Monthly Archives: May 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Beatles

Do you remember a time when all we worried about on a Saturday morning was waking up to watch our favorite Saturday morning cartoons.

For those of you who reminisce fondly about these times, do you remember this one. The first episode of the popular Beatles cartoon from 1965on ABC :

The Beatles Cartoons – A Hard Day’s Night

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Filed under ABC, Saturday morning cartoons, The Beatles

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 5/30/09

The President discusses the breadth and depth of experience held by his nominee for the Supreme Court. In the course of a life that began in a housing project in the South Bronx and brought her to the pinnacle of her profession, Judge Sonia Sotomayor accumulated more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years, touching nearly every aspect of our legal system.

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Filed under President Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, U.S Supreme Court, weekly address


For immediate release: May 29, 2009
Contact: Sen. Joseph Vitale (732) 887-5069

“Does Christie condone using state taxpayer money to pay for a state senator’s political adviser?”

TRENTON – Citing an Associated Press report that John Inglesino, a top political adviser, chief fundraiser and long time friend of Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie was put on the state payroll of Senator Joseph Pennacchio as a “political adviser” for the minimum $3,000 required to keep him active in the state pension system, Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) called on Christie to join them in demanding the release of any work product related to the position.

“Does Christie condone using state taxpayer money to pay for a state senator’s political adviser?” asked Vitale.  “He says he did not know that his long time friend, political adviser and chief fundraiser was put on a state payroll to extend his state taxpayer funded benefits, so Christie should  join me in demanding the release of Inglesino’s work product for Senator Pennacchio.  We all deserve to see exactly what this “political adviser” did in his state taxpayer funded job that allowed him to pad his pension.”

Vitale called on Pennacchio to release any documents that were authored by, copied to or mention Inglesino to illustrate the work he performed to earn his taxpayer-funded salary and pension benefits. Vitale said such documents could include, but not be limited to, memos, letters, emails, reports, or any other written correspondence, as well as Inglesino’s calendar of appointments and or schedules and records of meetings and phone logs.

Inglesino entered the state pension system 13 years ago as Mayor of Rockaway Township.  He stayed in the system as a Morris County Freeholder.  Upon losing the freeholder position, he was added onto then Assemblyman Pennacchio’s payroll the day after his freeholder term ended, keeping him in the pension system.  Pennacchio said in an Associated Press interview that he hired Inglesino because he was getting a “top-notch political adviser”.  Being placed back on a state payroll for the minimum required $3,000 allows Inglesino to increase his state-taxpayer funded retirement benefits and puts him a year closer to the required 25 years of state service for lifetime medical benefits.

“In an interview on 101.5, Christie said he believes ‘pension abuse is terrible’ and, in his role as U.S. Attorney and as a gubernatorial candidate, never hesitated to condemn this exact behavior,” said Vitale.  “Yet, the people closest to him continue to disregard his public ethics pronouncements.  He needs to join me in demanding the release of Inglesino’s work product for Senator Pennacchio because it looks like his close friend and chief fundraiser is abusing the state-taxpayer funded pension system.”

This is not the first time a friend of Christie’s has run afoul of his public ethics pronouncements.  After condemning dual office holding, Christie was the featured guest at a fundraiser for Carl Block, the mayor of Stafford and Ocean County clerk.  Block subsequently lost his bid for re-election as mayor.

Inglesino has said previously that he and Christie have been friends for 15 years.  Inglesino’s law firm was the recipient of a $3 million no-bid contract from Christie while he was still U.S. Attorney.  Inglesino, his partners and their spouses subsequently gave the maximum funds allowed to Christie’s campaign and Inglesino later co-hosted a $500 a plate fundraiser after Christie said he would no longer accept campaign donations from lawyers that received no-bid contracts from him. 

Previously, Assemblyman Rick Merkt alleged that Inglesino offered him a major position in Christie’s administration or campaign if he stayed out of the gubernatorial race.  Democrats have asked the state Attorney General’s office or the United States Attorney’s office to investigate the claim.

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Filed under Chris Christie, New Jersey, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Sen. Joseph Vitale, state pension system

Al Roker gets ripped for snapping court pix & tweeting during jury duty

Today Show weatherman Al Roker took some good hearted ribbing from his co-hosts Matt Lauer and Merideth Viera today over his Twittering from the jury pool at the Manhattan Court House yesterday.
Below is the news account from the NY Daily News followed by video from this mornings Today Show, it is good for a laugh or two so check it out.

