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Norm's Guest Column 1/11/14

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on January 18, 2014 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Date: 1/11/14

Norm's guest column:
                                                 Christie's Bridge

 Some serious questions continue to arise as more and more information emerges about what happened in what the media is calling  "Bridgegate": the actions of Governor Christie and his staff in closing down all but one lane of the George Washington Bridge supposedly in retaliation for the refusal of the Mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat,  to endorse Chris Christie's candidacy for reelection.


 It has been over a week since Christie's marathon press conference where he tried to put the scandals behind him. But there still are lingering questions that still need to be answered. Articles in the Star Ledger newspaper and on the Ledger's website,  nj.com, pose serious questions about the atmosphere of pettiness and arrogance among Christie's inner circle. Lets add stupidity to the mix, because everyone knows that you do not send out emails when doing or planning an unethical, perhaps illegal, action. It is just too easy for emails to fall into the wrong hands. You certainly don't discuss your cover-up actions via emails when your boss is busy visiting Iowa and other 2016 presidential primary states, as he prepares to decide on a run for President in 2016.

What if Christie was to be elected in  2016 and he brought that same staff with him to the White House? And what if they played the same petty games in 2016, but this time with , lets say, Iran?

Where did his staff learn to be arrogant, petty, and not too swift when it comes to emails? It is the Governor who sets the tone for his staff and how his staff act towards others. I realize that he has to delegate jobs and responsibilities' to his staff. This implies that he has to hire the right people to be on his staff. I would love to learn more about his hiring practices when it comes to hiring senior staff.


I also didn't realize how easy it is for the Governor's office to just send an email and make a phone call, and voila! a major bridge and highway is, for all intents ad purposes, shut down. Where is the paper trail? Who signed off on the order to cut down the Fort Lee exit  to just one lane, thus producing massive gridlock?  


 I am not convinced that Governor Christie did not know about the actions of his staff and the ensuing and ongoing cover up of  those actions. Remember, this all started in August, right in the middle of the campaign for governor. Yes, the Governor was winning in a landslide, but sometimes campaigns make people do goofy things, and then act even goofier covering up their actions. 1972 and Nixon come to mind. There is a sad parallel between Nixon saying " I am not a crook" and Christie saying "I am not a bully."

I know that the Governor has taken full responsibility, whatever that really means,  for the mess he and his staff made. Four high level friends or advisors either resigned or were fired, That is nice, but here's a concrete idea for him to help out all the folks who got stuck in the bridge traffic jam. The state could issue EZ Pass rebates or credits to all of  the commuters who spent wasted hours sitting in a traffic jam of the Governor's making. The credit could be paid for out of Christie's leftover campaign funds.

National pundits say that Governor Christie will survive this current mess and that his campaign for 2016, if he chooses to run for office, will continue. Some say that an early miscue can lead to changes in the campaign for the better. Get the mistakes out of the way now, and the campaign will benefit in the long run

Personally I care more about how Christie plans to help out 1500 Atlantic Club employees who lost their jobs rather than childish political games in Trenton.


Coalition for Peace and Justice

Norm's Earth Day Column

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on April 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

    Every year, on or near April 22nd, Earth Day is celebrated across the country and the world to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

   I was there at the beginning, a massive rally and party held in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia during a time where the values of the anti-war 1960s held sway among students, progressives and activists.

    The stage had been set for the country to look toward issues of the future, including the environment, by the 1962 publication of Rachael Carson's bestseller Silent Spring. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries. More than any other person, Carson was the catalyst who raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health. Combine this with the pictures of the war in Vietnam that we all saw on the evening news, and people started looking longer-term, at the future of the country and world.

    Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. After he saw what the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California did to environment and sealift. Using the student anti-war movement as an example, Nelson realized that if he could merge public concerns about air and water pollution with the anti-war movement, he could force environmental protection issues onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson put forward  the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment.” He got Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote Earth Day events across the land.

