If you’re going to wage a vendetta, at least make it a well-thought-out one. How can Christie & Co. run a national campaign when they can’t even aim straight? How moronic to think the mayor of Fort Lee would get blamed for problems on a bridge that everyone knows is controlled by the Port Authority. If you want to be malicious, it would be so easy to put a project close to the mayor’s heart on hold for a few months or redirect 60 state snowplows the night before a storm.When she tries, Maureen does good.
The governor groveled to New Jersey residents after his aides so gleefully burned them (even joking about children being late for the first day of school because of the orchestrated gridlock on the George Washington Bridge).
After zapping Obama for being so clueless that he couldn’t find “the light switch of leadership” in a dark room, Christie is trying to salvage his once blazing career by claiming he was in a dark room, clueless to the bogus traffic study masking a revenge plan that top aides were executing in plain sight.
Frank Bruni gets personal.
Politics boils down to three pronouns: I, you, we. The politician who has them in balance goes a long way.The great apologizer?
From the “I” comes the lust for attention necessary to face all the cameras, hear all the clamoring, weather all the commentary. From the “I” comes the yearning to be celebrated and, because celebration often hinges on accomplishment, the drive to get things done. Personal glory and public good dovetail. What we call narcissism overlaps with what we call altruism, neither of which is as tidy as we make it out to be.
In his news conference on Thursday he found a way to spell apology with a thousand I’s.
Perhaps he nonetheless managed to assure voters that he hadn’t directed the nightmare on Fort Lee’s streets. His denials couldn’t have been more emphatic, unconditional or expansive. He spoke and spoke and spoke, which made some sense, in that he cast himself as someone volunteering information rather than running from the truth.
But as he spoke and spoke and spoke, the apology sprawled into an odd aria of self-congratulation, and he even praised his own penance.
Kathleen Parker says yes! Americans will flock to a guy who can grovel.
On the train from New York to Washington on Thursday, two words continuously rose above the din: Chris Christie. The best summation of how the scandal is playing politically came from two high-profile consultants who happened to be on the same train — Republican Mary Matalin and Democrat James Carville.Yes indeedy. The "greater villain" here is reporters for daring to, you know, report. And besides, fake scandals are more important than real ones. Fake scandals are more important than real ones. Fake scandals are more important than real ones. Now click your heels together and close your eyes.
“BFD,” said Matalin when I asked her thoughts.
...many Republicans in the Matalin camp see this as much ado about little, especially compared to, for instance, President Obama’s repeated falsehoods about people keeping the health insurance they like under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats see this as the inevitable ruin of a bully run amok.
But another consequential feature of this controversy is an emerging narrative that, barring the unforeseen, could shift focus from Christie’s administration to the greater villain — the media. Judging from my overflowing inbox, there’s a growing sense on the right that Christie is being unfairly battered by a media all too eager to help defrock the Republican front-runner.
Needless to say, one bad deed (Obama’s falsehoods) does not excuse another (misusing power to punish a political foe). The bridge scandal is compelling precisely because it fits the well-documented bullying image of Christie, notwithstanding his denials during the news conference. “I am not a bully,” he said, reminding us mostly of “I am not a witch.” Or “I am not a crook.”
Dana Milbank gives us one last view.
Things we learned about Chris Christie during his 108-minute apologia:What do we get out of this? Republicans, for all their vaunted talk, love guys that talk fast and blame everyone else. They'll accept that their guy has nothing to do with a bridge scandal. Hell, they'll believe that their guy had nothing to do with selling weapons to terrorists and playing footsie with a nation that's supposedly our enemy. They'll #@^%ing believe that their guy didn't know that everything used to drag our nation into decades of war was a lie.
“I’m a very loyal guy.”
“I am not a focus-group-tested, blow-dried candidate.”
“I’ve worked for the last 12 years in public life developing a reputation for honesty.”
“I’ve engendered the sense and feeling among the people closest to me that we’re a family.”
“I’m a person who cares deeply about doing my job well.”
“I’m incredibly loyal to my people.”
“I was the class president and athlete.”
And this was all in the process of saying what he had done wrong in the George Washington Bridge fiasco that threatens to upend his presidential hopes. Christie apologized profusely — but not for anything he did. “I’m telling you: I had nothing to do with this,” he pleaded. Instead, he blamed bad people who lied to him, taking advantage of his trusting and honorable nature.
Even in disgrace, the New Jersey governor — and the nominal front-runner for the 2016 GOP nomination — managed to turn his nationally televised news conference into a forum on the virtues of his favorite subject: himself.
Kathleen is right. "Me? I don't know nothing." is sweet music to the Republican ear. It's their favorite tune. And besides, the media is the real villain.
Come inside, let's see if anyone is talking about something else...
Ross Douthat unleashes his vocabulary toward the Online War on Women
Another magnifier is ideology. Hess is a feminist who works in culture-war terrain, and there’s no question that women writing from that perspective come in for more personal, sexualized abuse than women writing about, say, monetary policy. Where the personal is political, the political becomes personal more quickly, and the grotesque abuse that liberal, feminist writers can receive for being liberal feminists is a scandal that conservatives, especially, need to acknowledge and deplore.It goes on. It boils down to: women are treated badly on the Internet and often made the subject of the kind of sexual remarks rarely directed toward me. I agree. Conservatives tend to do it more, but liberals are also guilty. Agree again. But then Douthat fades off into a kind of "legitimate male anxieties" area that's the written equivalent of a shrug. But man, he sure worked the thesaurus.
