Author Archive: Rex Banner

Why did Christie meet with Port Authority Chief days before “the email”?

One thing that jumped out at me in looking over the stories of the newly released 900 pages of documents was this little nugget from Assemblyman Wisniewski, who is leading the investigation (emphasis mine):

Secondly, the documents submitted by David Wildstein and his attorney are documents they deemed specifically related to the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge as per our subpoena request. Included in these documents is a reference to what appears to be a meeting between Port Authority Chairman David Samson and the governor one week before Bridget Kelly issued the order to cause ‘traffic problems’ in Fort Lee. By submitting these documents, Mr. Wildstein is telling us they are related to the lane closures in some way. The question that demands answering is how?

In and of itself, this would be a pretty important factoid and some curious timing, given that Christie said yesterday that he doesn’t really know what all 65,000+ state employees are doing.  But in doing his damage control, Christie had this to say about Samson:  

Christie did say that he met for two hours with Samson, the former state attorney general whom he appointed as Port Authority chairman, and that he was confident that Samson had no involvement in the Bridgegate scandal.

There is some very curious timing in the meeting between Christie and the Port Authority Chief he appointed and the email from Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff ordering the lane closures.  And now Christie is saying that Samson was not involved.

If they met just days before the lane closures were ordered and neither of them had any involvement in the lane closures, and there is no traffic study, what went on at that meeting?

Anti-social Media

promoted by Rosi

Many members of Congress (and other politicians) engage in some or numerous forms of social media – some are more prolific than others and some in more forms (twitter, facebook, etc.) than others.  Some engage their followers with comments or replies to tweets.

 

And some, like NJ’s Rep. Scott Garrett, use it to broadcast relatively meaningless quotes, veiled insults at Democrats and President Obama (some not even being accurate on basic facts) and other false choices or equivalencies.  His page on Facebook has been around for a while but not one (as far as I have ever seen) comment to a post and no engagement with the roughly 3,200 people who “like” his page (both fans and haters).

 

His Twitter account, started way back in late November 2012, is similar.  Retweets of the Heritage Foundation or Politico or Republican Party talking points, many of which are thinly veiled swipes at someone or repeated on his Facebook feed.

 

If this is outreach, his followers and constituents should be outraged.  This is not joining the 21st century – this is not engagement and this is not listening.  Hell, it is about as little social interaction and still saying that you are using social media.

 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – nor should anyone who he “represents”.  This is exactly how he has dealt with his constituents for close to a decade now.

Garrettown- Mass Murder Capital of the USA

In reality, we can pick one of a number of New Jersey Republican Congressmen, especially over the past few years with many lockstep votes, but Scott Garrett has the most consistent voting pattern when it comes to policies that favor environments like the Aurora movie theater massacre, the Sikh temple mass murder in Wisconsin, the Oregon mall murders, the should-be-unfathomable murder of more than 20 elementary schoolchildren, along with teachers and other school officials and the shooting in an Alabama hospital over the past few weeks.

To those who think that this is not the time, they are right.  It is long past time.  To those who think that it isn’t fair to point fingers at Congressmen, voting records, like elections, have consequences.  And Scott Garrett has made it easier for all of these massacres to occur, as well as the ones that preceded them – not to mention those that have yet to occur, but most certainly will occur.

As Bill Orr noted this morning, NJ has decent gun laws as compared to other states, but they fall far short of what they could be.  Scott Garrett, however, might as well be for terrorists being able to stock up on as many of whatever mass killing machine they want without anyone so much as looking into whether they are highly likely to use it to commit mass murder.

His voting record, as noted here, is pretty much a checklist of the biggest factors that can lead to a culture that consists of mass murder after mass murder – and in public places that you, me, kids, families – are all very likely to frequent on a regular basis.  It is no different from living in any country where “terrorism”, bus bombings, suicide bombings or any other mass public murder takes place far too regularly.  This list includes allowing someone to carry a concealed weapon into NJ (even though NJ doesn’t allow it) if they are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in that state, loosening restrictions on interstate gun purchases, banning a gun registration and trigger lock law in Washington DC (even though he always argues against federal overreach to states) and allowing loaded guns in national parks.  He even voted against including those who are on terror watch lists, pedophiles, stalkers and those who have committed domestic violence from the lax concealed carry laws he supported.