    Thus, on April,22nd, 1970 over  20 million Americans came out to events in the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against the Vietnam War, oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 was mostly non-partisan, supported by Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, business and labor leaders. This first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts under the auspices of a Republican President, Richard Nixon. "It was a gamble," Nelson recalled, "but it worked."

    Locally, The Atlantic County Utilities

 

Authority will be  hosting their 23rd annual Earth

 

Day Festival on April 21st, as it has done for the

 

past 22 years. The festival takes place rain or

 

shine and usually  draws a crowd of nearly 4,000

 

people of all ages who come out to have fun, learn

 

and to make a positive change for the future of our

 

environment.

    The theme of the 2013 Earth Day Festival is a

 

Sustainable Future. In a sustainable world,

 

society's demand on nature is in balance with

 

nature's capacity to meet that demand. ACUA hopes

 

 

to bring attention to this concept and our

 

collective need to wisely utilize and conserve

 

resources today, in order to provide for the needs

 

of future generations.

 

   Earth Day has become a big success, perhaps too big. Many Earth

 

Day events are now hosted or controlled by government entities, such

 

as our ACUA, and the NJ Department of Environmental  Protection. We

 

here in Atlantic County are lucky to have the ACUA, which, even under

 mostly Republican administrations, has pushed for many environmental

 

advances, from windmills and solar panels to composting and

 

recycling.

     The Coalition for Peace and Justice will have an information

 

table at Earth Day, under the big tent. Because war is certainly an

 

environmental threat, and we have seen at Fukushima what can happen

 

with nuclear power, we feel that our messages dovetail with Earth

 

Day. While we have always been welcomed at ACUA Earth Days, there

 

have been other area festivals where we are considered too

 

"controversial". That is the danger in having government in charge of

 

running Earth Day. Sometimes it is forgotten that Earth Day is

 

supposed to be controversial, as is the current environmental issue

 

in the news, global warming, and our local issue: closing down our

 

nuclear power plants.

 

(some information for this column came from the Earth Day and the ACUA websites)

 Thanks to the Current for asking me to return to their pages, if only for one time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 12/25/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on December 20, 2012 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Norm's column 12/25/12

                      Enough is Enough

Dear Congressman Lobiondo:(

The 20 children, ages 6-7, and the adults who were slaughtered last week in Newtown, Ct., can not, will not,  have died in vain.  Teachers stood up to a gunmen and some gave their lives to protect their students. Yet Congress, including you, refuses to stand up to the NRA. (National Rifle Association).

Not counting the shooter, Adam Lanza, no person or group bears more responsibility than the NRA for the massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. They have been a roadblock for over twenty years, by putting fear into the minds of our politicians that a vote for sensible gun control would mean losing the next election. Even the Assault Weapons Ban, was allowed to expire by a scared Congress more interested in getting reelected than by doing the right thing.

The National Rifle Association is a powerful lobby that supposedly represents gun owners. But its actions show that it represents the deadly interests of arms dealers and gun manufacturers.  It has been astonishingly successful at blocking laws  that would help keep our children safer from gun violence.

Tell the your friends at the NRA accept their responsibility and allow Congress and the President to pass gun control legislation.

Do more than that. Congressman, I'm not that familiar with your personal life, but you must have grandchildren or nieces or nephews the same age as the dead in Newtown. Your constituency, the people you represent in Congress, certainly has children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters the same age as the Newtown kids. Parents of older kids remember when their children went to the local elementary school.

Linwood, our home town looks like Newtown, only without the hills and bubbling brook. The kids look the same as our town's kids who go to Seaview School. What happened in Newtown could happen here, or anywhere, for that matter.

Congressman, you say that you are independent, and are not swayed by lobbyists. You are considered as a moderate Republican by political commentators. It is time for you, to take the lead for our children.  There are several actions you can and should support. None of these ideas are panaceas, but if we can prevent even one child from going through what these kids in Newtown did, then it will be a start. I understand that there were, according to talking heads on CNN, over 300 million guns in the United States as of 2009. That is no reason to do nothing.

