Monthly Archives: September 2010

>Conservatives Are Crazy

>By Danny Democrat @ NJDems.com

A 2003 study published by the American Psychological Association concluded that political conservatism is rooted in “fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity” and other psychological factors.

According to the article, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature report that the core of the right-wing ideology is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality. http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/07/22_politics.shtml

The emergence of the Tea Party movement has ignited passion among the most extreme adherents of conservatism in Republican politics, a phenomenon ending the careers of many longtime GOP establishment politicians.

Terror management is another psychological factor that influences conservatism, along with a need for certainty and cognitive closure. These primal instincts help define what makes a political conservative at a time in history when human survival probably depends upon a greater adherence to logic and reason.

Research has shown that people in a state of distress by nature are prone to the allure of charismatic leaders but it’s hard to imagine what would have happened if unbridled emotions drove the Kennedy white House in October 1962 instead of cool intellect. http://library.thinkquest.org/11046/days/index.html

Tea bag conservatives reject science as part of their blind loyalty to discredited anti-intellectual ideas and self-righteous faith-based morality, because by not allowing facts to dillute their perspective, they achieve the certainty they prize. http://silentmajority09.com/2010/09/24/conservatives-assault-science/

The leading tea baggers exhibit ultra-conservative craziness that seems to be overlooked by many voters who would normally object the their agenda: Ken Buck, Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle,Carl Paladino, Mike Lee, Joe Miller, Marco Rubio and others. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/15/september-14-primary-elec_1_n_717242.html

Colorado Republican Ken Buck wants to outlaw birth control and a common fertility treatment and he says teenage rape victims should be forced to have babies. http://www.9news.com/news/elections/article.aspx?storyid=151144&catid=140

Republicans advocate a regressive 30 percent sales tax on everything you buy – which they call ‘the fair tax’ — while cutting income taxes again for the richest three percent of the people, tax breaks for multinational corporations that export American jobs. http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/unspinning_the_fairtax.html Regressive taxes make the poorest pay higher rates than the wealthy so Republicans are entirely disconnected from the American people, even if some Democratic incumbents have disappointed many people.

Republicans want to repeal President Obama’s Wall Street reforms, repeal the new rules that stop insurance companies from dumping sick children, repeal changes helping America’s war veterans — and then they want to tie down the administration with subpoenas and investigations that will preclude the president from solving any real problems facing Americans. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20011464-503544.html

Social Security and Medicare are one again in the Republican crosshairs, with Rep. John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, planning to cut benefits and raise the retirement age. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/106135-boehner-raise-social-securitys-retirement-age-to-70

The author of the GOP agenda, Paul Ryan, has put a plan on the table would end Medicare as we know it and leave the nation’s seniors to the private insurance industry. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-Klein/2010/08/paul_ryans_plan_would_end_medi.html

Most of these ideas are well outside the main stream but if Democrats keep pushing for health reform, jobs creation, restrictions on Wall Street and credit cards — essentially all the things they stand for — then they could be in for more than a political fight.

Nevada Republican Sharron Angle said armed rebellion against the federal government saying, “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies…” and she sought support from members of a right-wing extremist group, “The Oath Keepers,” whose members are police or military personnel who believe they need not follow orders and which was formed “In response to the obscene growth of federal power and to the absurdly totalitarian claimed powers of the Executive…” http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/06/reid-opponent-embraces-patriot-group-that-warns-of-giant-concentration-camps.php

Perhaps to enable ‘those Second Amendment remedies,’ for political New Jersey state Sen. Jeff Van Drew wants to make it easier for residents to carry handguns. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/09/nj_senator_pushes_law_allowing.html

The bizarre policy positions are weighted with even more extreme anti-government craziness. According to a Sothern Pverty Law Center report: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she feared that the president was planning ‘reeducation camps for young people,’ while U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, warned of 17 ’socialists’ in Congress.” http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/main/The_Second_Wave.pdf

The same report stated:

[Fox News host Glenn] Beck is just one of the well-known cable TV news personalities to air fictitious conspiracies and other unlikely Patriot ideas. CNN’s Lou Dobbs has treated the so-called Aztlan conspiracy as a bona fide concern and questioned the validity of Obama’s birth certificate despite his own network’s definitive -debunking of that claim. On MSNBC, commentator Pat Buchanan suggested recently that white Americans are now suffering “exactly what was done to black folks.” On FOX News, regular contributor Dick Morris said, “Those crazies in Montana who say, ‘We’re going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.’s going to take over’ — well, they’re beginning to have a case.”

