Entries in journalists (3)

Tuesday
Jul032018

New Jersey GOP: Don’t be afraid to be Republicans.

By Rubashov

A weekend before the NJGOP held its Leadership Summit in Atlantic City, New Jersey, two contributors to this website attended a gathering of conservative academics and writers and journalists, hosted by an organization founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr.  The 500 present where in Philadelphia to enjoy a nice dinner and listen to a lecture by a writer named Rod Dreher.

Rod Dreher is the senior editor of the national magazine and website, The American Conservative.  This is the publication that predicted the fall of the Bush dynasty and the rise of Donald Trump.  They wrote about the populist shift in GOP politics when most Washington-based journalists were confidently predicting that Paul Ryan was the next big thing.

Dreher wrote a book last year that set the academic world talking.  It was debated in all those places that thoughtful Republicans go to figure out what the world is, and how they – and what they believe – fit into it.  Conservative journalists and think tanks debated the vision Dreher presented – and the book was a popular success, a “New York Times Bestseller”, in fact.

The book is called The Benedict Option (A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation).  It calls for Christian conservatives to reassess their relationships with the outside world – with institutions like the Republican Party and corporate America. 

Once upon a time, conservatives gave their votes to “pro-business” corporatists and in exchange received their “protection” on policies impacting traditional values.  The battle over same-sex marriage ended all that, exposing the business community as cheerleaders for the materialistic “sex and shopping” culture that sustains their short-term profits.  

In response to this and other betrayals, Dreher suggests that believers prepare themselves for a hard time, for a period not unlike that suffered by eastern Christianity during the Communist occupation of their nations and cultures.  The idea is to hold oneself apart, become stronger in belief and in practice, and build new institutions outside the hubbub and the madness.

David Brooks of the New York Times wrote that The Benedict Option was the most important and discussed book in a decade.  Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the book prophetic and something every Christian should read.  Many have.  And they are starting to look at things differently, and beginning to reassess.

It's not only conservative Christians who are recoiling from a betrayal by the Establishment of which they once thought themselves a part.  Working class Americans of all ethnicities, creeds, and genders have given up on a Democratic Party obsessed with global capitalism and a Labor movement that threw them over for an immigration agenda that bloats the gray economy and threatens their jobs.  In his book, The Unwinding, An Inner History of the New America (2013), George Packer extended this loss of connection and idea of betrayal to the broader American middle class.  Meanwhile, libertarians are aghast at the growing regulatory police state and endless “war” economy.  While the election of Donald Trump has left many old-time, business-centric Republicans wondering who is who and what is what. 

Since Rod Dreher's lecture, there have been two regional meetings to discuss the practical implications of The Benedict Option on a state by state, party by party basis.  In each case, an individual reassessment is being made.  One political party organization that appears disconnected to its natural electorate is the Republican Party in New Jersey.  Indeed, it is such to the point of it being said not to possess an electorate at all, but rather a collection of voters who still notionally respond to the word “Republican”.

In arriving at this assessment, the discussion focused on what is a political party and how does it devolve the further it gets from its center.  In other words, everyone knows what it means to be a Republican and this reflects the generalizations held about the party nationally or globally.  But the further away you get from the center the greater the opportunity is for that message or "brand" to be corrupted, and its meaning lost. 

So what is the Republican Party – once we get down to the state level or county level – in a place like New Jersey?

(1) Is it the sum of the beliefs and aspirations of its members, as expressed every four years in a party platform?

(2) Or is it the network of profitable business interests of those who occupy leadership positions within the party?

This isn't a gibe at the leadership of the New Jersey GOP but rather a basic philosophical question.  Those engaged in this discussion are strongly influenced by Edmund Burke, who wrote:  "The principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged."

Burke considered politics to be a branch of ethics.  This separated him from Machiavelli and the modern political tradition which holds that "power" is supreme.

In light of this, the question above is posed.

