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Author: Kristen Luciani

The Crusader For Parental Advisories

OPINION: Parent Advisories and Age Restrictions on Violent Video Games Don’t Violate the First Amendment

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Xbox ConsoleI can still remember seeing the chilling photos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on the news after they opened fire on the student body and faculty of Columbine High School back in 1999. People were shocked, saddened and looking for reasons why something like that could happen. Tragedies such as the Columbine and more recent Newtown massacres don’t stem from just one root cause; there are always a number of risk factors at play. But in the aftermath, people have a tendency to point fingers because they are terrified… and desperate for answers.

Was it possible that these disturbed gunmen were influenced by the video games they were playing or the music they were listening to on a regular basis?

After Columbine, I became obsessed about the required use of parental advisories on explicit music, video, and gaming content. I wrote impassioned letters to my local legislators, appealing to them to pass laws restricting the sale of explicit content to kids under 18, only to find out that the form letters I received in response were ambivalent, dismissive and sometimes not even about the topic I wrote them on!

We live in a world without filters…

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You Can’t Spin This One, Mr. Carney

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Jay Carney

The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.”

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I think Jay Carney officially has the worst job in the country right now, Save Jerseyans.

I’d really hate to be him these days and I’m pretty sure he’d gratefully trade his post for a Save Jersey blogging slot if given the opportunity!

The September 12, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi resulted in a senseless loss of American lives, lives that were there to serve our country and protect our interests. They sacrificed themselves for their country. But their government let them down.

Their government decided to ignore their pleas for more safety and security measures. Their government decided to delete logistical details that would have compromised its position and message to the American people after the attack. Their government betrayed them, their memory and the American public. We now, FINALLY, have proof of this, and it is very likely that more will emerge in the near future.

You just can’t spin this, Mr. Carney. No communications degree is going to help you out here.

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More Trenton Irony Overload

Democrats Oppose Civil Service Changes Because They Could Lead to Corruption… IRONIC!?!?

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Trenton DomeI’m not a fan of unions, Save Jerseyans, so I’m definitely interested in seeing how Governor Christie’s proposed changes to the state civil service system are going to play out.

The proposed changes make sense, in that banding together like jobs and eliminating the need to take examinations to proceed through the ranks will result in cost savings for residents. But of course, the Democrats don’t like us messing with their territory (because it is primarily their territory). And heaven forbid we save the taxpayers of New Jersey some of their hard-earned cash. Not on their watches; not if they can help it.

According to Hetty Rosenstein, the Communication Workers of America’s New Jersey director, Christie’s proposal “unfairly rigs the rules so those who buy influence or enjoy special connections can get ahead.” She continued on to say that discrimination against minorities would ensue and the public would be harmed by the changes.

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An Iron Man for Tough Times

We Desperately Need Some Real Superheroes Down in Washington

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Iron Man 3For those of you who don’t follow the goings-on of the Marvel universe, this Friday marks the opening of the much-anticipated blockbuster Iron Man 3. I’ve seen the trailers, Save Jerseyans, and I have grudgingly read the critiques, most recently in this morning’s Star Ledger.

Allow me to provide you with a bit of background here, in the event you are not a fellow comic book enthusiast. Meet Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) – inventor, industrial tycoon, bionic man and snarky (putting it very mildly) superhero all rolled up into one delicious package (my own personal take). After experiencing some recent traumatic turns, he decides to vacate the famed red and gold suit and operate it remotely, preserving himself and his sanity, so it would seem. In short, he becomes a shell of his former self. Or, at least that’s what the reviewer thinks.

Is it about self-preservation? Is it about shying away from the dangers that the suit represents? Is it all about selfishness and self-absorption?

At this point, I am not quite certain. But what I do know is that citizens are putting their trust in Tony Stark to defeat his villainous arch-enemy, the Mandarin, and whatever personal demons he is chasing need to take a backseat to his higher calling as a protectionist.

Consider the dealings of our elected officials in Washington. Now, they’re not exactly in the throws of hand-to-hand combat with a grandmaster martial artist who also serves as CEO of a corporation specializing in biochemical weaponry and the head of an international terror organization, but still….

