The Weiner Component #171 – The Trump Presidency

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States.  He became the President-Elect and will assume office on January 20, 2017.  Currently he is in the process of organizing his new government.

 

Donald Trump has also recently ended three Trump University class-action law suits for a payment of 25 million dollars and a non-admission of guilt. By this he cannot be legally accused of fraud.  The first lawsuit had been filed in 2010.  There are over 7,000 members of the first class-action suit.  From what I understand the people who were conned into going to his seminars will receive about half of what they paid to attend.

 

 Trump had, on numerous occasions, accused the Judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel of being partial because he is of Mexican ancestry, even though he was born in Indiana. I suppose, following Trump’s thinking, and that since his antecedents are German it would follow that he has an affinity for white power.

 

The Judge had recommended that the case be settled out of Court.  Trump followed this advice.  I suspect this allows him to avoid being legally accused of fraud.  But there is a 40 million dollar law suit by the State of New York for fraud. I don’t know if he has wiggled out of that case.   His Foundation is also currently being investigated for fraud by the State of New York and possibly by the IRS.  Up to forty other states could also tie into this case since his foundation has functioned in many of the states.

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Trump was elected for a variety of reason, some of which were not too wholesome, but mainly because he was an outsider.  The national feeling toward the Washington, D.C. culture was/is fairly negative around the country.  Washington, or to be more specific, the government to the general public’s perception had not done much in terms of passing necessary laws or properly running the country over the last few years.

 

Trump was an outsider with no taint of Washington about him.  He also has no experience in running a government and has made all sorts of outlandish promises about what he would do as President.  He promised something to just about everybody.  But now that he has won the election he is bringing back to governmental power the old scandal-ridden politicians who have functioned on state and local government.  Three of the leading ones with checkered pasts are Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie. 

 

Gingrich does not want to be Secretary of State or, for that matter, in the President’s Cabinet.  He seems to want to be a senior planner for the entire Federal Government.  This would be a new post whose line of authority would have to be specifically defined. 

 

Gingrich has a long record of misdeeds and foul statements.  His denunciation of Democrats and the Democratic Party go far beyond the pale of reasonableness.  His lack of any sense of propriety allowed him to serve his first wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from a cancer operation.  Divorcing his second wife was not so dramatic and he is still married to his third wife.  He had affairs with his second and third wives while he was still married to his previous wife.

 

Newt became a member of the House of Representatives in 1979.  He was able to dramatically work his way up to the position of Speaker of the House during Bill Clinton’s third year in office as President.  The Ethics Committee in the Republican dominated House of Representatives had 82 instances of ethics violations.  They eventually charged him with one ethnic breach.  Gingrich resigned as Speaker and shortly afterwards also resigned from the House of Representatives. There is no way he would get approval for any appointment that required Senate approval.

 

After his resignation from the House of Representatives Newt did not return to Georgia.  Instead he stayed in Washington as a political consultant and did numerous nefarious things to raise money over the years.

 

In July of 2016 it was announced that Gingrich was on Trump’s shortlist along with Chris Christie and Mike Pence for Trump’s Vice-President.  Pence was chosen.  What will happen to him in Trump’s presidency is anyone’s guess.  But as long as it doesn’t require Senate confirmation some sort of job is a possibility.

 

Rudy Giuliani was born on May 28, 1944.  He is currently 72 years old.  He has been through three marriages and is currently living with his third wife.  Medically at age 55 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer which was discovered and treated from April of 2000 on before it metastasized.  The treatments lasted several very uncomfortable months according to Giuliani.

 

His past is considered checkered because his philandering went on throughout his career and was fairly well known.   His second wife, by whom he had two children, locked him out of Gracie Manor, the New York major’s residence, when he was mayor of New York City.  She learned of the divorce from the local newspapers.  Earlier it was reported for the entire city that Giuliani was going about with the woman who would later become his third wife.   His second wife settled for 6.8 million dollars and custody of the two children. 

 

Giuliani started his political life as a Democrat up until 1975, then from 1975 until 1980 he became and independent, and finally in 1980 he became a Republican.  It would seem that mostly what he was, was an opportunist.

 

While mayor of New York City Giuliani had been widely criticized for locating the Office of Emergency Management headquarters on the 23d floor of one of the Twin Towers that would eventually face a terrorist attack.  He apparently wanted a convenient place to make his public announcements.

