Monday Mashup Part One (6/7/10)

I have some leftover items from last week I couldn’t quite get to until now.

  • 1) To begin, I give you the latest in the slow-motion train wreck that is the NJ gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie (here)…

    All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court.

    The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office.

    “The panel has understood a judge serving honorably and effectively, with competence and integrity, will achieve tenure in judicial office,” states one letter signed by six of the members. “This understanding is supported by the intent of the framers of our constitution and is firmly grounded in our traditions and history, and has been followed consistently for over 60 years by all governors of both political parties.”

    “You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor’s appointive responsibilities,” the letter continues. “This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all the qualifications for honorable judicial services. It is a view that is inconsistent with an independent judiciary.

    “Because of our abiding commitment to the independence of the judiciary, we cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Judiciary Advisory Panel.”

    The six members were retired state Supreme Court justices James H. Coleman and Stewart Pollock, the cochairmen, and Alan B. Handler and Deborah T. Poritz; a lawyer in private practice, Carlos G. Ortiz; and a university professor, Susan Lederman.

    The seventh, retired Appellate Division judge Harold B. Wells III, a Republican, sent a brief, separate letter saying he had resigned for “personal reasons.”

    This is kind of interesting I suppose, given that Christie, a former U.S. attorney, is assumed to have a respect for the functions of the judiciary over that of partisan politics. Clearly, though, the latter holds sway with him, which should be no surprise I know.

    Oh, and did you also know that Christie wants to put the State Commission on Investigation’s budget under the Office of the Comptroller, thereby putting the state’s investigative agency, which should be independent, under Christie’s purview (here)?

    Lastly, this Inquirer editorial tells us today that Christie and his State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler brokered a deal with the New Jersey Education Association that addressed key issues – such as merit pay, which the union has long opposed. However, that deal is now off the table because Christie and Schundler apparently weren’t “on the same page,” which could end up costing the state millions of dollars in federal education funds.

    I hope all of those Democrats who sat on their hands during the NJ gubernatorial election last year are proud of themselves (to say nothing of Repugs and independents who supported this thug).

  • 2) Also, I tried really, really hard to avoid saying anything over the Gore divorce last week (I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a whole bunch of more important stuff going on), but it just got so thick that I had to weigh in (one pundit somewhere said something like divorce may be a defining “baby boomer” moment, or something…as Atrios says, our discourse is ruled by fools).

    And this column by Linda Chavez was the proverbial last straw…

    I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that the Gores will reconsider their decision. But they have already survived many ordeals that would challenge even the strongest of marriages — their son’s near-fatal accident, myriad political campaigns, including the 2000 presidential election whose outcome dragged on forever, Tipper’s battle against depression and who knows what private disappointments, slights, and pains.

    The Gores, like most couples, made a vow when they married to remain together “until death do us part.” Couples make those vows in front of family and friends and with the blessings of religious institutions and the state. They are not private promises; they are public affirmations. So if the Gores decide to break those vows, they’ve hurt all of us, not just each other, and they’ve chipped away at the very institution of marriage. Let’s hope they don’t move from separation to divorce, for all our sakes.

    Oh, please…

    What is sad here is that Chavez actually makes some good points about the effect of divorce on kids, but for her to claim that the Gore’s divorce “hurts all of us” is pathetic.

    Well then, do infidelities of public figures “hurt us” also? What about David Vitter (who, for some reason, always seems to get a pass on this subject even though he’s been “busted” at least twice)? John Ensign? Mark Sanford? Mark Souder (for whom Michael Gerson unctuously asked for “grace” here)? And yes, to be fair, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer (and of course, Bill Clinton)?

    At least the Gores realized that it was time to part, and they have done so. There are a myriad of reasons why couples stay together and a myriad of reasons why they don’t. And as long as moral scolds like Chavez feel like it’s their duty to pass judgment, how about giving the Clintons some credit for enduring all they have and raising a daughter for whom they should be proud?

    This is all beyond a joke anyway when you consider that Chavez, as noted by Bob Somerby here, once said that Gore gave a “confusing” speech in 2002 in which “Gore said that a unilateral War on Saddam (Hussein) would hurt the ongoing War on Terror, because it would alienate various nations on whom we must rely for intelligence” (and fellow Beltway hyena Mort Kondracke dutifully echoed Chavez also).

    Like almost everything else Al Gore has said, the passage of time has proven these words to be damn prescient as well. And Chavez’s ridicule has “hurt all of us” a lot more than the Gore’s divorce ever could.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the late Irving Kristol’s boy here…

    So the one part of government the Obama administration—which is spending unprecedented amounts on every domestic department of government—has decided to squeeze is the military. This is outrageous and pathetic—taking money out of the already inadequate baseline defense budget to pay for a domestic spending spree.

    The linked New York Times story from last week tells us the following…

    The goal is to force all of the Defense Department agencies and organizations, and all of the armed services, to save enough money in their management, personnel policies and logistics to guarantee 3 percent real growth each year, beyond inflation, in the accounts that pay for combat operations.

    Current budget plans project growth of only 1 percent in the Pentagon budget, after inflation, over the next five years.

    “Given the nation’s fiscal situation, there is an urgency to doing this, rather than shifting more of the nation’s resources toward national defense,” William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said in an interview.

    (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates’s spending orders offer a considerable incentive to the armed services. Each dollar in spending cuts found by a military department would be reinvested in the combat force of that branch, and not siphoned away for other purposes.

    Senior officials acknowledge that powerful constituencies are expected to line up in opposition to cuts of favorite programs — with criticism anticipated from the defense industry, Congress, military headquarters, Pentagon personnel and retirees.

    “We will need to address the reasons things are in the budget in order to be able to reduce overhead,” Mr. Lynn said. “We are going to have to be engaged in dialogue with industry, with Congress, with other agencies, with the White House and inside the Pentagon — all the stakeholders.”

    The new directives are aimed at three distinct areas of spending.

    The first is management and personnel, overhead, logistics and base operations, and support missions.

    The second is the war-fighting accounts themselves. Major targets for the next fiscal year already identified by the Pentagon leadership, and supported by the White House, include canceling a program to buy an alternative engine for the F-35 warplane and ending production of the C-17 cargo aircraft. Officials said a range of lower-priority programs would also be under review.

    The third area is Mr. Gates’s own Defense Department staff and agencies.

    And in case you were wondering how much this country spends on defense, this tells you that this country’s spending isn’t even close to any other in the world.

    There is only one good thing I can say about Kristol Mess’s post, and it is that he uses hyperlinks effectively (would that the Philadelphia Inquirer decided to follow suit one of these days).

  • Update: And heaven forbid that this falls under the “budget axe” also…

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    One Response to Monday Mashup Part One (6/7/10)

    1. […] “The Old Gray Lady” – next time, try reporting (and in addition to the items mentioned above, here is more “fun” with […]

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