Sunday, June 25, 2017

A glimmer of hope from latest Dem defeat as national media calls Trump a serial liar

Cartoonist Dave Granlund suggests Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, is conning the American people again with the latest version of a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Cartoonist Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News in New York State calls the bill a shell game that will end health-care coverage for 23 million people.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Democrat Jon Ossoff's loss in a Georgia run-off election was billed as a referendum on Donald J. Trump's early months in office, but voting data tell a far different story.

Unlike other races, most notably the Nov. 8 presidential election, "it wasn't because Democratic voters didn't show up," according to Politico.com:
"More than 259,000 votes had been tallied as of [last] Wednesday afternoon, considerably more than the 193,000 in the first round of voting in April.
"In fact, turnout was much higher than for other off-year special elections in recent history," typically between 100,000 and 225,000 voters.
"John Anzalone, Ossoff's pollster, said the Democrat's campaign succeeded in turning out votes -- but they were swamped by Republicans who came out in numbers that ended up dwarfing previous high-profile special elections..." in a district that has favored GOP candidates for decades.
The sky-high turnout drove Karen Handel, the GOP candidate, to a nearly 4-point victory [last] Tuesday, "despite most pre-election surveys showing Ossoff with a small-but-shrinking lead." 
So, even though Ossoff lost, his campaign offers a glimmer of hope for future elections.

He showed Democrats can be motivated to turn out, and not get snookered as they did when polls predicted Hillary Clinton couldn't possibly lose to a racist, con artist and tax dodger who boasted of molesting women.

Trump's lies

On Friday, The New York Times Opinion section published the "definitive list" of Trump's lies since he took office.

But they won't stick, just like The Washington Post's Fact Checker hasn't made much of a dent in Trump's image among his supporters.

In fact, as a counterpoint to these lists of lies, national TV reporters continue to interview white people who voted for President Trump, and still show up at his rallies, and none of them have any second thoughts.

No surprise. They were delusional then, and they remain delusional.

These TV reports continue to ignore that Trump was swept into office by a tide of racism and misogyny unlike anything we have seen in modern American history. 

Another weird edition

The Sunday edition of The Record of Woodland Park is another weird one.

The lead Page 1 story reports the so-called millennial generation prefer city life, so does that mean North Jersey traffic congestion has reached its peak and we might actually find a seat on a rush-hour bus or train?

What appears to be a local front-page story about a Hackensack man actually discusses "crime and corruption in Georgia state prisons."

A sports column about a baseball player named Judge runs at the bottom of Page 1.

Roger Stone

On Saturday's front page, that position was taken up by a long Mike Kelly column on "political dirty trickster" Roger Stone, Trump's former adviser, that sounded like a rewrite of other pieces that have appeared in the last decade.

For example, "The Dirty Trickster" was the headline on a New Yorker profile of Stone in the June 2, 2008, issue.

The two photos of Stone in The Record show him wearing a custom-made suit, shirt, tie and shoes, and either laughing or smirking, as if he doesn't have a care in the world.

That's despite Stone being a "person of interest" in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

2016 election

During the presidential campaign, Kelly, who has been banging out his column for about 25 years, interviewed unemployed factory workers who appeared to favor Trump, and in the process, the reporter took several pot shots at President Obama's record.

He has a second column on the front of today's Opinion section under this headline:


"Why the Democratic Party is such a mess"

His first paragraph refers to Ossoff's loss in Georgia, but the column is actually about "Shattered," a book he read about the Democrats, whom he calls "the once inspiring party of FDR, JFK and LBJ" (1O).

Kelly calls Hillary Clinton "a bitter loser, incapable of admitting her mistakes."

Many other observers say Clinton lost because the news media allowed Trump, Governor Christie and other Republicans to demonize her over everything from Bengazi to her emails.

