Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newt Gingrich: Let's End Adolescence

There is a great editorial from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on businessweek in which Newt joins me (yeah, cause I included youth rights as a major item in my own campaign but I am by no means the first to try to raise awareness to the issue) and Ralph Nader (See earlier blog entry) in advocating for youth rights and an end to the age discrimination that unfairly targets youths.

A copy/paste of the story follows.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says young people need to shift
more quickly from childhood to adulthood

It's time to declare the end of adolescence. As a social institution,
it's been a failure. The proof is all around us: 19% of eighth
graders, 36% of tenth graders, and 47% of twelfth graders say they
have used illegal drugs, according to a study by the National
Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan. One of every
four girls has a sexually transmitted disease, suggests a recent study
for the Centers for Disease Control. A methamphetamine epidemic among
the young is destroying lives, families, and communities. And American
students are learning at a frighteningly slower rate than Chinese and
Indian students.

The solution is dramatic and unavoidable: We have to end adolescence
as a social experiment. We tried it. It failed. It's time to move on.
Returning to an earlier, more successful model of children rapidly
assuming the roles and responsibilities of adults would yield enormous
benefit to society.

Prior to the 19th century, it's fair to say that adolescence did not
exist. Instead, there was virtually universal acceptance that puberty
marked the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Whether with
the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremony of the Jewish faith or
confirmation in the Catholic Church or any hundreds of rites of
passage in societies around the planet, it was understood you were
either a child or a young adult.

In the U.S., this principle of direct transition from the world of
childhood play to the world of adult work was clearly established at
the time of the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin was an example of
this kind of young adulthood. At age 13, Franklin finished school in
Boston, was apprenticed to his brother, a printer and publisher, and
moved immediately into adulthood.

John Quincy Adams attended Leiden University in Holland at 13 and at
14 was employed as secretary and interpreter by the American
Ambassador to Russia. At 16 he was secretary to the U.S. delegation
during the negotiations with Britain that ended the Revolution.

Daniel Boone got his first rifle at 12, was an expert hunter at 13,
and at 15 made a yearlong trek through the wilderness to begin his
career as America's most famous explorer. The list goes on and on.

It is true that life expectancy was shorter in those days and the need
to get on with being an adult could be argued. Nevertheless, early
adulthood, early responsibility, and early achievement were the norm
before the institution of adolescence emerged as a system for delaying
adulthood and trapping young people into wasting years of their lives.
To regain those benefits, we must develop accelerated learning systems
that peg the rate of academic progress to the student's pace and
ability to absorb the material, making education more efficient.

Adolescence was invented in the 19th century to enable middle-class
families to keep their children out of sweatshops. But it has
degenerated into a process of enforced boredom and age segregation
that has produced one of the most destructive social arrangements in
human history: consigning 13-year-old males to learning from
15-year-old males.
UNDERMINING COMMUNITIES

The costs of this social experiment have been horrendous. For the poor
who most need to make money, learn seriously, and accumulate
resources, adolescence has helped crush their future. By trapping poor
people in bad schools, with no work opportunities and no culture of
responsibility, we have left them in poverty, in gangs, in drugs, and
in irresponsible sexual activity. As a result, we have ruined several
generations of poor people who might have made it if we had provided a
different model of being young.

And for too many middle-class and wealthier young Americans,
adolescence has been an excuse to delay work, family, and
achievement?and thus contribute less to their own well-being and that
of their communities.

It's time to change this?to shift to serious work, learning, and
responsibility at age 13 instead of age 30. In other words, replace
adolescence with young adulthood. But hastening that transition
requires integrating learning into life and work. Fortunately,
innovations in technology and in financial incentives to learn offer
hope.

The Information Age makes it possible for young people to learn much
faster than our current failed bureaucracies and obsolete curriculums
permit. New systems such as Curriki, founded by Sun Microsystems
(JAVA) and now an independent nonprofit, allow a community of teachers
and learners to collaborate via the Internet to create quality
educational materials for free?giving every American access to
learning 24 hours a day.

And experiments such as the one my daughter, Jackie Cushman, is
running in Atlanta?where poor children are paid the equivalent of
working in a fast-food restaurant to study and do their homework?are
examples of a more dynamic future.

In math and science learning, which are among the most important
indicators of future prosperity and strength, America lags far behind
such emerging powers as China and India. Studying to compete with
Asian counterparts in the world market is going to keep U.S. teens
busier than anyone ever imagined. This will require year-round
learning, with mentors available online, rather than our traditional
bureaucratic model of education. But we must go further, toward a
dynamic, real-world blueprint for learning.

Indeed, going to school should be a money-making profession if you are
good at it and work hard. That would revolutionize our poorest
neighborhoods and boost our competitiveness.