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Communicating a Vision for the Future

Candidates, Businessmen Without a Vision of the Future Can’t Win the Future

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Chris Christie pointingLast week, I got a coupon in the mail from J.C. Penny for $10 off $25. A-ha! So did CEO Ron Johnson finally learn that offering merchandise at prices that had mark-downs already baked in was not the way to retain existing customers and attract new ones?

Seventeen months ago, expectations were high when Johnson took the helm of a company that needed some revitalization to improve customer perception of quality and expand the current customer base. Since he had such an impressive track record at Apple and successfully engineered their retail strategy, the hope was that he could do the same for J.C. Penny.

In short, Johnson’s “new and improved” sales strategy was bold, risky, but according to the consensus of pundits, also ill-advised, and his failure to rejuvenate the retailer can primarily be attributed to several remarkable missteps. Under his leadership, the company apparently made no effort to test market the new pricing structure, showed no loyalty to the traditional customer base, and didn’t pay heed to a historical operating model that had successfully contributed to profitability year after year. The company’s leadership was short-sighted, without a substantial vision or direction for J.C. Penny, aside from the initial pricing structure modifications.

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NJGOP Runs at Corzine Dems

Attention Corzine Democrats: Come November, You’re FIRED!

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Larry WallaceOn Wednesday afternoon, Save Jerseyans, I made my maiden voyage to the heart of the political district in Trenton to support efforts of New Jersey Assembly hopefuls vying for a chance to take back control of the State Legislature this November.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick rallied around a number of candidates in front of the World War II Memorial on this very-chilly-if-you-are-not-wearing-an-appropriate-jacket afternoon, highlighting his commitment to ending the tenure of Corzine Democrats in Trenton and thus eliminating the philosophies that have been plaguing the livelihoods of residents over the past ten years.

Candidates representing the 1st, 3rd, 7th, 18th, 22nd and 27th legislative districts had an opportunity to deliver their own messages to prospective voters, each focusing on the personal principles, experiences and qualifications that they believe will enable them to further the efforts initiated by the Christie administration over the past several years.

We have a very real and immediate need for transformational change in our state legislative dealings, Save Jerseyans, and we, the people, are empowered to effect positive changes with our votes. Let’s choose to embrace the unique perspectives of this diverse slate of candidates and send them to Trenton where they can represent the best interests of our Garden State.

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Federalism Reenters Abortion Debate

Federal Versus State: Will North Dakota’s Abortion Laws Come Under the Supreme Court’s Scrutiny?

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

unborn babyWith a simple stroke of his pen, Save Jerseyans, the Governor of North Dakota effectively challenged a forty-year old “fundamental right” granted to women residing in the United States, giving way to extreme controversy and plenty of legal wrangling.

The three laws signed by Governor Jack Dalrymple are now the most restrictive in the nation, the focal point being a ban on abortions after the initial detection of a fetal heartbeat, about six weeks following conception. The other two laws include prohibiting abortions that are executed solely for purposes of gender selection and avoidance of genetic abnormalities, as well as requiring that a physician performing abortions must be a staffer at a hospital. No longer will clinics be the location for such procedures.

Arkansas’s legislature actually enacted an abortion ban after twelve weeks post conception earlier this month, thereby making the North Dakota law the most stringent.

It goes without saying that activists are already challenging the legality of the North Dakota laws, and are seeking any way to have them blocked by court battle, if not overturned altogether.

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Meet the LD18 Ticket

Save Jersey Catches Up with LD18 GOP Slate at Middlesex County Convention

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

This past weekend’s Middlesex GOP Convention was well-attended, Save Jerseyans, and Save Jersey had a chance to catch up with this year’s LD18 ticket: State Senate Candidate David Stahl and Assembly hopefuls Rob Bengivenga and Lisa Goldhamer.

They were also kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

Middlesex GOP Convention Preview

Can Republicans Take Back Middlesex County in 2013?  The Story Begins On Saturday

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Middlesex CountyThe Middlesex County Republican Convention is finally upon us, Save Jerseyans!

I have been looking forward to this event for quite some time for a number of reasons. It’s a great opportunity to meet with candidates and delegates from all across the county, to be surrounded by like-minded people who are collectively rooting for the advancement of our party goals and ideals, and to participate in the voting process that will put candidates on the ballot for the June primary.