And while GOP racists and misogynists went to the polls in large  numbers, so many registered but apathetic Democrats stayed home on Nov. 8.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Worst N.J. governor ever labors in the shadow of worst president in U.S. history

This undated photo of New Jersey Governor Christie and then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, right, ran with a June 14, 2016, post on VanityFair.com (credit: Brendan Smialowki/AFP/Getty Images).

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Governor Christie has worked hard to reshape an image tarnished by the Bridgegate scandal and more than 500 vetoes of everything from a millionaires tax to the $15 minimum wage.

In his crusade against drug abuse and overdose deaths from heroin and such pain relievers as oxycodone,  the GOP bully has been trying for a kinder and gentler image.

At the end of March, President Trump named Christie to lead a new national opioid commission to address what many call the deadliest public health crisis in modern American history.

"Addiction is a disease, and no life is disposable," Christie said in a TV interview. "We can help people by giving them appropriate treatment."

Trump's pal?

That appointment was the consolation prize for New Jersey's governor, who dropped out of the presidential race in January 2016 and threw his support to Trump -- drawing the ire of six major daily newspapers that called for his resignation.

He had been passed over as Trump's running mate in the Nov. 8 election, and the former corruption-busting U.S. attorney for New Jersey didn't even get nominated to be attorney general of the United States.

Also, he was ousted as head of Trump's transition team at the request of son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Christie prosecuted his father, real estate developer Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty to illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering in 2005, and served 14 months in federal prison.

In a June 2016 story, New Yorker magazine reported: 
 “Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order.)” The servile depiction of Christie incited other media outlets to refer to the governor as the real-estate mogul’s “unpaid McDonald’s delivery intern” and “an errand boy for Donald Trump’s campaign.”

Christie crusade

Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park has been focusing on Christie's anti-drug crusade:

Today, State House Bureau reporter Dustin Racioppi says the state Attorney General's Office has joined a multi-state probe of the pharmaceutical industry "for its potential role in the opioid crisis that has swept the state and the country" (1A).

The office also issued a subpoena to Johnson & Johnson "related to marketing practices for opioids by subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals." 

"Drug overdoses, fueled mostly by heroin and other opioids, killed more than 52,000 people in 2015 -- more than the roughly 43,000 who died at the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1995," Racioppi says.

Last year's drug-related death toll is expected to exceed 59,000, according to a New York Times analysis.

Stile v. Christie

On Wednesday, Record Editor Richard A. Green didn't even bother running a front-page news story on Christie announcing at a press conference that the state fined Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey $15.5 million for allegedly bungling thousands of claims.

Instead, Page 1 carried another in an endless succession of boring political columns from burned-out Trenton reporter Charles Stile, who has been trying mightily to make up for more than 6 years of idolizing Christie in print.

Stile's column reported the fine on the state's biggest health insurer, and noted Christie has been trying to "browbeat a reluctant Democratic State Legislature into backing a $300 million raid of Horizon's capital reserves to finance an expansion of the state's drug-treatment services."

The news story ran on A4.

Still in Palookaville

The outcome of the Christie-Horizon battle remains to be seen. 

But the governor has an unlimited number of vetoes he can execute before he leaves office next January or at least use as leverage over the Democratic majority in the state Legislature.

He also has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country.

And New Jersey's worst governor ever still labors in the shadow of the worst president in U.S. history.

Syrian refugee

Page 1 today carries not one but three pieces on successful students and their graduations.

Staff Writer Hannan Adely's portrait of Mohamad Chacha of Paterson caught my eye, because he and his family fled Aleppo, Syria, "with just the clothes on their backs and their passports" (1A).

Not quite, as we learn later in the story.

And Adely doesn't mention that after the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, Christie sought to bar all Syrian refugees -- even children -- from entering New Jersey and the rest of the country.

Luckily, the Chacha family of 6 arrived in fall 2013 "at a time before refugee bans even entered the national conversation," Adely says in a clear reference to Trump's executive orders, all of which have been overturned by the courts.

The family had obtained visas to Cuba, where they lived for 15 months, including interviews and background checks, before being allowed to enter the United States.