The fact is, most young people want to be challenged and given real
responsibility. They want to be treated like young men and women, not
old children. So consider this simple proposal: High school students
who can graduate a year early get the 12th year's cost of schooling as
an automatic scholarship to any college or technical school they want
to attend. If they graduate two years early, they get two years of
scholarships. At no added cost to taxpayers, we would give students an
incentive to study as hard as they can and maximize the speed at which
they learn.

Once we decide to engage young people in real life, doing real work,
earning real money, and thereby acquiring real responsibility, we can
transform being young in America. And our nation will become more
competitive in the process.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is founder of the Center for Health
Transformation.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

Remember when Congress authorized that $700B bailout? (The one Frank Pallone and Rush Holt voted to support, twice).....

Somehow it seems we're up to $7.4 TRILLION NOW!

The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The kicker....

The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.

And to top it off... it'll get worse...
Most of the spending programs are run out of the New York Fed, whose president, Timothy Geithner, is said to be President- elect Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury Secretary....The tally doesn’t include money to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. Obama has said he favors financial assistance to keep them from collapse.


Here's the story.


Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit (Update1) 

By Mark Pittman and Bob Ivry

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.


The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.


When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.


“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”


Too Big to Fail


Bloomberg News tabulated data from the Fed, Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and interviewed regulatory officials, economists and academic researchers to gauge the full extent of the government’s rescue effort.


The bailout includes a Fed program to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes, called commercial paper, that companies use to pay bills, begun Oct. 27, and $1.4 trillion from the FDIC to guarantee bank-to-bank loans, started Oct. 14.


William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said the two programs are unlikely to lose money. The bigger risk comes from rescuing companies perceived as “too big to fail,” he said.


The government committed $29 billion to help engineer the takeover in March of Bear Stearns Cos. by New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and $122.8 billion in addition to TARP allocations to bail out New York-based American International Group Inc., once the world’s largest insurer. Yesterday, Citigroup Inc. received $306 billion of government guarantees for troubled mortgages and toxic assets. The Treasury Department also will inject $20 billion into the bank after its stock fell 60 percent last week.


“No question there is some credit risk there,” Poole said.


Exposure


Congressman Darrell Issa, a California Republican on the Financial Services Committee, said risk is lurking in the programs that Poole thinks are safe.


“The thing that people don’t understand is it’s not how likely that the exposure becomes a reality, but what if it does?” Issa said. “There’s no transparency to it so who’s to say they’re right?”


The worst financial crisis in two generations has erased $23 trillion, or 38 percent, of the value of the world’s companies and brought down three of the biggest Wall Street firms.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average through Friday is down 38 percent since the beginning of the year and 43 percent from its peak on Oct. 9, 2007. The S&P 500 fell 45 percent from the beginning of the year through Friday and 49 percent from its peak on Oct. 9, 2007. The Nikkei 225 Index has fallen 46 percent from the beginning of the year through Friday and 57 percent from its most recent peak of 18,261.98 on July 9, 2007. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is down 78 percent, to $53.31, on Friday from its peak of $247.92 on Oct. 31, 2007, and 75 percent this year.


‘Snookered’


Regulators hope the rescue will contain the damage and keep banks providing the credit that is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy.


Most of the spending programs are run out of the New York Fed, whose president, Timothy Geithner, is said to be President- elect Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury Secretary.


The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.


“It’s unprecedented,” said Bob Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Vineland, New Jersey-based Cumberland Advisors Inc. and an economist for the Atlanta Fed for 10 years until January. “The backlash has begun already. Congress is taking a lot of hits from their constituents because they got snookered on the TARP big time. There’s a lot of supposedly smart people who look to be totally incompetent and it’s all going to fall on the taxpayer.”


New Deal


President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, when almost 10,000 banks failed and there was no mechanism to bolster them with cash, is the only rival to the government’s current response. The savings and loan bailout of the 1990s cost $209.5 billion in inflation-adjusted numbers, of which $173 billion came from taxpayers, according to a July 1996 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office.


The 1979 U.S. government bailout of Chrysler consisted of bond guarantees, adjusted for inflation, of $4.2 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation report.


The commitment of public money is appropriate to the peril, said Ethan Harris, co-head of U.S. economic research at Barclays Capital Inc. and a former economist at the New York Fed. U.S. financial firms have taken writedowns and losses of $666.1 billion since the beginning of 2007, according to Bloomberg data.


“This is the worst capital markets crisis in modern history,” Harris said. “So you have the biggest intervention in modern history.”


Federal Lawsuit


Bloomberg has requested details of Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit against the central bank Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure of borrower banks and their collateral.


Collateral is an asset pledged to a lender in the event a loan payment isn’t made.