So, will the NJGOP be guided by morality and ethics – and a written set of principles – or will it merely be a vehicle for men seeking power and the financial opportunities that flow from it?

Once upon a time, a certain Assemblyman – as Chairman of the NJGOP – came in for some very rough criticism because he would not formally endorse (or allow the Republican State Committee to endorse) the platform of the Republican National Committee, which had been debated and democratically approved in the summer of 2008.  

He was criticized for the part he played in leaving the New Jersey Republican Party without a set of written principles, but after he was removed as State Chairman by Governor Chris Christie, there was a new platform, adopted in the summer of 2012, debated and democratically approved as was the one before.  Sure enough, the NJGOP didn't adopt it either.  A new chairman, installed by Governor Christie, ignored the new set of party principles as had been the old.

And now there's been another platform, debated and voted on in the summer of 2016, by delegates from all across America.  And it too, has suffered the same fate as the others.  It has not been endorsed by the NJGOP – leaving the Republican Party in New Jersey without a set principles, a road map by which to judge its success or failure. 

Why?  Any poll will show you that most registered Republicans in New Jersey uniformly support the platform of the Republican Party.  So what makes it so difficult for the members of the New Jersey Republican State Committee to simply say, yes, we are Republicans and we support the democratically approved principles of our party as set down in the Republican Party Platform of 2016?

Well, in most cases, those state committee members are selected by Republican County chairmen in counties that have what is called a "party line".  This is s thumb on the scale at elections that enables a county machine to note who the "official" candidates of the party are. 

It is a system not unlike that practiced in less democratic nations and is thoroughly disreputable.  If New Jersey was a third world country organizing its first elections and it proposed such a thing, the United Nations would be bound to declare those elections rigged and undemocratic.  But New Jersey is part of the West and was established before the founding of the U.N.  So the political parties here are fortunate in that they do not fall under the scrutiny of international law. 

Most New Jersey Republicans are unaware that their state and local party organizations do not operate under a set of principles – or indeed any moral or ethical guide at all.  99 percent have no idea that the national Republican Party platform isn't used as a guide when recruiting potential Republican nominees for public office.

You see, most registered Republicans in New Jersey assume that there is one long chain of command leading from the White House of Donald Trump all the way down to the county committee level.  Republican voters believe that when the county party says that so and so is the "official" party candidate, they are hearing the word of the Republican National Committee.

Of course, this is not true.  That’s why there is so much confusion when state and local Republican leaders in New Jersey fail to match the rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC.  There is no direct line from the White House to the office of the local party boss.  And without a set of principles – a written standard by which to judge good from bad, success from failure – local party organizations are left with nothing but the will and wishes of a controlling party boss or cadre.

The employment and economic interests of many state and local Republican leaders tends to complicate things further.  Many county chairmen function as lobbyists or hold business connections and loyalties that are very much at variance with those principles of the Republican Party and the aspirations of ordinary Republicans.  This leads some party organizations to operate as for-profit mutual benefit societies or in some cases, sole proprietorships.  While some operate as entrepreneurs, others are more like placemen – granted patronage jobs or vendors contracts or some gift of status with which to do business. 

This is a surprise to many ordinary Republican voters in New Jersey, who still believe that their local party stands for the Republican platform.  In reality, when they vote Republican, they are not voting for who they think they are, but rather they are voting for the candidates put forward by what could be described as  independent operators, with agendas often at odds with the Republican Party platform. 

A review of the candidacies put forward by New Jersey Republicans in the last decade clearly shows that the Republican Party platform plays no role in the selection process.  What that means for average Republican voters is that instead of being a members of a party of ideas, of values, of right and wrong -- they are merely facilitators of what are often independent operators, who at times conduct themselves in ways that are more along the lines of an entrepreneur than an ideologue. 

A person’s vote is a very valuable thing.  Voters generally don’t treat it so, but it is.

