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Re: Lincoln Park/St Peters College Area: Head injuries for man after being struck by car
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Just can't stay away

The stretch of Kennedy from Communipaw to Sip should be re-named NASCAR Speedway. It is dumb to cross it against the light, but it is criminal the way ithe street is driven.

Contributing to the danger at the intersection where the man was struck, is the counter-intuitive traffic light pattern. Describing the sequence of who is allowed to turn or go straight in words is like trying to describe a spiral staircase over the phone to someone who has never seen one before.

Crossing with the light only reduces risk, but does not eliminate the possibility of being struck.

Cars turn illegally every few minutes at Kennedy intersections where No Turn on Red is the posted. One short block from the scene of that accident, at Fairmount and Kennedy, cars race up the long hill from West Side Ave to avoid the traffic on Montgomery.

At the corner, where they want to turn right, the view of traffic to their left of the curve on Kennedy is further obscured by parked cars, a mail box, and the usual street furniture. So, despite catching a red light, a car will creep slowly forward, the driver craning his neck to the left to see oncoming (often speeding) cars, buses and trucks.

Meanwhile, a pedestrian crossing with the Walk sign,may be in the crosswalk to the driver's right. The driver sees an opening, stomps on the gas, pulls a sharp right turn, and wham - the pedestrian is struck, sometimes from behind. That's what happened last Fall to a mother crossing with an infant in her arms.

Lucky for them, the were not run over but swiped to the side and landed "right."

In ten years of living at between Fairmount and Duncan, I have never once seen a single illegal right turn given a ticket. At some hours of the day, a cop could give them out every 5 minutes.

BTW - years ago, trucks were banned from Kennedy. Those making a local delivery were limited to the two or three blocks needed for access. Now it's an alternative to turnpike.

Posted on: 2008/5/1 9:31

Re: Purportedly Incorrect Condo Building Master Deed - The Hague Building
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Just can't stay away

No, the only thing I know about the condo situation there is that the attorney who has offices on the ground floor was one of the parties who took the building condo.

Sorry, can't be of more help.

Posted on: 2008/4/30 23:21

Re: Purportedly Incorrect Condo Building Master Deed - 2600 Kennedy/The Hague Building
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Just can't stay away

I live across the street. It is no co-incidence that the same repairs that are taking years to complete on your building are also a long-term project on the earlier core-buildings of The Beacon (formerly JC Medical Center).

Both buildings were designed and constructed by the same people, almost simultaneously. If you look at both structures with that as enlightenment, you will recognize they both use the same materials, in the same way, both inside and out.

Some say that 2600 was built with materials that "fell - or was pushed - off the truck" on its way to the hospital site.

True or not, it says something about whatever happened that each building, 70-odd years later, and at the same time, needs identical major repairs.

At both sites this is not simple "facade repair."

For years, the corners of those buildings each have shown long vertical cracks about 2 feet to either side of the edge. Now that the covering bricks have been cut out to those cracks, you can see there are, under the brick, vertical steel structural beams.

It appears to me they are replacing not only the brick but doing something with the steel.

Design-wise, there is one disappearing difference between 2600 and the hospital.

Until repairs on 2600 began, it had a decorative stone railing along the tops of the roofs. That now has been pretty much chopped down to level, leaving a jaggedy roofline at points where the ex-railing became plain wall.

What is management telling you is a completion date?

Posted on: 2008/4/30 21:09

Re: Jersey City earns 'F' in sex poll
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Indianapolis? Columbus?

What else is there to do but go to bed early?

Betcha none of those top rated cities has naked woman standing in a window - and if they did, they'd arrest her.

Posted on: 2008/4/28 10:54

Re: Fine JC Policing
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Just can't stay away

While I respect the essential and dangerous job that cops must perform, I also know that, without proper oversight, they can become the problem, rather than the solution.

As I reported in another thread some while ago, I was in a well known local bar, taking photos, hired by the owner to do that. An apparently over-served man approached beligerantly, showing me his badge and wallet identifying him as one of the highest ranking police officials in Jersey City.

I recognized him as someone I'd just seen swapping spit with a woman over in a corner. I had avoided taking photos of that.