 

This decision was opposed by the NYC Police Department and others because it was considered a prime target for a terrorist attack.  The location the Police Department wanted was in Brooklyn, which would not be a convenient area for news conferences. 

 

 After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, blamed the choice of the Management Headquarters on one of his subordinates.  That individual came up with absolute proof that Giuliani had made that decision.

 

Giuliani was praised by some for his involvement with the rescue recovery efforts after 9/11 but others criticized him severely, saying that he exaggerated his role after the terrorist attacks.  Presumably he cast himself as a hero for political gain.  He collected 11.4 million dollars from speaking fees for the single year after the attack.  His net worth rose about 30 times after the attack.

 

In addition Giuliani downplayed the health effects of the collapse of the Twin Towers.  The destruction of the buildings filled the air of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn with toxic and caustic dust containing, among other things, fine asbestos particles.  He moved quickly to reopen Wall Street, and it was reopened on September 17th some six days later.  He stated that, “The air was safe and acceptable.”  But in the weeks after the attack The United States Geological Survey identified hundreds of asbestos “hot spots” of debris dust that remained on buildings and was easily blown into the atmosphere.  In June 2007, Christie Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey and director of the Environment Protection Agency reportedly stated that the EPA had pushed for workers to wear respirators but that had been blocked by Giuliani.  She believed that subsequent lung disease and deaths suffered by responders were a result of these actions.

 

Currently, presumably, Giuliani is competing with Mitt Romney for the position of Secretary of State.  It’s not known whether Giuliani will be able to get Senate approval for the position if he is chosen.  It would be real embarrassing to Trump if the Senate refused to approve Rudy’s appointment.

 

Another member of Trump’s supporters is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  After dropping out of the 2016 Presidential Nominating race Christie became an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who named him head of his transition planning team.  About the time some of Christie’s close New Jersey associates or subordinates were found guilty of largely closing down the George Washington Bridge (Bridgegate), some members of the State Legislature talked about impeaching Governor Christie whose term of office won’t end until 2018.  Since that time Trump replaced Christie from being in charge of his transition to the presidency with his Vice-Presidential running mate, Mike Pence.  Shortly afterwards three of Christie’s associates were also removed from the transition team.  Presently Christie seems to be still involved in the Trump presidency.

 

These three individuals were all close advisors of Trump until shortly after he became President-Elect.  What their relationship is to him now is not exactly clear.  Whether or not they would be approved by the Senate to be anywhere in Trump’s Cabinet is also not clear.  In fact it might be highly doubtful.

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Donald Trump has promised to surround himself with the best possible individuals in order to run the country.  On about Friday, November 18 Trump began making hard right choices for some of his top posts.  His version of the best possible people seems to rest with the Tea Party and even somewhat to the right of them with his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

 

For his Attorney General Trump has chosen Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Jeff Sessions, a conservative senator from Alabama.  Jeff Sessions is the perfect image of the traditional Southern white ultra conservative.  In 1986 Sessions was appointed by President Reagan to be a Federal District Judge in Alabama.  He was the second person in the history of these appointments to be rejected by the Senate. 

 

Representative Luis Gutierrez, D. Illinois, has called Sessions “anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights…. If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man.”

 

Trump is loyal to people who support him.  Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters.  This is the man who Trump would have straighten out Federal Justice in the United States.  In Trump’s words, he is the best man available.

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For CIA Director Trump’s nominee will be Republican Mike Pompeo, a Tea Party backed congressman from Kansas.  During his Congressional Campaign Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch Industries and its employees.  On November 18, 2016 Pompeo was chosen to be Trump’s nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

 

On May 9, 2013, Pompeo introduced the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.  The Bill, which passed the House along party lines but was never even brought up in the Senate, set a time limit for the government to approve natural gas pipelines. 

 

Pompeo rejects many concepts about global warming.  He’s referred to President Obama’s environmental and climate change plans as “damaging and radical.”  He opposes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and supports eliminating the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).  He opposes the Affordable Health Care Act.  He supported the government shutdown in 2013.  He has been critical of President Obama, who he alleged was indecisive and not properly respectful of military leaders such as General McChrystal, who was forced to resign after making negative remarks about President Obama to Rolling Stone magazine.

