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“Something Very Twisted Instead”: Straightforward? Not The Best Description Of Chris Christie, Or His Pal Karl Rove

When Karl Rove praises a politician’s “straightforward” approach to an erupting scandal, it seems wise to expect that something very twisted will instead emerge in due course – and to consider his real objectives.

In this instance, the former Bush White House political boss – and current Republican SuperPAC godfather – was discussing Chris Christie’s response to “Bridgegate,” as the events surrounding the vengeful closure of part of the George Washington Bridge by the New Jersey governor’s aides is now known.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Rove said that Christie “did himself a lot of good” during the famous two-hour press conference on the scandal, when he sorrowfully announced the firing of a deputy chief of staff and a top state party official, for “lying” to him about the bridge affair.

“I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some Tea Party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility,” said Rove. Pandering to the Fox audience, he went on to contrast the righteous Christie with Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Barack Obama, and to note that the IRS and Benghazi “scandals” hadn’t gotten nearly enough attention compared with Bridgegate.

While Rove sticks a halo on the man his old boss Dubya used to call “Big Boy,” everyone else might want to wait for the documents and testimony forthcoming from investigations at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, in both houses of the New Jersey legislature, in the Department of Justice and in the United States Senate.

Observers dazzled by Christie’s press conference performance should perhaps ask themselves how his top aides managed to pursue this scheme – evidently in revenge against the mayor of Fort Lee, the New Jersey commuter town so badly damaged by the closing of traffic lanes – under his nose.

They might ask why the governor continued to believe, as he says he did, that the controversial action resulted from a “traffic safety study” for almost a month after the Port Authority’s top executive and two other PA officials testified last December 9 that no such study ever existed.

They might further ask about the curious photograph published by the Wall Street Journal on January 14, showing Christie yukking it up in public with David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who ordered the lane closures at the behest of Bridget Anne Kelly, last September 11 — three days into the traffic crisis in Fort Lee.

And they might then ask why Christie insisted — at the endless press conference where his candor so impressed Rove — that he has had “no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election.”

Christie’s description of his supposedly distant relationship with Wildstein is only one among many of his claims of innocence that contradict either the public record or common sense — or both. While awaiting additional information from Wildstein and other potentially immunized defendants, however, it may be worth considering the history that links Christie to Rove – and why the Republican strategist is so enamored of the New Jersey governor.

Their relationship was first exposed during the Bush administration’s U.S. Attorneys scandal, when investigations of the gross political abuse of the Justice Department by the Bush White House clearly implicated Rove. Among the U.S. Attorneys cited as dubious political appointees was Christie, whose law partner, a top Bush fundraiser and Republican operative, had forwarded his résumé to Rove. Later, while still in the U.S. Attorney’s office – where he stage-managed a blatantly political election-year probe of Democratic senator Robert Menendez – Christie consulted with Rove about running for governor.

Christie is exactly the sort of presidential hopeful that a notorious bully like Rove prefers: a blustering loudmouth with a common touch; an experienced fundraiser who knows how to find the money; a Wall Street conservative capable of stirring up the base without scaring the independents. Without Christie as the GOP’s 2016 frontrunner, Rove has no plausible alternative to Tea Party hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz – and may see his own power, already waning, finally eclipsed.

 

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, January 16, 2014

January 18, 2014 Posted by | Child Labor, Karl Rove | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GOP Sen Chuck Grassley: We Need “Child Labor” To Fight Obesity Epidemic

At a recent town hall in Osage, Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) responded to a question about the Labor Department’s stricter limits on child labor by claiming that they could exacerbate the child obesity epidemicby making kids less “active”:

 

Concern was raised about the proposed Department of Labor’s intent to greatly limit child labor on family farms.

“This farm bill will greatly affect our FFA and 4-H programs,” said Grassley. “Kids won’t be able to help on farms not owned by their parents.

It’s interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative,” said Grassley. “How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?

Grassley represents a farm state that both relies on child labor and contributes to the national obesity epidemic through its production of corn products like high-fructose corn syrup. Iowa farmers benefit from billions of dollars in corn subsidies that allow them to put a glut of cheap, unhealthy foods on the market.

As for his Dickensian defense of child labor, that’s sadly par for the course for Republicans these days. Several GOP-led states have rolled back child labor laws. In December, seventy rural state lawmakers led by Rep. Danny Rehberg (R-MT) denounced the Labor Department’s new protections for the country’s most vulnerable workers. They argued that hard manual labor teaches children important “life lessons.”

Under current law, 400,000 children working on farms are not protected from exploitation and dangerous labor. The proposed rules would forbid children younger than 16 from working with pesticides, timber operations, handling “power-driven equipment, or contributing to the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.”

Contrary to Grassley’s suggestion, the physical activity children endure during farm labor is no picnic. The fatality rate for child farm workers is four times higher than that of nonagricultural child workers.

Many Republicans have mocked First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative, but Grassley in particular has powerful financial motivations for supporting some of epidemic’s worst culprits. As a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committee, he’s raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Food & Beverage, Food Processing & Sales, and Agricultural Services and Products industries.

 

By: Marie Diamond, Think Progress, January 17, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Child Labor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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