Cuba? What a coincidence, especially if Mohamad's last name, Chacha, is written as "Cha Cha,"  the Latin dance that originated on the Caribbean's largest island.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trump flip-flopped on jobless rate, Mexico paying for wall, Obama's golfing and more

Credit: DemocraticUnderground.com

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

On June 16, The Washington Post listed Donald J. Trump's flip-flops in the two years since he "descended on the Trump Tower escalator and announced he was running for president."

"For our two-year anniversary of fact-checking Trump, we compiled everything he promised in his announcement speech that he flip-flopped on as president," the newspaper's Fact Checker wrote:

  • The unemployment rate (he called it "nonsense" on the campaign trail; now he touts it as legitimate);
  • China currency devaluation (he no longer blames them for devaluing their currency, which was false to begin with);
  • Mexico paying for the wall (he now equivocates, saying Mexico will pay "eventually," "at a later date," "in some form");
  • Criticizing President Obama for playing golf (President Trump has golfed 17 times since Inauguration Day -- more than twice the number of times Obama golfed at this point);
  • And immigration (he promised to end Obama's executive granting deferred action to children of undocumented immigrants, which he now says he won't do).

"Of course, when you're running for president, it's easy to lob baseless rhetoric..., The Washington Post reported. "It reminds us of the lyric in 'Hamilton' the musical: 'Winning was easy ... governing is harder.'"

Click on the following link for the paper's report:


Voter apathy

I applaud that great newspaper in the nation's capital for fact-checking the Liar-In-Chief. 

But how much space does The Washington Post and other news outlets big and small devote to emphasizing the importance of voting?

I never see anything in my local newspaper, The Record of Woodland Park, about voter apathy, even when around 18,000 of the 22,000 registered voters stay home in Hackensack's City Council and Board of Education elections.

And when Governor Christie was re-elected in 2013, the turnout was the lowest in any gubernatorial election ever, and that hurt the losing Democratic candidate.

Clinton, Ossoff

Millions of Democrats stayed home on Nov. 8, convinced that Hillary Clinton couldn't possibly lose to a racist, con man and tax dodger, but they were wrong, and the election was decided in the antiquated Electoral College.

In Tuesday's runoff election for a House seat between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handle, CNN reported that more than 140,000 voters cast ballots early, but "more Republicans have voted early than Democrats," and that had Ossoff sweating.

Could Democratic apathy in a district that has been Republican for decades be the reason Osoff lost?

And can we forget all the nonsense about the election being a referendum on Trump's presidency?

Column from hell

In the more than 13 years Staff Writer John Cichowski has pretended to be The Record's commuting columnist, he's rarely interviewed long-suffering NJ Transit bus and train riders.

That's despite deep cuts in state aid to the mass-transit agency, the difficulty of finding rush-hour seats, and delays caused by mechanical failures, train crashes and only one express bus lane into the Lincoln Tunnel.

Today's overly dramatic column on expected summer delays caused by repairs to Amtrak rails and switches in Manhattan is too little, too late.

One quote on Page 1 tells you just how out of touch Cichowski is with growing traffic congestion at the Hudson River crossings, where rush-hour delays of more than 1 hour at tollbooths have become routine:

"People might as well drive into New York," said Jacklyn Elizabeth, who 'was returning home to California via Denville after visiting relatives.'

She added, "Does New Jersey want to kill mass transit?"

No, lady. Christie, our governor, already took care of that years ago. 


A selfie of Food Editor Esther Davidowitz.


Mystery meat

In a feature on the Better Living front today, Food Editor Esther Davidowitz is asking readers to play Russian roulette with harmful antibiotics, growth hormones and preservatives linked to cancer by eating sandwiches stuffed with mystery meat and cold cuts (1BL).

The headline: 

"9 GOTTA-HAVE NORTH JERSEY SANDWICHES"

Davidowitz says, "Here [are] special shout-outs to nine North Jersey sandwiches for being so darned awesome" (she doesn't mention that eight of them aren't good for you).