Here's some ideas that I've supported over the years, or have thought about recently: Reinstate the ban on automatic weapons and limit bullet clip sizes to hold only ten bullets. Almost everyone agrees with those two ideas. If we can produce a national 'do not fly' list, then we can do a national 'do not shoot' list. Enforce the laws already in place. End the gun show loopholes. Require training in gun safety before one can purchase a gun. What would help much would be guns that can only be fired by their owner. Fingerprint technology is advanced enough so that a gun gets unlocked via the owner's fingerprint.

Of course all of these changes may not deter every lone nut shooter out there. But they make it more difficult to get a weapon. Maybe the changes save one life, or ten or a hundred. Bottom line is that it is time to act, no matter what the NRA says.

Christmas is a holiday celebrating the Prince of Peace. Why not give Him a present of no more gun violence, no more dead children, and schools that are safe havens for kids.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 12/18/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on December 14, 2012 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Norm's column  12/18/12                           

                                      Military Costs Too Much

         Hi all. A quick history lesson. Which American President wrote the following: "Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies , and debts , and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the  opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

    "These truths are well established. They are read in every page which records the progression from a less arbitrary to a more arbitrary government, or the transition from a popular government to an aristocracy or a monarchy."

  I bet you Seth knows the author's name. It is President James Madison, in his "Political Observations", April 20, 1795. From the framers of the United States Constitution to Wendell Wilkie to Dwight Eisenhower, there runs a chord of suspicion of a too strong and too powerful military. (the Madison quote was from Rachael Maddow's book, "Drift".)

Here's what Ike said: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." (from US News website, September 30, 2011)

   But The United States hasn't learned. Except for President Carter's term in office, when we were at peace, perpetual war has been an accepted condition that we live with.  With no draft, having a volunteer military limits the effect of war on our people.

   The Fiscal Cliff is the big worry of the day. Congress might have to work through Christmas Day. Yet had Congress spent 20 percent less on the military from Ike's day until now, there would no fiscal cliff, assuming that Congress did not blow the extra 20 per cent on nonsense.

   All of the whining in DC about cutting spending on 'entitlements", and there is not a whimper of a mention of the biggest entitlement of all: the military budgets, also known as "corporate welfare". We have a military that costs us trillions of dollars, and for what? We have thousands of nuclear weapons we will never use. We have planes and tanks built to fight the last war. No, the Congress wants to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and refuses to tax the very rich a little more.

As I write this Friday afternoon, the horrific murder of Newtown, Ct. dominates the airwaves. Enough is enough. It is well past time to reopen the discussions on guns and gun violence.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 12/06/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on December 9, 2012 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Norm's column 12/06/12

                              All Good Things Must Come to an End

      Yes, folks, the rumors are true. The Current and Gazette Newspapers have decided to go in a different direction for their politics page. So this  column and the next two columns will be the last weekly columns from me, Seth, and Harry. Our editor assures me that, under the new format, starting in January, we will still be writing  occasional columns, but not weekly. The Current is still finalizing its plans for a new and different politics page.

     I want to thank James Fitzpatrick, the Editor of the  Current, for giving me the opportunity to write the "Left's Turn" and to be able to reach out to the thousands of folks who read the Current and Gazette. I appreciate the chance I had to provide some political balance to the politics page of the newspaper and for the chance to initiate public discussion about issues that might never have been talked about at a local level.

   I want to thank all of the readers who had the courage to write letters to the editor, pro or con, about the issues I raised in my columns.  Especially in a political climate as nasty as any I've lived through, I really do appreciate those who wrote and were civil to each other as they talked about the issues of the day.

    Feel free to write letters to the editor supporting or opposing this decision by the Current. I'm sure that James would love to hear from his readers on this topic as well.

  In addition, I've really appreciated all of the emails and phone calls I've gotten from the many readers who took the time to contact me.  I did not appreciate the nasty death threats following my Fox/Faux News column. I've tried to answer most of the emails that were polite or civil, and I've done the same with the phone calls. I've always figured that if a column did not result in letters to the editor, or some other reaction, that I have not done my job, which I've always considered to be getting people thinking and talking.

