The Masked and the Unmasked

Even in the best of peaceful circumstances this weekend in NJ amid destructive and violent conflagrations everywhere, people’s rejection of masks in public versus their embrace of masks starkly and significantly marked the deep division in this country.

At a rally in Newark where protesters led by People’s Organization for Progress (POP) Founder (and progressive U.S. Senate candidate) Larry Hamm, hundreds wore masks.

InsiderNJ attended the rally, and while there did not observe anyone unmasked.

By contrast, in Randolph at a Republican event, most attendees did not wear face coverings, including GOP U.S. Senate candidates.

Also in attendance at that event, InsiderNJ observed at least one unmasked individual making a point of shaking hands.

The deep division reflected President Donald J. Trump on the one side of a political debate, scorning the use of a face covering recommended to combat COVID-19 – for which there is no known cure or vaccine and which has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans and over 11,000 New Jerseyans – by his government’s own infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci; and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who makes a point of wearing a mask in public.

It bears mentioning that neither side of the divide could well maintain the suggested six foot social distancing rule.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta
Residential Atlantic City: In the shadow of the casinos.

Molotov Cocktails in Atlantic City

Cocktails at the Showboat?

Try reports of Molotov cocktails at the Showboat.

No specifics.

Just about every small business in Atlantic City is being targeted by the looters.

It was simmering down though tonight, a source told InsiderNJ.

For more, go here.

North Plainfield Native Steve Schmidt: ‘What We’re seeing is an Absolute Vacuum of Leadership’

North Plainfield native Steve Schmidt, who served as the senior campaign strategist for the late U.S. Senator John McCain, reflected on violence and destruction raging in the country tonight.

“What we’re seeing is an absolute vacuum of leadership,” Schmidt said on MSNBC. “We’re seeing the powder keg being lit by the man elected to sit behind the resolute desk in the oval office.”

Schmidt described a president with deficiencies “intellectual, mental but mostly… moral.”

CD3 Flashpoint: Richter Vectors in On Gibbs Vulnerability

They are both playing a dirty mail game in the spunky Third Congressional District Republican Primary, with David Richter opting for the Katie Gibbs vulnerability that mysteriously surfaced in an Asbury Park Press story (above) as the rivals headed into an Ocean County convention that Richter won.

In addition, the financially well-connected Richter went up on TV to introduce himself to voters in the district curently served by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3). Burlington County Times reporter David Levinsky has that story here.

Increasingly ugly, with the two sides failing to reach terms for a virtual debate, Gibbs continues to place her hopes in Burlington, where she has the line; while Richter plays off his organization backing in Ocean.

 

Chertoff

Chertoff’s Haunting Answer on America’s Greatest Threat

As America endures another night of mayhem and destruction in the aftermath of the May 25th police killing of George Floyd, the insights of former Sectretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff come to mind.

A new Jersey native from Elizabeth, Chertoff for years has had a simple, chilling answer when asked about America’s biggest national security threat.

Middle-Eastern terrorist groups? No.

Russia? No.

China? No.

North Korea? No.

Iran? No.

Syria? No.

His answer then?

“Domestic fury and fierce civil strife,” to quote Shakepeare.

Justice for George Floyd Activists Hit the Streets in Somerville

Peaceful protesters marched in downtown Somerville on Sunday afternoon, demanding justice for the late George Floyd, killed by police last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Newark Proves National Leader with Peaceful Rally and March

When it comes to police brutality, this is hardly Ras Baraka’s or Larry Hamm’s first rodeo.

In mutual possession of a lifelong past of civil rights struggle, the mayor and activist today showed veteran leadership by coming together on the steps of City Hall and at the Lincoln Statue to stand at the head of a strong, forceful and peaceful rally and march demanding justice for the late George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It’s a bad thing generally in life to be shocked by things, and even worse for those who purport to be leaders, but such is our condition in a country where increasingly we lack context as a consequence of not knowing our own history.

That’s not the case here.

The fact that Hamm and Baraka have worked this issue for decades (including the police killing of Phillip Pannell in Teaneck in 1990) puts both of them in about as prepared a position to offer wise and sane leadership in a crisis tragically upending many other American cities tonight.  The institutional knowledge of police violence against Black men in particular arises out of their own work, in their own city, for Hamm going back to Newark’s own Minneapolis in 1967.

In the words of one Newark source: “Nothing is going to spark up in Newark. Not under Baraka. He stays very very close to the ground. He’d know if anything was afoot well ahead of time.”

The result is that the mayor – all of a piece with his priorities – and as a kindred spirit of the event’s main organizer, helped put his city in position to lead the nation in these horrific times.

But people should not forget that the protest today, while peaceful, was no less forceful, and this stage of an ongoing fight with deep and painful roots in our history, won’t end without justice for George Floyd.

 

Murphy in the Oval Office.

Murphy Publicly Unruffled by Neuwirth Firing – but O’Scanlan Says it Stinks

Regarding his firing of Christoper Neuwirth, assistant New Jersey Commissioner of Health for Public Health Infrastructure, Governor Phil Murphy brushed it off today at his press briefing in the War Memorial.

“I have no comment,” Murphy said.

He did note, regarding Neuwirth’s side work for national emergency management consulting firm Margolis Healy & Associates:

“Folks are not…it’s par for the course you’re not supposed to have another source of income,” the governor added of the fired assistant commish.

Conversely, Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-11) had plenty to say about the sacked regular at Murphy’s

O’Scanlan

COVID press briefings, who oversaw EMS and the Office of Disaster Resilience.

“Vacancies and firings have plagued the department for three years, and it’s catching up to them. This firing may be very well justified and long overdue, but it begs the questions, who is the replacement to this extremely important position? Does this explain why the department hampered efforts at reform?

“Failure to disclose a conflict like that stinks of corruption,” the Monmouth-based senator added. “This needs to be investigated further and Neuwirth and the Department need to explain this. This chaos comes at a time when our Health Department is most needed – as we are managing a pandemic and headed into hurricane season.”

NJ.com reporter Brent Johnson pressed the governor on Neuwirth.

But Murphy dug in against reflecting publicly on the story.

“We don’t comment on personnel matters and we still don’t,” the governor said.

Callahan

Complex???

Governor Phil Murphy was probably cringing after giving the floor to Colonel Pat Callahan of the State Police, who saw fit to offer his views on the police killing of George Floyd.

“In-custody deaths are some of the most complex,” Callahan said. “Investigations need to be rooted in trasparency.”

Complex?

Not to deny due process, but this killing of a man on film doesn’t look like an especially tough one to crack, Colonel.

NJ.com reporter Brent Johnson hit Callahan with a question about whether New Jersey has safeguards in place to prevent police use of force demonstrable this week in Minneapolis, which resulted in the death of George Floyd.

“I’m unable to comment,” the cop said.

Rest in Peace, Former East Orange Mayor Cooke

Governor Phil Murphy this afternoon honored former East Orange Mayor, Thomas H. Cooke, Jr., who died on May 18 at the age of 90.

The City’s second African American-elected Mayor from 1978 to 1986, U.S. Navy veteran Mr. Cooke built a reputation as an advocate for public safety.

Please see Mayor Cooke’s full obituary here.

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