Hundreds are expected to participate…

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The Change-Up

A Partisan Pondering the Psychology Behind Switching Parties

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

David StahlAs reported by blogger-in-chief Matt Rooney, Dave Stahl (D), Mayor of East Brunswick, will be making an imminent announcement. He’s becoming one of us, Save Jerseyans.

There have been questions raised in the past about Stahl’s political intentions, so this declaration may not come as a complete shock to anyone now, at least anyone in Middlesex County. In 2011, he endorsed Republican Marcia Silva for Assembly in LD18, insisting “it’s about the person, not the party.” He made very clear at that point that his endorsement did not change his political ideologies and that he was simply supporting the candidate whom he thought was the best and most qualified for the job.

I’ve never been a fan of party-switching, Save Jerseyans. Quite honestly, it just doesn’t make sense to me, for the simple reason that there are such fundamental differences in the ways Republicans and Democrats view life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As a member of a political party, you subscribe to a specific set of ideals and beliefs. So, how does one wake up one morning and decide that he wants to be affiliated with another party, one with completely opposing ideals and beliefs?

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Americans Want Cuts… Or Not

Survey Results On Spending Cuts Reveal A Somewhat Contradictory Thought Process Dominating Americans’ Budgetary Thinking

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

ScissorsThe results are in and the people have spoken. Spend less! No! Spend MORE!

The annual General Social Survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found that the 1,974 randomly selected participants were conflicted on spending cuts. Many favored government austerity, but at the same time they were looking for increased spending for such programs as education (the big winner!), Social Security, crime, health care, the environment, and more….?!

Nothing contradictory with those sentiments, right?

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The Narrative Counts

A Distressed Republican Party Needs To Craft A More Compelling Story

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

LecternAspiring designers in the fashion industry know that the key to creating a name for themselves requires, in most cases, a reputable (read: EXPENSIVE) public relations firm to represent their interests.

The key takeaway here is: you get what you pay for. So if a designer wants to see her handbags in InStyle and Vogue and on the arms of such celebrities as Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson, she should be prepared to pay handsomely for the kind of publicity that can achieve those ends. And those types of results are just the ones that will speak volumes for a designer’s growth potential. Well worth the investment, right??

In order to create a successful public relations campaign, there has to be a story. And it needs to be a compelling one that will make the subject stand out from the competition. These differentiating points have to be the central part of the message, which will translate into the whole “NEED to have” mentality.

For all of the hype around using social media tools more effectively in Republican campaigns going forward, some very careful attention must also be paid to the central role that publicity plays in the process. Any digital efforts will be all for naught without a carefully crafted message, one which can appeal to the masses, and one that all candidates can relate to and believe in. Distribution of the ideas is certainly important, but it all begins with message itself.

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Finding the Right Balance

Like the GOP, Catholic Church Can Modernize Its Messaging Without Compromising Its Core Values

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

VaticanAs the Catholic Church patiently awaits the appointment of its new pope, Save Jerseyans, followers wonder what type of leader they can expect in the near future.

Will he be staunchly opposed to expanding the rights of women in the church? Or will he be more liberal, and champion more lenient views on sexuality and contraception?

Traditionalist groups favor a strict governing of the church. They would prefer that the Catholic faith has fewer followers that adhere to the “letter of the law,” as opposed to a larger population that favors reform and relaxed church policies.

However, there are groups within the church that feel like the institution would become stronger and more revitalized if some of the previous laws were more relaxed, to attract new members and entice other members to return after previously leaving due to conflicting views.

The new pope, although he is not expected to “upset the apple cart” so to speak, has the power to make fundamental changes to the church and to inspire followers of the faith to subscribe to his beliefs. But is this the “right” direction to take? Or should the church continue to adhere to past encyclicals?

Although on somewhat of a different scale, we have similar opinions within the ranks of the Republican Party.

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Rising Star or Fallen Angel?

BEYOND THE FACADE: There’s a Lot to Like About Cory Booker Until You Dig Deeper And Discover There’s Nothing There

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

Facebook Newark SchoolsI believe that a lot of politicians begin their careers because they have a noble desire to improve the lives of people they aspire to represent. The call to public service is very honorable, but once the promises have been made and the campaign draws to a close, the newly elected official needs to start working to achieve the intended goals.

