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Last night as only he can do it, Jon Stewart took Fox News to task for their hypocrisy. In this case, it all centered around the fact that President Obama had called Fox News out publicly for stoking the stereotype that all poor people are lazy and looking for handouts from the government. Fox News reacted with indignation and claimed that they only questioned the entitlement programs, not the people using the programs. Since Fox News doesn't seem to have time to review its previously aired programming, Jon Stewart and his staff were happy to help by offering The Daily Show audience a three course feast, or as Stewart put it a "prickfeast," of some highlights.

The appetizer, which Stewart called the Amuse-Douch, was a video-clip demonstration of Fox's contempt for those in poverty. This was followed by the entrée, a compilation of examples of Fox News characterizing the poor as bad people or lazy. For dessert, Stewart served Baked Al-asshole, clips of Fox News claiming that the poor really aren't poor because they have stuff.

Now every good host provides entertainment to his guests after the meal. As appalled as Stewart was at the Fox News reaction to President Obama's comments, wondering out loud, "are these glaring contradictions a product of a lack of self-awareness, or cynicism, or stupidity, or evil?" It seems he was even more baffled by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's Morning Joe leaping to the defense of Fox News. And so Stewart treated his guests to a game he called Did you even try to research this? You can guess what happened next. Joe Scarborough didn't believe that Fox News had ever called poor people leeches, sponges or lazy. Naturally, Stewart provided the evidence that indeed Fox News had.

I watched this last night, wondering specifically what Scarborough's reaction would be on his show this morning. However, I wasn't so curious that I was willing to get out of bed that early. Good thing I didn't because even though Morning Joe often plays clips from the previous night's commentary by Jon Stewart, evidently they skipped it entirely this morning. I learned this by going to the Morning Joe website to discover that a majority of the comments are about Joe defending Fox News. Joe's viewers were not too pleased that he did not respond to Jon Stewart's comments.

If you missed the segment last night, you can watch it at The Daily Show website. Jump over the orange swirl to read a transcript.


I'm seeing more about this on my Facebook news feed. One of the best takes on it comes from Vox:

Is it possible that Obama, playing a game of eleventy-dimensional chess, attacked Fox News because he knew they'd overreact — only to set up the most damning Daily Show supercut ever?

Fox News: We don't call the poor "leeches."Jon Stewart: Let me Google that for you!

On the substance of President Obama's comments and the reaction of Fox News, Charles M Blow has an excellent article up at The New York Times:
The problem with all of this is that these misconceptions have a way of seeping into the populace as a whole.

For Fox’s part, they responded by having Stuart Varney, who works for Fox News and Fox Business Network, comment. Varney said: “I think the president is spinning the failure of his own policies, and I think he is blaming us, and I think we are an honest messenger.”

Stop laughing, people! There’s more. Varney continued:

“Look at food stamps for a second. We’ve been asking why is it that after six years of so-called recovery there are still 12 million more people on food stamps today than when the president took office. Why is that? Surely, that’s the failure of the president’s policy. What about Obama phones? Why is it that we’re giving away 13 million Obama phones after six years of recovery? Why are we doing that?”

Never once did Varney address the many times that O’Reilly called poor people lazy or acknowledge that “Obama phones” might be more aptly called “Reagan phones.”


Obama was right to call out the media’s poverty narratives. There are people across the income spectrum who are lazy and addicted and want something for nothing. But it’s unfair and untenable to pretend this is the sole purview of the poor. Negative behavior doesn’t necessarily spring from a lack of money, but rather exposes a lack of character.

The President, Fox News and the Poor

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Unbelievable! Or perhaps, considering it's a GOP Congressman behind it, I shouldn't be surprised. During a visit to Facebook on May 6, I saw this ad on my screen:

Quite frankly, it made me angry because here was the person who is supposed to be representing all of his constituents in Congress, PAYING for each click, and actively saying that he didn't want somebody who disagrees with him to click the ad. I clicked it any way. I also posted a comment about how I had health coverage for the first time since 1996 and that I was appalled by his ad asking people to IGNORE it. I can't remember exactly what I said, and I can't copy what I said now, because when I went back a few days later to see what response it received, I discovered that my post had been deleted. Perhaps it was the snarky comment I ended the post with about how Dennis Ross also wanted me to IGNORE his name on the ballot in November.

