Friday, September 29, 2006

A switch, just in time?

With ethical questions slowing Bob Menendez's campaign down slightly, there is talk -- maybe rumor is the more appropriate word -- that the Democrats will pull another late election switch, like the one in the 2002 Senate race that ensured the seat now held by Senator Lautenberg remained in left column.

You remember what we're talking about, right? Less than 6 weeks before the election, down in the polls and facing some harsh harsh criticism from every direction, Bob Toricelli was convinced by the Democrat party elders (who, interestingly, included the ethically-challenged former Governor Jim McGreevey and Menendez himself) to leave the race. The Democrats then replaced Toricelli on the ballot with Senator Lautenberg.

Anyway, there is some talk (rumor) that if things don't look up for Menendez, he too will have a sit-down with the party elders and be told to drop out. To a degree its a likely scenario, given that the Democrats are likely going to pick up several seats in the Senate this November. If they cannot hold New Jersey, it may cost them control of the upper house. Imagine if the GOP controls the Senate 51-49 (or even 50-50) and Tom Kean Jr. is the junior senator from New Jersey.

The differences between the 2002 Toricelli-Lautenberg switch and a potential 2006 Menendez-Codey switch (yeah, former Governor Richard Codey's name is being thrown around as the replacement candidate) are significant and, we think, weigh against any sort of switch. First, it is later in the election cycle now than when Toricelli dropped out in 2002. Although the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed the 2002 switch about 5 weeks before election day, the court will be forced to impose some sort of limit so that the election can be conducted in an orderly fashion. We think once the first week in October rolls around, the potential to successfully pull off a switch will be gone. Second, Menendez was hand-picked for this seat, and this election, by Governor Corzine. To get Menendez out, Corzine is going to have to admit that he was wrong and that he picked a replacement for himself who was not up to the task and lacks the ethics to represent the state in Washington. Coming close on the heals of Menendez-backed Zulima Farber's exit from the Attorney General's office, this may not be something he wants to admit, especially with his own poll ratings pretty low. He may be more comfortable with Menendez just losing the election. Third, and similar, is that Corzine (1) won't want to piss off the Hispanic community by ousting Menendez right after Farber and (2) may need Bob the Boss's help to win his own re-election in 2009. Menendez is powerful and can bring a lot of Hudson County votes to whomever he chooses to endorse. Corzine may not want to chance that by asking him to step aside. Finally, will the New Jersey electorate really reward the Democrats with a win when they have pulled the same switching game to rid themselves of an ethically-challenged candidate in the last minutes of an election? We think to most fair-minded independent voters, of which there may just be enough in New Jersey to turn it an ever-so-slight-light-shade-of-red, would see this game for what it is and send a message to the Democrats that they need to do their candidate vetting early on and that switching candidates at the end is not a viable alternative any time they choose.

We may be wrong. Maybe they will do the switch if Menendez's troubles continue over the next week. But since he is close in the polls, this is blue state and he's a political boss, we think a switch is unlikely.

Question for Oliver

Conspiracy theorist and filmmaker Oliver Stone blasted President Bush today complaining that the President has "set America back 10 years."

I'm a bit confused by the comment. If, according to most liberals, and certainly most Democrats (if those two "groups" could be separated at all), the United States was much better off between January 20, 1993 and January 19, 2001 (i.e., finger-waving President Clinton's term of office), isn't Stone's comment actually a compliment? Wasn't September of 1996 just blissfully happy with Clinton coasting towards re-election by under 50% of the popular vote?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Supreme switcharoo

As expected, Governor Jon Corzine today nominated New Jersey Supreme Court Justice James Zazzali to replace the retiring Deborah Poritz as Chief Justice of the state's top court. The governor also nominated Appellate Division Judge Helen Hoens as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by Poritz's upcoming retirement:

Under the state constitution, Poritz must retire by the time she turns 70 on Oct. 26. Poritz today said she will serve until that date. The first woman to hold the position, Poritz was named to the bench by then-Gov. Christie Whitman in 1996. Poritz is a Republican. Like Corzine, Zazzali is a Democrat.

The opening created by Poritz's departure and a Zazzali promotion is considered a Republican seat because of New Jersey's nonbinding tradition of having at least three justices from each party on the seven-member court.Zazzali will turn 70 next June, setting the stage for a second chief justice nomination for Corzine next year.