 

In terms of security Pompeo supports the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.  This is warrantless surveillance.  He wants Congress to pass a law reestablishing collection of all necessary data and combine it with financial and lifestyle into a comprehensive database.  Legal and bureaucratic impediments in surveillance should be removed.  This makes President George H. Bush’s Freedom Act look like nothing even though it allowed warrantless surveillance. 

 

On July 21, 2015 Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton alleged secret agreements which allowed limited inspections of Iran’s nuclear deal.  He wants Muslim leaders who refuse to denounce acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam “potentially complicit” in the attacks.

 

He also wants Guantanamo Bay detention camp kept open and he criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end the CIA’s secret prisons (the black overseas sites and the administration’s edict that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

                                  

This is the man that President-Elect Donald Trump announced he would nominate to be his Director of the CIA.  He will have to be confirmed by a Republican dominated Senate, which has a majority of two Republican votes.

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Trump’s choice for his National Security Advisor is retired Lt. General Michael Flynn. On November 18, 2016 he became Trump’s National Security Advisor.  He has suggested that Americans should fear all Muslims.  He has also been criticized for supporting Trump in calling for a thaw in relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In 2015 he was paid to attend a dinner in Moscow hosted by the Russian government where he sat at a table with Putin.  He has also written critically of Putin and the danger Russia presents to the U.S. 

 

Flynn spent 33 years in the army as an intelligence officer, rising to Lt. General in April of 2012.  He was forced to retire a year earlier than he intended after clashing with the Obama administration officials.  Flynn has tended to exhibit a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to his dubious assertions as “Flynn facts.”

 

After retirement Flynn and his son opened a consulting firm which provides services for business and governments.  His company is allegedly lobbying for Turkey.  Flynn has sat in on classified national security briefings at the same time he was working for foreign clients.

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Perhaps Trump’s most controversial appointment to date is Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist.  Bannon has been the chairman of Breitbart News.  He turned the website into “a far-right ideology that promotes what many consider to be white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

 

Breitbart News has been and is a far-right news opinion, commentary website that has pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic material.  In March 2012 Bannon became executive chair of Breitbart News.  Under his leadership it took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach.  Bannon declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” in 2016.  Breitbart has been misogynist, xenophobic, and racist.

 

On August 17, 2016 Bannon was appointed Chief Executive of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.  Bannon has been married three times.  Each marriage ended in divorce with each of his ex-wives claiming domestic abuse.  In early November of 2016 Bannon declared that he was a nationalist, not a white-nationalist.  Currently he has a leave of absence from Breitbart News.

            

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff in 2017 will be Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee’s Chairman.  Priebus got on the Trump bandwagon early in the campaign and has stringently supported Trump ever since.  To me he seems to have an insipid quality but seems to be loyal to those who are loyal to him.

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These are some of the people Donald Trump has appointed as President-Elect to run the government of the United States from January 20, 2017 on.  I would assume Trump has decided that they are the best people available.  They don’t strike me as being Washington outsiders or the best people available to run those offices.  In fact I get the feeling that Trump is scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with them.

 

It has been suggested that Trump will be impeached before his four year term has ended.  I can well believe the possibility.  

The Weiner Component #126 – The Current American Political System

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential nomination, at a speech at a Texas Southern University, a historic Black college in Huston, accused the GOP (Good Old Party) of dividing Americans over voting rights by attempting to limit the vote among minorities, racial and otherwise, the elderly, and the young, generally college students. Clinton stated that a group of current and former Republican governors have and are “systematically and deliberately” have tried to prevent millions of Americans from voting.

She cited Governor Chris Christie for vetoing a bill in New Jersey to extend early voting. Clinton said that then Governor Jeb Bush had conducted, just prior to the 2,000 Presidential Election, a “deeply flawed purge of eligible voters in Florida by having the names of people who were mistakenly thought to be felons removed from the voting rolls. She accused Scott Walker of Wisconsin of cutting early voting and making it harder for college students to vote. He also passed ID laws which tend to discriminate against minorities who don’t have the required identification.   Rick Perry of Texas, she stated, approved laws that mainly discriminated against minorities.

”It was the first time a presidential candidate had named her potential Republican rivals by name and criticized Governors Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie.

She called for automatic registration for all people reaching the voting age of 18. This is similar to what presently exists in the state of Oregon, where anyone with a driver’s license from age 18 on is now automatically registered to vote and is mailed a ballot at election time. The choice to vote rests totally with the individuals.

