Category Archives: Law and Politics

#16: The New First Amendment Speech Delimiter

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #16, on the subject of The New First Amendment Speech Delimiter.

The town of Gilbert, Arizona, recently had a local ordinance struck down by the United States Supreme Court in the case Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 576 U.S. ___ (2015).  Justice Thomas’ majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Sotamayer, and there were three concurring opinions, written by Alito (and joined by Kennedy and Sotamayer), Justice Kagan (joined by Justices Ginsberg and Bryer), and Breyer.  All nine justices agreed that the law was unconstitutional on its face, Kagan saying that it failed even “the laugh test”.

Courtesy Google Maps

We might consider this odd, since the appeal came from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the ordinance saying it saw no problem with it.  That is significant, because the majority opinion inherently alters the face of first amendment law, although Kagan’s concurring opinion disagrees with that alteration–yet apparently the circuit court would not have been right anyway, which is part of the confusion here.

The problem arose because of a sign ordinance.  It is fairly standard for communities to regulate the posting of signs, both for safety and for “beautification”, the overall appearance of the community, and to distinguish signs into categories.  Overall, this particular ordinance stated that signs may not be posted without a permit, then gave twenty-three categories of signs that were exempt from the permit requirement, but gave different standards for different categories.  One of the categories is “Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event”, loosely defined as public meetings of a non-profit organization, and the restrictions on these are rather strict.  Two other categories are discussed in Roberts’ opinion, “Political Signs”, which are intended to influence an election, and “Ideological Signs” which are intended to influence public opinion more generally.  The limitations on such signs included the maximum size, where they might be posted, when they could be posted, and when they would have to be removed.

The plaintiff and appellant in the case is a church whose place of meeting was constantly changing.  It was the practice of the church to post signs announcing the location of the Sunday morning service on Saturday morning and remove them around noon on Sunday.  The code, however, stated that such “Temporary Directional Signs” could not be posted more than twelve hours prior to the event, must have the time and date on them, and had to be removed within an hour after the event–and the town code enforcement agency fined the church twice for non-compliance with these regulations.  Trying and failing to reach some kind of accommodation on the matter, the church took it to court, and was twice rebuffed before receiving Certiorari, that is, having the Supreme Court agree to hear the matter.

In the first paragraph the opinion says that the categorization of the signs is “content based” and therefore will not withstand “strict scrutiny”.  This was where the Court differed from the lower level decisions, which concluded that the distinctions were “content neutral” and therefore faced only “intermediate scrutiny”.

At issue is the circumstances under which the government can regulate speech, and although here it is about speech in the form of posted signs, the opinion is such that it would apply to speech in all media.  In Constitutional Law, laws which might impinge on constitutionally-protected rights are subject to “scrutiny” of different levels.  “Intermediate scrutiny” in essence means that there has to be a definable government interest and the law must address that interest in a fair and balanced way that does not impinge unreasonably upon individual rights.  “Strict scrutiny” means that the government must demonstrate that it has a compelling interest in regulating the conduct, and the means of regulation is the least intrusive means of so regulating it.  Very few laws survive strict scrutiny once it is invoked.  That is, in fact, the reason for the Hobby Lobby-related cases:  a Constitutionally protected right was threatened in a way that forced the government to prove that its objectives were compelling and there was not a less-intrusive way to achieve them.

Traditionally in free speech cases the distinction has been made between “content-neutral” laws, which receive intermediate scrutiny, and “content-based” laws, which receive strict scrutiny.  Content-based laws are primary those that attempt to quash the expression of a particular opinion or which reveal specific information; if the government wants to block the publication of a particular article it has to prove that it has a legitimate compelling government interest in doing so and cannot achieve that objective otherwise.  An example would be a law that criminalizes the publication of classified documents, in which the government argues that such publication threatens national security.  It also extends to block laws barring discussion of particular topics–if the government wants to ban discussion of the commercial use of nuclear power, it thereby interferes with the marketplace of ideas impermissibly.  On the other hand, if a municipality wants to regulate how big signs can be, where they can be posted, and similar matters not related to what the sign is saying, that’s content-neutral, and always has been.

