How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Lots of bad news

I have just returned from a fantastic trip to Spain. I was feeling upbeat until I plowed through eight days of newspapers and online reading. Three things I read about commanded my attention.

First, I am absolutely appalled by polls indicating that almost a third of Republicans say they would vote for Donald Trump for President. The thought of Donald Trump being elected president is mind-boggling. Imagine the levels of testosterone in the room during an exchange between Trump, Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un. The consequences could be nuclear.

I've always been a strong proponent of open primaries as they provide an opportunity for new blood to enter the political fray when political parties are too insulated or boss-driven. They also can provide an opportunity for voters to hear new ideas, approaches, and policy solutions. This year's Republican presidential primary demonstrates the downside of open primaries.

As a result of the plethora of candidates, the extraordinary ability of the Donald to suck up so much of the media attention and tap into the disdain and disgust of a sizable portion of the radical right towards government in general and politicians in particular, there has been little substantive policy discussion.

The only good I can find in the rise of Trump is that it impeded the candidacy of Chris Christie, the worst New Jersey governor in my lifetime.

As much as I dislike Christie, I abhor the Donald's demagoguery and his xenophobic message – his willingness to exploit fear and anxiety and whip up ethnic enmity towards Mexicans, Muslims and Latinos is anathema to everything that America stands for. It is the worst kind of polarizing politics.

If Governor Christie was still a legitimate candidate for the presidency 55 days before the June 7, 2016 New Jersey Presidential Primary, I was planning to shift my Democratic Party registration to vote in the Republican presidential primary and cast my first Republican vote for someone other than Christie.

I still intend to register as a Republican and vote in their primary if Trump remains a viable candidate. I will vote for either Jeb Bush or John Kasich, the only candidates who have not completely kowtowed to the extreme radical elements of the Republican Party.

After the primary I will re-register as a Democrat and do everything I can to see that the forces within the Democratic Party that sandbagged Sen. Barbara Buono and that stealthily supported Governor Christie do not elect a governor who is first and foremost loyal to political boss George Norcross III.

Second, I was very annoyed to learn of contributions made by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Phil Murphy, the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, to Sen. Robert Menendez's Legal Defense Fund.

The money is supposed to help him prepare to defend himself against the 14 charges the Justice Department has leveled against him because according to Menendez, "prosecutors at the Justice Department don't know the difference between friendship and corruption."

Fulop and Murphy, potential gubernatorial candidates, would argue that Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, has a right to defend himself and that he has done an excellent job of representing New Jersey. I get it, but I don't buy it.

The perception, and for me the reality, is that Fulop and Murphy are contributing to Menendez's legal fund to ingratiate themselves with him. In the end, whether Menendez beats the rap through a friendship defense is immaterial to me – he provided concierge service to wealthy out-of-state resident and received money and lavish gifts from that individual.

I don't believe my senator should give special treatment to anyone regardless of whether the person is a friend or just a common Joe.

Third, the wave of assaults, robberies, and weapons charges involving six Rutgers University football players is extremely disconcerting. I'm also concerned about the allegation that football coach Kyle Flood violated school policy by inappropriately contacting an instructor regarding a grade for a member of the football team. Too many bad things have occurred over the last few years involving big-time athletics at Rutgers.

The bulk of the bad stuff has occurred under the tenure of University President Robert Barchi, who was brought in by Governor Christie from Thomas Jefferson University to oversee the UMDNJ merger. President Barchi, who had no experience running a university with a big-time athletic program, has a lot of explaining to do. While micro-managing the athletic program is not his number one responsibility, it is one of his key responsibilities.

He has shown a distinct lack of leadership by not speaking out forcefully about the primacy of ethics in all aspects of university life, including sports.

The three-game suspension and $50,000 fine of Coach Flood was too little, too late. President Barchi should have sent an unequivocal message that he will not tolerate bending the rules to achieve success on the sports fields.

Barchi is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the academic and athletic life of Rutgers. The buck stops with him. He should be held accountable for what is going on by the Board of Governors, the chief governing body of the university.