A few days later, I was once again browsing at Facebook when this ad popped up:

Once again I was infuriated by the obvious attempt by Dennis Ross to avoid paying for clicks by asking people to IGNORE his ad. But, I was busy and didn't have time to write another post, which let's face it would have been deleted.

BUT ... you won't believe what happened today. Then again, it's a GOP Congressman behind it, so you probably will believe it. No, it wasn't another Facebook ad. It was a postcard paid for at taxpayer expense that came in the mail. Jump over the orange squiggly ...

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Joe Biden: There isn't a Republican party
Somebody finally said it out loud, very clearly for all the world to hear. I've been thinking this for weeks. Thank you, Joe Biden.
The Vice President said “there isn't a Republican Party. I wish there were.”

"I wish there was one person you could sit across the table from and make a deal," he continued, referring to the competing factions of the GOP.

Joe Biden: There isn't a Republican party

I wish there was too because for our democracy to work effectively, we do need two political parties. What we have is one Party and one fractured mess. What this means for the upcoming mid-term elections is yet to be seen.

You can watch Joe Biden's entire address to the House Democratic Caucus Retreat at C-Span.

Rachel Maddow: “The Governor has absolutely and blatantly not told the truth about what was going on in his office.”
So much news in the Governor Chris Christie Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam and related scandals, it is interesting that Christina Genovese Renna resigned on Friday and news of it is only starting to come out now on Sunday evening. The report of her resignation is buried in this story about Republicans who are supporting Christie as he weathers the storm(s).
Also Sunday, a member of Christie's administration who was subpoenaed by lawmakers investigating the lane closings confirmed she had resigned. Christina Genovese Renna left the governor's office Friday, according to her lawyer. Renna had reported to ousted Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who apparently set the lane closings in motion with an email saying "time to cause some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Top Republicans Say They Stand by NJ Gov. Christie

But I've heard that Christina Genovese Renna name before. Where was it? Oh yes, one of Rachel Maddow's in depth reports way back in time on January 14. Jump orange mangled traffic cone for the relevant excerpt.
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Rachel Maddow: "It's our country too, even if we don't get invited to your Billionaires’ Party in Palm Springs every January."
You may think that since Rachel Maddow has spent so much time these last few weeks wrapped up in reporting on the continuously breaking scandals out of New Jersey, that she hasn’t had time to think about that billionaire-duo of behind the scenes politics known as the Koch brothers. But you’d be wrong. The last time Rachel went on a full out rant about the Kochs’ escapades was at the beginning of this month. If you happened to catch that glorious segment when Rachel Maddow Spoke Truth to the Powerful Koch Brothers, you might think it doesn’t get any better than that. You’d be wrong. Rachel Maddow ended Monday night's show with a powerful segment pointed squarely at the influential brothers. If you missed it, you can watch it online, or if you prefer to savor every word by reading a transcript, just jump over the orange squiggly.

The segment starts with quotes from news reports that the Koch brothers helped accumulate $400 million that was spent to defeat President Obama and Congressional Democrats in the 2012 and then points out how the endeavor failed miserably. It's just amazing that the Koch brothers wasted their money having they lawyers attempt to muzzle Ms. Maddow. She even quotes the press coverage of the last time she tied the Koch brothers to the conservative networks they have created around the country, and specifically in Florida. Politifact had rated her assertions as "Mostly False" last time. Her response? More documentation that her reporting was factual.

Makes you wonder how the Koch brothers ever became successful billionaires, doesn't it? They blew $400 million on the 2012 election, and they wasted money on attorneys trying to force Rachel Maddow to retract her reporting. Fail! Fail! Fail! Why don't they just take their toys and go home? Seriously? When one thinks of all the good that money could have done, and yet it was used to wage a losing battle. The war isn't over because the Kochs plan to fight even more battles in the coming months as the 2014 election cycle gears up.

Don't think you can spare the time to watch a 15-minute video or read the long transcript? Read the end and then reconsider that thought.