What the Court did in Gilbert, though, was expand the definition of “content-based”.  It said that because the the ordinance regulated signs based on the nature of the information they communicated–e.g., giving directions to temporary meeting locations, promoting candidates for election–and that the regulations distinguished different kinds of signs for different restrictions, it was inherently “content-based”, and therefore faced strict scrutiny.  The lower courts had not thought so, seeing these as content-neutral because they did not distinguish what group was meeting, or which candidate was being promoted, and therefore were unbiased in regard to content; the Supreme Court said that was a mistake.

So big deal, towns cannot regulate the placement of signs which give directions to church services and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Boy Scout picnics differently from other kinds of signs.  How does that matter in the big picture?  It matters because of that new definition of content-based speech.  In Springfield, Illinois an ordinance banning panhandling in certain parts of the city has been struck down because it is based on the “content” of speech begging for money.  A South Carolina statute that barred the use of “robocalls” for “political” and “commercial” topics but not others (for example, robocalls to alert families to school closings were permitted) has been invalidated because it is content-based.  The applications of the new definition of “content-based” are going to have far-reaching repercussions, one of the concurring opinions noting that a lot of Fedieral regulations concerning product labeling, safety notifications, and personal privacy are in jeopardy.

So our freedom of speech just got a bit broader.  We may be living in interesting times.

In addition to blog entries with the appropriate tags, see also the article Freedom of Expression.

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#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.

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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.

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#14: Two and a Half Years for Clearing a Browser History

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #14, on the subject of Two and a Half Years for Clearing a Browser History.

O.K., that is admittedly an overly dramatic heading, and not entirely accurate, but it is rather close to the truth of the matter.

The defendant was Khairullozhon Matanov, a twenty-four year old legally resident alien who drives a cab the Boston area.  He was a known associate of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and had dinner with them following their attack on the Boston Marathon.  He apparently spoke with them several times after the bombing, then saw their pictures on the FBI and CNN websites, attempted to contact them again, and then went to the local police to be interviewed by a detective.  It has never been alleged that he was involved in the bombing or had any knowledge of it before hand nor any certain knowledge of it after the fact.  He was simply a friend of the bombers.

img0014matanov

However, before he spoke to the police, he attempted to delete videos from his computer and erase his browser history, and to give his cell phone to someone else.  When he was interviewed he downplayed his relationship with the Tsarnaev brothers, and said that he had not seen them since having dinner with them several days before the bombing.  One can certainly understand why a Muslim citizen of Kyrgyzstan in the United States on a work visa would be reluctant to be seen as too closely associated with a pair of terrorist bombers, but the police still consider that obstruction of justice, an effort to lie to investigators in an ongoing investigation to obscure facts that might be relevant to the case.  The FBI seized his computer, questioned him, and charged him.

He pled guilty–not because he believed he had done anything illegal, but because conviction for the destruction of “any record, document, or tangible object with intent to obstruct a federal investigation” under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act can carry a sentence of up to twenty years in federal prison, and prosecutors were offering him a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a plea bargain agreement.

It seems fairly clear that Matanov was not involved in the bombing and knew nothing about it; it seems likely that even after the fact the Tsarnaevs remained tight-lipped and his repeated (mostly unanswered) calls to them were probably his effort to learn whether or not they were involved.  No one has asserted that there was any evidence on Matanov’s computer or cell phone of anything other than that he was a Muslim who knew and was in touch with the Tsarnaevs immediately before and after the bombing–the only evidence which could have been obtained from him would have related to the movements of the bombers over the long time before and after the attack.  However, he evidently thought that the combination of evidence that he was a Muslim and he knew the defendants was likely to lead investigators to suspect him of involvement in the bombings, and so he attempted to minimize any such evidence that they might find were they to investigate him.  The sentence seems a bit harsh for a gut fear response to the possibility of being implicated in a terrorist act, and it is not clear what it accomplishes, but he was probably right that the particular law under which he was charged was broad enough and severe enough that he could probably go away for a long time.  After all, he really was attempting to obstruct a federal investigation–he did not want them to know that he was friends with the bombers and had dinner with them that evening, because even to himself it probably seemed absurd that he would not have known they had committed this act.