Thanks. I'll stick with the lobster roll from Jack's in Edgewater.

Francis Scandale

Francis "Frank" Scandale of Glen Rock, a former editor of The Record, was featured in Saturday's Better Living section:

"Grilling tips from one dad to another"

Although a photo of him grilling hamburgers appeared, his face wasn't shown, and he wasn't identified as a former editor of the paper in Hackensack and then Woodland Park.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Scandale caved in to the bean counters in Hackensack, relegating to a back page the iconic photo of firefighters raising the American flag over the rubble of the World Trade Center.

He was told it would be "too expensive" to remake the front page for The Record's exclusive image.

That decision likely blew the chances of the photographer, Tom Franklin, to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Scandale was shown the door by then-Publisher Stephen A. Borg a little over a decade later:



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Political cartoonists have a refreshing take on Trump, other big stories in the news

R.J. Matson, the editorial cartoonist at Roll Call, says the nation's capital isn't big enough for President Trump and the U.S. Constitution.
John Cole, the cartoonist at The Scranton Times-Tribune in Pennsylvania, notes that replacing the Affordable Care Act will send the poor and sick down the tubes.
Trump's so-called tax reform plan is all smoke and mirrors, says Jeff Darcy, cartoonist at The Plain Dealer in Ohio.
A hung jury hasn't changed anything for Bill Cosby,  says cartoonist Randy Bish. See Cagle.com for many more cartoons.

-- VICTOR E. SASSON

Monday, June 19, 2017

Eating Out: At Seafood Gourmet, gagging on iceberg lettuce and overcooked halibut

LOOKS GREAT, BUT .... Lightly seasoned char-grilled halibut and wild shrimp served over a salad with fruit ($26) was one of the imaginative dinner specials on Saturday at Seafood Gourmet in Maywood. The menu said the seafood would be served over a "mixed green salad," but most of it was nutritionally bankrupt iceberg lettuce.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

When you have a disappointing meal at one of your favorite restaurants, the heartburn is especially intense.

That's the way I felt after a celebratory pre-Father's Day meal at Seafood Gourmet, the fish market/restaurant in Maywood where the fresh fish you see in the refrigerated case usually lands on the menu.

OK. I didn't get heartburn from the meal, but in what has become a pattern, my fish and wild shrimp were overcooked -- short of drying out, but not ideal.

And I was completely turned off by all of the cheap iceberg lettuce in my seafood-and-salad entree and the salad my wife got with her Broiled Crab Cakes ($22). 

Iceberg is only good for a restaurant's bottom line: It's 95 percent water, and has absolutely no nutritional benefit.

For my birthday last November, I splurged on a 2.5-pound lobster ($48+), and although I wanted the crustacean steamed, the kitchen broiled it, judging from scorching on the claws, and it was overcooked.

I also recall a takeout order of wild King Salmon fillet, which was cooked through instead of medium, as I requested.


Great meals

Looking back on meals I've enjoyed at Seafood Gourmet dating to 2010, all this overcooking is disappointing.

The no-frills dining room has only about 40 seats, but when they are full, the kitchen doesn't seem to be able to handle orders properly.

Here are links to previous meals:





My mother-in-law enjoyed another dinner special, Seared Wild Salmon, finished with a Carrot-Ginger Sauce and served with Jasmine Rice and Bok Choy ($25). A cup of Lobster Bisque was included.
My wife loved her Broiled Crab Cakes, served with soup or salad, vegetables and potato ($22). Still, she choose the house salad, and was turned off by too much iceberg lettuce, too.
With my halibut-and-shrimp entree, I got a cup of the Montauk Seafood Chowder, which lived up to its name with tender calamari, scallop and shrimp in a light tomato broth. We also enjoyed a side dish of sauteed spinach ($5).
The Dinner Specials on Saturday at Seafood Gourmet.
A working fish market in front ...
... and a BYO dining room with about 40 seats in back.

