Tag Archive | "Chris Christie"

A Bridge Too Far

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The epic story of the largely unsuccessful efforts of Allied airborne forces to seize control of bridges leading into Germany in an effort to accelerate the end of World War II in Operation Market Garden was recounted in the movie of the same name.  Much of the film’s drama focused on the heroic efforts of British forces to hold a bridge vital to the Operation’s objectives.

 

They say that “what goes around comes around.”  And strangely, in the year 2014, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie finds himself in the same circumstances – feverishly attempting to hold onto his reputation and national profile in the face of a mounting scandal surrounding the circumstances of the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

 

Just when everything was coming up roses for the Governor, and it looked like he would be the front runner for the Republican Party’s nomination for President in the 2016 election – something went horribly awry.  News that the lane closures may have been political retribution for refusal by Fort Lee’s mayor to endorse the Governor’s reelection bid began as a spark and quickly fanned into a five-alarm blaze.  As the story unfolded, the liberal news media broadcasts seized upon the opportunity to defame a Republican who might have the ability to appeal to voters in “blue” states.  Democratic stalwarts in Washington smiled, and it was springtime for the Obama Administration that had been plagued by scandals, Obamacare, and political ineptitude since the President entered his second term.

 

Suddenly, the once bombastic Governor, renowned for his blustery, in-your-face style, found himself on the defensive and, in true politician fashion, blamed overzealous staff members – echoing the words of other leaders including President Obama in the face of scandal.  In an attempt at damage control, the Governor fired responsible staff members and met with reporters for more than an hour at the Statehouse during which he categorically denied any knowledge of the actions surrounding the lane closures.

 

There’s an old saying about s–t – “the more you stir it the more it stinks.”  An apology from a Governor perceived by many as a “bully” was tantamount to pouring gasoline on a fire.  And, his denial of any knowledge about the lane closures was a challenge to those who would relish proving him a liar.  Perhaps, the Governor’s course of action since the story broke has not been the right one.  Perhaps, others like Donald Trump or the Duke, John Wayne, could have given him better advice like “never apologize it’s a sign of weakness.”  Perhaps, simply firing the staffers with no explanation would have better served the Governor’s long-term interests.

 

Yet, as innuendo and revelations continue to drip, any hopes that Governor Christie has of rebounding and capturing the Republican nomination for President in 2016 are cast into serious doubt.  These are the hard lessons you learn in the political world, one or which is that honesty is not always the best policy.  Just ask Ozzie Myers, one of the politicians caught in the Abscam snare in 1980.

 

But alas, the damage has been done and there is no turning back.  Governor Christie is left with the same instructions as those given the brave soldiers in “A Bridge Too Far, “hold until relieved.”  Whether or not he fares better than Operation Market Garden remains to be seen.

 

Addendum: The Italian Lesson

 

Those of you familiar with me know that I have been dabbling in the study of Italian for a number of years.  I frequently enter text in Italian or English into Google Translate, often with hilarious results.  Below is an example:

 

Entry

 

Governatore Chris Christie spiega a il  Italiano Americano Associazione nel Trenton, New Jersey, cosa successo.

 

Appena un momento per favore, vorrei spiegare il situazione. non dissi vicino il ponte, Io detto, vicino il fridge, qualcuno fa no capisce inglese, e ottengo in culo!

 

Translation

 

Governor Chris Christie explains to the Italian American Association in Trenton, New Jersey, what happened.

 

Just a moment please, let me explain the situation. I did not say close the bridge, I said, close the fridge, someone does not understand English, and I get it in the ass!

 

Christie Stands Down Heckler

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Regardless of one’s opinion of New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, he cannot be accused of being a shrinking violet. I offer as evidence this video of a scene that played out this past Tuesday at a campaign event for Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in Los Angeles.