I think it unlikely that I have any friends likely to become terrorist bombers in the near future, or indeed likely to be gunmen in the next tragic mass shooting.  Statistically that’s certainly true.  On the other hand, I’ve got a lot of Facebook “friends” and Twitter and Pinterest “followers” and LinkedIn “connections” and such, and I belong to several Yahoo! groups–I rub electronic elbows with a lot of people I’ve never met.  Further, I am pretty sure Matanov had no idea that his friends the Tsarnaev brothers were terrorist bombers–I expect that is why he kept attempting to call them even after he saw their pictures on the news, trying to get them to tell him that it was a mistake, they were not involved.  It seems rather clear that most of his efforts to clean his computer were attempting to erase any connection to them and any suggestion that he might be a radical Islamic terrorist.  Yet the wording of the law is such that had he suspected there was something wrong with his friends and attempted to erase any connection he had to them before the bombing, he might as easily have been charged with the same crime.  That means that it is within the realm of possibility that someone I know might suddenly go off the ranch, and the fact that I deleted files on my computer or cleaned my browser history around the same time that it happened could become evidence that I was intentionally destroying evidence.

It is a search and seizure law that might just be too open-ended, or too serious.  It has the potential to turn a little crime into a big crime very quickly, even accidentally.  It sounds like something Congress might want to consider adjusting.  Sure, we want destruction of evidence with the intent of impeding a federal investigation to be a crime; it does not seem, though, as if Matanov’s efforts to distance himself from a couple of friends whom he no more suspected would be terrorist bombers than anyone anticipates the identity of the next mass shooter (he seemed like such a quiet person) is the kind of crime the law was intended to punish.

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#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.

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#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.

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#11: Caring About Off-Year Elections

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #11, on the subject of Caring About Off-Year Elections.

I was musing on politics–and despite the preponderance of such posts in these early days of the blog, I am not really all that interested in politics, it just happened to become my job at some point and it has stuck with me.  What struck me is that we are less than two weeks from election day, and I do not even know what is on the ballot.  But, I thought, who cares about off-year elections?  What difference does it make?

And I found that I knew the answer to the second question; maybe the answer to the first is that you care, or at least you should.

MENDHAM, NJ - NOVEMBER 05:  Election workers stand at a polling center in the Mendham Township Fire Department on November 05, 2013 in Mendham, New Jersey. Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono are the top contenders for governor seat but there are six other independent or third party candidates also running: William Araujo, Jeff Boss, Kenneth Kaplan, Diane Sare, Hank Schroeder and Steven Welzer. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
MENDHAM, NJ – NOVEMBER 05: Election workers stand at a polling center in the Mendham Township Fire Department on November 05, 2013 in Mendham, New Jersey. Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono are the top contenders for governor seat but there are six other independent or third party candidates also running: William Araujo, Jeff Boss, Kenneth Kaplan, Diane Sare, Hank Schroeder and Steven Welzer. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Look for a moment at the field of Presidential candidates for next year’s election.  The Republican field has been very crowded, but what is particularly interesting is the number of young candidates in it.  Marco Rubio, who has a good chance of if not winning the nomination being tapped for Vice President, is forty-four years old.  Bobby Jindal is the same age, and Ted Cruz, Tea Party favorite, is only a few months younger.  Certainly there are older candidates in the race.  Current frontrunner Donald Trump is sixty-nine, Ben Carson sixty-four, and Carly Fiorina 61 (but note that none of these candidates have previously held political office).  But Rand Paul is only fifty-two and Chris Christie fifty-three.

Now look at the Democrats.  We have a serious race between sixty-nine year old Hillary Clinton and seventy-four year old Bernie Sanders.  Of the other candidates who were in the race, Jim Webb is sixty-nine, Lincoln Chafee (who recently dropped out of the race) is sixty-two, and the youngest of the batch, at fifty-two, is Martin O’Malley.  The only other “young” candidate, not even known to most voters, is law professor Larry Lessig, at fifty-four.  The two candidates people hoped would enter the race are also older, Elizabeth Warren at sixty-six and Joe Biden at seventy-three.