Details

The Restaurant at Seafood Gourmet, 103 W. Pleasant Ave., Maywood; 201-843-8558. Closed Sundays.

BYO, free street parking, reservations highly recommended on weekends.

Website: Right off the boat


Sunday, June 18, 2017

As Trump destroys our democracy, Page 1 buzzes with bees, sports, truckers in L.A.

STUCK IN HACKENSACK: A tour bus blocked two lanes of River Street today after the back of the vehicle got hung up as it was leaving the parking lot of the shuttered New Jersey Naval Museum and USS Ling, a World War II submarine that is itself stuck in the muck of the Hackensack River.
ABANDONED PLACES: A couple who got off the bus said they were on a tour of "abandoned places," including the submarine. They said the old headquarters of The Record, which the Borg family abandoned in 2009, wasn't part of the tour.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Russian election-meddling investigation continues to expand -- even as President Trump calls the actions of his own Justice Department "phony" and "sad."

The Liar-In-Chief also accused Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein of leading a "witch hunt."

Given the non-stop madness, mayhem and alternative facts that have marked the Trump administration since Jan. 20, can a once-respected newspaper like The Record of Woodland Park continue to fill Page 1 with fluff?

Father's Day feature

Today's front page is an emphatic "yes."

There are three major elements, plus a photo referring readers to a heart-warming Father's Day feature about father-son and father-daughter restaurant teams (1A and 1BL).

As our nation's capital burns, Editor Richard A. Green buzzes about the unusually high mortality rate of honeybees in the Garden State.

The Record has never reported in any comprehensive way on heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer, or the obesity epidemic.

Instead, Green and other editors prefer medical miracles or, as in the case of today's Page 1 sports column, a medical freak -- a retired coach with "idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis," an incurable disease.

Inexplicably, the third major story on Page 1 today focuses on a truck driver in the port of Los Angeles who takes home "as little as 67 cents a week," according to a USA Today investigation.

A story reporting Trump's tax-overhaul plan "is on life support" appears on Page 4A.

'National nightmare'

Way back on the Opinion section front, Columnist Mike Kelly says, "The national nightmare has struck the national pastime," an awkward reference to last week's shooting of a GOP congressman on a baseball practice field.

Why didn't Green -- who laid off more than 350 employees but spared Kelly and other veteran columnists -- run this gun-control column on Page 1?

Just the day before, Kelly's column demonizing Cuba for giving asylum to the killer of a New Jersey state trooper ran at the top of Page 1.


ON BORG-OWNED PROPERTY? When the Borg family of Englewood, Tenafly, Manhattan and the Hamptons sold North Jersey Media Group to Gannett Co. for more than $40 million last July, they retained nearly 20 acres along River Street in Hackensack to develop into apartments. The Borgs dispute the USS Ling is on their property, and a $1-year-lease was terminated in May 2016 by then-Record Publisher Stephen A Borg. The family claims the sub is stuck in the river, which they don't own.
TAKING A BREAK: Members of the tour group purchased food at the New Heritage Diner, and took shelter under a tree as they awaited the arrival of a heavy duty tow truck to free the bus.


Grocery 'earthquake'?

This morning, I braved the parking-lot puddles and potholes to go shopping for fresh fish, fruit, rice and other items at the H Mart in Little Ferry.

But I didn't see any signs of the "earthquake rattling through the grocery sector" predicted by an analyst in The Record on Saturday.

In a front-page story, the paper's retailing reporter claimed "traditional supermarkets" have a big reason to worry now that Amazon is expected to merge with Whole Foods Market, the dominant player in organic and natural food.

At the Korean supermarket, some of the prices were so low I can't imagine how Whole Foods or Amazon's online grocery service could possibly match them.

A 15-pound bag of Kokuho Yellow Label California-grown white rice was only $6.99, whole fresh wild-caught porgy were $1.99 a pound, and five bunches of scallions were 99 cents.

I munched my way around the store with free samples of fish cake, tofu, noodles, broiled fresh cod, fried mussels, sliced boiled octopus and other Korean food.