NY Daily News –

Al Roker’s stint on jury duty was short – and Tweet.

The “Today” weatherman got into hot water yesterday for snapping pictures of jurors waiting to be called in the 15th floor assembly room at Manhattan Supreme Court – and posting them on his Twitter page.

“I’m not breaking laws…just trying to share the experience of jury duty,” Roker wrote on his page. “One that I think is important and everyone should take part in.”

Roker’s postings set the blogosphere atwitter and in no time his pictures of jurors – their faces mostly blurred – popped up on and other Web sites.

Just as quickly, Roker found himself on the defensive.

“So everyone is clear, I am NOT taking pictures in the courtroom,” he wrote. “So folks need to lighten up. I am in the jury lounge.”

Read More

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

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Filed under Al Roker, jury duty, Manhattan Supreme Court House, Matt Lauer, Merideth Viera, NY Daily News, Today Show, Twitter

Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos ‘Show Rape’

May 28, 2009 by The Telegraph/UK

Is rape torture or do we just care about waterboarding? Both are abuses of power and most deffinately torture. Read this excerpt from todays Telegraph and tell me what you think.
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.
Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.
“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

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Filed under Abu Ghraib, Iraq, pictures, rape, sexual abuse, torture

Townships Presentation to Middletown Board of Education A Lot About Nothing

I returned home a short while ago from the Township’s’ special presentation to the Middeltown Board of Education concerning the installation of artificial turf fields on the campuses of Thorne and Thompson Middle Schools. To be frank, It was a waste of time. The township had no real plan to present and no real answers to questions.

It seemed as if Township Administrator Tony Mercantante was somewhat unprepared, he had a few ariel shots of the proposed sites with superimposed rectangles to simulate where the fields would be installed and not much else.

Mercantante basically just asked the Board of Education if they would like to partner up with the township on this project. When BOE members asked specific questions he answered that all the details would have to be worked out during land lease and partnership negotiations and that problems would be ironed out then.

About two dozen residents voiced concerns about the projects and asked the BOE to keep in mind the hidden costs that may associated with this plan. A couple of other residents mentioned the safety and injury concerns associated with artificial surfaces.

Overall though, it was a waste of time for the public to invited to hear because there was just not enough details and as I stated earlier, there are many questions that need to be answered like, who would be responsible for maintaining the fields? What about insurance liabilities? Who would be responsible for supervising or policing them during off hours? Who gets preference of use, the school system or sports leagues? Who replaces the carpet when it wears out in 10 years do to over use? What about lighting, concessions, locker rooms and bathroom facilities? All of these questions and more need to be answered before this project can move forward, not just brushed over with false statements or promises that can not be kept.

So let it be known that I am not opposed to the fields per say, I think that it is a good idea, a win-win situation for both the Township and the Board of Education, but it has to be done right all of the I’s need to be dotted and all the T’s crossed before I feel comfortable with giving this matter my unconditional support.

There is also the problem that I have with this years township budget. How can we spend money on obvious luxury items around town when we can’t balance our budget? The adoption of the budget is almost 6 months late and have a proposed 9.2% tax increase associated with it. if we have money lying around for 3 athletic fields maybe we should drop the idea for the 3rd and use that money to off set the shortfall in the current budget.

One thing that was lost at the meeting, which I feel that I should mention is that even if these fields are not approved by the Board of Education, the Township seems to have every intention on moving forward with installing an artificial surface over the football field that is located at Croydon Hall. This is the 3rd field mentioned and is used by Pop Warner teams in town.


Filed under artificial turf fields, Football, Middeltown Board of Education, Middletown Parks and Recreation, natural grass, Pop Warner, tax increase, Tony Mercantante

Olbermann Interviews Water Boarded Radio Host, "Mancow" Muller

Right-wing radio host Eric “Mancow” Muller, who had once called Barack Obama “a secret Muslim” had been saying waterboarding isn’t torture. But unlike Sean Hannity and others, he put his money where his mouth was, and went through with being waterboarded to prove it.