It is a sad showing for a party that claims to be the party of the young.  Of course, its current leader, President Barrack Obama, is “only” fifty-four, but there are no young candidates in this race.

It may be that younger candidates are letting their elders go first, and there is some wisdom in electing the more experienced (although not usually the wisdom of the Democratic party, who with Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Obama went for the younger leader).  There are promising young Democrats, such as New Jersey Freshman Senator Cory Booker.  However, they are seriously outnumbered.  Republicans currently hold majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives, but in some ways more importantly they hold the majority of state executives and the majority of state legislative houses.  That means there are more young Republicans coming up through the ranks than there are young Democrats.

Of course, that does not much bother me.  The Democrats have taken many positions which in my opinion range from untenable to heinous (although they hold some positions with which I agree).  That the Republicans dominate politics is a good thing, to my mind.  It is those of you who support the Democrats who need to put Democrats in those offices–because most national politicians started as state politicians, and most state politicians started as county and local politicians, and if you expect to have electable Presidential candidates in the future you must have mayors and freeholders and state legislators in the present.  As it happens, the demographic that perceives the importance of being involved in local political races happens to lean very conservative, and so puts Republicans in those positions during off-year elections.  The Democrats know this; they just have no solution for it.

So now that I’ve told the Democrats what they need to do for long-term success, Republicans also need to be told:  if you are going to keep this grassroots strength, you have to continue to overmatch the Democrats at the local level.  Your vote matters, because even if you are not all that interested in what the next mayor is going to do in your town, or how the county freeholders are going to manage the budget, putting Republicans in those offices keeps you on the road to controlling the future–not to mention that there are still some state legislatures and executive houses you do not hold, still enough Democrats in office to thwart Republican policies in many places.  Local and county offices are the recruiting grounds for state officials, and state government is the springboard to national government, yet also what local, county, and state governments do on the lower levels matters in advancing or impeding party policies.  Our beleagured Democratic President can advance no policies against his opposing Republican Congress, but even when the Democrats controlled national government completely, they often found policies thwarted by Republican state governments.

So now you know why you should vote.  I am working on an article which hopefully will help New Jersey voters with the election, so keep watching this site.

I have previously published quite a few articles about voting.  Among the more relevant, see Election Law, Re-election Incongruity, Polarization, and the article sections Voting in the New Jersey 2014 Congressional Primary and Election Day:  Time to Vote.

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#10: The Unimportance of Facts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #10, on the subject of The Unimportance of Facts.

img0010Debate

In connection with the recent Presidential debates, one columnist bemoaned the issue that candidates often would make statements which in the aftermath of the debate political junkies who read sites such as Politifact would learn were inaccurate, misleading, or simply untrue.  He speculated that voters did not care about facts “because they don’t encounter enough of them.”  I considered that, but immediately thought that there might be another reason.

Of course, we have all heard the quip, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts,” and while no one ever says that of himself (and many attribute it to those with whom they disagree), it is a true description of the attitude some people have.  I prefer, however, to think a bit more highly of people.  It is a failing of those of us who are intelligent that we tend to assume others are also intelligent, and sometimes become frustrated when they demonstrate otherwise, yet I find that if you treat others as if they were reasonably intelligent, and if you assume they have some intellectual integrity, they frequently rise to your expectations.  That is to say, most people base opinions on what they believe to be the truth.  I think the problem lies elsewhere.