“Some have asked us to reveal the names of the banks that are borrowing, how much they are borrowing, what collateral they are posting,” Bernanke said Nov. 18 to the House Financial Services Committee. “We think that’s counterproductive.”


The Fed should account for the collateral it takes in exchange for loans to banks, said Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Chicago-based Northern Trust Co. and a former research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.


“There is a lack of transparency here and, given that the Fed is taking on a huge amount of credit risk now, it would seem to me as a taxpayer there should be more transparency,” Kasriel said.


$4.4 Trillion


Bernanke’s Fed is responsible for $4.4 trillion of pledges, or 60 percent of the total commitment of $7.4 trillion, based on data compiled by Bloomberg concerning U.S. bailout steps started a year ago.


“Too often the public is focused on the wrong piece of that number, the $700 billion that Congress approved,” said J.D. Foster, a former staff member of the Council of Economic Advisers who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “The other areas are quite a bit larger.”


The Fed’s rescue attempts began last December with the creation of the Term Auction Facility to allow lending to dealers for collateral. After Bear Stearns’s collapse in March, the central bank started making direct loans to securities firms at the same discount rate it charges commercial banks, which take customer deposits.


In the three years before the crisis, such average weekly borrowing by banks was $48 million, according to the central bank. Last week it was $91.5 billion.


Lehman Failure


The failure of a second securities firm, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., in September, led to the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility and the Money Market Investor Funding Facility, or MMIFF. The two programs, which have pledged $2.3 trillion, are designed to restore calm in the money markets, which deal in certificates of deposit, commercial paper and Treasury bills.


“Money markets seized up after Lehman failed,” said Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse Group in New York and a former aide to Fed chief Paul Volcker. “Lehman failing made a lot of subsequent actions necessary.”


The FDIC, chaired by Sheila Bair, is contributing 20 percent of total rescue commitments. The FDIC’s $1.4 trillion in guarantees will amount to a bank subsidy of as much as $54 billion over three years, or $18 billion a year, because borrowers will pay a lower interest rate than they would on the open market, according to Raghu Sundurum and Viral Acharya of New York University and the London Business School.


Bank Subsidy


Congress and the Treasury have ponied up $892 billion in TARP and other funding, or 12 percent.


The Federal Housing Administration, overseen by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steven Preston, was given the authority to guarantee $300 billion of mortgages, or about 4 percent of the total commitment, with its Hope for Homeowners program, designed to keep distressed borrowers from foreclosure.


Most of the federal guarantees reduce interest rates on loans to banks and securities firms, which would create a subsidy of at least $6.6 billion annually for the financial industry, according to data compiled by Bloomberg comparing rates charged by the Fed against market interest currently paid by banks.


Not included in the calculation of pledged funds is an FDIC proposal to prevent foreclosures by guaranteeing modifications on $444 billion in mortgages at an expected cost of $24.4 billion to be paid from the TARP, according to FDIC spokesman David Barr. The Treasury Department hasn’t approved the program.


Automakers


Bernanke and Paulson, former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, have also promised as much as $200 billion to shore up nationalized mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The FDIC arranged for $139 billion in loan guarantees for General Electric Co.’s finance unit.


The tally doesn’t include money to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. Obama has said he favors financial assistance to keep them from collapse.


Paulson told the House Financial Services Committee Nov. 18 that the $250 billion already allocated to banks through the TARP is an investment, not an expenditure.


“I think it would be extraordinarily unusual if the government did not get that money back and more,” Paulson said.


‘We Haircut It’


In his Nov. 18 testimony, Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee that the central bank wouldn’t lose money.


“We take collateral, we haircut it, it is a short-term loan, it is very safe, we have never lost a penny in these various lending programs,” he said.


A haircut refers to the practice of lending less money than the collateral’s current market value.


Requiring the Fed to disclose loan recipients might set off panic, said David Tobin, principal of New York-based loan-sale consultants and investment bank Mission Capital Advisors LLC.


“If you mark to market today, the banking system is bankrupt,” Tobin said. “So what do you do? You try to keep it going as best you can.”


“Mark to market” means adjusting the value of an asset, such as a mortgage-backed security, to reflect current prices.


Some of the bailout assistance could come from tax breaks in the future. The Treasury Department changed the tax code on Sept. 30 to allow banks to expand the deductions on the losses banks they were buying, according to Robert Willens, a former Lehman Brothers tax and accounting analyst who teaches at Columbia University Business School in New York.


‘Wells Fargo Notice’


Wells Fargo & Co., which is buying Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia Corp., will be able to deduct $22 billion, Willens said. Adding in other banks, the code change will cost $29 billion, he said.


“The rule is now popularly known among tax lawyers as the ‘Wells Fargo Notice,’” Willens said.


The regulation was changed to make it easier for healthy banks to buy troubled ones, said Treasury Department spokesman Andrew DeSouza.


