Category Archives: My Desk

Responding to Hate

allan_dean_75I have held steadfast in the belief that all opinions, even ignorant ones, deserve to be publicly aired. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Hateful speech should always be called out for what it is. I belief that opinions, as hateful as they may seem to some, should be shared. Too often, people on the internet cocoon themselves in like-minded blogs and self-approving forums and disregard the world of opinions beyond their own.

The Herald recently published an article by Woody Zimmermann entitled “War on the Boy Scouts”  In the article, Mr. Zimmermann writes, “In reality, gays see a rich recruiting ground in the Scouts for their perverted lifestyle. If successful, they will gain access to the core of emerging American manhood. They will also have turned American morality away from the Judeo-Christian ethic on which the country has been based since its founding. These are key elements in gays’ quest for legitimacy in American culture and society.”  

I got a lot of letters from readers about this saying that the article is hate speech and should not have been published.

Facts speak for themselves.

Discussion should be temperate, but it rarely is. And to say that hate has no place is inconsistant with the way we live our lives. I bet there are a few folks who really “hate” Mr. Zimmermann about now. We should be respectful in our speech and with each other – but we rarely are.

Most letters to the editor regarding Mr. Zimmermann’s article did not speak to the contents of his article but took the Herald to task for “allowing the publication” of his article in their hometown newspaper.

Unfortunately, readers missed an opportunity to educate others.

It could be pointed out that his argument with regard to the definition of “Morally Straight” is severely lacking. The 12th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (http://www.bsahandbook.org/says that Morally Straight means, “Your relationships with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

Clearly, nothing in the oath is inconsistent with being gay.

As one or two people have pointed out in letters, pedophilia and homosexuality are not even in the same ballpark. Much could be said about the Sandusky saga. Or the not-so-secret Boy Scout abusers list.

Addressing Mr. Zimmermann’s concerns about his own near-miss experience with child abuse, the reader might be directed to the Scout website for information on protecting children from predators: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/46-015.pdf 

In my opinion, Mr. Zimmermann missed an opportunity to educate people about Scouting and the protection of free associations by his use of inflammatory rhetoric. 

I believe readers missed the opportunity to shed light on this conversation by seeking to extinguish the candle.

In upholding the Scout oath to be morally straight, I lean on Voltaire who famously said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Opposing views are welcome.  Send your letter to [email protected] 

Don’t Forget Sandy Survivors

allan_dean_100I worry that Sandy victims will be forgotten now that the holidays have passed and the 24/7 news cycle has moved on.  There are still thousands of homes and businesses in dire need of repair.  Hundreds of families on the Jersey Shore and Raritan Bayshore that are without a permanent place to lay their heads.  

A decade after Katrina, the aid trickles in through the good works of church groups, but little now comes from the government or private individuals anymore.  The same will be true for the Shore, I fear.  One tragedy on top of another will supplant the interest of news organizations.  Just today, the Associated Press released results of the top 10 stories of 2012 survey they’d conducted among editors.  The survey, initially completed the day prior to the horror in Connecticut,  said Sandy was the number 2 story behind the presidential election.  The AP decided the news was so big (and fresh) that they needed to conduct the survey again.  The election was still number 1, but Newton moved to number 2, pushing Sandy to the 3rd position, but still far ahead of the trailing news items.  

My point is this:  We need to focus attention on the plight of our neighbors here in New Jersey.  We have compassion for the innocents and their families in Newton,  but our people need help now!  

New Jerseyans have been front and center in the recovery efforts and others, from out of state, have stepped up to volunteer. Homes have been gutted, furniture and appliances hauled away by volunteer work crews.  Food pantries have been stocked but will always need more.  Clothing and household items have been donated.  Still hundreds are without a home.  