    Thanks too to the many people who have personally thanked me for writing the column, including just random folks whom I meet during the course of a day. Many have told me that they enjoyed my column, even though they don't agree with me at times.

     Another aim of my column was trying to be civil and respectful to those with whom I disagree, thus setting a rational tone for discussion of issues important to us, both here and nationally. I don't think that I've always succeeded in that endeavor, but I've tried my best.

   Thanks of course to Harry Hurley and Seth Grossman, for their consistent work explaining the right wing conservative (Harry) and Libertarian (Seth) positions. I know there were many times that I took Harry and Seth to task for positions or comments that I opposed, but providing political balance to a politics page that leaned far to the right was the main reason the Current took me on.

    I hope that my readers are more educated now on issues of war and peace, on the dangers of aging nuclear power plants in South Jersey, on nuclear weapons and why we need to abolish them world-wide, on environmental issues like wind and solar power, and on working for peace here at home.

These are all issues that I'll continue to work on, column or no column.

   If you want to stay in touch with the me, and with the Coalition for Peace and Justice, please email me and I'll add you to our low volume email announcement list. In addition, December is when we, like so many non-profits, do our end of year membership drive.  You can print out our membership form from our website or contact me and I'll be glad to sign you up.

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 12/05/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on December 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Norm's column 12/05/12

                           What Does Harry Have Against Potted Plants?

     Before I move on to the main topic of this column, please indulge me for a moment while I make yet another request for justice for April Kauffman.

    Its been months now, since May, and still not a peep from the Atlantic County Prosecutor's office about what progress, if any, has been made in their investigation of the brutal murder of April Kauffman. Rumors abound on Facebook , the internet, and local citizens about what happened that night. Many of these rumors are nasty and demeaning. Do we still have a murderer living among us, or was April's murder committed by a professional hitman, a hired gun, who has moved on? The Atlantic County Prosecutor's office owes the citizens of Atlantic County an update, a report on where the investigation stands. Or will the murderer of April Kauffman walk free, as the murderer of the four prostitutes in West Atlantic City apparent has, and how a number of the killers in this years gun violence in Atlantic City have.           

    Now on with the show. Last week Harry wrote in his column that even a potted plant, if running on Column B, the Democratic column, would have won the Freeholder election as did Colin Bell, the Democrat's candidate. It is amazing how many different people and constituencies that Harry insulted with that one, standard right-wing, vaguely racist, statement.  Yes, there  appeared to be some 'coattail effect' from Obama and Menendez. No coattails for Cassandra Shober, though. The last time I looked Congressman Lobiondo was reelected with a 18 percentage margin.

    And no coattails from Lobiondo or Bell would have lost. Atlantic County voters are quite skilled at voting for people, not parties, split ticket voting. The reality is that  Colin Bell worked hard and appeared to have more funding which allowed him to run more television and radio commercials. Bell was also helped by voter annoyance over the Airport Circle debacle, in which the county's fix made matters worse.  It is true that in the past area Democrats have run candidates of lesser quality for Congress, state and local election. But Colin Bell was a quality candidate who won fair and square.

  How does one explain the Democrat win in Republican Brigantine?  Were Brigantine voters voting for  potted plants as well?

     Harry's column, in addition to implying that Colin Bell was no better that a potted plant, implied that minority voters vote straight Democrat and do not have a mind of their own. While it is obvious that Democrats usually do well in areas with concentrations of African Americans and other minorities, they are not a monolithic voting bloc. Check and see how Denny Levinson fared in Atlantic City and Pleasantville the last time he ran.

    The area's demographics are changing, just as the national demographics are changing. People have more intelligence than politicians and talking heads give them credit for.

    Finally, Harry insulted potted plants as well. If he had written 'pot plants'  instead his whole argument still would have gone up in smoke. (my attempt at humor).  Houseplants clean the air of impurities and convert carbon dioxide back to oxygen. At least they are doing something useful, which is more than I can say about the do-nothing Republican House of Representatives and the obstructionist Senate Republicans.