Recently, Princeton University concluded a study that confirmed what many already feared – America is not a democracy.  How can we be?  Our precious votes are artificially funneled into two silos: Democratic or Republican.  If you want to look past those two, the media, academic, legal, and political powers of the Establishment won’t provide you with much.  “Pick one,” they tell us. 

We pledge our collective votes to one of two political parties with the understanding that we are going to get something in return.  That even if they try and fail, at the very least, they are going to stay somewhat true to what they say they are.  After all, we are voting for a national “brand” and we expect the candidates we vote for to reflect that.  We do not want to buy a new Ford only to learn that in New Jersey, a “Ford” is an aging Datsun.

If average voters think they are voting for a national Ford but instead get a local Datsun, then there really isn’t anything in it for the average Republican voter.  All they are doing is giving away their collective votes so that some local boss can harvest them to use to make money.  They think they are voting for people who believe in the platform of the Republican Party – of that thing they read about every four years and that largely reflects their values.  But it turns out to be just an illusion.  Someone has captured the Republican "brand" and monetized it. 

So voters turn-off, tune-out, and fail to turn-out to vote.

Voters are told how important it is to vote… by the guys who get jobs and contracts and status by monetizing other people’s collective votes. As for the average voter… maybe he or she loses a day’s wages by getting hauled up for jury duty (a delightful by-product of registering to vote).

And if you question how a new Ford is really an old Datsun… well then they call you names.  The true-believer is told he or she is some kind of freak for believing in the party platform.  What is wrong with you for thinking it was on-the-level?  Why would you ever believe that we actually believed in what we said we believed in?  Are you some kind of arsehole?

At the NJGOP Leadership Summit in Atlantic City, it was evident that very few could articulate what the Republican Party stood for.  The talk was all about the new technology available to communicate a message, rather than what that message is.  People who get paid to win campaigns in New Jersey were there to explain tactics and polling but not how to define and sell what we are burdened with… that word “Republican.”

The leadership of the NJGOP is now faced with the task of reconnecting a party with its voters.  To convince the one percent who profit from politics – and who control the levers of power – to allow a space for the 99 percent who simply want to vote for people they believe represent the values and principles of the Republican Party.

This will require patience and understanding – and will be made more difficult by the attitudes of some who use polling to determine political positions, rather than as a means to test arguments with which to convince.  The Democrats are in a position of hegemony because they invited in their true believers, gave them a seat at the table, and reaped financial benefits and grassroots activism by doing so.  They refused to follow public opinion. Choosing instead to make it

The career of Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein should be studied by every aspiring Republican activist.  At the start of his long march, when confronted with disheartening and frankly abysmal polling data, he did not jettison his principles, he shifted the conversation.  He used polling – not as a revelation to tell him what to believe – but as a tool for convincing others.

Remember that no more than 1 percent of those who vote are there to make money off the system.  99 percent show up to vote because they believe Republican means Republican principles and ideas and policies and the platform.  They are not in on the deal.  They get no cut.  So let's build institutions that these people can trust and that – more importantly – earn their trust.

So... which will it be?  A party based on ethics and morality – with a set of principles by which to judge its success or failure?  Or every man for himself, the pursuit of power, the worship of greed?  It is a time for choosing. 

The Republican Party in New Jersey can choose to open itself up to ideas and nail its colors to the mast and say "this is who we are and this is what we stand for!"  Ideas have brought the national Republican Party far – so why are they resisted in New Jersey?  Instead of avoiding issues, embrace them, use them, figure out ways in which to explain them and do so artfully to win the debate. 

For New Jersey Republicans, it is time to remember who you are.

Tuesday
Oct102017

One picture is all you need to know about Rob Jennings

This is Rob Jennings when he worked for corrupt Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo.  Look at Jennings' face.  That's love, and ain't it sweet?

These days, Jennings works for the anti-worker Newhouse media group, responsible for damaging the economic well-being of hundreds of its workers.  Yep, Jennings is a "corporate" Democrat in the mode of Bill and Hillary.  He serves "the man." 

