What the hell is wrong with New Jersey prosecutors? #2A

February 18, 2015
Citizen! Have I got a job for you!

Good job, New Jersey!

Here’s the situation in brief: Gordon van Gilder is a 72-year old retired English teacher who lives in New Jersey. He also happens to have a hobby collecting 18th century memorabilia: coins, furniture, etc. Along came the opportunity to buy an antique 18th-century pistol. No bullets or powder, just the pistol. He and a friend drove to Pennsylvania to get it and then, on the way back, they were stopped by New Jersey police. Mr. Van Gilder cooperatively told the officer of the weapon in the glove box, and the officer promptly wanted to arrest him for violating New Jersey gun laws — for an antique pistol that wasn’t working. A superior talked some sense into the officer and told him to return the firearm and let the two men go. You’d think that would be the end of it, right?

Per Charles Cooke, think again:

The officer did as he was told, and gave the pistol back. The next morning, however, he came back — “with three cars and three or four sheriffs.” Van Gilders says, “He told me, ‘I should have arrested you last night.’” So he did. “They led me away in handcuffs” and, at the station, “chained me by my hands and feet to a cold stainless-steel bench.”

“I’ve never been handcuffed in my life — or arrested, even,” Van Gilder explains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed. The only prisoner there was myself: a 72-year-old English teacher. I was really ashamed.”

Before long, Van Gilder had been charged and the gun had been taken away for “ballistics testing,” almost certainly never to be returned. (That the department believes that a ballistics test on a flintlock pistol can be useful should give you some indication of who we’re dealing with here.) “They’ve angered me,” Van Gilder concedes. “But technically, by New Jersey’s law, the officer was probably right.”

The officer may have been right, but the law that officious jerk was enforcing is an ass. Now Mr. Van Gilder is facing a possible ten-year sentence with a minimum of 3.5 years without parole.

Remember the Obama administration’s risible claim that it had “prosecutorial discretion” to not enforce immigration law over a whole class of people? That was bunk, but here is a case where discretion should have been applied by by New Jersey authorities to refuse to prosecute a case that was clearly never contemplated under the state’s gun laws. Leave aside the fact that those laws violate Mr. Van Gilder’s Second Amendment rights, the very idea of humiliating him and then facing him with mandatory jail time over an antique pistol the federal government doesn’t even regard as a weapon is infuriating.

More Cooke:

Earlier this week, the lawyers’ group blog Popehat noted caustically that “none of the New Jersey founders who ratified the Constitution when this pistol was crafted would have questioned the man’s right to keep it.” This is indisputably true. Indeed, the news that an arthritic septuagenarian retiree had been tied to a bench for a non-violent crime would presumably have shocked them to the core. But, for all that their words live on, those leaders are dead, and we must look now to the ones that we have today. Where the hell are they? Where are the voices crying out for a change in the rules, and for a restoration of basic American liberties? And above all, where is the fearless Chris Christie — a man who seems to want to be president of the United States — when one of his constituents is being harassed by the state?

That’s a darned fine question, and I’d be very interested in would-be President Christie’s answer.

PS: As Cooke’s editors point out, you can help out with Mr. Van Gilder’s defense here.

PPS: And this isn’t the first time New Jersey prosecutors have tried to curb-stomp the Second Amendment.

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#Obamacare chronicles: middle-class children lose their health insurance

April 7, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Wait. Wasn’t one of the justifications for passing the Affordable Care Act that we had to do it “for the children?” That so many children were among the uninsured that it would be heartless, cruel, and even racist to not pass Obamacare? (1)

Then how do they explain this?

While the federal government was trumpeting the benefits of Obamacare to boost enrollment earlier this year, about 1,800 families in New Jersey were receiving letters telling them their children would be losing their health coverage last week.

The Affordable Care Act — the federal law that mandates everyone have insurance — effectively killed FamilyCare Advantage, a low-cost option for kids in New Jersey created six years ago for parents who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid and other subsidized programs but too little to buy on a policy on their own. The state program was the first of its kind in the nation.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey was the only insurance carrier that agreed to offer the FamilyCare Advantage plan, which covered most medical, dental and vision needs for the relative bargain of $144 a month per child.

What was it that killed FamilyCare Advantage? Oh, just the lack of services Obamacare declares must be included in every policy.

Such as maternity care. For children.

FamilyCare Advantage was New Jersey’s experiment to help lower middle-class families who made too much to qualify for state assistance, but not enough to buy adequate insurance on their own. Under (what used to be) our federalist system, states could try different approaches to common problems, see what worked and what didn’t, and then other states could, if they wanted, copy and adapt them to their own people’s needs. It’s that famous “laboratories of democracy” concept that leads to the discovery of best practices. Instead, these 1,800 families and their children get to experience the “benefits” of a top-down, one-size-fits-all, we-know-better-than-you nationalized health care system. One that kills the health insurance plan they liked and were promised they could keep.

Neat, eh?

But, don’t worry. These families can still go on the exchange and buy a policy there. Of course, it will likely be more expensive and carry a high deductible, but beggars can’t be choosy, right?

After all, it’s for the children.