    Republicans have to find their way back towards the middle, away from Tea Party land. Instead of blaming voters, they should be asking themselves how to win those voters back, both locally and nationally.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 11/28/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on November 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Date: 11/28/12

This Week's Column

International Human Rights Day Celebration in Ocean City

     The Ocean City chapter of Amnesty International  will observe and celebrate International Human Rights Day with a poetry reading by poet Lamont Steptoe at the Bayside Center, 520 Bay Avenue, in Ocean City, on Saturday, December 8th at 7:00 pm. Steptoe's  performance is free and open to the public, though donations to support the local Amnesty chapter's work will be gratefully accepted. The Coalition for Peace and Justice endorses this event and urges all of its members to attend and support this area's local Amnesty International chapter as well as supporting International Human Rights Day.

      According to Amnesty chapter coordinator Georgina Shanley, "Lamont Steptoe is quite an incredible poet. He is able to transform himself with his words and his passion. In other cultures Lamont would be considered a Shaman."

     Steptoe was born in 1949. A Vietnam Veteran, Steptoe is also a poet, activist, photographer and founder and publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is a graduate of Temple University's School of Communications and Theater, where he majored in Radio, Television, and Film.

    Steptoe has a clear, direct and matter-of-fact approach to his socio-cultural subject matter. He writes with language that is rich and revealing. He is the author of ten books of poetry and is the editor of two collections of poems by South African poet, Dennis Brutus.

   Steptoe's books of poetry include: In the Kitchen of the Masters (1997); and Catfish & Neckbone Jazz (1992); both published by Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books; and Uncle's South China Sea Blue Nightmare (Plan B Press, 2003). His poems have also been featured in various anthologies, both national and regional.

     He has performed his work at the Library of Congress, the National Library of Nicaragua, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, the Knitting Factory, the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and various colleges and universities throughout the United States.

    He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in 1996 and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Steptoe was awarded the American Book Award in 2005.

    In 2004, rapper Mos Def opened the Def Poetry Jam program on HBO with a poem from Steptoe's Mad Minute. He has participated in numerous workshops and has collaborated with poets such as Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsburg, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Sam Allen.

      International Human Rights Day falls on December 10th and it was on this day in 1948 that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed by the United Nations. Amnesty International based its mandate on this document. Detailed information about the history of, and current events honoring International Human Rights Day, can be found on the United Nations website.

      With the advent of the "Arab Spring" and the current turmoil in Egypt,  and the Middle East as a whole, Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International are more important and relevant than ever. Amnesty is a voice that stands up for free speech the world over. We in the Coalition for Peace and Justice are always honored to support the work of this organization, both locally and internationally.

     The situations in Egypt, where President Morsi is trying to silence  his pro-democracy opponents and in Syria, where the government seems intent on slaughtering their own citizens, are critical challenges to human rights and world peace.

      "This will be Lamont Steptoe's second reading for Amnesty International. He is back by popular demand. His performance is transfixing and a once in a lifetime experience, Shanley wrote.

       For more information contact Georgina Shanley, Amnesty International local coordinator, at 609 442 2407

or email shanleyg2001@yahoo.com

    Ocean City Amnesty meets the first Monday of every month, at 7pm at the Ocean City Library.

    The Coalition for Peace and Justice continues to hold peace vigils in Rio Grande every Friday at 4;00 PM at the southwest corner of the intersection of routes 9 and 47, and on the first Friday of every month at 5:30 PM in the center of Woodstown, in front of the bank on route 40.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 11/23/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on November 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Norm's column 11/23/12

Time for the annual Thanksgiving column. What a year it has been, but we have much to be thankful for. Sandy spared our home, and our family is doing well. Many people in South Jersey lost everything during Superstorm Sandy and perhaps are thankful only that they are alive. But Americans are resilient and will find their way back. It is often only during disasters that we unite and show the world the best that we can be. We are one country, of neighbors and friends who care about each other, and one President and one government, whose role it is to step in and help those who need help beyond what friends and charity can offer.