He demanded that I show him my identity, threatened to arrest me if I didn't delete all the shots in the digital camera , etc. etc.

He didn't want to hear that we were in a public place (ever wonder why a bar is called a "pub"?). He began making moves to grab the camera. Fortunately, before things got physical, the owner stepped in and calmed him down with the false promise that all the pix would be deleted . . . and the offer of drink on the house.

My point?

An old Jewish proverb says that authority, like a dead fish, rots from the head.

Posted on: 2008/4/27 13:00

Re: Heights man tells cops his landlord cut him with a razor
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Just can't stay away

"Police are searching for the landlord, reports said."

They have a choice. They can either wait until the first of the next month when he comes around to collect, or they turn over the nearest rock.

Posted on: 2008/4/26 18:37

Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Just can't stay away

You said he did good. "Good" is a comparative word.

Comparisons are, by their nature, discriminatory, invidious, never fair, never exact, but you offered a comparison, as if doing good is an excuse for doing bad. What you got back is examples as to why it is not.

I doubt that even the morally vague Mr. Epps would dare offer that justification he abuse of the public trust.

Posted on: 2008/4/18 0:34

Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Just can't stay away

And that entitles him to help himself to your tax dollars and to aggrandize himself on a public building constructed during his watch.

Partial list of people who also did a lot of good:

Adolf Hitler (built great highways and loved his dog)
Saddham Hussein (created some lovely palaces)
Bobby Janisewski (kept his office orderly)
Son of Sam (sold a lot of newspapers)
Richard Nixon (was NOT a crook)

Other good things about Mr. Epps.

He always appears in public wearing a shirt and tie.
His name is short.
(gimmie a minute here; I'm thinking; I'm thinking)

Posted on: 2008/4/17 18:17

Re: Cheers, groans greet guilty verdict
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Just can't stay away

I guess she never heard of Bobby J, or the Mayor of Weehawken who probably will share the same fate.

I need a fact checker (among many other things)

First of, although I haven't heard a complaint on this, I apologize to the Mayor of Weehawken. It is not he who is on trial, or even accused of anything. I should have looked that up before saying such a stupid thing. I hope I didn't cause any harm or distress.

I had in mind Guttenberg's Mayor David Delle Donna and his wife Anna who are on trial for some really low-class corruption. During the ongoing trial there has been testimony that involves bribery, money laundering, drugs, prostitution, illegal immigration and slavery.

The usual. Ya can't make this stuff up.

Posted on: 2008/4/17 8:05

Re: Cheers, groans greet guilty verdict
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Just can't stay away


"They're just picking on him," said Ijeoma Ukenta, 25, who lives in Newark and is majoring in business and accounting. "If he was white they would have had more mercy. You see that with the governor (of New York). He was caught with prostitutes."
Oh, puh-leeze. Give us a break. OJ used up all that loosey-goosey talk a long time ago.

I guess she never heard of Bobby J, or the Mayor of Weehawken who probably will share the same fate.

Posted on: 2008/4/16 23:10

Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Just can't stay away

I respect that you have a less sanguine response to the naming. True, the board voted it.

But it happened on his watch, and he did nothing (at least nothing that has ever been revealed) to stop it, starting with a refusal to having anything to do with it or at the very least, objecting to it.

Posted on: 2008/4/16 10:55

Re: St Peter's College area: how safe?
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Just can't stay away

I live a very short walk just south of you at the corner of Fairmount and Kennedy. I also have a friend who lives in a building just north of that corner.

I often walk home alone from JSQ at all hours. I'm 75 years old so I know I'm becoming a slower, more inviting target. So far no fool has taken the bait. (don't ask).

I've never seen an incident that bothered me. That doesn't mean there aren't or never will be any. But it's my opinion it's a very safe area.

Posted on: 2008/4/16 1:51

Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Just can't stay away

OK - you proven that Epps knows how to write a Wikipedia entry full of self praise - or can afford to pay someone to do that for him.

But you still have not addressed the fact that he abused his position by unauthorized spending of taxpayer money on his own pleasure on a London junket - and has the brass balls to name a public building after himself.