He lasted a 6 seconds saying its worse than anything he ever imagined, equating it as being worse than drowning. He said that it is definitely torture and he would have said anything in the world to make them stop.

Keith Olbermann congratulated him on his efforts and has donated $10,000 to the Veteran of Valour charity founded by Sgt. Klay South, who administered the waterboarding.
Watch the interview and then you can decide if waterboarding is torture or not:

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Filed under Barack Obama, Countdown with Keith Olberman, Eric"Mancow"Muller, Sean Hannity, Sgt. Klay South, torture, Veterans of Valour, waterboarding

The Pros and Cons of Artificial Fields at Middletown Middle Schools

Tonight there will be a special presentation by Middletown Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to the Middletown Board of Education that will outline a plan to have artificial turf fields installed at the campuses of two township middle schools believed to be Thorne and Thompson. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Middletown High School North. This plan is expected to be controversial so the public is strongly encouraged to attend the 6:30 pm presentation.

I’ve thought about this idea since I heard about it late last week, it is not necessarily a bad idea. If done right it would benefit both the school system and the township. The BOE has the expertise in managing and maintaining artificial turf fields already with the athletic fields installed at both high schools and if a mutually acceptable partnership could be worked out then the township gains by being able fulfill a goal of its Parks & Recreation Master Plan.

The P&R Master Plan recommended that the township consider the installation of 2-3 artificial turf fields to go along with the two high school fields if the differences between the BOE and the township could be worked out. By doing so, it would allow the use of the high school fields by the various sports leagues in town and the need for further fields in town would be negated.

Could the Town and the BOE work out such differences? It would be quite an achievement if they could. There are many questions that need to be answered like, who would be responsible for maintaining the fields? What about insurance liabilities? Who would be responsible for supervising or policing them during off hours? Who gets preference of use, the school system or sports leagues? Who replaces the carpet when it wears out in 10 years do to over use? What about lighting, concessions, locker rooms and bathroom facilities? All of these questions and more need to be answered before this project can move forward.

Why not spend that money, which is burning such a hole in the township’s pockets on maintaining or improving the currents natural turf fields, or building new ones around town? Over a 20 year period the costs of a natural turf filed is less then that of an artificial turf field.

What makes the artificial fields more desirable is the fact that you can hold more events on them because of the superior drainage and surface, so the additional costs are justified by the number of additional games that can be played on them.

The lingering question in my mind however remains whether or not the township can afford to spend the $2-3 million needed for these fields in a time of economic uncertainty for the township. The township budget has a shortfall of $2.4 million dollars and we are looking at a 9.2% tax increase to make up the difference, to me the installation of any athletic field is a luxury not a necessity at this time.


Filed under artificial turf fields, Budget Shortfall, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, Park and Recreation Master Plan, tax increase, Tony Mercantante

Middletown GOP Candidate Massell Proposed Tax on Homeowners Who Cut Down Trees

Middletown Planning Board member and GOP Candidate for Township Committee, Steve Massell, recently proposed to the township committee that homeowners should be taxed for cutting down trees on their properties.

During the public comments portion of the May 18th Middletown Township Committee Meeting, Massell read from a front page article of the Asbury Park Press, the first paragraph of a story entitled “Justices OK tree-clearing fee in Jackson”.  
The paragraph stated that the “The state Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Jackson’s tree-removal ordinance, which requires property owners to replace any healthy tree taken down or pay into a fund dedicated to planting trees and shrubs on public property.”
Massell said that he was upset at seeing sections of town “clear-cut” by developers in order to build housing developments like Harmony Glen, which is off of Harmony road, behind the Shoprite. He felt that by charging homeowners upwards of $800 per tree (to be put in a general fund for tree and shrub replacement like the Jackson tree-removal ordinance calls for), would be a good way to dissuade developers from building in town. He never thought of the cost to the average homeowner that would like to build a single family home on a private lot or the homeowners that would like to expand their existing homes. Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger pointed out to Mr. Massell that as a member of the planning board, he should be aware that the township already has ordinances in place to force developers into replanting a certain number of trees that had been clear-cut once a new development has been completed.
Steve Massell then left the podium, mumbling to himself something about how he still thought it would be a good idea if the township committee considered the Jackson ordinance, which surprises me. One would have thought that Massell would have first talked about this with his fellow GOPers before presenting his idea in front of the committee, after all Pam Brightbill and Tony Fiore sit on the planning board with Massell.
I have a couple of things I would like to point out to Steve Massell:
First, as a Planning Board member, you have a say in how builders develop property in town. When a builder brings prints to the planning board for approval why don’t you insist that a property could not be clear-cut? Have builders submit plans that leave some trees and shrubbery in place, I am sure that an architects could handle planning such a development.
Second, in the winter 2005 edition of Middletown Matters, then Mayor Tom Hall address the issue in the Mayor’s Message titled “Keeping the trees was not an option for the Crestview Drive & Route 35 site”.

