Category Archives: Elections

#70: Writing Backwards and Forwards

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #70, on the subject of Writing Backwards and Forwards.

When I was at TheExaminer, I eventually took to creating indices of articles previously published; when I moved everything here last summer, I included those indices, and finished one that covered the first half of 2015 (through July).  On the last day of December I did a review piece indexing the rest of that year, as #34:  Happy Old Year.

It may seem premature to do another index; it is not even falling on a logical date (although as I write this I am not completely certain on which day it is going to be published).  However, some new “static” pages have made it to the web site, and quite a few more web log entries, and it seems to be a time of decision concerning what lies ahead.  Thus this post will take a look at everything that has been published so far this year, and give some consideration to options going forward.  You might find the informal index helpful; I do hope that you will read the latter part about the future of the site.

img0070Blog

Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel

The most popular part of the web site is probably still the temporal anomalies pages.  It certainly stimulates the most mail, and the five web log posts (including those in the previous index) addressing temporal issues received 30% of the blog post traffic.  We added one static page since then, a temporal analysis of the movie 41.  We also added post #56:  Temporal Observations on the book Outlander, briefly considering its time travel elements of the first book in the series that has made it to cable television.  We’d like to do more movies, and there are movies out there, but the budget at present does not pay for video copies.

This part of the site has been recognized oft by others (before it was a Sci-Fi Weekly Site of the Week it was an Event Horizon Hotspot), and the latest to do so is the new Time Travel Nexus, a promising effort to create a hub for all things time-travel related; we wish them well, and thank them for including links to our efforts here.  They recently invited me to write time travel articles for them, although if I do it will have to be something different, and we have not yet determined quite what.

Legal/Political

By sheer number of posts, this is the biggest section of the web log.  Although since the last of these indexing posts it has been running even with posts about writing and fiction, it has a significant head start, with half of the articles in that index connected to law or politics primarily.  Some of these have religious or theological connections as well–that can’t be helped, as even the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights recognizes that the protection of your right to believe what you wish, express that belief, and gather with others who share that belief is both a religious and a political right, and cannot always be distinguished.  (Anyone who says that religion and politics should always be kept separate misses this critical point, that they are really the same thing.  It’s a bit like saying that philosophy and theology should be kept separate–the difference is not whether God is involved, but how much emphasis is placed on Him.  So, too, politics is about religious beliefs in application.)

Trying to sort these into sub-categories is difficult.  Several had to do with legal regulation of health care, several with discrimination, and we had articles on freedom of expression, government and constitutional issues, election matters.  These twenty-seven articles together drew 35% of readers to the web log, but a substantial part of that–13%–went to the two articles about the X-Files discrimination flap.  One article on this list has received not a single visit since it posted.  Thus rather than attempt to make sense of them, I’ll just list them in the order they appeared, with a bit of explanation for each:

Bible/Theology

As mentioned, some of the political posts are simultaneously religious or theological, and I won’t repeat those here.  There is one post that is really about everything, about the very existence of this blog, but which I have decided to list as primarily in this category:  #51:  In Memoriam on Groundhog Day, 160202.  This is a eulogy of sorts for my father, Cornelius Bryant Young, Jr., who is certainly the reason for the existence of the political materials, as he significantly supported my law school education and then regaled me with questions about whether Barrack Obama was a legitimate President.  He is missed.

I also wrote #65:  Being Married, which is not exactly my advice but my choice of the best advice I’ve received over several decades of marriage.  I’m hoping some found it helpful.

It should be noted that five days a week I post a study of scripture, and on a sixth day I post another essentially religious/theological/devotional post, on the Christian Gamers Guild’s Chaplain’s Teaching List.  That is far too many links to include here, but if you’re interested you can find the group through this explanatory page.

Game-related

There were a couple game-related posts in the previous index, this time two of them specifically about Multiverser.  There was some discussion about some of its mechanics on a Facebook thread, and so I gave some explanations for how and why two aspects of the system work–the first, in #38:  Multiverser Magic, 160112:  addressing difficulties people expressed concerning its magic system, the second, in #40:  Multiverser Cover Value, 160114:  explaining the perhaps not as complicated as it seems way it determines the effect of armor.

There was also another game-related post, #44:  The Feeling of Victory, 160121:  which discussed a pinball game experience to illustrate a concept of fun game play.

The award-winning Dungeons & Dragons™ section of the site (most notably chosen as an old-school gem by Knights of the Dinner Table) continues to get occasional notice; someone recently asked to use part of the character creation materials for work they were doing on a different game, and someone asked if I had a copy of my house rules somewhere, in relation to some specific reference I made to them.  Although I’m running a game currently, I don’t know that anything new will appear there.  The good people at Places to Go, People to Be are continuing to unearth the lost Game Ideas Unlimited articles and translating for their French edition.  Unfortunately, Je parle un tres petit peux de francais; I can’t read my own work there.

Logic and Reasoning

Periodically a topic arises that is really only about thinking about things.  That came up a couple times in the past couple months.  first, someone wrote an article about the severe environmental impact of using the universal serial bus (USB) power port in your car to charge your smartphone while you drive, and in #45:  The Math of Charging Your Phone, 160122, we examined the math and found it at least a bit alarmist.  Then when people around here were frantically stripping local grocery store shelves of all the ingredients for French Toast (milk, bread, and eggs) because of a severe weather forecast, we published #46:  Blizzard Panic, 160124.

On Writing

I left this category for last for a couple of reasons, several of those reasons stemming from the fact that most of this connects to the free electronic publication of my book Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, and I just published the last installment of that to the site.  You can find it fully indexed, every chapter with a one-line reminder (not a summary, just a quip that will recall the events of a chapter to those who have read it but hopefully not spoil it for those who have not), here.  There have been about seventy-five chapters since the last of these posts, and that (like the Bible study posts) is too much to copy here when it is available there.  That index also includes links to these web log posts, but since this is here to provide links to the posts, I’ll include them here, and then continue with the part about the future of the site.

  1. #35:  Quiet on the Novel Front, 160101:  The eighth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 43 through 48.
  2. #37:  Character Diversity, 160108:  The ninth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 49 through Chapter 54.
  3. #39:  Character Futures, 160113:  The tenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 55 through 60.
  4. #43:  Novel Worlds, 160119:  The eleventh behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 61 through 66.
  5. #47:  Character Routines, 160125:  The twelfth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 67 through 72.
  6. #50:  Stories Progress, 160131:  The thirteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 73 through 78.
  7. #53:  Character Battles, 160206:  The fourteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 79 through 84.
  8. #55:  Stories Winding Down, 160212:  The fifteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 85 through 90.
  9. #57:  Multiverse Variety, 160218:  The sixteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 91 through 96.
  10. #59:  Verser Lives and Deaths, 160218:  The seventeenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 97 through 102.
  11. #61:  World Transitions, 160301:  The eighteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 103 through 108.
  12. #64:  Versers Gather, 160307:  The nineteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 109 through 114.
  13. #66:  Character Quest, 160313:  The twentieth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 115 through 120.
  14. #69:  Novel Conclusion, 160319:  The twenty-first and final behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 121 through 126.

The Future of the Site

I would like to be able to say that the future holds more of the same.  There are still plenty of time travel movies to analyze; I have started work on the analysis of a film entitled Time Lapse, but it will take at least a few days I expect.  This is a presidential election year and we have clowns to the left and jokers to the right, as the song said, and with the extreme and growing polarization of America there are plenty of hot issues, so there should be ample material for more political and legal columns.  The first novel has run its course, but there are more books in the pipeline which could possibly appear here.

However, it unfortunately all comes down to money.  My generous Patreon patrons are paying the hosting fees to keep this site alive, but I am a long way from meeting the costs of internet access and the other expenses of being here.  Time travel movies cost money even when viewed on Netflix.

The second novel, Old Verses New, is finished–sort of.  No artwork was ever done for it, and it is actually more difficult to promote articles on the Internet that do not have pictures (frustrating for someone who is a writer and musician but has no meaningful skill in the visual arts).  More complicating, Valdron Inc invested some money into it, paying an outside editor to go through it, and they still hope to find a way to recoup their investment at least.  I might have to buy their interest in it to be able to deliver it to you, and that again means more money.

So what can you do?

If you are not already a Patreon supporter, sign up.  A monthly dollar from every reader of the site would not make me wealthy, and probably would not cover all the bills, but it would go a long way in that direction.  Even a few more people giving five or ten dollars a month to keep me live would make a massive difference.  I think Patreon also has a means of making a one-time gift, and that also helps.

Even if you can’t do that, you can promote the site.  Whenever there is a new post or page here you think was worth a moment to read, take another moment to forward it–it is easy to do through most social media sites, some of which have buttons on the bottoms of the web log pages for quick posting, and in all cases I post new entries at Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and even MySpace, all of which have some way of easily sharing or recommending posts.  Let people know if there’s a good political piece, or time travel article, or whatever it is.  Increased readership means, among other things, an increased potential donor base–support to keep us alive here.