And, as another poster pointed out he has two taxpayer jobs, one that requires a minimum of 40 hours a week and another that requires that he spend many days per week in Trenton.

Some "man."

Rhymes with scam (in the current style of false rhymes)

Rip us off, that's his plan.

Posted on: 2008/4/16 1:42

Re: New WTC Path exit
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Just can't stay away

BUT, there is a rather long ramp that leads up to the level where the elevator is. Mind you it isn't near the elevator and the signs are very misleading but the ramp is there.
I appreciate hearing that but I gotta say that as I went out and then came back later, I did not see a ramp. Where exactly is it?

Maybe I was fixated to the right by the sign to the right saying that the handicap route is to the right.


Well, at least those in these forums who call me an old lefty will be comforted to learn that I at least *look* to the right once in a while.

Posted on: 2008/4/15 2:22

Re: Epps' pay would climb to $275G in 3 years
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Just can't stay away

This is the guy who had a wonderful, high level visit to London, all on our dime. First class plane tix, suite in one of London's most expensive hotels, ate at the very best restaurants, as if he were the owner of a major corporation, not the public servant of a community of hard-working families.

He paid back money (maybe all, maybe some, I don't recall) only after he was caught.

I still don't understand why he was not indicted and prosecuted. That he continues in office with this huge salary and its generous perks is a sad comment on local politics and public apathy.

If that doesn't tick you off, Epps is the guy who put his own name on a new school built with tax money during his tenure.

Well, on the bright side, his example is, I am sure, instructive to future robber barons and anyone else with an eye on the public teat.

Posted on: 2008/4/14 18:38

Re: New WTC Path exit
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Just can't stay away

Also, there is an outrageous handicap barrier.

Those who need it can take the elevator from the platform to the turnstyle level. It leaves them at the faaaaaar end of that level from the new exit. But that is not the real barrier.

There is a set of 10 to 15 steps (estimated from memory) up to the level where the escalators run to the street. This barrier is aggravated by a stupid sign, as you approach the stairs, that says, Elevator to Street > (wheelchair and right arrow).

If you take that arrow literally - which is what well thought out signs are supposed to allow - you will walk right into the solid concrete wall that is about 10 feet to the right of the sign. There is no elevator at that point.

The arrow - to be correct - should be ^ (up - meaning up those stairs) which is where that elevator is.

Obviously there was no handicapped person with a voice in planning - or at the very least, someone who understands that handicap access requires a coherently barrier free route. A barrier part way along a route is the same as non-handicap access for the *entire* route.

Doesn't ADA have any influence here? .

Posted on: 2008/4/14 18:26

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away

Even before I read Wright's personal history I had zero reservations about supporting his right to speak however he wishes, without agreeing with a single word he says or will yet say. He is an American. We each have the right to be wrong once in a while - or even all the time.

Also - and again without agreeing with what he says - I understand why he said those things.

Those are the same kinds of cries of anger, pain. loss and betrayal that you hear from broken-hearted lovers.

I would never harm a hair on the head of the mother of my children but when we were divorced, after I had been faithful and loving and supportive and sincere and so on, I told a close friend how much I wanted to kill her, how I wanted to plant drugs in her car and report her to destroy her professional career.

20 years later, the things she did still hurt. I still have to force myself to not dwell on them. They were done. But, dammit, the temptation still is to confront her in front of our adult children and demand that she retract the lies she told them about me. I burn for justice and redress.

And I will never do anything about it because I love my children. Any such cheap indulgence would only do them harm - and harm to their respect for me. My continuing problem is, as much as I hate what she did, I have never stopped - and probably never will stop - loving her for the good things things I know about her. I still harbor the ridiculous fantasy that one day she will knock on my door and beg my forgiveness.

And so it is with people like Rev. Wright.

Posted on: 2008/4/8 16:21

Re: Tragic end to crime trail of fury -- Cops: Shot self after robbery, 2 carjackings
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Just can't stay away

Respectfully, you miss the point of what is tragic there. It is not about the loss of his life, although I would not acknowledge any argument that it isn't a tragedy. And I would not sit in judgment of anyone else's death so gleefully.