House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said he was angry that banks used the money for acquisitions.


“The only purpose for this money is to lend,” said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. “It’s not for dividends, it’s not for purchases of new banks, it’s not for bonuses. There better be a showing of increased lending roughly in the amount of the capital infusions” or Congress may not approve the second half of the TARP money.


To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Pittman in New York at mpittman@bloomberg.net; Bob Ivry in New York at bivry@bloomberg.net.


Last Updated: November 24, 2008 05:22 EST




Hopefully Congress gets it right and votes No on an Auto Industry bailout, which appears to be an old topic anyhow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Go Meet *THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE* Steven Lonegan!

Art has the details at MoreMonmouthMusings - 
MoreMonmouthMusings: Lonegan Meet and Greet


If I didn't take today off to try to go score a few cheap handguns outside of the Long Branch PD, I'd be at the Park Diner on Rt34 in Matawan next Wednesday at 9:00 waiting for THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Steve Lonegan to arrive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Updates on Yesterday's Blog Entries

1) On the Freeholders and the Car Wash - a reader emailed me to note that the Republicans are also the ones who claim "preserve open space" and ask where this truck wash will be built. In all fairness, I responded that I have no idea where this truck wash is to be built and/or what may or may not exist on the property right now. It could be a dump, or an existing truck wash lot, I don't know. Good thought either way, thanks.

2) On our Second Amendment rights - Scott Bach has what I call a great blog entry on NJ.com - those opposed to Second Amendment rights might refer to it as a terrible blog entry. We already have the FCC limiting #1/Free Speech... we have Circuit City/EveryCorporation violating #4/Search & Seizure so I suppose maybe people aren't too concerned about their Constitutional Rights after all? Hrm, sad.


Commentary: GOP should ask why U.S. is on the wrong track

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Ron Paul: Asking about the future of the GOP is the wrong question
Paul says instead people should ask why the country went in the wrong direction
Republicans stopped being the party of limited government, Paul says
Paul says it will take time for GOP to return to its traditional values

By Ron Paul
Special to CNN
  
Editor's note: Ron Paul is a Republican congressman from Texas who ran for his party's nomination for president this year. He served in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was elected again to Congress in 1996, serving continuously since then. Rep. Paul is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.


(CNN) -- The questions now being asked are: Where to go from here and who's to blame for the downfall of the Republican Party?

Too bad the concern for the future of the Republican Party had not been seriously addressed in the year 2000 when the Republicans gained control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency.

Now, in light of the election, many are asking: What is the future of the Republican Party?

But that is the wrong question. The proper question should be: Where is our country heading? There's no doubt that a large majority of Americans believe we're on the wrong track. That's why the candidate demanding "change" won the election. It mattered not that the change offered was no change at all, only a change in the engineer of a runaway train.

Once it's figured out what is fundamentally wrong with our political and economic system, solutions can be offered. If the Republican Party can grasp hold of the policy changes needed, then the party can be rebuilt.

In the rise and fall of the recent Republican reign of power these past decades, the goal of the party had grown to be only that of gaining and maintaining power -- with total sacrifice of the original Republican belief in shrinking the size of government.

Most Republicans endorsed this view in order to achieve victories at the polls. Limiting government power and size with less spending and a balanced budget as the goal used to be a "traditional" Republican value. This is what Goldwater and Reagan talked about. That is what the Contract with America stood for.

The opportunity finally came in 2000 to do something about the cancerous growth of government. This clear message led to the Republican success at the polls.

Once the Republicans were in power, though, the promises faded, and all policies were directed at maintaining or increasing power by trying to whittle away at Democratic strength by acting like big-spending Democrats.

The Republican Congress never once stood up against the Bush/Rove machine that demanded support for unconstitutional wars, attacks on civil liberties here at home, and an economic policy based on more spending, more debt, and more inflation -- while constantly preaching the flawed doctrine that deficits don't matter as long as taxes aren't raised.

But what the Republican leadership didn't realize was that ALL spending is a tax on middle-class Americans through price inflation and that eventually the inevitable consequence is paying for the extravagance with a financial crisis.

Party leaders concentrated only on political tricks in order to maintain power and neglected the limited-government principles on which they were elected. The only solution for this is for Republicans to once again reassess their core beliefs and show how the country (not the party) can be put back on the right track. The problem, though, is regaining credibility.

After eight years of perpetual (and unnecessary and unconstitutional) war, persistent and expanded attacks on our privacy, runaway deficits, and now nationalization of the financial system, Republicans are going to have a tough time regaining the confidence of the American people. But that's what must be done.

Otherwise, Republicans can only mimic Democrats and hope for an isolated victory here and there. And that's just more of the same that brought on the disintegration of the party.