There are other ways to help.  Several time travel fans have over the years provided DVD copies of movies, either from their own libraries or purchased and sent directly to me, all of which have been analyzed.  I now also have the ability (thanks to a gifted piece of not-quite-obsolete discarded technology) to watch YouTu.be and Netflix videos on my old (not widescreen) television, and with some difficulty to watch other internet videos on borrowed Chromecast equipment (not as satisfactory–can’t pause or rewind without leaving the room to access the desktop).  Links to (safe and legal) copies of theatrically-released time travel movies make it possible to cover them now, for as long as the money keeps me online.  (Yes, even “free” videos cost money to see.)  One reader very kindly gave me a Fandango gift card to see Terminator Genisys in the theatre, which was a great help and enabled me to do the quick temporal survey published here, although I had to obtain a copy of the DVD to do the full analysis web page (it is nigh impossible to take notes in a darkened movie theatre, and very difficult to get all the vital details from an audio recording).

You can also ask questions.  I don’t check e-mail very often (seriously, people started using it like an instant messaging system, I have cut back to every three to six weeks) but I do check it and will continue to do so as long as the hosting service and internet access can be maintained; I interact through Facebook and (to a much lesser degree) the other social media sites mentioned, and often take a question from elsewhere to address here.  That gives me material in which you, the readers, are interested.  I do write about things which interest me, but I do so in the hope that they also interest you, and if I know which ones do that helps more.

So here’s to the future, whatever it may bring, and to the hope that you will help it bring more to M. J. Young Net and the mark Joseph “young” web log.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#68: Ridiculous Republicans

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #68, on the subject of Ridiculous Republicans.

In a previous post, mark Joseph “young” blog entry #67:  Dizzying Democrats we commented that both sides of the current presidential race are ludicrous.  We gave some consideration to the nonsense on the Democratic side, and promised to return to the Republicans.

So let’s look at the Republicans.

img0068Trump

If the Democrats have lost control of their primary process to someone who is not even a Democrat, the Republicans may have it worse:  they have lost control of their primary process to someone who is not even a politician.  He has been called a clown and a buffoon, and there are people who are literally frightened that he will become the next President of the United States.  He is not a buffoon; he is a professional businessman and an amateur actor:  Donald J. Trump.

Despite his seeming popularity, it should be noted that most Republicans have been voting against him–if we compare the tallies of votes for Trump against “all others” combined, he never has the majority.  The professional politicians have all been doing what politicians do in these processes:  sniping at each other in an effort to emerge as the best of the rest.  The field has been shrinking, but it’s still too large for a head-to-head between Trump and “Not Trump”.  It is agreed that were the Republicans to unite behind a single alternative candidate, that candidate could defeat the loud-mouthed juggernaut and take the nomination.  The problem is, neither the remaining candidates nor the Republican voters can agree on who that ought to be.  The splintering within the party has resulted in disagreement concerning who truly represents Republican values–the right wing for whom Cruz or possibly Rubio are the best choices, or the centrist moderates for whom Kasich and Romney are the best remaining choices.  (Romney is not actually running, but it has been suggested that he could take the nomination in a brokered convention, that is, one in which no candidate enters with a delegate majority so negotiations work toward the selection of a compromise candidate.)

Some argue that Trump is not even a Republican–but that’s a problematic argument.  Unlike Sanders, who has always declared himself not to be a party member, Trump has never run for office and so never had to declare his party affiliation before.  Republicans in their current state constantly argue that various prominent party members are “Republican In Name Only” (RINO), and although Trump does not stand clearly for everything the party believes, he does oppose at least some of what the Democrats promote, and no one fits any party platform exactly except the people who write it, and usually not even all of them.  He says he is a Republican, and has persuaded enough Republicans that he stands for what they want to support that claim.  Republicans are not flocking to support Bernie Sanders; they are supporting Donald Trump.

Besides, it is not unknown for politicians to change their views or their party affiliations.  One of the best Republican Presidents in my lifetime began his political life as a Democrat and union organizer; by the time he was Governor of California, Ronald Reagan was a Republican beloved by the party’s conservative wing.  He, too, was an actor, although he did have government experience before running for President, and in fact had run and lost in the primaries previously.  People are afraid of Donald Trump, and what he might do as President–but many were similarly afraid of Reagan, and he not only did not start World War III he ended the Cold War, and there is at least evidence to support the claim that his economic policies sped the recovery and stimulated job growth.  Trump is not Reagan, but often the good Presidents are the ones no one expects will be good, and the ones expected to be good crash and burn.  No one expects Trump would be a surprise good President–but then, that’s the point of “surprise”.  I don’t know that I agree with Trump about much, but I am less afraid of him than I am of the extremist socialist policies of Bernie Sanders, even while I agree with Sanders on at least a few ideas.

So the Republican party nomination is still in the air as much as the Democratic, and the party leadership is struggling for that place of the appearance of impartiality that still allows them to guide events to an outcome they believe represents the true values of the party, and we are looking toward a highly polarized election which at this point looks like the exit poll question will be, “Whom did you vote against?”

Other posts and articles on presidential politics include web log posts #10:  The Unimportance of Facts, #13:  Governor Christie’s Debate Jab, #41:  Ted Cruz and the Birther Issue, and #42:  Politicians and Statesmen, and site articles Coalition Government, Polarization, Christie’s Early Potential Presidential Aspirations, The Republican Dilemma, Re-election Incongruity, and Election Law.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#67: Dizzying Democrats

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #67, on the subject of Dizzying Democrats.

With the Presidential election looming and the primaries in full swing, it might be expected that there would be plenty of serious material for a political column; yet although I’ve published several political pieces over the past month or so, the race has fallen off the radar.  The problem is not that nothing is happening; the problem is that the entire race, on both sides, seems completely ludicrous.

Let’s look at the Democrats.

img0067Hillary

Before there really was a race, one candidate entered the ring and was expected to emerge with the Democratic nomination.  She was, of course, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, former United States Senator from New York, former Secretary of State.  The Democratic Party machine wanted her.  Indeed, throughout the primary race there have been charges that party chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was attempting to rig the system so that no one could seriously challenge the Chosen One they hoped they could claim was the first woman President of the United States–limiting debate opportunities to keep competition from getting exposure, scheduling the few debates for times when few would watch.  It was supposed to be a royal promenade to the nomination.

It has been anything but that.  Bernie Sanders entered the race.  He might not be winning, and there are still pundits claiming that he can’t win, but he has surprised and outperformed her repeatedly in this race.

What makes this the more ridiculous is that Sanders is not a Democrat, and the Democrats are not really supporting him.  He has always claimed to be a Socialist, who votes with the Democrats because they (at least theoretically) stand between his extreme leftist views and the right wing views of the Republican party; he is, as it were, allied with the Democrats, but not one of them.  Analysis of the primaries shows that he tends to attract independents to the Democratic primary–people who do not call themselves “Democrat” are signing up to vote for Sanders, and tipping the balance against the majority of regular registered Democrats who mostly support Clinton.  Sanders is in essence stealing the party by flooding it with ringers.

And it seems that the Democratic machine, devoted as it is to its “everyone gets to vote” philosophy, is helpless against this onslaught.

Worse, at least from the perspective of the old school Democrats, is that their candidate is in trouble quite apart from the race.  People want to write it off as a minor indiscretion, but it appears that the lax treatment of the security of top secret information in Secretary of State Clinton’s e-mails is, under the law, treason.  The investigation is ongoing, but it seems more likely than not that the government is going to have to indict her and put her on trial, and before she can become President.  It’s got to be a damper on a political campaign to have to conduct it while defending against federal charges, and that’s only assuming that she’s not convicted.  Clinton has this looming over her, and a lot of people are skittish about voting for her because of that threat, and because of the implications of the investigation.

It could go away.  The Democrats could in fact make it go away:  the President of the United States could issue a pardon.  Gerald Ford demonstrated that it was possible to pardon someone for any and all crimes they might have committed, without them ever having been charged.  Obama could simply decree that Clinton has been pardoned, and the charges vanish.  So, given how much trouble this has been, why doesn’t he?

It would be a bad move politically, because of the Nixon stigma:  as soon as the President says that she has been pardoned for any involvement in any kind of illegal activity while serving as Secretary of State, a huge number of people will conclude that he knows she is guilty and needs to be pardoned.  She already has a trustworthiness issue:  most Americans, and even a substantial number of Democrats, believe she lies constantly and will say whatever is politically expedient.  A presidential pardon will only confirm those suspicions, increasing the level of distrust.

Yet the machine is still trying to put her in front, and it might succeed.