The new Politico reporting on the Kochs' otherwise secret plans is that the Kochs, whose operation already rivals the Republican Party, they are now reshaping their operation in ways that could end up reshaping the Party itself, starting with raising as many millions of dollars as possible this weekend in Palm Springs. The Koch brothers are spending and organizing the spending of more money than almost anyone in history to influence American politics. They also fight vociferously to limit real reporting on how much they spend, how they spend it, and what the impact that spending has on our polity.

They want to influence American politics. And they are influencing American politics. But they do not want to be known for what it is that they do. And at one level this is one small fight about one group pushing one laughably terrible policy from Florida. But this is also about how American politics works now. And whether it stays in the light or whether it is allowed to go underground. Because how they are working their side of politics now is millions and millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to if you want to.

Does that intentionally opaque political activity get reported on now, or doesn't it? They have tried to make it as hard as possible for that reporting to get done. I say we do it anyway. It's our country too, even if we don't get invited to your Billionaires’ Party in Palm Springs every January.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to Rachel Maddow's reporting after she receives another ton of lawyer papers in response to this segment.
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Springsteen & Fallon: "You're killing the working man who's stuck in the
Governor Chris Christie Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam."
Under any other circumstances, Chris Christie would be thrilled to have his name in the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song. Christie is a huge fan of the Boss. For years he tried to meet his idol to no avail. That is until Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012 and President Obama arranged for Chris Christie to meet Bruce Springsteen. Remember this? Chris Christie cried when he hugged Springtsteen, still paying it forward by kos.

Unfortunately for Christie, each day brings new revelations about what happened last September when two of three Fort Lee toll lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed. Adding insult to injury, investigations into how the Hurricane Sandy funds are being distributed are also getting underway. You may have watched Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night or already seen the video of Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen singing the song, Governor Chris Christie Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam. However, I know there are those who are unable to watch videos online, and thought you too might want to know what the buzz is all about. Also, sometimes carefully reading the words adds new meaning and depth to the song. So here’s a transcription of the segment and the song set to the tune of Springsteen's Born to Run:

Jimmy Fallon (walks out on stage strumming guitar):

All Right.

In the day we sweat it out on the streets, stuck in traffic on the GWB.

They shut down the tollbooths of glory 'cause we didn't endorse Christie.

Sprung from cages on Highway 9, we got three lanes closed, so Jersey get your ass in line.

Whoa, maybe this Bridge-Gate was just payback. It's a bitch slap to the state Democrats.

We got to get out but we can’t.

We’re stuck in Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam.

Yeah! Hey, Yeah! Yeah!

The real Bruce Springsteen joins Fallon on stage.

Jimmy Fallon: I can’t hear you. Hey.

Fallon sees Springsteen; gives him a nod.

Bruce Springsteen:

Governor, let me in. I want to be your friend; there’ll be no partisan divisions.

Let me wrap may legs ‘round your mighty rims and relieve your stressful condition.

You got Wall Street masters stuck cheek-to-cheek with blue collar truckers, and man, I really got to take a leak.

But I can't. I'm stuck in Governor Chris Christie's Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam.

Guitar riff by Springsteen & Fallon.

Springsteen & Fallon: One, two, three, four …

Jimmy Fallon: Highway’s jammed with pissed off drivers with no place left to go.

And the press conference went on and on.

Bruce Springsteen: It was longer than one of my own damn shows.

Jimmy Fallon: Someday, Governor, I don't know when, this will all end, but till then

Springsteen & Fallon: You're killing the working man who's stuck in the Governor Chris Christie Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.

Bruce Springsteen: I gotta take a leak.

Jimmy Fallon: Whoa, oh oh oh

Bruce Springsteen: I really gotta take a leak.

Jimmy Fallon: Whoa, oh oh oh

Springsteen & Fallon: Down in Jerseyland.

Rachel Maddow: “The Governor has absolutely and blatantly not told the truth about what was going on in his office.”
The opening segment of Tuesday night's The Rachel Maddow Show is an outstanding example of why Christie’s Bridge-Gate Scandal Boosts Rachel Maddow To Ratings Victory Over Fox News. I wonder what cable news channel Christ Christie watched tonight? Was he curious enough to sit through what Rachel Maddow had to say about him and his disproved denials?