In discussing freedom of expression we mentioned the popular axiom History is written by the winners.  We noted then that it was not outside the realm of possibility that Holocaust deniers could so shift public belief that the Holocaust itself might become one of those bits of history no one believes ever really happened.  That attitude, though, has come to permeate all of culture, all of education.  We are on some level taught that there are no facts, or at least no reliable facts.  One cannot know anything with certainty.  Eyewitness testimony is unreliable.  Media is biased.  People who want to tell you something have an agenda, an objective they wish to achieve by the telling, and scientists are not above this.  Evolution might be an atheistic deception, global warming might be an environmentalist scare tactic, intelligent design might be an effort to infect pure science with religious nonsense, the Bible might have been written by the church centuries after the time it purports to report, or edited to tell the version of events the priesthood wanted told, and the list is endless.  When I was young the world still had facts, and still respected them, and even when you did not know what the facts were you knew that facts existed and believed that they were ultimately discoverable.  It was said, The Truth Will Out, meaning that facts could not be kept secret forever.  Now we have conspiracies and conspiracy theories, spin doctors and media manipulators, textbook editors and politically correct speech enforcers–thought police of all types working to ensure that what you believe to be the truth fits their agenda.  Further, we are fully aware of this aspect of our reality.  As a result, we do not really believe what we believe, not in the sense that we think it might be true.  We believe it because it is useful and connects us to people who believe as we believe.  We are taught to believe concepts that have no basis in facts, and to be suspicious of any data claiming to be factual that is contrary to those concepts.  Whether it is the lie that there is no correlation between the number of guns in an area and the amount of gun violence, or the lie that gun free zones are safer places that would never be targeted by mass murderers, we accept the statements that fit our conceptions and reject the facts that are awkward, and never worry about whether any supposed fact is true, because facts are not about being true but about supporting already established convictions.

Voters are not interested in the facts because the facts are irrelevant, and whether any alleged fact will be regarded true depends on who you ask.  It not being possible to know the truth of such matters, seeking the truth on them becomes foolish.  For the voter, what matters is whether the candidate believes what the voter believes, not whether any of it is factually true.  The only truth that matters in today’s world is the subjective truth, the opinion of the one who believes it.  Reality is irrelevant.  We, as a society, have been taught and have embraced the lie that there is no truth, or if there is, it is completely undiscoverable.

That, sadly, is why facts are not important in the debates.

Many of the issues brushed in this discussion are discussed in more detail on pages in the law and politics section of this website; see Articles on Law and Politics for a list.

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#9: Abolition

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #9, on the subject of Abolition.

In the abortion debate, the argument against restrictions and regulations of this medical procedure is that they rob women of autonomous control over their own bodies, that they are, in a word, a form of slavery.  Anti-abortionists are portrayed as oppressing women, stripping them of their rights to make decisions about their own bodies, forcing them to bear children and then to be responsible for those children, whether raising them or surrendering them to be raised by someone else.  In the words of Shakespeare’s Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing), “The world must be peopled.”  That, though, does not mean we can enslave women to do the job, whatever Japan’s Liberal Democrats think.

The second statement made is that conservatives claim to care about such children up to the moment they are born, and then all such concern ceases.  Indeed, conservatives are portrayed as callous haters who would prevent a woman from receiving the medical attention she needs to remove a parasite but then do nothing to aid her in the pregnancy or thereafter.

The second answer to this is that this is not actually true.  I have worked with a “Crisis Pregnancy Center”, in the efforts to found and launch it both by lending such meager labor assistance as I could to making the offices functional and in training the first batch of staff and counselors.  Everyone with whom I worked was there to make it possible for women and girls with unexpected pregnancies to carry their babies to term and see to their subsequent care.  That included obstetrical exams and services, teaching in infant and child care, the provision of furniture and clothing and formula and diapers, help with social services, contacts with adoption agencies, counseling concerning the benefits and disadvantages of raising a child versus releasing it for adoption, and more.  There are conservatives on the ground doing exactly what it is charged they are not doing.

However, there is a first answer, and this mention of slavery brought it to my attention.  In the nineteenth century, abolitionists, mostly in the north, wanted to free the slaves.

img0009Slaves

In retrospect, we know that this emancipation was expensive on every level, with economic and social costs we perhaps are still paying.  In my mind’s ear I can hear the slavery party arguing that northerners want to free the slaves, but don’t want to commit to taking care of them once they are free.  I do not know whether that was true; none of us were there.  What I do know is that the fact (if it was a fact) that abolitionists made no commitment to caring for the freed blacks was a very poor argument against freeing them.  They needed to be helped in rising from poverty, at least in having obstacles removed, but whether or not that was going to happen they first needed to be freed.  So, too, children need to be helped, fed and clothed and of course loved and taught, and mothers need the support of fathers, family, community, nation, and churches, to see that their “unwanted” children are provided with that care.  First, though, they need to be protected from the oppression of having life stripped from them before their breathing has shifted from amniotic fluid to air.  Even if it were true that the people who want to protect their lives before they emerge into the world make no commitment to assisting those lives beyond that moment, to kill them before that emergence on that basis would still be as wrong as, more wrong than, to refuse to free the slaves because no one would help them once they were freed.  Our obligation to help the born is a problem, but it is a separate problem from whether to protect the lives of the unborn.  That freeing the slaves proved to mean economic and social costs thrust upon society for generations to follow was never and would not have been a good argument against freeing the slaves.

