There are a lot of theories on the GWB Closing scandal, as to why this happened? It seems pretty straight forward that this happened because of political retribution, but what version of political retribution? A Failure to endorse Christie, a development deal that stepped on toes, event appointments to the NJ State Supreme Court have been put forward as theories. Failing actual responses to the subpoenas, right now, all we have are theories, so here is a new one: Sokolich had a beef with the Port Authority Police Department, and the lane closure was retribution.
The alarm bell for me was the testimony of Bill Baroni. Comparable to Colin Powell’s UN Presentation in a level of total B.S. the most telling moment was when he was asked about the planning of the “traffic study”. When asked who he spoke with about this, the first person he sights is Paul Nunziato chairman of the police union, and the second person is Michael DeFillipis, delegate who worked on the bridge. Let’s be clear, these are the UNION LEADERSHIP, not leadership within the structure of the actual police department. Doesn’t it seem a little irregular that when questioned about where the idea for the “traffic study” came from, that no member of the actual power structure of the PA could be sighted, and instead two members of the police union are sighted?
(In addition, in follow up questions, Baroni is asked whether the study was done in house or whether an outside firm was hired, and he claims that the study was done in house. Governor Christie and the PA hate to do anything in house, so that sounds like complete B.S. as well.)
At any rate, compare the testimony of Baroni with the stories coming out from the time of the Port Authority police blaming Sokolich, telling motorists to “call the mayor” and this looks sketchier and sketchier. Now let’s add in the fact that the PA police union was one of the first labor endorsers of Christie in the 2012 election, and that because of the actions of Christie, the PA hired hundreds of more police officers at great public expense and this puts a whole new spin on the story.
So, here is a new theory, based totally on speculation. Mayor Sokolich was fighting the PA over what police would be used to patrol an area of Ft Lee, possibly even the new development at the base of the bridge, and Sokolich picked local law enforcement over the PA Police that Christie, Baroni, Wildstein etc. wanted him to use. This means less jobs for the PA Police Dept, which is bad for the PA Police Union, so the President and the Shop Steward of the PA PBA contact Baroni, Wildstein and Christie to pressure Sokolich to change his decision.
Sokolich stands firm, and doesn’t change his mind. Arms are twisted, meetings are had, and Sokolich is still stubborn. Threats are made that Ft Lee will lose its local access lanes if Sokolich does not comply. A public narrative is developed that brands the access lanes on the bridge as “Ft Lee only” and that they are undeserving of these precious access lanes as a community. State Senator Kevin O’Toole is used to make the case publicly, and Baroni and Christie stand by this in their public statements at different times.
When Sokolich doesn’t change his mind, in order to pay back friends and political endorsers Christie’s team unleashes “Traffic Problems in Ft Lee” aimed at “That little Serbian” as Wildstein put it continuing to use the Port Authority as a patronage mill with both the stick and the carrot.
The Port Authority police officers know that this dispute is over jobs for them and are in on it from the beginning. They are told, probably by Nunziato and leadership of the PA PBA to explain to citizens that this is the Mayor’s fault. It is assumed that if enough people call and bother him, that he will again change his mind and to help create even more jobs for Port Authority Police patrolling New Jersey.
Then, the whole thing gets shut down by Patrick Foye, and Sokolich outlasts them, either through dumb luck or guile, its hard to say. Sokolich’s comments the first night the scandal in January were all over the place, and it sounds like he probably pissed off Christie in a bunch of different ways, and he can’t quite figure out which one of them caused the retribution.
This is my current working theory. It sets off alarm bells anytime a Republican is asked why they did something, and they refer to the advice of a labor union. Its highly irregular that the leadership of a union’s opinion would take the place of the leadership of the actual organization that they work in; no one asks the forklift operator’s opinion when doing a work rule study, they just ask the foreman.
With today’s news that Nuziato is “stepping aside” while the scandal is ongoing, its only a matter of time before another layer of this onion is peeled back.
on tumblr: http://ift.tt/1l5C1vm
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, asked by NPR about its (secret) Nuclear Program:
People will ask, Why can’t we have nuclear weapons since Israel has them? What is a reasonable answer to that question?
Well, I’m not going to say what Israel has or doesn’t have
While calling on Iran to abandon it’s Nuclear Ambitions, Netanyahu will not acknowledge Israel’s nuclear reality.
But he will post with Cartoon Bombs:
on tumblr: http://daringdepravity.tumblr.com/post/63078608694
The US relationship with Iran is complicated leading back to the US support for the overthrown of the elected government of Iran and the installation of a Dictator aka the Shah, the US support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran vs Iraq war, and of course after 9-11, with the invasion of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Iraq. Recent overtures of a limited peace seem shocking, but based on recent reports on the Iranian regional influence, a sensible picture is taking shape.