Couple that with Garrett’s vote, for example, on mental health parity with physical illness or how he voted against first responders like those who acted on 9/11 and you have you have a caustic mix of dangerous factors, ignored warning signs, lack of ability to spot and deal with a mental health issue properly and where someone who is a clear and present danger to themselves, their family or society as a whole can  go on a massive killing spree without getting detected until “no one could have known” except for all of the clear warning signs.

Voters across Garrett’s district, as well as other voters in NJ and across the country have a right to know what their Representatives are voting for in their names.  The votes have consequences, and in Garrettown, USA, those consequences are a deadly epidemic.

Chris Christie (D)? Are these people serious?

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Governor Christie, from what I’ve seen and heard (since I didn’t have power for a week or so) has done a pretty admirable job in dealing with the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy – especially in the early days.  His willingness to work with President Obama and act as, you know, a Governor of New Jersey as opposed to being a partisan hack and play politics with people’s lives and livelihoods on the line was something that We the People see far too little of.

For those actions – actions that may have saved many lives – Christie was vilified by many partisans who put people last and winning elections or scoring points first.  It very well may have ruined his chance at running for President in 2016, although who knows what can happen in a few years.  It may also have increased his chances at winning re-election for Governor, although again, who knows what can happen in a few months or a year.

What has amazed me the most in all of this asinine knee jerk reactions like this (the comments are comedy gold as well) that think Chris Christie should or would switch parties and become a Democrat.  Christie is one of the most hardcore partisan Republicans, and while he has had glimmers of sanity in certain areas, he is very very much on the right side of the aisle on so many issues – class warfare as well as a number of economic and social policies as well.  His rise within the Republican Party – and the flirtation with whether he should have run for President this year (or his being the early frontrunner for Vice President on their ticket) was based on his dedication to Republicans and partisan ideology.  

“I voted today” thread

Usually, I’m a “get to the polls at 6AM” voter and am also either #2 or #3 for voting in my District.  I forget how it was in 2008 since I think I went later in the day and the lines were longer (maybe a 25 minute wait).

Due to the weather, our polling station was moved a mile or 2 away and instead of only 3 districts voting there, it was roughly double.  I got there around 6:30 or so, and while there were little to no lines, the place was buzzing with people coming in and out consistently.  As opposed to my normal low single digit ticket, I saw that I was #18 so commented that it was good to see there were a bunch of people already voting (this was in 1/3 of the alphabet so I don’t know what the others were).  

The woman replied that there were actually more than 18 already due to her using “the other booklet” at the start of the day.

My wife is going to vote later on this morning, so I’ll update with her experience but for all who didn’t vote before today, how did it look for you?

Joe Kyrillos’ Alternate Universe

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I know it is tough to distance one’s self from Governor Christie and Mitt Romney’s disastrous record when it comes to the economy and unemployment if you have served as the Chairman of Christie’s Gubernatorial campaign and as New Jersey Chairman of Mitt Romney’s failed 2008 presidential campaign as Joe Kyrillos did.

It is also difficult to differentiate between your policies and Christie’s when you vote for those failing policies and have been part of the New Jersey legislature as Joe Kyrillos has – especially when New Jersey is lagging far behind the rest of the region and country in terms of unemployment and economic measures.  

And….it is difficult to gain traction in a Senate campaign that has been flailing and tied to those failed Christie/Romney policies that are dragging New Jersey down, but as a candidate, Joe Kyrillos can’t run on this failed record and expect to win.  So instead, we go to the wayback machine and do what Republicans do best – cut a very misleading ad with doctored video and quotes blaming someone else, even though the accusation makes no sense, has no connection to the failed policies that Kyrillos supports today, and, surprise surprise, is twisted and taken out of context:

In fact, Menendez’s three second quote came at the end of a lengthy response in which Menendez said he’s voted for middle-class tax cuts, tax credits to pay for college tuition, and spearheaded an effort to keep two million New Jersey residents from being subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Kyrillos ad skips past those quotes.