Needless to say, it was must see t.v. and something wonderful to behold. With the skills of Sherlock Holmes, she identified every discrepancy in Christie's assertions and tore apart every inkling of credibility that he might have hoped to retain. She flat out said that statements he has made are provably not true. She might as well have just used the word liar. And then she went on to prove it.

If you weren't glued to your television when it aired, here is the video at MSNBC. And if you are not able to watch video, the transcript is below the orange mangled traffic cone. (H/T to NYFM for that description.)

All roads lead to Christie’s inner circle
Rachel Maddow points out that several statements made by NJ Governor Chris Christie about the bridge scandal are demonstrably false given newly revealed facts.

P.S. If you can't get enough of the juicy details of this scandal and have some time, check out a diary I read earlier that was written by Demeter Rising, who obviously did a lot of research to find just about every instance that Mayor Sokolich was quoted or mentioned in an article going back to September about the Bridge closing and whether or not it was a punishment coming from the administration: What's up with Mayor Sokolich?
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Whoa! It started with two lanes of traffic being closed in a small town in New Jersey. It has expanded into multiple investigations, both state and federal, and The New York Times Editorial Board pulls no punches:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey tried to change the subject on Tuesday with his annual State of the State speech, talking about longer school days and reducing urban crime. But there is no diverting attention from the unanswered questions about how Mr. Christie and his close advisers have used his office to mete out rewards or punishment for political reasons.


Now there is even more to investigate. Mr. Christie and his advisers were clearly eager to get Democratic endorsements — no doubt to show that he’s a Republican who would be able to win bipartisan support on the national stage. But, apparently, making his case that he was the best candidate wasn’t sufficient. Democrats who endorsed him received big financial payouts for their towns; Democrats who did not suffered reprisals.

They go on to enumerate all the allegations and investigations Chris Christie is facing, and encourage investigators to leave no stone unturned. However, the Editoral Board does agree with one thing Chris Christie said:
He said Tuesday that New Jersey’s citizens “deserve better.” He is certainly right about that.

No, of course not this diary that I'm writing right now. Please don't recommend this. But please do go and read the one written by Demeter Rising, who obviously did a lot of detailed research to find just about every instance that Mayor Sokolich was quoted or mentioned in an article going back to September about the Bridge closing and whether or not it was a punishment coming from the administration.

What's up with Mayor Sokolich?

This is excellent work that does not deserve to be overlooked, and ponders:
Why was he trying to deflect attention from the retribution "rumors" and why didn't he recall being asked for his endorsement just last week?  Either he really is/was scared of additional retribution and traffic tie-ups and/or... maybe he is getting some quid pro quo.  The latter is pure speculation on my part. Once the story started to grow legs he offered to dispel the rumors in exchange for some "projects" or other favors to come his way.

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:43 PM PST

Chris Christie: Mirror, Mirror

by hungrycoyote

Mirror, Mirror in my Hand
It turns out that Chris Christie's belief in his own self-importance is bigger than we might have thought. You might think that I'm talking about the latest investigation revealed today into the fact that he and his family starred in a commercial for New Jersey tourism, but you'd be wrong. I'm talking about revelations in a post by Steve Benen at The Rachel Maddow Show blog.
[W]hen it comes to scrutinizing the unfolding controversy, the governor’s personal capacity for arrogance and narcissism ranks pretty low on the list of priorities. But as Christie continues to position himself as a player on the national stage, developments like these help the public get to know the politician as a person.

And in this case, what we’re learning about Chris Christie isn’t altogether flattering.

In August 2012, the New Jersey governor was tapped for an important role: Christie delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. It was widely panned by everyone who watched – Christie went on (and on) celebrating himself, his background, his family, and his virtues. As Rachel noted on the air that night, “He waited 1,800 words into a 2,600 word speech to even bring [Mitt Romney] up” – and since it was supposed to be a speech about why voters should support Romney, it seemed Christie had missed the point, assuming the spotlight was all about him.