But many conservative and libertarian women also take a remarkable amount of sexual-political abuse. So it may be that the culture war cuts both ways, and a certain kind of left-wing narrative about gender — in which women are expected to hold liberal views just by virtue of being female — can become a license for allegedly progressive men to demean and dehumanize women who decline to play that part.
And then to further complicate matters, there is the phenomenon of intraliberal misogyny — like the flood of abuse, cited by Hess, that greeted the atheist writer Rebecca Watson when she wrote about sexism and harassment at a skeptics’ convention.
Cases like Watson’s suggest that there’s a chauvinist attitude in play here, a kind of crypto-ideology of sex and gender, that doesn’t map neatly onto what we usually think of as culture-war divides. This attitude is “liberal” in that it regards sexual license as an unalloyed good, and treats any kind of social or religious conservatism as a dead letter. But at the same time it wants to rebel and lash out against the strictures it feels that feminism and political correctness have placed on male liberty, male rights.
Stephanie Coontz looks at the War on Women in the real world, and how fighting it also helps men.
Although women are still more likely to be poor than men, on average women’s income and labor-force participation have been rising since the 1970s. By contrast, between 1970 and 2010 the median earnings of men fell by 19 percent, and those of men with just a high school diploma by a stunning 41 percent. And while women have regained all the jobs they lost during the recession, men have regained just 75 percent.Coontz makes a compelling case that in designing a male-centric workplace, companies have built a model that punishes women and men, and now serves to hold back both. This is your "Read it all" of the morning.
Since about 1980 the percentage of men and women in middle-skill jobs has declined. But for women, nearly all of that decline was because of increased representation in higher-skill jobs. Women’s employment in low-skill jobs increased by just 1 percent. By contrast, for men, half the decline in middle-skill jobs was a result of increases in low-skill jobs.
The most urgent issue facing working Americans today is not the glass ceiling. It is the sinking floor. So wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on gender-neutral economic policies?
Actually, it wouldn’t, because “gender-neutral” work practices and social policies were traditionally based on a masculine model. Employers assumed that there was no need to accommodate caregiving obligations because the “normal” worker had a wife to do that. Policy makers assumed there was no need for universal programs such as family allowances and public child care because the “normal” woman had a husband to support her and her children. Accordingly, most social benefits, such as Social Security and unemployment insurance, were tied to prior participation in the labor market. Welfare was a stigmatized and stingy backup for misfits who were not in a male-breadwinner family.
The New York Times defends the president's appointees.
Under the Constitution, the president nominates federal judges, cabinet members and officials for executive agencies, and the Senate votes on their confirmation. But what if the Senate isn’t in session? The answer has always seemed clear: The Constitution gives the president the power to fill “all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.”This Supreme Court is likely to ignore any damage to the Constitution so long as it can score points against this President... so I'm not hopeful.
On Monday, for the first time in its history, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over the meaning of that clause. On one level, the debate is about language and history: What does “the recess” refer to? What did the framers mean by “happen”? But this legalistic dispute should not obscure the larger issue at stake: The government needs to be able to function even when Congress can’t — or won’t — do its job.
... in a remarkably myopic ruling last January, the federal appeals court in Washington blocked out that reality and held, among other things, that the Constitution’s use of the words “the recess” must mean there is only one, which falls between the end of one Congressional session and the start of the next.
There are historical arguments for why that reading may have made sense in the nation’s early days, when travel times were long and recesses could last for months. But in the 21st century, senators come and go as they please, and recesses are short and frequent. What has not changed is a president’s need to be able to staff the cabinets and federal agencies so that the government’s work can be done.
Carl Hiaasen calls for an end to endings... but not for the usual reasons.
The execution of Thomas Knight last week is a textbook case for why Florida’s dysfunctional death penalty should be scrapped.Laura Spinney looks at the secret history being revealed as the glaciers melt.
Here was a man whose guilt was never in doubt, whose crimes were cold-blooded, whose attitude remained remorseless and often defiant — yet the system took nearly 40 years to close the book.
In South Florida, Knight will be remembered for abducting and killing a Bay Harbor Islands couple, Sydney and Lillian Gans, in 1974. After a frantic manhunt he was found hiding in the mud with the rifle used in the crime, and $50,000 cash that he’d forced Gans to withdraw from a bank.
Ironically, Knight wasn’t executed for those murders. In 1980 he fatally stabbed prison guard Richard Burke with a sharpened spoon, and it was that homicide that finally delivered him to the death chamber for a lethal injection.
Set aside for a moment the moral and religious objections to capital punishment, and the questions about its disproportionate application to minorities. Consider the statute strictly as an expensive, endless drain of legal resources.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Florida has averaged slightly more than two executions a year while adding about 12 new residents annually to Death Row. You can do the dismal math in your head.
Today 396 men and five women live on Florida’s Death Row, and most (if not all) have attorneys working on appeals. The pace could never be described as swift.
Knight was no anomaly; many capital cases have been slogging along since the mid-1970s.
The summer of 2003 was the hottest in Europe for 500 years. On the remote Schnidejoch pass, 2750 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps, an ice patch shrank by half its volume, leaving a wooden object high and dry. When hiker Ursula Leuenberger came across it, she realized it had no business there, so far above the tree line, so she picked it up and handed it over to the local archaeological service. It turned out to be part of a Neolithic arrow quiver, almost 5000 years old.
Since then, archaeologists have found more than 800 artifacts in the vicinity of the pass.