More than a month has passed since an assortment of people of different ages and different backgrounds first gathered in a park in New York City’s Wall Street financial district because a common concern about America’s disparity in wealth and its impact on their quality of life.
Since then, Occupy Wall Street has become a much-discussed and debated topic — first on social media pages and eventually by mainstream news outlets. The movement also has grown with increasing numbers of participants not only in New York, but all across the nation and even beyond its borders. It also has become campaign fodder for America’s most powerful politicians.
What Occupy Wall Street has yet to accomplish, however, is to have a concrete impact on public policy. Continue reading
Although the fates of individual election contests around the country and in New Jersey remain uncertain, there is little doubt about which political party will fare better at the polls on Tuesday. Barring a series of stunning upsets and reversals, Republicans will pick up significant numbers of seats in Congress and could win control of the House and possibly the Senate.
A more difficult item to predict, however, is the direction the Republican Party will take after Tuesday’s election results are complete. The seeds already have been sown for an ideological battle between those on the far right and the more moderate members of the party. The increasing popularity of the Tea Party and the success of its candidates in GOP primaries have bolstered the position of the more conservative wing of the party. On the other hand, some leading Republicans fear that the Tea Party candidates will be unable to garner broader support in the general elections and could ultimately become a detriment to the party’s chances in future elections. Continue reading
Fiscal conditions have drastically reduced personnel and resources at news organizations all over the country, including New Jersey. But over the past week, we have seen two instances in which the media still is impacting public policy in New Jersey.
First The Courier Post reported that Democratic operatives were responsible for getting a Tea Party candidate on the ballot in the 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Democratic John Adler is locked in a tight race with Republican Jon Runyan, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman. The theory behind adding a Tea Party candidate to the mix is that it would drain votes from Runyan.
Although Adler has denied any involvement, the Cook Political Report moved the race from the “leans Democrat” column to “toss-up”.
The other example of the power of the press came from former state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, who testified before the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee about the actions that led to New Jersey’s failure to qualify for $400 million in federal education monies because of a clerical error the state made while it was revising its application for the funds. Schundler told the panel that the application had to be redone at the last minute because Governor Christie did not like what a talk radio host was saying about it.
“The Governor informed me that NJ 101.5 radio host Jim Gearhart was saying he had caved in to the union,” Schundler testified. “He said that the leaders of the NJEA had demeaned him and that it was utterly intolerable for him to be viewed as having given-in to them. The money was not worth it.”
In the interest of full disclosure, Schundler was fired by the Governor because of this incident. Nevertheless, the words of the former Cabinet member are quite intriguing. As Carla Linz of The Press of Atlantic City wrote: “If true, that means Gov. Chris Christie valued his image and ego above $400 million for education in New Jersey. Outrageous. Even worse may be the idea that an entertainment/talk radio show is setting policy in the Governor’s Office.”
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Democrats have been poking fun at Sarah Palin for writing notes on her hand before speaking at the National Tea Party Convention last weekend.
The critics may enjoy a chuckle or two at the former Alaska Governor’s expense, but unless they take a more serious look at Governor Palin and the Tea Party, they won’t be laughing at the results of upcoming elections throughout the nation. Continue reading