Since the new alignment of political power offers no real change, we will remain on the same track without even a pretense of slowing the growth of government. With the new administration we can expect things to go from bad to worse.

Opportunity abounds for anyone who can present the case for common sense in fiscal affairs, for protection of civil liberties here at home, and avoiding the senseless foreign entanglements which have bogged us down for decades and contributed so significantly to our fiscal and budgetary crisis.

During the debates in the Republican Presidential primary, even though I am a 10-term sitting Representative Member of Congress, I was challenged more than once on my Republican credentials. The fact that I was repeatedly asked how I could be a Republican when I was talking a different language than the other candidates answers the question of how the Republican Party can slip so far so fast.

My rhetorical answer at the time was simple: Why should one be excluded from the Republican Party for believing and always voting for:

• Limited government power

• A balanced budget

• Personal liberty

• Strict adherence to the Constitution

• Sound money

• A strong defense while avoiding all undeclared wars

• No nation-building and no policing the world

How can a party that still pretends to be the party of limited government distance itself outright from these views and expect to maintain credibility? Since the credibility of the Republican Party has now been lost, how can it regain credibility without embracing these views, or at least showing respect for them?

I concluded my answer by simply stating the Republican Party had lost its way and must reassess its values. And that is what needs to be done in a hurry.

But it might just take a new crop of leaders to regain the credibility needed to redirect the Party. It certainly won't be done overnight. It took a long time to come out of the wilderness after 40 years of Democratic rule for the Republican Party to take charge. Today though, time moves more quickly. Opportunities will arise. The one thing for certain is that in the next four years we will not see the Republic restored. Instead the need for it will be greater than ever.

The problems are easily understood and the answers are not that difficult. Abusing the rule of law and ignoring the Constitution can be reversed. If the Republican Party can grasp hold of the needed reforms, it can lead the way and regain its credibility. If power is sought for power's sake alone, the Party will never be able to wrench away the power of the opposition.

In the past two years, I found that when the young people heard the message of liberty, they overwhelmingly responded favorably, fully realizing the failure of the status quo and the need to once again endorse a system of self reliance, personal responsibility, sound money, and a non-interventionist foreign policy while rejecting the cradle-to-grave nanny state all based on the rule of law and the Constitution.

To ignore the political struggle and only "hope for the best" is pure folly. The march toward a dictatorial powerful state is now in double time.

All those who care -- and especially those who understand the stakes involved -- have an ominous responsibility to energetically get involved in the battle of survival for a free and prosperous America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ron Paul. 
Again, I don't think Ron Paul has ALL of the right answers, but he's at least on the right track and he's at least making some effort to fight for the things that other Republicans claim they will fight for, but never seem to step up for while in office.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2nd Amendment Rights Vote for Monday (Republicans can step up here as well)

In line with pointing out where our elected Republicans can do the right thing.... here is a copy/paste of an email I received:

Subject: NJ: Gun Ban Vote!
Reply-To: "Gun Owners of America" <Gun_Owners_of_America@capwiz.mailmanager.net>

Gun Ban Vote Scheduled for Monday in Trenton!

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408
http://www.gunowners.org

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Gun Owners of New Jersey is reporting that a vote is scheduled in
Trenton on Monday, November 17, to ban several types of hunting and
historical firearms.

Democrat Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a raging anti-gunner, is the
sponsor of 
A2116 -- a bill which would ban the civilian possession of
.50 caliber firearms, threatening gun owners with five years in jail
and a $15,000 fine. See the bill at:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/A2500/2116_R2.HTM



The bill would ban hundreds of Revolutionary and Civil War firearms,
as well as many modern hunting and safari rifles. Even .50 caliber
pistols would be covered.

While the bill has been amended to meet some gun owners' objections,
the bottom line is that the bill still focuses its "wrath" on decent
gun owners who are looking to acquire the types of firearms that were
quite common on the American frontier. So, like most gun control
laws passed today, 
A2116 goes after honest civilians, not criminals.

ACTION: Please urge your Assemblyman to OPPOSE A2116. You can go to
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/SelectMun.asp

to identify your
Assemblyman. Then, after selecting the correct legislator, you will
be taken to a webform where you can make your voice heard. A
pre-written letter is provided below which you can either
copy-and-paste into the webform or use as a basis for your own
message.

----- Pre-written letter -----

Dear Assemblyperson:

I strongly urge you to vote against A2116. In addition to banning
many commonly owned firearms, the bill threatens gun owners who
violate the terms of this legislation with five years in jail and a
$15,000 fine.

