It’s Not The Size Of The Man In The Fight…

I honestly don’t understand the media obsession with Chris Christie’s weight.  Yeah, he’s a big guy, so what?  If you’re going to go after Christie, he’s got a long record of wingnuttery and semi-ethical New Jersey political nonsense to shine the spotlight on.

One of the most persistent stories that dogged Christie in his 2009 campaign was his unusual financial relationship with a top aide at his federal prosecutor office, Michele Brown. Christie lent Brown some $46,000, which he says was to help a family friend through a rough patch. But critics argued that the move was an improper conflict of interest heading into a gubernatorial campaign since Brown was in a position to help Christie in a variety of ways. Her job included handling FOIA requests, including those from Governor Corzine’s campaign, for example. And in one instance, she argued to colleagues in favor of wrapping up a major corruption probe before July 1, when Christie’s successor took over the US Attorney position, a move that ensured credit for the case would clearly flow to Christie. Brown resigned shortly after news of the loan broke and, according to the New York Times, she paid off Christie’s loan in October 2010.

It wasn’t the only allegation of conflict of interest that Christie fought off. The then-US Attorney testified before Congress on a series of no-bid monitoring contracts worth millions that he awarded to various law firms. One contract, worth up to $52 million, went to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christie’s old mentor. Another former US Attorney chosen for a monitoring contract, David Kelley, had previously investigated Christie’s brother in a stock fraud case in 2005 — he was not indicted while fifteen others were. Top lawyers at another firm he awarded a major contract to later donated about $24,000 to his campaign. Christie said the contracts were awarded on merit and accused Corzine of “character assassination” for raising the issue.

He was also accused of mishandling his office’s budget as US Attorney. In a 2010 report by the DOJ’s Inspector General, he was identified as one of the most profligate federal prosecutors in the country from 2007 to 2009, spending taxpayer cash on luxury hotels that exceeded government rates by as much as $242 a night. Christie said during the 2009 campaign that his office overspent only when there were no alternatives.

There are a number of serious ethical and corruption issues surrounding the New Jersey governor and they have nothing to do with his weight.  The more I see serious news organizations like Reuters engage the ridiculous “debate” over Christie’s size, the greater disservice to what should be the actual debate is done.  Pretty soon we’re going to be at the point where people will only talk about his size and not his record or corruption issues, and people will tune out “another story about Christie’s waistline or whatever” even when the actual reasons as to why he shouldn’t be in charge of anything are finally discussed.

No, I don’t think Christie has anything close to a real shot at the White House because of his issues as a blue state governor in a blood-red primary season and his record is pretty repugnant, but honestly I find the constant stories about the “challenges” Christie faces because of his size about as ridiculous as the stories about the “challenges” women or minority candidates face in politics (not to belittle issues that do exist, but silly me, I believe a candidate should be judged on policy and record.)  What I mean by that is whatever actual issues that may arise from stories about Christie’s weight are used for their “HA HA shock factor,” not to actually have a debate.  It’s been done to death with Hillary Clinton’s gender and President Obama’s race, Keith Ellison, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman’s religion, etc.  It’s obnoxious:

Speculation that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will enter the U.S. presidential race has led to a feverish debate about the possibility of having the fattest man in the White House since the corpulent William Howard Taft squeezed behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

Replace that “fattest man in the White House” language with any other description of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion and you see what the problem is.  Why is this acceptable?  And this is Reuters, folks.  Why not just call him President Truffle Shuffle and be done with it, Reuters.  Criminy.

So yeah, lay off the size stuff and check the guy’s record.  Not only does this guy not deserve to be President, his crony capitalism adventures mean he shouldn’t be in politics at all.  The size issue is a smokescreen but it’s the latest shiny object to chase this week for our Awesome Media Guys.

A grifter is gonna grift

Earlier this week the Des Moines Register reported that Sarah PAC has sent out a fund raising letter to supporters asking them to “..send your best, one-time gift to … show her that we support her if she decides to run.” They even included a link to the letter.

I think the Quitta from Wasilla is earning a place in the Grifter Hall of Fame. Of course she will never seriously run, but she will do what she can to keep the grift alive. She may even jump into the GOP primary and threaten a Third Party run when she loses to Mittens. That will keep the grift going for at least another year. And after that there is that whole whiny victimy thingy to con the rubes.

This latest effort to keep the flim-flam going has been mocked by many (and treated seriously by a few). One of the best bits of mockery came from Gawker, especially the comments. This one, from ManchuCandidate, was worth sharing:

Hello important person

Many apologies that I had to send you this email without a prior
relationship between us; my name is Mr.Chase Tim, A member of
the supervisory board of SarahPAC and a Former member
Board of ING Bank Netherlands and also the former Chairman Board of
Post Bank Netherlands.

I bore in mind your personality and reputation of which the same apply
to me, on this light I then deemed it fit to assure you that the Funds
will be cleared in accordance with the firm’s operational procedures
to ensure the transaction success without a breach of the law.

One thing is certain, with the relevant legal documents that I will
get to back you up the funds release will be approved for onward
release to you.

If this is okay with you then get back to me so that I give you more details.

Let it be known to you that this 14,700,000.00 US America bucks will be split
equally that is 50% for you and 50% for me.