Try that at Whole Foods.





A box of 14 to 16 achingly sweet Ataulfo or Champagne Mangoes was $9.99 today at H Mart, 260 Bergen Turnpike, Little Ferry. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Elite pilots reject extra work to continue their noisy flights over poor Hackensack

This sleek but noisy business jet flew low over the Fanny Meyer Hillers Elementary School in Hackensack in April 2016 -- just one of the many hundreds of private jets that are destroying the quality of life in towns near Teterboro Airport, which caters to celebrities, CEOs and other members of the 1%.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Hackensack officials and residents know that many aspects of their daily lives are out of their control.

Property tax bills would be lower, if the county seat didn't host such enormous tax-exempt entities as Bergen County, Hackensack University Medical Center and Fairleigh Dickinson University -- none of which "give back" to city residents.

The quality of life would be so much better, if the city and neighboring towns weren't under the noisy flight paths of both Teterboro and Newark Liberty International airports.

And after a City Hall hearing on the abandonment of a quieter flight path for private jets heading to Teterboro, city residents also realize a decline in the quality of local reporting at The Record of Woodland Park appears irrevocable.

Six-month experiment

The Teterboro flight-path trial began on April 4, 2o16, and ran for six months, until last October, in an effort to cut noise for hospital patients, Prospect Avenue high-rise residents and elementary school children.

But the headline on The Record's story on Friday indicated the trial just ended:

"Relief from
air traffic
stalls for
Hackensack"

A much better headline ran on Thursday's report from the online Hackensack Daily Voice, which quoted airport and Federal Aviation Administration officials:

"Quiet Flight Path 
Was Too Much Work For Pilots"  

The lead paragraph:
"HACKENSACK, N.J. -- An air traffic control manager at Teterboro Airport said the trial flight path for incoming planes -- originally implemented to diminish aircraft noise and avoid Hackensack University Medical Center -- was too much work for pilots and thus abandoned."
The Record's lead paragraph on Wednesday's hearing talked about the six-month flight-path trial as if it just ended, and noted "there were few answers about steps to take next."

'Far less work'

Daily Voice reporter Cecilia Levine said:
"Testing began April 4, 2016, and ran for a continuous six-month period. Simultaneously, pilots had the option of utilizing the flight path that they were accustomed to -- RWY 19, which flies directly over Hackensack Medical Center [and] Prospect Avenue, the most densely populated street in Bergen County -- and other residential neighborhoods.
"That flight path utilizes an instrument landing system, the most common approach utilized by pilots which requires far less work than the quiet visual approach, officials said.
"Over the course of the six-month trial period, only 234 planes utilized the quiet visual approach.... Officials said the manual entry of landing waypoints increases the workload for pilots and requires a lot of 'heads down' time when they are supposed to be flying."
Levine also reported that in answer to a question from Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, "FAA officials said that both flight paths could work with instrument-landing systems."

Mayor John Labrosse's wife, a teacher at Hillers Elementary School in Hackensack, said on hot days, the windows must be kept closed so students can hear teacher's instructions without noise from business jets and other aircraft that pass over the school.

Filled with jargon

Record Staff Writer Rodrigo Torrejon quoted a lot of aviation jargon from Gary Palm, Teterboro air traffic control manager, for why most pilots refused to use the quieter flight path:
"One of the reasons given for pilots opting not to use the test flight path was waypoints.
"... A charting company removed the coding for waypoints depicted as visual reference points from aircrafts' flight-management system. This made it so pilots would have to input the coding manually mid-flight, causing safety and time concerns....
"The coding was removed due to pilots flying waypoint to waypoint instead of over Route 17."
Neither reporter defined "waypoint," which in air navigation is an intermediate point on a route.




Food coverage

The Better Living section on Friday and on June 9 was missing both restaurant inspections and dining-out coverage.

Since the weekly restaurant reviews ended last November, The Record has been running "food crawls," and articles recommending or ordering readers to try certain dishes and restaurants.