Friday, January 31, 2014

Exposing the Naked Truth About Transportation Security Theater

Ex-TSA agent Jason Harrington
The Politico Magazine published a provocative point of view  piece by Jason Edward Harrington titled: “Dear America: I Saw You Naked– And yes we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent."  The article drew back the curtain on exposing the naked truth on Transportation Security Theater.  Harrington is an aspiring young writer who joined the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after graduating college in 2007.   Harrington presumed that it would be a short stint before pursuing a creative writing degree, but he remained with the most public branch of the Homeland Security Administration until 2013.

The former agent’s recollections confirmed many cynics assumptions about the TSA.  Unfortunately, some of the revelations are worse than one would imagine for a professional part of government supposedly committed to ensuring safety in the homeland.

Harrington hated having a job which required him to pat down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants.  The ex-TSA officer chaffed at the absurdity of confiscating jars of homemade apple butter or nail clippers from airline pilots as they might impose risks to a flight.  Morale at the TSA was the lowest among all federal workers.  According to Harrington, the TSA rank and file privately felt that “[T]he agency’s day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds.

The salient question is Why TSA employed such egregious customary operating procedures?  The ex-TSA author did not address the issue but the answer is obvious.  Political pressure from the left which prohibited profiling forced the feds into the farce of groping Swedish grandmothers in wheelchairs and innocent infants.  So the TSA engages in politically correct Transportation Security Theater “reaching out” to all rather than using a risk based approach to airport security.

Despite the public pronouncements against profiling, Harrington reveals that it ain’t necessarily so.  There was a list of a dozen nations which are: “Selectee Passport List”, which automatically trigger enhanced security screenings.  The included nations: Syria, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and North Korea.  Those choices seem sensible. Yet, there is one glaring omission–Saudi Arabia.

One wonders why an agency supposedly entrusted with homeland security would not scrutinize a place that spawned 11 of 12 9/11 hijackers and sponsors many Salafists wanting a worldwide caliphate?  Harrington opined that the list was politically driven with diplomacy playing it’s role, as always.   But the Selectee Passport List was effectively limited to middle-eastern travelers.

A striking passage from Harrington’s account was:

Most of us knew the directives were questionable, but orders were orders. And in practice, officers with common sense were able to cut corners on the most absurd rules, provided supervisors or managers weren’t looking.

But after the Underwear Bomber, 23 year old Nigerian  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, sought to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009, the TSA started to push full body scanners as a primary scrutiny device.

It is sad to know that TSA employees knew that the  Rapiscan Systems full-body scanners, which cost $150,000 per machine, would not work even before they were installed.  Harrington recounts that, off-the-record,  the Rapiscan Systems trainer said of his product: “It’s shit” as it would not be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and that guns were practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket.

While these full body scanners were ineffective in detecting cleverly hidden guns and explosives, they were good at detecting everything else.  It became sport for TSA agents to use the Image Operator (“I.O.”) rooms as break rooms both because it was the one place in the airport where there were no security cameras on them and it was an excellent place to ogle at the full body scans of compliant passengers.

Some of the lingo which is recounted in the Harrington piece reveals the voyeur tendencies operating in Transportation Security Theater, the morose morale issues and the danger of letting putative quasi- Law Enforcement Officers run wild with power.

Bin Loader: What a TSA employee is for the first month of his or her employment.
Code Red: Denotes an attractive female passenger wearing red
Retaliatory Wait Time:  Result when a TSA officer doesn’t like your attitude.
X-ray X-ray X-ray!: Code for an attractive female passenger, general.
White Shirt: Labeling  a TSA agent still under the impression that the job is a matter of national security. 

As the jargon indicates, TSA agents could act in a puerile manner with impunity against passengers,  gawk at every body imperfection and hassle anyone for whom they did not care, claiming “random searches” for national security.