So really, the Democratic party is in shambles at the moment.  Anything could happen, but probably the party leadership will not like it, whatever it is.

We’ll look at the Republicans later.

Other posts and articles on presidential politics include web log posts #10:  The Unimportance of Facts, #13:  Governor Christie’s Debate Jab, #41:  Ted Cruz and the Birther Issue, and #42:  Politicians and Statesmen, and site articles Coalition Government, Polarization, Christie’s Early Potential Presidential Aspirations, The Republican Dilemma, Re-election Incongruity, and Election Law.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#60: Federalism and Elected Senators

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #60, on the subject of Federalism and Elected Senators.

The Utah House of Representatives has passed a measure and sent it to the Utah State Senate, calling on the United States legislatures to begin the process of repealing the 17th amendment to the United States Constitution.

This is a bit ironic, I suppose.  Although there are several states which never ratified that century-old amendment, Utah is the only state which voted against ratification.  On the other hand, the amendment itself came into existence through a process very like this:  state legislatures around the country passed motions asking the federal legislatures to introduce this constitutional amendment.  It took the better part of a century for it to be accepted, and now one state that tried to reject it then wants to reject it now.

They are not entirely alone, though.  The repeal of the seventeenth amendment is one of the ideas supported by the Tea Party; and since it is apparently growing in favor, we should understand what it is, what it changed, and why we passed it originally.

Utah State Capitol Building
Utah State Capitol Building

All Americans are familiar with the phrase “checks and balances”.  It is why we have three “co-equal” branches of government.  Jefferson would have been happy with a single legislative house as the sole branch of government, on his belief that rational men would always do the right thing given opportunity to discuss it among themselves.  Between the representatives themselves and the existence of “reason” as a nearly divine entity guiding man, they had their checks and balances inherent in their interactions.  (We think that naive, but it was the view of many intellectuals of the time.)  Our independently-elected executive (parliamentary governments have the legislature select the executive) is charged with performing that which the legislature directs, but has one chance to veto any law he finds objectionable, subject to the ability of the legislature to override that if they’re really serious (two-thirds majority vote in both houses).  Our judiciary can originate nothing, but can veto anything if it is brought to them in a legitimate case.  These powers prevent any individual or to some degree any faction from dominating government.

One of those balances rarely mentioned is our “bicameral legislature”–that there is a House of Representatives and a separate Senate.  The membership of the House is based on the population of the states, each state divided into districts with proportional population such that voters across the nation are roughly equally represented there in a process that brings the representation almost to your neighborhood.  The Senate, by contrast, is comprised by exactly two Senators from each state.  Representatives serve two-year terms, and are constantly seeking to be returned to office; Senators serve six-year stretches, each state appointing one or the other every three years.  As originally designed, Senators were selected by the state legislatures, not by the voters.

To understand that, you have to get back into the mindset of the late late eigthteenth century.  Having come out of a “War of Independence” also known as the “American Revolutionary War”, thirteen former colonies were now independent of Great Britain.  Each was now called a “state”–but the word “state” then did not have the meaning we understand.  France was a “state”; Russia was a “state”.  The word meant “country” or “nation”  At that point we regarded ourselves as thirteen independent countries, each with its own government.  I would have been regarded a citizen of New Jersey.  This, though, was still the Age of Imperialism–not only England but France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Austria held sway over colonies around the world.  “Czar” was the Russian spelling of “Caesar”, and Austria was the home of the Holy Roman Emperor.  Little countries did not stay independent long in that world.  So the colonies created a treaty alliance, something akin to NATO, to provide for the mutual defense.  They also agreed, in principle, to something like free trade with each other, similar the European Economic Community.  However, it was evident that under the original Articles of Confederation it was not working as envisioned:  states would impose tarriffs on goods imported from or exported to other states, crossing state (read:  international) lines was sometimes complicated, and laws enforced in one state would be different in another.  It led to a Constitutional Convention, intended officially to revise the Articles of Confederation to address a few trade issues, and resulting in the composition of The Constitution of the United States of America.

The Constitution is very much a Federalist document.  At that time, the Federalists wanted to reduce the power of individual states and fuse them into a single nation, converting the “confederation” into a “federation”.  The Democrats, though, were opposed to this.  They wanted as little government as possible, as close to the individual as possible.  A federal government that could exercise authority over thirteen countries was too much like an empire, and its emperoror, even if called “President”, was inherently too powerful as a concept.  Those thirteen countries that were going to be united under this treaty called a Constitution were going to have to be protected from that central imperial power.  The states themselves as such needed to be represented at the federal level.  This was achieved by three provisions.

The first is that the election of Representatives was to be done on a state-by-state basis, that is, district by district within individual states.  This may seem obvious, but it isn’t, really.  If we had a perfectly equal voter-to-representative ratio, small states like Delaware would not have their own representative but would be represented by someone whose district overlapped with adjacent states.  Israel’s Knesset does not divide the country into districts but lets everyone vote for any one candidate, and the one hundred twenty candidates with the most votes nationwide are elected.  Our Constitution provides that each state is apportioned Representatives based on state population, to be elected directly by the eligible voters in geographical districts of roughly equal population–but the state government gets to define those districts, as long as they comply with that requirement.  So the state, as a state, has some influence over those elections, and is represented through those Representatives which represent its people.

The second provision which gave the states representation at the federal level is the Electoral College.  Technically, the voters do not elect the President of the United States.  The voters elect individual Electors who represent their individual states in electing the President.  As we have noted, the individual state governments get to decide how that is done–two states proportion their electors based on the proportion of voters supporting each candidate, the remaining states having winner-take-all elections.  Thus in a very real sense the State of New Jersey casts its fourteen votes for President of the United States, and the State of Delaware casts its three votes; the voters in these states vote not for the President but for who they want their state to support.

However, the biggest provision creating representation of the states as states in the federal government was the fact that Senators were appointed by state legislatures, not directly by the voters.  They did not run state-wide campaigns, but sought the approval of their political colleagues; and they were not beholden to voters or donors but to those legislators, who could exercise some direct influence over how those Senators would vote.  Senators were, in a sense, ambassadors to the United Nations, when those united nations were thirteen former British colonies forming a federated union.  It meant that the two houses of Congress were different in kind, one representing the people, the other representing the states, and thus that they would have different interests.

The seventeenth amendment changed that.  Our first two questions are why and how, and after that we have to wonder why Utah and the Tea Party want to change it back.

The how is simple enough.  The seventeenth amendment to the United States Constitution took the senatorial appointment power away from the state legislatures and gave it to the voters directly.  Each Senator is now chosen by the majority of all the voters in his home state, and so, in theory, each represents the interests of all of them.  There is also a provision stating that in the event of a vacancy, the legislature can empower the governor to appoint an interim Senator and schedule a special election (as we saw here in New Jersey a couple years back when Senator Lautenberg died).  The legislature no longer has the power to appoint or approve the appointment of Senators.

Two reasons for the change were advanced at the time.  One was the potential for political corruption.  It was asserted that it was possible for a wealthy individual to bribe enough state legislators in essence to purchase a seat in the Senate.  It was alleged that this had happened, maybe two or three times.  It had not been a severe problem, but it was viewed as a potential problem.  It was also an occasional problem that gridlock in a state legislature caused a Senate seat to remain unfilled for extended periods–sometimes several years–which of course meant that those states were not adequately represented in Congress.

Ultimately, though, the driving force seemed to be a push toward centralized government, to reduce the power of the state legislatures in favor of a stronger connection between the federal legislators and the voters.  In theory it is supposed to make the federal government more directly responsive to the people.  It makes state government less relevant at the national level.

That was one of the key arguments against it then, and one of the key arguments against it now; but now that we have had a century of the new system, a new objection has been raised.  It is asserted that the Senators, now elected by the populace instead of selected by the legislatures, no longer represent the interests of the people at all, but rather represent the interests of big money.  In most states it is very costly to run a Senate campaign; if the salary was the only benefit, the return on investment would be minimal.  Candidates are very dependent on financing, and financing, particularly in the larger states, is very dependent on business, or banking, or unions, or other large financiers.  Thus while you are your Senators’ constituent in name, in practice he is far more indebted to, and far more interested in pleasing, those who give the big contributions which support his campaign every half dozen years.  He owes you nothing–and his long six-year term means he is well insulated against any effort you might make to replace him.

That is what Utah asserts:  our Senators are not responsive to the states the way they were originally intended to be, and they are not responsible to the people who elect them as the change was supposed to induce, but only to the wealthy special interest groups who finance them.  It might have been a good idea to take the power from the state legislators and give it directly to the voters, but the effect has been to give the power to the people with the money.  Better to give it back to the state governments where the founders intended than to leave it where it is.

So that’s the argument.  Now the question is, should we go back to the original way?