The insane ideas are being backed up by action. The Second Wave includes a chapter outlining 75 right-wing terrorist plots, conspiracies and racist rampages since 1995, when conservative Republican Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people, including 19 children in a day-care center, and injuring another 500. http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/main/The_Second_Wave.pdf

In March 2010, after the report was published, nine Hutaree militia members were arrested in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, for alleged involvement in a plot to murder a law enforcement officer and then attack police officers at the funeral using illegal explosives and firearms in order to incite revolution against the government. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hQlDq4d5Js2bVnV83z7R1ORbsZPA

People who make up the Tea Party movement are largely conservative and get their news from Fox; they’re generally old and of moderate to low income; and they’re fairly convinced that their taxes are going to rise in the next few years, even though they won’t.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/01/tea-party-survey-old-cons_n_522336.html

“It’s the type of group that would likely benefit the most from Democratic governance, with commitments to Social Security, Medicare, and middle-class job creation,” said that report.

Tea baggers also have exceedingly poor views of President Obama. In the aforementioned poll, 81 percent disapproved of his job performance.

The scientific research identified the paranoia and obsession with certainty associated with conservatism but here are some hard examples of how they depart from reality and embrace delusion:

Fueling the myth mongering that Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in a recent interview that the president may follow a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/246302/gingrich-obama-s-kenyan-anti-colonial-worldview-robert-costa

Southern Baptist Pastor Carl Gallups suggests Obama isn’t just Kenyan — he’s also the Antichrist.
http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/feature/2009/07/31/antichrist/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgHUZXgNAWo
http://www.hickoryhammockbaptist.org/interview.html

Such lunacy is not being immediately rejected by voters. Crazed tea baggers won Republican nominations for seven U.S. Senate seats, for New York governor and for dozens of seats in Congress. They are all over the place on ballots for city council, mayor, plus county and state offices.

A Harris poll cemented the notion of the scary conservative who believes that President Obama is many things that, factually, he is not.

The Harris Poll of 2,320 adults surveyed online between March 1 and 8, 2010 finds that large numbers of Tea Party supporters have not just extremely hostile opinions of President Obama but believe many of the false statements about him circulated on cable news and the internet.

The numbers among Tea Party supporters are scary, indeed: 67% believe the President is a socialist, although Harris didn’t do anything to verify that respondents knew what that word meant. More than half believe he is a Muslim,

The real sizzlers, are the 45% who believe he wasn’t born in the US, and the 25% who say he “may be the Antichrist” and 24% who say he wants the terrorists to win. These people think our president is a Nazi-esque Muslim Antichrist. http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/117/Default.aspx

The Republican leadership’s willingness to flirt with ideas like the birth certificate conspiracy, or their insistence that health care reform is an “apocalypse,” paints all Republicans as unhinged loons and obliterate conservative credibility.

If you are still thinking about voting Republican, please see a mental health professional at once.

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Filed under American Psychological Association, Conservatives, Danny Democrat, Harris Poll, NJDems.com, Republicans, Tea Party, Teabaggers

>The White House White Board: CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee Explains the Tax Cut Fight

>From the White House Blog

Today Team Obama is trying something new, they are rolling out the – White House White Board,in which one of the key players on the White House team will cut through the political back-and-forth you hear every day and break down an issue affecting American families into simple, understandable terms. Today, Austan Goolsbee, the new Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, tackles the tax cut fight and what it means that Congressional Republicans are “holding middle class tax cuts hostage” as the President has said:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

Key points and links:

Under President Obama’s plan, all Americans would receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income. Every middle class family would receive the immediate certainty and comfort of knowing their tax cuts were permanently extended. Every American making more than $250,000 per year they would receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income.

