As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration deals with an unfolding political scandal involving top aides, another case involving accusations of cronyism has attracted new attention.

Bennett Barlyn, a former New Jersey assistant prosecutor, alleges he and other prosecutors were fired in 2010 for going after a local sheriff who happened to be close to Christie and the lieutenant governor.

Barlyn said the Hunterdon County sheriff and her staff were indicted on 43 counts involving corruption and abuse of power.

Former prosecutor points to another case against Christie administration,” CNN.

Another scandal for Christie. When it rains, it pours.

(via quickhits)

This is about New Jersey, but having lived and worked in other states, I know that similar “issues” arise there as well.

In New Jersey, “cronyism” and “nepotism” are the rule, not the exception. It’s a simple and sad fact of how things work. Without going into too much detail, I know for a fact that certain offices in the state, like county prosecutors, are often filled by “friends” of the incoming (or continuing) administration.  Those “friends” often fill their staff with their own “friends” to whom they owe favors of some sort, political or otherwise. That staff of “friends” often simply replaces (read: fires) the staff of “friends” from the previous administration. It’s not true in every single case, and for every single staffer, but it is a fact of life in politics in New Jersey, and elsewhere. That doesn’t make it right; it’s just the way it is. I hate to be cynical, but it appears that there is simply no way to change it, because the kind of people who might be able to change the status quo could never get elected because they won’t play the dirty games required to get elected in the first place. And if they do decide to play those dirty games, then they reduce themselves to the kind of people they’re trying to beat, incurring the same kind of political “debt” that spawns cronyism and nepotism in the first place. It’s the worst kind of Catch-22 imaginable.

(via dendroica)

I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. There’s no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for the appropriate role of government and for the people that were trusted to serve.

Gov. Chris Christie • Apologizing to the general public during a press conference on Thursday morning (full transcript here), shortly before announcing that he had fired former aide Bridget Kelly for lying about his staff’s involvement in an apparent attempt to get revenge on a mayor who wouldn’t endorse the governor’s re-election bid. Christie took responsibility for the scandal, but swore he had no knowledge of what was taking place, and said he would travel to Fort Lee to personally apologize to the town’s mayor. The Justice Department and Senate Commerce Committee have both announced plans to further investigate the matter. source (via shortformblog)

I find it hard to believe that he really had no knowledge of what was going on.

(via dendroica)

The Governor’s running the appropriate play out of the play book on how to handle a potential scandal. As for me, I don’t have any problem with his claim that he had no knowledge of what was going on. This is the kind of petty bullshit that lower level political operatives engage in all the time in this state. They wouldn’t have bothered Christie with it because they were too busy going “neener-neener-neener-look-what-we-can-do”. Combine a little political power with the arrogance that permeates the politics and politicians in the great state of New Jersey, and it doesn’t surprise me at all the Christie wouldn’t have known of the childishness being exhibited by the morons he thought he could rely on.

At least Christie’s wearing the hat.

(via dendroica)

theatlantic:

'A Broken System': Texas's Former Chief Justice Condemns Judicial Elections

Wallace B. Jefferson, the newly retired Chief Justice of Texas’s Supreme Court, is remarkable for many reasons. A Republican in the most Republican state in the Union, a black man in a state dominated by white conservatives, he has nonetheless been a dogged voice on behalf of Texas’s poorest and least powerful litigants. He has also been a consistent critic of the dubious way in which Texas selects and retains its judges—through a series of judicial elections that are unabashedly partisan.
This month, Jefferson returned to private practice, leaving his post on the highest civil court in Texas nine years after he was appointed its chief by Governor Rick Perry. I recently interviewed him by telephone on a series of issues. First up was the notion of judicial elections. Here’s a slightly edited version of our lengthy conversation (the first of a series I’ll be posting here at The Atlantic over the next few weeks). Jefferson’s remarks aren’t just notable for their candor about the structural failure of the state’s judicial campaigns. They also shed valuable insight into the motivations behind that failure — and explain why things aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
Read more. [Image courtesy of Baylor University]


I’ve lived in states where judges are elected and appointed by the politicians and, in my opinion, despite the inherent problems with an election, the election is still better. Perhaps having judges unaffiliated with either party is a way to go to avoid the concerns raised in this article.
The problem with appointed judges is that appointments are generally political pay-backs. You scratch my back (with funds, or fund raising, or whatever), and I scratch yours (with a judicial appointment). Neither system is perfect, but at least an election gives the semblance of choice. A non-partisan, off-year election of judges is probably the best way to go.

theatlantic:

'A Broken System': Texas's Former Chief Justice Condemns Judicial Elections

Wallace B. Jefferson, the newly retired Chief Justice of Texas’s Supreme Court, is remarkable for many reasons. A Republican in the most Republican state in the Union, a black man in a state dominated by white conservatives, he has nonetheless been a dogged voice on behalf of Texas’s poorest and least powerful litigants. He has also been a consistent critic of the dubious way in which Texas selects and retains its judges—through a series of judicial elections that are unabashedly partisan.