The tragedy is the loss and pain suffered by his family and friends. They are suffering. They are not guilty of anything but caring about him. You cannot say that they are responsible for his crimes. Comments like yours only make that pain worse.

And, they do not speak well of you as a human being.

Posted on: 2008/4/8 16:02

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away

Humans are the pattern-recognizing animal. The problem is that the pattern is sometimes more apparent than real.

Thus, you have people who say . . .

FACT: Adolf Hitler was left-handed

FACT: Albert Einstein was left-handed

THEREFORE: Einstein was a Nazi . . . AND . . . Hitler was a genius Theoretical Physicist.

The logic is indisputable and the conclusion unassailable!

(and please let's leave left-handed Elvis out of this.)

Posted on: 2008/4/8 2:52

Re: West Point sending cadets to NJ for taste of Iraq
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Just can't stay away

First thing those cadets might notice is that none of "highly diverse" population of Muslims, Christians and Jews is trying to kill each other. The article didn't mention that we also have many other religions to, from Buddism and Hinduism to Santeria and Voudon.

Yet, we shop in each other's stores and work for or sell or buy from each businesses. We speak to each other civilly, we get along.

That might be a better lesson to be taken from JC for a lot of people, other than just milk-fed baby-lieutenant-gonnabies.

Yes, we have a few insane people who hate this country. They have built and used bombs and plotted multi-airliner crashes. But they came here with hate and were never open to what we aspire to. They are not, never were and never will be us.

So, welcome cadets. Get of the bus. Walk around. Stop and talk with us. We won't hurt you.

Posted on: 2008/4/3 17:16

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away


injcsince81 wrote:

justjoe wrote:

Socialism is NOT a dirty word.

No, sure, socialism is great.

It's great if you can't/don't want to make it on your own in society and want to depend on nanny state to take care of you.

Did you know that most French aspire to have government jobs because they can never be fired?

It's Orwellian.

Justjoe - you have no idea.

I'm not sure if that comes under response B or C, but I do appreciate not calling me a commie.

So far, all you've offer5ed is an "ad hominem" response, criticizing me rather than my ideas.

I agree that I'm a senile old fool. None of what I have seen and experienced in any the countries where I have lived, visited, done business and continue to do business and have frequent correspondence has taught me anything. I'm stupid. I'm probably about 5 years away from needing diapers again and I don't own a cellphone because I don't want to be bothered while trying to remember why I waked into this room.

Now that we have established that, let's get back on topic and tell us what you think the next president should do to put us on the path to the quality of life that so many other countries have?

What should the next president do to restore this nation's dignity and respect in the world and among our own people?

Give us . . . something!

Posted on: 2008/4/3 17:01

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away

you said "they're ruining it for the just joe's (sic) of the world"

Actually they are not ruining it for me, or if they are, not for as long as they will for many others.

This past Sunday I passed my 75th birthday so I doubt I'll be around when the real bills come due for our national arrogance and stupidity. But my grandchildren will pay the costs of the illegal war in Iraq, not to mention the possibility, the greatest price, the loss of our Liberty.

For my part, I have the Social Security I paid for from the time I started working at 14. As a veteran, I get pretty good medical care and medications at a minuscule cost. I sold my car and let my driver's license expire years ago, so I'm not being crushed by rising costs of buying and operating a car. I live close to adequate public transit and shopping. I am, as much as anyone can be, safe and comfortable.

My arguments for Social Justice and Liberty are on behalf of those coming along in later years. It looks to me as if they will not only NOT have what I have, they will have even less to a degree I've seen in Third World countries.

Already, the gap between the rich and the working class is the greatest it has been since the early agricultural days of the Republic. Clearly there is something seriously wrong when the chief executive of a disastrously failed Bear Sterns can walk away with an 18 million-dollar pink slip.

There is yet time to return to some egalitarian values, to restore the balance between those who work and those who invest.

The Obama speech cited above satisfies me that he will not only start the long process to restore the dignity and righteousness of America among the family of nations and end the multitude of abuses of our Civil Rights, but he also will start to correct the economic insanity that allows greedy people to suck the life out of our economy.

