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“He’s Shifted, Backflipped, And Outright Lied”: Christie; A Personality-Driven Candidate Makes Contradictory Campaign Promises

“Telling It Like It Is” — That’s Chris Christie’s campaign slogan, revealed the day before he formally announced his candidacy for president. It’s meant to evoke his brash persona, which is the biggest advantage he has in a crowded GOP field.

Christie is the 14th Republican candidate to announce, and is not expected to be the last. But with trailing poll numbers and an iffy record in New Jersey, where he is in his sixth year as governor, he will be a hard sell for GOP primary voters. It makes sense, then, that his announcement speech Tuesday morning touted bombast over bonafides, rhetoric over record, and a promise of a clean campaign that runs contrary to everything we know about the bellicose, secretive governor.

His speech opened with “We Weren’t Born to Follow” by Jersey rockers Bon Jovi, whose blue-collar, hard-won affirmations provided a fitting soundtrack to the event. (The announcement closed with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” by the same group.) Christie’s address was rooted in his humble origins, beginning with his choice of venue — the gymnasium of Livingston High School, from which he graduated in 1980 — and segued to his family history: a tale of blue-collar success and the American Dream realized, with Christie himself embodying the dreams of his parents and grandparents.

As in interviews he’s given, he was light on policy and the specifics of his accomplishments as governor. He mentioned “reforming tenure” and “reforming pensions and health benefits,” but didn’t delve into details, possibly because he has a messy and contentious track record on the subject. Other than a line about fixing the country’s “broken entitlement system” and “encouraging businesses to invest in America again” through deregulation, he didn’t say much about what his platform would be. (He may not have much to say, period, other than the word “reform.”)

What he did play up was his persona — imperious, truth-telling, no-nonsense Christie, who tells it like it is and has the ability to work with the other side to get things done.

“Both parties have failed our country,” he said, his voice rising. “Somehow now ‘compromise’ is a dirty word. If Washington and Adams and Jefferson believed compromise was a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England.”

Befitting the high-school setting, he drew parallels to high-school concerns — namely, popularity contests. He said that he was not running for prom king, and that respect was more important than love. “I am not looking to be the most popular guy who looks in your eyes every day and says what you want to hear,” only to turn around and do something else, he said.

And yet his critics allege that he’s done exactly that – on pension reform and gun legislation, Christie has shifted, backflipped, and outright lied, and always managed to modulate his style of confrontation and candor — to suit whatever position was most expedient at the time.

His pledge to run a campaign that wouldn’t “tear people down,” is quite a leap for a man who is widely known for his humorous, often nasty takedowns of others – YouTube is littered with videos of him calling out those who criticize him or ask what he thinks are silly questions, calling them “idiots” or “stupid” or worse.

And when he’s not belittling those asking the questions, Christie has been known to simply not answer them.

He promised a campaign free of pandering, spin, or focus group-tested answers: “You get what I think whether you like it or not or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while. A campaign when I’m asked a question, I will give the answer to the question asked, not the answer my political consultants told me to get backstage.”

Christie’s bravado about not being run by political operatives belies the fact that he’s a career politician who obviously knows how the game is played.

“I mean what I say and I say what I mean – that’s what America needs right now,” he said in his closing remarks. He promised to be the kind of candidate who would be open – in his eyes, heart, ears, and mind. Ironic, since his administration isn’t known to be forthcoming, and it’s hard to imagine that as president he’d be any more “open” than he is now.

Surrounded by supporters, against the backdrop of the American flag, and flanked by his family, Christie choked up as he recounted why he does what he does: “I wake up every morning knowing that I have an opportunity to do something great. That’s why this job is a great job and that’s why the president of the United States is an even greater job.”

 

By: Stephanie Schwartz, The National Memo, June 30, 2015

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Only One Of Many”: Missouri Keeps Tumbling Rightward

The Missouri legislature had no trouble passing a big tax cut today over the veto of Gov. Jay Nixon. As a Missouri native, I’m probably more irritated by this than most Times readers are, but my state is only one of many that have been sharply pulled to the right in the last few years. What’s happening in Jefferson City is already familiar to residents of Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, and many others.

