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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Damn, he's good
Posted by Jill | 6:50 PM
I just got finished watching Barack Obama stumping for Jon Corzine here in NJ. If only he were as fired up about health care as he is about re-electing Corzine, because damn he's good on the stump.

We are in a bit of a pickle here in the Garden and Tank Farm state. We have a huge budget hole that started when Christine Todd Whitman decided to borrow-and-tax-cut her way into prominence, continued with her designated successor, Donald DiFrancesco, steamrolled under the disastrous Jim McGreevey, and the wonkish Jon Corzine has been able to do little to stop it.

Politics in New Jersey is among the most corrupt in the nation. Someone is always either under indictment or on trial or going to jail. Right now it's Democrats like former Bergen County Democratic Organization head Joe Ferriero, primarily because Democrats are in power. When Republicans are in power, it's Republicans. Corruption, graft, and kickbacks aren't about party affiliation here in NJ, they're endemic to the state.

Tomorrow night is a much-anticipated debate in my town among the Republican and Democratic candidates for mayor and council, with our town gadfly running as an independent. This will be our first contested election in three decades. Rumor has it that the incumbent Republicans, who are bankrolled by a wealthy military contractor who's all but sure to win a state Assembly seat, are terrified that the Democrats will get in, open the books, and see what's been going on. All I want to know is whether the no-show jobs and the crony contracts will stop and we will start actually getting something for our tax dollars. I'm planning to go; if nothing else it promises to be a "lively discussion."

Corzine is pretty unpopular here in New Jersey. Perhaps if he had Obama's dynamism, he wouldn't be so unpopular, particularly running as he is against a particularly odious specimen of Republican in Chris Christie. I don't know what the Republican Party was thinking, making him their standard-bearer, except that the only other candidate was the extreme wingnut xenophobe Steve Lonigan. Perhaps they thought that Christie would be New Jersey's Rudy Giuliani, with a similar reputation as a "crime-fighter." Unfortunately, Christie is a Bush-era prosecutor with Bush-era tendencies to be highly selective about his prosecutions, which tend to be exclusively against Democrats. It doesn't help Christie that his New York counterpart's BFF, Bernie Kerik, went to jail today for revealing sealed information before his trial.

It seems that Chris Christie may have his own Bernie Kerik in the form of Michele Brown:
When news broke in August that the former United States attorney, Christopher J. Christie, had lent $46,000 to a top aide in the federal prosecutor’s office, he said he was merely helping a friend in need. He also said the aide, Michele Brown, had done nothing to help his gubernatorial campaign.

ut interviews with federal law enforcement officials suggest that Ms. Brown used her position in two significant and possibly improper ways to try to aid Mr. Christie in his run for governor.

In March, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign requested public records about Mr. Christie’s tenure as prosecutor, Ms. Brown interceded to oversee the responses to the inquiries, taking over for the staff member who normally oversaw Freedom of Information Act requests, according to federal law enforcement officials in Newark and Washington. The requested information included records about Mr. Christie’s travel and expenses, along with Ms. Brown’s travel records.


In mid-June, when F.B.I. agents and prosecutors gathered to set a date for the arrests of more than 40 targets of a corruption and money-laundering probe, Ms. Brown alone argued for the arrests to be made before July 1. She later told colleagues that she wanted to ensure that the arrests occurred before Mr. Christie’s permanent successor took office, according to three federal law enforcement officials briefed on the conversation, presumably so that Mr. Christie would be given credit for the roundup.

The federal law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were barred from speaking on the record.

Ms. Brown declined to be interviewed for this article. In an e-mail message to The New York Times, she called the allegations “outrageous and inaccurate,” but declined to answer further questions. Through a spokesman, Mr. Christie stood by his earlier assertions that Ms. Brown had not assisted his campaign in any way.


Allegations that Mr. Christie played politics as a prosecutor have dogged him; reports that he discussed a run for governor with Karl Rove in 2006 led Democrats to assert he had violated the Hatch Act, which forbids candidates from “testing the waters” for a run for office.

The possibility that Ms. Brown may have helped Mr. Christie’s campaign from inside the United States attorney’s office casts a new light on their relationship and on the prosecutor’s office. Federal law and Justice Department policy prohibit prosecutors from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

That's the problem with these law 'n' order guys -- they seem to think that they're somehow special, and the laws don't apply to them. Christie has has been in six accidents and was cited 13 times for moving violations since 1985. Yes, that's a long time, but since 1973 I have been in only TWO accidents, neither of them my fault, and NEVER been cited for moving violations.

Christie is in the unenviable position of many Republicans living in states where the majority of the population is not insane: he has to ingratiate himself with the lunatics of his party and still try to appeal with his more moderate constituents. In perhaps his biggest gaffe, he has advocated allowing insurance companies to refuse to cover mammograms, especially for young women, because a young woman with breast cancer is "an exception." I'm sure that Rochelle Shoretz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28, doesn't feel like "an exception."

Here in New Jersey, we pay the highest property taxes in the nation, an "honor" we've had for decades, under both Republican and Democratic governance. A good chunk of this is due to the rampant corruption that infects both parties. Another good chunk is home rule, which results in little fiefdoms like my hometown, regarded as piggybanks for the business buddies of the people who run them. And a chunk is because New Jersey receives less per capita back from the Federal government than any other state in the country. Here in my Congressional district, our Congressman Scott Garrett is too busy showing what an ideological purist he is to vote for anything that might actually help his constituents.

It remains to be seen whether Barack Obama can bring disaffected Democrats out on November 3. People tend not to come out to vote when they aren't thrilled with the available candidate(s). But as ineffective as Corzine may have been so far, a Chris Christie governorship promises to be nasty, brutish, and unfortunately, long.

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Anonymous ted said...
Even tho we live in Connecticut [who could challenge for "most corrupt" -- at least recently], we follow Jersey politics [for comic relief if nothing else!]. Wife is from NJ and MIL/BIL still live there. Jersey politics makes interesting discussion at family gatherings.

I suspect Christie was the "least worst" and most maleable of the Repub alternatives. Who does Big Pharma favor? Likely no one Obama would support. Don't you people vote with ES&S/Diebold machines?