This bill doesn't even focus on criminal behavior; rather it
criminalizes the mere possession of items that are constitutionally
protected. It's outrageous to punish non-violent behavior --
especially when it is in keeping with the Second Amendment in the
Bill of Rights.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that, "Just as the First
Amendment protects modern forms of communications... and the Fourth
Amendment applies to modern forms of search... the Second Amendment
extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable
arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the
founding." (DC v. Heller, 2008, p. 8.)

So according to our highest court, the Second Amendment even protects
guns that were not in existence in the late 1700s. How much more
then does the Second Amendment protect the type of guns targeted in
A2116 which were commonly owned by our forefathers.

A2116 would ban commonly owned firearms that citizens in New Jersey
have a right to own. And by focusing its ire on big bore guns, A2116
would ban the types of guns that were frequently possessed in our
early history. It's hard to argue that these guns are not protected
by the Second Amendment!

What's the reason for banning these firearms? Has there been a
recent spate of shootings with .50 calibers? Could you please tell
me how many murders have been committed with .50 caliber firearms in
this state in the last 10 years?

Or, is this just another effort to slice up the Second Amendment, one
gun at a time?

Please let me know how you intend to vote.

Sincerely,


****************************

Please do not reply directly to this message, as your reply will
bounce back as undeliverable.

To subscribe to free, low-volume GOA alerts, go to
http://www.gunowners.org/ean.htm on the web. Change of e-mail
address may also be made at that location.

It is mind-boggling to me that anyone still believes that States/Municipalities have any authority to impose any kind of ban on any kind of firearms from law abiding citizens. It is even more mind boggling to me these dummies in Trenton are going after .50cal weapons.  Being "like a Republican" I can assure you that .50 rifles and even .50 handguns are NOT the problem weapons. Rifles that are .50cal go for about $3K or so at best, ammo is expensive as hell and not too many thugs and criminals who would commit some crime using a firearm are not doing so with a 50 caliber rifle. In fact, in line with issuing challenges that mean nothing, someone find me a story of a criminal using a .50cal rifle to rob a bank, or hold up the local 711, I'd bet a gallon of gas it never happened. 

Besides, how is that Chicago Gun Ban working out? Is the USPS delivering mail in the Harvey section yet at least? Let our police and courts deal with criminals, not with penalizing law abiding citizens with constitutional rights.

This bill is not only going after the wrong people, but going after the wrong weapons as well. The sponsor of this bill has a website here.


"Smaller Government" - or a County Truck Wash?

Remember way back in July, when I had blogged about Atlantic Highlands trying to build a municipal car wash at a cost of $1 Million? (Of course you don't remember, click the link).  Well, following up yesterday's blog entry, where I said that Republicans, who claim things like "small government" or "helping small business" need to start stepping up on a local level, I found a perfect example in today's Worst News Paper Ever. The article, Freeholders expected to OK "green" truck wash (which of course appears 3 times: here, here and here maybe the APP should fix that) notes that the [Republican Controlled] county Freeholders  are looking to spend  $687,000 to build a brand new Truck Wash for county vehicles to comply with new state regulations. The County Truck wash idea seems to come from freeholder John D'Amico(D).

Now, I'm just an Average No One, so I obviously don't know squat, but let me list my concerns...

1) In Atlantic Highlands, a car wash costs $1 Million.  In Monmouth County/Tinton Falls, a car wash "only" costs $687,000. Which administration doesn't have the right number? Are the freeholders sure that they can buy the land, and build a new car wash for $687K? Do the "locals"know about this coming truck wash? I'm sure someone *thinks* that they have some say in how the private property owned by someone else is used and will complain about the (noise || odor || traffic || "environmental impact" || crime) from the new truck wash. Sounds like an expensive legal battle is coming soon, that we'll also pay for through our taxes.

2) How many car washes already exist in this county? Let suppose that there are 50 of them, all meeting whatever DEP/State regulations are required of them. Let's then suppose that the county doesn't really *NEED* to bring it's vehicles to just any of the 50 and the Freeholders choose 10 "approved for our use" facilities well distributed throughout the county so that no additional driving/gas is needed just to go wash a vehicle and return back to wherever. How much does $687K "granted" to 10 small businesses ($68.7K each) for "capital improvements" help stimulate the economy? What does the accepting small business offer in exchange? FREE car washes to municipal vehicles of course... Suppose $30 per wash, the $68.7K pays for 2290 washes. That means that 6 municipal vehicles per day could be cleaned EVERY DAY for a year as a fair exchange at 10 different locations, or 60 vehicles per day could be cleaned. Now remember it's really "about" 242 working days per year, which means closer to 10 washes per day over 10 locations, or 100 vehicles per day. How many vehicles per day do we need washed anyhow? Is this new $687K facility going to be largely unused? I don't imagine we need to pay for/build a $687K facility that is utilized 2% of the time.

