Monday, July 27, 2009
Above is a video of a proteste outside of Mayor Peter Cammarano's home. I copied it from Hoboken 411 the site that covers the protest with the same zest they cover everything: like a vacuous, pee brained Hobokenite. I have not seen this many people gathered in Hoboken since the bars let out Friday night at 2:00 AM. Maybe people in Hoboken really are fed up with their government and they really want a change. The video is a bit crazy and the voters/citizens take it out on a Cammarano supporter.
I knew Cammarano a little bit, I first met him when I helped out with the Menendez campaign and he was so "pumped" for the campaign I knew there was something wrong with him. I said to him: "Menendez?" "Why are you here then" He said. I said the same reason I always support the Democrats because I don't want Republicans to win." He looked at me funny. He asked me what I did. So, I told him I am a prisoner reentry attorney helping to ease prisoners back into society. He looked at me like I had three horns on my head (it is part of the reason I like saying that). The rest of the attorneys looked at me funny too. He wasn't alone.
From then on, however I knew he was just another politician like the rest. He certainly had talent and was smart enough. I saw him at political meetings/voter protection meetings and everyone knew he was gearing up to run for Mayor. He was usually full of shit and said things to just be part of the conversation. He never recognized me though we worked together several times and we had several conversations. But, he would act like he knew me. I usually said something snarky and he just ignored me. He supported Clinton and I was one of the big Hoboken Obama supporters. No one in Hoboken liked that until Obama won and then all of a sudden everyone was a big Obama supporter from the beginning.
A friend of mine always told me: "Wait. He is going to get his. The Guy has skeletons." Turns out he was right. I don't think there is any question he should resign. He is innocent until proven guilty, surely, but there is a difference between being found guilty of a federal crime and doing something morally repugnant. Unless the government is lying through their teeth this guy took bribes and acted like a complete asshole. Whether the government has enough is a question, but the people of Hoboken already have and have had enough.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Several North Jersey politicians were arrested this morning on Federal Corruption charges. The suspects included newly elected Mayor of Hoboken, Secaucus Mayor, Dennis Elwell, Jersey City Deputy Mayor, Leona Baldini and Jersey City Council President, Mario Vega. Several Rabbis and politicians from New York were arrested as well.
Update: Below are videos of the men and women brought in and arrested for bribes and corruption. Harvey Smith, a New Jersey Assemblyman and recent mayoral candidate charged with taking $15,000 in bribes for building projects.
An Assemblyman and the Mayor of Secaucus arrested for $10,000 cash bribes
Louis Manzo, another unsuccessful Mayoral candidate in Jersey City and his brother arrested for $27,500 cash bribes for the campaign.
Leona Baldini, the deputy mayor charged with $20,000 cash payments
Other mayors in Ridgefield, NJ and Rabbis across New Jersey and Brooklyn charged with issuing the bribes and money laundering.
|Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, and Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt are led into FBI building in Newark|
Cammarano, the newly elected Mayor of Hoboken is charged with cash bribes of $25,000 including a cash bribe of $10,000 last Thursday!
|Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell led in handcuffs into FBI building|
If one thing is clear, the corruption and bribery charges just made it tougher for Corzine to get elected. But, someone who has appeared in local politics in Hoboken, NJ - everyone knows this goes on and no one will do anything about it. For our state to change and for the Democratic party to change, to a party that is interested in progress and the people this had to happen. The question is this enough? Or is a political hit job?
I am not sure, but it seems obvious much of these officials are going down.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
I think it is important to hear because this is why the hearings on Sonia Sotomayor were important because the Republicans were playing to these fears of "white working class people" that they are the aggrieved not people of color who have been discriminated against for 400 years in this country. It exposes the very real fear of many Americans about the election of Barack Obama and this Supreme Court nominee. Buchanan makes no bones about saying it out loud. Twenty years ago this would have been called racism. Today, in 2009 we have leaped back so far this is political dialogue.
For the record, I attended CUNY law school in Queens, NY easily the most diverse law school in the nation based on race, ethnicity, gener and sexual orientation. It isn't even close when you do the comparisons. The value of that classroom, to hear the voices of so many who are underrepresented in the mainstream dialogue will serve me for the rest of my life. Without it, I almost attended many other law schools, I do not know if I would have learned the same breadth and depth of knowledge and experience, in my opinion the most important part of being a lawyer is empathy, just as Barack said that he wanted in his choice for the Supreme Court. Empathy can bring down nations, cultures, my professor of Political Communication from Salem State theorized it is the very thing that brought eastern Europe back into the fold.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
But things are changing. One of those things, which most of the world up until now has lived on, is a certain economic dependence on the US. A poor country like Brazil would provide raw materials in exports, and import about everything else. The exchange was not very even-handed, and the big economy, namely the US, would name its price on everything from coffee to rubber to sugar.
Writing in Vanity Fair, Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stieglitz discusses how the Thirld World may view the future of their relations with the US. As he writes: In much of the world, however, the battle between capitalism and socialism—or at least something that many Americans would label as socialism—still rages. While there may be no winners in the current economic crisis, there are losers, and among the big losers is support for American-style capitalism...Colonialism left a mixed legacy in the developing world—but one clear result was the view among people there that they had been cruelly exploited.
Stieglitz makes a startling point when he describes how many of the same people who were put in charge of dealing with the crisis in Asia in the 1990s are now trying to get the US out of the huge hole it got itself into...a hole created by the same policies that the US hel over countries like Argentina and Brazil. The hypocrisy is not going unnoticed around the developing world.