Here in New Jersey it is difficult to imagine the state as a unified entity.  We are viewed by outsiders as predominantly “blue”, that is, Democratic, and our state legislature is dominated by Democrats and both of our Senators are Democrats–but we have a Republican Governor at the moment, and our Representatives in the House break evenly between the parties.  The northeast is dominated by urban industrial and business interests, the south is largely rural and still strongly agricultural, the northwest mountainous bordering on wilderness.  Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) sports teams are the home teams in almost half the state, New York (New York) teams in the other half, and those out-of-state cities also provide our local television, radio, and to some degree newspaper coverage.  Public Television offers a New Jersey Network, but it is not much watched, New York and Philadelphia Public Television dominating their respective markets.  There are perennial calls for the southern part of the state to secede from the more populus north, thwarted in part by the problem that both halves want Atlantic City and want the other to take Trenton.  The notion that my state legislature could pick Senators who represent this state seems ludicrous.

Nor is New Jersey the only state with this kind of problem.  Predominantly rural and wilderness upstate New York often complains that the populous metropolitan area of its namesake city dominates politics and government, and talks of dividing into two states.  Nor is this a new idea.  West Virginia was once part of Virginia.  One calculation suggests that if every state secessionist movement had been successful, there would now be between two and three times as many states.  Our states are not more unified than our nation, really; it only seems so to those outside because they only see the results of the elections, and only for the top offices.

And the question of how well our state legislatures represent our state populations is similarly suspect.  We hear much about redistricting when it applies to the House of Representatives, but it also applies to our state legislatures, in which one way or another the sitting legislators periodically decide how to divide the voting districts which select them, with all the gerrymandering that often involves to create districts that will keep the party in power in power.  Repealing the seventeenth amendment will not put the power in the hands of the people.  It is not supposed to, of course; it is supposed to put the power in the hands of the state government, so the states themselves will be represented at the federal level.  Yet if we have trouble with state governments adequately representing their own constituents, that will be compounded by letting the party which wins a slim majority in the state legislature decide who will represent them in the federal one.

It might have the positive effect of making voters interested in state government elections.  There is a tendency for voter turnout to be highest when there is a Presidential election, relatively high when there is a Senator on the ballot, and progressively lower for a Congressional election, state government election, and local election.  Yet if it became the case that our choice of New Jersey State Assemblyman became our vote for United States Senator from New Jersey, it might well become the case that New Jersey voters would be more interested in who those were and for what they stood.  Injecting national politics into state politics might be a boost for the state system.

On the other hand, in some states giving the choice of Senator to the state legislature would be de facto giving it to the party committee of the political party that controls the state.  We have only sections of that in New Jersey, where there are still “party bosses” who choose candidates and put them in office because they control the party that always wins the district.  The old system is subject to a new form of corruption, giving more power to the party in power and making it more difficult for the voters to wrest that power from it.

So Utah is right to the degree that there is a problem, a corruption in the present system; but the solution does not seem to be returning to the old system.  It is difficult, though, to envision a new system that would work.  We might have the Governor of each state select one of the Senators and the legislature the other; or have one elected by popular vote and the other the legislature, or perhaps have a two-stage election in which the voters in essence nominate several candidates and then the legislature selects one.  Some way of choosing Senators might be devised which at least reduces their dependence on big money without making them too beholden to party interests.  That way is not the repeal of the seventeenth amendment but its replacement with a better idea not yet envisioned.

Quite a few articles on the site are at least peripherally related to issues in this web log post, among them particularly Coalition Government which includes explanations of the Electoral College system, Polarization on why the country is so divided, Re-election Incongruity on why everyone claims that Congress should be recalled but incumbents are consistently re-elected, and Election Law, which includes discussions of redistricting issues.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#42: Politicians and Statemen

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #42, on the subject of Politicians and Statemen.

19th century American James Freeman Clarke left some memorable and sometimes Tweetable quotes behind.  Perhaps the most famous of these reads

A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.

  He was apparently not a politician, being a clergyman, educator, and activist reformer.  He may have been a statesman.  However, it is clear that he approved statesmen over politicians.

img0042Clarke

I read something recently that brought the quote back to mind, causing me to wonder who in the nation today are the statesmen and who the mere politicians.  Of course, that’s not simple to assess.  If we look at the Democrats, we see a lot of policies that seem to be aimed at pleasing voters–free or low-cost healthcare, food and welfare programs, as well as policies to protect minority benefits.  It has been argued, and not entirely unreasonably, that this party is attempting to buy votes with government money and other generosity.  On the other hand, despite the fact that the Republicans pioneered such policies as protecting the rights of blacks and protecting the environment, the Democrats have managed to make those their issues, becoming the “progressive party” after for decades being the party of oppression with people like George Wallace spearheading the fight against civil rights.  Democrats are the ones who push for taking steps against climate change (although Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken on that subject as well), insisting that present economic hardships, whatever they might be, are small compared to a potential future crisis.

Of course, many argue that the Republicans are using government money to buy the votes–and the pockets–of big business and Wall Street.  Forget that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has close ties to the financial markets and backers from that group, it is maintained that the Republican party is bought and paid for by big business.  On the other hand, the Republican party coalition (we talked much about how coalition government works at the party level in the United States) contains several groups that focus on principles:  the pro-life coalition fighting against the rampant killing of the unborn, the gun lobby focusing on Second Amendment rights, Christian groups upset about First Amendment protections in the changing moral landscape, Originalists pressing for the America of our ancestors.  These are issues focused on the future and the betterment of the nation.  You might not agree about them, but they are the thoughts of statesmen looking to improve the nation, not of politicians seeking to buy votes.

Of course, both parties are packed with politicians.  There is a degree to which they have chosen the party with which they are most in agreement, but also a degree to which they mold their own messages to appeal to the voters of that party.  Politicians are always thinking of the next election; the next generation is a distant second in most cases.

However, what intrigued me about this article is not the politicians but the voters.  In brief, correspondents for a news organization swapped jobs for a week–the one covering the Republicans tackling the Democrats, the one working the Democrats turning to the Republicans.  They both noticed the same difference in the voters.

Republican voters frequently talked about issues.  They were invested in questions like originalism, abortion, homosexual marriage, gun rights, free speech, et cetera.  They wanted to know what candidates were going to do to protect and advance these principles, these policy positions, for the perceived good of the nation.

Democratic voters by and large were concerned about their own needs:  what was the candidate going to do about my welfare check, my medical care, my housing problems.  The Democratic voters were personally invested in putting people in office who would give them what they perceived as their wants and needs.  They were strong-arming their candidates into that supposed position of promising giveaways.  They, in the main, fit the stereotype Republicans have of Democrats, of trading the future of the country for a paycheck.

It seems that whatever we can say about the politicians, among the voters, the Republicans are the statesmen trying to think of the next generation, and the Democrats are the politicians extracting promises for the next election.

This may be too harsh.  After all, it does appear demographically that poorer voters tend to vote Democratic, and if we consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we recognize that people who have trouble putting food in their stomachs and a roof over their heads don’t care so much about such esoteric questions as the rights of the unborn or freedom of expression or the right to bear arms.  They care about meeting those fundamental needs.  One of our founding fathers quipped that the democracy would end the moment the voters realized that they could all vote themselves money from the Federal coffers.  That’s been happening for quite a while, but the situation is worsening.  It’s probably also the reason why early voter regulations required that the voter prove he had real property and an education–that he was intelligently invested in the future of the country.  There are problems with that arrangement, certainly, in its tendency to maintain the status quo; but there is also something to be said for its ability to resist the tendency toward candystore giveaway politicking.  The fact that poor people are more interested in what the government is going to do to alleviate their situation and rich people are more interested in what the government is going to do to ensure long term economic and social stability is perfectly logical.  It also suggests that the former breeds politicians and the latter statesmen, at least to the degree of short-term versus long-term economic stability.

Republican politicians might be merely politicians, and there might be statesmen among the Democratic politicians, but if we want the party whose members are most concerned about the longer-term future, it might be the Republicans.  In contrast to the politicking for personal gain among the Democrats, the Republican membership might be the statesmen.

Assuming statesmen are still to be preferred….

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#41: Ted Cruz and the Birther Issue

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #41, on the subject of Ted Cruz and the Birther Issue.

The unabashedly liberal Huffington Post has reported that a Texas attorney has filed suit against Ted Cruz, claiming that the Republican United States Senator from Texas is not eligible to be President of the United States because he is not a “natural born Citizen” as required by the Constitution.

img0041Cruz

This is ground we covered in detail quite a few years ago; in fact, it was this issue that launched our political writing at The Examiner–only then the object was Barrack Obama.  We have preserved those articles as The Birther Issue elsewhere on this site, and we’ll look at that.