Although we initially thought that making Justice Zazzali the chief for less than a year was silly, we do respect the governor's right to select the court's chief justice and his willingness to abide by tradition of keeping the 4-3 political split is wise. Also, Justice Zazzali is a well-respected jurist and was a well-respected lawyer. He is an excellent choice to replace the retiring Poritz. Even if its just for a year.

The only remaining Supreme Court hot-button issue now is how the court will rule on its gay marriage case -- a ruling that is expected to come down right before Poritz retires.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The NJ Democrat corruption mill keeps churning

Does this sort of thing surprise anyone in New Jersey anymore?

Gov. Jon Corzine today called for Sen. Wayne Bryant to step down as head of the powerful Budget and Appropriations Committee, amid charges the South Jersey legislator steered millions in funding to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey after he was given a no-show job.

Of course, Corzine's "call for" Bryant to to step aside wasn't exactly a "call." More like a vague reference to what he should maybe do if he sorta thought it was a good enough idea:

“Sometimes in other legislative situations, people step aside until due process follows its course. There are many precedents where people step aside while an investigation goes on,” Corzine said during a news conference in Newark. “I think I’m making a clear enough suggestion.”

Come on, Governor, this is an easy one. Its okay, you can come right out and say that you think the guy should step down from his committee post or, for that matter, from the state senate altogether. But alas, Mr. Corzine wants to make sure he doesn't tread on the Constitution:

“As you well know, there is a legal principle of separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branch, so I think whatever actions should be taken, if they’re appropriate, I think they need to be done on that basis,” he remarked. “It shouldn’t be the executive branch indicating to legislators how they should be running their operations.”

That's an interesting statement, given that back in his U.S. Senate days Corzine had no problem suggesting to the executive branch how they should be running their operations: "Sen. John Corzine D-N.J., actually has called on Rumsfeld to resign."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remember 9.11.01

I remember many things about September 11, 2001.

I remember walking to the train in the morning and thinking what a beautiful day it was, with its clear blue sky and cool temperature.

I remember sitting on the train, listening to the radio and looking out the window just moments after the first plane hit the North Tower and wondering what the hell had just happened.

I remember the train conductor coming on the public address system and, in a light mannered way, saying "ladies and gentleman, if you look out the right side of the train, you'll see the World Trade Center on fire."

I remember, just before losing radio reception going into the tunnel under the Hudson River, someone on the radio say that a plane had flown into the North Tower.

I remember getting into Penn Station and walking out on the street as the second plane hit, hearing about it live on the radio and the announcer saying over and over "we're being attacked."

I remember getting to my office in Times Square and the utter silence of people in the lobby and elevators. I remember turning on the TV in the conference room across from my office and sitting there with my co-workers watching what was going on.

I remember hearing that the Pentagon was on fire.

I remember looking out the window of a colleague's office and wathing live, with my own eyes, not on tv, as the two towers collapsed.

I remember walking the streets in New York the hours after and the total silence, aside from emergency vehicles. The other people walking didn't talk. They just stared blankly forwards. Some crying.

I remember finally getting on a train back to New Jersey and sitting next to a woman who just started to cry. I remember holding her hand but not saying anything. I remember not being able to think of anything to say.

I remember watching the fire and smoke from the train, just like I had in the morning when the buildings were still standing.

I remember over the days and weeks after seeing the "missing" posters all over the city. On every light post. On every subway. On any surface that someone could post a flyer.

I remember being scared. I remember being angry. I remember wondering if I could somehow help.

I remember all those things. But most of all, I remember the almost 3000 people who died five years ago today just because they were Americans and just because they went to work that day. I remember their families and the loved ones that they left behind.

We should always remember them.

Extended coverage of the 5th anniversary over at Michelle Malkin.

And thanks to NASDAQ and Reuters (yes, Reuters) for using their large Times Square TV screens to help us (and all the Times Square tourists) remember -- marking the moments of silence and playing live the reading of the names at ground zero.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

An empty Town Hall

Why is Governor Corzine having a "town hall" meeting today at 3:00 p.m.? Is it that he hopes no one shows up? Given that most people are either working or busy dealing with their responsibilities at home at that hour, the place will be empty. Except for the obligatory senior citizen and state employee (who will be attending this instead of working).

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