I will want you to get back to me as soon as possible if you are
willing to assist in getting these funds, or you can give me a call on
my Alaska line below which I acquired mainly for this purpose as I am
presently based in the US America.


Mr Chase Tin
Sarah PAC
Juneau, Alaska, US America

Funny thing is that the offer is not all that different than what every GOP candidate is offering their Galtian overloads–the only thing off is the split. It would never be 50/50. The typical split offered by Republican candidates is more like 90/10.

All of this isn’t a surprise. The modern Conservative movement is rooted in the “con”. The better you are as a liar, scam artist, bamboozeler and grifter–the higher you will rise and the more you’ll be paid. Palin is good at this game and I can’t think of any reason why she wouldn’t milk the rubes for all their worth and for as long as she can.

A grifter is gonna grift.

RINO Patrol

The almost-party-line vote in the Senate that killed off the stern resolution of disapproval for the $500 million billion increase in the debt ceiling is kind of interesting. I know that Scott Brown is running for his life and has to play Democrat when he thinks he can get away with it, but Bob Corker? What’s his angle voting against this nothingburger?

Also, too: there’s no more consistent blue dog than President Ben Nelson, the sole Democrat who voted for this turd.

Won’t Get Fooled Again…and Again.

As readers of this blog know all too well, the debt ceiling “cuts” just passed are, for the most part, much less than meets the eye, particularly in the immediate future.  But, of course, the debt isn’t the issue and never was.*

No. Not even in a little bit.

Rather, all of the last month or so was a set up for this:

Thousands of Tea Party movement activists are expected to descend this month on town hall meetings across key battleground states as part of an intensifying campaign ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Their priority is a plan to slash Medicare costs proposed by House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which could gain momentum now that a debt-limit deal between President Barack Obama and Congress has made potential Medicare cuts a centerpiece of the deficit debate.

A new congressional committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23 is expected to focus on Medicare, and the program would see automatic cuts if the committee failed to reach agreement, or if Congress did not approve its recommendations by December 23. Market values of companies that depend on Medicare spending fell more than 10 percent in a sell-off on Wall Street after the agreement.

“The August town halls are going to be, potentially, a referendum on Democrats who don’t care and Republicans who’ve dared to offer real policy solutions, particularly on things like entitlements,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the small-government advocacy group organizing the initiative.

Freedom (sic) Works is, of course, this grass-roots organization.

Which means that one can readily translate the phrase, “real policy solutions” as “transfer payments from most of America to the richest few.”

But of course, these are the serious people in this discussion.  Just ask them:

“The Ryan plan is the only one out there so far, and what we need is an adult conversation with all politicians talking about the real issues,” [said Kibbe]

Yeah:  like those adult conversations that attended the discussion of health care last time around.

Also, note the big lie at the heart of this claim:  (a) that the Ryan is a “policy solution” despite the fact that it neither saves any real money on either the budget nor in health care spending society-wide  (as opposed to federal spending on health care);  (b) that it is the only plan out there; and (c) that it has anything to do with fiscal prudence.

Not exactly, as Jon Chait writes at the link above:

Read more

Who’s Taxing Whom?

Fair warning: what follows is a bit of a rant and contains nothing particularly new.  But the fiscal follies of our overlords are unhinging me, and as misery loves company, I hope to share my derangement.


I’ve been a little obsessed with light bulbs lately, as regular readers know.  I  continue to be dumbfounded at the depth, passion, and naked-mole-rat-stupidity of the GOP drive to ensure Americans waste money on illumination.  Following a thought from one commenter, I’m bracing for the claim that bans on whaling are really an unconscionable assault on the liberty of the people to light their homes with oil lanterns.

But as I thought about the implications of the Republican House caucus’ relentless drive to undermine America’s energy security, I started to fixate on a penetrating glimpse of the obvious:  the entire GOP approach to the federal government’s fiscal policy is a vast tax hike on most Americans.

That the GOPsters approach to policy will raise the cost of living in America is, I think obvious by this point:  when you privatize public goods, by and large those goods cost more for the individual user to access.  (There is a lot of detail obscured by that blanket statement, and certainly some instances where it might be otherwise, but the health care system (about which more below) is a familiar example of the basic problem, and there are many more.)

Republicans would say, I think, that cost isn’t the issue.  Government shouldn’t pay for much that it does now and that individuals can make better choices about priorities and so on.  They’d add that government musn’t pay for that which it can’t; that, to use a cliche repeated over and over again, that the government must behave like any household would, and not spend money it doesn’t have.

That last is nonsense, of course.  I’m actually working on a next book that tells a grand story of fraud and deceit at the birth of the idea of government debt — and that tale turns on the ways that governments aren’t like households or small businesses.

For now, though, the point is that if you take the Republicans false metaphor at face value, then you see that despite the brave promises of “no new taxes,” the practical, household consequences of their actions add up to a huge stealth tax increase that differentially falls on to working people, the middle class, and the poor.

And yes, as noted above, I know I’m restating the obvious, but bear with me.  Let’s  take my lighting fixation for a spin.  Recall that the energy efficiency standards that so offend the current Republican caucus* are predicted to save each American household $50 a year.

Now back to that bill-paying session over the kitchen table Republicans are so wont to imagine.  Read more