Not so ironically, this is the third time that Kyrillos has put out YouTube ads that heavily edit quotes from Menendez, and while I was going to embed the video ad that Kyrillos is running, it is so outlandish in terms of the heavy edits to mislead, I decided not to do so.  But if you really want to see the depths to which this sinking campaign will go, you can click here and see it yourself.

But don’t come to me when you want those 16 seconds of your life back.

Pearl Clutchers

One of the most reliable things about the Republicans, conservative and their dittohead supporters is their ability to whip themselves into a frenzy on cue – as if they were a two year old whose favorite toy was just taken away.  Go no further than this week’s latest manufactuversry after Vice President Biden forcefully called Paul Ryan and his party’s utter nonsense, lies and hypocrisy for exactly what it is.  For that, somehow, it wasn’t Ryan and the Republican wall of lies and deception that was at issue to the right once the light was shined on it – no, no – it was the absolute temerity of someone to be so rude and disrespectful and to mock it for the total trash that it was.

Contrast that with Romney’s constant interrupting of Jim Lehrer, President Obama and his close to 30 complete lies in under 40 minutes, which was hailed as confident, strong, an excellent campaign-saving performance.

Right here in New Jersey, we are used to this.  Governor Christie – that same Governor who has spent countless time capturing his own steamrolling, interrupting and insulting of teachers, reporters, critics, facts and anything else that gets in the way of his very own wall of lies and misdirection as his own YouTube trophies to showcase how awesome he can bully others – is in hot demand by that same Republican party around the country to put on this show and insult his critics or those pesky people who dare ask him questions he doesn’t’ want to answer or who have those damn facts that get in the way of his fake narrative.

And what happens here?  Christie “tells it like it is”.  “Is brash and brutally honest”.  “Stands up for what he believes in”.  

Excuse me while I clean up the barf on the floor.

So when it is a Republican with an agenda of lies, hypocrisy and deceit to cover up the façade of failure or class warfare to extract more from the middle class, the elderly, teachers, police, libraries, children, towns, families so that their cronies can get another Bentley or yacht – that is just so very totally awesome.

Until someone has the gall to call them on this and punch the bully in the mouth.  Then the bully becomes the victim and it’s just so unfair and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Spare me.

NJ-7: A Congressional Race that North Jerseyans Can Be Excited About

promoted by Rosi

I know, I know.  NJ’s 7th Congressional District isn’t really what you’d call a “northern New Jersey District”.  And yeah, there are at least 5 other districts that cover more of Northern New Jersey (the 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th) than the 7th.

But taking a look at the races in those other districts (without mentioning any issues related to campaigns that I may or may not agree with), the 7th is really one of the NJ races to watch – and really the only one other than the 3rd which is hotly contested.  Sadly, looking at the other five districts (as Bill Orr did a few weeks back), while it is nice to see very strong leads for the Democrats in the 8th, 9th and 10th, the 5th and 11th are pretty much lost causes.

Take that with a growing lead for both President Obama and Senator Menendez (although you never want to be too confident), what’s a dedicated activist to do with their time and efforts on the Congressional level?  This may sound harsh, but if a candidate isn’t interested enough in their own campaign to raise the requisite funds to be taken the least bit seriously, why should activists waste their own precious time, money and effort?

And that brings me to the 7th.  Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula is running against “formerly moderate NJ Assemblyman turned right wing lackey” Congressman Leonard Lance.  This was a race that Assemblyman Chivukula entered late due to Ed Potosnak’s dropping out, but has been tagged as an “emerging race” by the DCCC.