This month, Jefferson returned to private practice, leaving his post on the highest civil court in Texas nine years after he was appointed its chief by Governor Rick Perry. I recently interviewed him by telephone on a series of issues. First up was the notion of judicial elections. Here’s a slightly edited version of our lengthy conversation (the first of a series I’ll be posting here at The Atlantic over the next few weeks). Jefferson’s remarks aren’t just notable for their candor about the structural failure of the state’s judicial campaigns. They also shed valuable insight into the motivations behind that failure — and explain why things aren’t likely to change anytime soon.

Read more. [Image courtesy of Baylor University]

I’ve lived in states where judges are elected and appointed by the politicians and, in my opinion, despite the inherent problems with an election, the election is still better. Perhaps having judges unaffiliated with either party is a way to go to avoid the concerns raised in this article.

The problem with appointed judges is that appointments are generally political pay-backs. You scratch my back (with funds, or fund raising, or whatever), and I scratch yours (with a judicial appointment). Neither system is perfect, but at least an election gives the semblance of choice. A non-partisan, off-year election of judges is probably the best way to go.

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. — Otto von Bismarck
theatlantic:

3 Reasons ‘Saving Face’ Is Overrated

There’s a lot of talk now about how any resolution to the shutdown/default crisis will have to allow leaders to “save face”—particularly Speaker John Boehner, whose weakness in his own caucus precipitated the crisis and now prolongs it. A speedy and non-catastrophic resolution would of course be ideal. But there are three reasons why the concern for face-saving in Washington is misguided.
First, as a matter of political strategy, if this crisis is truly to end rather than just be deferred, it will have to end in something like unconditional surrender by the radical conservative rump of the GOP—something Boehner has said he could not abide. If and when such surrender occurred, face would not be the prime consideration; restoration of sanity would be. A successful denouement couldn’t allow everyone to pretend the last couple of weeks were acceptable and everyone was equally a winner or loser; it would have to draw a bright, toxic line around these weeks and the tactics that created the crisis and say, “No more.”
But put this question of strategy to the side.
Read more. [Image: Larry Downing/Reuters]


Excellent read.

theatlantic:

3 Reasons ‘Saving Face’ Is Overrated

There’s a lot of talk now about how any resolution to the shutdown/default crisis will have to allow leaders to “save face”—particularly Speaker John Boehner, whose weakness in his own caucus precipitated the crisis and now prolongs it. A speedy and non-catastrophic resolution would of course be ideal. But there are three reasons why the concern for face-saving in Washington is misguided.

First, as a matter of political strategy, if this crisis is truly to end rather than just be deferred, it will have to end in something like unconditional surrender by the radical conservative rump of the GOP—something Boehner has said he could not abide. If and when such surrender occurred, face would not be the prime consideration; restoration of sanity would be. A successful denouement couldn’t allow everyone to pretend the last couple of weeks were acceptable and everyone was equally a winner or loser; it would have to draw a bright, toxic line around these weeks and the tactics that created the crisis and say, “No more.”

But put this question of strategy to the side.

Read more. [Image: Larry Downing/Reuters]

Excellent read.

This can’t be real, can it?
How does a guy this dumb even find his way out of the house, let alone get elected to anything other than king of his tree fort?

This can’t be real, can it?

How does a guy this dumb even find his way out of the house, let alone get elected to anything other than king of his tree fort?

(via poobah)

Your federal government at work…..

….when it’s not shut down.

mattpayton:

Darkness in Washington: Why Boehner Can’t Defy the Suicide Caucus - George Packer

All the more reason why we must - MUST - focus on electing good people to Washington, not good politicians. Good people actually know the difference between right and wrong. Good politicians, not so much.

mattpayton:

Darkness in Washington: Why Boehner Can’t Defy the Suicide Caucus - George Packer

All the more reason why we must - MUST - focus on electing good people to Washington, not good politicians. Good people actually know the difference between right and wrong. Good politicians, not so much.