Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry to Rush: You're fat!

Clearly angry that people were actually paying attention to what was coming out of his mouth, Senator John Kerry has momentarily stopped tossing insults at the U.S. Armed Forces and has taken to insulting Americans who have a few extra pounds around the midsection:

"I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did," Kerry said. "I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me."

Was the "doughy" comment needed, Senator Kerry? If you disagree with what he says, does it matter whether he's tall and slim or short and round?

This may sound trivial and, given that I am more or less right about where I should be when I step on the scale, might not be my fight, but the comment was clearly meant to insult Limbaugh by making fun of his weight. Isn't this the sort of thing that parents try to teach their children not to do?

One would think that Mr. Kerry would be able to debate Rush without resorting to childish insults. But since Kerry's comments about the military are indefensible, I guess insults are all he has.

More on all this here and here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"October Surprise" or "Confirmation Assistance"?

We noticed one interesting item in the "appearances" list at the front of the New Jersey Supreme Court's "gay marriage" opinion -- Lewis v. Harris. At the top of page 2 it lists who represented the State in this appeal:
Patrick DeAlmeida, Assistant Attorney General argued the cause for respondents (Anne Milgram, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney; Mr. DeAlmeida and Mary Beth Wood, on the briefs).

Anne Milgram is the First Assistant Attorney General, i.e., she is the second in charge in the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General's right hand woman.

For a very short period of time -- in between Zulima Farber's resignation and Stuart Rabner's confirmation and swearing in -- Ms. Milgram served as Acting Attorney General. That period of time was from August 31, 2006 to September 26, 2006.

Why then does Anne Milgram's name and title as Acting Attorney General appear on the court's opinion released one month after Mr. Rabner assumed the job of Attorney General? Given that the briefs were written when Peter Harvey was Attorney General and the oral argument was held while Ms. Farber held that post, and neither of their names appear on the decision, shouldn't the current AG's name be listed? We think the answer to that question is easy: Yes.

So why doesn't it? Was the opinion written, done, signed off, and ready for filing and release to the public over a month ago when Ms. Milgram was Acting Attorney General? If so, why wasn't it released then? Why did the court wait a month to issue its decision?

That's where the heading to this post comes in: Was this an "October surprise" (as some have mentioned) meant to somehow affect an election? Or was it "confirmation assistance"? What we mean by that is this: was the decision purposefully delayed so that then-Justice Zazzali would not have to face a barrage of questions about the court's opinion -- and his support for full and immediate gay marriage -- during the senate confirmation hearing on his appointment as chief justice held last week?

Or was it just a typographical error?

We aren't big conspiracy theorists, but this one got even us wondering.

Gay marriage re-cap

Having now read the New Jersey Supreme Court's gay marriage decision -- Lewis v. Harris -- we have a few observations on the decision and the aftermath:

First, we were wrong on our prediction that the decision would not be unanimous. Although there was a 4-3 split, at the end of the day the 7 justices agreed that marriage or the equivalent must be afforded to gay couples. We did think there would be an actual dissent, somewhat in line with the New York Court of Appeals decision a few months ago in which the court left decisions on defining marriage to the legislature.

Second, the split was interesting. The 3 justices who would have ordered full marriage for gay couples are all, essentially, tenured and will never face the appointment and confirmation process again. Under New Jersey's constitution, members of the judiciary are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate for an initial 7-year term. At the end of that term, the governor must reappoint the judge or justice (if he or she so chooses). If reappointed and then confirmed by the senate again, that judge has tenure until the mandatory retirement age of 70. Chief Justice Poritz, who turned 70 today, retired yesterday after the opinion was issued. Justice Zazzali, who was confirmed by the senate as chief justice just two days before this decision was issue, will be 70 this coming July and will not face another confirmation hearing before then. Justice Long was recently reappointed and reconfirmed and now has her job until she turns 70 in 2012.

The four justices in the majority will all face reappointment over the next several years. Justice LaVecchia, who was sworn in to a term beginning on February 1, 2000, is up for reappointment in a few short months. Then comes Justice Albin, who will face reappointment in September 2009, Justice Wallace in September 2010 and Justice Rivera-Soto in September 2011.

Was there a reason for the tenure v. non-tenure split, given the outcome? Who knows, but we thought it was interesting that the four members of the court who will face questioning from the state senate during their reconfirmations over the next few years didn't find that gay marriage was a fundamental right, something that the tenured justices would have found.

Third, the Democrat leaders in the legislature weren't too happy with the 180-day time period given by the court. Considering that New Jersey can't do a damn thing in 6-months, changing the state's entire marriage regime in that time seems a little ambitious. We give props to Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. for telling the court what they thought about the timeframe:
"Given the fact that it took the judicial system nearly four years to come up with a 4-3 split decision, we think the determination by only four justices that the entire Legislature is obligated to respond within 180 days is unreasonable."

So there, justices!

Fourth, the Democrats are looking to kill any debate on alternatives to the court's ruling before they even happen. According to the Asbury Park Press, "Codey and Roberts said they would not post any measure overturning the court's decision to protect same-sex couples." Now, at this time we are taking no position on the substance of the court's decision. But we will take a position on Codey and Roberts' intention to limit debate: Its wrong! If a constitutional amendment were proposed, it should be considered and voted on. That is the democratic process and it should be adhered to. The party leaders of the majority party -- the Democrats here -- should not limit debate to only those issues they deem important or those issues that are in line with their views. Doing so disenfranchises a significant portion of the state by not allowing their elected officials to propose legislation that will be considered by the entire body. Consider an amendment, if one is proposed, (or any other alternatives) and vote it up or down. But consider it.