Harrington had two jaw dropping quotes related to the I.O. room.  The truth that: "Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display.” This is not unexpected, but the schadenfreude of using these full body images as entertainment in an unofficial break room is galling.  A more salacious passage was more troubling: “Officers who were dating often conspired to get assigned to the I.O. room at the same time, where they analyzed the nude images with one eye apiece, at best.”  So TSA types were getting off at the hoops that commercial airline passengers have to endure in order to get on airplanes.

So the TSA compelled passengers to stand inside radiation-emitting devices which were ineffective, while these full body scans were sport and arousal agents with the TSA.  No wonder the TSA lingo termed “Opt out” as being a smart passenger.

But when a YouTube video posted by Jonathan Corbett in March, 2012 revealed some deficiencies in the  Rapiscan Systems in detecting cleverly concealed weapons.  Afterwards, the TSA started frisking every fifth passenger in a clumsy work around to a $40 million mistake. This was not the first technical goof by TSA.  There was the ShoeScanner which GE developed which were unveiled with great public fanfare at Orlando International Airport in 2007. But the expedited roll-out missed an important element.  So instead of expediting the screening, it still required half of the passengers to take their shoes off because the $200,000 machine did not catch something.  TSA withdrew them from service.  Then there are the EDS’s CT baggage scanners which cost $1 million a piece compared to the older AT scanners costing $150,000 but which former TSA Chief Kip Hawley proved the same level of security.

Aaron Tobey
Another adverse influence of Transportation Security Theater is cultural, which is hard to quantifiably measure but is quite real.  Take the case of Aaron Tobey, a 21 year old passenger who was arrested for disorderly conduct  in Richmond, Virginia as he was strip searched at a TSA checkpoint for having  with the Fourth Amendment written on his body.  Presumably, 4th Amendment underwear and "Don't Touch My Junk" briefs would provoke similar scrutiny.

Others are less daring but influenced by the budding police state.  I know a frequent flyer who is in process of applying for a TSA fast past card and is so anxious that nothing interfere with that process that the person is chary about complaining over bad service in a restaurant lest a systematic hiccup make her an “SSSS” stamp (automatic special screening for national security risk).  But as Nirvana put it in Territorial Pissing “Just because you’re paranoid. Don’t mean they’re not out to get you.” Considering the NSA “meta-data” personal information grabs and the IRS getting all your health information– remain calm, there’s no reason to panic.  Not!

In the wake of 9/11, some might make excuses for TSA overreach.  But to paraphrase  Ben Franklin’s warning: Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.  As Jason Harrington’s expose of Transportation Security Theater shows, we are not getting the security while the TSA is taking liberties with the flying public.

It is worth reading Jason Harrington's TSA confessions if you want to laugh while you cry. Harrington's prospective novel based upon his TSA experience to still elicit a wan smile about a truly sad situation over Transportation Security Theater.

h/t: Jason Harrington
      Ben Garrison
      Marshall Ramsey

Jay Leno on Spying

Lady Gaga on Life

Lady Gaga

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HRC Memoir-ies (sic)

Snapshots from the State of the Union

President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress.  The 6923 words spoken over 69 minutes formed an instructive word cloud.

2014 State of the Union Word Cloud (graphics: USA Today)
President Obam  wanted to emphasis work, newness and make Congress.  Note that the word cloud excluded common English words like "I".  But to be fair, Mr. Obama seems to have done a better job at being self referential  as unofficial Twitter total count: 50 "I"s, 11 "mys" and 8 "me"s.

When Vice President Joe Biden was not resting his eyes, he often had a demonic grin which would scare trick or treaters at Halloween. 

The President made plenty of acknowledgments during his State of the Union speech,  including prefunctory welcomes to the grandees gathered in the House Chamber, as well as eleven guests which the White House brought to focus on  Mr. Obama's stated priorities.  It is ironic that the Obama Administration made a big deal about having former pro basketball player Jayson Collins in the Presidential box, presumably because of his very public declaration of his sexual preferences last Spring.  

Jayson Collins sitting near Michelle Obama at 2014 State of the Union Address

Yet Collins did not even merit a shout out by name, only to be a prop for the Obama Administration's concern about homosexual rights as America participates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian Federation.

