Another chance

Yes it’s a good thing. Yes it’s a chance to lock in the gains on healthcare reform, perhaps a chance to move past some of the ridiculousness of tax policy. But three distinct caveats:

  1. War is bad. Drones are bad. Secretiveness in foreign policy is bad.
  2. Did Mitt Romney lose because of his ideas or because voters didn’t like him? He had already lost to John McCain four years ago and McCain is distinctly unlikeable. We elect people, not so much policies. John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis–all unlikeable. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama–wouldn’t you want to have them to dinner?
  3. Global warming? Hellooooooooo!!!!!

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The profits of imprisonment

Painful coverage of the intersection of money and politics. Who pays the price? Poor people–hardly a surprise.

Last summer, many of New Jersey’s most powerful officials assembled for a wedding that bridged the worlds of politics and prisons. The bride was Jessica Clancy, a daughter of John J. Clancy, Community Education’s founder and chief executive. The groom was Samuel Viavattine, whom Mr. Christie hired in 2010 as an assistant in the governor’s office. He is now paid $42,000 a year.


Mr. Christie attended the wedding, as did State Senator Richard J. Codey, a Democrat who is a former governor and Senate president. He served as Community Education’s insurance broker for many years and plays golf with Mr. Clancy. Among others at the wedding was Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County chief executive, a Democrat who is close to Mr. Christie.


The three elected officials and their associated party committees have received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from Community Education, its executives and their family members over the last decade, according to state records.
 Mr. Clancy, who got his start running a drug-treatment center in Hoboken, was one of the first entrepreneurs to realize that halfway houses could be big business. In New Jersey, as in many other states, expenditures for prisons have been among the fastest-rising. Mr. Clancy had an alluring sales pitch: Trenton could reduce costs and improve services by turning over inmates to Community Education.


In the 1990s, Mr. Clancy worked out an unusual arrangement. Under state law, only nonprofit agencies can receive contracts for halfway houses. But regulators allowed Community Education to obtain contracts through a nonprofit called Education and Health Centers of America, state records show.


That arrangement remains. The primary purpose of the nonprofit has been to pay Community Education hundreds of millions of dollars that the nonprofit has received in recent years from state and county agencies, disclosure records show. The nonprofit has only 10 employees, and gave Mr. Clancy a $351,346 salary in its 2011 fiscal year, according to the records. Community Education itself, which is privately held, does not disclose how much it separately pays Mr. Clancy.


Early on, Mr. Clancy hired a law firm, Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, to lobby in Trenton. Its lobbyists were Mr. Christie and Mr. Palatucci, who were close friends and rising political stars. Community Education and Mr. Christie’s aides said Mr. Palatucci, not Mr. Christie, lobbied for the company, though both men were listed on disclosure forms.


Mr. Christie and Mr. Palatucci were major fund-raisers for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. After Mr. Bush won, Mr. Palatucci sent Mr. Christie’s résumé to Karl Rove, the president’s political strategist. Soon after, Mr. Bush picked Mr. Christie to be the United States attorney for New Jersey.

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Forgetting the wars

Pretty much exactly summed up:

“If things look grim in Afghanistan, they hardly look better in Iraq. And it’s terrible to think that this is the meaning of all those years of war, all that death and heartbreak. It’s even more terrible to wonder if that was the only meaning they ever could have had, though history will take longer to write that one. In a couple of years, probably faster, we’ll have vanished from places like Panjwai, as we’re gone today from Haditha and Mahmudiyah. And since we’re Americans, we’ll have soon moved on from the decade in Afghanistan just as we’re well on our way to forgetting about the nine years in Iraq—except for the Americans who fought, who have a harder time forgetting.”

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The dispiriting losses in the election are an unfortunate illustration of the Democrats not having listened in 2008. The people said two things:

1. Stop the war!

2. Fix the economy!

The first item was clear, and it was ignored…

The second was interpreted to be fixing the big-picture economy and thus came propping up Wall Street and the Banks, then health care reform. However, since jobs went away and never came back, and all the people who bought houses for too much money are underwater, the economy doesn’t appear fixed.

What to do now?

1. Stop the war!

2. Jobs!

Is that clear enough?

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