Tuesday, June 04, 2013






Two Good Buddies, And  A Buono

He's right, you know.   Salon's Alex Pareene accurately portrays New Jersey governor Chris Christie as an extremist who

torpedoed a much-needed mass transit tunnel project, same-sex marriage, and early voting. He vetoed a minimum wage hike. He vetoed legislation designed to eliminate the gender wage gap. He withdrew from a regional carbon cap-and-trade agreement.He killed a Jersey version of the DREAM Act and cut funding for women’s health services, including eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood. Remember how pissed everyone got whenRepublicans in the U.S. House of Representatives tried to do the same thing? Many liberals seem to give Christie a pass for his anti-abortion views that they’d never give a “red state” Republican. (This is maybe because he used to be pro-choice, meaning he made the exact switch on the issue everyone trashed Romney for making.)

He’s not even consistently rhetorically moderate. In the past, while flirting with running for president, Christie has expressed doubts about evolution (which truly makes no sense, for a mainstream Catholic). He’s randomly vacillated on whether climate change is real or caused by humans, telling a town hall in 2010 that he didn’t believe in it, then in 2011 deciding that he did, and now simply dismissing the issue as a “distraction.”

For the 95% of the population which does not live in the greater New York metropolitan area and hence knows little about the Access to the Core transit project- for which the late Senator Frank Lautenberg was instrumental in securing funding- Pareene explains

Christie killing the Hudson tunnel project happened years ago, but it perfectly encapsulates his philosophy and governing style. It was bad policy: The federal government was desperate to spend money on the project, and at this point the only plan for relieving congestion on the two century-old tunnels shared by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak is Michael Bloomberg’s fantastical plan to extend New York’s subway to Secaucus — an idea that seems to befuddle the cash-strapped MTA. And it was done for a bad reason: To prevent gas taxes from having to rise to cover the state’s Transportation Trust Fund shortfall. Because killing a rail project in order to keep gasoline artificially cheap in the only region of the country where rail travel is common and popular wasn’t bad enough, the Government Accountability Office then outright accused Christie of lying about the project’s costs and the amount that the state would have to cover. Though perhaps he was being more honest when he explained that he killed the project because his former bond trader wife didn’t feel like walking all the way from Herald Square to Penn Station. No one in Christie’s national press fan club cared, obviously. (I imagine many of them are more likely to cross the Hudson in Town Cars.) It’s rare that a governor has an opportunity, especially so early in his term, to screw generations of future residents of his state. Christie seized on the chance.

The governor chose not only "to screw generations of future residents" but also the current generation of women in New Jersey, as Pareene hints.   After the governor eliminated $7.5 million in family planning funds in the fiscal 2011 budget, in  2010 the New Jersey legislature voted to restore the funding.   The increase was restored and Christie responded with a veto.  The the Democratic-controlled legislature tried to override the veto but its effort failed when the five Republicans who had voted to restore the money opted to uphold the Governors' veto.   Christie claimed fiscal considerations but, when funding would have entailed a 9 to 1 federal-state match, the excuse shouldn't wash, though the mainstream media, enthralled with the Governor, didn't much care that the state's chief executive dislikes women women's health care.

Pareene adds that the Governor has

raised money and campaigned for (his good buddy) Steve King, the Muslim-hating Iowa madman. Here’s a perfect example of the limits of the “reasonable Republican” trope: One of the undeniably best things about Christie is his refusal to promote Islamophobia. He is also using his influence and national stature to ensure the continued reelection (and possible promotion to higher office!) of a modern-day McCarthyite bigot. Every major figure in the contemporary GOP bears some responsibility for the fact that nuts and bigots dominate the party, but Christie directly supports one of the worst of them.

After Christie appoints a Repub to Senator Lautenberg's seat, Pareene writes, "wealthy Democrats will likely continue donating to him. Misguided liberals and pundits will continue to say he’s not that conservative."   But the right-wing governor has a buddy more influential than Steve King, an additional reason wealthy donors and misguided liberals and pundits will continue to support him.  Late last month 

At one point, the pair took an unannounced stroll down the Point Pleasant Boardwalk before stopping at an arcade so Mr. Obama could try to win a teddy bear by throwing a football through a tire, in a game called “Touchdown Fever.” After a few misses, Mr. Obama seemed headed for another public athletic calamity, adding to a litany that includes a string of botched basketball free throws on the White House court last month, a horrifically ugly first pitch at a Washington Nationals game in 2010 and a display of bowling incompetence in Pennsylvania during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

But before the football tosses on Tuesday spiraled too far out of control for the president, Governor Teddy Bear himself stepped in and promptly split the rubber on his first try, earning a high-five from the First Beach Buddy.

“One and done,” Mr. Christie boasted, while the guy behind the counter presented Mr. Obama with a fuzzy “Chicago” bear, which he hoisted for the cameras.

One stop followed another, and

“I played a little Frog Bog,” Mr. Obama said at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. “And Governor Christie’s kids taught me the right technique for hitting the hammer to get those frogs in the buckets the way I was supposed to.” He also said, of course, that he met with people who are trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

Feel the love! It was easy to forget that the two chief executives were meeting with people trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy because it was at best a secondary objective of the visit.  But surely, promoting the New Jersey shore, incidentally appearing with a Republican running for re-election, is one of the few things a president too busy for partisan politics must find time for.   Or maybe not:  

President Barack Obama on Tuesday endorsed Massachusetts Senate candidate Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

"Ed Markey is a passionate and effective champion for middle class and working families, and we need him in the Senate to keep moving our country forward," Obama said in a statement. "I share his commitment to common sense efforts to reduce gun violence, and I know he will be a critical vote on this issue. Massachusetts has a long history of Senators who have made a real difference for the Commonwealth and our nation, and I know Ed Markey will continue that great tradition."

Obama's endorsement hardly comes as a shock, considering both are Democrats and hold similar policy positions, with the exception of Obama's proposed cuts to social security, known as chained CPI, which Markey opposes. However, the president doesn't make endorsements in every race.

Markey faces Republican Gabriel Gomez in the general election. Despite speculationthat Gomez will be the "next Scott Brown," he trails Markey by about 11 points, according to HuffPost Pollster. The general election is June 25.

On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a fundraiser for Markey, along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and William "Mo" Cowan (D-Mass.). Gomez and Markey are running to replace Cowan, who was appointed as an interim replacement for now-Secretary of State John Kerry.

Democratic voters officially will nominate Barbara Buono today as she faces no organized opposition in the state's primary to oppose Chris Christie.   There will be, at some point, a decision whether Obama will officially endorse Christie's Democratic opponent, and whether the First Lady will headline a fundraiser for her, which the nominee would enthusiastically welcome in a state Obama easily won twice.  It may be difficult for the President, however; the governor  appeared in a photo shoot with Obama when the latter was locked in a close race with Mitt Romney days before the 2012 presidential election.   As a man of honor, Barack Obama may decide he has to return the favor, for which a down payment recently was made along the Jersey shore.


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