 

Christie Proposes State Takeover of Atlantic City

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In his promise to restore fiscal sanity to the State of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie announced a proposal that would impact the gambling industry.  He proposed to sell off the State’s racetracks and use the resultant funds to reinvest in Atlantic City, whose casinos are struggling to run in the black, and not the red.  We’re talking about profit figures on balance sheets, not the colors on the roulette wheels.


A major renovation that began well over twenty years ago swept Atlantic City, depositing more and glitzier casinos and hotels and nicer supporting businesses (i.e., restaurants) in the surrounding area.  These structures displaced some of the seedier aspects of the shore town, but not all.  Beyond the lights of the Boardwalk onto which many of the casinos open, Atlantic City is still not a place that the average citizen would want to walk at night.  What our Governor aims to do is model Atlantic City upon Las Vegas, bringing more than gaming to the area and transforming the city into more of a family-friendly resort.


Sounds like a plan, right?  Wrong. Christie’s proposal has divided legislatures along regional lines and cast serious doubts in the minds of some New Jerseyans.


Northern New Jersey legislators view the proposal as a plum handed to Southern New Jersey Senator Joseph M. Sweeney (D-3, Gloucester County).  As the New Jersey Senate President, Sweeney hopes to pass the plan.  However, this proposal has Northern legislators crying for equal time.  They are requesting the same consideration be given to the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park sports/concert complexes.


It sounds like the North versus the South.  I thought the Civil War ended at Appomattox, with both sides wanting to divide the spoils.  But if you’re not a legislator and just an Everyday Joe or Jane, how does Christie’s plan affect you?


For one thing, it’s going to affect your pockets and pocketbooks.  The plan to buy out a failing city and restore it to its glorious past relies heavily upon … you guessed it! … taxpayers’ money.  And that’s not the end of it.  The plan compels Atlantic City to cede most of its land directly to the State.  The State, in turn, would set up a commission to manage everything of a public nature that takes place in the municipality.  This includes everything from policing the streets to collecting the garbage.


If the proposal passes, does this mean that Atlantic City’s local government would be abolished?  Who needs corrupt local politicians when we can pass power onto Trenton, with a State Commission to oversee the community — particularly when Trenton is one of the most corrupt capitals in the United States?  Should the proposal pass, the Mayor of Atlantic City and his cabinet would become unemployed.  This would have them collecting unemployment benefits at a time when the State needs every penny to resolve its fiscal problems.


Another thing to take under consideration is the following question.  Would appointing a State Commission to replace elected local officials set a precedent? And, would the current casino revenues paid to the State be jeopardized once the plan is incorporated and implemented by our — cough, cough — oh so honest State legislators? Will this plan be put on a ballot for the electorate to approve, or will it simply be shoved down our throats?


Clearly, there are many concerns and questions to be resolved before endorsing a plan that represents a real gamble with taxpayers’ money.  How odd that our Governor is all for this plan when, in his words spoken in an address to the horse racing industry, he said, “[We] cannot subsidize a failing industry.” Whether it is horse racing, casino gambling, or OTC betting, working class people struggling to keep the roofs over their heads do not have the surplus money to blow on games of chance.


If the State of New Jersey needs more revenue to become solvent, it should not consider bailing out failed cities.  It should go to the heart of the matter by finding ways for the private sector to start employing the legal citizens of New Jersey, with the accent on “legal.”

The Revolution Begins in New Jersey

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In what could be the brush fire that ultimately engulfs an entire forest, New Jersey voters turned out in surprising numbers yesterday to defeat proposed school budgets throughout the state.  With reported turnouts of more than double the previous year, New Jerseyans gave a resounding “No” to more than 55% of all proposed budgets statewide.  In some counties, such as Somerset and Hunterdon, virtually all proposed school budgets were defeated.


