Sunday, June 05, 2005

My Gubernatorial Platform for New Jersey

If I could run for Office Of The Governor in New Jersey, my home state, I would present a platform based on common sense. I would make sure, before I get started, that both abortion and gun control would be excluded from the debate(s). Both are non-issues because,: 1)The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America gives citizens the right to bear arms, and 2) the liberal Democrats always use these these topics as a last resort to cover up their lack of new ideas (aka Democratic Party playbook stuff). I feel that if we could make a contract with residents of New Jersey, similar to the Contract With America innovated by former Speaker Of The House Newt Gingrich, the potential to right the ship would be a step in the right direction.

One of the first things that I would push for is a real ban on grafting, also known as "pay to play". My plan would ban grafting and "wheeling", where money cycles from one county to another, on all levels. In the same package, I would forbid dual office holding. Burlington County already has this concept enacted, and I would use that as a model for the other twenty counties in the state. If this should ever come to fruition, then maybe the politicians of this state can get an actual reality check. I would also forbid the concept of no-bid contracts.

If I can sidetrack on the aforementioned, when our forefathers founded this country, they never envisioned the thought of career politicians. They viewed public office as a way of serving the citizens, not as a road to instant riches nor the "same old song and dance", bankrupt ideas out of the mouths of some today. A return to fundamentals would be healthy and beneficial to both the residents and economy of the state.

While I am mentioning the economy, I have a suggestion or two on rectifying this. First, I would repeal all of the "one shot deals" enacted by the McGreevey/Codey administrations over the last three-plus years. It seems like every time they implement these quickies, the actual revenue generated is never near their projected totals. Need proof? Look at the cigarette tax.

Even though it is a bold move, I would raise both the sales tax and the income tax. By raising the sales tax from six to seven percent, it could generate nearly one billion dollars annually. My idea of raising the income tax would be similar to the proportionate, or "flat", tax. By using ten percent as a reference, somebody who makes $150,000 annually will always pay more than one who earns $30,000 a year. Since New Jersey is the most affluent state in the nation, it does make sense, even though we have a population of approximately eight million.

For the first fiscal budget, I would cap it at three billion dollars, with annual increments no higher than three percent. The politicians always preach fiscal policy, or "tightening the belts", to us serfs. It is time for them to practice what they preach. Once this state has retired the debt brought upon by our arrogant, self-indulged politicians of both past and present, along with a treasury surplus, then we can discuss tax cuts. Fixing the broken machine now will produce better efficiency in the future.

The next item on the list will be education funding. As you may be aware, roughly sixty percent of our state taxes fund public education. This is too much of a burden with little or next to nil in return. I would push for the dissolution of the failing School Construction Corporation initiated by former Governor McGreevey. This, along with the Abbott Schools ruling, is like squeezing blood out of a stone. Without them, the state would be generating almost three billion dollars in the black, and the point would be moot. I would push to unify all of the school districts to twenty-one, county level school districts. This way, they can act as a co-operative in purchasing books, supplies, and other shared services. Having over six hundred school districts is too much for those who pay property taxes, besides being too bureaucratic. (Contrary to popular belief, home rule does not exist.) The states of Maryland, Florida, and New York already have these in place, and are proven successful.

It would be a tall mountain to climb; but, with determination, hard work, and overall efficiency, we can make New Jerseyans proud to live in this state once again!


William N. Phillips, Jr.

Runaway Bride Pleads No Contest to Felony

Runaway Bride Pleads No Contest to Felony

By DANIEL YEE, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 2, 7:40 PM ET

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Escorted into court by her fiance, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks tearfully pleaded no contest Thursday to faking her own abduction. She was sentenced to probation, community service and a fine.

"I'm truly sorry for my actions and I just want to thank Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth," Wilbanks said in court.

Judge Ronnie Batchelor sentenced her to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service as part of a plea bargain. He also ordered her to continue mental health treatment and pay the sheriff's office $2,550.

That is in addition to the $13,250 she previously agreed to pay the city of Duluth, Ga., to help cover the overtime costs incurred in searching for her.

"She's done everything that we would ask of her," said her lawyer, Lydia Sartain. "She has accepted responsibility."

District Attorney Danny Porter called the plea "a good resolution of the matter under all of the facts of the case and taking into consideration Ms. Wilbanks' prior criminal record." Wilbanks was convicted of shoplifting during the 1990s.

Wilbanks, 32, whose disappearance just before her wedding day created a nationwide sensation, arrived at the courthouse in a casual, hooded black outfit and running shoes, with a new bobbed hairdo. She was wearing her engagement ring.

John Mason, the man she was supposed to have married April 30, was by her side in a black suit as she strode past a crowd of reporters.

After the sentencing, the attorneys approached the bench to discuss the case and Wilbanks sat alone at the defense table, hugging herself and sobbing quietly. Mason sat several rows behind her, watching in silence. The two did not share any words or glances as Wilbanks' lawyer escorted her out a back door of the courtroom.

Mason and Wilbanks' family members had no comment.

Wilbanks disappeared from her Duluth home on April 26, four days before she was to have been married at a lavish ceremony with 600 guests and 28 attendants. She cut her hair and climbed on a bus to Las Vegas and then Albuquerque, N.M.

She called police three days later, claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. She quickly recanted and said she fled because of unspecified personal problems. After returning home, she entered psychiatric treatment at an unspecified facility.

Last week, she was indicted on charges of making a false statement and making a false police report. She could have gotten six years in prison and $11,000 in fines if convicted.

The false statement charge under which she was sentenced stemmed from a phone call she made from New Mexico to Georgia in which she made the abduction and assault allegations. The false-report charge was dropped as part of her plea bargain.

Wilbanks also could also have been ordered to reimburse authorities for the full cost of the search, which has been put at more than $50,000.

Hemingway Home on Endangered Places List

Hemingway Home on Endangered Places List

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 2, 5:54 PM ET

WASHINGTON - For the first time, a site outside the United States — novelist Ernest Hemingway's Cuban hideaway — has won a place on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of most endangered places.

Hemingway spent more than 20 years at the home near Havana, where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea." Time and the elements have severely damaged the hacienda, called Finca Vigia, or Lookout Farm.

"Ernest Hemingway is one of the world's most celebrated authors, and Finca Vigia is the home he loved best," said Richard Moe, the trust's president. "Even though it stands on foreign soil, this house is part of the shared cultural heritage that defines us as Americans."

The list of 11 endangered sites released Thursday includes the Catholic churches of Boston, historic buildings in downtown Detroit and Alaska's King Island, once home to the Inupiat Eskimos.

The Washington-based trust was chartered by Congress in 1949. Since 1998, it has been privately funded. The organization has published an annual list of endangered sites for 18 years.

The Hemingway Preservation Foundation in Concord, Mass., was denied a government license last year to travel to Cuba. The Bush administration has taken a tough stance on visits to the communist-run island.

The trust, working with the foundation, obtained a license this year and plans to send architects and engineers to figure out what needs to be done to save the house.

"But unless significant restoration funding can be raised and used to restore the property, these preliminary efforts will come to nothing," the trust said in a statement.

According to the trust, the house's roof is leaking, the foundation is crumbling and plaster is falling off the walls. But evidence of the author remains, including a daily record of his weight and blood pressure penciled on the bathroom wall.

After the release of the list, a Cuban-American congresswoman who represents much of Miami said she has asked the Treasury Department to rescind the license for travel to Cuba. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (news, bio, voting record), R-Fla., said the United States should not offer any help while Cuban President Fidel Castro holds power.

"If Castro wants to have a pretty tourist attraction, let him pay for it," she said.

Also on the list of endangered places is the National Landscape Conservation System, 26 million acres of federal land in the West that the Bureau of Land Management controls. Moe said the agency does not have enough money to manage the lands, many of which have been damaged by off-road vehicles and vandalism.


On the Net:

National Trust:

The Hemingway Preservation Foundation:

A Brief Commentary regarding "Deep Throat"

In my opinion, W. Mark Felt is anything but a hero. He violated his oath when he leaked the information he knew to folks like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. In some countries, this would be considered treachery, punished by death. To me, The FBI and CIA had their own agendas of protectionism from the Nixon administration. It also look as if all hell broke loose when J. Edgar Hoover died.

Mr. Felt had the perfect motivation to do this act. He was scorned because he was passed over for FBI director by then-Presiden Nixon. (I believe that L. Patrick Gray got the nomination.) For those who have followed this blog from time to time, Woodward and Bernstein were going to reveal the unsolved mystery upon the death of "Deep Throat". Enter the next act of motivation, maybe desperation, on the part of Mr. Felt and his family- the old American dollar.