Afterthought: There’s one other point that needs to be made. The article quotes one father frustrated with both Obamacare and the insurance company:

“Obamacare did snuff it out, but it also looks like Horizon was looking for a reason to end it. With all of the federal mandates (for employers to offer insurance) delayed, they didn’t need to do anything right now.

Emphasis added. This kind of resentment is inevitable when you have chief executive whose governing style seems to be borrowed from Argentina’s Juan Domingo Peron. Rather than treat people as free citizens, equal under the rule of law, you instead get individuals clamoring to get the same special favor as the other guy, turning free citizens into dependent clients and a president of a constitutional republic into El Patrón, doling out the favors to those who please him (or he needs to please) most. And that dependency, in the long run, is the progressives’ real goal.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

Footnote:
(1) And I exaggerate only a bit, here.

RELATED: The Affordable Care Act becomes unaffordable.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare Chronicles: If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Now pull my finger.

October 10, 2013
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Nearly a million people in New Jersey just got a very unpleasant surprise, and I bet at least a few are saying “But… but… but, the President said!

Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans opened the mail last week to find their health insurance plan would no longer exist in 2014 because it does not cover all the essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

The news surprised some who were unaware that provisions in the new law known as “Obamacare” were forcing insurance companies to scrap some plans they had previously offered.

“The Affordable Care Act is driving many changes to products and pricing,” said Thomas Vincz, a spokesman for Horizon. “Horizon BCBSNJ is actively working to help our members find new insurance plans that meet their needs and budget.”

The changes will impact more than 800,000 people in New Jersey who purchase insurance on the individual and small-employer markets, according to Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

And if they’re like their fellow Americans in California or Alabama, they will also see their rates skyrocket.

Remember, the whole point is the destruction of the private insurance market, forcing people onto the exchanges in order to facilitate wealth redistribution.

via David Freddoso

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Obamacare Chronicles: 100,000 in New Jersey to lose the insurance they like

August 18, 2013
"Bad medicine"

“Quack medicine”

What was it someone once said? Oh, yeah…

Tell that to over 100,000 New Jerseyans:

The bare-bones health insurance policy that’s been the plan of choice for New Jerseyans who can’t afford something better is set to go away next year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

And what those policy holders will be left with may be a choice among pricey, pricier and priciest.

About 106,000 people in the Garden State are insured under what are known as “basic and essential,” or B&E, health care plans, according to state data. Since 2003, all health insurers that operate in New Jersey’s individual health market have been required to sell these plans which, as their name implies, offer only a thin layer of coverage for things such as doctor’s office visits and procedures that don’t involve a hospital stay.

But while B&E plans were meant to help young families get coverage and stanch the drop of enrollment in the individual health market, their relatively low price — as little as a couple hundred dollars a month for some people — made them the most popular option for those who don’t get insurance through an employer or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. About 71 percent of those covered by the individual health market have a B&E plan.

Soon no longer.

Obamacare requires all policies to cover certain conditions, whether the purchaser needs that coverage or not. It also caps out-of-pocket expenses, which means costs go up for the insurance companies. They have to charge more to meet these requirements, and so the “bare bones” plans no longer are viable, even though they met the needs of over 100,000 Garden Staters.

Message to New Jerseyans losing their coverage: This is exactly what many of you in this Bluest of Blue states voted for. Elections have consequences. Next time, think before you vote.

Message to Republicans: These and other economic problems caused by Obamacare for the poor and the middle class are a gift from the Democrats. They are a giant, nail-studded club with which you can beat them mercilessly from now through November, 2016. Do it! If you wield this populist, anti-Washington weapon for all it’s worth, I guarantee you a happy election night.

via Brian Faughnan

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Is being telegenic the only remaining qualification for high office?

August 12, 2013

Cory Booker is Newark, New Jersey’s, “rising star” mayor. He’s young, smart, personable, has a great online presence, and even rescues people from burning buildings.

Now he’s running for the federal Senate seat that came open when Frank Lautenberg died and, this being New Jersey, he’s almost certain to win. At The Corner, Jim Geraghty looks at Booker’s record in office and finds it awfully thin. And that’s being charitable:

Newark is pretty much the same economically-struggling city it was when he started; as the New York Times noticed, “his constituents do not need to be reminded that six years after the mayor came into office vowing to make Newark a “model of urban transformation,” their city remains an emblem of poverty… A growing number of Newarkers complain that he has proved to be a better marketer than mayor, who shines in the spotlight but shows little interest in the less-glamorous work of what it takes to run a city.”

Read the rest to see a list of Mayor Booker’s “accomplishments.”

So here we have another wildly hyped media-darling candidate who seems to be “all sizzle and no steak” seeking higher office based on… what? Being telegenic? Giving good sound bites? Being hyperactive on Twitter? Fixing the city’s budget and reducing crime seems so pedestrian by comparison.

Remind anyone of a certain president we all know?

To be honest, I find this “election by media mania” to be depressing. If you want higher office, you should prove yourself in lower ones, first, to show people what you can do. City council, state legislator, the mayor’s office — as long as you actually demonstrate competence, not just charisma. The Romans called it the “cursus honorum” — the course of honors. It was the path an ambitious Roman would follow from the lowest magistracies to the highest, putting in the needed time and gaining experience along the way.

Nowadays, you just need a web site and some starry-eyed fans.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)