He stated, “…can’t help but notice a new landscape. The stretch of woods located next to the revamped shopping center has been replaced with a barren, unattractive construction site.” “…I share the sentiments conveyed by many in phone calls, letters and conversations: I’d rather keep the trees. However, that’s simply not an option.” 

So Steve, before you propose a tax on residents make sure that you do your homework first and check with the other members of your party before presenting such an idea, particularly since as a Planning Board member, you can already take steps against clear-cutting

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Filed under clear-cutting, developments and builders, Gerry Scharfenberger, Harmony Glen, Middletown Matters, Pamela Brightbill, Steve Massell, Tom Hall, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

by Eric Zimmermann

 May 1, 2009

Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor is name most talked about as Justice Souter’s possible replacement.

What do we know about her?

Originally appointed to the federal court by President George H.W. Bush, Sotomayor was elevated to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton. Born in 1954, she’s a graduate of Yale Law School and served as assistant district attorney for New York County from 1979-1984.

In the next few days and weeks, we’re likely to hear a lot more on Sotomayor’s legal opinions, which will become fodder in a possible confirmation battle.

As a preliminary sketch, here are a few of the more colorful cases Sotomayor helped decide. NOTE: I am not a lawyer, so I can’t speak to the constitutional significance of each of these decisions.

In 2004, a panel of judges including Sotomayor revoked the citizenship of Jack Reimer, then 96, when it came to light that Reimer had served in the German Army in WWII. Here’s the twist: Reimer was originally drafted into the Russian Army, but was captured by the Germans in June 1941. He was forced to train as a guard and, prosecutors alleged, helped clear Jewish ghettos forcibly. Prosecutors alleged Reimer had misrepresented his wartime activities when he originally applied for a U.S. visa under the Displaced Persons Act.

Here’s how Sotomayor ruled:

“As an initial matter, Reimer argues that it would be unjust to consider his wartime conduct ‘assistance’ in persecution, contending that he was obliged either to go along with the commands of his superiors or face death himself,” Sotomayor wrote. “This argument, however, is plainly foreclosed by Fedorenko. There, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that those forced into the Nazis’ service should not be held responsible for their conduct, reasoning that, if Congress had intended for visas to be withheld from only those who voluntarily assisted in persecution, it would have stated so in the [Displaced Persons Act].”

In September 2003, Sotomayor joined in a ruling that upheld the constitutionally of so-called “perp walks” for alleged criminals. As long as there is not an “an inherently fictional dramatization” involved in the scene, the court ruled, perp walks could continue.

“The image of the accused being led away to contend with the justice system powerfully communicates government efforts to thwart the criminal element, and it may deter others from attempting similar crimes,” wrote Judge Fred Parker.

In 2004, Sotomayor joined a ruling that upheld a law targeted at the Ku Klux Klan that would ban mask-wearing in public.

“The masks that the American Knights seek to wear in public demonstrations does not convey a message independently of the robe and hood,” the court decided. “That is, since the robe and hood alone clearly serve to identify the American Knights with the Klan, we conclude that the mask does not communicate any message that the robe and the hood do not. The expressive force of the mask is, therefore, redundant.”

This is only a tiny glimpse of Sotomayor’s legal philosophy. Stay tuned as operatives on both sides of the fight dredge up past opinions of all the possible nominees.

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Filed under citizenship, Eric Boehlert, Jack Reimer, Justice David Souter, KKK, Ku Klux Klan, nazi, New Jersey Supreme Court, perp walk, SCOTUS, Sonia Sotomayor, The Hill, Zimmermann