Yes, just as it was necessary for those who favored ending the enslavement of the black people also to commit to helping those people integrate into American society, it is necessary for those who favor ending the slaughter of the unborn to commit to helping the born rise to share the prosperity of the nation.  However, just as an unwillingness to make that commitment was not a good excuse not to free the slaves, neither is the uncertainty of our commitment to helping children a valid excuse for continuing to kill them unborn.

In addition to the above-linked piece Liberal Democrats Offend Women Again in the page Discrimination, there are also several related points raised in Miscellaneous Marriage Law Issues, particularly in the sections Births and On Negative Population Growth.  A connection between slavery and abortion was also suggested in Was John Brown a Hero or a Villain?  See also mark Joseph “young” web log entries with the same “tags” by following the links.

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#8: Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #8, on the subject of Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner.

I have not actually told the editors of The Examiner that I am not writing for them anymore.  I am not certain that they care; I am not certain that they will ever even notice.  However, I have some hope that as I explain it to you, my readers, they might hear about it and learn something from it.  In my defense, part of the reason I have not told them is that it has become incredibly difficult to converse with them–communication in their direction seems never to reach anyone, or at least not to get anything like a suitable reply.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

img0008Examiner

Let’s start by saying that I have worked with quite a few editors over the years, on my books and on articles submitted to various websites.  Some of them have treated my work in a perfunctory way, that is, glancing over it and publishing it.  Some have made what they thought were corrections and then published without checking with me–I have tried to make a point of informing editors that I expect final approval of anything that bears my name, because I have had some change grammatically correct text they did not understand to grammatically incorrect text that did not say what I meant.  The best editors, honestly, are those who tear apart what I write and give me detailed feedback, then explain and interact until we agree on a final text.

I started at The Examiner in the middle of 2009.  Animator and illustrator Jim Denaxas pointed me that direction, suggesting that the popular Temporal Anomalies materials might earn a paycheck there, so I contacted them and was almost immediately given the title Time Travel Films Examiner.  At that time, it seemed that the editorial system amounted to a writer wrote, published, and promoted his articles, and if the editors got around to reading them they would sometimes push an article to the front page for extra attention, sometimes pull an article and send a message to the writer.  I never had the latter happen; I only recall the former occurring once.  In any case, it was evident that our remuneration was dependent upon readership, and our readership was dependent upon self-promotion; but the turnaround was fast, as one could post an article and promote it immediately.

At some point the process got a bit more complicated, because it was strongly recommended that we begin using Pinterest to promote our articles.  I was already using Facebook and MySpace, but Pinterest meant having images in the articles.  They provided access to Getty Images, but this was only good for national and international news and major entertainment events.  For a writer covering time travel movies, there was nothing there.  I also was given the title New Jersey Political Buzz Examiner in 2012, so I could publish some work on the “Birther” issue, and the Getty images were a bit more useful for that as long as the coverage was national–but there were never available photos of, for example, the candidates running against the incumbent governor and senator.  The writing process just got more difficult, because I had to hunt for pictures.  I was largely dependent on promotional photos for a lot of my material.  (It got a bit more complicated when they changed the Getty Image system:  originally it was possible to search for photos in advance of publication at my leisure, but the altered system made finding the image part of the publishing process, an added complication.)

It should be noted that this effort was bringing me pennies a day.  It should also be noted that I was alway in the top quarter in both of my categories, and frequently in the top ten percent, so it wasn’t as if most writers were making more than I.  I put in a lot of time for a very little money, and it was not increasing significantly.  Of course, I had written many things for no money, so this was better.