 

We are getting a bit tired of newspapers who sell themselves as "neutral" and "unbiased" and then they hire writers who are anything but.  And based on how many of these so-called "journalists" end up working for "corporate" Democrat candidates and elected officials after they leave the "news" business, it seems that many of them are just auditioning for their future political jobs while writing for a newspaper.  Want to make a bet that this idiot will end up on the staff of a Democrat like Josh Gottheimer, churning out "faux-left" propaganda, 24-7? 


Then again, how would that be different from now?

 

Now here is a story that an insider corporate Democrat like Jennings won't cover:  Bet you didn't know that there is a convicted criminal serving in the Legislature?  Yeah, he's a goodfella corporate Democrat and he was charged with stalking a woman.  He ended up being convicted on federal charges. 

 

This goodfella legislator belongs to the Democrat caucus, which has bottled up anti-home invasion legislation and has prevented it from going before the entire Legislature for a vote.  Jennings doesn't think that's important, but then read this:

 

Police: Man sexually assaulted 2 minors during Wantage burglary 

By Lori Comstock New Jersey Herald

Posted: Oct. 8, 2017

WANTAGE -- The New Jersey State Police and the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office last week brought multiple charges, including two counts of first-degree sexual assault on a minor, against a New York man after police allege he broke into a Wantage residence and threatened two minors with a gun before sexually assaulting them.

According to New Jersey State Police, it is alleged that after police arrived at the scene of the burglary, the man eluded capture by driving away in a stolen truck, knocking over a mailbox, and later abandoning the vehicle in a field. He escaped but was found four days later in Long Island, N.Y.

Craig Lassiter, 33, of Middletown, N.Y., was charged by the state police and the county Prosecutor's Office with the following counts on Wednesday: Two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault on a minor less than 13 years old; two counts of first-degree sexual assault during the commission of a robbery and burglary; one count of first-degree robbery while threatening to use a deadly weapon; two counts of second-degree sexual assault on a minor less than 13-years-old; two counts of second-degree sexual penetration while using physical force; second-degree robbery; two counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child; two counts of third-degree criminal restraint; two counts of third-degree terroristic threats; third-degree theft; two counts of fourth-degree sexual contact; and fourth-degree criminal trespass.

At 2:01 a.m., Monday, Sept. 18, troopers from the New Jersey State Police, Sussex station, responded to a Wantage Township residence after the homeowner called 911 to report a burglary, according to state police.

The caller advised dispatchers that he believed the burglar may still be in the residence.

When troopers arrived, they attempted to stop a Chevrolet Silverado with New York license plates which was driving away from the area of the burglary, police said.

When the trooper activated his overhead lights, the driver -- later identified as Lassiter -- swerved around the trooper's car, ran over a mailbox and sped away, according to police.

Troopers were able to quickly locate the vehicle, which was abandoned in a field, but Lassiter was not located after an extensive search of the area.

Upon further investigation, troopers discovered that the truck was reported stolen out of New York state.

According to police, when detectives and troopers continued their investigation at the residence where the burglary took place, they discovered the incident was more than a burglary.

It was determined that Lassiter entered the residence through a bedroom shared by two juveniles. Once inside, he threatened the victims with physical violence, told them he had a gun, and sexually assaulted them, according to police.

The juveniles eventually told family members, who searched the house and discovered their front door was left open.

Through various investigative means, detectives were able to identify Lassiter as the suspect and through a collaborative investigation with New Jersey State Police Fugitive Unit, New York State Police, Nassau and Suffolk County police departments, and the Middletown City (New York) Police Department, Lassiter was located and arrested on Friday, Sept. 22, in Bayshore, Long Island, N.Y., as the result of arrest warrants issued by Sussex troopers for eluding and receiving stolen property.