That's all we have for now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gay marriage in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Supreme Court will be releasing its opinion in Mark Lewis, et al. v. Gwendolyn L. Harris, et al, No. A-68-05 -- the New Jersey gay marriage case -- tomorrow, the second to last day of Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz's tenure on the court.

It has long been rumored that Chief Justice Poritz would author the main opinion in favor of granting marriage rights to gays. Whether that is the majority opinion or a dissent remains to be seen.

We guess we'll find out tomorrow.

In any event, the skinny from the Trenton streets is that Poritz was unable to get the 4 votes needed in favor of a right to gay marriage under the New Jersey Constitution and is stuck with just 3. How does it break down?

Rumor has it that newly-confirmed Chief Justice James R. Zazzali is a "no" vote and our guess is that Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. and Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto are also on the "no" side. Wallace and Rivera-Soto, although appointed by Democrats, are Repbulicans (at least in name) because they replaced Republicans on the court (New Jersey has always kept their Supreme Court at a 4-3 political split). We wouldn't describe them as conservatives, by any means, given that the New Jersey Supreme Court hasn't had a true conservative on it in many years.

With Poritz on the "yes" side is likely Justice Virginia Long, one of the court's more liberal members, and either Justice Barry T. Albin or Justice Jaynee LaVecchia. Albin was put on the court by former governor Jim McGreevey and is a Democrat. We wouldn't necessarily call him a liberal, but he's sure no conservative. LaVecchia is a Republican who was put on the bench by Governor Christie Whitman. She is best described as a moderate, probably slightly more pro-business.

So if its a 4-3 no-marriage split, our guess is that the "no" votes are Zazzali, LaVecchia, Wallace, Rivera-Soto. That leaves dissents by Poritz, Long and Albin.

[Portions cross-posted]


After reading the comment, we wanted to clarify one thing: By no means are we predicting a 4-3 "no marriage" split. We talked with our people in Trenton and that was the general consensus on why it was taking so long -- Poritz was trying to win another vote (although the opinion might have been delayed so as not to be a center piece to Zazzali's confirmation hearing). This morning's news from New Jersey 101.5, however, noted that it was the "consensus" from both sides of the political aisle that the court would rule in favor of gay marriage. This is an activist court. It has been for 30+ years. We'll just have to wait and see what the decision is. We won't predict the ruling, but we will say that it won't be unanimous.

Monday, October 23, 2006

NY Bomb Threat

Police are responding to an emotionally disturbed person on a bus claiming to have a bomb near the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave and W 40th St.

The terminal has been closed and bus and subway traffic is being diverted.

Officials have shut down 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 41st Streets.


From NY 1:

A portion of the Port Authority Bus Terminal remains closed this afternoon due to a police investigation.

NY1 was told the situation involves a passenger who is refusing to get off a bus, and the Port Authority says the partial shutdown is just a precaution.

The streets outside the terminal are more crowded than usual, as buses are picking up and discharging passengers along 9th Avenue between 37th and 39th Streets.

Buses currently are not being allowed to enter or leave the south wing of the terminal.

Update 2:

NBC 4 is reporting that the bomb scare is over:

Things around Port Authority are getting back to normal after police activity shut off the streets surrounding the station.

The south wing of the Port Authority bus terminal in midtown had to be closed - due to a police situation involving an emotionally disturbed person.

Traffic was halted on both 8th and 9th avenues, and on 40th and 41st streets.

For those who are familiar with Port Authority grounds, 41st Street is the street that runs inside the building.

The partial closure of the terminal began shortly after 1 p.m.

I hope this guy wasn't from New Jersey. ;-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcome to New Jersey, Mayor Mike

An errand boy for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was carjacked while driving Bloomberg's 2001 Lexus in Hackensack:

A personal employee of Mayor Michael Bloomberg was beaten by thieves who then carjacked the billionaire's car yesterday morning in New Jersey, authorities said.

The employee was driving the 2001 Lexus in Hackensack on an errand for the mayor shortly be fore 9 a.m. when he was approached by a woman who came to the window to ask for money, police said. As he declined and began to roll up the window, a man got into the passenger seat and punched him in the face.

"They force him out and take off," said Hackensack police Capt. Frank Lomia.

The car was found about two hours later, abandoned on the side of the road in Fair Lawn. Police were looking for the two suspects.

Bloomberg's employee was not seriously injured and his name was not released. He is one of many staffers who take care of Bloomberg's personal business and his homes, including his townhouse in Manhattan and country house in upstate New York.

Sorry, Mr. Mayor.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What's in a name, anyway?

After years of claiming that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest, Senator Hillary Clinton has come clean:

For more than a decade, one piece of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s informal biography has been that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest. The story was even recounted in Bill Clinton’s autobiography.

But yesterday, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign said she was not named for Sir Edmund after all.

This wasn't exactly the toughest claim to debunk given that Sir Edmund didn't climb Mount Everest until 1953. Hillary Clinton was born in 1947.

Of course, when reading Mrs. Clinton's confession this morning, we immediately remembered the lullabies that Al Gore's mother used to sing to him. When he was 27.

[Michelle Malkin]

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lucky us

Is Robert Byrd going to be the next to visit?
Ted Kennedy will be in New Jersey on Thursday to campaign for Bob Menendez. He will speak at a noon rally at the Bergen County Democratic Headquarters in Hackensack.

Is it just us, or are other people confused as to why Kennedy has always been seen as an asset instead of a liability?

[Wally Edge]

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