We must make clear to the nation that WE STILL NEED HELP.  You can help spread the word through your membership with national civic groups like, Lion’s, Rotary, Elks, Kiwanas, VFWs, American Legion Halls, etc. or religious organizations.  Share with your members the needs here.   Ask them to make donations to “reputable” organizations for the relief of Sandy victims.  There are a number of groups like the American Red Cross or the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (sandynjrelieffund.org), chaired by NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie that can direct money where it is needed most in the state.  There are also local fund drives to immediately help those in a specific area.  

As we turn the calendar to 2013, let us not forget the families that have struggled these two months to get back to some sense of normalcy in their lives: a roof over their head, food on the table and a job to return to.

Allan Dean, editor

Public Will Get Their Say on JCP&L Sandy Response

allan_dean_75Today, JCP&L reported on their outage map, about 350 outages still exist in Monmouth Beach, Brick, Toms River and Berkeley Township. Many of the homes without power are uninhabitable. There is a handful of outages in most towns in Monmouth County.

JCP&L came under considerable fire for failures to communicate with dozens and dozens of municipalities and customers during the massive outage.  During it’s peak, there were more than 1.3 million storm-related outages in our JCP&L service area.  It took 4-10 days before most people had their power restored.  Still, others waited longer.

Many, many crews were brought in from Alabama, Ohio, Texas, and a dozen other states to help weary Jersey folks.  People who during the third and fourth days of the outage would, when entering the bathroom, flick on the light switch, only to remember, it would do no good; those wretched car-dwelling,  cellphone-charging,  smartphone cruisers who would seek whatever shred of information they could; and pleading, kid-bedraggled moms begging the question “when, oh when, will the lights be on?” 

After the worst had past, mayors from several towns got together to wring their hands about the lack of information from JCP&L.  The Mayors were lambasted by readers in the Press for the effort as “political.”   Borough Halls were inundated with calls from frustrated citizens wanting answers.  Administrators in many towns complained they were unable to get timely responses from JCP&L – if they got responses at all.  

Stories have emerged about antiquated equipment.  Anecdotes about how many of the younger out-of-state linesmen had never seen these kinds of transmission systems.  Calls have been made for years to bury lines (like that nice stretch on Rumson Road in Rumson).  But the cost is prohibitive, goes the argument against it.   Perhaps, now, during reconstruction, equipment upgrades will be made and buried lines will be revisited.

The public utility, JCP&L answers to the NJ Board of Public Utilities.  Board of Public Utilities spokesman Greg Reinert, speaking to an NJ.com reporter said the agency is open to having meetings with the public, and is in the process of scheduling the hearings.

“We’ll have public hearings just like we did for Irene around the state in each of the electric distribution companies’ territories,” he said.

BPU should schedules meetings in Monmouth County.   BPU and JCP&L would both get an earful.

Can You Pass the Naturalization Test? – Answers

allan_deanIn order to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, the applicant must pass an English test which measures writing, reading and speaking skills.  In addition they must pass an oral test on civics.  

Yesterday, we asked AHHerald readers to take the test to see if they could answer 60% of the questions.    How did you do?

The following are the 100 questions and acceptable responses used by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Officer:

Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test
The 100 civics (history and government) questions and answers for the naturalization test are listed below. The civics test is an oral test and the USCIS Officer will ask the applicant up to 10 of the 100 civics questions. An applicant must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test. On the naturalization test, some answers may change because of elections or appointments. As you study for the test, make sure that you know the most current answers to these questions. Answer these questions with the name of the official who is serving at the time of your eligibility interview with USCIS. The USCIS Officer will not accept an incorrect answer.
Although USCIS is aware that there may be additional correct answers to the 100 civics questions, applicants are encouraged to respond to the civics questions using the answers provided below.