I think that people are tired of all the politics, and just want politicians to work together and do the job they were sent to do.

Last year we all wrote about who in our lives we are thankful for. The column, with a few adjustments, is still relevant today.

I am thankful for how my parents raised me, that they were very liberal Democratic activists who became my role models, both in business, where we ran our family auto supply stores together, and in politics. Running a small business for over twenty years gave me a perspective that many other left wingers did not have. I understand what it is to be "Main Street" and how difficult it was to have to let workers go when business was slow, or worse. I understand what it means to not pay yourself for months so that the staff and bills get paid. And running a small business taught me organizational skills that proved very useful in my role as Executive Director of the Coalition for Peace and Justice.

I am thankful too, that my parents believed in the power of education; that they were able to send me to the University of Pennsylvania. Of course, in 1969 Penn was expensive, but nothing like what Ivy League schools cost today. At Penn from 1969-75 I was active with the anti-war movement, and on the Pennsylvania staff of the McGovern Presidential campaign. Working for McGovern I again learned valuable organizing lessons. I am also thankful that at Penn I learned from teachers like Martin Seligman (psychology) and Jack Reece (Modern European History), who helped teach me how to research, and the power of rational thought.

Now my dad has passed away and my mom is in a nursing home. I'm thankful that she is safe and taken care of. But I know how much my mom did not want to end up that way. I'd be more thankful if our country spent more on healthcare and less on warfare.

At age 61, I am thankful that I am still here, still standing to quote Elton John. As George Burns said many times, I wake up, get the Press and read the obituaries. If I'm not in them, I take on the day.

I am thankful to the Current, and our editor, who has allowed me this one third of the politics page to present a distinctive point of view that folks didn't have a chance to read before the Current took me on. And I'm thankful that Seth and Harry have their spaces and perspectives to bring too.

Finally, as we all sit down Thursday to eat more food than a third world nation, let's be thankful for how lucky we are, compared to many of our neighbors as well as much of the world. And lets promise to do something, anything to make life better for the 99% of the people of the world, even more than the 99% of us here in America.

 

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 11/14/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on November 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

This week's column:

11/14/12

                              More of the Same?

    So, the results are in. President Obama was reelected to a second term by a large margin in the electoral college, but by a small margin in the popular vote. Obama squeaked through thanks to a number of factors including a  high turnout of his base: Latino and African-American voters in the forefront. Women's votes were a significant win for Obama. But the key factors included how poor a candidate Mitt Romney turned out to be, what an excellent surrogate  Bill Clinton was, the timing of hurricane Sandy, and the implied endorsement of New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie.

   Romney's campaign was too long on complaints and too short on plans. There were too many gaffes, such as the 47 per cent remark. His campaign was pulled to the right too far in an effort to keep his base in line.  He had to oppose Obama's health care plans even though they were the same as Romney-care from when he was Governor of Mass.

   I do want to give credit where it is due. In his concession speech the real Mitt Romney appeared, giving a classy speech that asked that we put people ahead of politics.

    Bill Clinton was President Obama's secret weapon. From his great speech at the Democratic Convention to key appearances in the battleground states, Clinton was probably worth a good five percent of Obama's vote.

    But it was Hurricane Sandy that polls will show gave Obama the chance to appear Presidential and sending a message of competence to the voters.

Add to that Chris Christie's praise of President Obama, and the election turned in favor of the Democrats.

       The country remains divided, as evidenced by the popular vote. The Democrats picked up some Senate and House seats, but the same structure is there: the Republicans in the House can continue to be obstructionists if they wish, and as long as there are forty one Republican Senators, then they can block any bill they want via filibuster.

     The question for Congress and President Obama is whether, now that Obama does not have to run for re-election, will our representatives put aside all of the partisan nonsense that has gridlocked Washington these last four years?  There are serious issues that await Congress and the President. Are the Republicans willing to take a ride over the financial cliff just to defend the 1% of the country that Obama wants to raise taxes on? Are they really ready to let the Bush tax cuts expire, and have drastic cuts in spending that would certainly put us back into another recession just when it seems we are finally getting some better economic and jobs news?        

