TRENTON – Maybe the governor is messing with us. Maybe he is dangling the potential threat of shutting down the entire state, if we don’t get the state’s COVID-19 numbers under control. Maybe he went on FOX News yesterday to float a statewide shutdown to underscore the fact that New Jerseyans are “in the fight of our lives” as we hit the cold, indoor, winter months of rampant viruses. Gov. Phil Murphy made it clear that he shut this place down in March and April and – dammit – he will do it again if we don’t start taking the pandemic more seriously. With another 3,851 cases reported yesterday, it is clear that someone, somewhere is not getting the memo. The race is on to keep us all healthy over the impending winter, until the vaccines begin trickling in. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” the governor vows. Meanwhile, stay home and smoke pot.

STATEWIDE – Did we just say to stay home and smoke pot? That could be New Jersey’s latest COVID slogan, with word that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal doesn’t want to see any more low-level cannabis cases in the local, county and state courts. Three weeks after New Jersey voters approved recreational weed – and state lawmakers now race to pass laws to regulate and tax it – the attorney general is issuing guidance to municipal prosecutors to lay off the college kid who, say, was caught smoking a joint on the beach. Any of these pot-related cases should be adjourned. But, if you happen to be a local drug dealer with an endless supply of dime bags for sale, the local prosecutor will still expect to see you in court.

STATEWIDE – Unlike popular perception, we are convinced that serving in Congress is an awful job. Not only are you constantly raising money for your campaign, being a target of every fringe group in America, getting death threats, having a terrible commute to work, dealing with pesky lobbyists, earning less than you are worth and swimming in an undrainable swamp, your life is a complete open book. The latest example: NJ.com ranked the state’s Congressional delegation based on their income. So, now, the entire state knows that Rep. Albio Sires seems to have the least assets, admitting just to having more than $1,000 in his checking account. Rep. Donald Payne also seems to be shopping at the Congressional bargain bin, reporting $4,000 in assets and recently cashing out of an inherited retirement fund. Meanwhile, our richest Congress member appears to be Rep. Josh Gottheimer, at $4.5 million in assets. Is this any of our business? Hard to tell.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

There are more trees on Earth than stars in the galaxy.

NEW BRUNSWICK – You know all those renowned heroes in the biomed department at Rutgers, who have been on the front lines of this COVID mess?  These are the pros who have been tending to ICU patients, enhancing COVID testing for international use and even concocting PPE equipment from 3-D printers. Well, these MacGyvers haven’t had a contract with Rutgers since July 1, 2018. But, reports TAPInto New Brunswick, it looks like a deal with the union for these 1,400 medical faculty members will finally be nailed down by the end of December with retroactive pay raises of 3% and standard wage bumps set into mid-2022. Worth their weight in gold, this, at least, is something for some of the most brilliant minds at RU.

MANSFIELD – Yeah, no one exactly wants to be likened to Donald Trump these days. Yet, is it really bullying if a kid tells another kid that his weird haircut makes him look like the 45th President? A Burlington County mom says her son made the silly remark to another sixth-grader in December 2017, when he was 11 years old.  Now, she wants her son’s record scrubbed – an issue that has risen to the state Office of Administrative Law to conduct a hearing and hear the mother's plea, NJ 101.5 reports.  Mom may have a good case, as state officials and judges have ruled that schoolyard teasing does not rise to the ranks of bullying. And the state statute is unclear, just saying verbal communication, motivated by any actual or perceived characteristics including race or religion, that any "reasonable person should know" will emotionally harm a student, is bullying. So, lots of wiggle room for interpretation.

IN THE MEDIA

We all love the Home News Tribune, but there just seems to be something off with this Nov. 25 headline: “Edison new COVID-19 cases include seven-month-old baby, Holiday House Decorating Contest in full swing.” … Or maybe it is just us.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH – When the guy who stopped in the bar just before closing for a final beer awoke in the morning, he may have a bit of a hangover. But it won’t compare to how he feels when the credit card bill comes, showing he tipped the bartender $3,000 for a $7 pour of Stella Artois. The customer handed the bill to the owner and slurred that all waitstaff at the jazz and blues club should have a piece of his generosity. At first, the bar owner thought it was a nice $300 tip. Then he put his glasses on and saw that extra zero. "I have to consider my staff… right?" the bar owner told WOIO-TV.

BAR GRAMMAR

A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert. 

WORD OF THE DAY

Vinous – [ˈvīnəs/] – adjective

Definition: Resembling, associated with, or fond of wine.

Example: My overflowing recycling bin indicates my vinous preferences.

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“Language can be very adept at hiding the truth.”

-Dan Brown

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

@FoxNews daytime is virtually unwatchable, especially during the weekends. Watch @OANN, @newsmax, or almost anything else. You won’t have to suffer through endless interviews with Democrats, and even worse!”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Blech