The contrast between the handling of the East Asia crisis and the American crisis is stark and has not gone unnoticed. To pull America out of the hole, we are now witnessing massive increases in spending and massive deficits, even as interest rates have been brought down to zero. Banks are being bailed out right and left. Some of the same officials in Washington who dealt with the East Asia crisis are now managing the response to the American crisis. Why, people in the Third World ask, is the United States administering different medicine to itself?Many in the developing world still smart from the hectoring they received for so many years: they should adopt American institutions, follow our policies, engage in deregulation, open up their markets to American banks so they could learn “good” banking practices, and (not coincidentally) sell their firms and banks to Americans, especially at fire-sale prices during crises. Yes, Washington said, it will be painful, but in the end you will be better for it.
It isn`t as if all of these countries don`t want to America back on its feet. They have seen, as he writes, 200 million of the world move into poverty as a direct consequence of the crisis. But what they aren`t so keen on is the need to revert to some American-led paradigm in the future. And they are already changing the way they do things. From China to Brazil, countries in the developing world are taking concrete steps to de-link from the US, and create their own power structures.
As Stieglitz writes: We are no longer the chief source of capital. The world’s top three banks are now Chinese. America’s largest bank is down at the No. 5 spot. The dollar has long been the reserve currency—countries held the dollar in order to back up confidence in their own currencies and governments. But it has gradually dawned on central banks around the world that the dollar may not be a good store of value.
These steps are not what really worries Stieglitz, however. As he writes, he is more concerned about ideas. These countries may just give up on any concept of market economy: The former Communist countries generally turned, after the dismal failure of their postwar system, to market capitalism, replacing Karl Marx with Milton Friedman as their god. The new religion has not served them well. Many countries may conclude not simply that unfettered capitalism, American-style, has failed but that the very concept of a market economy has failed, and is indeed unworkable under any circumstances. Old-style Communism won’t be back, but a variety of forms of excessive market intervention will return. And these will fail. The poor suffered under market fundamentalism—we had trickle-up economics, not trickle-down economics. But the poor will suffer again under these new regimes, which will not deliver growth. Without growth there cannot be sustainable poverty reduction. There has been no successful economy that has not relied heavily on markets. Poverty feeds disaffection. The inevitable downturns, hard to manage in any case, but especially so by governments brought to power on the basis of rage against American-style capitalism, will lead to more poverty. The consequences for global stability and American security are obvious.
If, as he writes, there is not faith or trust in the overall system of trade and interconnectedness, or some some sense of shared values, things will not get better. If the US preeaches anti-protectionism, but puts made in USA clauses in proposals, nothing will improve. Countires around the world will close their doors to each other, and according to Stieglitz, democracy itself will be the next victim: In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy—and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery. They see continued re-distributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens. They see, in short, a fundamental problem of political accountability in the American system of democracy. After they have seen all this, it is but a short step to conclude that something is fatally wrong, and inevitably so, with democracy itself.
Brazil, in a specific example, exports only about 12% of its goods to the US. It has suffered much less than other countries around the world. It seems to have learned lessons that the US taught, but never took to heart. How can American companies, and its government expect the world to take anything that comes with made in USA at face value?
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I have never read the book Freakonomics, but I got to thinking about what the book is about (I've heard). The book, from what I gather, links seemingly unconnected realities, creating or attempting to prove a causal link between one and the other. For example, people who eat low-fat diets are more likely to commit murder.
So, in light of the endless list of governors, such as the back-in-the-media Sarah Palin, I began to wonder if there would bew any way to link the demise of certain individuals to the fact that they made the decision to run for governor and then, somehow, got elected. In other words, the question I would like to know the answer to is this: is there an unusually high percentage of governors who have been forced to resign or been involved in some scandal when compared to other public positions, especially in politics?
Does being governor have the potential of ruining your life? Or is it just that, especially recently, and especially in the God-fearing GOP (but not only...remember New Jersey's own McGreevey hiring his Israeli boyfriend and then having his world explode?), governors just don't know how to avoid getting themselves into a whole heap of trouble?
Is there any governor who is immune to this epidemic of ineptitude and infamy? Is being governor contagious? All I know is that if I am in a statehouse in the next few months, I sure as hell will be wearing a mask. Forget swine flu...the real thing to worry about is getting to close to a governor.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Whatever that meant. The didn`t have the moral fiber, the structural basis to succeed like the Republicans knew best.
That hammering of a lie lasted for decades, somehow. No matter how much reality flew in the face of all those who tried to pretend that they were above the fray of it all, Congress member who would later be indicted would still cite those beloved words, presidents who would later be found to have sold arms to supposed enemies would continue to froth on about a thousand points of light, and their sons, who were somehow elected, would go on about personal conversations with God. Then they would oversee torture, extraordinary rendition, the allowed destruction of New Orleans, the death penalty for the mentally ill and the further destruction of the Earth...and an invasion of a sovereign nation.
All of this was excused, and not linked to a lack of those same family values.
But now, what with an ever-cascading litany of scandals in the Republican party, from foot-fondling in public bathrooms to showcasing 18-year old pregnant daughters, to mistresses from Nevada to Argentina, does the Grand Ole Party have a leg to stand on, or better a soapbox to yell from? Where are the family values? Or do some people get a pass...like the entire Congress? How can the last two decades have come to this? Where is the Christian Coalition when we need them? I don`t hear much from them these days.
I wonder why? And I wonder when, if ever, I will hear those special words, family values, uttered again. This side of never would be too soon.