The problem for Cruz is that he was not born in the United States.  People argued whether Barrack Obama was or was not born in the United States, and whether the birth certificate published by the White House asserting a Hawaiian birth was in fact a forgery.  The issue this time is not whether or not he was born in the United States–it is clearly established that he was born in Canada, to a mother who is incontrovertibly a United States citizen, and a Cuban-born father who fled to the United States and became a Canadian citizen a few years after the birth of his son Ted, then became an American citizen just over a decade ago.

Thus the question is whether Ted Cruz is a “natural born” United States citizen as required by the constitution, based on the fact that his mother being a United States citizen gave him U. S. citizenship at the moment of his birth, or whether he is not “natural born”, based on an interpretation of that phrase that requires that the President was actually born in these United States.  It is a perennial issue–before Cruz of course it was raised concerning Obama, but it has also been raised in connection with Mitt Romney (born in Mexico to American parents), John Cain (born to a U. S. military family stationed on the U. S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone), Mitt’s father George Romney (born to U. S. citizen parents in self-imposed exile in Mexico), Barry Goldwater (born in the United States Territory of Arizona before it became a State of the Union), and quite a few others.  In many of these controversies, scholars have asserted that the Supreme Court has never said what the Constitution means by the words “natural born citizen”.

They are only half right.

In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), the Supreme Court addressed a citizenship case.  In that case, they cited Dicey’s Digest of the Law of England with approval, quoting that

“Natural-born British subject” means a British subject who has become a British subject at the moment of his birth.

They then quoted from a case which cited Blackstone to the effect that

a person who is born on the ocean is a subject of the prince to whom his parents then owe allegiance….

It seems quite evident that Wong Kim Ark asserted that “natural born citizen” of the United States meant no more and no less than that at the moment of birth the individual was a United States Citizen–something that clearly applied to Obama, both Romneys, and Cain, at least.  By the standard set forth by Dicey and Blackstone cited by the Supreme Court in Wong Kim Ark, because Mrs. Cruz was a United States Citizen at the time that her son Ted was born, Ted Cruz is a natural born citizen of the United States, and eligible to become President of these United States.

So what’s the problem?  How can anyone say that the Court has not decided this question, if the court has decided it?

The problem is that the court stated that, but did not decide it.  It falls into the category of what is called “dicta”–statements made by the court that are not directly relevant to the decision in the case but express what the court probably would decide about such an issue.  Wong Kim Ark had nothing to do with presidential eligibility.  It was about the California-born son of Chinese citizens refused admission to the country on returning from a visit to foreign relatives abroad because of a California anti-immigration law, and decided only that the child of anyone born in the United States to parents who were legally present in the United States at the time of that birth was a citizen of the United States at the moment of his birth.  The cited passages in Dicey and Blackstone were part of a more general discussion that supported that conclusion, and although they clearly support the conclusion that anyone who was a citizen at the moment of his birth, wherever born, is a natural born citizen, the decision of the case technically only supports its own conclusion, that anyone legally born on United States soil is a United States citizen at that moment.

So technically the critics are right:  the issue has never been “decided” because it has never been raised as such.  However, the reasoning of Wong Kim Ark leads inexorably to the conclusion that people in the position of any of these politicians, including Ted Cruz, are “natural born citizens” under the intended meaning of the Constitution, and eligible to be President of the United States, and there is no reason to imagine that the Supreme Court would decide otherwise given that precedent.

Cruz is right:  the issue which did not matter half a year ago is being raised now because he has become a serious contender for the Republican nomination.  It is not, and should not be regarded, a real issue.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#34: Happy Old Year

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #34, on the subject of Happy Old Year.

At this time of year, readers are bombarded with “year in review” pieces, part of the media’s need to have news even when there is no news, to make news out of nonsense and trivia–the reason Time Magazine first created its “Man of the Year” issue (the first was Adolph Hitler).  When I was at The Examiner, I began doing something of the same thing, creating indices of articles from the year for readers who missed something or who vaguely remember something.  Quite a bit has been published this year, and it might help to have a bit of a review of it all, as some of you might have missed some of it.  We have articles in quite a few categories.

The web log is of course self-sorting, and you can find articles in its various categories by following the category links, or in subjects by following tag links; still, it will be worth touching on those pieces here, and there are also quite a few “static pages”, that is, regular web pages added to the site, that you might have missed.

At the beginning of the year we were still writing for The Examiner; all of that has been republished here, much of it which was originally done in serialized format consolidated into larger articles.  My reasons for that are explained here on the blog in #8:  Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner, if you missed them.  It is still hoped that the Patreon campaign will pick up the slack and pay the bills needed to support continuing the efforts here at M. J. Young Net.

img0034MJYNet

Let’s start with the law and politics pieces.  This is a good place to start, because when at the beginning of the year we moved everything from The Examiner, we included a final New Jersey Political Buzz Index Early 2015, with articles on Coalition Government, Broadcasting, Marriage Law Articles, Judiciary, Internet Law, Congress, Discrimination, Election Law, Search and Seizure, Presidential, Health Care, and Insurrection, most subjects covering several articles consolidated with other articles, along with links to earlier indices.  There was also a new main law/politics index page, appropriately Articles on Law and Politics, covering the old and the new, and we added a static page to that, continuing a series on tax we had begun previously, What’s Wrong with the Flat Tax?.

We’ve also had a number of law and politics posts on this blog, including

We also covered New Jersey’s 2015 off-year election with a couple posts, #12:  The 2015 Election, and #15:  The 2015 Election Results.

There were a few web log posts that were on Bible/theology subjects, particularly last week’s #32:  Celebrating Christmas, about why we celebrate, and why this particular day; plus some that were both political and theological, including #3:  Reality versus Experience, #23:  Armageddon and Presidential Politics, and #24:  Religious Liberty and Gay Rights:  A Definitive Problem.

Then there was the time travel material.  This also included some that were originally published at The Examiner and moved here, sometimes consolidated into single pieces.  We started the year with a serialized (and now consolidated) analysis of Predestination, followed by one of Project Almanac.  We also gave a nod to (Some of) The Best Time Travel Comedies and (Some of) The Best Time Travel Thrillers, before moving here.

Once here, we began our temporal insights with a couple of web log posts, the first #6:  Terminator Genisys Quick Temporal Survey, and then #17:  Interstellar Quick Temporal Survey, both thanks to the generosity of readers who provided for us to see these films.  We eventually managed to add a new analysis to the web site, Terminator Genisys, one of the longest and most complicated analyses we have yet done–but we were not done.  Remembering that our original analysis of the first two films in the franchise made some suggestions concerning a future direction for the series, and having commented on the problems with continuing it after the latest installment, we wrote #28:  A Terminator Vision, giving some ideas for a next film.  Then in response to a reply to the analysis, we added #31:  A Genisys Multiverse, explaining why we don’t think a multiverse-type solution resolves the problems of the film.

The site was expanded on another long-neglected front, the Stories from the Verse section:  the directors of Valdron Inc gave me permission to serialize Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel; as of today, the first forty-seven of one hundred twenty-six chapters (they’re mostly short chapters) have been published; there is an index which conveniently lists all the chapters from the first to the most recent published in the left column and from the most recent to the first in the right, so that you can begin at the beginning if you have not read it at all, or find where you left off going backwards if you’ve read most of it.  The chapters also link to each other for convenient page turning.

I don’t know whether it makes it more interesting or takes away some of the magic, but I also began running a set of “behind the writings” blog posts to accompany the novel.  These are my recollections of the process that brought the pages to life–where I got some of the ideas, my interactions with the editor and other pre-publication readers,, changes that were made, and how it all came to be.  There are now seven of them in print–

  1. #18:  A Novel Comic Milestone,

  2. #20:  Becoming Novel,
  3. #22:  Getting Into Characters,
  4. #25:  Novel Changes,
  5. #27:  A Novel Continuation,
  6. #30:  Novel Directions,
  7. #33:  Novel Struggles,

–and I expect to publish another tomorrow for the next six chapters.

Looking at the few posts that have not yet fit in one of these categories, whether logic or trivia or something else, one, #29:  Saving the Elite, was really advice for writing a certain kind of story.  Our first post in the blog, #1:  Probabilities and Solitaire, was a bit of a lesson in probabilities in card games, and #26:  The Cream in My Coffee applied physics to how you lighten and sweeten your hot beverages.

So that’s what we’ve been doing this year, or at least, that’s the part that sticks above the water.  We’ve answered questions by e-mail, posted to Facebook (and PInterest and Twitter and LinkedIn and MySpace and Google+ and IMDB and GoodReads and who knows where else), kept the Bible study going, worked on the novels, and tried to keep the home fires burning at the same time.  That’s all important, but somewhat ephemeral–it passes with time faster than that which is published.  Here’s hoping that you’ve benefited in some way from something I wrote this year, and that you’ll continue encouraging me in the year ahead.

Happy old year.

