STATEWIDE – We all have Constitutional rights, and we like them very much. But let us assume the Founding Fathers were not dealing with a global pandemic when they crowded together in Philadelphia during that steamy summer of 1787 to cough all over each other, as they penned the document that would guarantee our cherished rights. But, for the moment, the argument about “Constitutional Rights” doesn’t hold a colonial candle to the need for all of us to stay healthy and alive. So, when Sen. Michael Doherty claims that people have been denied their right to Freedom of Religion, it is a reckless argument. He demands through his online petition that people be allowed to congregate and pray with “reasonable precautions.” For the moment – and just for this moment – New Jersey needs to get on the same page. End the rhetoric. Avoid the easy political points. We’ll all be together soon, if we like it or not. Have faith.

STATEWIDE – New Jersey famously gets back only 82 cents of every tax dollar we send to a greedy Uncle Sam. So is there any real surprise that our business community has so far gotten far less than most other states in the fed’s widely popular Paycheck Protection Program? Sure, we are annoyed. And we are downright offended, to tell you the truth. It seems highly questionable that we only got 33,519 of the 1.6 million loans nationwide. That’s equal to just $9.5 billion of the $342.3 billion for a state that is, quite frankly, much more important than most. Now there’s talk of another $310 billion coming, as part of this fast-expanding program. This time, how about giving Jersey more than its share? Y’know, for once.

STATEWIDE – Let’s assume many don’t realize it is Earth Day. And not just Earth Day, but the 50th anniversary of the first day that millions of people around the world gave the planet a shout-out and promised they wouldn’t make a further mess of it. (Memo to Earthlings: Please try harder.) Former Gov. Jim Florio didn’t forget; he writes in NJ Spotlight today about the need for a recommitment to solving some serious environmental problems. And, deep from the archives, NJ Spotlight dusts off a clip of another former governor, Tom Kean, recounting just how New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection came into being. Let’s just say it involved a fair amount of adroit maneuvering on the part of Kean. Get earthy at NJ Spotlight.

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TRENTON – Before this pandemic, many New Jerseyans thought that loud fat guy was still our governor. But now, people are finally learning the name “Phil Murphy,” the newbie who took over in January 2018. Not only is there finally some name recognition for Murphy, but a new Monmouth University poll shows that the real governor has a 71-percent job approval rating and a 79-percent approval rating for his response to the pandemic. Murphy only appears to be taking a hit on Covid-19 testing, with limitations to only those showing glaring symptoms. There’s 67 percent of us who say the state isn’t testing enough, but we are split on where to throw all the blame. Because, of course, someone needs to be blamed.

BRIDGEWATER – There won’t be any 4th of July fireworks at North Branch Park as Somerset County becomes the state's first to cancel its most popular summer event. So much for getting back to normal as our weather warms up and the state (hopefully) lifts stay-at-home orders. Citing its “utmost concern” for the pubic and its staff's safety during the pandemic, the Parks Commission is also canceling the county’s summer concert series; other annual summer festivals; and eliminating youth recreation camps and sports clinics for the rest of the year. Oh, and commissioners also tell the Home News Tribune that Somerset County is losing too much revenue to fund all of its events and programs. So, maybe that helped to fast-track their decision.

BRIEFING BREATHER: Blueberry jellybeans were invented for Ronald Reagan.

KNUCKLEHEAD OF THE DAY

EDISON – Knuckleheads come in all ages and genders like a local teenage girl who sucker-punched an Asian woman in the back of her head, blaming her and other Asians for the coronavirus crisis. Cops say the high school co-ed and her friends surrounded the 55-year-old victim on Inman and Grove avenues; they yelled shameful racial slurs and accused her of being a virus-carrier. It took 10 days, but police detectives found and charged the teenage girl with bias intimidation, assault, rioting, harassment and disorderly conduct. The state also hit her with a violation for ignoring a state ban on being outdoors without an essential reason. Because of her young age – and only because of that – just one Murphy on the knucklehead meter.

KNUCKLEHEAD SCORE: 1 out of 5 Murphies

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TORRENSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – They’ve got very extreme ‘no refund–no return’ policies at Australia’s largest supermarket chain. So strict, that the owner of Drake Supermarkets actually flipped his middle finger at a greedy profiteer who demanded cash back for most of the 4,800 rolls of toilet paper and 150 bottles of hand sanitizers he bought in March as the coronavirus crisis erupted. Unable to resell the items (at outrageous markups) to ‘Down Under’ hoarders, the guy wanted a refund for most of the $10,000 he spent. “Heck no!” says chain owner John-Paul Drake, firing a one-finger salute at the profiteer in a YouTube video that went viral, getting over a million views worldwide.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1991 that a Jewish cable network was launched in Brooklyn and Queens, offering viewers 24 hours of guilt.

WORD OF THE DAY

Alienist – [AY-lee-uh-nist] – noun

Definition: A psychiatrist

Example: My alienist is booked up this week with Zoom calls.

WIT OF THE DAY

“In journalism, it is simpler to sound off than it is to find out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to sweat.”

- Harold Evans

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Economic impact of Covid-19. @foxandfriends. Very interesting analysis.”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD: Chills

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun