This weekend’s event was sponsored by the NJOA (New Jersey Outdoor Alliance) and by any measure of the word, it must have been considered a wild success. They had a tent set up which held about 600 people, and several hundred more who couldn’t get in were gathered in the parking lot outside. The local police were there, but they were mostly helping to direct people to parking. This was a crowd of hunters and fishermen and weren’t inclined to be anything but law abiding in spite of the noise they made. And to draw that large a crowd of hunters and fishermen, in the middle of hunting season and the annual striped bass run, was really some feat.
The meeting itself was to rally our energies for the defeat of the two Trenton bills making the rounds, which are designed to eliminate hunting and fishing in New Jersey, and the animal rights nincompoops who sponsored them. The two bills, proposed in the assembly by the comically frivolous Mike Panter (Trenton’s version of a Vegan Fredo Corleone), and his partner in condescension, State Senator Ellen Karcher, seem to have been the last silly straws that the people of New Jersey are prepared to take from these two fools.
These two giants of state-craft, have a long history of elevating pointless frivolity to new heights, and making it government policy. They’re the people that brought us such important and necessary legislation as a ban on trans-fats because we’re too stupid to know what to eat on our own. They’ve proposed a ban on .50 caliber muzzleloaders because we might accidentally shoot down a 747 with our civil war era flintlock rifles. They sponsored the new law regarding dual office holding which was such a toothless waste that it was co-sponsored by a notorious dual office holder (who is also currently being investigated for corruption). And the all time topper, they proposed a ban on goose liver pate because (and this is really my all time favorite) they consider it cruel to the geese.
With a legislative record like that it’s hard to come up with something to make people think less of you, but they’ve managed. New Jersey is a state with the second largest unfunded pension liability in the country per capita. We’ve had so many decades of tax and spend policies that we’re close to the brink of bankruptcy. We’re currently trying to sell off state held assets to meet debt obligations, which is the equivalent of hocking the wedding ring to pay down the credit card debt. And at a moment like that, these two flaming dimwits decide that this is just the right time to propose eliminating a 38 million dollar a year revenue stream for the state in the form of hunting and fishing licenses, and to irrevocably anger the 15% of the population that pays for them in the process.
It was definitely an animated crowd at the rally, and no one got a bigger roar of approval than political newcomer and Republican assembly candidate, Caroline Casagrande when she announced, “She is the woman who is going to defeat Mike Panter”. This was just the kind of populist grandstanding I personally enjoy, and she delivered it well. She knew that Panter has spent his whole political career telling the people in that tent that they are idiots, and she played it for all it was worth. Besides that, since her father is the president of one of the feeder groups for the NJOA, and her brother and husband were both in attendance, she seemed to be genuinely on our side. I liked her. Not only did she seem more genuine than the others, but it was also clear that she isn’t shrink wrapped into the State government package yet. She’s too new at the game to have figured out how to be anything but herself, and thanks to that, she seems less "shifty" than her peers.
Unfortunately, the other two Republicans we’re putting up in district 12 seemed to be the minority party version of the same old cookie cutter Trenton scoundrels we’re accustomed to seeing on the other side.
Assemblywoman and Senate candidate Jennifer Beck is one of the very few people I’ve met in my life who could manage to sound dishonest while introducing herself. If she said that the sun rose in the east, I’d feel a sudden desire to check and make sure. I know I shouldn’t set my sights so high, this is New Jersey after all. But at the end of the day I was hoping that I might have someone representing me who gets more than a D rating on her voting record from the NRA. Everyone who knows her says that when it comes to New Jersey government she’s definitely a pro, and may no one ever say such a horrible thing about my character.
Then there is Declan O’Scanlon. I think he comes off OK personally. He readily fessed up to being the guy, who lost last time to Mike Panter by 65 votes. And although he works as a consultant around the fringes of government, he hasn’t actually been in the assembly yet, so I don’t want to malign him until he has a chance to earn it. But the fact that he’s back again for another try, leaves me the unsettled feeling that the machine has bubbled him back to the top because it’s still his turn. For better or worse, he’s a reminder that the Republicans have an oligarchy in mind also; it’s just that theirs is run by different people.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m still going to vote for them all. They are certainly the least bad choices. And I urge all of you to vote for them too. But I don’t think we should be operating under any illusions. With the possible exception of Casagrande, these are not “our people” we’re voting in to office. They are the Republican version of the same “enlightened” group of people who think we civilians should shut up, pay our taxes, and let our betters (meaning them) run things. They neither know nor care what we think, and are focused solely on keeping control, whatever the cost. And if we don’t keep the pressure on them every minute of the day, they will turn on us like the feckless corruptible government hacks they no doubt are.
I’ve long been a believer that our politicians weren’t smart enough, but recent events make me wonder. For instance the one sentiment that everyone mentioned yesterday was they all said “Thank you” to Mike Panter, for being such a dim bulb and so out of touch, that he sponsored the horrendous legislation that brought all of these groups together. Given the “weak tea” choices on the Republican side, I think there is something to be said for keeping the dumbest guy you can find in office a little longer because he’s easy to keep an eye on.
But to tell you the truth, at this point I don’t see how that’s going to happen. I think in his desire to be best candidate for the animals of New Jersey, “Fredo” Panter stepped on a few too many toes, and now he’s on his way out. The animal rights groups that hold his leash had a rally on Saturday where 75 people showed up to support him, and on Sunday nearly 1,000 showed up to coat him with tar and feathers. It’s an election so nothing is a sure thing, but I’d be updating my resume if I were him.
And I suppose that’s just as well. Even with a mandate of only 65 votes he proposed nonsense like this, so can you imagine what he would decide if we left him in office for another term? And in the end, I don’t think I have to worry. When it comes to elected officials in Trenton, I’m sure there is more than enough stupidity to go around.
Oh and one last thing. One of the speakers made it clear that the NJOA represents 15% of the population of the state which is larger than the CWU (the largest civil service union) and the NJEA (the New Jersey Teacher Union.) He used this point to underline that we now have the pull to set policy, but I think it was a telling final word on my thesis that the PAC is to the general public what the union was to labor.
The original piece can be found here:
The Charles E. Schumer Memorial Rifle Range
with follow up here:
The Charles E. Schumer Memorial Rifle Range: Part Deux