Happy new year.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#15: The 2015 Election Results

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #15, on the subject of The 2015 Election Results.

I previously gave a quick look at the anticipated election.  You have by now probably heard the national news–Democrats did not win in Virginia, and there are quite a few other stories hitting the national headlines.  I feel only that I am obligated to give you some notion of the situation in New Jersey.  That previous mark Joseph “young” web log entry, #12:  The 2015 Election, identified all the candidates in all the state-wide races.  This article will be much shorter, and is here to tell you who won.

img0015Seal

The short answer is that in the main the incumbents won.  Here are the exceptions.

In district one, Republican Sam Fiocchi was unseated in a close race by Democrat Bruce Land.

In district five, where Democratic incumbents Gilbert Wilson and Angel Fuentes did not run for re-election, they have been replaced by Democrats Patricia Jones and Arthur Barclay.

In district eleven, Republican incumbents Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande were edged out by Democratic challengers Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey.

In district sixteen, Republicans incumbent Jack Ciatarelli was re-elected, and it appears that Republican incumbent Donna Simon was edged out by Democrat Andrew Zwicker in a very close three-way race including Democrat Maureen Vella in a very close last place.

In district twenty-two, Democratic incumbent Linda Stender did not run, but was replaced by Democrat James Kennedy.

In district twenty-four, Republican incumbent Alison McHose did not run, but was replaced by Republican Gail Phoebus.

In district thirty-one where Incumbent Democrats Jason O’Donnell and Charles Mainor did not run, they were replaced by Democrats Angela McKnight and Nicholas Chiaravalloti.

In district thirty-three where Democratic incumbent Carmelo Garcia did not run, he was replaced by Democrat Annette Chaparro.

Assuming the sixteenth district seat goes to Democrat Zwicker, the Democrats have increased their hold on the Assembly from forty-eight/thirty-two to fifty-two/twenty-eight.

That’s the election coverage for the Garden State this year.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#13: Governor Chris Christie’s Debate Jab

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #13, on the subject of Governor Chris Christie’s Debate Jab.

I do not presently have television access (if you want to help fix that, start with the Patreon campaign, whose first priorities are to keep this website hosted, pay for my Internet access, and otherwise keep me online, but beyond that will hopefully cover things like new movies and television access).  I did not see the third Republican debate–but I have made a point of reading quite a bit about it from several sides.  One moment that stands out in the coverage comes from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and I consider it worth covering here in part because I was, after all, assigned to a New Jersey political news beat, but also because I think it has ramifications for the national election.  The moment was mentioned in several articles, but the best report of it that I saw came from Yahoo! Politics reporter Michael Walsh, who in a collection of six Best one-liners of the third GOP presidential debate listed it second.  To lay the foundation, let me quote a large part of his article:

Debate moderator John Harwood asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie what we should do to deal with anthropogenic climate change.

Christie’s response began with a criticism of what he sees as the proposed solution from Democrats–namely more taxes and government involvement–to which Harwood reiterated his question.

Christie continued his answer by saying that “we” should invest in all types of energy.  Again, before Christie finished speaking, Harwood asked another question:  “You mean government?”

“No, John.  John, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?”  Christie said to laughter.  “How are we going to do this?  Because, I’ve got to tell you the truth–even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.”

After that rejoinder, Christie proceeded to outline his energy plan, uninterrupted, of working with the private sector to make solar and wind energy affordable for businesses and individuals–repeating that government intervention and more taxes are not the answer.

(The article is worth reading in its entirety.  The other moments were from Donald Trump reacting to John Kasich, Marco Rubio responding to Jeb Bush’s attack on him, Mike Huckabee refusing to attack Donald Trump, Ted Cruz complaining about differences in media handling between the Democratic and Republican debates, and Carly Fiorina on being accused of not having smiled enough in the previous debate.)

Although it is much too early in the process to exclude the possibility of anyone becoming the next President, let alone the next Republican nominee (the reason George Pataki has not withdrawn), Christie is certainly a dark horse in this race, a long shot (the British PaddyPower Sport betting site as of October 29 lists him at 20/1 to be the Republican nominee, six candidates with better odds led by Marco Rubio at 11/8 and Donald Trump at 4/1; he lists as in a four-way tie for eighth with 40/1 to be President, with Hillary Clinton at 5/6 and Marco Rubio at 4/1 leading the pack).  He is probably not going to be the next President of the United States.

img0013Debate

However, he might be the next Vice President.

The position of Vice President on the ticket is an interesting one.  Voters are not voting for you, and you are not really asking them to vote for you.  They will ask themselves the question of whether they would trust you to run the country should, God forbid, something happen to the President–the reason Thomas Eagleton’s mental health record was a disaster for the George McGovern candidacy in 1972–but Christie has run a state, and done that well enough that he was endorsed for re-election by many of the state’s Democratic elected officials.  What would keep a man from being President (such as possibly the “Bridgegate” scandal) is ignored when you are running for the second seat–witness current Vice President Joe Biden, who was knocked out of the Democratic Presidential primary race in 1988 on allegations of plagiarism (both in his speeches and in his Law School essays) but who was not considered a liability as Obama’s running mate.  It was even joked in the early days of Obama’s presidency that Biden was his insurance policy–no one would assassinate the President because that would make him responsible for advancing “Smokin’ Joe” to Commander in Chief.  Beyond the simple question of whether the Vice President could do the job if it became necessary, no one considers his qualifications and few consider his politics.

What does matter in a Vice Presidential running mate is what we might call his “attack chops”.  Presidential candidates, and to some degree Presidents, have the problem of needing to look strong without looking nasty.  Vice Presidential candidates, and Vice Presidents, are thus called upon to be the vocal defenders of the ticket, the one who will tackle opponents directly.  We excuse the second man on the ticket, because we are not voting for him, and that gives him a lot of freedom to speak his mind and defend the ticket, to say things that the Presidential candidate (or the President) could not say without staining his own reputation and losing “political capital”.  We dislike Presidents who have a nasty bark, but the same trait in a Vice President is seen as protective, because he is not defending himself but his President.

Christie has once again proved that he has that bark.  He has the necessary aggressiveness to be the Vice President and the Vice Presidential candidate.

He is also viewed as more moderate–a Republican governor who managed to make progress in what is regarded a Democratic state with Democratically-controlled legislative houses, because he was able to compromise and work across the aisle.  Conservatives are going to regard him a RINO, but he is going to appeal to the independent middle.

I can see a number of possible scenarios in which some other candidate might be a better choice.

  • If Trump wins, he would do better with Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio in the second seat.  That’s partly because a Trump ticket probably needs a stabilizing “insider” anchor, someone who is viewed as understanding politics.  It’s also because Trump is already closely tied to New Jersey.  As I understand it, Trump is officially a New Yorker–and that matters, because the Constitution specifies that the candidates for President and Vice President must come from different states–but even so, the connection of Trump to Atlantic City suggests that the ticket would need to spread its appeal by choosing someone not from the northeast corridor.  A Bush/Rubio (or Rubio/Bush) ticket would suffer from similar problems.
  • There is a viable argument to the effect that any white male political insider who became the nominee ought to choose a running mate that was not a white male political insider–thus Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson rise to the top of the list as good Vice Presidential options.  They have neither the political experience nor the obvious fighter instincts of Christie, but they have an appeal to voters who are otherwise considered strong Democratic demographics.  Marco Rubio would be a good compromise here, Bobby Jindal or Ted Cruz less so.  Of course, the Vice Presidential candidate does not have to be chosen from among the Presidential hopefuls, but there is some sense in choosing someone who has already become a recognized figure in the race.
  • If the nominee is seen as more moderate, the party might be best served by having a more conservative running mate to appeal to its conservative wing.  Most of the “establishment” candidates in the race are more conservative, and this is rather unlikely overall.

However, if the nomination goes to Carson, Fiorina, or Rubio, or maybe Bush, Christie has been positioned as the ideal running mate.  He might well become the next Vice President of the United States.

In addition to blog posts in the Politics and Elections categories, the reader is referred to previous articles, the several linked within the blog post plus The Early 2016 Presidential Race, The Republican Dilemma, and other articles in the Law and Politics section of the main site.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

#12: The 2015 Election

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #11, on the subject of The 2015 Election.

I last wrote suggesting that it was in everyone’s best interest in terms of future national elections to vote in present local elections, and said that I would try to produce something helpful in that regard.  This is that.

I suppose the place to start is to suggest that most of my readers need to look elsewhere for help.  I cannot adequately cover even New Jersey, given all its municipalities.  I can point you to Ballotpedia as perhaps the most unbiased source of information on most of these issues; you can also get some information from U. S. Politics My Time to Vote (links to individual states are at the bottom of the main page) and Rock the Vote, although this site is more geared toward getting younger voters active in the process and its election information is mostly given as links to official web sites.  Ultimately those official web sites are the place to get the most accurate, if not the most easily accessed, information, and most states have online copies of sample ballots available so you can see the choices before you reach the booth.