To make his point about how there can be upward mobility in America from humble origins, President Obama stopped using composite parables and credited House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH 8th) with rising from being son of a bar keep.

Speaker Boehner's silent thumbs up seemed like a response which seemed reminiscent of his late night television appearances.  It is unclear if Mr. Boehner blushed due to his deep tan.

The State of the Union audience was less contrarian than when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC 2nd) shouted "You lie" at Mr. Obama September, 2009 speech before a Joint Session of Congress.  Supreme Court Associate Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas chose not to attend, but this is understandable considering how Mr. Obama attacked the High Court in 2010 during that State of the Union Speech. 

But this did not mean that there was an abundance of decorum for the State of the Union.   Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CN 2nd) stood up and pumped her fists in the air during prized passages of the speech. 

[C] Rep. Rosa DeLauro,  [front L] Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [back C] Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz hardily cheering President Obama's 2014 State of the Union speech

But at least Rep. DeLauro's animated atta boys drew attention to some hideous coifs and outfits in the Chamber. 

President Obama used a more restrained tone in delivering his State of the Union speech, often opting for the emphatic horse whisper to underline his points.  However, Frank Luntz's focus panel thought that Mr. Obama's delivery lacked passion and credulity.  In fact, the Luntz group noted that Mr. Obama kept mispronouncing the proposed My-IRA program and then expected the audience to intuit the parameters of the policy.

There was a torrent of passion displayed at the end of President Obama's State of the Union address as he pointed to the Presidential box, where First Lady Michelle Obama was sitting besides 30 year old Army Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsberg, a Ranger who served ten tours in Afghanistan who was severely injured by an IED in 2009. 

[Front row 2nd L] Army Ranger Cory Remsberg at the 2014 State of the Union address

Assuredly the alluvia of applause from the attendees was not for the First Lady's dress.

There were two other noteworthy events attached to this year's State of the Union speech.  One of the attendees of the speech was Will Robinson, invited by Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA 5th).  Robinson was attired in what he would typically wear on Duck Dynasty, as seen shaking hands with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st).

Another noteworthy moment needs to be seen to be believed.   As part of the post State of the Union spin, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY 11th) gave an interview to NY 1.  When the reporter went off script and asked about the Congressman's fundraising controversy, Grimm reacted harshly.  

At first, Rep. Grimm walked off the interview, then he reproached the reporter with threats which sounded like it was from the Sopranos.

On Obama Executive Branch Excesses

Charlie Cook King Obama

Other elected officials have bristled on this Executive Branch proposed bypass:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anticipatory Chuckles for the State of the Union

Clark S. Judge should know about State of the Union addresses.  Before Judge founded the White House Writers Group in 1993, he was a Special Assistant and Speech Writer for former President Ronald Reagan.  It is dubious that Vice President Joe Biden, our National Treasure, had any input on this year's SOTU. 

Here is hoping that this year, Mr. Obama can make it through all of the introductions before concluding his remarks.

In all seriousness, if one can stomach actually watching the long laundry list of rehashed reiteration of bumper sticker federal initiatives will will amount to nothing, consider a couple of suggestions to make the time memorable.

  1. Find the ugliest tie in the Chambers.  Extra credit if you can name the fashion challenged politican
  2. Count the number of times that our Dear Leader utters the word "I".  
  3. Play a Between-the-Beltways version of "High Bob".  This year's "magic word" is "fairness".  (N.B.  in the interests of sobriety, the word "I" has been excluded from this year's "magic word").
  4. Guess how long Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th) waited in the House chamber in order to secure her row seat for her annual photo op with whoever is President. 

Or if you are really ambitious and want to pay attention, play State of the Union BS Bingo.

Don't feel obliged to wait for the Spin Rooms to form your opinion.  Take part in the instant punditry on Twitter #SOTU.  Look for the handle @CalamityDC

Plato on Communication

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rep. Runyan Retreats from the Pork, Perfidy and Poseurs in Congress

The Politico Magazine published a piece by Representative Jon Runyan (R-NJ 3rd) titled: “Fourth and So Long– I spent 14 years in the NFL.  Here’s why I’m quitting Congress after four.”  The two term Congressman from Southern New Jersey peppers his apologia with plenty of football analogies  to underline his anguish with trying to govern in the District of Calamity (sic).

