Saturday, July 4, 2015

Truth-telling

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” ― George Washington

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, America. In honor of the freedoms our constitution guarantees its citizens, I believe I'll exercise one of them by criticizing someone who seeks to lead our government. 

If you've read Hey Look more than might be good for you, you've probably surmised that I'm not a fan of Governor Chris Christie. And you would be right. Years ago I wanted to like him; I even tried to like him, but I am now firmly convinced that he is a greedy, egotistic bully — and a liar. 

Apparently the Editorial Board of The New York Times agrees with me. Below is their take on him.

Gov. Chris Christie’s Phony Truth-Telling

By the Editorial Board
June 30, 2015

On his new website, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey portrays himself as a guy who gets attacked for “telling it like it is,” but that’s what his mom told him to do from her deathbed.

It is part of the legend Mr. Christie has carefully cultivated for many years, with startling success. He is described as “brash” and “bold,” with a certain rough charisma that his political opponents just cannot handle. “I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” he says in the first video for his presidential campaign, showing him with a selected group of adoring voters.

It’s fundamentally nonsense. There are lines between brash and belligerent, between open and obnoxious, and, most important, between “telling it like it is” and not telling the truth. Mr. Christie crosses those lines all the time, as Tom Moran, the editorial page editor of The Star-Ledger of Newark, documented in a blistering column about Mr. Christie’s “catalog of lies.”

“Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that,” Mr. Moran wrote of politicians in general. “But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.”

Sometimes, Mr. Christie poses as a reasonable person who can reach across party and ideological lines. During his first campaign for governor in 2009, he vowed that he would hold public employees’ pensions “sacred,” and then made cutting those pensions a centerpiece of his new administration. Just three weeks ago, Mr. Christie bragged that his pension reforms had won a major court victory, when in fact the court ruled them unconstitutional.

Sometimes, Mr. Christie wants to make himself a strong, reliable right-winger. He told an anti-gun-control crowd in South Carolina in June, for example, that all of New Jersey’s gun laws preceded his tenure and “no new ones have been made since I’ve been governor.” Actually, he signed three major pieces of gun-control legislation.




Mr. Christie presents himself as a paragon of political virtue, but he seems to have fabricated a personal friendship with King Abdullah II of Jordan to justify accepting about $30,000 in gifts from the monarch. And there is, of course, the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal, in which close associates and political appointees of Mr. Christie paralyzed traffic at the George Washington Bridge to punish a local politician for failing to endorse the governor’s re-election bid.

Two of those officials have been indicted, and one has pleaded guilty. Mr. Christie may be safely walled off from being accused of orchestrating that mess, but he is responsible at the very least for creating the atmosphere that led his associates to conclude that such conduct on his behalf was appropriate.

Mr. Christie will run as a fiscally responsible conservative, but the public pensions in New Jersey are a mess; nothing has been done to cut back the outrageous number of local governments that bloat public budgets; and the state’s long-term unemployment rate is nearly the highest in the country. Public roads and bridges are dilapidated, yet Mr. Christie has refused to raise the state’s absurdly low gasoline tax to fix them. His decision to kill a Hudson River tunnel project will leave the Eastern Seaboard’s transportation system in a disastrous state for generations.

Mr. Christie said in announcing his candidacy on Tuesday that he would provide “growth and opportunity for every American.” But as governor he has increased the tax burden on the working poor while vetoing a bill to raise the minimum wage to a paltry $8.50.

On the positive side, he does not deny climate change — so far — and has taken some constructive stands on immigration. But he opposes same-sex marriage and blocked legislation to allow it. He also has participated in the right-wing assault on Planned Parenthood, which restricts women’s access to cancer screenings, prenatal care and family planning, in addition to safe and legal abortions.

Expect to see a lot of Mr. Christie at those phony “town hall” meetings, staged with selected supporters. You will hear a lot about his common touch, his “straight talk” and his love for Bruce Springsteen.

It’s a smoke screen. Look behind it at the governor whose own constituents say by an overwhelming majority that he has done a bad job, should not run for the White House and would make a bad president.

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