Thursday, January 9, 2014
Big Man, Big Mouth, Big Government
By Stephen Z. Nemo:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who many Republicans view as the savior of a confused and dying GOP, came before the press Thursday to plead ignorance of his big-government underlings using state power as a tool of intimidation. “In the end,” said Christie, “I have 65,000 people working for me every day. And I cannot know what each one of them is doing at every minute.”
The controversy concerns lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York states. One of several e-mails released Wednesday clearly indicates the traffic snarl was in retaliation over Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s support for Christie’s 2013 Democratic gubernatorial opponent. Sokolich, you see, supported Christie in his 2010 run for governor.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” wrote Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly to David Wildstein of the Garden State’s Port Authority.
“Got it,” replied Wildstein.
“Police and elected officials in Fort Lee, N.J., say they weren’t given warning that the Port Authority planned to reduce the number of local access lanes directly from Fort Lee to the bridge from three to one – causing traffic to back up in the borough – and are still puzzled by the official explanation that the agency was conducting a study of traffic patterns,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Fort Lee Councilman Jan Goldberg told Mother Jones magazine, “There was a missing child that day. The police had trouble conducting the search because they were tied up directing traffic.”
Thursday, Christie announced, “This morning I’ve terminated the employment of Bridget Kelly, effective immediately. I’ve terminated her employment because she lied to me.”
Now that you have the background, let’s examine the real bombshell dropped during Christie’s press conference: “I have 65,000 people working for me every day,” said the big man, “And I cannot know what each one of them is doing at every minute … I think we’ve gotten to the bottom of this, and we’re going to move forward with the new team, and – you know, I have a new team coming in as well who I’m trying to integrate now also in the next two weeks.”
If it’s impossible for Christie to know what 65,000 state government thralls are up to, including those directly under his gargantuan shadow, what difference will it make to install a “new team” of unsupervised big-government hacks?
Christie’s good friend in the White House similarly claimed ignorance when the Office of the Inspector General reported that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted Tea Party and conservative organizations for special scrutiny in the years leading up to the 2012 presidential election. “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general] report,” Obama told reporters. He chalked up IRS actions to “structural or management” issues and pledged to “gather up the facts and hold accountable and responsible anybody who was involved in this.”
A few days ago, the Department of Justice announced that Barbara Bosserman, a litigator with the DOJ, will be “gathering up the facts.” And councilor Bosserman is quite the gatherer. She gathered around $6,750 of her own money before handing it to Obama and the Democratic National Committee’s election efforts.
A few congressional Republicans woke from their slumber long enough to complain that appointing an Obama political supporter to investigate IRS wrongdoing might carry with it the stink of conflicting interests.
“It is contrary to [Justice] department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions,” said DOJ spokeswoman Dena Iverson in defense of Bosserman. Iverson added this gem, “Additionally, removing a career employee from an investigation or case due to political affiliation … could also violate the equal opportunity policy and the law.”
And there you have it. Government targeting of opponents – whether it be the Tea Party or the people of Fort Lee, New Jersey – will be investigated by the very government doing the targeting. If that appears to pose something of a conflict, well, sorry. In the words of the Justice Department – and Eliot Ness – “That’s the law.”
It’s likely most Republicans will miss the irony in Christie’s bridge scandal. The bridge in question, after all, is named in honor of the nation’s first president, George Washington.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force,” said the father of our country. “Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
America’s two-party, big-government elites believe in one overriding principle: government must transform from a restrained servant into a “fearful master.”
Limiting the size and power of the state, America’s Founders understood, protects the liberties of a free people. That fundamental principle of good government escapes the enfeebled, government-dependent subjects of today’s post-Constitutional America.
Their subservience confirms another of George Washington’s astute observations, “The marvel of all history is that patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.”