The following day, Friday, June 5, a number of Republican governors verbally attacked Clinton for running a divisive campaign and favoring tax control on voting. Whatever that means?

The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, vociferously stated that Clinton didn’t know “the first thing about voting rights in New Jersey” and wanted to have an opportunity “to commit greater acts of voter fraud” around the country. Ohio governor John Kasich stated on Fox News that Clinton was “dividing America.”  Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker denounced her for denouncing him.

Basically the Republican argument is that they are fighting voter fraud.  Even though voter fraud is a small fraction of one percent of the millions of votes cast many Republicans know instinctively, with no other evidence, that that figure is wrong. They argue that what they are doing limits and virtually stops voter fraud.  Sometimes, I get the feeling that voter fraud, in their minds, is any vote cast that is not Republican.  It should also be noted that many Republicans have on occasion admitted publically that they are trying to suppress the vote.

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There are two major political parties in the United States that can successfully field a presidential election, since this means running fifty separate elections in each of the 50 states and separate federal elections for all the territories and the District of Columbia, with the exception of the island of American Samoa where the population consists of residents rather than citizens of the United States. These two major political parties are the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Of these the majority party is the Democratic one.

One of the major ways the Republicans have been successful in winning political elections has been by suppressing the vote of minorities, women, the aged, and college students. This has been done in numerous ways. Their object is to get certain groups, one way or another, not to vote.

Among the various dirty tricks used in suppressing the vote misinformation about voting procedures is not uncommon. In the recall election for the Wisconsin State Senate, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization that supported Republicans, sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave incorrect deadlines for absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing sent their ballots in too late to be counted. The organization said that the mistake was a typographical error.

In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party’s ride-to-the-polls phone line on election day.

In several states a private Republican group, Voters Outreach of America, which had been authorized in a number of states to register voters, collected and submitted Republican voter registration forms but discarded Democratic ones.  The Democratic voters discovered on Election Day that they were not registered and could not vote.

In the 2006 Virginia Senate Election Democratic voters received phone calls informing them that if they voted it would lead to arrest; there were numerous calls fraudulently claiming to be volunteers of the Democratic candidate falsely telling voters that their location had changed; fliers were issued in the Black communities, paid for by the Republican Party, stating, “Skip This Election.”

In the 2008 Presidential Election a review of states records by the New York Times found that there had been numerous illegal actions leading to voter purges.

In the United States there is partisan election administrations in 33 of the 50 states. The majority of the world’s democracies use independent agencies to monitor elections but not the U.S.  These party affiliations can and do create a conflict of interest.  For example, Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State served as state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign during the Presidential Election of 2000.

In Georgia wait times of two to ten hours were reported during early voting at many locations.  In Florida this happened at multiple locations on Election Day during the 2012 Presidential Election.  Various factors, including the reduction of early voting days, reduction in the number of polling places, and an extremely long ballot that included numerous constitutional amendments all combine to add to long waiting times.  It is estimated that 201,000 potential Florida voters were unable to spend the hours needed to be able to vote and thus had their votes suppressed.

In the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial election the Republicans placed thousands of Election Day robocalls to Democratic voters telling them that the Democratic candidate had won, although the polls were still open for two more hours. The Republican phone call was worded as though it came from Democratic headquarters.  It told the Voters to relax, that everything was fine.  All they had to do was watch the victory on TV that night.  The phone calls reached 112,000 voters in the African-American areas of the state.

In 2011, the Republican campaign manager was convicted of fraud and other charges because of the calls. In 2012 he was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, a one year suspended jail sentence, and 50 hours of community service over a four year period of probation with no fine or jail time.

A Florida law, that has been repeated in a number of Republican dominated states, both reduced the number of days for early voting and barred voter-registration activities by such group as the League of Women Voters, teachers in high school and others, making it more difficult to register to vote in those states.

These constitutionally granted voting rights have been and are under nationwide attack, particularly in those states where the Republicans hold the governorship and control of the legislature. The laws lead to significant burdens for eligible voters. These measures include cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls. It also includes dirty tricks. Democratic lawyers have filed legal challenges to voting changes, particularly in Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Among the various forms of voter suppression are photo ID laws. Supporters contend that the photo ID, such as state driver’s licenses or student IDs from state universities are nearly universal and that presenting them is a minor inconvenience, when weighed against voter fraud.  Opponents argue that these requirements disproportionally affect minority, handicapped, and elderly voters who do not normally maintain driver licenses. There is also almost no evidence of voter fraud.  Legislation to impose the restrictive IDs has been prepared by the conservative organization ALEC and sent to conservative state legislatures.

