Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Few Things

There are a couple of items that have been in the news that I haven't really messed with, but that I'd like to comment on. 

First off, Chris Christie.  I personally don't believe that Christie had no idea that his staff was ordering lane closures to get back at politicians who failed to back Christie.  I think he's lying through his teeth.  But to give him the benefit of the doubt, it is pretty disturbing that his staff would make such moves without the Governor's go-ahead. 

Anyway, Christie has been one of the most adept Republican politicians out there, starting out as a full blown Tea Partier back in 2010 and 2011.  One of his first moves upon getting elected was to cancel the commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River, which made no logical sense regarding the good of the state of New Jersey or regional transportation, but fit right in to the Tea Party's war on trains (see John Kasich, Scott Walker and Rick Scott for other anti-train idiocy in that time period).  Likewise, he became a Fox News video star by denigrating a public school teacher at a public meeting because she had the nerve to take him to task for bad mouthing public employees.  That was when all the newly elected Republican governors were using public workers as a punching bag. 

However, like John Kasich, Christie was able to sense that the Tea Party was its own worst enemy, and each made efforts to appear bipartisan in order to avoid following the Tea Party to extreme unpopularity.  So far, in the bridge scandal, Christie has managed to not be dragged down yet, but with the new charges from the mayor of Hoboken, I think he's got his work cut out for him going forward.  As I said before, I think he knew all about the bridge deal, and his alleged actions fit with prior examples of personal assholery.  Will that hurt him with the Republican electorate?  Assholery won't, but appearing to be bipartisan will.  Republicans love them some assholes.

Secondly, I haven't touched on Iran, Israel and the United States in a while.  The diplomatic breakthroughs between Iran and the United States have been one of the few accomplishments of the Obama administration in the foreign policy sphere.  It is disturbing to me that a coalition of large state Democrats and crazy Republicans in the Senate has pushed a bill for new sanctions on Iran in an attempt to derail the nuclear talks amongst the United States, Europe, Russia and Iran.  The influence of Israel over Middle East policy is terrifying.  One political party, and numerous powerful members of another are under the sway of another nation, going as far as placing the interests of that nation over the interests of our own.  Diplomacy is the only realistic way to deal with the Iran nuclear program, and anyone who tries to position the United States to go to war with Iran is not acting in the interests of the United States. 

Finally, the President's NSA speech this week was another bunch of weak sauce defending an unsupportable series of surveillance programs.  There should be a bipartisan move to disassemble the NSA programs as a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, a drag on the effectiveness of counter-terrorism efforts and a gross violation of civil liberties.  Will that happen?  I doubt it.  But trying to find the world's smallest needle in the world's largest haystack probably shouldn't involve continuously increasing the size of the haystack.  The threat of terrorism to our way-of-life has been ridiculously exaggerated, and in trying to counter this grossly over-imagined threat, we have allowed a much greater threat to that way-of-life to be created.  Please, let's dismantle the ridiculous security state.

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