What we didn’t know until later is that Christie threatened to throw a tantrum on live television, disrupting his party’s own convention, unless RNC officials agreed to air a three-minute video special about Chris Christie before Christie’s speech. Fearing how far the governor might go, RNC organizers eventually gave in and did as Christie insisted.

Taking ‘worship of self to a whole new level’

Here's the video:

Wow! He threatened to throw a tantrum if that video wasn't shown? What was he going to do? Stomp his feet? Well, click the link and you find the title of the CBS article by Jake Miller from 2013: Christie threatened to drop "f-bomb" at 2012 GOP convention.

Gee, I wonder why none of these proud moments weren't included in the montage about Chris Christie?

And Christie was going to drop the F-bomb unless a video about him was played at the convention? Sure does make you wonder more about the denials over the Stronger Than the Storm ad. Oh, wait, it wasn't a denial, it was a blame Obama response.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed said today that “MWW was the most qualified bidder of the agencies vying for the contract.”

“The Stronger Than The Storm campaign was just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy,” Reed said in a statement. “Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”

The New York Times reported in 2012 that the chief executive and president of MWW Group, Michael Kempner, was one of President Obama’s top fundraisers.

Gov. Chris Christie Faces Yet Another Controversy Over Sandy Ads

Here's the ad in question:

Oh, and something else interesting in that threatened article. Why Chris Christie wasn't chosen to be Romney's running mate:

In the end, it was money, not chemistry, that kept Christie off the GOP ticket. A "pay to play" regulation from the Securities and Exchange Commission prevented the country's largest banks from donating to candidates and elected officials from states in which big banks were located. If Christie, the governor of New Jersey, were added to the ticket, Romney's campaign would have been barred from accepting any campaign contributions from Wall Street - a critical source of cash for the GOP candidate, formerly a private equity manager.

In a phone call, Romney asked Christie whether he would be willing to resign the governorship to side-step the SEC regulation. Christie laughed and said he needed time to think about it, but eventually decided to stay put in New Jersey. "After that phone call, Romney and Christie had no further conversations about joining the ticket," Balz writes.

Even before the bridge scandal, I didn't think the brash Chris Christie would end up being the Republican nominee in 2016. But there is little doubt that Chris Christie, and his enormous ego, was planning a presidential run. But if he would have had to resign as Governor in order to join the ticket with Romney, doesn't that mean that he either has to resign as Governor to run, or not accept the same Wall Street donations himself in order to run for President? Or could he run, not accept the donations, and then once he secured the nomination well into 2016 then resign as Governor?

According to polls published today, Christie's popularity hasn't taken much of a hit nationwide since the bridge scandal broke.

Enmeshed in a growing scandal over alleged political payback, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing a loss of confidence at home but as yet no significant damage to his national political standing, according to a pair of opinion surveys released Monday.
But like with everything else, there are caveats.
A survey by the Pew Research Center found the public paid far more attention to last week’s cold snap than the New Jersey bridge scandal, with 44% very closely following the weather and just 16% paying close to notice to Christie’s apology and political developments in the Garden State.
The scandal is only getting started and there is quite a lot of time for people to start paying attention.

Her name was Florence Genova and she is the woman who died on September 9 at the time of the traffic snafu in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Her family says that the traffic problems that day did not contribute to her death, and do not want to become part of a political scandal. I would not write a diary about this except for the fact that I have seen comments made in other diaries about how a 91-year-old woman died. I think it is important to respect the family's wishes and not continue using that talking point.

FORT LEE, N.J. — The daughter of a 91-year-old woman from Fort Lee, N.J., who died on the day of a major traffic jam precipitated by top aides to Gov. Chris Christie said on Thursday that she did not believe the inability of an ambulance to reach her mother’s house was a factor in her death.

“I honestly believe it was just her time,” said Vilma Oleri, whose mother, Florence Genova, died on the morning of Sept. 9, the first day that the closing of local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge set off the snarls.


“We believe she died in her home, but they couldn’t pronounce her until she got to the hospital,” said Ms. Oleri’s husband, Frank Oleri. “The traffic didn’t make any difference.”