In the U.S. felons are disenfranchised.   In fact the United States is the only democracy in the world that regularly bans large numbers of felon from voting after they have served their sentence.  In 2004 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous felony convictions. Thirteen states permanently disenfranchise convicted felons, eighteen states restore voting rights when after completion of prison, parole, and probation time, four states re-enfranchise convicted felons after they have been released from prison and served their parole, thirteen states allow felons who have been released from prison to vote, and two states do not disenfranchise them at all. This form of voter suppression disproportionally affects minorities, particularly Blacks and Hispanics who it seems make up a good percentage of the prison population.

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In former Governor Rick Perry’s state, Texas, the voter suppression laws have wide sweeping effects. The U.S. Justice Department estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 Texans were disenfranchised of their vote by the Texas voter ID law implemented in 2014. While the law accepts seven forms of personal identification it was crafted to make sure that poor African Americans and Hispanics would have a very difficult time producing any of those forms of accepted ID.

The accepted forms of ID are: a concealed handgun license, a U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. passport, a Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a Texas Election identification certificate issued by the DPS, and a Texas personal identification card issued by the DPS. In addition college student IDs are not acceptable forms of identification.

Poor people, as a rule, do not have concealed handgun licenses.  My birth certificate was issued at my birth; it does not contain my picture. The majority of young men do not join the military.  Many poor Texans do not have cars or driver licenses.  A passport cost money to acquire.  Of the other possibilities most poor workers, mainly African Americans and Hispanics do not possess those either.

The official state offices that issue these IDs are not located in every town, and those that exist do not operate every day of the week. None of them are open on weekends when people are off work.

Poor Texans living in a rural area need to take a day off work to go to a town or city where the Department of Public Safety offices exist and they have to pick a day when the office will be open.  If they can find or afford transportation it will take them at least three hours to get to a government office that will issue an ID if it is open and then after they finish it will take them at least three more hours to get home.  They will have lost at least a day’s pay.

The Federal Court in Corpus Christi declared the ID law unconstitutional, in 2014 a Federal judge struck down this law finding that the law was “an unconstitutional poll tax” that had “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans;” but on appeal the more conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this decision.

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Voter disenfranchisement in the 2014 election was apparent; it will certainly be an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Wherever possible various Democratic organizations will be and are bringing law suites to limit or stop this practice; but many of the federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents and are partial to Republican demands.  Such, obviously was the case in Texas.

In a number of 2014 races, like North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, and Florida, the margin of victory was very close to the margin of disenfranchisement.  With an honest election the results might have been the opposite.

A joint report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Southern Elections Foundation found that four out of five states that had introduced at least one new restrictive voting measure in 2014 “experienced sharp decreases in voter turnout from the 2010 midterm election, likely due, at least in part, to these laws that made it harder to vote in 2014.  33 states have recently introduced bills that would restrict access to voter registration.

Republican officials have admitted that their efforts are aimed at disenfranchising Democratic voters. In the spring of 2012 the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, told a gathering of Republicans that their voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”  There have been numerous statements by Republicans before and since the above statement was made indicating that the voter identification laws are mainly a way to suppress the vote of Democratic voters.

Republican generally argue that restrictions on registering and voting are about the integrity of elections; but they have never been able to prove that any American election has been stolen by voter fraud, (at least by the Democrats).

There is an interesting note of irony here. The Caucasian or White population in the United States no longer makes up the majority of the population.  It is a large minority among other large minorities.  And every year its number shrinks in comparison to the other large minorities. How long can the Republican successfully play their games? Even with several million voters across the United States deprived of their vote Barak Obama won in 2012.  The same is true for a lot of local, state, and federal elections. The Republicans may feel they’re riding high at present but every year there are less and less of them in the overall population.  It would seem that compared to the rest of the population they are largely sterile.

 

November 4: Barack Obama elected President
November 4: Barack Obama elected President (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Weiner Component $76 – T.S. Elliot & Chris Christie

Chris Christie

English: , spanning the Hudson River between N...