3) Now, being more realistic and "fair" to small businesses, then the freeholders don't work out some "free" exchange, but a discounted/tax credit rate. There would obviously be some cost associated with the operation of a truck wash so some of that operating cost can be used to pay for the needed washes. Also, using an existing small business does a few more things.  First, a small business has increased demand from the county which hopefully more employs are needed, and thus some more jobs. Second, there are less county/municipal workers on the payroll. How many county/state employees does a "green" truck wash require? Those employees are sure to get all of the holiday's off (as I noted yesterday), sure to get some kind of benefits package, some kind of retirement, etc, etc, etc. And finally, how many county employees are being paid to put their feet up and sitting around doing nothing since they'll work 9-5 (or less) but I don't imagine they will be cleaning trucks for 8 hours straight, non-stop. And who pays for the water, electric, gas, sewers, etc of a new county owned facility? Right.

4) Let's suppose the county DOES NOT build a facility of it's own AND does not "grant" any money to any private business. Then, $687K pays for 22,900 $30 car washes! At our 242 working days per year, that means we can wash *95* vehicles EVERY day for a year and break even. Are we really washing 95 vehicles? Are we really NEEDING to wash them every day? OR...Does a car wash really cost $30, or is really $12.95 and I'm being generous? I think I've seen a few $4.xx signs for that matter but I wash my own car, on my own private property, where I pay for the water, electric, gas, sewers myself so how do I know what a car wash costs...

Perhaps there is some great reasoning for a county owned truck wash facility that I just don't understand or can't think of this morning, but I have to say, I don't think expanding the size of county government to include a car wash and it's employees falls under the "conservative", "small business" or "pro-small business" categories. This truck wash plan is, as I said yesterday, a "tax and spend" plan - tax the county more to spend money on a truck wash, then tax the people some more to pay for the operation of the truck wash. It "works" in the sense that "wealth" is distributed, the government provides the jobs for a small cost, and this is the "line" that every Democrat runs on, and comes through on. This rather than the "republican line" of spend less money, promote small business and reduce the size of government - and spending money on a truck wash doesn't quite fit the "republican line". Remind the voters again why they should vote R so that the R party can go tax and spend like the D party.

As I said, MAYBE, just maybe, there are good reasons for Republicans to support this spending, I'm not able to think of one because I'm a delusional, cheap Average No One. It might sound like a "tough" or "extreme" position, or at least a "different" position to take, but then it's at least a position that offers a "change" from the usual "tax and spend" position that the Ds run on. Lead by example, or something. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rebuilding the [Republican] Party... yawn

Seems Rebuilding the Republican Party is what some people are trying to do, sort of. rebuildtheparty.com seems to have shown up recently claiming to have intentions to rebuild the Republican Party, and more importantly, asking We the People for ideas. I'll check out the site in more detail later tonight, maybe even provide and idea or two of my own, but from my quick observations, this is just some random group of fellow Average No Ones running this site and probably not the Double Secret(TM) folks at the top, or any of the currently elected Rs.

In either case, as of now, the top two ideas are Reach out to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Freedom (I believe it is actually called the Campaign for Liberty) and Make room for libertarians.   The first idea sounds good to me as I was(am) a Ron Paul supporter during the Primary. Many of his principles and ideas carry great merit, some of them go a bit far for me, but in any case, he is certainly a real "small government" guy, in some cases some might argue "too small" (if there is such a thing). As for making room for the libertarians, I'm not sure anyone in the Republican party has to step aside to "make room" for anyone. The R party is shrinking fast compared to the D party and the L party barely registers in any elections - perhaps the L party should just admit that they are Rs after all. The C party might just as well go start a religious cult of their own, if they have not done so already.

Regardless, A, B, C, D... Z party, all the same to me; In my lifetime, I don't recall a single tax being lowered or going away under the direction of any party. I don't recall a single "fee" (ie, driver's license, auto registration, firearms permit,, building permit, dog license, etc) being reduced. In fact, I haven't even seen *ONE* of our elected officials ask why the Hudson Rail Tunnel project somehow got $1 BILLION more expensive overnight. Maybe it is because I'm one of the little people, but $1 BILLION sounds like a hell of a lot of cash, it is also a 13% increase in cost. Why? How? What union, developer, property owner, etc is able to justify such a cost increase and where is the Al Sharpton like outrage? How many years have we been paying for "environmental studies" and what was the cost of that? Did we save a dolphin, or an earthworm, to make it worthwhile at least?