The big elections this year are state legislatures.  Louisiana and Mississippi both have all seats in both houses up for re-election, but Republican control is not thought to be challenged.  Virginia is different.  Although both houses are controlled by Republicans and all seats are up for re-election, the governorship recently shifted to Democratic control, and the Senate is closely balanced twenty-one-to-nineteen.  If the Democrats can unseat one Republican they will create a twenty-to-twenty balance and the Democratic Lieutenant Governor, serving as Senate President (much as the Vice President of the United States does in the United States Senate), would cast the tiebreaking vote giving Democrats a slim majority.  Complicating it further, though, there is an independent running against one of the incumbent Democrats with a strong chance of unseating her, which could prevent the Democrats from having a controlling majority.

Which brings us to New Jersey.  Our State Senators serve four year terms, and this is not the election year for them; however, all of our eighty State Assembly seats are up for re-election every odd-numbered year.  We have forty legislative districts, each of which elects two Assemblymen.  Presently forty-seven of those seats are held by Democrats, thirty-one by Republicans, and two are vacant.

img0012Districts

I am going to attempt to identify all forty districts, the incumbents, and the challengers in each.  I will also link to the best information I could find on each of the candidates.  Preference is given to a web site operated by the candidate, or a candidate Facebook page, with the last choice being the Ballotpedia reference page for the candidate.

District 1, all of Cape May and parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties, including Avalon, Cape May, Cape May Point, Commercial, Corbin City, Dennis, Downe, Estell Manor, Fairfield (Cumberland), Greenwich (Cumberland), Hopewell (Cumberland), Lawrence (Cumberland), Lower, Maurice River, Middle, Millville, North Wildwood, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Shiloh, Stone Harbor, Stow Creek, Upper, Vineland, West Cape May, West Wildwood, Weymouth, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Woodbine.  Incumbents are Democrat Bob Andrzejczak and Republican Samuel Fiocchi; challengers are Democrat R. Bruce Land and Republican Jim Sauro.

District 2, the rest of Atlantic County (not covered in District 1), including Absecon, Atlantic City, Brigantine, Buena, Buena Vista, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Folsom, Hamilton (Atlantic), Linwood, Longport, Margate City, Mullica, Northfield, Pleasantville, Somers Point, Ventnor City.  Incumbents are Democrat Vincent Mazzeo and Republican Chris Brown; challengers are Democrat Colin Bell and Republican Will Pauls.

District 3, the rest of Cumberland (not covered in District 1), all of Salem, and part of Gloucester Counties, including Alloway, Bridgeton, Carneys Point, Clayton, Deerfield, East Greenwich, Elk, Elmer, Elsinboro, Franklin (Gloucester), Glassboro, Greenwich (Gloucester), Logan, Lower Alloways Creek, Mannington, National Park, Newfield, Oldmans, Paulsboro, Penns Grove, Pennsville, Pilesgrove, Pittsgrove, Quinton, Salem, South Harrison, Swedesboro, Upper Deerfield, Upper Pittsgrove, West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Woodstown, Woolwich.  Incumbents are Democrats John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro, challengers are Republican Samuel Maccarone, Republican Leroy Pierce, and Independent “People’s Voice” candidate John Kalnas.

District 4, western parts of Camden and Gloucester Counties, including Chesilhurst, Clementon, Gloucester Township, Laurel Springs, Lindenwold, Monroe (Gloucester), Pitman, Washington (Gloucester), Winslow.  Incumbents are Democrats Paul Moriarty and Gabriela Mosquera, challengers are Republicans Kevin Murphy and Jack Nicholson.

District 5, eastern parts of Camden and Gloucester Counties, including Audubon, Audubon Park, Barrington, Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Camden, Deptford, Gloucester City, Haddon Heights, Harrison (Gloucester), Lawnside, Magnolia, Mantua, Mount Ephraim, Runnemede, Wenonah, Westville, Woodbury, Woodlynne.  Demcratic incumbents Gilbert Wilson and Angel Fuentes are not running for re-election.  Hoping to replace them are challengers Democrat Patricia Egan Jones, Democrat Arthur Barclay, Republican Kevin Ehret, and Republican Keith Walker.

District 6, parts of northwestern Camden and southwestern Burlington Counties, including Berlin Township, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Gibbsboro, Haddon, Haddonfield, Hi-Nella, Maple Shade, Merchantville, Oaklyn, Pennsauken, Somerdale, Stratford, Tavistock, Voorhees.  Incumbents are Democrats Louis Greenwald and Pamela Lampitt, challengers are Republican Holly Tate, Republican Claire Gustafson, Green party candidate James Bracciante, and Green party candidate Amanda Davis.

District 7, western Burlington County including Beverly, Bordentown, Bordentown Township, Burlington, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Edgewater Park, Fieldsboro, Florence, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside, Riverton, Willingboro.  Incumbents are Democrats Herbert Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Troy Singleton, challengers are Republicans Bill Conley and Rob Prisco.

District 8, a large part of Burlington plus parts of Camden and Atlantic Counties including Berlin Borough, Eastampton, Evesham, Hainesport, Hammonton, Lumberton, Mansfield (Burlington), Medford, Medford Lakes, Mount Holly, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, Pine Hill, Pine Valley, Shamong, Southampton, Springfield (Burlington), Waterford, Westampton, Woodland.  Republican incumbent Christopher Brown is not running for re-election, but incumbent Republican Maria Rodriguez-Gregg and newcomer Republican Joe Howarth are running unopposed.

District 9, part of Burlington and much of Atlantic and Ocean Counties including Barnegat, Barnegat Light, Bass River, Beach Haven, Beachwood, Berkeley, Eagleswood, Galloway, Harvey Cedars, Lacey, Little Egg Harbor, Long Beach, Ocean Gate, Ocean Township (Ocean), Pine Beach, Port Republic, Seaside Park, Ship Bottom, South Toms River, Stafford, Surf City, Tabernacle, Tuckerton, Washington (Burlington).  Incumbents are Republicans Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove, challengers are Democrats Frank Zimmer and John Bingham.

District 10, a slice of Ocean County including Bay Head, Brick, Island Heights, Lakehurst, Lavallette, Manchester, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Toms River.  Incumbents are Republicans David Wolfe and Gregory P. McGuckin, challengers are Democrats Valter Must and Kimberley Casten.

District 11, central Monmouth County including Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Neptune, Neptune Township, Ocean Township (Monmouth), Red Bank, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls, West Long Branch.  Incumbents are Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande, challengers are Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey.

District 12, the center of the state including parts of Burlington, Monmouth, Middlesex, and Ocean Counties, including Allentown, Chesterfield, Englishtown, Jackson, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone (Monmouth), New Hanover, North Hanover, Old Bridge, Plumsted, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold, Wrightstown.  Incumbents are Republicans Ronald Dancer and Robert Clifton, challengers are Democrats Robert Kurzydlowski and David Merwin, and Green party candidate Stephen Zielinski.

District 13, New Jersey’s “shoulder”, the part of Monmouth County that includes Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, Union Beach.  Incumbents are Republicans Amy Handlin and Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr., challengers are Democrats Jeanne Cullinane and Thomas Herman, and Independent Joshua Leinsdorf.

District 14, the base of New Jersey’s “throat” crossing parts of Mercer and Middlesex Counties including Cranbury, East Windsor, Hamilton (Mercer), Hightstown, Jamesburg, Monroe (Middlesex), Plainsboro, Robbinsville, Spotswood.  Incumbents are Democrats Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson, challengers are Republicans David C. Jones and Philip Kaufman, and Green party candidates Steven Welzer and Joann Cousin.

District 15, parts of northwestern Mercer and southwestern Hunterdon Counties including East Amwell, Ewing, Hopewell Borough (Mercer), Hopewell Township (Mercer), Lambertville, Lawrence (Mercer), Pennington, Trenton, West Amwell, West Windsor.  Incumbents are Democrats Reed Gusciora and Elizabeth Maher Muoio, challengers are Republicans Peter Mendonez and Anthony Giordano.

District 16, parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties including Branchburg, Delaware, Flemington, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone (Somerset), Montgomery, Princeton, Raritan (Hunterdon), Readington, Rocky Hill, Somerville, South Brunswick, Stockton.  Incumbents are Republicans Jack Ciatarelli and Donna Simon, challengers are Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Maureen Vella.

District 17, small parts of Middlesex and Somerset Counties including Franklin (Somerset), Milltown, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Piscataway.  Incumbents are Democrats Joseph Egan and Joseph Danielsen, challengers are Republicans Robert Mettler and Brajesh Singh, and Green party candidate Molly O’Brien.