In 1935 T. S. Elliot’s play, Murder in the Cathedral, was first presented.  The play portrays the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in the year, 1170.  Presumably, in a moment of frustration King Henry II of England rhetorically said something to the effect of: “Will nothing rid me of Becket!”  This was overhead by some of his knights who saw it as a call to action.  While Henry did not directly order Becket’s death he was seen as its cause and had to go through the process of mourning for him, begging forgiveness from the Pope.  Henry wore sackcloth and poured ashes over himself as he did this.

It struck me that the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie’s current situation is not necessarily much different from that of King Henry II.  If Christie is telling the truth then his current predicament is very similar to that of the 12th Century king of England.  Members of his staff acted with his intent but not with his orders.  Does this make him totally innocent of the George Washington Bridge act?  Is he still complicit?  An interesting question?

If we look at the overall administration of Chris Christie as governor of the state of New Jersey, at what he has done, at what has been done in his name, we get an interesting picture of his reign as governor.

Christie is a successful Republican in a state that is mostly Democratic.  Probably because of the hurricane named “Sandy,” he was able to easily gain a second term as governor.  But what has emerged in the investigation since that time has demonstrated a ruthless politician willingly rewarding all his supporters and punishing all his “so-called” enemies.  These being all the people who refused to support him or go along with what he wanted.  In addition much of what he has done is very reminiscent of the old machine politics where the political boss made hundreds of millions of dollars that were gradually distributed to himself and his adherents.

Is Christie guilty of these acts?  It would seem so, either directly or indirectly.  David Wildstein, who had been close to Christie since his high school days, and who, presumably, began the traffic stall at the George Washington Bridge, now claims that Christie knew about the closing of the lanes.  Christie had earlier accused Wildstein of betrayal and Wildstein had resigned from his position with the Port Authority that the governor had given him.  Will we ever know the absolute truth?  Probably not.  The process from this point on will be accusation and counter-accusation.  Any documents that may appear from either side will be called either lies or forgeries by the other side.

Currently the New York Times has obtained a copy of a letter from Alan Zegas, lawyer of David Wildstein, which was sent to the Port Authority.  The letter alleges that the lane closures were the Christie Administration’s order and that evidence exists that is the opposite of what Christie stated at the June 9th Press Conference, where he claimed he was initially unaware of the closure and that he was “sad” and “heartbroken” by the betrayal carried out by some of his aids.

Is Christie a bully?  Wherever Christie goes he is followed by an aid with a camcorder watching for moments in which, utilizing his might and the prestige of his office, he verbally annihilates some citizen who dares to question him.  When a Christie moment occurs his press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube, where conservatives throughout the country share the Christie clips.  A dubbing he delivered to an aggravated public school teacher at a town hall has racked up over 750,000 views,

A New Jersey assemblyman received a nasty note from Christie after making some relatively innocuous radio comments.  A former governor was stripped of police security at public events.  A Rutgers professor lost state financing for programs because he came to a public conclusion the governor did not like.  A state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled.  Another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.  All these are examples of Christie punishing someone for some form of opposition for something he wanted.

Chris Christie is aggressive, belligerent, and continually challenging.  He obviously has the reputation of rewarding all his followers and punishing anyone who opposes him.  Many of the people, both Republicans and Democrats, who inadvertently or accidentally opposed him seemingly will not do so again.

The Fort Lee traffic jam was brought about by Christie staffers.  It would seem that he has created a bullying milieu among the people working for him.  He does like to send messages to misbehaving people by his staffers.  One can say that his bullying attitude has also been passed on to them.  This would make him totally responsible for the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge at Fort Lee.  After all the mayor of that city did refuse to support him in his last election.

What’s interesting to me is that 55% of the people of New Jersey believe that Chris Christie did directly order the lane closures.

This brings us back to Henry II in 1170.  He was an energetic and ruthless ruler who did not appreciate being thwarted.  Like Christie he was stubborn and bore grudges.

The issue with Thomas Becket dealt with the power of the Church as opposed to the power of the State or the power of the king.  This was a question which most of the emerging modern European states would deal with over the coming centuries.  Basically where did the ultimate authority rest, with the Church or with the temporal power?  In a little over three hundred years another English King, Henry VIII, would separate the English Church from the Roman Catholic Church over this question.

Did Henry imply he wanted Becket dead in front of his knights or did he directly state this?  History favors an indirect order but, if this is true, the milieu Henry created changed that into a direct order.  Is the current situation with Chris Christie any different?  I doubt it.