      This country needs moderate Republicans to stand up to the Tea Party extremist wing and take the GOP back towards the center.  We in the 2nd Congressional District have such a Republican in Frank Lobiondo. He claims to be an independent voice. Now is the time for him to emerge as a  leader of sanity in  the GOP.  This country may not survive four more years of inaction. President Obama has clearly stated his willingness to compromise, to work with any Republican who is sincere in wanting to solve the problems that await us.

  Congressman Lobiondo got a warning from the voters this time, as Cassandra Shober cut his winning margin to 18%, the smallest margin in a long time. The demographics are slowly changing as well. A well-financed opponent who could spend money on television ads and continue to educate the voters on how Lobiondo has voted in Congress could make a real run in 2014, especially if voters are frustrated by two more years of inaction and gridlock in DC.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 

norms column 11/07/2012

Posted by coalition4peaceandjustice on November 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Next Week's Column

           11/07/12

                              Give Christie His Due

      This column was written Friday, and with the situation still very much in flux, some of what I'm writing here may have been overtaken by events.  So like last week's column, I'll just do my best.

    My post-election column will be for next week.

      This columnist has been rough on our Governor Chris Christie, calling him a bully, and opposing many of his actions as Governor. Hurricane Sandy showed him in a new light. Watching his news conferences, there was no question that Christie was genuinely moved by the massive destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy. There were amusement parks where he had recently     taken his family that were now just a pile of wood and rubble.  The Governor was clearly exhausted and emotionally drained, but he has done a great job so far, for all the people in New Jersey, no matter what their politics.

     Christie ignored politics as usual and praised President Obama a number of times, and took Obama on a helicopter tour of the battered shore.

This was true bipartisanship: people matter, not politics. Just think if Congress had chosen to act like Christie for the last four years by working with President Obama instead of single-mindedly trying to destroy him.

    Longport Media, composed of WOND 1400, WWAC 102.7 and 98.3, KOOL, did South Jersey a great public service by staying on air for what seemed like forever. I understand that Harry's station also stayed on air overtime. Kudos to both.

    One thing that Sandy did was to bring the issue of climate change/global warming to the  forefront. The New York subway system and the southern end of Manhattan have been  shown to be vulnerable to flooding. Sea levels are rising faster every year, and storms like Sandy are happening more frequently than in the past. Whether one thinks that climate change is caused by humans or just a part of natural cycles, we need to consider the effects of climate change before rebuilding, especially on the barrier islands.

    Avalon and much of Stone Harbor were spared from the worst of Sandy due to their extensive dune system. The dune system on Absecon Island needs to be rebuilt longer and deeper as soon as possible.

We still need to review our electric power distribution system, and consider decentralizing the system by using hydrogen fuel cells, solar and wind power to take some of the pressure off of the grid. Atlantic Electric should hold  a public meeting to discuss their response to Sandy. By now, Atlantic Electric should be able to identify the weakest areas in their distribution system and figure out how to reinforce those areas, perhaps by running some wires underground.

   Three quick housekeeping points: First, please continue to feel free to contact me by email or via my cell. I try to answer all emails and calls as long as they are polite. So please, no capital letters (that is email 'shouting') no name calling, etc. If you call me from a phone that is 'restricted' I won't answer or return your voiced mail. I will keep anything you say to me confidential if needed.

  Second, I do not respond, in this column, to letters to the editor that oppose or criticize this column. I don't feel that it is my job to do so. My job is to be a balance to the two right wing columnists who share this page, and to write columns that get people thinking and dialoging. I do respond to correct any errors I might have made, and I appreciate those readers who have pointed out errors in the past.

     Third, The NJEA Convention set for November 8th and 9th was cancelled last Thursday due to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. We have a great deal of peace and justice inventory that we bought for the convention. If you feel a sudden urge to decorate your car's bumper, please give us a call.

 

 

Coalition for Peace and Justice

 

 


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