100)
Total $2.7 trillion $3.8 trillion $3.7 trillion

A Special Season of Baseball Awaits

After a hint of Spring, colder temperatures more synonymous with Winter have returned. In fact, the Accuweather forecast calls for a "wintery mix" today. But in Clearwater, FL, visions of Summer are already dancing in the heads of the Philadelphia faithful.

Not even a full week of Spring Training has gone by and the anticipation for the Phillies' season is already reaching a fever pitch. Individual tickets went on sale just last Thursday, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anything but Standing Room Only available for many games. I should know; I bought a few of those, just get a chance to see the Phils play the Mets and the Cardinals. The Phillies already announced 15 sellouts and more are sure to come.

Last year's sellout games helped pay for Cliff Lee's return to the City of Brotherly Love. Lee, who never should have left in the first place, already received a standing ovation - at the team's first full-squad workout. If I was there, I'd cheer too.

Expectations are high. Jimmy Rollins has already prognosticated a 100-win season. Players like Chase Utley and Placido Polanco have recovered fully from injury and are back at full strength. And if Ryan Howard's ankle holds up - and he stands closer to the plate (C'mon Charlie, keep bugging him) - the heart of the Phillies' offense should return to "downright scary" levels. And the pitching? Well, whatever fond nickname you have for them, Phillies' fans are in for an absolute treat - even if Joe Blanton is pitching.

Dreaming of what could be is heart-warming. But the countdown from dreams to reality has begun. Opening Day can't come soon enough. A very, very special season of Phillies' baseball awaits.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Could South Jersey Really Be This Picturesque?

Well, yes  . . . it was - and is. This was the scene out my window
just a few moments ago.

Elvis: Rare Photos Now On View!

Elvis is in the house at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, suburban Philadelphia. 
These are striking, large-format photos of Elvis at 21 -- more than 50 of them by photographer Alfred Wertheimer. The show runs through May 15.

Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer.
Freelance photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer was hired by RCA Victor in 1956 to shoot promotional images of recently signed 21-year-old recording artist Elvis Presley. Wertheimer's instincts were to "tag along" with the artist after the assignment and the resulting images provide us with a look at Elvis before he exploded onto the scene and became one of the most exciting performers of his time.
Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer was developed collaboratively by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and the Govinda Gallery. Elvis at 21 will travel to museums around the country through 2013.
Wertheimer had unparalleled access and documented Elvis on the road, backstage, in concert, in the recording studio and at home in Memphis, Tenn. "Colonel" Tom Parker, Elvis' manager, restricted contact just a short time later. The photographs document a remarkable time when Elvis could sit alone at a drugstore lunch counter.
"Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for photographing the decisive moment, that moment when everything falls into place," said Wertheimer. "But I was more interested in the moments just before or just after the decisive moment."
Wertheimer was up close to capture a flirtatious encounter with a young woman backstage in Richmond, Va. He was in the New York City recording studio on the historic day Elvis recorded "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog." Both songs hit No. 1 on the charts, the first and only time a single record would achieve this distinction.
Wertheimer also joined Elvis after the recording session as he traveled home to Memphis by train. One image shows Elvis as just part of the crowd surrounding a lunch vendor on a train platform during a brief stop on the 27-hour trip. The anonymity he had during this stop was short-lived; the trip followed a busy few months when Elvis appeared on the television shows "Stage Show," "The Milton Berle Show" and "The Steve Allen Show." The photographs of a concert in Russwood Park on his return to Memphis show a young man who now had to have a police escort to get through the crowd of fans between his car and the stadium.
Elvis at 21 is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalog, titled "Elvis 1956," available in the Museum shop.

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