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
A: Principles of American Democracy
1. What is the supreme law of the land?▪ the Constitution
2. What does the Constitution do?▪ sets up the government▪ defines the government▪ protects basic rights of Americans
3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?▪ We the People
4. What is an amendment?▪ a change (to the Constitution)▪ an addition (to the Constitution)
5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?▪ the Bill of Rights
6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*▪ speech▪ religion▪ assembly▪ press▪ petition the government
7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?▪ twenty-seven (27)
8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?▪ announced our independence (from Great Britain)▪ declared our independence (from Great Britain)▪ said that the United States is free (from Great Britain)
9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?▪ life▪ liberty▪ pursuit of happiness
10. What is freedom of religion?▪ You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.
11. What is the economic system in the United States?*▪ capitalist economy▪ market economy
12. What is the “rule of law”?▪ Everyone must follow the law.▪ Leaders must obey the law.▪ Government must obey the law.▪ No one is above the law.

B: System of Government
13. Name one branch or part of the government.*▪ Congress▪ legislative▪ President▪ executive▪ the courts▪ judicial
14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?▪ checks and balances▪ separation of powers
15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?▪ the President
16. Who makes federal laws?▪ Congress▪ Senate and House (of Representatives)▪ (U.S. or national) legislature
17. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?*▪ the Senate and House (of Representatives)
18. How many U.S. Senators are there?▪ one hundred (100)
19. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?▪ six (6)
20. Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?*▪ Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents and residents of U.S. territories should answer that D.C. (or the territory where the applicant lives) has no U.S. Senators.]
21. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?▪ four hundred thirty-five (435)
22. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?▪ two (2)
23. Name your U.S. Representative.▪ Answers will vary. [Residents of territories with nonvoting Delegates or Resident Commissioners mayprovide the name of that Delegate or Commissioner. Also acceptable is any statement that the territory hasno (voting) Representatives in Congress.]
24. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?▪ all people of the state
25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?▪ (because of) the state’s population▪ (because) they have more people▪ (because) some states have more people
26. We elect a President for how many years?▪ four (4)
27. In what month do we vote for President?*▪ November
28. What is the name of the President of the United States now?*▪ Barack Obama▪ Obama
29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?▪ Joseph R. Biden, Jr.▪ Joe Biden▪ Biden
30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?▪ the Vice President
31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?▪ the Speaker of the House
32. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?▪ the President
33. Who signs bills to become laws?▪ the President
34. Who vetoes bills?▪ the President
35. What does the President’s Cabinet do?▪ advises the President
36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?▪ Secretary of Agriculture▪ Secretary of Commerce▪ Secretary of Defense▪ Secretary of Education▪ Secretary of Energy▪ Secretary of Health and Human Services▪ Secretary of Homeland Security▪ Secretary of Housing and Urban Development▪ Secretary of the Interior▪ Secretary of Labor▪ Secretary of State▪ Secretary of Transportation▪ Secretary of the Treasury▪ Secretary of Veterans Affairs▪ Attorney General▪ Vice President
37. What does the judicial branch do?▪ reviews laws▪ explains laws▪ resolves disputes (disagreements)▪ decides if a law goes against the Constitution
38. What is the highest court in the United States?▪ the Supreme Court
39. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?▪ nine (9)
40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?▪ John Roberts (John G. Roberts, Jr.)
41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?▪ to print money▪ to declare war▪ to create an army▪ to make treaties
42. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?▪ provide schooling and education▪ provide protection (police)▪ provide safety (fire departments)▪ give a driver’s license▪ approve zoning and land use
43. Who is the Governor of your state now?▪ Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. does not have a Governor.]
44. What is the capital of your state?*▪ Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. is not a state and does not have a capital. Residents of U.S. territories should name the capital of the territory.]
45. What are the two major political parties in the United States?*▪ Democratic and Republican
46. What is the political party of the President now?▪ Democratic (Party)
47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?▪ (John) Boehner

