Here’s What Chris Christie Got Right

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I stand by my assessment that Chris Christie’s leadership and management played a role in the retaliatory shutdown of Fort Lee’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Yesterday, I compared the GWB scandal to several Obama scandals. I pointed out that conservatives must apply the same standards to Christie as we did to Obama when the IRS scandal broke.

Today, let’s look at Christie’s response and contrast it to Obama’s.

Christie Fired Somebody Close

Christie fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly within 24 hours of learning of the problem. Contrast that with Obama’s handling of IRS officials and senior White House lawyers. Obama let serial harasser Lois Lerner hang on for months, including months of paid leave, before she retired with full benefits. She wasn’t fired. She wasn’t prosecuted. Nor was senior White House counsel Robert Bauer. Bauer is busy prosecuting people who speak of voter fraud.

Christie Humbled Himself Before the People

When Chris Christie spoke today, he was clearly a man humbled. I’ve had to recite my failings before people whose respect I wanted. It sucks. Christie’s body language, tone of voice, and choice of words all screamed, “I wish I could go hide.” But Christie didn’t hide. He stoop up.

Obama, however, hid. Obama ignored the IRS scandal for weeks. His minions attacked the victims in public. When he spoke, he blamed unnamed GS-zeroes in the Midwest. No one within a thousand miles of the White House earned Obama’s scorn. As far as we know, the people who ordered the hit on the Tea Party got raises. And Obama’s demeanor throughout the ordeal was one of smug arrogance.

Christie Faced the Victims

After Governor Christie’s press conference–which lasted an hour–he went on an apology tour in Fort Lee. He went to Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, to apologize in person–something few Americans do anymore.

Lewis Caroll’s imagination couldn’t conjure up a mental picture of King Obama stooping to apologize in person to victims of his criminal assault on political opponents. Obama isn’t man enough for that kind of humility or decency.

What It Means

I have no idea what it means for Christie’s future. I’m not a big fan of Chris Christie’s politics, and I think the bridge scandal speaks poorly of his judgment of people. And he could be lying about what he knew and when, for all we know.

But Christie demonstrated today how men of character handle embarrassing scandals. He said “I’m sorry,” he showed true contrition and humility, he fired a close adviser, and he apologized to victims face-to-face.

Leaders in business and government should learn from Chris Christie’s example. Christie showed us character in action. I hope it wasn’t an act, but if it was, it was a damn good one.

Why “Time for Some Traffic Problems in Fort Lee” Matters

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One argument put forth by conservatives–and even some liberals–regarding the IRS scandal was this:

Obama set a tone that encouraged IRS workers to harass conservative and Tea Party groups. He didn’t have to give a direct order. His tone and statements clearly condoned such criminal behavior toward his political enemies.

Kimberly Strassel at WSJ.com:

Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.

Peggy Noonan, likewise, wrote:

A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.

I still believe that’s a strong, effective, and truthful indictment of President Obama.

If it’s true of Obama, then it’s equally true of Democrats’ favorite Republican, Chris Christie, the Godfather Governor of New Jersey.

We’ve been reading about Christie’s heavy-handed punishment of Republicans and Democrats who defy his dictates. Sure, we all cheer when a governor stands up to abusive teachers’ unions. But standing up to bullies–and teachers unions are bullies–is not bullying. Other Christie action were bullying.

The New York Times ran a story on Christmas Eve that recounted several instances of Christie’s bullying.

  • a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events;
  • a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs;
  • 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.

Even the conservative site NewsMax wrote about the growing problem of Christie’s dark side.

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment has all but ordained Christie its party’s 2016 nominee. That GOP establishment is doing for Christie what it did for Romney–secure all the money and all the endorsements before anyone else forms an exploratory committee. The establishment that wants amnesty in Washington and Medicaid expansion in Missouri also wants Christie to run unopposed. It’s their usual, losing “play to the middle” strategy. Kinder, gentler losers.

That “play to the middle” strategy could bite the party hard this time.

Today, we learned that a top aide to Christie authorized the shutdown of George Washington Bridge accesses to the town of Fort Lee. The shutdown was an act of political retribution. Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, refused to endorse Christie for re-election.

Texting Kills

Transcripts of emails and text messages are damning. Emails between Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Port Authority authority, David Wildstein, leave little doubt that the GWB shudown was payback:

Kelly to Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Wildstein’s response: “Got it.”