The main difference is that Mr. Nixon is a Democrat, a relic of the days when his party dominated the state. But Republican leaders are working on that. Last month, they had a serious debate in the House on whether the governor should be impeached for allowing same-sex married couples to file joint tax returns. Gay and lesbian people can’t get married to each other in Missouri, which has a constitutional amendment prohibiting it, but Mr. Nixon had the temerity to allow the joint returns for couples married elsewhere.

“This is such a blatant and serious violation of Missouri’s constitution and Missouri law that the governor should be removed from office,” said Nick Marshall, a state representative from Parkville.

In case that didn’t work, there was another impeachment resolution filed that would have ousted Mr. Nixon for failing to properly discipline state workers who released a list of concealed gun permits to the federal government. The resolution began, “Whereas, the people of the State of Missouri cherish their right to bear arms…” and went downhill from there.

A few weeks ago, the legislature approved a measure that would nullify all federal gun laws and allow residents to sue federal agents for enforcing them. It carries no legal weight, and Mr. Nixon vetoed something similar last year, but the true believers apparently feel the need to re-establish their credentials repeatedly.

Although the impeachment efforts were dropped today, Republicans have managed to push through their agenda. As a Kansas City Star editorial noted, today’s tax cut doesn’t even benefit the people who could use the money the most. A family making $44,000 a year will get a $32 break, while one making $1 million will get $7,800. Most of the benefits, in fact, go to one special-interest group.

“It is a gift to businesses whose owners declare their business incomes on their personal tax forms,” the Star wrote. “Up to one-fourth of their income could eventually be tax-free if the bill becomes law, whether or not they create jobs.”

Naturally, Missouri isn’t coming close to fully funding its public school and university system, and is one of 20 states that refuses to expand Medicaid, turning down $2.2 billion from the federal government because that would mean accepting the reality of the Affordable Care Act. But when businesses raise their voices for a tax cut, they are answered.

It’s not the state I grew up in, which is exactly the way a new generation of leaders like it.

 

By: David Firestone, Editors Blog, The New York Times, May 6, 2014

May 9, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Missouri Legislature, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Gun Supremacists’ Folly”: Guns Are Not A Religion In Most Countries

Have we gone stark raving mad?

The question is brought to mind by the gun law signed last week in Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal. You might have thought that since the United States couldn’t possibly have more permissive firearms laws than it does now, nothing more could be done to coddle the gun lobby and tip the balance of our statutes away from law enforcement. Alas, you would be wrong.

The creativity of the National Rifle Association and other organizations devoted to establishing conditions in which every man, woman and child in our nation will have to be armed is awe-inspiring. Where imagination is concerned, the best absurdist artists and writers have nothing on the NRA. No wonder Stephen Colbert has decided to move on from the realm of satire. When parody becomes reality, the challenges facing even a comedian of his talents can become insurmountable.

You might not have thought that the inability of people to pack while praying was a big problem. Georgia’s political leaders think otherwise, so the new law allows people to carry guns in their houses of worship. True, congregations can set their own rules, but some pastors wonder about the confusion this provision will create, and those who would keep their sanctuaries gun-free may worry about being branded as liberal elitists. Maybe the Georgia legislature will help them by requiring a rewrite of the Scriptures. “Blessed are the peacemakers” can become “Blessed are the gun owners.”

You will also be able to tote weapons into bars and their parking facilities if the bar grants you permission. I can’t wait to see the next beer ad depicting a gunfight over who pays for the next round.

Georgia thinks you should be able to take guns into government buildings that don’t have screening devices or security guards. Second Amendment enthusiasts tend not to like tax increases, but as the Associated Press reported, the city of Vienna, Ga., (pop. 3,841) would have to shell out about $60,000 a year to increase security at city buildings. “Do we raise taxes to provide the police protection or do we take the risk of potential injury to our public?” asked Mayor Pro Tem Beth English, who also is president of the Georgia Municipal Association. Too bad if this gun lobby subsidy comes out of the school budget.

Oh yes, and while conservatives claim to hate the centralization of power, this law wipes out a series of local gun regulations. The gun supremacists just don’t trust those pesky local elected officials.