While Runyon’s retirement had previously been announced in November, 2013, Runyan’s Politico piece on the eve of the NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl week, highlights how lessons learned from the gridiron and the rest of reality are ignored in Fantasyland on the Potomac.

Runyan railed against the lack of teamwork between the beltways.  Rep. Runyan revealed: 

Believe it or not, there are members of Congress who actually want to govern and get stuff done. Unfortunately, there are others whose agendas and strategies serve to advance their own interests and expand their donor base.

The former Philadelphia Eagle Offensive Lineman likened politicos advancing their own agendas rather than the general welfare as guys playing to get to the Pro Bowl rather than the Super Bowl.  But this indictment is not reserved for petty partisan politics.  Runyan expressed resentment at how views which he voiced in a closed caucus meeting about working together were leaked before the meeting even ended.

[L] Rep. Runyon surveying Sandy damage in Seaside Heights, NJ with [L] Vice President Biden and [R] NJ Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno
Rep. Runyan  also anguished over Congressional efforts to “restore the shore” after Super Storm Sandy hit the Jersey shore and New York in October, 2012.   The legislative vehicle which emerged from the Senate was laden with pork to draw votes, like for fisheries in Alaska.  When the House delayed its vote on Sandy relief into January 2013, Rep. Runyan took to the floor of Congress to say that his district was: “[G]round zero for Sandy and suffered horrific damage. My constituents and I are extremely disappointed  that at this time of need this Congress has failed to act.”  As  a pork free Sandy relief bill reached the House of Representatives, the bill earned 179 nay votes from the GOP, even though many of them  had previously asked for natural disaster relief for their districts. 

Another major factor which Runyan cites for deciding not to seek a third term in Congress is revolves around the sacrifice of family time to be in Washington.  This was recently echoed when  House Budget Chairman Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) was  interviewed by New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan.  Cardinal Dolan expressed admiration for Rep. Ryan’s commitment to that he would spend weekends at home with his family.  Rep. Ryan noted: “ I’ve turned down a lot things over the years which might have been good for the career, but not good for the family.”

Outside analysts may be tempted to attribute Runyan’s retirement to facing a hard re-election race.  While New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional is a nominally Republican swing district (R+1), Runyon has run well in it, winning by 13% in 2010 and by just under 9% in 2012 while still garnering 53% of the vote.  

Cynics might scoff at Runyan’s reason for wanting to spend more time with his family.  Yet reading the record in it’s entirety, Rep. Runyan made a compelling case for taking his place on the sidelines.  May his sentiments for working together and pursing the good of the public be an inspiration for others.  

Fallout from Early Atomic Age Memories

It is unclear which is worse-- the proper paranoia of Duck and Cover drills before our MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) modus operandi or having to hear the dated doo-wops for Bert the Turtle.

h/t: Speedbump

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Right Proper Toasting for Robert Burns

Robert Burns was born on this day in 1759.  He died at at the age of 37 but his poetry was so influential that Burns nights have been held since 1802.  The date was moved from January 29th to January 26th in 1803 when Ayr parish records showed the proper date.

Burns Night Suppers have been immensely popular not only to celebrate the Romantic era poet but also to celebrate Scottish language and culture, which Robbie championed by penning many of his works.

The highlight of the evening is the pipping of the Haggis (a savory pudding made with sheeps' pluck, minced onions, suet and oatmeal) followed by a reading of Burns' "Address to a Haggis".

Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns (1786)

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm

(sonsie = jolly/cheerful)

(aboon = above)
(painch = paunch/stomach, thairm = intestine)
(wordy = worthy)
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead

(hurdies = buttocks)
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

(dicht = wipe, here with the idea of sharpening)
(slicht = skill)

(reekin= steaming)
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

(deil = devil)
(swall'd = swollen, kytes = bellies, belyve = soon)
(bent like = tight as)
(auld Guidman = the man of the house, rive = tear, i.e. burst)
Is there that o're his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

(olio = stew, from Spanish olla'/stew pot, staw = make sick)
(scunner = disgust)
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

(nieve = fist, nit = nut, i.e. tiny)
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.

(wallie = mighty, nieve = fist)

(sned = cut off)
(thristle = thistle)

For twenty years, it was impossible to get Haggis from Scotland due to the ban on BSE products (Mad Cow Disease).  There was talk that the USDA would loosen its restrictions on haggis importation, but the inclusion of sheeps' lungs violates a 1971 USDA decree on carcinogenic foodstuffs and keeps the ban in effect. 

Presumably, most Scottish-Americans consider the continued ban on Highland haggis to be a truly offal situation (sic). 

Jimi Hendrix on Writing

Jimi Hendrix

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abortion War Casualties

Alas, it is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  So the poignant political cartoon and the statistics of casualties of the judicially mandated imposition of abortion on demand are slightly out of date, but no less poignant.  

Yet politicians can demagogue about a "War on Women", yet forget about the children who are casualties, as well as sanction barbaric and illegal practices (ala Kermit Gosnell) which endanger womens' health so as nothing might endanger the so called "Right to Choose."  

Maurice Chevalier on Time

Maurice Chevalier

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Frozen Wasteland?

As the Eastern Seaboard braces for the impact of an Atlantic Clipper followed by another "Polar Vortex", those Between the Beltways will get our first significant snowstorm in four years.  As the District of Calamity (sic) takes its time to dig out from the wintery weather, it is worth revisiting a viral video of yore celebrating a "Frozen Wasteland".

In retrospect, the filquers from "Minnesotans for Global Warming" sounded so much better than The Who did at the Superbowl in 2010.  And considering Gore Effect, one wonders if former Vice President Al Gore  had a major speech on Global Warming scheduled soon.

Paulo Coelho on Life

Paulo Coelho

Monday, January 20, 2014

Barack Obama on Football

President Barack Obama gave an extended interview to David Remnick of the New Yorker.  Commenting on the Miami Dolphins-Carolina Panthers game in the background on Air Force One, The President responded to a question concerning the controversy over concussions and football by conceding that he would not let his son play pro football. Mr. Obama  is a big sports fan thus he  begrudgingly blessed other playing pro football as he chewed on some Nicorette gum. 

Two curiosities about Mr. Obama's throwaway football comments.  Firstly, Barack Obama does not have a son, despite demogoging that his son would look like Travon Martin during the George Zimmerman trial.  Secondly, Mr. Obama tried to cast aspersions about individuals accepting risk, like smokers and football players.  

Obama's risk acceptance analogy is tenuous .   Daniel Flynn's recent book "The War on Football: Saving America's Sport" debunks the supposedly unique cranial dangers of football.  Statistically, cheerleaders are more prone to concussions than football players.  Moreover, science can not make a causal connection between football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).  This factual discrepancy could be cured if one were both intellectually curious as well as being intellectually honest.

But if President Obama honestly felt that people should be free to do what they choose, as long as they understand the risks--then why are almost all Americans being forced into Obamacare approved health plans? Perhaps the Little Sisters of the Poor do not need and feel morally compelled to not pay for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients?   They must comply or they risk ruinous fines unless they comply.  

The other odd phenomenon is Mr. Obama's persistent allusions to a hypothetical scion.  Having an imaginary friend is a trait which most people grow out of in  adolescence . However, Harry Reid has justified Obamacare and the Senate Majority Leader smeared GOP Presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) based on the word of an unseen friend. 

Dennis Miller had a more charitable tongue-in-cheek  take on Barack Obama's football prohibition for his "son".

Martin Luther King on Brotherhood

Martin Luther King

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Audacity of Snoop?