Ms. Oleri said she had no idea until Wednesday that her mother’s death had become a source of controversy.

“We want to stay out of it,” Ms. Oleri said. “It’s not political.”

Woman Says Lane Closings Were Not to Blame for Her Mother’s Death

The fact that the ill-conceived lane closures could have caused fatalities is a valid point that should continue to be made, but we should not use this woman or her family to make that point. Her family does not believe that if the ambulance had arrived three minutes earlier that she would have survived. The above-linked article in The New York Times, paints a portrait of a beautiful woman. We should let her rest in peace.
Steve Kornacki: "So that brings us now to seven characters. Seven characters at
least for now who are most crucial to what comes next in this story."
Steve Kornacki used to work as a reporter for a political website in New Jersey. His employer was David Wildstein, one of the key players in the current New Jersey saga that has become known as Bridgegate. As a guest host on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 18, Kornacki provided a long, detailed explanation about this connection. You can read a transcript here.

Kornacki's previous employment as a political journalist in New Jersey gives him a unique perspective and insights about the players in the current New Jersey saga that has become known as Bridgegate. He shared many of those insights this morning on his show Up with Steve Kornacki.

I found it interesting particularly because I had called my aunt who lives in New Jersey earlier this week after the Christie press conference to ask her about what she thought about the scandal. My aunt is a registered Democrat who did vote for Christie, but does not suffer fools. I was a bit stunned when she told me that she believed Christie when he said that the first time he knew about his political appointees and staff being involved in the lane closures was on Wednesday morning when those emails were first released.

From what I had watched on television and read up until this morning, I found it very difficult to believe it possible that Christie knew nothing until Wednesday morning. But then I watched Steve Kornacki's rundown of all the major players in the lane closures, and for the first time I saw how it could be possible. I have posted the video and transcribed the segment below the orange squiggly so you can watch or read it too.

Kornacki's description of four of the players paints the picture of an inner circle within Christie's inner circle. First, Kornacki talks about Bridget Kelly and speaks very highly of her. He said that she was one of his favorite people to talk to when he was covering politics in New Jersey ...

One of the reasons was because she defied the stereotype of a scheming, Jersey political operative, and it wasn’t just me who thought this. I heard from a New Jersey Democrat whom I’ve known for a while, yesterday who remembered Bridget Kelly as quote issue driven, eager and energetic. She struck me as a moderate Republican in it for all the right reasons. If you don’t know Bridge Kelly, and you don’t know the New Jersey political world it might be easy to swallow what Christie said this week; that Kelly had deceived and lied to him and kept him totally in the dark on all of this until this week. But if you know Bridget Kelly, well that’s not quite as easy to swallow. She’s relatively new to Christie’s orbit. She’s had a well earned reputation for integrity. It’s clear she’s involved in this but it’s also hard to believe she concocted this. And it’s harder still to believe that she had the authority to order it.
Next Kornacki talked about his former boss David Wildstein and how he believed that Christie and Wildstein probably did not know each other in high school, even though they attended the same school at the same time.
Wildstein is not a long-time Christie protector and he is apparently looking for immunity. That’s important to keep in mind. I can also tell you this. I worked for him for three years from 2002 to 2005. Of all the people involved in this, I think he’s the sharpest. I think he’s the savviest and I think that he is by far the most strategic thinker. He doesn’t do anything without thinking ahead; without considering the possible outcomes and planning for contingencies. I think that’s worth keeping in mind as this story plays out. And maybe you’re asking if Wildstein and Christie weren’t that close; if Wildstein sold his media operation to a family that despises Chris Christie, why would Christie ever send him to the Port Authority in the first place?
When Kornacki moves on to talking about Bill Baroni, we learn that it was Baroni who brought Wildstein into Christie's orbit.
In 2007 he went on to get elected to the State Senate and in 2009 he did something politically courageous. He cast the sole Republican vote in the New Jersey State Senate for gay marriage. It didn’t pass back then, but it exposed Baroni to a ton of heat from the right in his own party. So when Christie came to power in 2010 he offered Baroni the Port Authority gig which comes with a great pay check and some enviable perks by the way. And Baroni took it and he told Christie that he wanted to bring somebody with him. He wanted to bring his friend David Wildstein who had also been in politics before he started that website that I worked on for him.
When Kornacki gets to Bill Stepien, some pieces start to fall into place.
Until this week, Bill Stepien was one of Christie’s closest, most trusted and most talented political lieutenants.