The problem occurred this year, 2015, because someone at The Examiner thought they ought to tighten the editorial process.  That’s fine; they have the right to improve quality that way.  I think they recognized the inconvenience, because they promised quick turnaround–the inconvenience, obviously, was that now when an author published an article, he had to wait perhaps half an hour to an hour to learn whether it had been approved, and he could not promote it before that.  Previously when an article was submitted, it appeared immediately, and the author was provided with automated systems to push it onto Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.  Now, for that few cents a day, he had to waste time waiting for approval.

That might not have been too egregious, but the editorial process itself was a shambles.

The first glitch I hit arose because I had begun republishing articles from M. J. Young Net to The Examiner.  To do this, I had to serialize them, and I ran them as weekly posts on different days of the week from my regular posts.  Abruptly I was notified that the third article in a series (for which the first two had posted and their were two more to come) could not be published because I was not permitted to publish material from some other web site.  Of course, I could not well publish the fourth part without the third, and since I was doing both law and time travel materials it put both in question, but my original agreement with The Examiner stated that I owned the articles and could publish them elsewhere, so there was no logic to an objection that I could not publish articles at The Examiner that I owned but had previously published elsewhere.  I sent a message to attempt to get an answer, and the only answer I got was that someone apparently had changed his mind and restored the article before the person I contacted looked at it–but it took over a week to get that answer.

A few days later I published another “republished” article.  I had been putting an opening paragraph in italics introducing the articles and the fact that they had been previously published but were now being edited for serialization.  I had done this with every such article to this point–but this time I got blocked with a note that said I overused italics.  I could not help wondering whether the editor had even read the article, but with some grumbling to myself that it was going to create an inconsistent appearance I removed the italics from the opening paragraphs and resubmitted it.  A few hours later I received a notice that said they were not certain I had permission to use the image.

I don’t know whether I had permission to use the image; it was a movie poster, published for promotional purposes, so I’m assuming the movie producers wanted it circulated.  I can understand blocking the use of an image if it might not be a legitimate use (after all, that Image A.S.C.A.P. proposal has not been adopted).  My objection is that they should have said that on the first submission–I’ve already put several hours into what should be a ten minute publishing process, and they want me to put several more hours into it.  It is one thing if in fixing one part of an article you break something else; it is entirely different if the editor is going to raise one objection at a time, over the course of what can turn into hours or even days.  This is supposed to be published at the speed of Internet News.  It is not supposed to take me all day to earn those few pennies.

So I wish The Examiner and its editors and its remaining writers well, but am removing my articles from their publication.  After all, after having refused to publish one of my articles they had the nerve to remind me that if I don’t publish them often enough I don’t get paid for traffic to the old ones, and I don’t see any equity in allowing them to profit from my old work when they put up such obstacles to the new and failed to provide a means for two-way communication between the writers and the editors.

The Examiner materials have now all been relocated to Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies and to the law section of M. J. Young Net.

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#7: The Most Persecuted Minority

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #7, on the subject of The Most Persecuted Minority.

Around the world, many groups of people are being deprived of basic human rights–

img0007Turkish

Persecuted, driven from safe homes, their lives counted as worth less than animals, less than livestock.

One group in particular faces death,

img0007Iraqi

daily, at the hands of those who ought to be there to defend and help them.

Our hands.

Yet these helpless, homeless, defenseless people are deprived of rights,

img0007hunger

put to death without a trial.

Routinely.  Uncaringly.

Even in America.

As if they were not human at all.  As if they were livestock, or pests, or parasites.

They are the unborn.  They are being exterminated.

img0007Ultrasound

Defend the rights of the most helpless minority.  You were once one of them.

This article is perhaps a response to my own article, The Republican Dilemma, in which I suggest that Republicans need to create ads which explain and defend Republican/conservative positions that will make sense to people not already holding those views.  This is a suggested model for one such ad, a sixty-second television spot.

Earlier M. J. Young Net articles addressing abortion include Was John Brown a Hero or a Villain? and Professor Robert Lipkin, the Concert Violinist, and Abortion.  Also see Miscellaneous Marriage Law Issues:  Births and Miscellaneous Marriage Law Issues:  On Negative Population Growth, incidentally related topics.

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