The shutdown caused major traffic nightmares in Fort Lee. A 91-year-old died when an ambulance couldn’t respond to her distress call. Three other emergency calls were delayed by traffic.

If the exchange between Kelly and Wildstein left room for doubt as to the motivation for the shutdown, a text message exchange between Wildstein and undisclosed correspondent removes all doubt. From BigGovernment. com:

The undisclosed person also wrote, “I feel badly about the kids, I guess.” Wildstein wrote, “They are the children of Buono voters,” referring to Christie opponent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono.

Christie’s Excuses Mirror Obama’s

Governor Christie has avoided the press since today’s disclosure. After cancelling a scheduled appearance to celebrate recovery from Hurricane Sandy, Christie released a statement claiming his staffers “misled” him about the reason for the bridge closure. He went on to say that he learned of the true motivation for the closure only today.

But, as former Christie fan Josh Barro points out on BusinessInsider.com, Christie’s claim holds no water. Barro writes:

There have been 117 intervening days, during which Christie accepted the resignations of two of his Port Authority appointees who are caught up in this scandal. I assume he and his top staff have had a lot of conversations during that time, trying to figure out exactly what happened in Fort Lee.

Did his people really manage to keep him in the dark for that entire time such that he’s shocked today? If so, what does that say about his skills as a personnel manager?

If Barack Obama set a tone that implicitly condoned IRS harassment of Tea Party groups, then Christie, at least, set a tone that encouraged his underlings to shut down a bridge for political retribution.

Kimberly Strassel’s description of Obama’s reaction to the IRS scandal sounds exactly like Christie’s “outrage.”

Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do.

I think Obama should be vilified over the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Obamacare, and numerous other infringements on human rights. Only an establishment party hack could hold Chris Christie to a lower standard.

Missouri Statewide Right to Work Meeting Wednesday January 8

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Use your snow day to join the opening of the Missouri General Assembly

Speaker of the House Tim Jones • Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder

Representative Eric Burlison
and
Senator Ed Emery
*
State Capitol in the beautiful House Lounge next to room 308
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Jefferson City, MO

Wednesday, January 8th at 10am (be early)
Questions? Mary Hill mmdacushill@gmail.Missouri Statewide Right to Work Meeting

Afterwards in Hearing room 7 starting at noon!

Voter ID and Election Integrity
Shane Schoeller
MOGOP Executive Director

Common Core
Stacy Shore
Concerned Women of America

Basic Social Media & Beyond
Linda Ragsdale
Former Chair and National Committeewoman
Young Republicans

All the First day of Session at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City
Everyone on our side of the aisle is invited!!

Here’s What Marijuana Does To You

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Last week’s Weednesday Post generated several comments that took my side but the facts wrong. Specifically, a couple of commenters claimed “marijuana is harmless.” That’s not true.

While cannabis may be have fewer harmful effects than alcohol and tobacco, someone who abstains from all three will be healthier mentally and physically than the same person smoking pot.

On the other hand, a lot proponents of prohibition throw around bad science, too. The prohibition lobby has generated tons of false “facts” to manipulate the debate.

Luckily, Business Insider cataloged what we know about cannabis–good and bad.  Take a look at this slide show. Here are the top positives and negatives of smoking weed.

Negatives Positives
It blocks memory formation Marijuana also makes us feel good
It can mess up your reward system It’s better for your lungs than tobacco
THC messes with your balance It may decrease anxiety
Cannabis use may increase the risk of depression It controls epileptic seizures
Intense anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic are common side effects It relieves arthritis discomfort
Marijuana users may experience psychosis Marijuana treats inflammatory bowel diseases
Audio and visual hallucinations are common THC slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
It robs you of sleep A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading
Inhaling marijuana causes your heart rate to increase It’s been shown to alleviate PTSD

Finally, decriminalized or not, cannabis is illegal in Missouri. I think that’s a really bad law, but it is the law. In fact, Missouri has the most draconian pot laws in the country. Growing, possessing, buying, selling, and smoking are all crimes. And suspicious activity–like an indoor garden–subject you and your family to SWAT raids and searches, even if you’ve never seen a pot plant.