C: Rights and Responsibilities
48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.▪ Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).▪ You don’t have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.▪ Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)▪ A male citizen of any race (can vote).
49. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?*▪ serve on a jury▪ vote in a federal election
50. Name one right only for United States citizens.▪ vote in a federal election▪ run for federal office
51. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?▪ freedom of expression▪ freedom of speech▪ freedom of assembly▪ freedom to petition the government▪ freedom of worship▪ the right to bear arms
52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?▪ the United States▪ the flag
53. What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen?▪ give up loyalty to other countries▪ defend the Constitution and laws of the United States▪ obey the laws of the United States▪ serve in the U.S. military (if needed)▪ serve (do important work for) the nation (if needed)▪ be loyal to the United States
54. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?*▪ eighteen (18) and older
55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?▪ vote▪ join a political party▪ help with a campaign▪ join a civic group▪ join a community group▪ give an elected official your opinion on an issue▪ call Senators and Representatives▪ publicly support or oppose an issue or policy▪ run for office▪ write to a newspaper
56. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?*▪ April 15
57. When must all men register for the Selective Service?▪ at age eighteen (18)▪ between eighteen (18) and twenty-six (26)

AMERICAN HISTORY
A: Colonial Period and Independence
58. What is one reason colonists came to America?▪ freedom▪ political liberty▪ religious freedom▪ economic opportunity▪ practice their religion▪ escape persecution
59. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?▪ American Indians▪ Native Americans
60. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?▪ Africans▪ people from Africa
61. Why did the colonists fight the British?▪ because of high taxes (taxation without representation)▪ because the British army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering)▪ because they didn’t have self-government
62. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?▪ (Thomas) Jefferson
63. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?▪ July 4, 1776
64. There were 13 original states. Name three.▪ New Hampshire▪ Massachusetts▪ Rhode Island▪ Connecticut▪ New York▪ New Jersey▪ Pennsylvania▪ Delaware▪ Maryland▪ Virginia▪ North Carolina▪ South Carolina▪ Georgia
65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?▪ The Constitution was written.▪ The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.
66. When was the Constitution written?▪ 1787
67. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.▪ (James) Madison▪ (Alexander) Hamilton▪ (John) Jay▪ Publius
68. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?▪ U.S. diplomat▪ oldest member of the Constitutional Convention▪ first Postmaster General of the United States▪ writer of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”▪ started the first free libraries
69. Who is the “Father of Our Country”?▪ (George) Washington
70. Who was the first President?*▪ (George) Washington

B: 1800s
71. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?▪ the Louisiana Territory▪ Louisiana
72. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.▪ War of 1812▪ Mexican-American War▪ Civil War▪ Spanish-American War
73. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.▪ the Civil War▪ the War between the States
74. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.▪ slavery▪ economic reasons▪ states’ rights
75. What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did?*▪ freed the slaves (Emancipation Proclamation)▪ saved (or preserved) the Union▪ led the United States during the Civil War
76. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?▪ freed the slaves▪ freed slaves in the Confederacy▪ freed slaves in the Confederate states▪ freed slaves in most Southern states
77. What did Susan B. Anthony do?▪ fought for women’s rights▪ fought for civil rights

C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information
78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.*▪ World War I▪ World War II▪ Korean War▪ Vietnam War▪ (Persian) Gulf War
79. Who was President during World War I?▪ (Woodrow) Wilson
80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?▪ (Franklin) Roosevelt
81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?▪ Japan, Germany, and Italy
82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?▪ World War II
83. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?▪ Communism
84. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?▪ civil rights (movement)
85. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?*▪ fought for civil rights▪ worked for equality for all Americans
86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?▪ Terrorists attacked the United States.
87. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.[USCIS Officers will be supplied with a list of federally recognized American Indian tribes.]▪ Cherokee▪ Navajo▪ Sioux▪ Chippewa▪ Choctaw▪ Pueblo▪ Apache▪ Iroquois▪ Creek▪ Blackfeet▪ Seminole▪ Cheyenne▪ Arawak▪ Shawnee▪ Mohegan▪ Huron▪ Oneida▪ Lakota▪ Crow▪ Teton▪ Hopi▪ Inuit