 

 

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The Weiner Component #61 – Chris Christie & Humble Pie

Governor of New Jersey at a town hall in Hills...

Benjamin Franklin in his writings left us with an interesting comment:

In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people     their superiors and sovereigns.  For the former therefore to return among the latter is not to degrade but to promote them.

The indication here is that those elected of office and their employees are public servants, that they are elected by the people to serve them, that the people are sovereign.

What seems to have happened in many cases is that the elected officials and their minions seem to think that once they are directly or indirectly elected to office that they then freely rule the people under them.  These people tend to be arrogant and feel themselves superior to and untouchable by the masses.  It’s a strange attitude and it certainly lacks any humility at being placed in a position of public trust.

On Thursday, January 9, 2014 Chris Christie made a statement to the press in New Jersey, stating essentially that he was, until the day before, ignorant of what some members of his staff had done in closing three lanes of the George Washington Bridge, presumably the busiest bridge in the world, and causing four day of traffic havoc in the City of Fort Lee, which is the bridge’s destination in New Jersey.

Chris Christie stated that he felt humiliated by a situation the occurred without his knowledge.  He stated numerous times that he accepted responsibility for what had happened because he was ultimately in charge.  He apologized to the Mayor of Fort Lee, to the people of Fort Lee, and to the people of New Jersey.  He fired his Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, for lying to him about being involved and possibly initiating the event.  He also fired or removed one of his chief advisors, who had just been appointed as the head of the Republican Party in New Jersey.  Two of his close aides had resigned earlier.  One of them upon being questioned by an official group in New Jersey took the fifth on all questions, except on identifying himself by name.

Whether Christie was directly involved or had just created the atmosphere that allowed this action to occur without his knowledge will, no doubt, come out in the near future as more and more information emerges.  But either way Christie as governor did create the atmosphere that allowed this event to happen.  His basic belligerent attitude, as interpreted by his immediate staff allowed them to develop an arrogant, superior prospective of their roles, particularly toward Democrats.  There was no sense of humility or of serving the public.  These people considered themselves as an untouchable force that could do virtually anything.  The level of this act struck me as being on a very juvenile level, the type of activity that some Jr. High students would find funny.

None of this will help Christie in his bid for the presidency in 2016.  In fact, he may no longer be a viable candidate for the Republicans.  If he is, as he claims, totally innocent of this mishap, he may well become the victim of the very culture he created among his subordinates.

Among his public remarks, at his news conference, Christie stated that he may be overly aggressive but he is not a bully.  The question then arises: What is a bully?  Christie has publically called people names like “stupid” and “dumb.”  He has retaliated against critics and others who crossed him, stripping security from an ex-governor and defunding state programs run by a Rutgers University professor who presumably angered him by his actions.

Is this a man who fits Franklin’s definition of a public servant or are his actions more like those of an absolute monarch?  Chris Christie, a Republican, serves a state that is mostly Democratic.  He has boasted of being able to affectively work with both political parties.  He also has a reputation of getting even with anyone who crosses him.  How can these two positions meld with one another?  Is Christie a bully?  I would answer that in the affirmative.  Franklin’s concept of a public official is the opposite of how Christie sees himself.  Is this the type of action the public expects or accepts from its elected officials?

President Barak Obama projects a sense of humility.  He tends to do, and one believes that he does, the best he can in office for the good of the people of the nation.  Governor Chris Christie projects a sense of brashness.  He claims to work very hard for the people of New Jersey.  Does he?  Or does he work mostly for his own benefit?

Whether Christie was or was not directly involved will probably emerge at some future point but that is not the real issue here.  The question is:  Do the people of the United States want a candidate in 2016 who, if elected, would run the country the way Christie has been running New Jersey?  Do they want someone with an enemies list of people who have knowingly or unknowingly crossed him?  Do they want someone who is out to punish anyone who has supposedly crossed him?  Is this someone who would make a reliable President of the United States?  Is he made of the proper material to run this country?

I hadn’t heard of anyone in authority having an enemies list since Richard Milhous Nixon was president.  He had the IRS investigating people front-ways, sideways, and diagonally.  Chris Christie has a reputation for getting even with anyone who crossed him in any way.  I suppose, according to his standards, it’s understandable if all the people inconvenienced in Fort Lee, including the 92 year old woman who died when she could not be reached soon enough because of the traffic gridlock, if they were democrats.

 

 

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