After public hue and outcry about the NSA collecting metadata of Americans without warrants, now President Barack Obama will now demand that private communications companies hold the information for six months (at whose expense? ) and the government will then use secret courts to access the information.  But wait, there will be an independent board to rubber stamp the rubber stamps of the FISA court.

What about the $2 billion 100,000 square foot  NSA data center that recently opened near Bluffton,  Utah (a.k.a.  Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center).  

NSA Data Center, Camp Williams, Bluffdale, Utah

Is that now a white elephant or will it continue as a black operation? Let me guess, the facility will supposedly be mothballed and the federal government will funnel communications companies money for the privately held data centers.  

Time will tell if Mr. Obama's long winded remarks on domestic spying pans out to any real reforms. The Obama Administration claims that the NSA program has saved lives, but no specifics were cited.  But we can point to egregious instances which the government dropped the ball (e.g. the Tsarnaev Brothers who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing).  Of course, Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the Department of Justice to expand the definition of "racial profiling" to include religion, even in national security cases.  So GIGO--Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It seems like it is just the Audacity of Snoop.

Pelosi's Fools Gold on '49er Fandom

During House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) weekly press availability, she steered the colloquy to sports in order to inject some hometown boosterism in anticipation of the San Francisco '49ers NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.

 To prove her '49ers bona fides, Pelosi showed off her "14" charm which supposedly in honor of '49ers great Joe Montana.


The problem is that Joe Montana wore the number "16" when he played in the City by the Bay.

 Perhaps it is a good thing that Mrs. Pelosi is no longer the House Whip, where knowing numbers and being able to count matters.

Pelosi's home of Pacific Heights and the rest of the CA-12 is so liberal (D +34)  that such a stumble would have no impact on her re-election.  But Pelosi's fandom fumble reveals the fools gold of her '49ers fandom.


Bette Davis on Life

Bette Davis

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Bit About the Bridge-gate Ballyhoo

Bridge-gate burst into the public eye last week as emails from high level staffer of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) were exposed indicating that four days worth of lane closures which snarled the George Washington Bridge were intentional.  Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly sent a snarky text message intimating:  "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee". It has been speculated that the four days of lane closures which snarled the world's busiest suspension bridge was intended as a as punishment to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D-Fort Lee), a Democrat who did not make a cross party endorsement of Christie in is wildly successful 2013 re-election effort.  

For his part, Governor Christie conducted a grueling 102 minute press conference in which he insisted that he did not know about the intentional nature of the traffic jam.  Moreover he fired Kelly along with his longtime friend and political aide Bill Stepien because of their involvement. 

Despite Christie's unequivocal denial of prior knowledge and his swift action at disciplining wrongdoers, the Bridge-gate ballyhoo dominated the headlines for over a week, and inspired comedians to do funny satires such as Jimmy Fallons filique with Bruce Springsteen of  the unoffical New Jersey anthem "Born to Run".

While there is no doubt that the story was newsworthy, as credible accusations of the use of public office for personal revenge is a serious charge, it seems like Bridge-gate is overblown as well as overwrought.

Firstly, consider the coverage.   As Newsbusters reported, in less than 24 hours, the big three broadcast networks devoted 34 minutes 28 seconds to "Bridge-gate".  This is 17 times more coverage than the Lamestream Media broadcast about  the Obama Administration's alleged use of the IRS targeting Tea Party groups for excessive scrutiny over eight months.   The coverage may also have been intensified because of its proximity to New York.  Journalists often become much more  interested when it is affecting their home turf rather than in  "flyover" country.

Secondly, consider the target.  Governor Christie has been generally considered an early front-running for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.   Pre-Bridge-gate polls showed Christie leading presumed Democrat front-runner former First Lady/Senator (D-NY)/ and Obama Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Low information voters may be lured into believing where there is smoke there is fire, even if it is blue smoke and mirrors.   Governor Christie's emphatic denials about involvement leave no wiggle room-- if he knew, then the fat lady sings ending his hopes for higher office.  But those who take time to keep informed on current events should see the trend in law-fare, smearing front-runners and the actual use of public offices for partisan pursuits.


Richard Branson on Business

Richard Branson