Often, this process will pave the way for a successful official to advance through the ranks to serve at higher levels of government. However, in other cases, officials start out strong and then their past ideals seem to lose steam as they try to advance what appear to be their own personal agendas. Gone is the freshman eagerness, replaced with the seemingly addictive draw of higher office, with all of the power and prestige that goes along with it.

Cory Booker is one such example of a leader that seemed to fall prey to the glitz and glamour of public office. The beginnings of his political career were certainly characteristic of an aspiring and enthusiastic public servant, someone who was on a virtuous quest to better the lives of Newark residents while simultaneously improving upon the city’s safety, security and infrastructure in the wake of Sharpe James’s disastrous tenure. The hero of Street Fight!

His first term was largely deemed a success. Booker reduced the city’s structural deficit, improved upon development of downtown Newark, the first two hotels were constructed on his watch and the city saw its first supermarket in decades open in the Central Ward. Yes, major improvements came to Newark under Booker’s leadership and he inspired confidence in the voting public that he could continue to drive transformational change to a crime-ridden and debilitated city in one of the most affluent states in our union. In short, he began to make a name for himself, a critical component of his future political endeavors.

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Shame On YOU, Sir

Major Party Leaders Fail the American People in Sequester Slap Fight and Obama Sure Isn’t Helping Matters…

By Kristen Luciani The Save Jersey Blog

Capitol Hill BuildingThe caustic interactions among Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats are becoming more and more characteristic of a dysfunctional marriage, Save Jerseyans. Even though today it seems to be so easy to walk away from a strained relationship, to just shut down, take your losses and part ways; this is not the reality for our elected officials.

And boy oh boy, do they need counseling!

One of the greatest contributors to a failed relationship is a lack of compromise. What happens to a unit when both parties shut down and stop trying? The system stops working. Communications break down. Both parties dig their heels in, stop listening to one another, and fail to work together as a team. The relationship quickly deteriorates because the key components of a fully functional relationship are entirely missing. This is where we are in Washington, and where we are all across the country, among states and districts and municipalities.

With regard to the sequester, we have distinct units at play against one another. There is a general unwillingness to compromise, to understand each side of the coin, and to come to consensus about how to proceed with the best option for the country.

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The Fiscal Catwalk

The Fashion Industry Weighs In On Our Current Fiscal Plight

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

FashionDesign houses around the globe have spent months preparing their respective visions for the upcoming Fall 2013 season.

Creative directors and their dedicated teams have formed synergies among combinations of colors, patterns, silhouettes and accessories that will collectively breathe life into their wares.

In order to set their creations apart from the competition, designers try to establish their own unique trends to characterize the upcoming seasons during their runway shows. They draw upon their life experiences to create depth and purpose to characterize their brands. The inclusion of cultural elements, innovative design techniques, and new ways of thinking greatly contribute to the overall success of a designer’s presentation.

Interestingly, our external environment also plays a significant role in how the couture is crafted and presented to the masses. For example, according to E! Online, American designer Catherine Malandrino predicts a movement towards geometric shapes for Fall 2013, citing the fact that there is more of an emphasis on today’s “purposeful, disciplined austerity versus a verdant laissez-faire that characterized a more carefree past.”

Could this be an allusion to the current state of our union? It sounds like Malandrino is drawing a parallel between products of the fashion industry and our nation’s economic plight.

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Obama’s Preschool Politics

The Newest Focal Point of Obama, Take 2: Preschool Programs?

By Kristen Luciani | The Save Jersey Blog

School LunchesCan someone please tell me WHEN President Obama is going to realize that in our current economic state, spending BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars on federally-subsidized preschool programs is not really a financially prudent direction to take?

Especially when the states already have their own plans currently in place?

I applaud his emphasis on the need for early education – all of my kids have (and in one case, will, in the near future) participate in preschool programs. Preschool does wonders for kids’ language skills, helps them to acclimate to being around other kids, and teaches them how to socialize with their peers and elders. I have seen my own thrive in such programs, and I definitely support and happily pay taxes for the implementation of such township programs.

However, as usual, Obama just doesn’t seem to think the states are doing enough.

According to Education Department officials, pre-kindergarten programs will be a priority during Obama’s second term. Hmmm…I don’t recall hearing about this newest focal point before it came out in The Associated Press, TODAY. But, since it carries a hefty price tag, I’m not really surprised it has made its way to the top of his list.

If Obama is nothing else, at the very least, he is consistent.

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