District 18, the center of Middlesex County, including East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield, South River.  Incumbents are Democrats Nancy Pinkin and Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., challengers are Republicans Synnove Bakke and Teresa Rose Hutchinson.

District 19, eastern Middlesex County including Carteret, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy, Woodbridge.  Incumbents are Democrats John Wisniewski and Craig Coughlin, challengers are Republicans Thomas E. Maras and Jesus Varela.

District 20, northeastern Union County including Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle, Union (Union).  Incumbents are Democrats Annette Quijana and Jamel Holley, challengers are Republicans Stephen Kozlovich and Roger Stryeski.

District 21, parts of Morris, Somerset, and Union Counties including Berkeley Heights, Bernards, Chatham Borough, Cranford, Far Hills, Garwood, Kenilworth, Long Hill, Mountainside, New Providence, Roselle Park, Springfield (Union), Summit, Warren, Watchung, Westfield.  Incumbents are Republicans Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz, challengers are Democrats Jill Anne Lazare and David Barnette.

District 22, parts of Middlesex, Somerset, and Union Counties including Clark, Dunellen, Fanwood, Green Brook, Linden, Middlesex, North Plainfield, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Winfield.  Democratic incumbent Linda Stender is not running for re-election.  Incumbent Democrat Gerald Green faces a field of Democrat James J. Kennedy, and Republicans William Vastine and William Michelson.

District 23, a large western section of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren Counties including Alexandria, Alpha, Bedminster, Bethlehem, Bloomsbury, Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Califon, Clinton, Clinton Township, Franklin (Hunterdon), Franklin (Warren), Frenchtown, Glen Gardner, Greenwich (Warren), Hackettstown, Hampton (Hunterdon), Harmony, High Bridge, Holland, Kingwood, Lebanon Borough, Lebanon Township, Lopatcong, Mansfield (Warren), Milford, Peapack-Gladstone, Phillipsburg, Pohatcong, Raritan (Somerset), South Bound Brook, Tewksbury, Union (Hunterdon), Washington Borough (Warren), Washington Township (Warren).  Incumbents are Republicans John DiMaio and Erik Peterson, challengers are Democrats Marybeth Maciag and Maria Rodriguez.

District 24, the large northwest corner of the state with Sussex and portions of Morris and Warren Counties including Allamuchy, Andover Borough, Andover Township, Belvidere, Blairstown, Branchville, Byram, Frankford, Franklin (Sussex), Fredon, Frelinghuysen, Green, Hamburg, Hampton (Sussex), Hardwick, Hardyston, Hopatcong, Hope, Independence, Knowlton, Lafayette, Liberty, Montague, Mount Olive, Newton, Ogdensburg, Oxford, Sandyston, Sparta, Stanhope, Stillwater, Sussex, Vernon, Walpack, Wantage, White.  Republican incumbent Alison McHose is not running for re-election, so incumbent Republican Parker Space is running with Gail Phoebus against Democrats Michael Grace and Jacky Stapel and Green party candidate Kenneth Collins.

District 25, in the center of the northern half of the state consisting of parts of Morris and Somerset Counties including Bernardsville, Boonton, Boonton Township, Chester Borough, Chester Township, Denville, Dover, Mendham Borough, Mendham Township, Mine Hill, Morris, Morristown, Mount Arlington, Mountain Lakes, Netcong, Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Roxbury, Victory Gardens, Washington (Morris), Wharton.  Incumbents are Republicans Michael Carroll and Anthony Bucco, Jr., challengers are Democrats Richard Corcoran and Thomas Moran.

District 26, a thin arc of parts of Essex, Morris, and Passaic Counties including Butler, Fairfield (Essex), Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, North Caldwell, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Township, Verona, West Caldwell, West Milford.  Incumbents are Republicans Jay Webber and BettyLou DeCorce, challengers are Democrats Wayne Marek and Avery Hart.

District 27, parts of Essex and Morris Counties including Caldwell, Chatham Township, East Hanover, Essex Fells, Florham Park, Hanover, Harding, Livingston, Madison, Maplewood, Millburn, Roseland, South Orange, West Orange.  Incumbents are Democrats John McKeon and Mila Jasey, challengers are Republicans Tayfun Selen and Wonkyu “Qu” Rim, and Libertarians Damien Caillault and Jeff Hetrick.

District 28, a fragment of Essex County including Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Newark, Nutley.  Incumbents are Democrats Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker, challengers are Republicans Darnel Henry and David H. Pinckney.

District 29, two cities in Essex County, Belleville, Newark.  Incumbents are L. Grace Spencer and Eliana Pintor Marin, challengers are Republicans Nicholas Campione and Jeannette Veras, and Independent Pablo Olivera.

District 30, parts of Monmouth and Ocean Counties including Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Brielle, Farmingdale, Howell, Lake Como, Lakewood, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Wall.  Incumbents are Republicans Sean T. Kean and Dave Rible, challengers are Democrats Lorna Phillipson and James Keady, and Independent Hank Schroeder.

District 31, part of Hudson County, the cities Bayonne, Jersey City.  Incumbent Democrats Jason O’Donnell and Charles Mainor are not running for re-election.  The field includes Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Angela McKnight, Republicans Matthew Kopko and Herminio Mendoza, and Independents Tony Zanowic and Alejandro Rodriguez (apparently running together).

District 32, parts of Bergen and Hudson Counties including East Newark, Edgewater, Fairview, Guttenberg, Harrison (Hudson), Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, West New York.  Incumbents are Democrats Vincent Prieto and Angelica Jimenez, challengers are Republicans Lisamarie Tusa and Frank Miqueli.

District 33, a small part of Hudson County including Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City, Weehawken.  Democratic incumbent Carmelo Garcia is not running for re-election.  Incumbent Democrat Raj Mukherji enters a field against Democrat Annette Chaparro, and Republicans Garrett Simulcik, Jr. and Javier Sosa.

District 34, urban areas of Essex and Passaic Counties including Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, Orange.  Incumbents are Democrats Sheila Oliver and Thomas Giblin, challengers are Republican John Traier and Independent Clenard Childress.

District 35, parts of Bergen and Passaic Counties including Elmwood Park, Garfield, Haledon, North Haledon, Paterson, Prospect Park.  Incumbents are Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly, challengers are Republicans David Jimenez and Ilia Villanueva.

District 36, parts again of Bergen and Passaic Counties including Carlstadt, Cliffside Park, East Rutherford, Little Ferry, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, North Arlington, Passaic, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, Wallington, Wood-Ridge.  Incumbents are Democrats Gary Schaer and Marlene Caride, challengers are Republicans Forrest Elliot, Jr. and James Lenoy, and Independent Jeff Boss, who is also running for several other offices including President of the United States in 2016.

District 37, the eastern edge of Bergen County including Alpine, Bogota, Cresskill, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, Leonia, Northvale, Palisades Park, Rockleigh, Teaneck, Tenafly.  Incumbents are Democrats Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, challengers are Republicans Joseph Fiscella and Gino Tessaro.

District 38, parts again of Bergen and Passaic Counties including Bergenfield, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hawthorne, Lodi, Maywood, New Milford, Oradell, Paramus, River Edge, Rochelle Park, Saddle Brook.  Incumbents are Democrats Timothy Eustace and Joseph Lagana, challengers are Republicans Mark Dipisa and Anthony Cappola.

District 39, again parts of Bergen and Passaic Counties including Bloomingdale, Closter, Demarest, Dumont, Emerson, Harrington Park, Haworth, Hillsdale, Mahwah, Montvale, Norwood, Oakland, Old Tappan, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ringwood, River Vale, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Wanaque, Washington (Bergen), Westwood, Woodcliff Lake.  Incumbents are Republicans Holly Schepisi and Roberth Auth, challengers are Democrats Jeffrey Goldsmith and John Derienzo.

District 40, parts of Bergen, Essex, Morris, and Passaic Counties including Allendale, Cedar Grove, Franklin Lakes, Ho-Ho-Kus, Little Falls, Midland Park, Pequannock, Pompton Lakes, Ridgewood, Riverdale, Totowa, Waldwick, Wayne, Woodland Park, Wyckoff.  Incumbents are Republicans David Russo and Scott Rumana, challengers are Democrats Paul Vagiano and Christine Ordway.


Local election information is much more difficult to obtain over the Internet, but for sample ballot information you should contact your county clerk or other election officials; they are conveniently all listed on the New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections web site.

I know that’s not a lot of help, but it’s the best I can offer to such a large task.  Become informed, and then vote.

Several of the candidates mentioned above have previously run for other offices and so are mentioned on other pages of this site, notably on New Jersey 2013 Special Senatorial Election, New Jersey 2014 Primary Election, and New Jersey 2014 General Election.

[contact-form subject='[mark Joseph %26quot;young%26quot;’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment: Note that this form will contact the author by e-mail; to post comments to the article, see below.’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]