Iran has come to the table now for two reasons: the international sanctions put in place against Iran are crippling its economy and Iran has made a strategic decision that regional influence is more important than nuclear weapons… for now.
Starting with the latter point, for some time, countries have followed a tried and true method to ward off a US invasion: get nuclear weapons. This is the Path that Iran has flirted with for some time, with limited success. But, in recent times, with the US invasion of two neighboring countries, Iran has decided that friendly neighbors are more important than nuclear weapons.
Starting in Afghanistan, Iran tried to play nice with the US in the beginning, coordinating attacks on the Taliban (also Iranian enemies) and providing intelligence. After Bush’s Axis of Evil speech, that stopped.
In Iraq, Iran saw a strategic, political opportunity to influence the politics with resources and military assets, guiding the Shi’ite majority in the country to political power with the Sunni strongman and his power base evicted. Now an Iranian friendly, Shia majority holds political power in a country where that was unthinkable a decade ago.
This policy continues now, with Syria. When it finally looked as though the Iranian ally Assad would possibly be overthrown (most likely by Sunni supported forces) the Grand Ayatollah decided that this could not happen, and that they would fully support the crumbling regime with resources, and military assets in the form of Hezbollah fighters.
Just one problem here: all of these operations cost money, a lot of money. Estimates of Iran’s support for Assad are in the $600-700 Million dollars per month range, meanwhile Hezbollah’s world wide operations only bring in about $1-2 Billion per year.
Iran’s economy, meanwhile, is reliant on oil, which is becoming more and more difficult to export due to US /EU sanctions. Before the fiscal pressures of support and funding a war in neighboring countries, Iran already has having trouble. Now it is approaching a critical choice: abandon Assad, cut supply lines to Lebanon,and hope for the best, or get the sanctions lifted and get some cash coming in.
So, enter new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He understands this situation and he would like to make the best of it. Surrender Nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting of sanctions, so that Iran can continue to be a Shia focused counterweight to Saudi Arabia in the region.
With more resources at their disposal through international trade, Rouhani and Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Hezbollah commander Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Iranian commander of the Quds Force Qassem Suleimani would continue their support for Assad, the Shia in Lebanon and Iraq.
While it appears that the US Sanctions are having one desired effect, the possible abandonment of the pursuit of Nuclear Weapons, any agreement along these lines could lead the US to deliver a victory to Assad’s forces in Syria, and continue Iran’s expanding influence in the region.
I don’t envy the Obama administration in its choices here, but the removal of nuclear weapons from the world is a very tempting carrot which may be met with the stick of an even more powerful regional Iran.
Good Articles on the topic, well worth reading:
on tumblr: http://daringdepravity.tumblr.com/post/63057601123
Mitt Romney’s strength is often touted as a business expert, who works wonders and is a efficiency expert. But really his expertise can be boiled down to just one idea: cut costs. This is his solution for every problem that exists in business and government. Pay less for things, do it cheaper, pay workers less, get lower rents, and so on.
Having run a business, I can say that it is obvious that cost control is really important. Don’t pay more than you need to, don’t pay for things you don’t need, and watch the overhead. While this is all true, this totally neglects the fact that increasing revenue is just as important if not more important than cutting costs.
Once you are buying your office supplies cheaply, paying as low a rent as possible, and you negotiate the best deals with suppliers, you’ve cut almost as much as you can. Then what?
Lets take the example of a pizza shop. If a pizza costs $2.00 to make, and you sell them for $12.00, that is a profit of $10.00 per pizza. Business expert Mitt Romney would come in and say, use less cheese, buy cheaper ingredients, pay your workers less, get cheaper insurance, etc. After all of this, the cost per pizza goes down to $1.00, and the profit goes up to $11.00.
The failure in this logic, when applied to business and government, is that this approach never factors in the value of increasing revenue! Using the example above, instead of cutting all of the corners to make an extra dollar, why not just sell one more pizza? That increases revenue, increases profit, and increases your business. Growth is important in business, not just cost controls.
But in Mitt Romney, and the Right Wing’s single minded focus on debt and costs, no growth can ever be planned for. Sure one way to increase the bottom line is cutting things, but that has a diminishing return which eventually bottoms out. Then what? Usually for Mitt Romney, at that point he gets paid, and moves on to another company to sell them his same cut costs snake oil.
A real way to grow a business involves investing, putting money in to receive a return. If the business has growth potential, it needs capital and investment to expand. This leads to growth, higher revenue, and potentially higher profits.
It is fitting that Mitt Romney would bring this same prescription to government, if elected President of the U.S. He and Paul Ryan and a Republican Congress would try to cut their way to balance, but their cuts are so extreme that the possibility of growth in the future would be destroyed. Revenues would never increase, and we would see years of stagnant and almost nonexistent growth.