 

How To Crush Lobbying

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Ben Sasse wants to break the back of lobbying and crony capitalism by moving the seat of government from Washington to Nebraska. Sasse is a Republican candidate for US Senate from Nebraska.

Who doesn’t want to cripple lobbying? But Sasse’s plan won’t cripple lobbying. It will inconvenience lobbyists for a year while they resettle in the Midwest. Then it’s back to business as usual.

Before you throw up your hands and say “it’s hopeless,” here’s an idea that might actually end lobbying as we know it. Not only that, this plan would allow ordinary people to run for Congress and state legislatures.

The idea comes from James Altucher, and it’s absolute genius:

– Congressmen should NOT be allowed to vote in Washington DC. The only reason they vote there is because there were no phone lines or Internet in 1792. But now Congressmen could stay in their district, help people out, and still engage in debates and learn the issues and vote from home. The benefits:

1. stay closer to constituents and what they want.

2. Most important: it would destroy the hundred billion dollar lobbying/bribery industry. Congressmen basically vote what industry lobbyists want them to vote. Lobbyists have an easy job. All of the Congressmen are located in one small city. It’s easy to wine and dine them ten times a day. If the Congressmen were spread out over the entire country by mandate, then there would be no way to lobby them. End of lobbying industry. More true democracy for voters. In fact, it might even mean the end of Congress, since voters could vote directly and we can have a true democracy instead of a pretend one.

All the technology required to make this happen already exists, and some enterprising political technology company (I’m talking to you, Ned Ryun) might want to invest a little R&D money in this app.

Legislators would get an app that lets them debate and vote on bills. But the app would only work if the device was in their home district or home state. Walgreen’s app knows if you’re in or near a Walgreen’s. Target knows if you’re in a Target. And you’re not even a Congressman or Senator or Missouri legislator.

What makes Altucher’s anti-lobbying idea even more appealing to me is that it actually democratizes the state legislatures. Right now, it’s pretty difficult for most people to run for the Missouri legislature. The pay is just above poverty for a family of four. People who work for a company can’t really run. That limits the pool of possible legislators to young people with outside means of support, lawyers, financial planners, writers, and retirees, pretty much.

If legislative session happened in home districts, just about anyone could work around hearings, votes, and debates. Anyone could run.

And the whole process would be more fun. Tim Jones, for instance, could Skype into major debates from O’Dell’s in Eureka. People from the neighborhood could just pop in and check out the general assembly session in action. The legislature itself would become a massive, statewide town hall.

Most of all, sending legislators back to their home turf would break the backs of lobbyists. How can you lobby in 163 House districts? Sure, lobbyists could send emails, maybe even text messages if they have the representative’s cell phone number. But that puts lobbyists on equal footing with everybody else in the district.

What I really like about this idea is that it appeals to everyone, regardless of party. There’s no reason why a Democrat or a progressive wouldn’t be as eager to end lobbying as a Republican or libertarian.

The only people who would hate this plan are lobbyists and the political elite. And that should prove its merit.

Hennessy's View Page Views

This Is What Happens When I Blog About Cannabis Law Reform

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I blog about tea party stuff 90 percent of the time. I get decent readership with those blogs, and I appreciate my loyal followers. Very much.

But as long as I write about stuff only conservatives and activist libertarians care about, only conservatives and libertarians will read my blog. That means our ideas won’t escape the echo chamber we’ve been yelling in for years.

When I write about the conservative/libertarian perspective on issues of wider interest, though, I bring in people who never otherwise read our views.

Here’s what happened to page views when I blogged about cannabis reform Thursday and Saturday:

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And these were not my usual readers. They came from sites like UrbanSTL.com. And those new visitors from non-conservative sites came away with a more positive view of our movement.

Before you say it, I’m not a link whore. I don’t scan Google Trends to blog about the most searched topics of the day, and I don’t suck up to popular bloggers to get inbound links. I’ve advocated cannabis law reform for years, though not so publicly as I have since January 2012.

The point is this: if you want to attract people to your views, to persuade them to at least take a listen to you, you have to speak their language and interests. Clearly, cannabis reform is more interesting to more people than, say, Great Streets projects or Blue Ways or Agenda 21.

So, to those who want to know why I’d bring up something as controversial as cannabis law reform now, I’ll say this:  we won’t attract advocates and voters to our other issues if we don’t talk about their issues first.