For those who are in the 5th, especially the western part of the District, the 7th stretches into Warren County.  For those who are in the 11th, the 7th also stretches into Morris County.  And the 7th also touches on Essex County (Millburn).  Suffice to say, it is a massively large District, and progressives, liberals, Democrats, activists, door knockers, phonebankers, donors and anyone I missed who is disillusioned by the races in the 5th and 11th, or want to put their time and efforts towards something that isn’t as “in the bank” as the 8th, 9th and 10th can certainly help make a difference in the 7th.

Here is Chivukula’s first TV ad and here is his campaign website if you want more information.  As someone who lives in one of the other 5 Districts noted above, I’m going to focus some time writing about the 7th over the next few weeks as well and I know some other Blue Jerseyans are involved in the campaign on a deeper level.

Just because most races have already been decided for the most part doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to help out if you are so inclined.  The 7th is one really good way.

What We Should Learn From the NFL Referee Lockout

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Over the past few years, Governor Christie and his counterparts in Wisconsin as well as other states along with their allies on the Democratic side of the aisle have created an environment where public employees have become the scapegoat for much larger and usually unrelated issues.

While it was popular over this time period to hear talk about how much the union members received in terms of pensions or overtime or whatever else, there was never really any talk about why these types of things (you know, basic health benefits, a reasonable wage increase and some help in retirement after putting in 10, 15, 20 years) shouldn’t also be available to EVERYONE.  The whole class warfare argument has been turned on its head where the coverage should have been less on how private sector workers were blaming public sector workers (or non-union workers blaming unions) as opposed to the basic underlying question of why someone should work the way they do under circumstances that could leave them high and dry at any given time, even though the fruits of their labor benefitted those who may not deserve it (see all of the insane packages that executives got for failing companies).

And the outrage was, in all honesty, misdirected during this time.  We have seen a massive push towards the corporatization and dumbing down of education over the last few years (starting with Bush’s NCLB) – especially here in NJ with Christie’s push for more private corporate funded voucher schools.  But even though having professional teachers teach our children is something that directly impacts every parent, that wasn’t the message we were being told.

So of course it took something that really impacted everyone – watching NFL games (snark seeping through) to show what so many people whose voices were drowned out by the propaganda machine and sheep mentality have been screaming for some time – it takes professionals to do the job that they are supposed to do.  Whether it is professional referees (who, by the way, routinely get calls wrong, just as everyone gets things wrong from time to time in their job) or professional teachers or professional policemen, firefighters or engineers – we need the right people to do the job that the profession calls for.

This post from the other day really nails it:

But the real scorn should come from the fact that the league replaced unionized workers with scabs and is jeopardizing the safety of its players to save pennies on the dollar. This is America, though, where we apparently don’t care about our fellow workers or the modern day gladiators who are ruining their lives one hit at a time, as long as the right team wins the football game.

But it also goes deeper than that.  Whether it is the NFL referee lockout, the fight against teachers or other public workers (here, in Wisconsin, in Chicago or wherever else) there is another common thread – the disdain for reasonable retirement benefits – the “defined benefit”.  And as I stated earlier, this should be something that everyone deserves, so the scorn shouldn’t be on those who still have it, but those who are denying it to their workers – union or not.   Even looking at the resolution of the NFL referee lockout, we find that:

The league made a major concession to keep funding a pension plan for the next five years before transitioning that benefit to become a 401K plan. There is even a slight increase in the pension benefits plan from 2012-16.

Interesting.  What is the big elephant in the room as it relates to NJ’s finances and credit rating?  The unfunded pension liabilities – something that after strongarming additional concessions on, Governor Christie is STILL blowing off.  With the “risk” (and I use risk instead of “widespread fraud”) in the stock market and the transition from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution”, this just puts more people’s retirement at risk while Governor Christie and his counterparts squeeze as much out of workers – the real producers – as they can before stealing the retirement funds invested in the stock market they rigged.

It’s too bad that (1) it took a blown call in a football game to highlight this and (2) most people won’t even connect the dots to see the bigger issue of fairness at the workplace.