Stepien pops up in those emails that came out Wednesday morning too. In one of them he ridicules the mayor of Fort Lee as an idiot. Now there was nothing in those emails that showed he had any advance knowledge or any role in planning the traffic jam, but Christie threw him overboard too, and here’s why.

Video of Chris Christie at Thursday 9 Jan 2014 Press Conference: Reading that; it made me lose my confidence in Bill’s judgment and you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in.
Let's pause for a moment and ponder this. Christie fired Stepien for the tone of an email in which Stepien called the Mayor of Fort Lee an idiot in writing? I didn't have to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Thursday night to remember the clip of Chris Christie calling a law student an idiot, but it helped that Stewart put together this segment for us:

Watch at about 3:00 where Christie says "This is not the tone that I've set over the last four years in this building. It's not the environment I've worked so hard to achieve." And then continue watching as Stewart plays clips of Christie calling people names. It does stretch credibility to believe that this was the main reason Christie chose to sever ties Stepien.

Let's continue with what Kornacki had to say about Stepien.

Now, talk to anyone in New Jersey politics privately, though. They’ll tell you there’s still an awful lot of suspicion around Stepien because he is connected to these other players. His first big break in politics came in 2003. That’s when he ran Bill Baroni’s campaign for the state assembly. That’s a campaign I remember covering all those years ago. Baroni was the only non-incumbent Republican who ran a legislative race in New Jersey that year. It was a really good year for Democrats, but Baroni won. And so that election made him a rising star. It also made Stepien who managed his campaign a rising star in Republican politics. So from there, Stepien went on to work for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, for John McCain and for Rudy Giuliani in 2008 and then he got his real big break. He ran Christie’s successful campaign for governor in 2009. It’s the first time in 12 years that a Republican had won a governor’s race in New Jersey.

And Stepien is also a way to understand, or at least to start to understand, Bridget Kelly’s role in all of this because it was during that 2009 race that she, who was then a relatively unknown aide to a relatively unknown politician in Bergen County, provided key help to the Christie campaign and to Stepien in particular in Bergen County. So they grew close from that experience and when they won that election, Stepien brought her with him to Trenton to join the new administration. And Stepien’s job in the first few years of that new Christie administration was the same job that Kelly had until this week.

He was Christie’s local enforcer except unlike Kelly, Stepien earned a reputation in that role for aggression; for playing rough; for diving into seemingly ultra-local, seemingly ultra-petty local matters. And when he left that job to run Christie’s reelection campaign last year, Bridget Kelly took it over for him. Bill Stepien’s character has now been challenged by Chris Christie on national television. His career trajectory (he was going to play a leading role in the 2016 presidential campaign; he was maybe going to work in the White House); that career trajectory has now been derailed. Is he embittered by that? Will he be subpoenaed? Will his records? Is he sitting on anything that can make this scandal bigger? And does he want to get anything out?

Wow! Is Stepien the guy we should be looking to in order to find answers to all the nagging questions about Bridgegate. Is Stepien the one who gave Kelly the order to send the email saying "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"? Stepien was close to Baroni who brought in Wildstein. Is it possible that Stepien was the ring leader and the others were following his instructions? He's the one with the reputation for diving into local matters. What beef could he have had with local politicians in Fort Lee? Is it possible that he was carrying out a personal vendetta that didn't involve Chris Christie and Christie was truly surprised on Wednesday morning to find out what had been going on behind his back orchestrated by Stepien?

Even so, I find it difficult to believe that Christie knew absolutely nothing until Wednesday morning when he was supposedly blindsided. What do you think? Did Stepien think of himself as a king maker, a behind the scenes puppet master who didn't need to consult Governor Christie to create a traffic jam in Fort Lee? Or did he do it with Christie's knowledge and consent and Christie only fired him because he got caught?

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