People with a gun license who try to carry a weapon onto an airplane get a nice break under this bill. If they’re caught with a gun at a security checkpoint, nothing happens as long as they leave the area. Try, try again. Watch out if you connect through Atlanta.

And law and order goes out the window. As Niraj Chokshi noted in The Post, this statute gets rid of state requirements that firearms dealers maintain records of sales and purchases. Databases on license holders that span multiple jurisdictions are banned. Those who commit gun crimes must be chuckling, “Can you find me now?”

Nothing better reveals the utter irrationality of our politics for the whole world to see than this madness about guns — and no issue better demonstrates how deeply divided our nation is by region, ideology and party.

The New York Times reported that in the 12 months after the Sandy Hook shootings, 39 laws were enacted tightening gun restrictions; 25 were passed by state governments under full Democratic control. Seventy laws were passed loosening gun restrictions, 49 of them in Republican-controlled states. The Wall Street Journal cited data showing that 21 states strengthened firearms restrictions in 2013 and 20 weakened them.

Nowhere else in the world do the laws on firearms become the playthings of politicians and lobbyists intent on manufacturing cultural conflict. Nowhere else do elected officials turn the matter of taking a gun to church into a searing ideological question. But then, guns are not a religion in most countries.

The program for the NRA’s annual convention, held over the weekend in Indianapolis, listed sessions on “Survival Mindset: Are You Prepared?”; “Creating a Constitutionally Centered Estate Plan”; and “Refuse to be a Victim.”

Party on, guys. I can’t wait for you to figure out the ways in which even Georgia’s law is too restrictive. In the meantime, the nation’s unarmed majority might ponder how badly we have failed in asserting our own rights.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 27, 2014

April 28, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Guns In Bars, What Could Go Wrong?”: Let’s Hope It Makes Southern White Guys Feel Manlier

Georgia’s new law allows them everywhere—in libraries, at school—and permits felons to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. Let’s hope it makes Southern white guys feel manlier, at least.

To paraphrase a former National Rifle Association president, “You finally did it! You maniacs!”

That’s right, on Wednesday, in a fit of perfectly logical preparation for Sherman’s next march to the sea, Peach State Gov. Nathan Deal went ahead and signed a gun bill. Not just any gun bill, mind you, but one with so much stupid in it, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been renamed Bieber or Gohmert.

We discussed this “guns everywhere” and “felons have the right to shoot you” bill in this space only last month, but now that it’s law in the land of cottonold times they are not forgotten—perhaps it’s time for a refresher course.

The legislation will allow guns in places of worship, sporting events, bars, and yes, schools. Clearly they’ve learned nothing since Newtown, or since any of the approximately 50 school shootingsmore than three a month—in the last 17 months. Of course those attacks happened because those schools were “gun-free zones.” We can’t go blaming the easy access to guns for any yahoo with a Ted Cruz tattoo, which is clearly why we’re seeing the same epidemic of school shootings in, say, the Netherlands or Australia.

It’s the logic that gave us such successful past plans as putting more drunk drivers on the highways to cut down on accidents or electing George W. Bush to improve on the Clinton years.

You gotta give Gov. Deal and the state Legislature some credit, though. It was a nice touch, allowing Georgians to bring guns into libraries, too, which is where I think they’re keeping armored cars full of money these days in the Empire State of the South. Also, lord knows when you might not be able to reach that book on Tupperware on the top shelf—but hell, if you can load it full of enough lead, it may well fall down of its own accord.

Problem solved!

As a reminder, the Georgia bill also gives criminals—who are barred by law from possessing guns but still allowed easy access to them on the secondary market by bought-off legislators—to claim a Stand Your Ground defense in court.

Because why shouldn’t a portly, addle-brained white guy wearing an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt who likes to hit his wife not be able to buy a firearm at a gun show with no questions asked? Also, why shouldn’t he or she (but mostly he) be able to shoot you because he was “scared” you looked like you were in the “wrong” neighborhood?

That, of course, is what the new law is really about. It allows Southern white guys to “feel so manly, when armed,”superior to “others” who won’t be able to use Stand Your Ground as a defense and aren’t afraid to crawl out from under their bed without an AR-15 like Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s foaming mouthpiece and executive vice president. (Isn’t he a little too French to be allowed to carry? Just sayin’.)