Instead of working to give middle class families this immediate certainty and comfort, Congressional Republicans are continuing to hold that relief hostage in order to have our nation borrow $700 billion that we can’t afford to provide an average tax cut of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires.

We simply can’t afford to give the wealthiest Americans these big tax cuts that would add to our deficit and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, be just about the least effective way to grow our economy and help create jobs.

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Filed under Austan Goolsbee, Congressional Budget Office, Conservative Republicans, middle-class tax cuts, President Obama, The White House White Board, White House Blog

>Monmouth Jail Death: Brophy Asks "Why, How And Under What Circumstances Did Death Occur?"

>BROPHY FOR SHERIFF

Press Contact: Jon Evans (732) 739 8888
September 28, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WALL, NJ – On July 29, 2010, Amit Bornstein, age 22 of Marlboro was arrested by Monmouth County Sheriff’s Officers on a warrant for failing to appear in Superior Court. Eight (8) hours later he was dead. Why, how and under what circumstances this death occurred have yet to be released by acting-Sheriff Shaun Golden. In fact, sixty (60) days after Bornstein’s death, Golden has yet to make a public statement about the incident.

Eric Brophy, candidate for Monmouth County Sheriff commented, “I am appalled that Mr. Golden has not stepped forward to address the residents of Monmouth County about this event. Part of a Sheriff’s job is to assure the public that they are safe and that he is in control of his agency.”

In his campaign literature, Mr. Golden touts ‘effective, responsible leadership’. His lack of public acknowledgement of the events surrounding Mr. Bornstein’s death is neither ‘effective’ nor ‘responsible.’ Failing to acknowledge the event does nothing more than fuel speculation about what occurred on July 29, 2010.

It is now two (2) months later and the only facts the public knows are that (a) it wasn’t a suicide; (b) the family hired Dr. Michael Baden; and (c) the Bornstein family lawyer has obtained an order preserving evidence in the case. “The lack of information from the Sheriff’s Office raises many questions about Golden’s crisis-management abilities,” said Brophy.

As a result of Golden’s inaction, there is now speculation about whether the Sheriff’s office is conducting an internal investigation; whether any corrections or other officers have been suspended pending the outcome of any investigation; whether a criminal investigation is underway; or whether the medical examiner has determined the cause and manner of death.

Brophy further commented “Monmouth County needs a Sheriff who is open with the public, who will be accountable for his office, and who will take the steps necessary to investigate potential wrongdoing. Golden should have stepped forward publically on July 29, 2010, and announced the specifics of this serious situation that occurred on his watch – and furthermore, he should have announced what steps, precisely, he is undertaking to get to the bottom of this potentially criminal situation. Instead, he remains silent and the public continues to speculate.”

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Filed under Eric Brophy, jail death, Monmouth County Sheriff, press release

>Byrnes & Mahoney Town Hall Meeting Was a Big Success

>Last nights Sean Byrnes and Mary Mahoney’s Town Hall Meeting at the Middletown Panera Bread location was a big success. It was better than hoped for with over 50 people in attendance, many of then Republicans, who voiced their concerns over the lack of transparency shown by those down at Town Hall and how those in charge have been running the Township over the past several years which has resulted in the largest tax hike in Monmouth County this year (nearly 14%).

Overall, it was a very informative meeting that Sean Byrnes tried his best to make as non-political as possible, which I believe those in attendance appreciated. Many of them were there to be informed about what was happening at Town Hall and what possible solutions they could expect to their problems if Byrnes and his running mate Mary Mahoney were elected. They didn’t want to hear them slam or complain their opponents.