INTEGRATED CIVICS
A: Geography
88. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.▪ Missouri (River)▪ Mississippi (River)
89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?▪ Pacific (Ocean)
90. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?▪ Atlantic (Ocean)
91. Name one U.S. territory.▪ Puerto Rico▪ U.S. Virgin Islands▪ American Samoa▪ Northern Mariana Islands▪ Guam
92. Name one state that borders Canada.▪ Maine▪ New Hampshire▪ Vermont▪ New York▪ Pennsylvania▪ Ohio▪ Michigan▪ Minnesota▪ North Dakota▪ Montana▪ Idaho▪ Washington▪ Alaska
93. Name one state that borders Mexico.▪ California▪ Arizona▪ New Mexico▪ Texas
94. What is the capital of the United States?*▪ Washington, D.C.
95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?*▪ New York (Harbor)▪ Liberty Island[Also acceptable are New Jersey, near New York City, and on the Hudson (River).]

B: Symbols
96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?▪ because there were 13 original colonies▪ because the stripes represent the original colonies
97. Why does the flag have 50 stars?*▪ because there is one star for each state▪ because each star represents a state▪ because there are 50 states
98. What is the name of the national anthem?▪ The Star-Spangled Banner

C: Holidays
99. When do we celebrate Independence Day?*▪ July 4
100. Name two national U.S. holidays.▪ New Year’s Day▪ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day▪ Presidents’ Day▪ Memorial Day▪ Independence Day▪ Labor Day▪ Columbus Day▪ Veterans Day▪ Thanksgiving▪ Christmas

Can You Pass the Naturalization Test?

allan_deanImmigration issues have taken a back seat to the economy in the U.S., at least since the Great Recession began in 2008.

Aside from the hoo-haw over the recent Supreme Court decision, immigration does not affect the lives of most Americans, therefore most have only a peripheral interest in it.  In a few days, another SC decision will shake the country (and the breathless media) and immigration will again fade as a major talking point.

But while the topic is hot…lets have a little test.

The path to citizenship is manifold.  Some are born into it, others immigrate and become naturalized.

The process of naturalization requires many steps; among them an English test and a civics test.  The English test examines writing, reading and speaking skills.  The civics test is a 10 questions test.  There are 100 questions from which the examiner may choose to ask the applicant.  The applicant must get 6 correct answers to pass the test.

So here are the 100 questions.   How many can you HONESTLY answer?  Remember you only need to get 60% to pass.  It may be easiest for you to copy and paste the questions below onto a page and then record your answers.  Keep a record of your responses.  (The correct answers will be provided in a follow-up post tomorrow.)

Continue reading Can You Pass the Naturalization Test?

Bullies Don’t Win

Here is what I like about Gov. Christie…

“Gov urges Springsteen to play at new casino” reads the headline in today’s Asbury Park Press.  The story details how the governor will be attending his 127th Springsteen show tomorrow and how he hopes to speak with Bruce personally about adding the Revel’s new 5000-seat arena to his Wrecking Ball world tour.  The $2.4 Billion Revel casino, the newest in Atlantic City, hosts 2,600 construction jobs and will provide 5,000 permanent jobs when it opens in May.

Here is what I don’t like about Gov. Christie…(or maybe the Press)  “I think Bruce, if he is true to his lyrics, would love the fact that the state used taxpayer funds to invest in this building to create jobs for working men and women,” Christie said.  

“If I get a chance to talk with him Thursday night, I’ll do it personally.  If I don’t, I’m sure you all will do your job and make sure this is in the papers so Bruce reads about it.” quotes the Press.

What I don’t like about Christie is his “tough guy” approach on Springsteen in the Press and co-opting the media to strong-arm a man who has already done so much for his home State of New Jersey.  And in true political fashion, tapping Springsteen like he was a campaign donor.  

Sure, it would be great if Bruce Springsteen were able to fit the venue into his tight schedule, but he doesn’t deserve to be cudgeled into it by the Governor, or the Press.

Join our discussion on the AHHerald Forum.