I heard what his grandson said about his grandfather should be considered a hero, and receive some accolade of honor for what he did. I am sorry, but I dissent this gravely. Do I condone the acts of the Watergate break-in? No, I do not. History will prove that it has been done in the past, Nixon (and the others involved) just got caught. (History will also tell you that Nixon would have probably have won the election anyway, based on his record.)

I also feel that the face of the American media changed, as a result of this. You can call it a turning point. To me, it seems that everytime they feel that an injustice has been done (especially if it is a Republican in charge), they try to concoct it as the next Watergate scandal. The most recent exemtion of this was when Clinton was in office. Even though he committed perjury, the liberal American media give him a pat on the back, because they were both enamored with him, probably drinking the Clinton Kool-Aid, too.

I am sure that I will offend quite a few, but that is just my take on it.


'Deep Throat' Probably Won't Be Prosecuted

'Deep Throat' Probably Won't Be Prosecuted

Fri Jun 3, 6:11 PM ET

NEW YORK - The former FBI man unmasked as "Deep Throat" probably won't be prosecuted for sharing information with reporters during the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales indicated Friday.

"It happened a long time ago," Gonzales said of W. Mark Felt's conduct 30 years ago, when he was the No. 2 man at the FBI. "The department has a lot of other priorities."

Gonzales declined to characterize Felt as either hero or villain.

"I will leave it to history to make that determination," he said, echoing comments by President Bush, who has also refrained from saying what he thinks of Felt.

Felt, now 91, provided critical tips about criminal wrongdoing at the White House to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal.

It is unclear whether he broke any laws in doing so, but some former members of the Nixon administration have said the information he revealed was confidential.

Felt's identity was kept secret until Tuesday, when he revealed in a Vanity Fair article he was the shadowy Nixon administration insider dubbed "Deep Throat" by a Post editor.

Gonzales' Justice Department is overseeing an investigation into who gave the name of an undercover CIA officer to journalists. The case has led to court rulings viewed by some as having made it more difficult for reporters to conceal the identity of their confidential sources.

President called Felt a `traitor' in '73

President called Felt a `traitor' in '73

By William Neikirk and Mike Dorning Washington Bureau
Thu Jun 2, 9:40 AM ET

Nearly 15 months before his 1974 resignation, President Richard Nixon described W. Mark Felt as a traitor who should be required to take a lie detector test, according to previously undisclosed tapes of White House conversations stored at the National Archives.

Felt was identified this week as the Washington Post's Watergate source known as Deep Throat. While a national debate erupted over whether Felt is a hero or a villain, tapes previously disclosed showed that Nixon had concluded as early as October 1972 that Felt, then the deputy director of the FBI, was leaking damaging information on the Watergate scandal.

The newly disclosed tapes also show Nixon and his aides firmly believed Felt was leaking information to The New York Times and Time magazine on a variety of topics, including wiretaps of reporters and a White House-authorized burglary of the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who earlier had leaked the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's internal history of decision-making in the Vietnam War.

In a tape that was recorded May 12, 1973, Nixon brought up Felt's name in a telephone conversation with Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, saying that Felt apparently had "blown the whistle" on the administration's involvement in investigating Ellsberg.

Referring to Felt, Nixon told Haig, "Everybody is to know that he is a goddamn traitor and just watch him damned carefully." But he added that he was going to leave it to the "new man to clean house" at the FBI, a reference to the vacancy at the bureau after acting director L. Patrick Gray had stepped down two weeks before.

Nixon said he found out from Time's attorney three or four months before this May meeting that Felt had leaked information to the magazine. He said he told Gray at the time to investigate leaks Nixon said were coming from the FBI. Nixon said Gray protested that they could not be coming from the bureau.

"And I said we have it on very good authority that they're from Felt," Nixon said he told Gray. But when the acting FBI director said that the leaked information couldn't be coming from Felt, Nixon said, "I said, `Dammit . . . you ought to give him a lie detector test.' You know I was very tough."

Gray told Nixon that he could not give Felt a lie detector test and vouched for his deputy, as did Atty. Gen. Richard Kleindienst.

But Nixon said that Felt "has to go, of course" and added that "this guy ain't gonna be the big hero now."

In a meeting a day earlier, on May 11, 1973, Haig and Nixon expressed their frustration over their conviction that Felt had leaked damaging information but were wary of removing him from office.

"We've got to be careful as to when to cut his nuts off," Haig told the president. Nixon responded, "He's bad."

A year earlier, in the hours after the May 15, 1972, assassination attempt against Alabama Gov. George Wallace, then a Democratic presidential candidate, Nixon counsel Charles Colson is heard on tape urging Felt to aggressively pursue theories that the gunman may have been tied to Nixon nemesis Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) (D-Mass.) or the anti-war movement.