He was extradited to New Jersey on Sept. 29, and lodged in the Sussex County jail pending additional charges.

Lassiter is jailed pending a bail hearing.

 

Shouldn't so-called journalists like Rob Jennings put aside their political propaganda long enough to address real issues that impact the lives of ordinary people?  Stop working for "the man" long enough to do something positive for the people.


Wednesday
Jul292015

Is gay the new god?

Are some in the media its new high priests?

You can be forgiven for forming these opinions, especially if you've been watching the reaction to what Congressman Scott Garrett is supposed to have said at a private meeting.  Although no record exists of what the Congressman actually said, supposedly he told a meeting of Republican Congressmen that he didn't want to make a contribution to their campaign account because he didn't like the political ideology of the candidates they funded -- including gay candidates.

Now it has never been confirmed that Congressman Garrett actually said this, but what if he did?  Was he arguing that self-identified "gay" candidates are not by definition "conservative" and so, as a conservative himself, Garrett will not provide financial backing for their candidacies? 

We simply do not know the context of the words Congressman Garrett supposedly, according to sources, said.  But he did, supposedly, say the word "gay" in a negative context.  And that was enough.

You have to go back to the Dark Ages to find the kind of over-reaction that happened next.  Some in the media -- too many -- behaved as if it were a case of treasonous blasphemy and called on Garrett to publicly confess his sin and repent -- or go.  The editor of the Star-Ledger hoped for a savior, as he put it, a "gay John Wayne", to do violence against the Congressman.  This was kind of nuts, but other commentators went much further.

Trenton Democrats even launched a crusade led by an Ironworkers Union - trained LGBT operative, better known for sting operations against homeless shelters for women (what kind of people target and sue homeless shelters anyway?).  Remember the Ironworkers?  The FBI caught them burning a church in Philadelphia and the U.S. Justice Department has been winning conviction after conviction against them.

Looking at the Twitter accounts of some of these "journalists" you would think that what Congressman Garrett may or may not have said was the only important story in the last weeks of July.  When not enjoying their bobo (bourgeois - bohemian) lifestyle, it's all they want to talk about. 

But there are other stories out there.  Important stories that didn't get the attention Garrett's gay blasphemy (supposedly) story got.  And that's a shame, because journalism could have made the difference.

At the July 22nd meeting of the Sussex County Freeholder Board, Freeholder Director Phil Crabb read out the following letter from Freeholder Gail Phoebus to the Board.  It described an imminent concern:

July 22, 2015

The Honorable Phil Crabb

Freeholder Director

Sussex County Administration Building

1 Spring Street

Newton, New Jersey  07860

Dear Director Crabb and Fellow Freeholders:

The Sussex County Division of Social Services has reported that funding for the Emergency Assistance (EA) program has been terminated.  Currently, those making use of the program are all receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Department of Social Security. As such, they have been determined disabled and not able to work.

The Housing Assistance Program (HAP) that helps people with a long term medical issues or disabilities with maintaining housing expired earlier this month.  Now there are 29 adults and 3 children (2 families) who face homelessness on August 1st unless the county can find the money to keep them housed.  One child is a 6-year-old girl who is undergoing treatment for cancer.  There is no way that we can stand by and see her made homeless. 

I suggest that the Freeholder Board hold off spending any money on filling administrative positions until we have worked out how to fund housing for these vulnerable people.  It is the prudent and humane thing to do given the circumstances we face.  Even if it means forgoing some of our salaries as Freeholders, I believe we should look at all options in finding the means for our neighbors to keep a roof over their heads.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

Gail Phoebus

Sussex County Freeholder

Freeholder Phoebus' letter was sent to the same media covering the Garrett gay blasphemy (supposedly) story.  They were too busy.  Because there was no media coverage, no public pressure, 29 adults and 3 children will have no place to live come August 1st.  A child who is undergoing cancer treatment will have to recuperate from the street.

The media's priorities have real consequences.