Committeeman Byrnes chose to highlight 3 topics of discussion last night; Planning (or lack there of), the Execution of Government and the Inefficiencies that are associated with the “business as usual” way that Middletown has been run, which has lead to tax increases of over 42% during the last 5 years.
Byrnes’s running mate, Mary Mahoney, introduced herself to the crowd and spoke about how and why she became interested in running for the Township Committee. She told those in attendance that she became involved back in December of last year when the Township decided to install an artificial turf fields complex with concession stands and lighting across the street from her house at the West Front Street Park, with no notification or discussion with the residents of the area that would be affected by such a complex. Mahoney went on to tell those in attendance how she helped form the citizens group SONIC, that defeated the sports complex at West Front Street and how she came to realize that the Mayor (Gerry Scharfenberger) and others were more interested in themselves and getting elected than doing what’s right for all the residents of Middletown.
The floor was then opened for a Question and Answer period, where attendees asked Sean Byrnes questions that ranged from the Governor’s “Tool Kit” and civil service rules, recording and televising Township meetings and what it would mean for residents if the Township Committee reverted back to it’s old make-up of a 5-0 super majority of all Republicans and no Democrats.
I recorded over an hour worth of video last night that will take me a few days to edit down for posting. When I do, readers will be able to see and hear for themselves how well the Town Hall Meeting went and decide whether or not Byrnes and Mahoney deserve your votes.

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Filed under Byrnes and Mahoney, execution of government, inefficiencies, Middletown Township Committee, planning, town hall meeting

>NJPP Monday Minute 9/27/10: Good, Better … Best Practices

>
On October 1, every municipality will puts its state aid on the line. As part of the governor’s reform Tool Kit, towns will only receive 100 percent of their state municipal aid payment if they respond “yes” to at least 76 out of 88 questions listed in the governor’s “Local Government Best Practices.” Not having enough “yes” answers will cut their final aid payments for this year at a time when most municipalities have already lost some of their state aid.

Many of the questions make sense. Elected officials should understand their responsibilities and obligations and should attend most of their organization’s meetings. It would be good for the municipal websites to include standard useful information like municipal budgets, minutes and agendas of the various governing bodies and boards, and the names of people to contact. A personnel manual is important for employees of the municipality to know the rules…and certainly the municipality should have rules.

Many questions suggest that important policies are in place and are recognized as important. Since assessed values are the basis for the property taxes people pay, towns should recognize that maintaining those records is a critical feature of good management. Unfortunately, only 60 percent of municipalities will be able to answer “yes” to that question.

Other questions contradict each other so if a municipality says “yes” to one, it can’t say “yes” to the other. For instance, one question asks if the municipality employs a full-time health officer. The next question asks if the municipality shares health services with another municipality or county. If you say yes to one, the only way you can say yes to the other is if you have more than one health official.

Some questions contradict state policy. For instance, the questionnaire asks if the municipality limits health benefits to full-time (35 or more hours weekly) employees-excluding from coverage all part-time employees, elected and appointed officials. Newly enacted laws on this subject (P.L. 2010, c. 1 and c. 2) define full time for local government employees as 32 or more hours a week.

And while the questionnaire asks whether the municipality has implemented cost sharing for health benefits by collecting at least 1.5 percent of salary for all employees, it is silent on pensions. If the state is interested in health benefits why not also pension costs? It might be a big surprise for the borough administrator to find out how many pensions some of their shared service workers are entitled to receive upon retirement.

Of course, that is not a “yes” or “no” question, but it could be phrased along the lines of, “Do any of your full-time employees also work full-time in another municipality?” Also, “Do you know how much your full-time employees get paid by the other municipalities where they also work full-time?”

How about nepotism and political patronage? Because this issue clearly fits into the category of ethics and personnel manuals, what about asking, “Does the municipality condone the hiring of a son by a father, a sister by a brother or a mother by a daughter?” or maybe even a more pointed, “Does the municipality allow a mayor, council person or other public official to buy municipal property?”

