Thursday, January 9, 2014

Somewhere the Devil is Laughing

The more I take my yearly travels around the sun, the more I learn uncomfortable truths.

Namely, everything no matter how grandiose or miniscule, has a beginning, middle and an end.  Life exists, thrives and dies. Seasons change. Nations rise and fall.

The second truth is, politicians lie to preserve their careers and legacies.

They lie, distort, mislead and misdirect. Both political parties do this. They manipulate the press and voters, even bullshitting their own supporters and backers.

All for their greater good. A grand journey of manipulating the public and securing backers with fat paychecks. I think of them as Chucky, the evil puppet, for isn’t that what politicians are when you deconstruct them? Evil puppets? Bought and paid for by corporate or lobby interests to shill a specific agenda?

When their loyal toadies transgress, these unsavory ones must be culled from the herd and slaughtered for self-preservation’s sake.

Which brings us to the George Washington Bridge fiasco, or Bridgegate, or Bridgeghazi, or whatever ridiculous moniker the media uses.

Here’s what happened:

Last September, before New Jersey’s gubernatorial election, the George Washington Bridge, a vital link between Fort Lee and Manhattan, experienced lane closures. These closures delayed traffic, caused terrible congestion problems and inconvenienced everybody.

Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich asserts the lane closures were in retribution for him not supporting Christie’s reelection.

Emails released Jan. 8 between Christie’s deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and Christie-appointed Port Authority official David Wildstein indicate efforts to close the lanes for political retribution.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee, “ Kelly wrote to Wildstein on Aug. 13.

“Got it.” Wildstein responded.

A text conversation between Wildstein and an unknown sender (whose name was redacted), reveled in the closures and the problems they presented.

“Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” the unknown texter wrote.

“No.” Wildstein responded.

“I feel badly about the kids. I guess,” the person wrote back.

“They are the children of Buono voters,” Wildstein wrote.

In another exchange, Kelly asked Wildstein if the Port Authoirty was going to respond to several of Sololich’s complaints.

“Radio silence,” Wildstein wrote to Kelly.

These exchanges sound like the worst revenge porn, grudge-fucking while wearing clown masks, or the filthiest golden shower/Cleveland steamer Penthouse Forum letters ever written.

They portray a decadent government whose dysfunctions rival that of ancient Rome, accept the Romans actually patronized the arts.

Those involved are blindly loyal to Christie, complete partisan hacks who’d sell their mothers into slavery in order to pad their political resumes and curry favor with the governor.

It’s as if they were all lounging on crushed velvet-covered divans, typing these emails on their iPads, clad only in silk bathrobes, popping Belgian chocolates and getting handjobs from their Guatemalan nannies.

How these debauched reprobates could brazenly carry out such a flagrant abuse of power all to settle a petty political score boggles the mind.

Wildstein resigned Dec. 13 as the controversy grew. By then the proverbial shit was ready to hit the proverbial fan. 

Gov. Christie held a press conference on Jan. 9 and begged the state to forgive him. He fired Kelly and demanded an inquiry be conducted. Now his administration is under federal investigation, and the rats are scurrying all over this sinking ship.

It didn’t help Christie that his administration told the public the land closures were for a “traffic safety study”.

The issue isn’t just about an uncivil and petty political system, but how truly warped our society has become. We don’t view each other as equals, as human beings. We tend to compartmentalize and divide people into easily-defined labels and categories. We’re either conservatives or liberals, religious or secular, straight or gay.

Familiar or alien.

Us or them.

It’s tragic these political zombies, mindless drones whose fealty to Christie blinded them to right and wrong, decided to act without conscience and enact a revenge fantasy against a politician who didn’t support their boss.

The ugly incident reminds me of how political campaigns were fought 90 years ago, when the thugs and local gangsters intimidated factory workers and everyday citizens, bullying them into voting for their candidates. The recent season of Boardwalk Empire illustrates this perfectly, with hoodlums flanking workers emerging from a factory, cajoling them with threats and displaying baseball bats and other weaponry if the proles didn’t vote their way.

New Jersey’s political climate mimics this dreadful scene, with Christie’s lackeys waging a stealth war against those who don’t play ball.

This “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality is ultimately destructive and breeds resentment and fosters ill will among the populace.

Such bullying tactics may have worked in 1920s Illinois, but not in 2013 New Jersey.

The governor sets the tone for the state. He brags his administration is bipartisan and works with Democrats, as demonstrated by his cuddlefest with President Obama following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Yet the incident at the George Washington Bridge exposed the administration’s rotten core, one festering with the stink of cronyism, payback and partisanship.

While this scandal doesn’t bode well for Christie, who is a potential 2016 presidential candidate, it doesn’t play well for the Republican Party.

Even during the dark days of former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, who incidentally did to New Jersey what the Hillside Strangler did to runaway prostitutes, things weren’t this bad. Sure, everyone lived in dung-covered hovels and eked out a peasant’s living while the Trenton glitterati held orgies in Drumthwacket, but at least things were civil.

No political operatives shutting down lanes on a bridge to punish recalcitrant Republicans. 

Not that they haven’t tried. Democrats in this state might be incompetent, but they’re not psychotic. Ever since Christie got in, his circle of friends and backers increased. The stakes became higher. The spin became faster and agenda broader.

This underlies the real difference between Democrats and Republicans here.

Democrats are well-meaning, but deeply flawed, goofy intellectuals, Don Quixote charging at windmills. All idealism, but zero organizational skills.

Republicans here are well-meaning in doses, but the higher you climb up the food chain, the more devious and brutal they become. It’s as if Darth Vader and Satan had a baby and the result is a New Jersey Republican political operative.

This unholy spawn, this goat-headed bastard baby only wants one thing: to feed on the tears of Democrats. Writhing in its suit, driving its towncar, Damien only wishes to sup upon misery it created, while bolstering support for his dad. Utterances against his dad will be dealt with harshly. So the operative colludes with his buddies to make life miserable for the opposition. To thwart anyone perceived as an obstacle or enemy of the state. During these stealthy, pitched battles, they vie to increase dad’s prestige and power, trampling any dissenters under their cloven hooves.

Lying is wrong. For public officials to lie is a breach of trust.

Yet in the malformed mind of a political operative, lying is part of the game. It’s how they deflect truth and pass the buck.

If Christie truly cared about his legacy, he’d cast these beasts into the furthest depths of perdition, banish them from public office for life and let them rot in prison. Their names shall be nothing but blasphemous heresies mumbled in garbled tones by disheveled madmen wandering the state capital.

The governor did the right thing by firing Kelly. We need more of a purging, a grand cleansing to wash away the stink. Then he should reexamine those close to him and choose those who want to serve all of New Jersey, not just the Republican inner circle.

Partisan politics has grown outrageous and toxic. It’s time to reassess our priorities and clean house.

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