In a typical year, voters approve approximately 70% of all school budgets.  This year, however, concerned by escalating property taxes (among the nation’s highest) and a continuing economic downturn, voters eschewed the pleas of local school boards and officials.  Additionally, the election results send a clear message to elected officials at the local, county, and state levels that the New Jersey populace agrees with Governor Chris Christie that it is time to tackle the heretofore untamed monster of rising salaries and costs associated with providing benefits and pensions to educators and government workers that threatens to rob future generations of their American dreams.


Pension and health insurance obligations for retirees from school districts, police departments, municipalities, and county and state government loom as drags on future economic growth and shackles on future taxpaying citizens of New Jersey.  To make matters worse, many of these same people may choose ultimately to leave the State after they retire, selecting for their residences low-tax states that have been more fiscally responsible and have not mortgaged their futures on unfunded pensions and other liabilities.


When the bill on these future liabilities comes due, the taxpaying residents and businesses of this State – if there are any – will certainly be less than happy that decades past of elected, appointed, and hired officials and leaders have squandered tens of billions of taxpayer dollars for fear of being branded as anti-education, anti-law enforcement, anti-environment, or any of a number of other “sacred cows” that have been created in this State and elsewhere.  Those future residents will wish that previous holders of the public trust had taken on the unions and entrenched interests that too often dictate policy in our State, reduced expenditures, eliminated excesses, and funded mandates.


The reality is that there is but a tenuous connection between dollars spent on taxpayer-funded programs and results.  If spending money could produce results, the schools in Newark, Elizabeth, and Camden, to name but a few districts, would be producing world-class scholars.  Sadly, taxpayer dollars are to those who spend them nothing more than “other people’s money.”  A significant proportion of school budgets past have been spent on infrastructure including artificial turf playing fields and other athletic facilities that rival those in professional sports.  While such facilities may be desirable, their impact on student education is dubious.  School administrators and government officials at all levels need to treat such expenditures as if the funds used were their own.  Were that the case, we would surely witness a level of fiscal responsibility heretofore unseen in our State.


And so, as taxpayers we can hope with some justification that the 2010 school budget elections may provide the spark to help us begin to retake control of our shared financial destiny.  Sweeping changes are needed, as well as leaders with the fortitude to propose and oversee them.  It is not, however, easy or painless to oppose a “sacred cow,” much less the herd with which we are faced.  If we as a State do not seize this opportunity, however, many of us will be among the retired teachers, police officers, and New Jersey government employees who relocate to Delaware, North Carolina, or another state that has been more diligent with its taxpayers’ money. 

It’s Christie!

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Chris Christie

The fat guy wins!!!

 

In a victory for all calorically-challenged people everywhere, New Jerseyans elected Chris Christie the 55th Governor in the State’s history.  Overcoming negative attack advertising from incumbent Governor Jon Corzine’s campaign questioning Christie’s fitness to serve on the basis of prior alleged legal and financial improprieties as well as his weight, Christie won election by 4 percentage points despite being outspent by former Wall Street executive Corzine by two or three to one (depending upon the source you consider most accurate) and in a State renowned for its well-oiled Democrat machine and influential labor unions.

 

Now, lest you think I am mocking the Govenor-elect, allow me to assert that I myself am a fat American.  The real point is that when an incumbent politician feels the need to sink to the level of criticizing an opponent based upon appearance, that candidate reveals himself as completely devoid of substance and accomplishment upon which to base his own candidacy.

 

And, I believe that the New Jersey electorate took notice and the State’s great mass of Independent, politically-moderate voters were left with a choice:  Christie, the Republican, or Daggett, the Independent.  In the final analysis, the vast majority of these swing voters cast their ballots for Christie, not – I surmise – through any particular fondness or allegiance to Christie, but rather through their collective desire to witness a change in the State’s political and economic direction.

 

Daggett, despite a strong showing in the Gubernatorial debates, could not overcome the skepticism of the average voter regarding the electability of independent and minor party candidates.  Viewing a vote for Daggett as a benefit to the incumbent, most of his potential supporters ultimately pulled the lever for Christie.

