Tag Archives: Chris Christie

NOW I Understand!

A few days ago, in a post about N.J. Governor Christie’s decision to abort a badly needed tunnel linking New Jersey and New York, and his multiple lies about his reasons for doing so, I admitted that I was baffled: there was no scenario I could come up with that made the decision explicable.

Now, Paul Krugman has supplied the answer that eluded me.

I started to quote an excerpt, but his column needs to be read in its entirety. Click through and read it. And ponder.

The degree to which contemporary politicians have substituted delusional ideology and naked self-interest for any lingering allegiance to  the public good is breathtaking. And so very, very depressing.




I Just Don’t Understand

There are a lot of positions conservatives take that I understand, although I disagree with them. There are sincere anti-abortion people who believe life begins at conception, for example. Belief in “fiscal responsibility” leads many people to draw (bad) analogies to household budgets and disputes over what sorts of behaviors actually are fiscally responsible.

I even understand–I think–where less intellectually respectable positions come from. The desire to roll back women’s rights to birth control, equal pay and similar markers of equality, the hysterical response to same-sex marriage (or even equal civil rights) for GLBT folks, the punitive attitudes toward immigrants and similar attitudes are pretty clearly part and parcel of a profound unease with contemporary realities, and a desire to return to a (largely imaginary) past.

But what in the world motivates opposition to mass transit?

A couple of years ago, Chris Christie–the Republican Governor of New Jersey–killed one of the most important transit projects in the country: a tunnel that would have linked his state to Manhattan and relieved the congestion that currently chokes both. At the time, he claimed his reasons were financial–that New Jersey’s share of the costs were simply too high.

Yesterday, it turned out he was lying.  Not mistaken, not misinformed. Lying.

I hope everyone reading this will click through and read the whole report. This is absolutely bizarre behavior, but what makes it worse is a passing reference in the article to the fact that opposition to mass transit has become part of the conservative “creed.”

Why in the world would someone have a philosophical opposition to transit? I certainly understand believing that a particular project is not well thought-out, or too expensive or otherwise flawed, but opposition to all mass transit? To suggest such a belief sounds paranoid.

The tunnel Christie killed is desperately needed, and had been planned for many years. It would have relieved congestion and helped the environment (okay, I realize that conservatives also reject science and the fact of climate change, but still). If built on schedule, it would also have created jobs at a time when those jobs were desperately needed.

I thought Christie was stupid and short-sighted for pulling the plug over up-front costs that would be recouped (many times over) over the long-term. But stupid and short-sighted are explicable; flat-out lying in order to justify an otherwise inexplicable decision is beyond my ability to understand.


What Governor Christie Doesn’t Get

Yesterday, the New Jersey Senate voted to recognize same-sex marriage. Indications are that the Assembly (the lower house) will do likewise. Meanwhile, an equal-protection lawsuit is working its way through the New Jersey courts; it would be mooted by this legislation.

Governor Christie has vowed to veto the measure–no surprise. But his professed reason means he is either dishonest or constitutionally ignorant.

Christie says he’ll veto the bill because so important a matter should be subjected to popular vote.

In the United States, we don’t get to vote on other people’s rights. The whole reason for the Bill of Rights was to protect minorities–not just members of different races or religions but people with unpopular ideas or different ‘lifestyles’–from unequal treatment by the government even when a majority of citizens wanted government to treat those minorities unequally. The Bill of Rights is what we call a “counter-majoritarian” instrument; it protects our individual rights against the passions and prejudices of the majority.

Perhaps Governor Christie should consult the famous explanation by Justice Jackson in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnett. 

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

(Of course, in a consistent world, this principle would also apply to state legislatures. No one would get to vote on whether another citizen was entitled to equal rights. But in case it has escaped notice, this is not a consistent world. In any event, as my mother used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.)

I don’t get to vote on the Governor’s rights, and he doesn’t get to vote on mine. If the legislature doesn’t override his threatened veto, the courts eventually will. That’s not “judicial activism.” It’s application of a bedrock constitutional principle.