Some of it will be accomplished in his first four years; more in his second term. But it will take more than one president of similar intelligence and purpose to reverse the damage done by Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes.

It must start soon and Obama will do that.

Posted on: 2008/4/3 10:47

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away

Ah, yes . . . that old boogie man, "socialism." It's a dirty word, and anyone who thinks there is merit in the idea is a dirty person. OMG - maybe even a commie.

Well BOO! Now go crawl under the featherbed where you keep your money.

Sweden and Denmark and other horrible examples of high taxation also happen to have better quality of life for all their people than here in the USA, longer life expectancy, virtually zero poverty, low unemployment, universal health care, higher birth survival rates for both mother and child, work fewer hours per week, get more vacation time, cleaner safer streets, better highways and healthier environments.

What they don't have are corporations that make their money here but move their "offices" to a brass plate in the Bahamas so they can avoid taxes, top ten corporations that default on their employee pensions and top one percent of their richest getting trillions of dollars of tax breaks.

OK, now is the moment when the responses start to come in:

A) well if you think it's so great, why don't you move there?

B) you're a commie

C) lies, all lies, dammit!

Watch out, a socialist is gonna get your Granny.

Socialism is NOT a dirty word. Saying it is evil without knowing what it does and how is does it is dishonest.

The real evil is corporate welfare, corporate greed and these Gorden Gecko clones.

Posted on: 2008/4/3 6:27

Re: Why Bush Watergated Eliot Spitzer
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Robert Morgenthau (NYC / DA, a Democrat and widely presumed model for original character on Law and Order) has an even better record than Spitzer in going after Wall Street criminal. Aside from the fact that he has a record of being squeekly clean and unpartisan in his work, if there are conspiracies to bring down, why have there been none against him? Is it possible there are no conspiracies?

Posted on: 2008/4/3 5:55

Re: Embankment Rabbits
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Just can't stay away

Well, that explains why last summer I saw a big fat bunny hopping blithely along in the alley way between All Ironworks on Coles and the embankment.

I was surprised at how healthy and animated he was and thought he might have been a pet that had recently escaped. escaped from someone's pen.

Does anyone know how to prepare fried rabbit?

Posted on: 2008/4/1 20:30

Re: Fatal shooting at Montgomery Gardens public housing complex.
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Just can't stay away

FWIW, housing projects, of themselves, are not the culprits. Something else is going on.

Back in the late 40s and early 50s, my family lived in Hudson Gardens, the complex at the top of Newark Ave, across Palisades Ave from Dickinson HS. Yes, life was tough. My father was in the TB Santarium. My mother left for work at 6am. We were eseentially unsupervised, like most of the rest of the kids our age.

I did my own share of juvie crime (petty theft, no personal violence). Drugs were not an issue, and that may be one of the missing factors. But wine and beer were available.

Despite many opportunities to go to hell, I did not. From the time I was 12 years old, I always had a job that made an important contribution to the family. After High School, , despite lack of further education, I found great jobs. Learning as I went, I created a few profitable businesses along the way and I now own an Internet business with clients in 7 countries.

My younger brother became both an MD and a lawyer. My sister has a Phd in education. My children and adult grandchildren have great careers, mostly professional.

This is not bragging; just facts that refute any charge that housing projects are inherently bad and are the cause of ruin for all who live in them.

What's the missing part of the puzzle as to why so many bad people come out of them today? As I said, I don't know.

Posted on: 2008/4/1 20:22

Re: Leave it to the Jersey Journal.......
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Just can't stay away

Then there is the JJ article with the lede,

"Two experts will tell Bayonne senior citizens how to stay healthy next week."

Myself, I'd like to stay healthy this week and every week; not just next week.

Meanwhile, I wonder when they are going to tell me? This week or next week or some other week?

Posted on: 2008/4/1 7:07

Muni-wide WifI attracts wierd objections
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Just can't stay away

Municipal WiFi attracts weird, unfounded objections

See: Wifi Brain Damage?