How about various sanitation practices? Under the public works section of the questionnaire, several questions are asked about recycling. But how about asking whether the municipality picks up trash more than once a week? Or whether the municipality picks up grass clippings?

And what about the ultimate questions?

Are you too big or too small to function effectively?

Do you annually have a joint meeting of officials from every taxing authority to see how you can coordinate and manage the services you provide taxpayers to guarantee that you are providing the highest quality, most cost effective services possible?

“Yes” and “no” questionnaires have both value and limitations. They are like public report cards. If made public, they raise questions. NJPP has always believed information should be provided to the public in an understandable way. “Yes” and “no” is pretty simple. And making municipalities answer the questionnaire or lose state aid is a pretty direct stick. But tying these “yes” answers to the allocation of state aid may not be the best practice when non-compliance is likely to amount to further increases in property taxes to make up for lost state aid.

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Filed under Local Government Best Practices, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective

>Middletown Dems – Byrnes & Mahoney To Hold Town Hall Meeting

>

Middletown Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes, a long with his running mate Mary Mahoney, will hold the first of two planned Town Hall meetings Monday night September 27th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at Panera Breads, 776 Hwy 35 Middletown,NJ.
“The Status Quo Is Not Good Enough, Have You Had Enough?”

(click on image to enlarge)

Hear about and discuss issues affecting your quality of life in Middletown.

A second Town Hall meeting will be held on Wednesday Oct.13th in Leonardo.

Further details will be release as the date draws near.

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Filed under Byrnes and Mahoney, Middletown Democrats, Panera Breads, town hall meeting

>Health reform’s benefits kick in

>By REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN posted at Politico.com

Six months ago, President Barack Obama signed the new health reform legislation that will bring down health care costs for American families and small businesses, expand health coverage to an additional 32 million Americans and end the widespread abuses in the health insurance industry. The Affordable Care Act is the most groundbreaking reform of health care coverage since Medicare. It reduces the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next 20 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Americans are already benefiting from several important provisions that have taken effect. More than 4 million small businesses are eligible for $40 billion in tax credits, helping them offer employee health insurance coverage. Children with pre-existing conditions who have long been denied coverage now have access to a health plan in every state, including Maryland. Seniors in the Medicare Part D program are now receiving an annual supplement of $250 as the first installment toward closing the notorious “doughnut hole.” No longer will seniors be forced to choose between food or heat and lifesaving medications. Early retirees are also benefiting, because the program helps employers continue their health coverage.

This week, some crucial health care consumer protections begin. This new Patients’ Bill of Rights helps Americans obtain better care, lower their costs and improve their health coverage security.

Health insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick and need health care the most. Young adults — the largest population of uninsured Americans before passage of this law — can now remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until their 26th birthday. Health plans can no longer impose lifetime limits on coverage, and annual limits are to be phased out over three years — a dramatic change for families, because more than 60 percent of people who declared bankruptcy in 2007 cited medical bills as a reason, and medical costs have only increased since.

Over time, the Affordable Care Act will prohibit insurance companies from denying anyone coverage based on pre-existing conditions, create insurance exchanges so that Americans have the same health plan choices as members of Congress and implement the biggest tax cut for health care in U.S. history to ensure that middle-class families can afford insurance. The new law puts Americans, not the health insurance companies, in charge of their own health care.

Unfortunately, Washington Republicans want to repeal the law and take away these important consumer protections and benefits. Under their plan, things would grow worse and the deficit would increase. The CBO found that the Republicans’ plan would increase the number of uninsured to 52 million — higher than today.

The Republican plan would also make coverage unaffordable for millions of Americans, eliminate tax credits that help people cover their premiums and remove assistance to small businesses that offer coverage for their employees.

I am proud that these reforms, enacted by Congress, are helping make a difference in Americans’ lives today, and I am committed to ensuring the legislation is implemented successfully.

To learn more about these provisions and other ways that health reform will help you, please visit http://www.healthcare.gov/.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) serves as assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

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Filed under health care reform, Politico.com, President Obama, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, The Affordable Care Act