New Jersey's Gubernatorial Election, In A Nutshell

New Jersey's Gubernatorial Election, In A Nutshell

Information about both candidates and the winner himself.

Grab a cup of coffee. Grab me one, too. Maybe go to Starbucks and buy out the whole store, because the New Jersey governor's election was sleepy. Nothing was going on! I, personally speaking, am always in the loop; however, the whole race was lackluster, if not boring. Both candidates made the usual promises, attacks, and debates. That was about it. Not even the President was batting an eye.

It was that sleepy.

However, he should be scared.

It wasn't just New Jersey that had its election, but Virginia as well, and both states had wins for the Democratic Party. According to traditional presidents, the New Jersey and Virginia elections go the opposite to the party in control of the White House, and although it is heuristically accepted, this election was also about something more:

Proving that the U.S. itself does not want bigotry associated with the presidency.

However, this article is focused on the quieter but contested New Jersey election.

* * *

The Candidates

Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy, Governor-elect of New Jersey

This is Phil Murphy, former candidate and winner of the New Jersey Governor's election. Growing up, his family was ridden by lower-middle-class poverty in Massachusetts. He took his first job at thirteen, and worked all throughout high school, applied to college, got accepted into Harvard, took numerous loans and part-time jobs, then got his graduate degree from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He started out as an intern at Goldman Sachs and worked hard to become one of its top executives. He is a major philanthropist and is open to his financial stability and well-being.

He was a board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for many years, and in 2009, became former President Barack Obama's Ambassador to Germany.

He had to defend his twenty-plus years at Goldman Sachs to differentiate himself from former governor Jon Corzine, who was Goldman Sachs' CEO before his running. Unlike Corzine, Murphy ran a mostly progressive platform, talking mostly about the environment, education, and legalization of Marijuana.

Kim Guadagno

The Republican candidate for NJ's Gubernatorial Election, Kim Guadagno

This is Kim Guadagno, the Republican candidate and former Lt. Governor of New Jersey. Before living in New Jersey, she was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and due to her father's occupation, she moved around multiple times before she was even in college. She graduated with a law degree from American University Washington College of Law, she became a federal law clerk in New York City before joining a task force designed to root out organized crime. She was then appointed U.S. Attorney General for the District of New Jersey in Newark. During her years in New Jersey, she was appointed Sheriff of the Monmouth County police.

She had to distance herself a year and a half ago from the toxicity of the Christie administration to even have any chance of running a successful campaign for New Jersey governor. No matter what she did and no matter what her distancing accomplished, she still lives under Christie's beach chair shadow.

The Issues

Phil Murphy on "The Issues"

Phil Murphy announced many issues that needed to be addressed, but for the sake of the article and the past, I cannot list everything. So, here are the most contested issues:

1. Making New Jersey More Affordable

2. Creating a Public Bank

3. Legalization of Marijuana and Educating Addiction

Kim Guadagno on "The Issues"

Kim Guadagno also announced many issues that needed to be addressed, but, like before, I've listed the most contested issues:

1. Cutting Property Taxes

2. Fixing New Jersey Transit

3. The Opioid Epidemic and Decriminalizing Marijuana

The Issues Explained

Both Murphy and Guadagno had promised to make New Jersey more affordable for the average citizen, Guadagno noting that the fleeing population is unhealthy for the state's representation in the House of Representatives (the member drop of representatives from New Jersey dropped from thirteen to eleven over the past seven years).

Phil Murphy stated that he wants to reallocate funds from Christie's investments in corporate subsidies to help the state fund public schooling, easing the burden of taxes required to keep the school in-line, investing in public colleges, allowing cheaper education, and auditing the six billion dollars spent on New Jersey infrastructure to be more efficient.

Kim Guadagno wants to do similar things to make New Jersey affordable, starting by auditing the spending habits of the government before tackling the spending on schools, the environment, and transportation. In essence, her plan makes sense.