Felt, who was directing the Wallace investigation, phoned Nixon in the Oval Office, evidently in response to a message he received from the White House. Colson took the call and relayed the ideas as rumors that the White House was hearing from news reporters.

Colson discussed the "reports" at length. He went so far as to ask that Felt direct FBI agents to question Arthur Bremer, the Wallace shooting suspect who eventually was convicted in the case, about the rumors and raise the issues "early" in their interrogation.

"Be sure you push that, Mark, just to be certain that they ask those kind of questions, you know, to get that kind of information," Colson said.

Felt told the presidential adviser, "We'll push it as hard as we can." But he expressed doubt, particularly on the idea of a Kennedy tie.

"I think that's probably a pretty wild rumor," Felt said.

Shortly after, Felt called to relay findings suggesting Bremer was mentally disturbed.

In an Oct. 19, 1972, conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff until Haig took over in 1973, Haldeman said Felt was responsible for the leaks to The Washington Post. "He knows everything there is to know in the FBI," Haldeman said. "He has access to absolutely everything."

When told that Felt was the suspected leaker, Nixon said, "Why in the hell would he do that?"

The disclosure of Deep Throat's name solved one of the last mysteries of the Watergate era but triggered a debate about whether he is a hero or a villain.

To Nixon administration operatives such as Colson, who was convicted of obstructing justice in the Watergate investigation; G. Gordon Liddy, convicted in the Watergate conspiracy, and Nixon speechwriter Patrick Buchanan, Felt was no hero.

Buchanan said Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show, "There's nothing heroic about breaking faith with your people, breaking the law, sneaking around in garages . . . ," a reference to the location of Felt's clandestine meetings with Post reporter Bob Woodward.

To lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the assistant Watergate prosecutors, and former presidential aide Stephen Hess, Felt did the nation a great service by secretly leaking information on the excesses of an administration that, in Ben-Veniste's words, "truly threatened our government."

The revelation that Felt, now 91 and living in retirement in California, was Deep Throat also played directly into the culture wars of 2005, when Americans at opposite ends of the political spectrum are debating the war in Iraq, abuses of foreign detainees in U.S.-run prisons overseas and a host of divisive domestic issues.

President Bush, often labeled a "black-and-white thinker" by critics, dodged the question Wednesday of whether Felt was a hero. "It's hard for me to judge," Bush told reporters. "I'm learning more about the situation. It was a revelation that caught me by surprise, and I thought it very interesting."

- - -

Felt provided information early

Felt's role


Following the death of longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972, President Richard Nixon appoints Assistant Atty. Gen. L. Patrick Gray III to the post. Hoover deputy Mark Felt had wanted the job and resented a person from outside the bureau leading the FBI. Felt's growing concern that the FBI was being politicized would fuel his role as a source (later known as Deep Throat) for Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.


On June 19, two days after the Watergate break-in, Felt informs Woodward that a connection exists between the burglars and a top CIA official.


At a secret meeting in a parking garage Oct. 8, Felt directs Woodward to examine the roles played by Nixon's top aides in the burglary and suggests Nixon himself was connected to the operation.


Following an error in a Post story in October 1972, Felt scolds Woodward for the mistake but encourages him to stick with the story.

Other meetings were believed to have taken place, but the details are not widely known.


1. June 17, 1972: Five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington.

2. June 19: Reports indicate a Republican security aide is among the Watergate burglars.

3. Nov. 7: President Nixon is reelected in a landslide.

4. Jan. 11-30, 1973: Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate burglary in a trial marked by repeated efforts to dig into the conspiracy by Judge John Sirica.

Five other men plead guilty.

5. April 30: White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resign. White House Counsel John Dean is fired.

6. May 18: The Senate Watergate committee begins nationally televised hearings.

7. Oct. 20: Nixon orders Atty. Gen. Elliot Richardson to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson refuses and resigns as does his deputy, William Ruckelshaus. Acting Atty. Gen. Robert Bork fires Cox.

8. Nov. 17: Nixon declares "I am not a crook," maintaining his innocence.

9. July 24, 1974: The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must hand over to Watergate prosecutors the tape recordings of conversations made secretly in his office. He refuses.

10. July 27-30: The House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment against Nixon.

11. Aug. 9: Nixon resigns.

Sources: Washington Post, AP

Chicago Tribune