Romney’s entire analysis of government deficits and social insurance programs overlooks one simple fact: the main driver of deficits and increased costs of insurance programs is unemployment. In order to reduce tax deficits, more unemployment needs to get lower through job creation. With lower unemployment comes increased revenue from taxes. The same is true of other programs. With more people working, there are less people needing benefits from medicare, medicaid, and other programs.
We cannot cut our way to solvency, nor should we. One trick pony Mitt Romney might think we can, and if he wins, he will try, but it will not work. And unlike in private industry, there is no other country to move on to after he ruins this one.
This past week, the media narrative has been that Mitt Romney won the first debate against Barack Obama. Obama did not perform well, but anyone who has watched his previous performances in debates should know, this is how he is in debates.
Anyone saying that Romney won, seriously needs to re-watch the debate. Romney agreed that he wanted to privatize Medicare with a voucher system. Romney agreed that he would not want any raising of taxes, only a complicated system that will somehow shift the tax burden without raising taxes which he will not explain and sounds insane. Romney said he wanted to fire the moderator, and cut Big Bird Loose.
Obama essentially made no news. When you have the lead, no news is good news.
In this “Debate” Obama went in with a clear strategy: lets take a few pitches, see what this guy has, use the information for my later at-bats. Much like baseball, the Presidential Election is a marathon, and this debate was basically one At-Bat.
Yes, Obama could have destroyed Romney if he wanted to. Yes, Jim Leher was one of the worst moderators that has every moderated a presidential debate, and needs to go back into retirement. Yes, the debate format sucked, and did not cover many parts of domestic policy?
How does this add up to a Romney win? Is it because he lied at almost every opportunity, shaded the truth, flip flopped on many current positions, and did it without looking like a total and complete idiot?
Romney did not win the debate. To quote Reverend Al Sharpton on the post debate coverage, “He gave great testimony, but he committed perjury.” Perjury is a crime that always catches up with public officials, and this one will catch up with Romney.
Up With Chris: After his bank lost nearly $6 billion from possibly fraudulent trading activity, Jamie Dimon got a pep talk from NFL…
In the Movie Back To School with Rodney Dangerfield, his character Thornton Mellon owns a series of “Tall and Fat” Stores, and his motto is “If you want to look thin, hang out with fat people”
Barak Obama is having a similar time right now, as he cruises to re-election. No left wing challenges and no competent right wing challenger have left him along for the ride. He is winning just by showing up and not sticking his foot so far in his mouth that he chokes on it.
He will never be called to account for punishing his left wing supporters, eroding civil rights, ignoring labor, the environment, and supporting indefinite detention mostly because Mitt Romney is so incompetent that Obama doesn’t really have to try.
I guess all it takes to look competent is to stand on a stage next to Mitt Romney and say, do you want some of this?
So, there is hope that he will accomplish some good for the country in his second term, but I for one am not holding my breath. Instead we will get free trade, neoliberal policies, moderate war hawk international stances, and a continuation of where we are now.
Part of that blame lays at the feet of the Republicans, but really it is the Democrats fault. They won’t push for good policies, just for their own re-election.
But, standing next to Romney, Obama looks like Einstein, Socrates, and George Clooney all rolled into one.
This past week on Real time with Bill Maher (who I mostly enjoy) he premiered a new premise to justify racism, the “9/11 Liberals. Like usual Maher was very good on class politics, and straight up ridiculous and racist when it comes to Islam.
In his magical world where history and simple cause and effect do not exist, highly politicized and violent forms of Islam are representative of the entire religion, and have no context and backstory. There is no mention or credit given to the US government for igniting the now burning flames of violent Islamic extremism. Instead there is willful ignorance.
In many ways this sounds like the old question of “why do they hate us?”. The answer is both simple and known. “They” hate “us” because the US government for years brutally suppressed democratic movements and propped up dictators all over the world. Violent Islam’s power began with US foreign policy.
Take Iran, whose secular democratic government was overthrown by the US, due to a desire for natural resources for US business interests. This led to a resentment and a movement which culminated in the violent overthrow of the puppet government, and to the rise of a very violent, right wing form of Islam.
Instead, for these “9/11 Liberals” History began on 9/11/2001, the day the world changed. Why were we attacked? It was because one religion is particularly more violent than another. They hate our freedom, our secular western society, and our ideas.
Hitchens, Maher, Rushdie, and other Liberal hawks ignore the history of over 50 years of the US arming Islamic warriors all over the world, and then ask why are all these people armed and mad?
The simple answer is that US foreign policy created the current situation that we are in. These “Liberals” are far too informed to not know this, instead they are at best willfully ignorant and at worst use these trends to justify their blatant racism against Muslims and brown people.