Lunch Links: Traffic problems and other dirty tricks

(Photo: Amy Newman/ Northjersey.com at New York Times)

(Photo: Amy Newman/ Northjersey.com at New York Times)

Who could have ever predicted that the downfall of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie might be “traffic problems in Fort Lee”?

If you know anything about Fort Lee, N.J. and the access roads leading to the George Washington Bridge, you appreciate that making it across without traffic on any given day is a crapshoot.   That said, as we learned yesterday Christie staffers felt compelled to create traffic problems there — for four days — as payback to the Fort Lee mayor who failed to support the governor during the recent election there.

If you missed it, here’s the recap from the N.Y Times:

Emails and texts revealed that a top aide had ordered the closings to punish the town’s mayor after he did not endorse the governor for re-election.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, emailed David Wildstein, a high school friend of the governor who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge.

Later text messages mocked concerns that school buses filled with students were stuck in gridlock: “They are the children of Buono voters,” Mr. Wildstein wrote, referring to Mr. Christie’s opponent Barbara Buono.

The emails are striking in their political maneuvering, showing Christie aides gleeful about some of the chaos that resulted. Emergency vehicles were delayed in responding to three people with heart problems and a missing toddler, and commuters were left fuming. One of the governor’s associates refers to the mayor of Fort Lee as “this little Serbian,” and Ms. Kelly exchanges messages about the plan while she is in line to pay her respects at a wake.

The political fallout may be mounting. Heads are rolling, Christie’s nascent bid for President in 2016 is being questioned (that’s the national media chatter), the nomination of his chief of staff to be state Attorney General may be in jeopardy, criminal charges may be looming — it goes on and on.  All because of . . . what ?

Politics above all else, even constituents — a bug that unfortunately has infected public servants at all levels.

Speaking of political games at the expense of constituents,  if you live in any of the 44 North Carolina counties served by the Eastern District federal court — that means you, people in Raleigh, Wilmington, New Bern and all along the coast — you might want to give your senator, Richard Burr, a call and ask him why he continues to block the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker to serve as a judge there.  Burr himself submitted her name for the position back in 2009, but has since backpedaled, refusing recently to return the traditional “blue slip” needed for a nominee to move forward with a judiciary committee hearing.  In the meantime, you’re now going into your ninth year with an understaffed federal court, the oldest federal district court vacancy in the country — a court that’s been relying on the graces of three senior status judges, two of whom are in their eighties.  So give the senator a call and ask him why the hold-up?

Of course, political gamesmanship is nothing new. Most of us have at least have heard of the Watergate break-in and the dirty tricks of the Nixon administration. But here’s a break-in many of us just learned about this past week:  the 1971 burglary of an FBI office in Media, Pa.  As described by Democracy Now:

 On March 8, 1971, a group of activists — including a cabdriver, a day care director and two professors — broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counter-intelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social, political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. Calling themselves, the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, no one was ever caught for the break-in. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until this week when they finally came forward to take credit for the caper that changed history.

Learn more about the outed burglars and their heist — called the “original Wikileaks”  by one writer — by watching this N.Y. Times video.

And finally, here’s one New Jerseyan who’s not about to watch his star fade.  Bruce Springsteen is set to release his latest album, “High Hopes,” on January 14. In a world in which “albums” should probably now be called something else, and in which release dates are preceded by single releases (selections from Springsteen’s latest have been airing on the CBS show “The Good Wife”).

Here’s Bruce with the title song:

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