Based on a bastardized version of the Second Amendment, Georgia’s new law also allows a modern industrialized society to become a shooting gallery—one that only serves to enrich American arms dealers who not only don’t care a whit about American bloodshed but welcome it as part of their business model. There’s a word for that. It rhymes with “hater.”

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens laid out what the Second Amendment meant to historians and jurists who use common sense and intellect to arrive at their findings.

Laws like the one in Georgia have zero to do with the Second Amendment, Stevens wrote, unless you think the next Whiskey Rebellion or Battle of Lake Erie is likely to commence at a preschool in Athens or spring forth from a garden party in Savannah.

But the Hollywood Hillbillies sure are gonna be stoked when they return home during the offseason from the Polanski-esque plot twists that must define their reality show.

Otherwise, here’s what we’re talking about in layman’s terms. This bill, passed by greedy, slack-jawed Georgia legislators and signed by the Right as rain Mr. Deal, isn’t just about guns but the same toxic brew of anarchy, resentment, and white privilege that led Justice Antonin Scalia to encourage sedition in between attacks on voting rights and affirmative action. That leads Cliven Bundy, the taker occupying public land in Nevada—and primo space on the wall of Sean Hannitys man-cave—to threaten violence against the federal government unless he gets, as Mitt Romney once put it—totally coincidentally!—to the NAACP, “free stuff.”

It doesn’t matter to extremist officeholders in Georgia that the vast majority of Georgians and every law enforcement organization oppose this crazy bill, much as it doesn’t matter to the rodeo clown, right-wing Republicans trying to burn down Congress what most of us around the country want them to do. It also doesn’t matter that this legislation flies in the face of all public health statistics, common sense, and modernity. Or that more people will now die.

In fact, that’s the point.

They have a war to fight that didn’t end at The Appomattox Courthouse. And it seems to be getting less civil all the time.

 

By: Cliff Schecter, The Daily Beast, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Georgia’s ‘Guns Everywhere’ Bill”: The Most Insane And Extreme Gun Bill In America Expands “Stand Your Ground” Law

Just a few minutes ago, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed sweeping new gun legislation into law, and while it’s technically the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez noted that many have labeled it the “Guns Everywhere Bill.”

One of the most permissive state gun laws in the nation, it will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including bars and government buildings that don’t have security checkpoints.

The law also authorizes school districts to appoint staffers to carry firearms. It allows churches to “opt-in” if they want to allow weapons. Bars could already “opt-in” to allow weapons, but under the new law they must opt out if they want to bar weapons. Permit-holders who accidentally bring a gun to an airport security checkpoint will now be allowed to pick up their weapon and leave with no criminal penalty. (At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a record 111 guns were found at TSA screening areas last year.)

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group co-founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has called the legislation “the most extreme gun bill in America.”

Despite the opposition of gun-safety reformers and Georgia law enforcement, the bill was passed with relative ease. The governor’s Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jason Carter, voted for it, too, though he made it slightly less extreme, helping eliminate some provisions, including a measure allowing guns on college campuses.

Regardless, the new state law, which takes effect in July, also expands on Georgia’s “stand your ground” policy by “protecting convicted felons who kill using illegal guns.”

Frank Rotondo, the executive director of Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Guardian, “One of the biggest concerns is it expands stand-your-ground. The way it’s written, a felon who is not permitted to have a weapon could use a weapon in defense of his or her home and not be charged for having the weapon.”

Oddly enough, a similar bill recently passed the Arizona legislature, though it met a different fate.

In a bit of a surprise, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed two pro-gun bills yesterday, including a proposal to expand guns in public buildings.

One bill would allow gun owners to bring weapons into public buildings or events. A summary of the bill says that it would allow gun owners to keep their firearms unless the building had security guards, metal detectors and storage for the weapons. Many Arizona public buildings do not have the first two, according to local reports. […]

The other bill would have limited local governments from enacting gun control statutes that were stricter than state law and imposed a fine up to $5,000 on any local officials who administered such a statute, according to a summary. Those officials would also be at risk of losing their job.

For all of Brewer’s conservatism, she occasionally surprises me.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, April 23, 2014

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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