 

In the end, I believe that both Corzine and Christie were humbled by the election results.  Corzine, having lost election in a solidly-blue state, appeared bewildered by the magnitude of the defeat but nonetheless demonstrated grace in his concession speech and pledged to fully support the transition to the new Christie Administration.  Christie, greeting his supporters to the beat of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” seemed surprised and deeply grateful for the opportunity provided him by the electorate.

 

Vowing – in his victory address – to get right to “work” and “turn Trenton upside down,” Christie, no doubt, delighted his supporters and sent a shudder down the spines of the leaders of the State’s employees’ unions and the NJEA, labor organizations that vehemently opposed Christie’s election and that many have blamed for the State’s runaway spending and bloated budget.

 

But, to achieve anything, Christie will have to build bridges and work cooperatively with a State legislature still firmly controlled by the Democrats.  That work will certainly begin during the transition.  If, however, partisan politics rears its ugly head during the early days of this new Administration and threatens efforts to solve our State’s problems, it is incumbent upon we, the State’s citizens, to provide the political pressure to both Governor and legislature alike to assure progress toward our State living up to its moniker as the “Garden State.”

Corzine, Christie, or Daggett?

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Corzine Christie Daggett

 

In an election with national repercussions, New Jerseyans will go to the polls tomorrow to elect a Governor.  Many view the New Jersey race, along with the Virginia gubernatorial election and a Congressional election in New York state, as a referendum on the year-old Obama presidency and Democrat control over Congress.

 

As a not-quite impartial observer, I, as I am sure many of the State’s residents, have been amused by the nature and tone of the campaigns.  If you watch and accept as true his commercials, incumbent Democrat Governor Jon Corzine has done a fabulous job over the past four years – reducing property taxes, protecting the environment, improving access to healthcare, bolstering education, fighting unemployment, and leading an affirmative response to the recent economic downturn that has saved the State from disaster.  Of course, if you believe the ads of his Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, Corzine’s term of office has been a total disaster and Christie has the answers and expertise to solve the State’s problems.  Then, there is independent challenger Chris Daggett.  A former Regional Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection under Republican Governor Kean, Daggett represents somewhat of a wildcard in the campaign.  His candidacy could potentially benefit Governor Corzine by siphoning votes from his challenger, Chris Christie, and has led some critics to assert that that is precisely his motive in the race.

 

As the campaign has unfolded, the mudslinging has intensified, including apparent attacks by the Corzine campaign on Christie’s weight (yes, Chris – if not yet married – could have been the bachelor on More to Love).  It seems that candidates will do or say anything to get elected; only to renege on campaign promises once elected.

 

In this vein, I have collected and below present some advertisements by the candidates.  Unfortunately, independent Chris Daggett’s campaign had fewer resources, making his advertisements harder to find.  Yet, I feel that the ads below are a fair sampling of what the candidates were saying about themselves and each other.  I will attempt to caption them according to their content.

 

The following ad is a Corzine commercial targeting one of his core constituencies – liberal women concerned about women’s health issues and the right to choose:

 

 

 

The next ad is an anti-Corzine message distributed by the Christie campaign, appealing to his more conservative Republican base:

 

 

The next ad is a Corzine attack ad:

 

 

Our next advertisement is a Christie attack ad amateurishly mimicking Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone:

 

 

The next ad impugns challenger Christie by implying that he is fat:

 

 

The following example is a form of testimonial in which former Governor Tom Kean praises and endorses Republican candidate Christie using the famous “perfect together” expression that Kean had use in various state promotional advertisements:

 

 

Finally, this last ad is independent Daggett’s. It uses footage from a gubernatorial debate to suggest that he (Daggett) is, in fact, the favorite of both of his rivals:

 

 

I hope that you have enjoyed these ads and that they have enhanced your confusion as to whom you will support in tomorrow’s election. Whomever you are supporting, be sure to vote!

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