Due to the snake staring at our faces, cutting the subsidies Murphy talks about is a better starting point. Other than that, both candidates have similar, if not mostly congruent plans.

Phil Murphy wants to create a public bank for the state of New Jersey, which would be the second of it's kind in United States History. By auditing spending and finding out how much of the taxpayer's dollar is being spent inefficiently, he plans to allocate a percentage of that to fund and create a public bank, where instead of the financial instability and corruption of Wall Street being in control, the taxpayer is the sole founder and proprietor. By creating a public bank, New Jersey can save the average public university student thousands of dollars a year, allow towns to finance through the state more efficiently, and be able to navigate around Wall Street by focusing funds on more down-to-earth problems such as rebuilding poverty-stricken urban areas and other community development projects.

Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy both want to fix New Jersey transit, as it used to be one of the best transportation units in the U.S. until Christie dropped the ball. Kim wants to analyze and evaluate the four billion dollars spent on general infrastructure in New Jersey (number taken before August 2017). She also wanted to revisit the idea of commuter tax revenue, which concerns the two hundred thousand commuters who live in New Jersey and work in New York and divert money from tolls to help fund more efficient projects, saving New Jersey citizens' money.

This, by generational standards, is one of the most important topics of this election:


Pot, weed, grass, you name it, marijuana was the green that was on everyone's mind, and as green as it gets, it keeps getting greener. Marijuana effects both public and private sectors of the state's economy, affecting tax revenue coming in, police pension, prison overhauls, and organized crime. It affects environmental detoxification, recycling, and industrial development. This green leaf may be one of the most determining factors of this election.

Many people in Phil Murphy's camp knew that, although this is a minor issue that should be referenced and not dwelled upon, this has become a massive issue.

Many people in Kim Guadagno's camp believed this drug to be malevolent and a gateway to the state's opioid epidemic, which is a justified opinion to make. However, this caused many of the voters to believe that Phil Murphy is the "weed man" who only focused on marijuana and nothing else.

If you didn't believe that, you, as am I, are bipartisan and I congratulate you on looking on both sides before making an opinion, which everyone should.

Marijuana is seen by many as the "miracle plant". Enzymes within the plant can help battle certain cancers. The reeds can be used to make hemp products like clothing, rope, and made into a pulp to make paper. Processed seeds can become healthy alternatives to vegetable and olive oils, and of course, smoking the buds of certain varieties can give you a slow, smooth ride.

Phil Murphy planned on presenting a proposal to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana, which is already legal as a medicinal drug. By legalizing marijuana, he estimates that around 300 million dollars will come in from the tax revenue itself in the first year.

Kim Guadagno countered, sticking to her motherly beliefs that it is a problem and it will lead to the opioid problems that plague many institutions in the state of New Jersey. She wanted to decriminalize it, meaning that the taxes on citizens will be leavened due to the lack of population to pay for in public prisons for minor drug offenses.

Marijuana, hilariously and sadly, was the deciding factor in analytics in this election. Many voters couldn't really care or give two horse hooves for its impact on the election, but it had an impact, and it fought with aggression without being talked about more than twice.

Marijuana, analytically speaking, destroyed Kim Guadagno's promise to bring innovation and industry to the state. It destroyed her idea that auditing and reevaluating the means of state income is how to revitalize public sectors in the state. It even affects NJ Transit, albeit to an extent.

Let's put it this way:

By decriminalizing marijuana, as Guadagno promised, you will help lessen the tax burden on New Jersey because you aren't paying for a high prison population anymore. However, by legalizing marijuana, you are both lessening the tax burden and generating income for the state.

And it gets more lucrative from there:

By legalizing marijuana, you are practically forcing "pot pioneers" to flock to New Jersey to experiment on indoor growing, paper substitution, and clothing generation. Which lights are the best? Maybe these lights aren't the best, so we must research and create better lights... Boom. Marijuana helps jump-start the technology industry. No smoking on trains? Well, you still can't smoke marijuana on trains, so here's a fine. Boom. Income from marijuana-related fines that can be injected back into the NJ Transit system, albeit small. No more paying so much on prison populations? Boom. Allocating some money back into police pensions.

You see what I mean? Innovation is the key word. Kim Guadagno wanted to bring innovation to the state and marijuana delivers. Because of how lucrative the marijuana industry is, more will come to the state than just crunching numbers. Small business booms as a result.

Legalizing marijuana takes away power from organized crime and drug cartels, as now people can get their marijuana publicly and legally. It even helps lessen the opioid epidemic, as it becomes a substitute to heroin due to its number and legality as well as its cost against heroin. Marijuana isn't a drug you can get addicted to. It has been scientifically proven by numerous universities and private institutions throughout the country. And due to the product being a substitute and being accessible, less state income can be funded into drug enforcement agencies and reallocated to different places.

So, there is your opioid epidemic. It becomes lessened and manageable.

Literally and hilariously, marijuana is the key component to this past election. No matter how you view it, it will affect everything.

This is a brief and manageable overview of the New Jersey governor's election. It was a sleepy affair, and it will still be contested, but to be honest, no matter what was said and happened, marijuana literally kicked all problems into the famous Jersey Shore.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam


Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

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10 Appetite-Ruining Moments You, A Liberal Millennial, Have At Dinner With Conservative Parents

The feeling of dinner turning into a 12 vs 1 wrestling match is all too familiar for me.

Family dinners are all fun and good meals until that one relative gives their political view and a hush falls over the table. If you are anything like me, you may have a placemat in the dining room but it can feel like you're the odd man out. What I'm talking about is being that ONE liberal in a family of conservatives.

These political differences can turn any holiday dinner or Sunday gathering into a nightmare. From personal experience, here are 10 things that might happen to you at a conservative family dinner table.

1. Being told you will change your mind in the future

The truth is maybe I will but the possibility of future new opinions does not demean those I hold now. Who knows what I'll value in 20 years, all I know is that at this moment, my feelings and thoughts are valid.

2. Finding out who your parents/grandparents voted for

Yes, you may have suspected their choice but deep down you'd hoped for otherwise (wishful thinking I guess) and hearing it out loud was enough to make you choke on mashed potatoes.

3.Turning the TV off to avoid conversation

The five o'clock news comes on and you practically sprint to the remote. The last thing you want is an argument over fake news.

4. Questioning how everything could be Obama's fault?

Granted, no one is perfect but the blame for every fault in this nation cannot be put on one man. Oh, and the "Thanks Obama!" joke is getting old.

5. At some point, you get called a liberal snowflake.

But I believe enough snowflakes can cause quite the avalanche. *shrugs shoulders*

6. "I'm not racist but..."

Take a shot every time a family member says this. I guarantee it'll make the second half of the sentence much more bearable.

7. Or better yet, when a sentence starts with "Those people,".

Which is basically code for any group of people that don't look, think, or act like them.

8. Having tattoos/piercings makes your opinion invalid

It isn't a rare occurrence for the ink on your skin to be mistaken for impulsiveness and apparently make you incapable of having an intelligent thought, or maybe just a thought different from theirs.

9. Being elbowed for talking under your breath

And when a whisper of defiance slips from your mouth, it isn't uncommon for you to get the oh-so-subtle kick under the table.

10. And finally, when you speak up, the dinner table becomes WW3

It can sometimes feel, when you find the courage to voice your opinion, that the entire table gangs up on you. The feeling of dinner turning into a 12 vs 1 wrestling match is all too familiar to me.

Of course, at the end of the day these are your family members and no difference in political or social views can change that. Sometimes the best you can do is keep your head down and pass the green beans. Conservative or liberal, this is the family you are stuck with because unlike friends, you don't get to choose your family.

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