Be sure to scroll down and read the comments. Don't order a tin hat until you know, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

Posted on: 2008/3/25 15:54

Re: New York Times: Ex-Jersey City Mayor Eyes Return to City Hall
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Just can't stay away

I do not accept the canard that Hague and a socialism boogeyman can be blamed for the economic decline that you cite. I was born in the hospital that he named after his mother. Shortly after it began offering free pre and post maternity care to a world class standard, this city had the highest survival rate of babies and mothers in the world.

My family survived an astounding onslaught of diseases thanks to the free, state-of-the-art medical care that any local citizen received. Between the time I was 12 years old and 16 years old, I had spent time in the Medical Center for such things as measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever, diptheria, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

My younger brother had a similar medical history, except he did not have TB. He did have rheumatic fever, which I avoided because I was already doing a two month fractured femur gig in there.

Both my parents had TB, too.

Without the care we got, we never would have survived.

Where is the evidence that Hague destroyed the city's economy and made it a backwater?

When I graduated from High School in 1951, he had been out of office 6 years. His political machine had been booted 4 years earlier.

The local economy at the time was booming. With a high school education and right out of school, a man could get a job within a 20/30 commute. It was a real job, with wages good enough (after a brief apprenticeship or probationary period) to get married and start a family. The list of local companies who offered those jobs included almost all of the Fortune 500 of the day. JC was, as I recall, the 13th largest city in the nation in the late 40's and early 50s.

Frank Hague had nothing to do with the movement of jobs and the overarcing changes in our national economy. The corporate and manufacturing base is what changed. The American work force changed. As the network of federal highways was built, opening up the nation, and as young men like me came out of Korean War service in the early/mid 50's, the nation, its people, its business and its economy moved west and south, anywhere from a few miles to a few thousand miles.

I was transferred out of the area a week before my 22nd birthday by a major corporation with what today would be $50/70 K a year, a company car, full med benefits, two week vacation and 9 week bonuses. Guys like me who didn't go off to college, became self-made men, thanks to the opportunities here. And we moved away only because the nation was exploding in opportunity and prosperity, not because some long evicted and dead politician forced that.

Companies based in the area eventually had to move for reasons that had nothing to do with that one little man's politics.

Examples, in both Hoboken and Bayonne as well . . .

Lipton Tea (that great job that transferred me away from here) moved because their factory was obsolete and inadequate for the growth in production. Same thing happened to Maxwell House, Tetley Tea, A &P (world's largest warehouse), Colgates (where both parents worked), Westinghouse, RCA, Maidenform Bra, Lorillard Tobacco and literally hundreds of famous-brand facilities that were successed-out, unable to meet the needs of the booming consumer markets outside the east coast.

They closed for reasons beyond anyone's control and their departure for larger spaces in cheaper labor markets had absolutely nothing to do with local politics.

I offer no brief for Hague's policies or politics, except for the simple fact that the local population enjoyed the finest medical care in the USA, maybe even in the world, thanks to his "socialist" ideas. If that's socialism, we sure could use some of it now.

Of course, if you want to see Brett turn purple - as nice a guy as he personally is - he truly is - just suggest the we all return to that horrible socialism. I like the guy. He's sincere and smart and non-corrupt. I just can't agree with his rightwing politics.

Posted on: 2008/3/25 1:45

Re: Barack Obama for President
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Just can't stay away

From the comments in this thread, I get the sense that most, if not all, of those making comments of any kind, pro or con, have taken their opinion from YouTube clips of sound-bites from Obama's speech. Few, if any, offer comments that suggest they've actually read the entire speech.

There's an advantage to reading a speech that is not so available if watching a video . . . You can stop and reflect on a point, you can refer back and forth between points, you can hold an idea in your head and wait for further relevance to reveal itself . . . so in that spirit, and in the hope that it may clarify issues for some who seem overheated as a result of emphasis on just a few phrases, I'm pasting the the entire official text below.

It ain't the Gettysburg Address but it certainly is eloquent and may yet be judged as one of the most important political speeches in our history. Even if you do not agree what he says, put aside the issue of his presidential candidacy and read what he is saying in the context of our nation's racial history. You may read things you've never heard in public before.


Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
"A More Perfect Union"
Constitution Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 18, 2008

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so na?ve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.


Posted on: 2008/3/22 17:09

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