In my opinion, the best way for the Republicans to earn the credibility it desires and build a Republican "brand" that has meaning, would be for our local and state level Republicans to step up with executing some real conservative principles. Let's see an R run town come through with actually eliminating some taxes, eliminating some fees and most important, eliminating some government services. Eliminate the English as a Second Language classes. Eliminate the letters in duplicate in a non-English language (I get *3* letters home from Long Branch schools, one in English, one in Spanish and one in Portuguese!) . Eliminate the number of police officers running radar at 2am (In Eatontown, any given time/day, I can find no less than 3 officers running radar on a 2 mile stretch of 36!). Eliminate the "every excuse for a PAID holiday" positions (the rest of us found time to vote last Tuesday and the rest of us found time to thank a veteran yesterday). Eliminate the fee to own a firearm (it's "only" $2, or $5, or $20, or $60.25 or the combination of said sums) - the Rs want to claim they support 2nd Amendment rights - defend that right and eliminate the fee. The Rs like to claim that I have private property rights, but yet I need a building permit to erect a shed on my own property. Eliminate all of the non-sense administrators of the schools, including all of the superintendents of the schools, parents with a vested interest in both the school, and the cost, would surely volunteer, for free, to fill the void that wouldn't exist.  If there is one thing that Rs can learn from Ds, it is that the people may bitch and moan, but we'll deal - ie, the Ds will raise the cost of the tolls, even if we say no. The Ds will invest in Stem Cell Research even if we vote no. And the sad truth is that come next year, despite doing things that We the People have said "No" to, Corzine and the Ds will continue to win elections here in NJ, because at least they stick to the "tax and spend" platform that they run on, unlike the Rs who run on the "cut and eliminate" platform that never comes through.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lisa Jackson for EPA is Change?

The Star-Ledger is reporting that NJ's own Lisa Jackson might be getting the call from Team Obama to head up the EPA.  

Didn't the rest of the county learn not to chose an EPA Administrator from NJ after Bush picked Christine Todd Whitman to head up the EPA?  Let me make it clear, Obama is no different from Bush and is following in Bush's footsteps by choosing an EPA administrator from NJ.

So what's *MY* beef with Mrs. Jackson.... here and here.  Mrs. Jackson doesn't even have the ability to take on a horse racing track over a polluted creek, and she's going to solve the nation's pollutions problems? Doubtful.

Lisa Jackson is not qualified to head up the NJ DEP and she is certainly not qualified to head up the EPA. Surely Obama can do a little better than Bush and pick an EPA administrator NOT from NJ right?

Do the right think Barack, look elsewhere for an EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson is NOT the solution, she is the problem.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No Excuses now Frank

Now that Mr. Pallone has won, again, and Democrats have taken control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it is time for Mr. Pallone to come through on his promises and for the APP to hold him accountable for coming through on those promises.

1) Keep Fort Monmouth open.
  - Mr. Pallone and the worst newspaper in the world want us to believe that Frank cares about keeping Ft. Monmouth open. With Ds in control of Washington, Frank should be able to get this done. Let's see it Frank.

2) Clean up the beaches, promote tourism.
  - Mr. Pallone claims to be Mr. Environment and Pro-tourism, so lets get those beaches clean. Clean beaches might attract more visitors. While you're at it, you might want to make sure that beaches are accessible. You might also consider making sure that Sandy Hook, a national park, can provide enough parking and beach space for tourists. Would hate to see traffic stuck on that fancy new bridge for hours because the park is closed while those old buildings fall into the bay. 

3) Do away with those FEMA flood maps in the bayshore. Surely providing for long term flood protection is a better plan. You told us you would fight to oppose the FEMA rezoning, let's see it.

4) Be proactive on healthcare, food and drug safety. Stop the flood of lead and other toxic goods from China. Mr. Pallone wants me to believe and the APP endorsed him because he cares about healthcare "for the children" - a good start might be taking those Made in China toys out of the kid's mouths, or maybe not feeding them milk/dairy products from China. It might also lead to some jobs here in the US making toys, bonus. 

5) Clean up Branchport Creek, ya know, it is IS in your backyard.

Good luck with all of that Frank... if you can get even one of these things done, I might be impressed. 

As for the APP, I expect you to write a nice big story in 2 years noting that Frank got NOTHING done that he said he would get done AND more important, noting that he failed to come through on anything you endorsed him for.

Frank has done nothing for the past 20 years, and nothing is going to change now. Unfortunately for Frank, he won't be able to blame Republicans for his failures this time around.

P.S. How's Hillary, Frank? Or those dolphins? Weren't you trying to help them out? How is that all working out these days? People in Armenia good? What about the people in India? If you have time, you might want to see if the people in New Jersey are doing well, if you're not busy helping the people in some foreign country.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted...

...so I'm getting me my free starbucks, krispy kreme and chic-fil-a which all happen to be fattening aweful foods I don't eat... it could be worse though, Hillary Clinton could have been on the ballot, then I would have just puked thinking about eating.

gotta get back to work... big day here, gotta earn my raise so that I can pay more taxes come January... :(